Monthly Archives: February 2019

Lorpen T3+ Expedition Trekking Socks Review Lorpen T3+ Expedition Trekking Socks

Dave Cheetham Wildfoot TravelEach month Wildfoot Travel’s Dave Cheetham reviews a piece of travel gear. From clothing to cameras and tripods to text books, the product-in-focus may vary, but the forthright honesty remains constant. Here Dave reviews a recent purchase, Lorpen’s flagship Expedition T3+ Trekking Socks.

Before I write this review, I feel I should explain. Aside from having spent my fair share of time in the outdoors visiting cold places, I am also ‘a sock person’. Yes, you read that correctly. We (sock people) are a particular breed of person. The kind of person who looks forward to pulling on a new pair of socks with the same unwavering enthusiasm a dog shows as its master appears at the front door, after returning from a long trip. I love the way good socks feel. I love the way they look, fit, and yes – even the way they smell.

With that clearly stated, and off my chest, I will jump right in.

I recently invested in a couple of pairs of Lorpen T3+ Expedition Trekking socks – at the chilling cost of around £50 per pair.  Having coughed up that kind of cash, I was expecting big things.

Thankfully, they are everything I hoped for and more.

The fit is excellent and the socks retain their shape and elasticity between washes with unfaltering reliability.

These socks are warm. No, correction, these socks are ‘hot’. For anyone who suffers with cold feet, they are a true godsend. Their furnace-like warmth is balanced wonderfully with a lack of bulkiness and an amazing light-weight feel that can only come from the latest in fleece technology. Which, for the fact-gathering, technically-minded amongst you, comprises of a layer of PrimaLoft® insulation sandwiched between two layers of Polartec® Power Stretch® fabric.)

The cut is high so these socks can buy pulled way up over boots or wellies. And once they are pulled up, they stay snugly in place without rolling down or wrinkling up beneath.

When working hard physically, the cut and the fabric excel in every department. They provide great cushioning and a connection to outer footwear that seems much more free from friction and abrasion than any other ‘warm’ socks I have come across.

What’s more thanks again to the fleece technology, these socks ‘wick’ moisture away from the skin towards the outer layers so effectively, that sweaty or damp feet never seemed to be an issue.

At base camp, with boots removed, the thick fleece soles felt more like slippers than any pairs of slippers I have ‘slipped on’ in my life.

Moving on to the often-unmentioned practicalities of adventure travel. On my last trip I regularly washed these polartec toe-tinglers in the sink, wrang them out , ‘whirled them around’ in the bathroom a few times then hung them up, before waking to find them dry and ready to lend their loyal service to my old plates of meat one more time.

For future cold weather trips, I will always reach for these reliable servants with a smile. Because I know I can rely on them to keep me warm, dry and comfortable – and that’s pretty much all you can ask of a pair of socks.

For some people, keeping your feet warm and comfortable can be the difference between an amazing trip and a disastrous one. If you are one of those people, I recommend you invest in a pair of these ‘tootsie toasters’. You may, like me, be so impressed that you immediately order a second pair, to be sure you never have to spend a day in the cold without them wrapped snugly around your feet.

A final note on the cost – you can find these socks available between £80 and £35, depending on size and stockist, so shop around a little.

As for me and Lorpen’s £50 price tag? Would I pay that price again?

Yes – in the blink of an eye!. My sock drawer used to be bursting with socks that were far cheaper, but nowhere near as comfortable or effective as these beauties.

Dinner At Camp Mashatu Botswana My Mashatu Experience

Mary Coulson, photographer and long term friend of Wildfoot Travel has just come back from Tuli in Botswana, The Mashatu Game Reserve and in particular the incredible Mashatu Lodge which is high on many wildlife photographer’s bucket lists. Here Mary gives us a first hand account of her trip.

The excitement and anticipation as you climb up into the land cruiser for the first early morning safari drive raises the adrenaline levels so high that all senses are on full alert. Is that a leopard’s tail hanging from that Mashatu tree? Was that a Banded Mongoose running up the river bank? Take a deep breath and pace yourself as you’ll be out for a few hours reaching saturation level with all the wildlife that Mashatu Game Reserve has on offer.

Mashatu Game Reserve

The guides and tackers on the game drive have a vast knowledge of the fauna and flora underpinned with a genuine desire to give their passengers an experience of a lifetime. Ronald and Commando were no exception, patiently answering questions and with a subtle sense of humour there was always a pleasant camaraderie on the drive. I was continually impressed with how Ronald would always take into consideration the light and backdrop for good photographs with all sightings. A lasting memory will be the sundowners at a high vantage point where you can absorb the orchestra of the evening chorus against a magnificent backdrop of a panoramic African sunset.

Mashatu Game Reserve is one of the best kept secrets in Southern Africa. This 29,000 hectare block is tucked away in the South-eastern corner of Botswana, at the confluence of the Limpopo and Sashi Rivers. It is in one of the driest areas with an annual rainfall of 12 -14 in. However, despite the extreme environment, conditions are ideal for game viewing with the vast open plains scattered with small trees and bushes for example mopane, acacia karrooand Shepard’s trees. There are remnants of riverine forest dominated with Mashatu trees and croton thickets, marshes (in the wet season), rocky outcrops and sandstone ridges.The area covers many ecosystems leading to a high biodiversity of flora and fauna.These areas are explored with game drives across flat sandy plains and driving over rocky outcrops and along dry river beds. Low ratio four-wheel drive was required to negotiate up and down the steep sides – this adds to the excitement of the experience! On one of these excursions we met a leopard as we neared a curve in the river bed.  Unperturbed she walked straight passed us up the riverbank and vanished into a thicket.  We surmised that she had some cubs hidden in the thick scrub.

Having lived half my life in Africa I fully appreciate how privileged one is to see members of the cat family. In Mashutu the opportunities to view and photograph leopards, lions and cheetah is breath-taking. We sat with a pride of lions on various occasions and were able just to observe the interactions between the five cubs with their mothers and a handsome black – maned lion. Similarly, with two separate cheetah families. We were fortunate to see leopard in various situations from walking along the river bed with us to trying to escape the heat on the branch of a Mashatu tree. The photographs from these viewings can be exceptional.

Mashatu caters for professional and serious amateur photographers. There is a Mashatu photo vehicle which has been customised for the game reserve environment. There are sliding gimbal heads and bean bag arches and to cater for the African dust there are cushioned and dust waterproof storage compartments. There will always be a specialist photographic guide and field ranger to accompany you.

Matebole hide Botswana

One of the highlights of the trip was a couple of visits to the Matebole Hide. This consists of a couple of shipping containers dug into the ground next to the waterhole with viewing windows level with the water surface. Equipped with beanbags this allows for photographs with a unique perspective of the animals coming down to drink. The wonderful Janet Kleyn, the resident photographer, welcomes you to the hide. She guides and assists you as required and her expertise aids advanced and beginner photographers alike. Even those who just accompany the serious or professional photographers are provided with mobile phone tripods and pointers on how to get a good photograph. The evening session was about to end as we neared sundown when suddenly around the bushes came a herd of elephants. They were at full elephantine trot in their eagerness to quench their thirst. The proximity of these animals was awe-inspiring.

With the rich biodiversity of Mashatu each game drive would reveal unusual and unique insights of the African bush. One of these was a peek through the window into the private lives of the hyena clan. The clan have organised a nursery, kitchen, spa and local food source. The den was situated about 200m from a series of pools fed by a spring upstream. The hyenas had stored sections of carcasses in one pool and we were entertained with the retrieving of the meat and generally play fighting. Some of the characters seemed to really enjoy the whole spa experience.

The Tented Camp

The enjoyable safari experience is underpinned by the excellent accommodation and catering facilities. There are two options with the Main Camp and Tented Camp which are quite different in design and atmosphere. The Tented camp is more intimate with the bushveld with no obvious fences and allows a true safari experience of luxury in the bush known as glamping. There is a breakfast and lounge area on the terrace. Evening drinks at the bar allowed the recounting of the day’s experiences among those staying at the camp and meeting the different guides. The Boma presents a great setting for the evening meal. As the ambient temperature was in the high 30’s there was a definite trend to sit furthest from the fire! The swimming pool at the tented camp is a welcomed relief after a hot game drive or mountain bike safari.

I did a mountain bike safari along elephant footpaths early one morning with Mario, an experienced guide and biker. I found out that dried elephant dung is as hard as rock! I thoroughly recommend doing this as you immediately in tune with the environment and must be aware of the wildlife. Mario was in radio contact and had a rifle for safety purposes. For those of you who are experienced horse riders there is an opportunity to go horse riding in the bush. Both camps also offer bush walks.

accommodation at the lodge

The Mashatu Lodge (Main camp) has 14 air conditioned luxury suites set near a waterhole. It is bigger and more suited to families with a swimming pool. Clients can enjoy the sounds of the African bush but within the safety of an unobtrusive fence. There are beautiful views along the walkway from the bar (Gin Trap) to the new infinity pool.

The Gin Trap

Mashatu Game Reserve is easily accessible. I flew from Oliver Tambo airport to Polokwane, an hours flight and then travelled with Copper Sun courier to Pont’s Drift on the border with Botswana. I was then met by my guide and field tracker and arrived at the Tented Camp after an hours drive through the game reserve.

In conclusion I look back on my Mashatu Safari Experience as a lifelong memory of unique wildlife sightings underpinned with new friendships.

Take a look at more photos from Mary’s amazing trip here:

Check out our trips to Botswana here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choose a polar cruise ship How to choose the right Polar Expedition Cruise Vessel

Even though an expedition cruise to Antarctica is the ultimate bucket list trip, with such a wide range of variables in play, organising a trip to Antarctica can seem like a complicated challenge.

Before you plan your trip, take a few minutes to listen to Wildfoot Travel’s Dave Cheetham as he explains what you need to consider in order to choose the right Expedition Cruise Vessel to ensure you get the most out of your time in Antarctica.

Other videos in this series include:

What is the best time of year to visit Antarctica

MV Ortelius in the Falklands 9 Night Cruise on the Ortelius round the Falkland Islands


Brenda Hotham set off on a cruise round the Falklands recently aboard the MV Ortelius. Here, Brenda reviews the trip in her own words.

Great food, well appointed adequately sized cabin, hot drinks always available (including delicious hot chocolate!), skilful captain and crew, open bridge policy, a delightful cabin steward, Michael, who arranged the towels into animals-a bear, an elephant, a monkey and a penguin, the places visited and lectures form the main memories of this cruise.

Places visited

Carcass Island

We saw and were able to photograph the endemic Cobb’s Wren, a Southern Caracara and a lone Magellanic Penguin amongst other birds. We were also treated to a feast of cakes cooked by the owner Rob Mcgill’s Chilean team.

Steeple Jason

in the extreme North-West of the Falklands.I discovered ‘Birdland’ in Bourton-on-the Water in the 1970s and found that Len Hill, the Curator, had purchased Steeple Jason and Grand Jason in 1970 for £5500. On his death the Islands were eventually taken over by the ‘Wildlife Conservation Society of New York City’.

We walked by hundreds of Gentoo Penguins, some of whom were carrying stones for nest building, others were just going to and from the sea. We also experienced seeing and hearing over 113,000 Black-browed Albatrosses. What a sight with most on nests and some paired off enjoying each others company. There were also Rockhopper Penguins amongst the Albatrosses. We were able to get close to a couple of Striated Caracaras.

West Point Island

This was the opportunity to sit and closely observe Black-browed Albatrosses with Rockhopper Penguins amongst them. Some of the Rockhoppers had an egg. I was sitting by a tussock watching an albatross on a nest, it flew off and landed on the other side of the tussock and looked at me through the grass giving me an interesting photo.

Saunders Island

A Penguin Paradise because we saw all 5 species of Falklands Penguins- Gentoo, King, Magellanic, Rockhopper and one Macaroni which was probably the most photographed bird of the trip! Some of the Kings looked scruffy because they were moulting.

Stanley

We had longer in Stanley because we could not land at Volunteer Point. Absolutely fantastic for shopping, visiting the Cathedral and the Museum. The Museum has the history of the 1982 War, Dioramas of the Wildlife and information about Charles Darwin and Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Great Britain. Outside the museum we were greeted by a friendly Dolphin Gull.

New Island

Yet more Black-browed Albatrosses and Rockhopper Penguins but also some beautiful Imperial Shags. Other birds included a Ruddy-headed Goose and some Black-chinned Siskins. There was also a rabbit!

Before the cruise I stayed at El Pedral, Argentina, mainly for Magellanic Penguins and Elephant Seals. The birding life was also great with the most notable being the Long-tailed Meadowlark and the Rufous-collared Sparrow.

After the cruise I stayed at the Holiday Inn in Buenos Aires. Again there were some good birds to see including a Fork-tailed Flycatcher and a Green-barred Woodpecker.

Here are a few of Brenda’s photos from the trip.