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
December 13th 2013
Once again this is a very long blog so if you want to read it all please do so in small tranches with maybe a glass of wine or beer to keep you focused...... - it is our 100th blog since we started in September 2010 and will be the last one for a while though............... We left Lesotho and returned to South Africa travelling through the Great Karoo, a vast semi desert which covers most of central South Africa. The area is famous for sheep and ostrich farming industries and we passed many farms as we continued our journey. The Karoo's name is derived from the Khoisan word meaning ‘land of thirst’ and the original owners were the Khoisan as well as the San peoples. The Khoisan relied on sheep and cattle for their livelihood ... read more
December 10th 2013
The morning we left the Drakensberg Mountains it decided to pour with rain so when we awoke our tents were already soaking wet. It is not much fun taking your tent down in the rain as well as trying to have breakfast in the rain - but we managed to get everything packed into the Mercedes and headed off. We have become so used to travelling in the ‘merc’ and do not miss the Red Fire Engine at all! Today we were visiting yet another African country, firstly passing through what is known as the Free State, to get to Lesotho - our next destination. After a very short while we were travelling on a very long section of really poor quality road - Albert said they had been fixing this road for three years now ... read more
December 6th 2013
We had asked Albert a guide we had met on our travels to arrange a ‘road trip with a difference’ for us, incorporating everything we had loved from our other three safaris around Southern Africa, mainly concentrating on scenery, wildlife, walking and raw nature - plus we also still needed to find the allusive cheetah!!!! The trip would take us through Swaziland and Lesotho and finally along the Garden Route and into Cape Town arriving in early December. We would be travelling with Albert initially but Ruth, his wife would catch up with us somewhere around the Karoo and join us for the rest of the trip. We were really looking forward to this journey as they both had a real passion for wildlife and a great respect for nature which was the main reason they ... read more
November 18th 2013
As you can well imagine we were not sad to leave Mozambique and getting through the border crossing at the Giriyondo Border Gate and into South Africa was really easy, no queues and no holdups. Once we left the Mozambique border post, we walked through to the next building and got our passports stamped for entry back into South Africa. We travelled along gravel roads through Limpopo National Park and seamlessly into Kruger National Park, both these parks had their fences removed in 2006 to allow animals to wander freely. Kruger together with Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park and Limpopo National Park in Mozambique have become part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. Thus joining some of the most established wildlife areas in Southern Africa into a huge conservation area - a cross-border conservation initiative between Zimbabwe, ... read more
November 14th 2013
Heading south again we entered Mozambique at the Zobue border post hoping that our visa’s were in order, which they were but we had to wait whilst our Australian colleagues this time (not the Swiss) obtained theirs which seem to take an age - ‘but this is Africa’, we have heard that saying so much that we were repeating it now! You did not have to find a bank to get your monies exchanged as at most of the border crossings locals with huge wads of money were trying to make some more - not sure whether we got good rates or not but it was quite easy to change the multitude of currencies we had. We were now used to the Pula in Botswana, the Kwacha in Malawi, the Zambian Kwacha which was different to ... read more
November 12th 2013
Happy Birthday to our granddaughter, Maisie who is 10 today 28/10/13. We are sorry that we cannot be with you but you are always in our thoughts. Love Grandad and GrandmaX We arrived at the border of Zambia and Malawi and had no problems with obtaining our visas but our Swiss travelling companions disappeared into ‘an office’ and we had to wait for ages for them to return - Malawi seems to have a problem with Swiss tourist, not sure why but eventually they did return. Not sure what would have happened if someone in the group had not been able to get into the country though! Known affectionately as the ’warm heart of Africa’, Malawi is one of the friendliest countries in Southern Africa, offering a true African experience in terms of scenery, wildlife and ... read more
November 11th 2013
Another long blog again as internet access is difficult in the areas we are travelling through - this one covers our time in Zimbabwe and Zambia. We left Botswana crossing the mighty Zambezi River by ferry and headed into Zambia, we were to cross this river many times during our stay in the country. Zambia is a thinly populated country with a large percentage of its land designated wildlife reserves with open unspoiled woodland and floodplains attracting large numbers of wildlife. Zambia borders six countries - Congo/Angola/Namibia/Tanzania/Malawi and Mozambique. Acknowledged as one of the safest countries in the world to visit, its very welcoming people live in peace and harmony and we encountered this throughout our travels. Here, in the warm heart of Africa we found so many warm smiling faces everywhere. It is also notable ... read more
October 20th 2013
Once again I am afraid it is a rather long blog as we do not get many chances to link up to the internet so this one covers all our travels around Botswana. It was so much quicker getting out of Namibia than it was to get in and within 20 minutes we were entering Botswana, another new country and people. Botswana is bordered by South Africa to the south and southeast, Namibia to the west and north, and Zimbabwe to the northeast. Its border with Zambia to the north near Kazungula, Zambia is poorly defined but at most is a few hundred meters long which should make for an interesting crossing later in our trip. It is landlocked and extends 1100 km from north to south and 960 km from east to west making it ... read more
October 6th 2013
This will be a very long blog as internet access throughout Namibia has been so limited. However we have just found this lovely internet cafe in the middle of nowhere near the town of Maun in Botswana so we will take advantage of the free wifi (as long as we drink some coffee) and upload our travels throughout Namibia. We stopped at the South African/Namibia border which was extremely busy - where had all these people come from - apparently groups of school children were setting off on vacation - I think we chose the wrong day to cross borders........ In the end we had a very long wait of over two hours in a slow queue with only a couple of people processing the visas when we finally arrived at the desk. We finally got ... read more
September 26th 2013
So it is time at last to start our journey into Africa and as our son-in-law, Geoff drove us to Dubai Airport the sun was coming up and there was a lovely view out over the desert. The roads had just started to get busy and we overtook a lorry and sat in the back was two Camels (mother and baby) - they were just looking around calmly at the desert sands (probably wishing that they were there) - as we passed all your could see were their heads peaking out over the top of the lorry - quite surreal. So we were off but we nearly didn't leave Dubai as Paul was initially refused exit out of the country.......... I had gone through the passport security check no problem just before him only to turn ... read more