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Potosí - Porca Canyon - Andean Wetlands - Uyuni

Celebrating our 46th Wedding Anniversary

View High Altitude Landscapes Tour - Bolivia, Chile & Argentina 2023 on Grete Howard's travel map.



I wake up grumpy after a bad, bad night with what feels like a ping-pong ball bouncing around in my head, lots of coughing, a blocked nose, and a doze of diarrhea to boot!

Plaza de Armas

This morning's walking tour of Potosí is taken by car, mostly around the 10th November Square (also known as Plaza de Armas)





Porca Canyon

The road is winding and the views are spectacular. We stop at the Mirador (viewpoint), where Juan describes the various plants we see. He is incredibly knowledgeable!


The river is dried up to a mere trickle


This plant, which is endemic to South America, is often used in traditional medicine, for ailments such as bone fractures and bruises as well as toothache.


The dead plant can be used as a fire starter – the thin air at this altitude can make it difficult to light a fire.


These small tufts of Festuca grass are popular foods for the llamas.



Andean Wetlands

I never expected to hear these two words together – to me, the Andes are synonymous with high-altitude mountains, not wetlands. These marshes surrounded by dry hills are fed from underground springs and are favoured by livestock and wild birds alike.




Who knew llamas came in so many different colours and patterns?


Glossy Ibis

Puna Teal

Yellow Billed Ducks

Andrean Goose

Puna Miner

Andean Flamingo

I am a happy twitcher today, as apart from the ducks and ibis, these are all lifers (translation for those of you who are not into birding-lingo: I am a happy bird-watcher, as these are birds that I have not seen before).

Cactus Valley





As well as some impressive cacti, these hillsides are also home to the beautiful tree known as the Sacred Flower of the Andes (Cantua buxifolia).


The different colours of the rock and soil are down to oxidation – the green from tin and the red is caused by iron.




As we approach Uyuni, Miguel stops the minibus so that we can take some photos of the town and appreciate just how flat it is compared with the area we have come through from Potosí.


Uyuni is surrounded by massive salt flats, with the Tunupa Volcano in the misty distance.



Hotel Casa de Sal

This hotel fits nicely into the category of Unusual Hotels We Have Stayed In: the walls and furniture of the hotel are built of salt. Yes, salt. Blocks are cut from the salt flats, to create 'bricks'. The walls, beds, and even most of the furniture are made from salt.



From the reception, we enter a huge atrium, a bright and airy common area, with comfortable seats and loungers. It does, however, remind me of another unusual hotel we stayed in last year: Bodmin Jail Hotel, a former penitentiary that has been turned into luxury accommodation.


The salt bricks have a lifespan of only 10-15 years, as rain causes them to disintegrate so they must be replaced regularly. I am also guessing the salt speeds up the corrosion of wires and other metal objects around the building.



The lines in the blocks represent the rainy seasons during the creation of the salt flats, as well as sediments in the salt,


During check-in, we are offered a cup of coca tea, and while we are finishing the brew, the receptionist takes all our bags down to our room.


Our bedroom is the nearest to the reception and features three large beds and a seating area, with lots of room for luggage. This is a huge change from the quaint colonial hotels we stayed in for the last couple of nights. I love the fact that it is so bright – all too often hotel bedrooms are dark and gloomy, making it difficult to do things like sorting through luggage or putting on make-up.




Love the cool basins in the bathroom

Everything looks quite luxurious until I look up at the celling, which looks totally unfinished.


Restaurant Boca Grande

After dropping our bags in the room and freshening up a little, we grab a taxi and head to a restaurant in town for lunch. We don't want too much to eat as we are splashing out on a fancy meal tonight, so we just order a sanguish de carne chorrilana. Very similar to a burger, the roll comes with sliced meat, onion, and peppers in a sauce. It is just the right size for what I want and very tasty.


We return to the hotel to chill out for the rest of the afternoon, before going out for our anniversary dinner. Later, as we are waiting for our taxi in the hotel reception area, a group of Eastern Europeans arrive, with some standing outside smoking, and the others blocking up the open doorway. Not only does it mean that they are letting the cold air in (it is around 9 °C this evening), their second-hand smoke is playing havoc with my chest infection. After a few minutes of feeling that I can't breathe, I have to ask them to go either outside or inside and close the door. They all go outside, then a few minutes later come back in as a group. Despite huge signs in reception and the rooms, they are carrying wine bottles and ask the receptionist for six plastic glasses (not very eco-friendly). So not only are they inconsiderate to other guests, they are disrespectful to the hotel rules, and reckless to the environment. How to create a bad impression in just a few minutes!



Hotspot, The New Religion

I spent a long time online before we left home to try and find a special restaurant in which to celebrate our anniversary this evening. It seems Uyuni is not overflowing with gourmet restaurants, but when I came across reviews for this oddly named place, I was immediately smitten.

The entrance is totally unremarkable: no huge advertising boards, no menu outside, no windows with pretty lights and views of diners enjoying themselves inside; just a plain door in a mud brick wall on a dusty side street with nothing much around. Steep stairs lead to a funky dining room with quirky artwork and a friendly welcome.




Even the toilets are skilfully decorated. Ladies on the left, gents on the right (yes, I did go into the gents!)


Once inside the dining area, we are transported to a different world, one in which we are about to go on a gastronomic journey through Bolivia. The dark lighting and eclectic décor, with its red, white, and black theme, does remind me a little of a rather seedy club I occasionally visited in my wild days some 40 years ago.



The waiter patiently explains everything to us in great detail - and perfect English - while I make copious notes. The service is friendly, attentive, and unpretentious: the cutlery is delivered in a pile on the table, and for each course, he recommends which utensil we should use. The focus here is very much on the food and the taste experience, rather than the impersonal scraping and bowing to pompous diners you often find in upmarket restaurants. I like it.


There is no choice of food, just a set menu (with the usual questions about any dietary requirements, of course). With no preconceived notions of what to expect, each dish is a revelation, an elaborate work of art, and a complete culinary experience, with elements from each region of Bolivia.


First Course - Highlander Salad
All the ingredients for this dish are found in the Andes, and include fried broccoli, cheese, avocado, beetroot crisps, papalisa potatoes, and cucumber, with a sauce made from sesame, pineapple, and cumin. It is suggested we eat this using the smaller spoon and start from the centre to the outside. I love the fact that we are informed about which way to eat it to get the best out of the flavour and texture combinations.


The initial bite reveals a hint of acidity, followed almost immediately by something sweet. To me, the texture of the food is at least as important as the flavour, and this dish does not disappoint, with the fired broccoli providing a delightful crunch, the cheese is slightly salty, the centre is sweet, with the broccoli providing the prominent taste.

Second Course – Carrot Flowers
This dish represents the flowers of the cactus found here in the Andes. The rolls of carrots are filled with creamy peas, quinoa, maracuya (a type of passion fruit), curds of coriander, and topped with pineapple chutney.


It is recommended that we eat each carrot flower in a single bite with the smaller of the forks. The combination of the crispy texture of the carrots, and the juice sweet taste of the pineapple and maracuya balances the smokey flavour of the sauce beautifully. I really enjoy this dish, and write “Oo la la” in my notebook.

Third Course – Vegan Ceviche
I am not about to let my confusion about how a 'vegan ceviche' might work prejudice my exploration of the intriguing bowl of as-of-yet-unidentified ingredients.


The dish contains dried and reconstituted broad beans, onions, oca (a tuber similar to a potato, which has been grown in the Andes for hundreds of years), sweet potato smashed with orange zest, papaya, and dehydrated tomatoes.

A jug of mint sauce, made from two different species of mint, as well as a local aromatic herb, and tumbo juice (known as banana passion fruit in English)

With this, we are told to start from the centre of the bowl, using the big spoon.

One word: Wow! The flavour is acidic and sweet at the same time, the crunchy texture of the beans is similar to that of cornflakes, and the mint veritably explodes with taste in my mouth.

Fourth Course – Pork Belly
Apparently, this dish is known as Electric Impulse. I can't quite work out why. The pork is cooked for two hours at a low temperature and served with a sauce made from a local variety of plantains. The plate is also home to ½ caramelised oca (a potato-like tuber), which amuses me – it looks somewhat lost on the plate – it's the only vegetable accompaniment to the pork.


When the pork is brought out, it has a glass covering it, which the waiter removes to reveal culinary smoke escaping.

The pork is meltingly tender and the skin is delightfully crunchy and flavourful.

We do get some bread rolls, however, which are steamed and then finished in oil to create that golden colour and a lovely soft centre with a deliciously crisp exterior.


A small bowl of pineapple chutney also arrives.


Fifth Course – Dessert
Having earlier mentioned that we are celebrating our anniversary this evening, we are presented with a candle on the dessert plate, and the words “Happy 46” on it. How thoughtful.

The daring dessert consists of three different tiny mouthfuls, each different, and creating a mixture of flavours and textures.


On the left is a strawberry cube, made from milk treated in three different ways, and served with cinnamon biscuits.

At the back is an apple stuffed with the fruit from the local pitahaya cactus (similar to a dragon fruit) and cream cheese.

On the right-hand side is maracuya (local passion fruit) ice cream

We finish with a cocktail (well, it is our anniversary!) called Smoked Coffee Margarita. It consists of coffee, passion fruit juice, coffee liqueur, Triple Sec, and tequila, with the rim covered in coffee salt.


The drink is an assault on the senses, with its unusual smokey taste, hidden sweetness, and powerful taste of coffee, with the unusual combination of the salty rim adding to the adventurous mix of flavours. It carries quite a kick!

Everything we have been served this evening has been scrumptious, elaborate satisfying, and exotic, with a kaleidoscope of flavours - a real foodgasm! The service has been impeccable and the company delightful. This place is a real gem, and not at all what you'd expect to find down a deserted dirt-road in a small wild-west-like town like Uyuni, which has a delightful hippy vibe and is full of backpackers and adventure tourists.

After a memorable anniversary, we make our way down the deserted side street until we reach a junction to try and grab a taxi for the journey back to the hotel. I have read that sleeping in a salt room is beneficial to respiratory health, as inhaling salt particles may reduce inflammation and mucus in the lungs, to help improve respiratory conditions such as asthma, allergies, and bronchitis. I can but hope.

Goodnight from Uyuni, and thank you to Undiscovered Destinations for arranging this amazing trip.


Posted by Grete Howard 17:29 Archived in Bolivia Tagged birds cactus sheep anniversary prison celebrations llama ducks salt potosí south_america flamingo burgers ceviche salt_flats mint ibis uyuni cacti jail artwork cocktail goose tunupa coca_tea bird_watching funky plaza_de_armas salt_hotel teal undiscovered_destinations oca miner twitcher boca_grande pork_belly maracuya papalisa happy_anniversary 10th_november_square porca_canyon parastrephia festuca_grass andean_wetlands underground_spring oxidation cactual_valley sacred_flower_of_the_andes cantua_buxifolia tunupa_volcano casa_de_sal salt_bricks bodmin_jail_hotel the_hotspot_the_new_religion foodgasm vegan_ceviche tumbo_juice flavour_explosion ptahaya_cactus Comments (4)

São Paulo - London - Home

The long journey home

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No alarm this morning as we are not leaving until lunchtime – Yay! The breakfast buffet has some very nice dishes, including a chocolate mousse! Yum.

After completing the packing, we wander down to reception, and sit in the bar, waiting for the restaurant to open, when our transfer driver turns up one hour and ten minutes early. The porter hasn't even had the time to bring our luggage down yet! It makes no difference to us, we can spend some extra time in the LATAM VIP Lounge instead of paying for lunch here in the hotel.

The driver goes well beyond his duty and rushes around trying to find us a wheelchair when we arrive at the airport. We tip him well. The porter, Gulmar, is very talkative, but neither of us speaks the other one's language. I can make out that his claim to fame is that he once pushed Pelé around in a wheelchair.

This lounge is considerably nicer than the BA lounge in Heathrow, so we make ourselves comfortable, grab a few snacks and a drink from the bar and wait.


Is it ever OK to place your feet on the table where people might want to put their food and drinks? Not in my book, for sure!


The toilets are like nothing I have ever seen before. They are not cubicles, they are proper rooms, with a floor-to-ceiling door. Each stall is sterilised between every use, with a paper ribbon across the toilet seat and the toilet paper folded to a point at the end to indicate it has been cleaned. One wall has a marble shelf with a basin set in it, and mirrors above. The opposite wall has floor-to-ceiling mirrors. It's like a “House of Mirrors” at a fairground, and I can see dozens of me at the same time. Should I want to, that is.


British Airways Business Class

Gulmar returns and takes me straight to the gate, where I am first to board. Barry, the purser greets me by name and shows me to my seat without me having to show my ticket. As we are getting settled, Barry returns: “Mrs Howard, when we are airborne, would you like me to bring you an aperitif before dinner?” “Will you be dining with us this evening?” “What would you like for your main course?” “Would you like still or sparkling water with that?” “And how about some wine...”

Cranberry Blush cocktail: vodka, orange, cranberry, and ginger ale


The Quinoa Tabbouleh starter with feta cheese, roasted aubergine, and pesto sauce is surprisingly creamy and very good.

The fabulous Tenderloin of beef has a sundried tomato and herb crust and is served with a bacon demi-glace, potato au gratin, roasted tomato, sautéed mushrooms, and spinach.

There are three different types of bread that are baked together, although the butter is disappointingly hard.

The passion fruit and mango mousse with a chocolate brownie is delicious, and the cheese is lovely.

As a result of waiting for connecting passengers, we are 40 minutes late leaving.


I struggle to sleep as my knee seems to hurt whichever position I am in, so I play “Who wants to be a Millionaire on the games console, over and over again until I finally win the $1,000,000. If only it was real money!

Breakfast is pretty awful – the bacon is so tough I can't cut it, the eggs are stewed, and the so-called sausage is totally tasteless. I eat the yogurt and pastries. When I mention it to 'my friend' Barry, he agrees that it does not look as good as it normally does.

Coming in to land at Heathrow, we fly over the centre of London – I always enjoy this approach route.


Once we have landed, I am told to wait in my seat until everyone has got off. Oh, the difference between how they treat Special Assistance passengers in the UK to Brazil!

I am eventually pushed in a wheelchair to the end of the corridor, where we are squashed into a sardine-like vehicle at least two inches shorter than my legs. My knees are pushed right up against a glass partition, and we have to wait until the driver has collected three other passengers.

We travel in the underbelly of Heathrow, a part of the airport I have never seen before and have no wish to experience again. Long, bleak tunnels, devoid of life, like something out of a horror movie.

The vehicle takes us through passport control, where the mother and daughter behind in the truck are questioned at length about the fact that they have both Italian and Argentine passports.

When we arrive at the luggage carousels, I am unceremoniously dropped at the Special Assistance holding area with the words: “you might prefer to walk from here if you can as there are a dozen or more people in front of you waiting for a wheelchair”.

Welcome to Britain!

Posted by Grete Howard 11:33 Archived in Brazil Tagged vip south_america sao_paulo heathrow marriott ba wheelchair cocktail british_airways business_class undiscovered_destinations special_assistance latam vip_lounge posh_toilets Comments (0)

Itatiaia - São Paulo

The beginning of the end

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I was finally warm enough in bed overnight last night, and wake up this morning feeling quite refreshed.

Brown Capuchin
After breakfast I hang around the feeders, watching the monkeys gather in increasing numbers.


Drinking from the hummingbird feeder



This is what they are all waiting for.


They are trying to work out how to get from the roof to that feeder.



Made it!


I wonder how they are going to climb back onto the roof now?


No problem!


I think Roberto can get the vibe that we are beginning to get a little birded-out, so he suggests we do something different and take a look at some nearby waterfalls, right at the very end of the road. There are three waterfalls here, one that basically goes under the bridge and two that are accessed by a series of steps.


I am obviously not going to be climbing any steps, so stay on the road photographing the very underwhelming smaller cascades at the lower level.





David, on the other hand, decides that he wants some exercise and climbs to the top, where the falls are much more impressive, even with the low water level at the moment.




We go back to the lodge to finish packing - we are leaving Itatiaia today, going back to São Paulo for overnight before travelling home.


The feeders beckon again, with their brightly coloured tanagers and those fast, fast hummingbirds.

Female Blue Dacnis

Male Blue Dacnis

Golden Chevroned Tanager

Green Headed Tanager

Chestnut Bellied Euphonia

Saffron Finch

Female Brazilian Ruby

Planalto Hermit

The sugar water spilled from the hummingbird feeders attracts wasps and ants.



The lodge has a resident artist, Leonardo, who is gradually filling up a white wall on the terrace with murals of local birds and squirrels.


Ricardo chilling on the terrace

Brazilian Squirrel
No local wildlife is forgotten here, and the squirrels have their own little feeding box in reception.


David wants to try and hand feed him, but as he already has a nut, he is not the least bit interested.


He has noticed the nut


And now that he has finished his previous one, he is thinking about it.


Going for it...






And both of them are happy!


As we are sitting around chatting with Leonardo and Ricardo, there is a flutter of excitement: one of the other guides has seen a rare bird. All his guests come running, and I want to get in on the action too, but being very slow to get up because of my bad knee, I end up right at the back of the crowd.

Frilled Coquette
The beautiful hummingbird makes a very brief appearance of just a few seconds, and everyone sighs as they don't even have time to raise their cameras to their eyes.

“Did you see him?” asks Ricardo. “I saw him, and I got him!” I reply.

Everyone is amazed and wants to see the results, as despite shooting with my long lens through the gaps between the crowd, I was the only one quick enough to capture him.

In fact, I manage several shots, but this is the best one.

“You're incredible!” says a very impressed Ricardo, "such fast reactions".

São Paulo
The drive to São Paulo from here seems a lot longer than it did coming the other way, despite the fact that I sleep a lot in the car. We see an accident, which could account for the amount of traffic.

Marriott Hotel
Ricardo drops us off at the hotel – he is off to pick up another couple of tourists tonight.

I ask the lovely young chap on reception – Gustavo – if I can have a room with a walk-in shower rather than a bath, as I struggle to get out of a bath with my bad knee. He finds a suitable room for us, but as it is not ready yet, he offers us a free drink in the bar while we wait.


After a lovely shower and change, we wander down to the reception, to find that dinner tonight is served buffet-style. Ugh. When we discover the large American group (with the irritating, loud, whiny woman) from the last three nights in Itatiaia are here too, we decide to eat in the bar instead. The menu is available via a QR code on the table, and we place our order.

My king prawns with a caper mayo

David orders a huge mixed grill

I have chocolate mousse for dessert

Whereas David chooses a trio of ice cream with chocolate sauce

Would you believe it, the Whiny American Woman comes to the bar and stops to talk to us. And there we were, thinking we'd managed to avoid her!

And so ends our holiday in Brazil.

Goodnight from São Paulo, and thank you to Undiscovered Destinations for arranging this trip.


Posted by Grete Howard 11:06 Archived in Brazil Tagged waterfalls brazil birding brasil mural street_art squirrel south_america sao_paulo ants tanager ice_cream cocktail prawns hermit capuchin wasps hummingbirds bird_watching artis ruby shrimps itatiaia undiscovered_destinations euphonia dacnis brown_capuchin monkets brazilian_squirrel coquette chocolate_mousse mixed_grill Comments (0)

São Paulo - Iguaçu

Stage two of the journey to Brazil

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I managed to get some sleep, despite the seat adjustment buttons having a mind of their own, and either not working when I pressed them or continuing to recline when I took my finger off them. When I mention it to the steward this morning, he is quite surprised, as apparently it is a new plane.

The scrambled eggs with pork sausage, mushrooms, and tomato were surprisingly good.

São Paulo Airport
I really should have pre-requested assistance here at Sãp Paulo, as the walk is incredibly long – David estimates almost two miles. We have to clear immigration, collect our luggage, go through customs and walk to the domestic terminal. An official lets me cut in the line for immigration, and I do so myself for customs.

There is a long queue for check-in at the domestic terminal, but a kindly lady sends me to the Special Assistance counter. The young guy there speaks no English and my Portuguese is no better, but we get by using Google Translate.

Opposite the check-in counter is the wheelchair hub, and someone took me straight to a dedicated Special Assistance holding area. As we wait for a porter to collect us when the flight is ready to board, I receive an email from British Airways about our missing bag. Missing bag? What missing bag? We have just collected both bags and checked them in again. I decide to ignore the email.


São Paulo – Iguaçu flight
The GOL flight is full and I am right at the back of the plane. The steward who helps me cannot understand why they didn't give me a seat at the front of the plane, where there are dedicated seats for the disabled. There is a screaming child two rows in front of me, plus his spoilt brat brother who jumps up and down in the seat throughout the entire flight, including for landing.

As soon as we land in Iguaçu, I attempt to stand up as my knees are hurting, and cannot understand why everyone remains seated. It later transpires that Brazilian flights disembark by row, and only when invited to do so by the crew. How very civilised!

A wheelchair is waiting for me, whisking me straight through in front of everyone else, right to the place where Carini, our local guide, is waiting for us.


Our hotel is inside the national park, so we stop at the entrance gate to pay for the park fees. A few hundred yards later is another gate – the first check-in for the hotel. Carini's company is one of very few agencies that are allowed to drive right up to the hotel; everyone else must stop at this post, park their car here and take the hotel shuttle the rest of the way. I am very grateful we don't have to deal with that hassle.

We first visited Iguaçu back in 1990 as part of a big South America trip, and totally fell in love with this place; so much so, that it has remained my all-time favourite spot ever since.

At the time I wrote in my journal:

“Around each corner is a new spectacle, each better than the previous, it is all so magnificent.... It is so overwhelming standing here at the edge of such a mighty waterfall that I am in tears at so much natural beauty. It is all too much for me.”

I do wonder if reality will live up to my memory and expectations 32 years later, with some two hundred more trips abroad and almost one hundred more countries visited since then.

I needn't have worried. As soon as we get the first glimpse of the magnificent falls from the road, my eyes well up, and again I feel extremely emotional.


Belmond Hotel das Cataratas
This is the only hotel inside the Iguaçu National Park, and classes itself as five star luxury. Way back in 1990 when we last visited Brazil, we did not find it all that luxurious, with a fairly scruffy room where the AC did not work, and disinterested staff.

This time it is very different.


As soon as we pull up outside the beautiful pink façade, a small army of porters arrive. One of them leads us to the reception while the rest take our luggage out of the car. Gabriel, the receptionist, hands us a welcome drink and a small traditional coconut sweet, and asks if I would prefer a bath or a walk-in shower. Most definitely the latter, as I struggle to get in and out of a bathtub with this poorly knee. He apologises that the room is not quite ready yet (not surprising as it is not even midday at this stage), so he walks us onto the lawn next to the pool, carrying our hand luggage, where he introduces us to Melissa “who will look after you while you wait for your room to be ready”. Melissa leads us to a table, and insists on finding a chair for my camera bag. “We are a five-star hotel, we will not let you put your bag on the ground” she maintains.

Today the hotel are hosting a BBQ on the lawns, where all food and drinks are included in the one price. I have no idea how much that 'one price' is, as the saying goes: “if you have to ask the price, you can't afford it”. This is a popular event for the local 'In Crowd', and it is easy to see who has just arrived for the BBQ to see and be seen (dressed to the nines), versus those who are staying in the hotel.

We are assigned a waiter, called Claudiana. He explains that he was named partly after his mother, who was called Ariana, and he hates his name but loves his mother, so he puts up with it. He is very sweet, and ensures we have everything we can possibly want, and more. Each table has a small bottle of hand sanitiser as well as a natural insect repellent.

I start with a classic Caipirinha, Brazil's national drink made with cachaça, sugar, and lime. Cachaça is a bit of an institution here in Brazil, and is a distilled spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice.


I have another couple, just to make sure I like them.


There is an impressive buffet with salads and side dishes, and two large tables with meats carved on demand.



I am intrigued by the grilled banana to go with the meat, and as I am rather partial to fruit with savoury dishes, I find it most enjoyable. The cracking is probably the best I have ever had!


David picks up a potato stuffed with cheese, which he claims is delicious.


The dessert buffet looks extraordinarily temping, and I feel obliged to try one of each dish!



Oh yes!!!!


David is not quite so greedy.


There is a live group entertaining us, playing some very nice music, but a little too loud for me, as we struggle to hold a normal conversation at the table.

We go back to Gabriel on reception, who confirms that our room is now indeed ready for us, and that he has not only upgraded us to a deluxe room, but in fact a deluxe room with a view of the falls! Sounds good!

The view from the room

David in our room waving at me when I am down at the falls

The room is unremarkable, while the bathroom has pretty tiles and a built-in seat in the shower, which is rather nice.





We take a much-needed nap, followed by a refreshing shower. Neither of us feels particularly hungry after the massive BBQ lunch, so we just go down to the bar for drinks and snacks.


Cold cuts and cheeses to share

Panga cocktail: Cachaça M'Boy, Cointreau, Sicilian lemon juice, basil, and raspberry syrup.

When we return to the room, housekeeping have been, leaving a mat on the floor beside the bed and a chocolate on the pillow. I do like some old-fashioned turn-back service.


Goodnight from Iguaçu.

Posted by Grete Howard 18:39 Archived in Brazil Tagged park hotel flight airport breakfast waterfall national bar brazil brasil bbq aircraft south_america sao_paulo dessert disabled iguacu wheelchair cocktail luxury_travel gol live_music caipirinha hotel_room housekeeping british_airways business_class cachaca insect_repellent check-in belmond dessert_buffet turnback_service luxury_hotel ba_club_world disabled_traveller club_world gol_airlines hotel_das_cataratas belmond_hotel_das_cataratas five_star_hotel lunch_on_the_lawn hand_sanitiser grilled_banana room_upgrade cold_cuts Comments (3)

Sunset Cruise from Mandina Lodges

What an amazing amount of birds!

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This afternoon we are taking another boat trip, this one with two added bonuses: a bottle of wine and the sunset! Hopefully. The sunset, that is, the bottle is most definitely present!




My plan of action this evening is to take photos of birds just as they take off. I always like a challenge and to step outside my comfort zone. I start with this Long Tailed Cormorant.


Fishing centre

I have a soft spot for baobab trees


Wattled Plover

Black Kite taking off

Palm Nut Vulture

Great White Egret


I think she's going to fly...


Here she goes!


It looks like she is having a blast!


We see a tree full of Pink Backed Pelicans.





Yellow Billed Stork

African Spoonbill

Goliath Heron

Black Kite

Blue Cheeked Bee Eater

The sun is getting low now, and depending which direction I point my camera, the sky glows a warm yellow, glistening in the ripples on the water surface.


Great White Egret

Common Sandpiper

Sacred Ibis

Sacred Ibis


And they're gone

African Darter

Cattle Egret

The sun is only just above the horizon now, as we have entered an area enclosed on three sides by mangroves and an island in the middle.


Max, the captain, explains we will wait here for the sun to go down and the birds to come back to roost.


We see a few single birds flying around in the sunset, then coming in to the island to settle down for the night.




The sun has painted the sky a deep orange now.


Beautiful reflections on the water


Where there were initially just one or two, they are now coming in thick and fast, it seems to be never ending, and they seem to appear from nowhere.








More and more egrets are gathering in the trees, and when you think there is no room for any more birds, a whole lot of others arrive.




It is hard to know where to look, the birds are coming from three out of four directions, and seem to suddenly appear out of nowhere from behind us with a whoosh. It is an air traffic control nightmare!



When there is no more room at the inn and the light is fading rapidly, we start to make our way back to the lodge, stopping from time to time to take photos of the sunset. To say this evening's performance has been spectacular is an understatement!






By the time we reach the hotel, darkness has all but enveloped Makasutu Forest and the twinkling lights of Mandina Lodge welcome us back.





As time is getting on, we go straight to dinner from the sunset cruise; the boat conveniently lands at the jetty right by the restaurant anyway.

Pre-dinner drink of Pina Colada

Prawn Cocktail

Butter fish with Lyonnaise potatoes and a delicious home made tartare sauce

David's Samosas

Gambian Rice Pudding with ground peanuts - a very delicate flavour

We decline the offer of an early morning coffee in the room tomorrow, in favour of a lie in, and sneak off to bed after a magical day in Makasutu Forest.

Posted by Grete Howard 15:16 Archived in Gambia Tagged trees birds fishing reflections sunset pelicans kite africa dinner forest birding captain baobab stork vulture ibis egrets spoonbill birdwatching mangroves cocktail west_africa samosas cormorant gambia boat_trip fores sunset_cruise piña_colada darter roost plover bee_eater sandpiper the_gambia butter_fish mandina_lodges makasutu makasutu_forest whinbrel flying_birds birds_flying air_traffic_control prawn_cocktail rice_pudding Comments (5)

Montrouis - Moulin sur Mer beach resort

More chill time

storm 36 °C
View Fet Gede - Haiti's Day of the Dead 2016 on Grete Howard's travel map.

I am up early this morning for some bird watching in and around the hotel grounds.

Yellow Faced Grassquit

Hispaniolan Woodpecker


Hispaniolan Woodpecker

White Necked Crow


American Kestrel

Grey Kingbird

The hotel also has domestic ducks and geese on its ponds; as well as a pigeon loft.






Lots of lovely fresh mango, and French toast with bacon - one of my favourite breakfasts!

Montrouis Beach

Apart from a conch shell salesman, and a sunbed stacker, we have the beach to ourselves this morning.








It is blisteringly hot and suddenly my tummy doesn't feel good at all. In fact, it is so sudden that I don't make it back to the bathroom on time – a most unpleasant experience.

You'll be glad to know that there are no photos of my little "accident".


Today is Sunday, so lunch is a buffet.

Chicken curry, national rice, fried plantains, creamed corn and tomato salad

A delightfully tart passionfruit mousse

Rain? What rain?

The forecast for this weekend (and beyond) has consistently showed rain, rain and more rain, plus the odd thunder shower. There is certainly no sign of that this afternoon, the sea is sparkling in the sunshine.



We sit for a while just gazing out to sea and those mesmerizing sparkles of sunshine dancing across the water like little luminous fairies. Life is good, until my tummy tells me that the lunch is an unwelcome guest and is about to be evicted, so we retire to the cool room. Next door is a lovely local family who are here for the weekend with their small child. I am unconcerned when I hear hear the key being turned in the connecting door as it is surely locked from both sides; but before I have had the chance to say “I'd better put some clothes on”, the girl and her father are in our room. I don't know who is most shocked: the kid or her dad! For the rest of their stay he avoids all eye contact with me.

I guess that is my cue to get dressed and head out to wait for the sunset.

There are a few more people down at the beach this afternoon; both in and out of the water.




Tonight's sunset is not a patch on yesterday's, but the 'Bushwacker' cocktail more than makes up for it: Khalua, Amaretto, Baileys, cream and ice cream. Heaven in a glass!





What the evening sky lacks in terms of colour, intensity and clouds, it more than makes up for in a passing lightning storm.



On the menu tonight is langoustine thermador – one of my favourite dishes. It certainly lives up to expectations.


Thank you to Jacqui of Voyages Lumiere for yet another day here in Haiti.


Posted by Grete Howard 03:05 Archived in Haiti Tagged birds sea water sunset ocean beach storm caribbean sleep drinking birding photography lightning thunder woodpecker cocktail haiti lightning_storm langoustine bird_watching kestrel american_kestrel moulin_sur_mer montrouis voyages_lumier twitcher hispaniolan_woodpecker grassquit yellow_faced_grassquit bananaquit kingbird grey_kingbird waterskiing bushwalker_cocktail langoustine_thermador Comments (0)

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