This year so far 26 rhino have been poached for their horns, and a far greater number in Southern Africa. It is so hard to pay security guards enough given the price of horn on the black market
Walking amongst the nesting birds as visiting sailors have done for centuries certainly is a time warp. This Albatross just watched … and observed … as we did, neither of us feeling the need to move, or feeling we were violating each others space …. or that is how it seemed. She will fly off the cliff edge and spend countless days on the wing roaming the oceans, we will hobble off to a boat!
Much anticipation brings all 95 passengers on deck as we approach the southernmost point on earth that one can reach by ship.
Fittingly it is cold, blowing snow as the unlikely shape of Scott’s hut comes into view. Just above it the Antarctic winds pummel the cross that was erected in memory of all those brave men who set out from here on expeditions to the South Pole, just a hundred years ago, many never to return home.
It is a spiritual journey to the end of the earth, cocooned in the warmth and comfort of our luxury ship. We board our rubber zodiacs to clamber ashore to get a small glimpse of their world watched by quizzical penguins. It is as if they left there only yesterday, the kitchen still stocked with their provisions, a pile of dead penguins, and seal blubber ready to be burned in the stove for warmth. We walk a hundred yards away, and quickly the winds and snow have obscured our tracks …..just a tiny reminder of what they endured.
Kangaroo Island stretches just 60 miles east to West along the vast South Australian coast, and here living in this jewel of an island is the greatest concentration of wildlife remaining in all of Asia. Sleepy koalas gaze down on these wild shores where seals and sealions recover from their marathon swims direct from Antarctica, and wallabies spring about in every direction!
My adrenalin is pumping as I slow our plane on the Mahale runway … it is always exciting, as it ends abruptly in Lake Tanganyika! A 90 minute dhow ride south along the shore of this deepest of freshwater lakes brings us to a small white sandy beach ringed by forest and mountains, home to the remote 14 bed Chada camp.
But all is not as tranquil as it seems in the forest behind ….in the year I have been away the chimpanzees have brutally overthrown their grumpy leader Pimu, and finally the power vacuum has been filled by the new Alpha male Primus. On my 2 hour trek the next day I will be able to see for myself what stability and calm has returned to the group during my absence.
Flying east from the unforgettable wildebeest herds in the Serengeti / Mara ecosystem, eventually the Indian Ocean looms into view, and descending, the scent of the moist warm air in my nostrils reminds me that I am coming home to one of my favourite places on earth.
Lamu island has enjoyed a checkered past, yet it’s sleepy magic still endures. The muezzin calls to the faithful at noon as we set sail to Shela town, skippered by a face from seafaring ages gone by…. I can relax.
Lars and Carol, owners of quaint and comfortable Peponi Hotel greet us from the verandah as long lost friends … And I am home … Ready to tackle the pristine and empty 9 mile beach after a sumptuous seafood lunch.
We are on Santa Cruz island, in the heart of the balmy Galápagos Islands, climbing up the long straight road from the coast toward the volcanic peak that disappears into a cluster of fluffy cumulus clouds. The environment changes continuously as we climb, suddenly and unreasonably reaching a damper, cooler belt of tropical forest, and surprisingly we come across eight African style safari tents backed by a beautiful Oriental lounge and restaurant.
In a world not much changed since Darwin was here one hundred and fifty years ago finding his inspiration for his theory of Evolution, an enterprising English couple have set up this tremendous option for exploring the islands as an alternative to being on a boat – the Galapagos Safari Camp. With enough smaller islands within easy boating distance, and the giant tortoises and coffee plantations nearby, staggering views from the camp, and superb hospitality and cuisine, I know I have found another great way to visit these islands.
A short 20 minute flight from bustling modern Quito brought us down 7,500 feet to the sleepy town of Coca, nestled along the banks of the Amazon’s biggest tributary, the Napo.
A tranquil two hour journey downriver in a longboat shared by a few guests, local villagers and supplies brought us to a jetty jutting unexpectedly out from the forest into the river.
Everybody out .. The villagers disperse to their hidden worlds, we few guests set out for a 20 minute walk along a boardwalk leading back in time to the heart of the rain forest. Monkeys scamper and chatter through the canopy, a lizard scurries under the boardwalk, and tropical flowers explode out of the damp green undergrowth.
The feeling is primeval as we reach a lagoon, squeeze into a canoe and take a 15 minute paddle across to the 18 room Sacha lodge.
A welcome and superb lunch preceded our paddling back through small openings in the undergrowth in a small canoe with our guide. The sounds of the forest enveloped us , and wildlife abounded as it has done for thousands of years … It is perfection …