Showing posts from November, 2016

Penguins For Breakfast

Be honest now, how often have you had the pleasure of being able to gaze out of your hotel window upon a colony of penguins basking in the soft evening light of a Southern Hemisphere spring? Not often I bet. As we watch it seems surreal; hard to believe that here on Sea Lion Island, the most southerly of the Falklands Islands, we are actually witnessing such scenes. For there they are, a colony of Gentoo penguins less than 100 metres from our window. We can hear them braying, and I dare say if we opened the window we could surely smell them. Wonderful.

Monday 28th November, 6am, up and out stumbling into a strong, chill nor' westerly. It's been light here for the best part of 2 hours, the strong sun shining brightly from a clear spring sky. Perfect light for photography and there's so much to point the camera at. But we have a bit of quest this morning for just over the ridge there is an elephant seal colony that proves to be an irresistible lure to a pod of orcas that cru…

Coffee With Legs

We have a day in Satiago de Chile, a very busy but well ordered city surrounded by Andes mountains. The views on a clear winters day must be simply stunning with the snow capped peaks providing a dramatic backdrop to any city scene, but today they were but a thin outline seen through a shimmer of smog. The city is built in a gap between the mountains and forms a bowl from which the exhausts from millions of cars and buses cannot escape. Only after rains or when winds blow the area clean can its situation be fully appreciated. But it is a very pleasant place for a stroll, especially on a fine spring day with temperatures pegged more in line with what we would expect in summer back home. Believe me, after the swelter of the last couple of weeks it is a refreshing change.

As with all our stays in these South American cities we have taken advantage of having a private guide take us around. It saves a lot of time and allows us to see most of the main sights in a logistically efficient fash…

Iguazu - The Rainbow Falls

Spectacular, magnificent, breathtaking! Iguazu Falls is all of this and more. No words can really sum up the experience of being so close to a 3 kilometre horseshoe of cascading water crashing in over 270 huge plumes of smoky vapour onto rocks 80 metres below. You can only stand in awe and stare at the  wonderful natural spectacle all around you.

We arrived here in the melt of a Brazilian spring afternoon two days ago, the temperature in the mid 30s encouraging swarms of yellow butterflies to flitter around the roadsides and woodland trails. Our hotel, being within the National Park boundary, provides exclusive access to the walkways before 9am and after 6pm ; between times the paths and lookout points are thronged with hordes of fellow tourists that arrive in a never ending stream of shuttle buses. We have just come back from a saunter along the trail to the Devil's Throat, just us two and half a dozen others, where we felt the cool refreshing spray from the falls wash over us in…

Let Me Take You down To Rio

And here we Are in Rio De Janiero, the River of January, so called apparently because when the Portuguese explorers 'discovered' Guanabara Bay on 1st January 1502, they thought it was the outlet from a river system. At least that's the popular explanation, another is that 16th century Portuguese  differed from the modern day lingo and 'Rio' then applied to any body of water; sounds much more plausible.

Whatever the origins, the city now sprawls for miles, snaking along valleys between granite hills thrust from the earth like so many giant shark teeth. Some 11 million people call the city home and that number is growing all the time. Inflation is rampant, corruption amongst officials a kind of recreational pastime, housing cramped and squalid, architecture crumbling. It would also be wise not to fall into the sea and take a mouthful of the water because water is not the only substance that will enter your fragile system. Over 50% of the sewage created by the multi-h…

A Great Spectacle

It was undoubtedly the wine, too much wine (not for the first time), that had me dancing. A little number with Valquiria who had looked after us all so well at this farewell BBQ. A fitting, if somewhat stumbling end to this leg of our South American voyage.

Tomorrow morning will see us leave Caiman Lodge for the 4 hour drive back to Campo Grande. Goodbye to the burrowing owls that perch, as always, on fence posts close to the buildings. Farewell to the caracaras and their two young that sit beside the road waiting for some dainty morsel, a frog or lizard perhaps, to foolishly venture too close. Cheerio to the caiman that lounge motionless with open mouths by the numerous pools that line the way. Tchau to the Pantanal that has provided us with wonderful wildlife every minute of every day, at least when it wasn't pouring with rain. Although even then the antics of the toads and frogs gave cause for a smile.

Our last day was spent walking through the forest that covers higher ground …

The Mad, Mad Moonlight

News came half way through our evening safari of a jaguar kill. We drove directly to the site where biologists from the local conservation team were staking out the half devoured carcass of a cow; they were hoping to identify which particular cat was responsible. In the gathering dusk, the sky streaked with vibrant pink and gold, we sat quietly hoping that the creature would return to have its fill. There were a couple of other small parties doing the same thing but before long they gave up and drove off, leaving just our jeep and that of the scientists to sit and wait. We sat, we waited. An hour passed, maybe more. Biting insects homed in for blood, a cacophony of frog song rent the still night air; we expectantly lingered. Nothing. Periodically the scene would be illuminated as one of the science team scanned the field with a powerful beam, but no jaguar appeared. We eventually had little option but to give up and return to the lodge, a drive of 30 minutes or so. Over dinner our lov…