Gallery: an ode to beautiful Northumberland (shhh!)
Are there places you know and love which you hesitate to tell others about, because you are tempted to keep them to yourself? Places relatively unknown that you fear might become spoiled if discovered by too many? And yet, they are so lovely you can’t resist singing their praises!
Chiloé: a place of witches and gnomes
Islands are often special places, removed as much in their culture from the mainland as they are physically separate from it. Chiloé is no exception. This is a place of soft green hills, wild coasts and homely architecture. Famed for its wooden churches, sixteen of which are UNESCO listed, its people still more than half believe in the witches, ghost ships and forest gnomes that inhabit its mythologies.
Will we see whales?
Sorry, we were told, when we planned our stay on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula; February is a bit early in the season to see humpback whales in Drake Bay and there are no tours running. Slightly disappointed, we settled for a day visiting Caño Island. We were promised great snorkelling and a landing on a beautiful island. But not whales.
Spotting wildlife in the Galápagos Islands
For many years I wanted to visit the Galápagos: to walk on these remote islands where unique species thrive, where Darwin first developed the ideas that would change our understanding of nature, and where animals have never learned to fear humankind. In 2012 I realised my dream; and fortunately, it more than lived up to my expectations!
A walk on Sausage Island: it’s all about the elephants
While the safety of a jeep is comforting and often necessary on safari, there is nothing to beat the experience of walking through the African countryside on foot. A slight frisson of danger accompanies you as you step carefully through the long grass. The only sounds are those of the wildlife around you and the breeze through the trees; the only scents those wafted on that same breeze.
Blue feet, red feet, any coloured feet …
There are several species indelibly linked in the mind with the Galápagos Islands, and one of these is certainly the blue-footed booby. The distinctive feet that give it its name, almost turquoise in colour, really are as bright and bizarre-looking as they seem in the photos!
A village built on shells
Fadiouth is an island village, and a rather unique one. It is also known as Shell Island, and the reason for this is pretty obvious; it is built on layers and layers of shells. These have accumulated over the centuries as the locals subsisted on cockle fishing in the shallows of the mangrove lagoons and simply discarded the shells, or used them as building materials.
A walk on Palm Island: hippos, hogs and crocs
It was early morning in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. As we stepped ashore from the small boat our guide, Slade, immediately stopped to load his rifle. It was a somewhat disconcerting start to our walk, to say the least. He then gave us a short briefing on how to stay safe during our time on Palm Island, one of hundreds that dot the delta.
The ‘Christmas’ marine iguanas of Española Island
For many of us the colours red and green trigger memories of Christmas. Glossy holly leaves and berries, a beautifully decorated tree, Santa in his red suit, a pile of wrapped presents. But a questionably ugly reptile? Probably not – and yet ...
The waved albatross of Española Island
The trail across Española Island to the cliffs of Puerto Egas requires a little effort. In places it is almost like walking on stepping stones, moving from one lava boulder to the next along the route. But the reward at the end of the path is enormous – and I use that word advisedly.