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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New Zealand Murals 2019 Napier

Earlier this year during our travels to New Zealand, we came across lots of murals.

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Plastic Pollution / Ocean health by Pat Perry at Willix Legal, Vautier Street, Napier

Some were just random art works, but a lot of them had been created by Sea Walls – Artists for Oceans. These are projects that bring together internationally renowned artists to paint large scale murals.

Their purpose is not only to highlight the enhance town they are in, but to highlight the beauty of the oceans, and address pressing issues relevant to local and global communities.

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Climate Change / Ocean Acidification by James Bullough at the back of Quest Hotel, Station Street, Napier

In Napier we were lucky enough to find a copy of the map, listing the murals there with a brief description of each, and we followed the map to find many. In Gisborne they had run out of maps, so we found many by chance, others by using Pokemon Go! as many are Pokestops.

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We have adjusted my photos to allow for the positions we had to photograph them from, so this has removed a lot of the building and cars around them, so you can see almost their full beauty. However this has possibly diminished their sense of scale.

Some are small paintings on street furniture, or just a couple on a blank wall, while others covered the whole of a car park wall, but I will post them in a random order.

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NZ Endangered Seabirds by Celeste Byers in the car park off Dickens Street, Napier
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Detail from NZ Endangered Seabirds by Celeste Byers in the car park off Dickens Street, Napier

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Plastic Pollution by Kelly Spencer in Theatre Lane, Napier
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Ocean Health and Wellbeing by Cryptik on the front of Napier City Council building in Hastings Street

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Shark Conservation by Noelle Anderson, on the corner of Routledge Street and Nelson Quay, Napier
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Detail from NZ Endangered Marine Animals by Morag Shaw, on corner of Waghorne and Routledge Streets, Napier
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NZ Endangered Marine Animals by Morag Shaw, on corner of Waghorne and Routledge Streets, Napier
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Ghost nets / Marine Debris by Mica Still, on wall on corner of Waghorne and Bridge Streets, Napier
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NZ Endangered Sea birds by Vexta, at back car park behind Speights Ale House, West Quay, Napier
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Plastic Pollution Affecting Sea Turtles, by Phibs, in the Herschell Street private car park, next to Byron Street
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NZ Endangered Seabirds by Twoone, in the Spreights Ale House car park at West Quay, Napier
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Hammerhead Data Translation by Lauren Ys, at West Quay, Napier
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Ocean pollution by Elliot Francis Stewart, at West Quay, Napier

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Global warming and Rising sea levels by Carly Ealey, in alleyway by Shed 2 in Lever Street at West Quay, Napier

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Ocean Acidification by Leanne Culy, at back of Shed 2, West Quay, Napier

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Global warming and Rising sea levels by Carly Ealey, in alleyway by Shed 2 in Lever Street at West Quay, Napier

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NZ Marine Animals, by Flox, at the Bach cafe, Marine Parade, Napier

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Plastic Pollution, by Rustam QBIC, at MTG Hawke’s Bay, Browning Street
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Shark Conservation by Faith 47, on the far wall in the Te Pania Scenic Circle car park off Byron Street
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Climate Change by Onur, at the back of Kitchen Thing, Vautier Street, Napier
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Shark Conservation by Freeman White on Raffles/Bower Street in Napier City Council Car Park

I hope you enjoyed these, but if you get the chance, go to Napier and see them full siz.

I will try to blog the Gisborne murals soon.

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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.

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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.

Mountain, coast and wildlife

I’ll pick up our travels, and fill in the gaps to Kelseys last post as we continue on our trip through New Zealand North Island.

You left us as we arrived in New Plymouth. We stayed in an apartment with a view of the sea to one side, and Mount Taranaki the other. We took a gentle stroll into town along the coast walkway.

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A selfie in one of the sculptures.

 

New Plymouth likes reflections, seen here in the Len Lye Centre/Govett-Brewster Art Gallery

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The contrast between old and new architecture was striking, but charming.

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I loved the low sunlight through the clock tower

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If you ever in New Plymouth, and want to eat try PaNKaWaLLa for an incredible Indian meal. We shared the buffet and couldn’t finish it, despite our best efforts

We decided to take the Surf Route the next day, with lovely clear views of the mountain we were driving around.

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No mistaking Taranaki for the active volcano it is.

The road doesn’t actually follow the coast, but has lots of side roads to surf beaches. We ventured down a couple, trying to find Cape Egmont Lighthouse, but chose the wrong road and found the new lighthouse instead, still beautiful against the blue sky.

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The wild coast from Opunake View point.p1070229

Carrying on down the coast, we just had to visit Bulls, after Kelsey had blogged about it.

I’ll resist the puns, but we loved this shop

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Eventually we reached Wellington and met up with Andy and Kelsey again, and met my other grand-doggy Higgs.

The following day Andy and Kelsey went to work for the morning, so we walked round to Zealandia, a fully fenced urban ecosanctuary. We had already met some of the birds flying around the area, but got a chance for more up close sightings here, despite the wet weather.

 

 

 

Later that day we ventured off to Martinborough, and enjoyed great food and wine and company for Christmas.

This window was above our bed.

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p1070277Higgs enjoyed his presents, while we enjoyed the spread at Poppies Vineyard

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Kelsey’s blog has covered the visit to the Pinnacles and Cape Palliser – we were getting our step count in every day.

We returned to Wellington after a super break, and decided to visit Wellington Zoo for a morning.

A lovely zoo set on the hills over Wellington, we got to see most of the animals relaxingimg_1548

As the holiday neared its end we still found time for some walks around upper Wellington, with the awesome panoramas.

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And I shall leave you with views of this land, and our transport home, but New Zealand gave us a true goodbye – the earth moved for us as we felt a 5.5 earthquake while in  Wellington Airport. And true to Kiwi form, no-one batted an eyelid.

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Goodbye New Zealand, Kia Ora, we will be back.