Dr Gwen


I'm just an ecologist,, SFF fan and rainbow loving gal who wishes she had more time & money for travelling!

Born & bred in the UK I grew up with summer holidays to remote corners of this isle and my memories of these trips involve scrambling up mountains in the rain! Great times! I am fascinated by the natural world around us, by all the amazing creatures that share it with us & the ways they & their habitats fit together.

Having finished my PhD in Ecology in 2010 I set off to see Australia & New Zealand for several months to escape! This blog began then, I've missed several UK based holidays out between 2012 & 2016 but promise to try to be better at documenting my trips now.

Africa February 20th 2020

Up early, ate my breakfast egg sandwich and drank my orange juice as I threw my night clothes into my case. My leg felt itchy so I shook out my trousers and a hairy caterpillar fell out! Just what I needed! I put some antihistamine cream on my leg hoping it wasn’t anything too nasty and headed down to reception to meet my driver at 5:30am. The early start was to ensure we didn’t get stuck in the rush hour traffic that starts from about 6am. Chatting to my driver it turned out he had grown up in one of the large slums in Nairobi and had come through Moving Mountain’s scheme and now works for Adventure Alternative. There were three security checks to get through at the airport, one at the gate where I had ... read more
The dry heart of Africa
The Nile upstream of Aswan
Croatian coastline

Africa » Kenya February 19th 2020

19thFeb – maasai village - Nairobi A very lazy start for us with breakfast at 8am and leaving the camp at 8:45 after saying goodbye to Peter, Patrick and the others. We also gave one of the older villagers a lift to a local town to save him a long walk. Our first stop for the day was a Maasai village where Raphael, the son of the chief, greeted us and showed us around. First we were shown a couple of traditional items – one was a lion’s head skin from the days when to get married a man had to go and kill a lion. If he wanted to get married a second or third time he had to go and kill 2 or 3 lions. This no longer happens and instead he pays a ... read more
Maasai jumping dance
Maasai womans welcome dance
Making fire

Africa » Kenya » Rift Valley Province » Masai Mara NP February 18th 2020

Up a bit earlier today and leaving camp with Wilson at 6:50am to get to the park gates soon after 7am for a full day in the Mara. We spent much of the morning driving to and fro across the Mara following sightings of a leopard. The first we missed so had a brief detour to the river where we saw a baby crocodile and the stone marking the boundary with Tanzania (we didn’t stop for a photo as leopard!) - then shot off back to the other side of the Mara where a leopard had recently made a kill (wild dog Simba said). We passed lots of vans going the other way so were a bit worried it would have gone but there was still one van there who pointed out to us the bush ... read more
Nile monitor
At the river

Africa » Kenya » Rift Valley Province » Masai Mara NP February 17th 2020

Slept very well, up & ready to leave for the Maasai Mara at 7:30am with a packed lunch and joined by Wilson who was going to help Simba find us a leopard! On the way out of camp we passed a dik-dik and once in the park we saw: Black rhino Elephants (incl. more babies) Cheetahs (a single one in the grass then a group of 5 in the shade under a tree) Vultures Great bustard Secretary bird Shrike Warthogs Ostrich Baboons Buffalo Impalla Topi Gazelles (Grant’s & Thompson’s) Hartebeest Hippos Lilac-breasted roller Maasi giraffe Vervet monkey Although I think Chavaunne spotted more than out two guides! Lunch was eaten under the shade of an acacia tree keeping a close eye on a nearby herd of elephants in case they decided to come our w... read more
Black rhino
Black rhino
Maasai Mara

Africa » Kenya » Rift Valley Province » Masai Mara NP February 16th 2020

Packed up bags and tent and ready to leave by 8am for the long drive down to the Masai Mara. Moses had to leave us today to take another tour group to Meru National Park (as he knows it best) so on route we met up with Simba and transferred our bags to his van before saying goodbye to and thank you to Moses. We stopped for lunch and a loo break by a curio shop where we bought more souvenirs before heading down to Wajee Mara Camp not far outside the Masai Mara gates. We met Patrick, the camp manager just off the main road & drove with him down the very rough & bumpy track to the camp. It was a beautiful campsite nestled among trees. We also met Peter there & were given ... read more

A bit of a lazier start since we didn’t have to pack up our gear then out at 8am to hire a couple of bikes on the road to Hell’s Gate National Park. As Hell’s Gate doesn’t have any resident big cats its considered safe for tourists to walk and cycle here. We cycled along the 2km of road leading to the park gate dodging potholes and avoiding traffic all whilst remembering exactly how to ride a bike! Moses followed us in the minivan to the gate, paid for our park entry then bunny hopped past us whilst we cycled through the park. It was nice to get out of the van for a bit and get some fresh air during the 8km ride through Hell’s Gate and see some wildlife from our own feet. Impala ... read more
With Masai giraffe
Fischer's Tower

Africa » Kenya » Rift Valley Province » Naivasha February 14th 2020

We left the lodge at 7am for another game drive around Lake Nakuru taking a packed lunch from the lodge with us. We started by going down to the lake shore where because there were fewer people the flamingos were much closer. Flamingo Bee-eater Lilac-breasted roller African hoopoe Fish eagle Spotted hyena Lions White rhinos with baby Rothschild’s giraffe Ostrich Impala Grant’s gazelles Eland Water buck Buffalo Silver-backed jackal Agama lizard Warthog Zebra Colobus monkey Baboons Vervet monkeys As there hadn’t been many flamingos at Lake Nakuru Moses drove us down to the shore of Lake Elmenteita for lunch in the hope that more of them would be there. They weren’t (just a small flock again) but it was a beautiful picnic spot just outside Oasis Camp. We th... read more
Flamingos from our room!
Impala fighting

Africa » Kenya » Rift Valley Province » Lake Nakuru NP February 13th 2020

After breakfast and admiring the little red-rumped birds that were flitting about the lodge grounds we set off driving past the Aberdares. We had originally wanted to visit the Aberdare National Park and it did look beautiful, but we saw similar habitats whilst hiking on Mt Kenya and apparently it is very hard to see the wildlife here – unsurprising give the dense forests. It was a long drive today but we stopped for lunch by Nyahururu Falls (Thomson's Falls) where we had to fight off shop owners and traditionally dressed posers! We did have one worrying moment when the minibus engine seemed to misbehave – but after poking it a bit all seemed fine. From here it wasn’t much further round to Lake Nakuru National Parkwhere we went straight into a game drive. It was ... read more
Lake Nakuru

Africa » Kenya » Central Province » Mt. Kenya February 12th 2020

Us & the team were all picked up from Meru Bandas at 7am after watching a beautiful dawn and driven down the track through the bamboo and hardwood forests and out of the National Park. Sadly we didn’t see any elephants on the way. We were driven through lots of coffee, tea & banana plantations and tall grass for cattle feed. We had a brief stop to show us a tea plantation and were told how they just pick the top two leaves every 7-10 days - after hiking the mountain our legs did not appreciate the steep loose soil slope up to get there! We also passed the tea market and coffee processing plants in the village. We then headed to Chogoria where we waited for Moses in a café that had amazing fresh juice ... read more
Relaxing at Castle Forest Lodge
Tea plantation

Africa » Kenya » Central Province » Mt. Kenya February 11th 2020

Up at 4:15am to pack & get breakfast in time to leave at 5:15am to hike the few kilometres up Point Lenana (4985m). Very steep and had to do a lot of scrambling over rocks with the help of steel cables – this is the highest via ferrata in the world! It was bitterly cold (our water bottles started freezing over!) but the stars were amazing! We made it to the summit after an hour arriving shortly before sunrise with a thin band of orange light along the eastern horizon. Watching the sun come up over Kenya was rather epic, it was even a clear enough day to spot Mt Kilimanjaro on the southern horizon! From here we had a long hike down the Chogoria route, starting with a stretch of rather nasty scree on which ... read more
At Point Lenana
Coming down the Chogoria route
Pre-sunrise glow

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