Paul & Sheila Williams
Paul & Sheila Williams
Most of our subscribers are aware that we left the UK in 2010 after retiring to travel ‘around the world’ for a year! Well we are still living 'out of suitcases' and having wonderful experiences in an ‘ever expanding’ number of countries - the world seems to keep on growing...... We have now written over 100 blogs, starting them initially as a way of storing our memories in an ‘out of body hard drive’, so that we do not forget any of our visits and experiences.
Our next planned adventure in 2014 takes us to USA, Canada and Alaska and we hope that you continue to enjoy our blogs throughout the year. We often get asked about our experiences and the usual question is, ‘what is our favourite country’ but we cannot choose - it’s rather about what we encountered in those countries that comes to mind, whether it be good or sometimes not so good!!!
To recall a few, whilst in Southern Africa seeing the Big 5, Lion, Leopard, Cape Buffalo, Rhino and Elephant so many times in our three months was great, seeing them all on one game drive was awesome. Walking past a giant elephant that had just died was sad and then seeing and hearing two hippopotamus, only feet away from us, fight for the deepest pool as the rivers of the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia receded was such a unique experience, even our guides had rarely seen it. Then only a short while later whilst walking in the nearby bush nearly leaping off the ground as two leopards jumped out right in front of us, not sure who was scared the most - what a lasting memory! In Zimbabwe watching the mighty Victoria Falls tumble over the edge of the canyon and later walking across the border crossing to Zambia and seeing this side devoid of water was unforgettable.
In Nambia trying to climb mighty Dune 45 to see the sun rise over the desert and in Malawi walking through a local village surrounded by children that just wanted to hold your hand and smile. In Botswana flying over the Okavango Delta in a light aircraft and later camping under the stars and swimming in a hippo pool that had just been vacated by its rightful swimmers. In Mozambique - this was our most scary moment - when we joined a convoy in the north of the country and our bus was boarded by four armed guards to take us through a trouble spot. We thought that this was just a formality but a short while later when bullets started to fly and we had to dive for cover, realised that this was actually for ‘real’ - but we survived and arrived in the relative safety of the South and visited the beautiful Bazaruto Archipelago and snorkelled the reefs.
In Swaziland the unique cultural heritage and raw beauty of the countryside and again in a Lesotho the stunning vista of Malealea and our trek with a local guide to view some hidden bushman’s paintings. Although we will probably remember the latter for the problems we encountered with corruption as we travelled into the mountains of this small country - such a shame. In South Africa, the scenic garden route with glorious hiking and camping under the stars right beside the ocean - bliss. Watching giant whales and dolphins swimming passed whilst we lazed in our tent on the waters edge as well as a little rock hyrax who poked its head inside as we awoke. Table Mountain and the Cape of Good Hope, of course were memorable as well as the changing landscape of this stunningly beautiful country - it truly enraptured us. However the moving experience of being in the country when the beloved Nelson Mandela passed away will always be associated with our ‘first’ visit to Southern Africa and it is such a shame that so many countries in this vast continent still have such unstable political situations - hopefully one day peace will reign over the whole continent which was Madiba’s lasting wish.
During our visit to New Zealand, actually completing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing on North Island, a track that passes over spectacular volcanic terrain and taking around 6 - 8 hours to complete was such an achievement for me and then our delight getting the first glimpse of Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers on South Island was unsurpassed - such a small country but with so much to offer the visitor.
Camping in the Outback of Australia and watching the sun go down over the Bungle Bungles in the Kimberleys as well as visiting the huge gorges, waterholes and mountain ranges scattered throughout the Northern Territories was the best. Being attacked by flies - yet still enjoying a glass of champagne as we watched the sun rise over Uluru (Ayres Rock) and the Olgas in the Red Centre, awesome. Not forgetting seeing our first wild kangaroo, koala, wallaby, dingo, possum, echidna and numerous other animals as well as hundreds of colourful birds whilst travelling around New South Wales, Victoria, Southern Australia and Tasmania. Our most vivid ‘animal’ experience though was sitting around a campfire under the stars and enjoying our ‘supper’ with half a dozen small rock wallabies for company and no-one else around. Driving for hundreds of miles and seeing no sign of life in Western Australia and then swimming with massive whalesharks (as big as a double decker bus) at Ningaloo Reef as well as sharks, rays and my beloved turtles. Snorkelling over the most amazing colourful corals on the Outer Barrier Reef, Queensland, tempered with the scary experience of our boat breaking down but luckily managing to survive and tell the tale. Travelling for months in a motorhome, stopping when and where we wanted, being true nomads in every sense of the word was awesome. Whilst cruising off Fraser Island we were so lucky to have up close encounters with many humpback whales which surrounded our boat, we both so love marine life.
We will never forget having to ‘forage’ for basic food supplies on a scooter on Aitutaki in the Cook Islands as well as joining in the fun of the Te Maeva Nui on larger Rarotonga and listening to the beautiful gospel singing which echoes around all the islands.
Watching an elephant try to cross a main road in Sri Lanka as well as a day later watching a tiny indian star tortoise doing the same thing - they both made it....... Seeing hundreds of elephants congregate in the tall grasses of the national parks and our safari vehicle breaking down in the middle of a large group crossing the track...... Getting a glimpse of a leopard sunbathing on a rock overlooking our hotel - after searching all day for such a glimpse on a safari! Searching all morning to spot a blue whale on rough seas and then spotting one just before returning to shore - they are huge!
Watching an ‘Arribada’ on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica where thousands of olive ridley turtles arrived on the beach all at the same time and again a few days later watching hundreds of newly hatched green turtles emerging from their nest and darting for the sea on the Caribbean coast, this for me was the best.... but of course it was my beloved turtles again. Or may be not, as our first glimpse of a Resplendent Quetzal in a deep valley in the rainforest of Costa Rica was unforgettable, as well seeing over 200 other species of birds including Toucans and Trogans in this small but wonderful country.
We have seen so much on our journey and combatted some mighty forces of nature as well as surviving some natural disasters and man mades ones too but are very fortunate to be able to follow our dreams.
Last but by no means least, what has been the ‘most memorable’ is meeting and making friends with some wonderful people all around the globe and we pray that we are lucky enough to make a lot more......... We hope that you have enjoyed all our previous blogs, outlining our adventures and will continue to do so for another year.
Happy travelling to you all 👣 Paul and Sheila