Costa Rica 2011 Part 2

After a tranquil nights sleep, we were woken by the sounds of the jungle, and some cheeky white faced Capuchin monkeys crawling around the site.

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Any food we took into our cabin had to be shut away in the lockable cupboard, as these monkeys happily climb in and raid the cabins.

Todays activity was a Nature walk, and boy, did we see nature!

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Ginger bushes
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Pelicans
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Fungii

The scarlet macaws are very noisy, but you wouldn’t believe how well they hide in trees.

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Frigate bird
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Sloth
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Sloth

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White-nosed Coati

After all that adventure, Ian decided to try the sloth way of life

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And another sunset to end day 2 here

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Day 3 activity was snorkeling on the reef, one of my favourite activities, but Ian is not a great swimmer, so was not as excited.

Off we set in a small boat to the island of Cano would could see from camp.

En-route, our guide spotted a sea snake swimming along – these are deadly, and can jump from the water, so after a quick look we moved on

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A few other boats were visiting the reef, but it was very organised, and I was soon enjoying the sea life

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Eventually I had to end this adventure and head back to the lodge.

This was our last night here, but we ended with a night nature walk – no photos, as it really was dark, but very interesting – we saw a tarantula hiding in a log, and narrowly avoided a venomous Fer-de-lance snake resting in a branch we crept under.

We left Corcavado Lodge by boat again, and picked up our van for the rest of the trip, plus the remainder of our luggage, as the small plane couldn’t take it all, they had arranged for some bags to be left behind.

First stop was at Canta De Ballenas Hotel, in Bahia, a short distance from the Marina Bellina National park.

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Iguana
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Bird of paradise Flower

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Scarlet Rumped Tanager

I don’t seem to have many photos of this park – I think I might have forgotten to take the camera. The park is shaped like a whales tail, jutting out into the ocean.

On Friday we moved on again, this time to Manuel Antonio National Park.

This park has a split personallity – it has stupendous wildlife all through it, but it also hosts some of the worlds best beaches. In order to maintain the park, there is a limit on the number of people in the park at any time. Despite this, I felt some resentment to people there just to sunbathe, with no interest in the scenery or wildlife.

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As soon as we walked into the park, we saw sloths, weird insects, tree frogs and spiders.

However, when we took a rest on the beach, the raccoons soon appeared, and more monkeys, all very cheeky and unafraid of the people.

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You can see why the beach is so popular – Ian even had a swim – this is almost unheard of, but the water was bath temperature.

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One animal we hoped to see in the park was the squirrel monkey, but none appeared. But at breakfast at our hotel Manuel Antonio the next morning, this pair turned up, sat on the kitchen roof, so we didn’t leave disappointed.

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Costa Rica 2011 Part 1

This is a throwback special. A friend has said they have booked flights to Costa Rica, and wanted to know if I had blogged my trip. This was before my blogging days, so lets do one now!

The trip was Ian and my main honeymoon, we got married the year before, but wanted to miss the rainy season, so chose February 2011 for our trip.

We had no idea where we wanted to go, and I didn’t know where Costa Rica was exactly, but this trip stood out in the travel brochures. It was also an activity trip, whereas we wanted to see the wildlife, but it turned out the best option.

CIMG1949Our holiday began with flights into San José, the capital, and an overnight stay at the Rosa Del Paseo Hotel on the main road through the city. It is a quaint Victorian building, within easy walking of the centre, and here we met the rest of our party and our tour guide.

CIMG1950The second day began with a flight from San José out to Palma Sur airport in  a tiny plane, where they had to weigh us as well as our luggage, and they decided that our bags had to follow on the next plane out.

The flight was not going high, so was not pressurized – this meant it could have huge windows, giving us a great view of the scenery as we travelled.CIMG1953

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Soon we reached a Palma Sur airport, and transferred to a coach, and then travelled down to the river Sierpe, where we were loaded onto a barge like boat, and set off towards the sea.

P1030010However, we had noticed that this boat had rather impressive outboard engines, and once out of the town, the gentle trip turned into a  white water ride! Wheee.

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After an hour we reached the sea, and then went down the coast to reach our next stay – the Danta Corcavoda Eco Lodge, on the Pacific Coast of the Corcadavo National Park.

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First sight of the lodges at Corcavado Lodge

There are few roads in the park, so boat is the best way to arrive, even if this meant paddling ashore from the dingy to the beach.

CIMG1969We carried our bags up the hill to find our lodge, a wooden building with mesh windows, and a balcony facing the ocean.

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The view from our balcony.

We still had some daylight left so wandered down to the exquisite beach.

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The beach was covered in tiny hermit crabs, making it appear as if the sand was alive.

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Back to the lodges for dinner, and then time to relax on our balcony. My one ‘must see’ on this trip were Macaws, and on our first evening we saw several fly across the jungle between us and the sea – Wow.

Sunset across this peaceful corner of our planet – bliss.

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USA Part 2, Vermont, New Hampshire

Following our hectic few days in New York, USA Trip Part 1, on Friday we picked up our hire car and set off for New England, while Pete and Jess picked up another and set off for Rhode Island to start their trip. We planned this part of the trip with the help of our trust Lonely Planet guide, and using Google maps to plot the track and work out mileage and time for each journey.

It didn’t take us long to reach the forests in their wonderful Autumn colours,

and we enjoyed a few hours travelling through the incredible scenery along Route 100 until we reached our Airbnb in Wilmington, VT.

The apartment is above Ratu’s Liquor Store, a wonderful store with every kind of liquor. Part of the rental was a free growler, which Kirsty grabbed as they had an alcohol free beer, but Jason acquired some cans too, and we bought more still. Well, its a long trip..

The apartment backs onto the Deerfield River, with lovely views.

As it was still early afternoon, we wandered into Wilmington for a nosey, and loved the town.

It is full of quirky little shops and eateries, and pretty buildings and river views.

Ian found himself the second hand bookshop, which extended out into a yurt, full of books, cd’s, even 8 track tapes, while I found the Norton House Quilting Store and the 1836 Country Store, both full of gorgeous stuff begging me to buy them.

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We dined in Jezebel’s Eatery, a lovely cosy restaurant, where we enjoyed some Mac’n’cheese, before retiring to test the beers.

Saturday morning, we first stopped at the aptly named ‘100 Mile View’, where a walkway along the side of the Hogsback Mountain provides distant views, looking their best at this time of year.

As you can see, the weather was endless blue skies all day.

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and a wonderful gift shop full of maple syrup, moose souvenirs, and anything else you should want to remember your trip here.

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Still full from last nights dinner, we bought picnic supplies and set off up route 100 on the look out for a lunch stop.

And found the best! The end of Lake Penelope, a picture postcard place to stop.

Next we called in at Killerton for supplies, and the gentleman in the Visitor Centre told us to take the road opposite for a couple of miles, where we would see snow and fall colours together. We stopped at Mad Hatter’s ice cream cabin, where we found great photo opportunities, and saw the snow at the top of the ski resort in the distance.

After many more beautiful miles, and interesting buildings

we arrived in New Hampshire, and reached our next destination, Bethlehem.

Our Airbnb here was a little out of town (or we were feeling lazy) so we drove into town looking for somewhere to eat, but it seems the whole of Bethlehem eats out at 18:00 on a Saturday, so we gave up and bought dinner from the supermarket.

It was only later we realised the irony of this, there was no room in the inn for my pregnant daughter, in Bethlehem! Only that story didn’t end with frozen pizza, beer and TV.

Sunday we set off for Surry, stopping at Walmart, Jason wanted to see if they had a gun store, just out of curiosity. They didn’t, so we just stocked up on food.

Miles and miles of scenery passed by.

The cog railway for Mt Washington.

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Then we called in at Belfast, a coastal town with some nice shops, for a leg stretch.

We found a great children’s shop where we bought baby stuff and a 2000 piece jigsaw just made for me!

We eventually reached our cabin, set right on the shore of Toddy Pond.

We had bought marshmallows, with the plan of lighting the fire pit, but by then it was getting cold and dreary, so instead we got the fire inside going, and cosied up in the blankets for a relaxing evening.

With showers forecast, we drove into Bar Harbor, a pretty harbour town, but now overrun with souvenir shops selling Bar Harbor t-shirts and hoodies.

I finally got my lobster roll!

The weather was drizzly so we decided to drive around Arcadia Park, rather than go for a walk, and then went back to the cabin for cards, food and TV.

Next morning was still and bright, after heavy rain all night, so more photos of this gorgeous spot. I thought I spotted a Loon, but it might have been a cormorant instead, but we did see chipmunks.

I will leave you as we set off down the Maine Coast to Portland, back soon..

Scotland NC500 and more, Week 2

We went into Dunbar the next morning, and I love the place

I trust you have read the first part of this blog Scotland NC500 and more, week 1, and you pick up our trip as we leave Inverewe gardens.

Our Saturday night was spent at Ullapool. where the site is right next to the town, on the shoreline. There is a walk down to the shore where the Puils had a great time running through the dunes.

The views from the site are spectacular, especially under the clear blue skies.

We ate fish and chips on the shore in the sunshine.

The road from here goes inland, and is more moors, but when you reach Loch Assynt you find Ardvreck Castle.

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Can there be a more typical ruin? And with a waterfall across the road for added interest.

The coast road then follows a B road around the next part, and rejoins the A road near Unapool. For the past few days we had been kept company by drivers following the ‘Knights of the Islands 2019’ road trip, with their vehicles all over 20 years old.

We met some on various site and view points.

Finally we reached the North Coast, and stayed at Sango Sands, again, right on the coast, with a walk down to the beach.

This had to be my favourite beach, with wild waves crashing on looming rock, and 2 crazy beasts dashing around like loons.

 

No wonder the van is full of sand! But I declared this our Happy Place and would happily have stayed all day/week.

After a morning bacon buttie, and another visit to the beach, we took the short trip to a nearby beach where enterprising souls had set up a Zip wire across the bay.

We had to have a go!

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Looking across the bay

It was a peaceful glide, enjoying the views across the bay.

Adrenaline fix over, we continued along the top of Scotland, with wilder scenery but still many great beaches.

Our site for the night was Thurso, but as we had made good time, we headed first for John O’Groats, a tacky touristy place with a quaint harbour, for ice cream, and Signpost selfies.

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Reggie at the signpost
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John O’Groats harbour

 

Then we continued to the real top of Scotland, to Duncansby head, with its lighthouse, and true end of the country feel.

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Duncansby Lighthouse
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Stacks

There were many people looking out for Dolphins and whales, but we didn’t see any. However, 2 Orca were spotted from the ferry here the very next day.

Thurso Bay site was yet another shore site, this time with steep cliffs down to the beach, and a short walk into town. We also found that the nearby Lidl was open on a Sunday evening, so restocked our cupboards.

From here, everything goes downhill, or South anyway.

The coastline down the east of Scotland Highlands is more about the fishing industry, with Herring harbours and fish farms.

One delight was Dunrobin Castle, this one is not a ruin, but a fairytale castle.

 

The road crosses some spectacular bridges, and the scenery changes constantly. However, drizzle was starting to arrive after a quick visit to Inverness.

Our next 2 nights were in Glenmore near Aviemore. I was expecting a small quiet site in the Forest, as this is run by Camping in the Forest, a joint venture between Forestry Commision and the Camping and Caravanning Club, but this was the largest site we visited,and we were close to a shop and bar. It was also raining, and our pitch was a puddle. The site was quiet and the staff very friendly and helpful.

To cheer us up, we spotted a red squirrel a few feet from the van, but he scuttered off before I could grab my camera.

Determined not to let this weather stop us, we cooked a hearty meal onboard Connie, and the next morning the rain stopped for long enough for us to walk around the Loch, and after lunch at the non-dog friendly visitor centre, we walked up to the green loch, An Lochan Uaine, despite the shower that turned into rain.

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A quick visit into Aviemore before we set off, and the weather brightened as we headed south.

We crossed the new Forth bridge, but panels along the bridge prevented any reasonable photos.

In bright warm sunlight we reached Dunbar. The site is high on hills past the town, with great views across. We quickly emptied the wet awning and dogs beds, towels etc. out onto the bank and with a stiff breeze, soon had everything dry again, while a skylark sang away just above our heads.

The site has its own small castleIMG_4007

and a walk from the back of the site takes you to the lighthouse.

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As the site was not in town, we went into Dunbar the next morning, and I love the place.

It has a great little castle, very cleverly upgraded with information and gardens, and a small amphitheater where they hold concerts, a working harbour, and other interesting shops and buildings.

 

Next stop was St Abbs, with the intention of another lighthouse visit, but we decided against the walk round, and just visited the harbour and shops instead.

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St Abbs church
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Gate with St Abbs head
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St Abbs harbour
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2 Puli waiting for us outside the visitor centre

Lunch at the cafe near the car park, and off on the road again.

We followed the coast road down past the wonderful Northumberland castle of Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh and Alnwick, and views across to the Farne Islands and Holy island. A leg stretch and run on Seahouses beach refreshed us all.

Our last night was at a small working farm site in Gibside, Rowlands Gill, with views across the green farmland, and horses and sheep in the nearby fields.

From there it was a walk on Seaham beach, where I had stiff competition for my sea glass collecting, but still managed a few very pretty  items. Ian said most people on the beach had their heads down.

Further research says this is one of the worlds best sea glass beaches, as a glass factory used to sit at the top of the cliff and multicoloured waste scraps were thrown away into the sea. I didn’t find any of these wonderful, prices, but I will return to this beach whenever I can.

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And then through the Yorkshire moors and home. Two happy sunwashed humans and 2 sandy happy tired Pulik, with loads of great memories and many photos.

One thing I failed to mention is that at almost every site and pit stop we heard cuckoos calling, and skylarks were everywhere.

But we must start planning our next trip with Connie already, once we have removed the sand from inside Connie and the dead flies from the windscreen.

Scotland NC500 and more, week 1

We found one of the most incredible beaches, almost deserted

With the weather forecast for Scotland looking warm and sunny, yes, that’s right, we decided to make our desired trip to Scotland in May, when the midges are not yet in their thousands.

So we sat down and planned a route, as since the North Coast Road has been turned into a must-do drive, the campsites can be busy.

After spending our first night at Lytham St Annes for a family visit, our next site was Hoddom castle a beautiful site near Lockerbie, set in the grounds of the castle, and with facilities inside the castle. It was special to take a shower inside a castle.

There are also lovely walks around, including up to Repentance Tower, and along the river. They also have cute pods if you don’t have your own accommodation.

After a lovely quiet night and a morning walk along the river we set off north, stopping briefly at Lochmaben Castle, very much a ruin, and most of it closed off due to crumbling masonry.

This part of the journey took us past Glasgow on mainly motorways, but there were still lovely sights to see.

Our next night was spent near Oban at a site set within a walled garden. You can walk down to the loch shore, but there is a Fish farm factory alongside. However from the back of the site there is the delightful balcadine walk through the woods, with fascinating iron railing down steps to an enchanting chasm.

From here we stopped in Fort William, a fairly drab town, for some supplies, then detoured a little off our track to visit Fort Augustus and the bottom of Loch Ness.

While the town is small and mainly filled with tourists, it is charming and the locks on the canal are worth a walk up, and then walk down to Loch Ness. Of course, everywhere we go Reggie and Rita create a stir.

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The obligatory Loch Ness selfie

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We set off on the A87, enjoying the mountains and lochs, and crossed the bridge to the Isle of Skye. However, we didn’t find Skye as enchanting or picturesque as other places, and our site, though lochside, was a bit bleak, but did provide a colourful sunset and a bright start to Thursday .

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Our next stop was Applecross, the the faithful among you will travel the famous Bealach na Ba road, with hairpin bends and steep hills, but we decided Connie was a bit big for the road, so we took the alternate road up to Sheildaig.

En route we stopped by a loch for lunch, and I walked down with the Puli to the lochside, started taking photos, when 3 deer appeared and calmly walked towards us.

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The road from here becomes single lane, but with plenty of passing places. The road is popular with not only campervans, but motorcyclists and flash cars, but was not too busy to enjoy the drive.

Shortly before arriving in Applecross, as we were early, we stopped at a small car park, and found one of the most incredible beaches, almost deserted, with a vast stretch of clean soft sand.

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The pulis has a wonderful time, and we even caught a glimpse of a seal in the bay.

 

The site at Applecross had been in a list of top 10 site on NC500, but as they were building a new shower block, the existing facilities were very poor, with insufficient showers, and the field we were on did not have much view. Hopefully this will improve later this year.

For dinner we walked down into Applecross and had a delicious meal at The Junction, where they allowed the dogs upstairs, and there was a great view across the shore to Skye.

As we had 2 nights here, on Friday we took the walk to Applecross walled garden and beyond, a lovely walk with forest, rivers, hills, and the sweet gardens where we also stopped for lunch and both had Haggis and Cheese melts – mmm.

On our way there we met 10 red deer, just standing by the public footpath that goes along the roadside. They didn’t care about Reggie barking at them, and just stood grazing and watching us pass within a few metres of them.

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Showing how close people were passing the deer
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deer and more wild deer

On Saturday, after revisiting the wonderful beach just up the road to gather more sand into the van, we swapped driver and set off towards Ullapool, passing many pretty fishing towns and lochs.

One pit-stop was to Inverewe Gardens, a lovely sub tropical garden, kept warm by the Gulf Stream. The azaleas were in bloom, and the lovely handkerchief tree.

Luckily, the weather had stayed warm and sunny, reaching 22 degrees some days, and not too many midges had found us.

Stay tuned for week 2, as we head further North and around the top of Scotland.

 

Tanzanian Safari Part 3 – Zanzibar

The red colobus monkey is endemic to Zanzibar

We left our camp by the Selous park, for the short drive to an airstrip just inside the Park. Our plane was early!

Here, our jeep drove right up along a small 13 seater plane, and we joined the other 8 people already on board. No passport or security checks, just clamber on board. One spare seat was the co-pilots seat, and Robert was only too pleased to take that one.

He did a very good job of keeping us safe, and we took off from the grass airstrip (making sure there were no wildlife on there first) and enjoyed the views over Tanzania and Dar es Salaam and the coast as we flew over.

We then had a taxi ride to our first hotel, the Zanzibari, at Nungwi, near the northern tip of Zanzibar. The surrounding area was quite poor and untidy, so it felt a bit odd to go through the gate with security guards into the hotel and be met by beautiful grounds next to a white beach .

 

The dining room bar was a full sized dhow, including sails, and the grounds were full of flowers, our room was in the Bougainvillea wing.

After a wander around the grounds, we had a lovely 5 course meal, accompanied by a local drum and dance band.

The next day we were scheduled to have a walking tour of the fishing village and see them making the dhows, but we saw a leaflet for a trip to Zanzibar’s Jozani Nature Reserve and a butterfly center, and the hotel were happy for us to change.

We set off in the same taxi with Robert, Ann and Amanda opted for the village trip, for a 90 minute trip down Zanzibar. One noticeable difference from the mainland is that Zanzibar has banned the use of thin plastic bags, and so there is far less litter around.

The butterfly centre was set up by a Scottish man, who arranged for farmers in Zanzibar to farm butterflies, and send the chrysalises to the centre, where they are used to hatch for the centre, or sent to Butterfly houses around the world, giving the farmers a good source of income.

We were shown various life stages of the butterflies, then visited a large mesh arena full of them flying around.

Next we travelled on to the reserve, where we hoped to see some endangered monkeys.

Once we had listened to our guide explain about the reserve, we walked across the car-park, and met some Sykes monkeys climbing above us, then saw the rare red colobus monkeys.

One even sat at eye level for some amazing photographs.

The red colobus monkey is endemic to Zanzibar, and has a population of around 1000, so it was rather special to get such a good look at them in the wild.

We had a walk around the rain forest and then a short drive to the mangrove swamps, with the guide explaining about the environment and wildlife.

After the drive back to our hotel, we enjoyed a swim and relax before another delicious meal.

Our last day took us in the taxi back to Zanzibar city, and our last hotel, the Dhow Palace, in the Stone Town area. Stone town was a medieval town, and many old building remain, including a fort. We had a walking tour and also visited the food market where we bought some spices.

Stone town is also famous for its carved doors, though a lot are fairly modern now.

Our guide took us the the Anglican church that stands where the slave market used to be, and has a very good museum showing the history of slavery in Zanzibar.

 

We had a chance to explore the hotel after the tour – its a very interesting building with wonderful features.

 

Sadly, this was the end of our trip, as our plane to Nairobi left at 02:00 the next morning.

I hope you have enjoyed the blogs and photos as much as we enjoyed the trip.

 

Tanzanian Safari part 2 – Selous

After our trip to Serengeti in my last blog, we then travelled to the Selous Park for the next part of our trip. This started with the 150km drive back to Mwanza, a flight to Dar es Salaam, minibus to Dar train station (a wreck of a place) and onto the train to Kisaki. This train actually travels twice a week all the way to Kapiri Mposhi, in Zambia, and takes 2 days.

Our trip should have been a 4 hour trip, but mechanical problems added 2 hours to the trip, so we arrived late at night, tired and hungry.

A quick drive to Sable Mountain Lodge, and dinner, and bed was all we could manage.

Due to the remote location, and the bandas are spread out, a guard with gun had to escort us to our banda.

Next morning, we woke with the dawn, and opened the curtain (no door) to the front of our banda, and WOW!

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The bath was outside on a high balcony with the most incredible view

After a later start we set off for a game drive in the Selous Park.

We were met by a troop of baboons as we entered the park, and continued to see many animals on our drive.

And lots of birds:

We stopped for lunch by a large lake, and then took a boat trip amongst the hippos and crocodiles.

We were warned about flying fish, and sure enough, one tried 3 times, and eventually leapt into our boat. We saw mother and baby hippos on the banks and lots of crocs.

We then had a quick look at the ‘Bush Rover’ Land Rover Tent, which another couple we met in camp were staying in here overnight. The spiral stairs lead to a bedroom with balcony.

This must be rather exciting, but noisy at night with all of the wildlife.

Fed and watered, we set off driving again, and were lucky enough to meet some kudu, which are normally very shy, plus many more animals and birds.

Eventually, worn out from our ‘African massage’ of a drive, and nearing park closing time, we speedily drove back to camp.

The next morning, as I started getting up, I heard noises above our tent in the banda, and as I went (outside the tent, but under the roof) to the toilet, a bushbaby (galago) ran across the top of the wall!

Sadly, he didn’t stay for a photo shot.

It was another early start, setting back out for a dawn game drive before breakfast.

We saw a lot of zebra, impala and giraffe, and a tree full of black and white colobus monkeys.

Back to camp for breakfast and a lazy morning, then after lunch we set out for a visit to a nearby Masai village, but first we walked down to the tree-house that overlooks the watering hole the camp built, but no wildlife was around. The watering hole takes the water from the camps swimming pool every 3 days, which is drawn fresh from a  spring and contains no chemicals.

On route we came across 4 male elephants bathing in a mud hole they had dug right next to the road.

The Masai village was interesting. The chief had 3 wives, the second of which is a teacher in their school, and she has insisted he have a brick built house (with solar panel and satellite dish), but other villagers still live in mud and coconut leaf huts.

They showed us the trees they grow and explained their medicinal uses, and then laid out goods they had made for us to buy. The Masai always wear their traditional clothing and the men are allowed to carry their knives in public – we saw a lot of Masai security guards on our later travel.

We called in at the train station and village where we had arrived, people were waiting for the return train, as they only run twice a week, and it was running several hours late.

On the road back to the camp, we stopped to see some hornbills,  when Mbasha noticed a tree full of black and white colobus monkeys, who then leapt from the trees.

The following morning we had a dawn walking safari, again with an armed guard. Nothing was at the watering hole, but we saw warthog, about 20 water buffalo, and other quick sightings. We also saw some bones from an elephant that was poached for its tusks a few years earlier, and footprints from civet cats, hyena and lions, all only a couple of hundred metres from our lodges.

We walked back uphill to join the river that runs below our camp.

Sadly this was the end of our time in Selous, as we prepared to set off for Zanzibar – keep watching for the next installment.

But not before one last bit of excitement. We were sat in the back of the jeep, and I dropped a water bottle. Mbasha started turning around to pick it up, and stopped, so Ian said he would jump down and fetch it, when Mbasha shouted NO!.

There was a black mamba on the side of the road.

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A lucky escape, and we carried on to Zanzibar.

And back again

Galaxidi is as gorgeous as ever

As I never got around to finishing the second half of my last blog on our sailing trip from Nidri to Corfu, I thought the best thing to do would be make the return trip, and more.

So this blog covers a flotilla placement trip from Corfu to Epidavros.

We start by waking at 02:30 for a 06:00 flight to Corfu, this had better be worth it.

We arrive in Corfu late morning, and travel the short distance to Gouvier marina to pick up our yacht Kanoni.

After settling in, we dine in a marina cafe, and settle for an early night.

Next morning, we set off (hopefully before the other 160 Sailing Holiday yachts) for Corfu yacht club. We found some light wind in the morning to sail, then stopped on Nisida Vido, the island outside Corfu town, for me to take a swim, and collect sea glass on the beach. Refreshed, we made our way into the yacht club, with the help of the harbour master.

We stayed here last October and fell in love with the quirky place. The marina is set right below the high imposing walls of Corfu citadel, and below the music college.

The citadel is lit at night, and snatches of music can be heard drifting down to the boats.

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The lead crew organised a punch party for us to get to know the flotilla members, then we wandered off to dine in Corfu town, an odd mix of regency British architecture, with twisty lane climbing the hill. While here last year we heard brass band playing in an upper storey.  Research found that Corfu has 3 brass bands.

Tuesday morning is the Greek labour day holiday, and we set off southwards and over to the mainland. The wind was not existent all morning, but after lunch on the go, it picked up and we sailed most of the way to Sivota Mourtos.

Ian is sure we have stayed here before and we both recognise a hotel on the way in, but the town itself doesn’t ring many bells. However we moor on the town quay, facing a busy taverna packed with local and holidaymakers enjoying the sunny labour day.

Next day we head off back over to the island, to Gaios on Paxos. A good windy sail, with our sails well reefed.

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Due to encroaching bad weather we stayed another night in Gaios, giving us a relaxing day for reading and walking, and meeting the local cats.

Friday we set off early towards Prevesa, planning a swim in Emerald bay, but large waves and jelly fish kibosh that idea, so I will have to resort to last years photos, when it was calm and sunny, it really does live up to its name.

We then motor sailed onward. This stretch is my least favourite, large swell and no scenery. Last year it was so tedious we played Eye-Spy, ‘S is for……’ should have been the title to the second blog

Eventually we arrived at Prevesa, which is off the tourist track and is popular with the locals who promenade along the front. On our previous trip this was our laundry stop, as you can see from the washing strung around the boat.

We had another lovely meal in the Mermaid taverna, if you ever travel there, we recommend you visit.

Saturday, after a thundery briefing the rain stopped and we set off out of Prevesa. A good wind allowed us to sail to the Lefkas canal.

After motoring through, we again sailed towards Sivota. We made a brief detour at Skorpios to meet Robin and David who had been sailing in the south Ionian while Robin passed her ICC. Having eventually found them, we had a short chat, then set off again, motoring down to Sivota.

Thunder and heavy rain rattled through during the night, and the next morning.

Sunday was a free sail day, but due to the bad weather many of the flotilla decided to stay put in Sivota. We looked at the weather maps and planned to go to the bays on the north of Meganissi, which looked a bit more promising.

We left the harbour in heavy rain and thunder, but after half an hour, it started to brighten up, and while it still drizzled, it was far better that in Sivota. We sailed around the foot of Meganissi, and up the east side, and finally anchored in Kapoli Bay on the north, with just a small yacht and a cruiser for company. I swam ashore and tied a long line to a tree as wind was blowing down the bay.

This photo is taken by AllWinner's v3-sdv

Eventually the cruiser left, and we spent a quiet if lumpy night, as the wind turned and we were side to to the waves with our line to shore. It alternated between sun and showers all evening.

Next morning we woke to a gorgeous sunrise, and after a swim, in undid the line and we sailed around the north of Meganissi. As we passed Nidri we saw some dolphins who came a played for a few minutes, including a youngster.

We continued down to Big Vathi to rejoin the flotilla, where, despite our longer trip, we arrived first after the lead crew. We strolled into Vathi from Dimitris quay, and had the best ice cream ever from the bakery on the front.

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Next morning,Tuesday we set off by 08:30, as we were rafted in behind 3 yachts, and we had a longer trip today.

We motor sailed across the inland sea to Messalongi. going further than our Autumn trip this time.

This is another town not visited by tourists, and the approach is along a long shallow sandy canal, bordered by wooden houses, some on stilts, that gives the place a very Southern American feel.

Wednesday we strolled around the harbour at Messalongi then set sail before 10:00.

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Once out of the channel, and lots of photos, we raised our sails for a while, but soon gave up. The flotilla congregated by a cardinal marker for sand banks, and one yacht had quick repairs, then we set of for Rion-Antirion bridge which we could see through the haze. The wind picked up a little, and we goose-winged with engine power towards the bridge.

After the bridge the channel narrows, and the wind picked up and we were able to goose-wing all the way to Trezonia, reaching 8.8 knots a few points, as the wind was behind us and the waves travelling our direction and speed. Yeeha!

It was sad to find thaT Trezonia has become a yacht graveyard, with an examples of how NOT to park side to.

We wandered round the quay, comparing sailing notes with the flot, then ate on board as the wind died down.

Thursday, we set off for Galaxidi, getting good sailing under a genoa, until we turned the corner, when it died down. Galaxidi is as gorgeous as ever, a real refreshing treat after Trizonia, it even smells delightful, with rosemary and other herb bushes along the quay.

We wandered into town to dine, only to find the whole of the flotilla had chosen the same restaurant.

We were up early on Friday for a coach trip up to Delphi. We had been before, but due to renewing the paths and step, part of this ancient site was shut. This time we wandered up to the stadium.

Saturday we had an early start towards Corinth. After a short bit of wind, it died down and we motored across, but did see dolphins for a short while. Corinth has cleaned up its act and the yacht marina is now clean and tidy. In the evening it is a meeting point for the youngsters of Corinth, and also a standard walk for young and old alike. Later it became busier as a club ashore had loud music, but we still got a good nights sleep.

IMG_2744We were booked to traverse the Corinth canal at 9:00, so we’re up bright and early again, but we were them delayed to the 10:30 slot so I took the chance for a swim while we loitered. The canal is as marvelous as ever. We saw sparrow hawks nesting on the walls this time.

For lunch we stopped in a bay with a very steep beach, which meant the boat was only a few feet off the shore. I had a great swim, it looked almost like we were on the edge of a reef. A couple of other flotilla boats came and looked, but only one managed to anchor beside us.

After lunch we saw a boat well under sail, so set off. After an hours very good sailing, we realised we didn’t have time to continue so motored on to Angistri, a new harbour for us.

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A team meal in Milos Jamaica bar, a lovely hotel with an incredible view, and live music and they even got us up dancing.

Monday we had a good sail round to Poros. A beautiful sunset over the lady as usual.

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Next day was a free day so we first walked round the end island of Poros and up to the clock tower, then after lunch walked along the large island coast and I had 2 swims, and collected more sea glass.

Early start on Wednesday, to Hydra, as it is always busy. Despite a short sail and arriving 11:15, it was full, so the flot headed round to Mandraki bay, where we rafted and most had a good swim. We then walked into Hydra, for ice cream and shopping, and got water taxi back.

I tried out my GoPro while swimming, and dined onboard, sat looking at stars.

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Thursday, after a morning swim, we headed over to frog rock for another swim,

CIMG0037 then motor sailed to the bay next to Perdika for yet another swim, but didn’t take camera, then on  to Perdika, where we fought off catamarans for a space.

Next we travelled to the third Vathi of the trip, this one is a tiny pretty little harbour next to a few tavernas.

As we had arrived early, we decided to walk up to the volcano, which is a cave formed when the hills behind Vathi last erupted. It was very hot and a long way, but we made it, and the views were spectacular.

Sadly the next day was our last as we sailed on to Epidavros and returned home, but we enjoyed our 3 week adventure, visiting places new and old to us.

Lighthouses and Windmills

We sailed in the North and South Ionian this October.

Despite a few days worrying about our Monarch flight out, when they went bust, Sailing Holidays soon sorted us a new flight, and we arrived in Nidri late on Sunday and were shown to our yacht, and then enjoyed a quick drink at the bar to get into holiday mood.

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On Monday morning, we had our boat briefing and set off for Sivota. winds were light so we stopped in a bay for break, and Mary-Ann and Colin, friends from previous flotillas met us for a quick chat.

That evening we enjoyed a meal with the rest of the flotilla crews.

We made the most of light winds the next morning, but as i needed my first swim we motored to One House Bay on Atoko island.

The sea was blue, and warmish, and lots of fish for me to enjoy

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Light winds took us to the nights port of Kioni, a pretty village we first visited in 2006.

Destination for Wednesday was Fiskardo, the setting for ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’.

It is a very pretty village, but maybe too popular with tourists. On the plus side, it had old Venetian lighthouse and other ruins in the hillside, and as we had to arrive early we had the chance for a walk around the hillside.

Next stop was Ay. Euphemia

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The next day was a free sailing day, and despite the distance, and our yacht having a very poor engine/prop, we decided to head for Kalamos.

George, the owner of the taverna at the end of the harbour, helps everyone moor, and can always find more space. Luckily it wasn’t busy and we also had time for a stroll around town, which is so steep the locals drive golf buggies.

The next morning, as winds were light again, we headed over the hill to see the windmills, and for a swim.

This lighthouse would make a wonderful holiday let.

While there is an air of decay about the place it still charms us.

We even found a project for Jason on the end of the pier

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After our stroll, we headed off for Little Vathi, but not before we were approached by ‘pirates’, OK, crew asking for our spare diesel for another yacht in our flot who had engine problems.

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Little Vathi was our last harbour in the South Ionian, so the next morning we set off under sail for the Lefkas canal

This canal separates Kefkas Island from the mainland and runs between swamps.

There is a boat bridge at the top end that only opens for 10 minutes each hour, but good timing meant our 2 flotillas all safely got through and headed on to Prevesa.

This town is off the tourist trail, but is now loved by locals who promenade along the seafront in the evening. We enjoyed a pleasant meal in the Mermaid and Crepes in the Tram Cafe.IMG_2379

That brings us to the end of week one, and the start of our North Ionian sailing – be back soon

Stairs, Stiles and Steps

A trip closer to home, but still over the sea

A trip closer to home this time, but still over the sea –  a few days with the dogs in Anglesey. We started with a winding route across the A55 along the north of Wales.

First stop was Talacre – the lighthouse on the end of the Dee Estuary, set in a large sandy beach. As this was April, not many visitors were around.

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Reggie loved dashing around the sand, and Tez managed to find the muddly puddles by the lighthouse.

As this was only a pit-stop, and most of Talacre was shut (including the loos) we grabbed a quick drink and carried on our way.

Next stop was Llandudno – Kirsty and Jason had stopped there a few days earlier and suggested we call in. First we parked in a Multi-storey car-park and had to travel down 3 flight of stairs with Metal treads – Reggie did not enjoy this, and had to run down them all, dragging me behind.

We wandered down the prom, and tried to get the beasts to sit and have their photo taken, with limited success.

Next we drove through Conwy, and found out why they use Open topped buses :

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I’m not sure a normal bus would fit.

Eventually we crossed the Menai Straits and reached Anglesey, and as time was getting on, we went direct to our cottage.

We were staying in a renovated Gamekeepers cottage amidst the woods on the 500 acre Carreglwyd estate.

We unloaded the car and went to investigate the cottage. It was an upside down cottage, with a steep open flight of stairs up to the lounge, and we soon found that neither Tez or Reggie were willing to climb them.

As our plan for the week was to walk to beaches and pubs, we set off up a footpath towards Church Bay, but our plan failed, after passing through a field of very new born lambs (I daren’t try to use my camera), we came to a stile made of large rocks imbedded in a stone wall, and for the third time that day found that the dogs were on vertical strike, and so were we when we saw the huge puddle the other side, so we retraced our track and started out the main drive towards a pub, but once we reached the village, and had a decent phone signal, we checked opening time, and found it was shut until Thursday, so back to the cottage for salad.

I did get a lovely shot of the view from the drive on our return, looking across to Holy island and Holyhead.

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The next day, after being woken by the local pheasants, we started with a drive down to Church Bay, which was deserted, so Reggie had a good run around while Tez pootled about

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We walked a short way along the coast path before finding our way blocked by several young cows, who wanted to check out the dogs, but not before, we found these wonderful kissing gates, and this private staircase down to the beach.

The breeze was cool, so we got back to the car and drove north up the Island, looking for a warm drink, as again, the beach café was shut.

A sign to a Jam Factory offering Cream teas caught our eye, and a wonderful quirky place we found. Following storms that removed most of their slate roofs, they had only just started production and opened their café, which appeared to be the farmhouse lounge, but the owners collections, and a lovely cream tea in front of the fire did the trick.

We also bought some jam to take home.

Next stop was Cemaes, which turned out to be a lovely coastal village, with quaint shops and a lovely harbour.

Do you think that chain is big enough to hold the boat?

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It was getting a bit gloomy, but I couldn’t resist the pastel cottages.

We had lunch and travelled on to Moelfre, with a stream falling thought the middle of the village

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Another walk on a beach and my sea-glass collection was improving

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We walked round to the RNLI station and looked around the lifeboat

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This is for you, Kelsey and Andy – it’s called Kiwi

Last town of the day was Beaumaris, a delightful town with castle and posh shops

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And back to the cottage, with this lovely view over a walled garden

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and the gate through the wall

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As part of every sea-side holiday is fish and chips, Ian kindly drove back to Cemaes to buy dinner – yum.

Day 3, we started with a beach just south of the cottage, again, all to ourselves.

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and then crossed over to Holy Island, and visited the South Stack lighthouse, but as the steps were steep, and the dogs on strike, we left them in the car.

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and this tower is the RSPB observatory, rather grand.

Our last trek for the day was a longer walk around the south coast of Holy Island to Silver Sands Bay. The car park was accessed via a zig zag narrow road, with several right angle bends – a bit scarey, but luckily nothing came the other way.

Starting in the bay, we walked the Coastal path over the headlands.

The full path does a figure of eight around the car-park, but Tez declared she had done enough walking after the first section, and she’s an old lady, we agreed

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After another busy day, we ventured to the local pub as it was now Thursday and open, and it proved well worth the wait. The Black Bull was very friendly, allowing dogs in, and the food was delicious.

We started our last day back down on Church Bay, but the tide was further in, so less room to run, but we still got Reggie out of breathe. Ian then started skimming stones, and Tez decided she’s try to catch them resulting in a wet dog in the car going home!

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Again, on Kirsty’s suggestion, we travelled back via Betwy-y-Coed, and then on to Llangollen, which we realised, despite having travelled past many times, we had never stopped in. We found a park next to the river to enjoy our sandwiches, and sadly left Wales behind for now.

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