Monthly Archives: November 2014

Galapagos Snorkeling

You may have noticed John has recently visited Galapagos and we’ve been documenting his journey and photography for the last fortnight. What we kept quiet is that Simon went too. They split up once there to experience different expeditions and this is the 1st of 3 accounts from Simon…

QUITO Last Day!

This morning I went on my last excursion to the Mittel del Mundo, the actual line of the Equator. I have crossed the equator many time by sea and by air, but never stood on the line.

It is really fascinating and I saw demonstrations of how the water really does go down the plug in a different direction on either side of the line and straight down when on the actual line. Also other anomalies which show how one’s weight and one’s strength are less on the line.

Of course I had the obligatory photograph taken! There is also the original line, about 300 m away, which was calculated by French scientists the 19th century and is marked by an impressive monument. I had a picture taken there too, but it was pouring down by then, so I didn’t hang around!Then a call at the Capella dos Hombres or Chapel of Man, which is an amazing gallery of the works of the artist and sculptor, Guayacamin.

Very impressive and very moving – his themes are based on peace and his expressionist art was influenced by Picasso. Too short a time was possible here because I had to get back through the traffic to pick up by transport to the airport, and the Quito traffic is notoriously heavy.

Check in is also requested at 3 hours before departure. Now on the way home via Guayacil, Madrid and London – not looking forward to this. But have had an amazing three weeks…

Thanks for sharing my adventures in Galapagos. If you’re interested in seeing more photos, please get in touch. If you’d like to arrange your own trip to Galapagos, please call our team for arrangements and availability.

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Galapagos – Our last full day on board

Our last full day on board and a relaxing start with a morning zodiac ride around Witch Hill area of the coast of San Cristobel and time spent on the shore just watching blue footed boobies and pelicans fishing, seals playing around, marine iguanas and various finches.

Galapagos Hawk captured by John

Saturday and we anchored off Chinese Hat Island at about 06:30. It is a small volcanic island named because of its shape. We cruised around a bit in the zodiac hoping to see the Galápagos penguins, but they were not being cooperative and we only caught a glimpse of one head in the water.

Galapagos Journals – more stunning photography from John

What an amazing day we have had on Genovesa Island. This is the only place in the world where red- footed boobies breed, and this morning, after a wet landing on a white sandy beach, we walked though their nesting territory, which they share with great frigate birds, swallow-tail gulls and a few other species.

GALAPAGOS 2 – further extracts from John’s journal

Tuesday and woke to a beautiful morning, with blue skies and super views from the deck of my luxury tent at the Eco Safari Lodge. For the first time since I left home, I am in no hurry this morning and have no actual schedule, except to explore and enjoy at my own pace.

So, after breakfast, had a wander in the brush surrounding the camp, seeking out the many birds here – lots of types of finch especially. Then down into Puerto Ayora and off to Tortuga Bay. From where the road ends, it is about a 45 min walk, through cactus tree woods, with lots of birds and geckos, to the beach and then, well, it’s a bit like last week – you get so excited seeing your first penguins and then come across loads; today, it was the marine iguanas, so many around that you have to be careful walking up the beach and don’t mistake one for a strand of seaweed!

Very interesting though, particularly watching them come in and out of the surf. Later, went down to the harbour – lots of pelicans, frigate birds, Galapagos petrels and dark grey lava gulls – with every now and then, sea turtles popping up for air and seal lions too. Puerto Ayora is a buzzing little port and it’s hard to believe I am in the middle of the Pacific, it is so Spanish!

Delicious dinner of grilled whole local fish. Off to Plaza Island tomorrow for some land iguanas…

Where does Santa live?

We all know who Santa is despite never seeing him on the one night of the year he visits us. We’ve all been to his grotto at some point in our lives, and may have sat on his knee. But even though he’s one of the most famous people in the world, no-one knows where he really lives.

Best 2014 Santa Tracker App

From the North Pole to the warmth of your chimney, Santa Claus spends Christmas Eve in a mad dash of sleigh-driving and present-delivering. If you or your family get impatient waiting for him to draw closer to your neighbourhood, logging into one of the many Santa tracking apps could satisfy your curiosity! These great apps track Santa’s progression across the globe, so you can leave the milk and cookies out and make sure you’re snuggled up in bed by the time he reaches your home.

Galapagos Journals: Giant Tortoises Mating!

John from Antarctica Bound is currently visiting the Galapagos Islands, taking in the experience and capturing the wildlife on camera. During patchy periods of internet connection he is sending back extracts from his diary and some of the fantastic pics he’s managed to snap. It’s not quite real-time, but this is as close to the action as we can get….

VALPARAISO

Longish journey from Mount Pleasant to Santiago via Punta Areanas, but a quick transfer from the airport since we arrived as domestic and then Saturday evening traffic was quite light. We know our way around now, so went straight out for a walk and a bite to eat in the buzzing area across the river we ‘d been to last week.

Today, Sunday, we were up early and went for a trip to Valparaiso, the port city about 100k away to the north. Passed through agricultural land and the pleasant wine growing area of Casablanca and cam to the city. It does have a charm with statues and small parks everywhere. The statues commemorate those who helped to liberate Chile from the Spanish, including Lord Cochrane and Bernardo O’ Higgins, and also those involved in the War of the Pacific where Chile fought with Peru and Bolivia for territory in the north of the country. There are lots of old buildings, with a Queen Victoria Hotel too, and a steep hill with multi-coloured cottages clinging to the sides. The British were here in the 19th century and controlled much of the shipping and mining until the Panama Canal opened. The whole area is a World Heritage Site, but it did look decidedly seedy on a Sunday morning, not helped by the ubiquitous graffiti on every doorway, monument and wall. Very interesting, though. We continued on the the adjacent city of Vina Mar, much more up- market with more modern buildings, but still some 100 year old residences. Also lots of tree lined boulevards and park ares. In the grounds of one of the museums is not only an original Easter Island statue, but also a Rodin sculpture, The Defender. Then on to some beautiful beaches with lots of locals enjoying the sunshine and the surf.

We’re now at the airport again for our flight to Quito, where we spilt up in the morning for our different itineraries in the Galapagos…

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VOLUNTEER POINT WITH NOBBY

Our driver today, Friday, was Nobby Clarke, who is something of a local legend, a larger than life character full do stories. He took us off in his big Land Cruiser with oversize wheels off to Volunteer Point. It was just over an hour on the made up road through snowy countryside and then the last 10 miles was across open country, with barely a track in site – very bumpy but great fun. Volunteer Point is where the largest colony of King Penguins on the island lives and it was super just sitting and walking amongst them with their head waiter appearance and antics and their big, fluffy brown chicks. There were also lots of gentoos and Magellenics around. I went down on to the log sandy beach to watch groups of kings wandering along the water’s edge and then this wild squall blew in with the snow flying horizontally. Much more appropriate seeing penguins in the snow, rather than on the green field behind!

Back to Stanley, with a different perspective on the war, seeing the hills of Longden, Tumbledown, Harriet, etc. from a different angle – the same the marines had, except that they did all the last but at the dead of night! Also drove past the distinctive stone runs -unique remnants of the receding ice, thousands of years age. Drinks in the Victory, where we caught up with one of the locals who had been with us on Carcass, then to Shorty’s Diner for a meal, a drink in the Globe and then back to our hotel for nightcaps with another couple who had been with us on Sea Lion. We’ve made lots of friends here!

This morning, Saturday, we have been down to the new museum where we also bumped into Peter and Ranjit, a couple we have been with lots over the week. Some souvenir shopping and we are of to the airport soon.

So, goodbye from the Falklands, it’s been brilliant!

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STANLEY AND AROUND

Arrived early afternoon and picked up by Kyle from FITB. He had promised us a battlefield visit, so we diverted and picked up a friend of his, Zoran, who is also a member of the FIDF (local reservists). They took us up in 4x4s into the hills overlooking Stanley, where some of the fiercest fighting took place and showed us the direction the marines had come on their famous yomp carrying about 100lbs of equipment each. Still lots of shell holes around and bits of field guns.

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Then up to the summit of Mount Longden. This is where the paras attacked at night up the rocky sides of the mountain an in fierce hand to hand fighting took out the enemy positions in a battle which lasted 10 hours. 23 Paras were killed including one VC. There are little memorials up there to the dead and it is very moving. As Zoran was explaining in vivid detail how the battle had progressed, even showing us original pictures of where foxholes were, where specific actions took place, where a sniper had pinned down soldiers for hours, etc, etc, it started to snow, which made the whole thing even more atmospheric. The Falklanders are amazingly patriotic and grateful to Margaret Thatcher and the British forces who liberated them. Very interesting talking to those who were there and their, often harrowing experiences with the Argentinians.

Super dinner at the Waterfront Hotel with out local agent, ITT. Tomorrow is Friday and our last day.

BLEAKER TO STANLEY

Thursday, our penultimate day in the Falklands. Our flight this morning is not until 1130, so up for the best breakfast yet, with a massive goose egg on the plate – taken from just outside the buildings from one of the thousands of upland goose nests – delicious, thank you Mr & Mrs Goose and Gander! There was a flurry of snow just before we walked out and we could see a covering on the hills on the distant mainland. Definitely cooler today. Went out for about an hour and a half, walking along the cliffs just enjoying all the bird life. There is a massive king cormorant colony and then another rockhopper one and all the time, flying around, skuas, petrels and sheathbills. Sat for ages on the edge of the penguin rookery, just watching their antics and nest building, unlike the gentoos who have already laid eggs. Some of them just don’t care where they get their nest material from, just casually ambling up to another nest and stealing a beak full of straw – quite comic and very David Attenborough. Strange to feel that we were the only people on the island apart from Elaine and Robert, who look after the house and the animals. Back to the house for a cup of tea and off to the airstrip and goodbye to our hosts.

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