Most people travelling to Machu Picchu take the train; it is almost the only way to access Aguas Calientes (the gateway town just below the ruins) and as such the train companies have a monopoly on transport for tourists and charge accordingly. Luckily for us, during a pre-trip planning session we had stumbled across a travel blog named ‘Along Dusty Roads’ which detailed a full day’s walking route (28 ½ km) along the train tracks, starting just outside the town of Ollanytaytambo. It was a much cheaper option and a chance for a mini adventure. Continue reading
I was off again! But, instead of work, this time it would be as a tourist – I was going on holiday! This time round I was headed in a different direction, South West, towards Peru. Continue reading
After 10 hard-working months hopping around the globe my time was sadly at an end but, I’d had the experience of a life time. I’d met some amazing people and learnt heaps, both in terms of work skills and about myself. All the fantastic things I’d seen, done and eaten would be nigh on endless if I tried to list them; but I thought I’d just mention a few of the highlights, including those that may not have made it into the blogs. Continue reading
No matter how many times I said it, I still had no idea what the hell a rondavel was. As it turns out, a rondavel is an adorable round brick cottage. Yes, a round house! The only time I had come across buildings that weren’t square was when I was learning to read at primary school and read books about odd villages with three corners. Continue reading
The hooded vulture project was extending into the Kruger National Park, one of the largest wildlife reserves on the continent. It’s always exciting surveying new habitats to find nests, but if I’m honest I wasn’t that fussed that it was in Kruger. I don’t know why I had an indifference towards the place; I can only put it down to one of 2 possible reasons. Continue reading
I was staying in a private reserve known as Wild Rivers which covered 2600 hectares, so it wasn’t massive but we were able to drive around it at any time of the day or night. ‘What animals would you like to see while you’re here?’ I was asked. I hadn’t really wanted to say as I’m not massively interested in the usual animals (giraffe, elephants, kudu etc) and those which I am tend to be nocturnal, elusive and scarce. Continue reading
‘A lot of standing around and checking nothing is creeping up on me’ was pretty much how my role helping out on the K2C hooded vulture project was explained to me. Sounds a tad boring, huh? As it turned out – not in the slightest. Continue reading
After a short 15 days in Thailand helping track the ‘pain in the arse’ elongated tortoises, and a brief stint with the King cobra team while Matt wrote a conference presentation, I returned to the UK. Do not fear, dear reader, I wouldn’t be freezing in the English summer for too long, I had made a plan over a year ago so this wouldn’t happen. Continue reading
Matt’s project has 10 study tortoises, 5 males and 5 females, and they all have to be tracked daily. Due to the furnace-like temperatures in the afternoon, the day was split into two tracking slots, 6:30–11am and 4–8pm, – even so, the day started at 28°C. Each tortoise had a transmitter glued to its’ shell, so (theoretically) they should have been easy to find. Continue reading
Earlier in the year a friend of mine, Matt, had told me he was setting up his own wildlife research project in Thailand (yes, I was jealous) and asked if I’d be free to help him out for a bit. Continue reading
As I sat in my little flat with all the electricity turned off and the steady dripping of water leaking through the ceiling, I knew it was going to be great at the study site later. It was nearing the end of April and the first of the rains had arrived. The rain is always joined by thunder and a fantastic amount of lightning. Houses are regularly hit by lightning out here and electrical appliances are fried – not surprising given the ‘interesting’ wiring I’ve seen – hence the reason everything was switched off. In fact, Continue reading
Jeez this place was stunning and SO fancy, I felt like I clearly didn’t belong here. You could see straight through the vast hotel lobby to a decking area with a pool which was over-looking a deserted beach framed by palm trees. The sea was crystal clear and the sun was blazing in the bright blue sky, it was like a picture from one of those pretentious and expensive get-away magazines. I was in Galle, an hour or so south from Colombo and I was in search of exotic sea creatures.
New accommodation always means new neighbours, they can be loud or keep to themselves, some you invite round and others invite themselves. Sometimes you get that neighbour that just never seems to leave and becomes more like a housemate. I currently have a few of those and there is a distinct language barrier that means the issue cannot be resolved, well I say language, it’s more of a species barrier really. Continue reading
I know I’ve mentioned it before, on more than a couple of occasions, just how much I love tuk-tuks, so I thought it was about time I brought you into the fun-filled colourful little world of these ubiquitous and versatile three-wheelers.
As I have previously noted, tuk-tuks are adorably cheeky (unless you’re in the other vehicle they push in front of!), faster than a speeding bullet (in traffic at least) and prone to last-minute daring changes of direction (their drivers would do amazingly well on the hardest tracks of Mario Kart). Continue reading
Upon entry to Sri Lanka you’re granted a 30-day visa, though, like in most other countries, you can stay for up to 3 months – but only if you submit another application to the Department of Immigration. I’d learnt from previous experience that Sri Lanka loves administration; every piece of paperwork has to be scrutinised by at least 5 other people besides the official you originally handed in to. With this in mind, and after last year’s trip, I knew that I could expect to spend a minimum of three hours there. At least this time I had the advantage of knowing where to go and how the whole palaver worked. Continue reading
Unlike my last time in Sri Lanka when I’d stayed in hostels, this time around I would be staying in a little self-contained flat. Although hostels are cheap places to stay if you’re travelling, their rates are still much higher than local prices; after all, white people do sweat money – or so I’m told. Continue reading
I have no idea how some people manage to look so damn glamorous at the airport; they seem to float around in fabulously exotic holiday clothes without a care in the world. As well as being uncomfortable, boredom-inducing purgatories, I find airports and planes freezing so I take the Eskimo approach and bundle up in as many layers as possible: I become the Michelin woman of warmth! I may look like I’m about to head out on a trek up Everest (I have my walking boots on as well) but it means that I have spare space in my backpack for souvenirs and pressies. Forward planning, my friends! Continue reading
As I sat on my return flight to England, next to the rudest and grumpiest old couple you could ever have the misfortune of sitting next to, I thought about the last three months and wondered what I’d learnt from being immersed in a different culture.
The first thing that struck me was how friendly Sri Lankans are. Despite the English being known for their politeness, that politeness doesn’t seem to extend to being friendly. The easiest way to illustrate my point is the example of walking down the road. As you walk about in Sri Lanka, if you make eye contact with anyone they automatically smile which is lovely, the universal good feeling generator. However, if you wander about back home the only people that will smile at you seem to be dog walkers and old people.
The last day of my epic birthday week had arrived and once again it began with an amazing breakfast, which was then followed by a tour around the plantation. The estate was vast, there were poly tunnels upon poly tunnels. It was interesting to see the growing process from seed to shipment and learn all the intricacies involved. I’ll confess I did keep getting distracted by random bugs; what can I say? I’m clearly part magpie, movement and shiny things distract me.
The final part of my epic birthday celebrations were in the hands of Anya’s fabulous Mum, Mihiri. Although a group of us had been out for a joint birthday meal before she left, Anya still felt guilty about being in Nepal during my birthday, so she’d badgered her Mum into organising something. I was nervous. I had no idea what was happening or where we were going – I don’t do well with surprises. All I knew was that I was being picked up at 4:30am.