A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about forest

Sunset Cruise from Mandina Lodges

What an amazing amount of birds!


View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

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!

large_495dd520-aec4-11e9-ba05-2377c29eee6f.jpg

large_b5bf31a0-aec4-11e9-ba05-2377c29eee6f.jpg

large_0efb7930-aec6-11e9-9468-af3c2e977f6c.jpg

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.

large_0a232b40-aec8-11e9-abcb-27ebc93ed2a1.jpg

large_5cf52850-aecd-11e9-9844-73cae9928b86.jpg
Fishing centre

large_90993840-aecd-11e9-b106-75d2fa348bb2.jpg
I have a soft spot for baobab trees

large_214abc00-aecf-11e9-8c73-19c619678c9f.jpg
Whimbrel

large_6c0bcf00-aece-11e9-8c73-19c619678c9f.jpg
Wattled Plover

large_494c3600-aed1-11e9-a4f8-833a99faa165.jpg
Black Kite taking off

large_a30d6730-aee1-11e9-bca0-295e59c1731a.jpg
Palm Nut Vulture

large_39bc0d00-aee5-11e9-831b-6306d8171314.jpg
Great White Egret

large_a2f11350-aee6-11e9-adb5-bd39c8ff2012.jpg
Preening

I think she's going to fly...

large_2c237370-aee7-11e9-adb5-bd39c8ff2012.jpg

Here she goes!

large_94027c20-aee7-11e9-adb5-bd39c8ff2012.jpg

It looks like she is having a blast!

large_0a6b7150-aee8-11e9-adb5-bd39c8ff2012.jpg

We see a tree full of Pink Backed Pelicans.

large_4bfd9000-aef5-11e9-8b6f-692b6f608cab.jpg

large_597a5240-aef5-11e9-8b6f-692b6f608cab.jpg

large_63e567b0-aef5-11e9-8b6f-692b6f608cab.jpg

large_bc2c8af0-af24-11e9-a2e0-9144e19566f6.jpg

large_da63e0b0-aef5-11e9-8b6f-692b6f608cab.jpg
Yellow Billed Stork

large_ab696cc0-af23-11e9-a2e0-9144e19566f6.jpg
African Spoonbill

large_88e96900-b240-11e9-a16f-df722d255168.jpg
Goliath Heron

large_3794ea50-b553-11e9-b011-e16c85473ec2.jpg
Black Kite

large_dd22d3d0-b6af-11e9-90aa-e55591e14d66.jpg
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.

large_c2ce7380-b6b0-11e9-90aa-e55591e14d66.jpg

large_81c6b220-b6b1-11e9-90aa-e55591e14d66.jpg
Great White Egret

large_bcf668d0-b6b2-11e9-90aa-e55591e14d66.jpg
Common Sandpiper

large_9bb5e0a0-b6b3-11e9-90aa-e55591e14d66.jpg
Sacred Ibis

large_d8507fb0-b6b9-11e9-9fb6-c1626cfb739f.jpg
Sacred Ibis

large_47a99100-b6bd-11e9-9212-5bc3cb40e6cb.jpg
Whimbrels

large_69983e10-b6bd-11e9-ac8d-f1b40a4219f3.jpg
And they're gone

large_7c381610-b6bf-11e9-9ff2-4f73c5657d79.jpg
African Darter

large_ad65b250-b6c0-11e9-9ff2-4f73c5657d79.jpg
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.

large_75650990-b6c1-11e9-9ff2-4f73c5657d79.jpg

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

large_606de710-b85f-11e9-966b-4d2ca9a8fd2b.jpg

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

large_37a316a0-b6bd-11e9-9212-5bc3cb40e6cb.jpg
large_74f204e0-b860-11e9-966b-4d2ca9a8fd2b.jpg

large_ba96bc10-b861-11e9-966b-4d2ca9a8fd2b.jpg

large_9aff1700-b864-11e9-8a28-f1fdc4841ca7.jpg

The sun has painted the sky a deep orange now.

large_c89bcee0-b866-11e9-9835-6f8d3a03d1f8.jpg

large_d39a71c0-b866-11e9-9835-6f8d3a03d1f8.jpg
Beautiful reflections on the water

large_efcfed20-b870-11e9-9f73-c3059d9f662b.jpg

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.

large_dd8da1a0-b872-11e9-9f73-c3059d9f662b.jpg

large_29e5b2e0-b873-11e9-9f73-c3059d9f662b.jpg

large_95595730-b877-11e9-ba7a-e335038ae3ff.jpg

large_a27a64e0-b877-11e9-ba7a-e335038ae3ff.jpg

large_e614e9a0-b877-11e9-ba7a-e335038ae3ff.jpg

large_a98d6470-b9d1-11e9-a759-d131d68c09f2.jpg

large_93743cd0-b9d2-11e9-a759-d131d68c09f2.jpg

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.

large_f3ee5940-b9d4-11e9-a99c-a577d66306f2.jpg

large_8fcc0310-b9d7-11e9-a727-a9240efb2c90.jpg

large_54af7ee0-b9d9-11e9-a727-a9240efb2c90.jpg

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!

large_e6afdbb0-b9d8-11e9-a727-a9240efb2c90.jpg

large_bb400d90-b9e4-11e9-a025-3ddb7d442764.jpg

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!

large_cc503a50-b9e5-11e9-a025-3ddb7d442764.jpg

large_153f63c0-b9f6-11e9-9683-9f1c8878c4ae.jpg

large_6834abd0-b9f1-11e9-be68-5fce43d56dcb.jpg

large_336a9d00-b9f2-11e9-be68-5fce43d56dcb.jpg

large_b1607170-b9f3-11e9-9683-9f1c8878c4ae.jpg

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

large_bce3a180-c0e1-11e9-986f-25d98c009784.jpg

large_7178eb90-c0e3-11e9-9419-07d3fe23298b.jpg

large_2cd1bc50-c0e4-11e9-9419-07d3fe23298b.jpg

Dinner

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.

large_016961e0-c0e8-11e9-8197-3b07721b6384.jpg
Pre-dinner drink of Pina Colada

large_4f7eb380-c0e8-11e9-8197-3b07721b6384.jpg
Prawn Cocktail

large_a4f0a210-c0e8-11e9-8197-3b07721b6384.jpg
Butter fish with Lyonnaise potatoes and a delicious home made tartare sauce

large_Samosas.jpg
David's Samosas

large_986e14e0-c1c5-11e9-9c80-098154c165a4.jpg
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)

Morning Boat Trip at Mandina Lodges

Such variety of bird life


View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

I get up early this morning to catch the sunrise – there is a beautiful mist rising over the river.

large_451f5d10-ab1f-11e9-a17e-a5fac96c6d9c.jpg

Sensing some movement out of the corner of my eye, I spot a new bird (to me) in amongst the foliage: a Mangrove Sunbird.

large_c26b5cf0-ab20-11e9-b8f3-4746ff9342aa.jpg

large_b17a28e0-ab2a-11e9-b41d-054acf267e93.jpg

large_19b163b0-ab2b-11e9-b41d-054acf267e93.jpg
Speckled Pigeon

Catching the sunrise was not the only reason I got up early today; we are off on a boat trip through the mangroves this morning.

large_f3a2fb90-ab32-11e9-8eea-bf548f098b53.jpg

It's a glorious sunrise.

large_01881c90-ab33-11e9-8eea-bf548f098b53.jpg

large_46e6e690-ab33-11e9-8ca2-dda305c53afc.jpg

An old boat lies moored near the lodge.

large_7819a860-ab33-11e9-8ca2-dda305c53afc.jpg

large_02ab4a60-ab34-11e9-8ca2-dda305c53afc.jpg

The water is very still, creating beautiful reflections.

large_2863f7c0-ab34-11e9-be09-ad4d3a6ccffc.jpg

Guinea Baboons

Just around the corner from the lodge, where our tributary meets a wider river, the trees are full of baboons. There are five different species of baboons worldwide, and the Guinea Baboons found here in The Gambia are the smallest.

large_8c72f030-ab35-11e9-8ca2-dda305c53afc.jpg

large_97053cb0-ab35-11e9-be09-ad4d3a6ccffc.jpg

These are a new (sub)species for us, and I am very excited to see and photograph them at such close quarters.

large_dfbb20f0-ab35-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg

large_39d38d20-ab36-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg

It looks like there may be more baboons here in the future.

large_8b8fc6b0-ab36-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg

large_d751b270-ab36-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg

I am so in love with their facial expressions.

large_935f0620-ab37-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg

large_75c0aaf0-ab38-11e9-b27b-a7ef9b801d84.jpg

large_7f6ba4b0-ab38-11e9-b27b-a7ef9b801d84.jpg

large_109dbf90-ab39-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg

large_2b50b010-ab37-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg
African Darter drying out his wings.

large_92299690-ab3b-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg
Great White Egret

large_92baf690-ab3a-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg
Green Backed Heron

large_ae50dac0-ab3d-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg
Blue Breasted Kingfisher

large_a9b6f560-ab3f-11e9-8f96-07292cb89a7a.jpg
Pied Kingfisher

large_2ad25b80-ab3b-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg
Rose Ringed Parakeet

large_59a25510-abb2-11e9-80c0-a35ef0010375.jpg
African Darter

A crocodile sunbathes on the bank of the river.

large_ab587650-abc1-11e9-b55c-99369f3affdd.jpg

He doesn't look too friendly.

large_acb31260-abc3-11e9-926f-4341c7f01ef6.jpg

I hope he didn't hear me and is coming for his revenge!

large_698e6470-abc4-11e9-926f-4341c7f01ef6.jpg

I am very excited to see this elegant and flamboyant Violet Turaco fly over – another new one for me.

large_ec5131a0-abc2-11e9-8f04-bbd37d9d28a6.jpg

One of the birds on my wish list when I came over here, was the Western Plantain Eater. Here they are two-a-penny!

large_be310600-abcd-11e9-857b-1f0192c86dd8.jpg

Oyster Factory

Oysters are big business around here, with the meat being eaten, and the shells burnt to make lime which is mixed with water to make house paint, and with sand to make cement. There are no wasted elements as anything left is used for chicken feed.

large_ca5b33c0-ae42-11e9-a015-3124cf46c30b.jpg
Oysters growing on the mangroves

large_af581250-ae42-11e9-a015-3124cf46c30b.jpg

large_3d7ec1f0-ae43-11e9-a015-3124cf46c30b.jpg

large_79a10310-abe0-11e9-9f85-9ffa941e925d.jpg
Pied Crows mobbing a Harrier Hawk

large_3059fc30-abfd-11e9-a63a-d366355bb4bb.jpg
Greenshank

large_cc67a190-abfd-11e9-a63a-d366355bb4bb.jpg
Spur Winged Plover

large_214391b0-abfe-11e9-a63a-d366355bb4bb.jpg
Senegal Thick Knee

large_9d3acc70-abfe-11e9-a63a-d366355bb4bb.jpg
Common Sandpiper

large_a2968cf0-ae46-11e9-824d-5b7f620de683.jpg
Whimbrel taking off

large_c53fec90-ae48-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg
Long Tailed Cormorant drying his wings out

And so the morning's boat trip is over, and we are back at the lodge in time for lunch.

large_af2899b0-ae49-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

I am absolutely fascinated by the bats in the ceiling of the restaurant.

large_ba96aac0-ae4a-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

Isn't he cute?

large_c526ad50-ae4a-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

Look at him yawn! ♥

large_cfe42880-ae4a-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

Today there is also a Speckled Pigeon in the rafters.

large_7c2bb450-ae4b-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

Mr Heron is back in position in amongst the mangroves as usual.

large_065b6030-ae4c-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

He is after the crabs, of course.

large_82b09970-ae4c-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

large_caa8d300-ae4c-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

I am not sure what is happening here – it looks like the big crab is stalking the little one.

large_477ab650-ae4d-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

large_5148c870-ae4d-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

We return to the room for a little siesta, but find we are not alone.

large_62501b90-ae4e-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg
This girl is looking down on us from the rafters.

It looks like she is raising a family.

large_95e68500-ae50-11e9-b611-6bef1c106185.jpg

I know every mother thinks their babies are the most beautiful in the world; but, I'm sorry, there is nothing remotely attractive about these chicks.

large_1f3b6140-ae51-11e9-b611-6bef1c106185.jpg

I drift into a light snooze, knowing that I am being looked over by the pigeon family.

Posted by Grete Howard 05:36 Archived in Gambia Tagged birds wildlife river sunrise africa crocodile hawk lunch forest birding pigeon dawn crabs baboons bats heron parakeet croc west_africa kingfisher cormorant oysters siesta gambia boat_trip bird_watching crows sunbird darter thick_knee plover sandpiper river_trip the_gambia the_gambia_experience greenshank plantain_eater wild_birds mandina_lodges makasutu mandina makasutu_forest guinea_baboons turaco oyster_factory Comments (6)

A lazy morning at Mandina Lodges

Taking it easy


View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Coffee is delivered to each room every morning, at a time of your choice. We have ours outside at 07:30 this morning, while watching the beautiful sunrise over the river.

large_24125b40-9788-11e9-9d01-6339876fd7ff.jpg

large_2e102ff0-9788-11e9-9d01-6339876fd7ff.jpg

large_3871a870-9788-11e9-9d01-6339876fd7ff.jpg

large_419e4a70-9788-11e9-9d01-6339876fd7ff.jpg

large_4bdd6de0-9788-11e9-8bd4-d5513929c149.jpg

large_8df9b710-9788-11e9-8bd4-d5513929c149.jpg

large_c557afd0-978a-11e9-9b57-d3d79ba2aefd.jpg

We're not the only ones enjoying the sunrise.

large_Jenny.jpg

large_8bf94f00-978f-11e9-8bd4-d5513929c149.jpg

large_123ad0c0-9790-11e9-8bd4-d5513929c149.jpg

The morning goes something like this:

Breakfast
Bird watching
Walk around the grounds
Bird watching
Back to room
Sit outside
Birdwatching
Snooze

large_79f083b0-9789-11e9-8bd4-d5513929c149.jpg
Cheese and chilli omelette, sausage and beans = a great breakfast

large_4e8785a0-9790-11e9-8bd4-d5513929c149.jpg
Pied Kingfisher

large_e71db780-9790-11e9-8bd4-d5513929c149.jpg
Black Headed Heron

large_3a1668b0-9791-11e9-8bd4-d5513929c149.jpg
Another one of the fifteen cats at Mandina Lodges

large_0871dcd0-9792-11e9-8bd4-d5513929c149.jpg
Village Weavers and Red Eyed Dove in a plant pot on the island in the middle of the pool

large_2a43b310-9792-11e9-8bd4-d5513929c149.jpg
Laughing Dove

large_36d85f40-9792-11e9-8bd4-d5513929c149.jpg
Bats in the ceiling of the restaurant

large_7fbc0a40-9792-11e9-ac42-c7a3c962e9f7.jpg
The birds are fed every day

large_c285f890-9792-11e9-ac42-c7a3c962e9f7.jpg
Lovely bougainvillea in the grounds

large_fb528760-9792-11e9-ac42-c7a3c962e9f7.jpg

large_361e8fb0-9793-11e9-ac42-c7a3c962e9f7.jpg
Village Weaver

large_6e6ece10-984d-11e9-93e7-856a56062c50.jpg
Black Kite - it looks like he has caught something - a mouse maybe?

large_cab2f3e0-984d-11e9-9bee-3bd38be59c8c.jpg
Black Necked Weaver

large_a4c350a0-9850-11e9-ac51-5f6a481d866d.jpg
Beautiful water reflections in the river

large_b6844c40-9850-11e9-ac51-5f6a481d866d.jpg
Long Tailed Cormorants

large_c6438470-9850-11e9-ac51-5f6a481d866d.jpg
David at the poolside

Lunch

We eat our lunch in the shady bar, while watching a Whimbrel trying to catch a crab on the mud flats. The crab gets away several times before the bird finally managed to grab it.

large_b2f4b5a0-aa53-11e9-a738-95d34bf32211.jpg

large_c8431dc0-aa53-11e9-a738-95d34bf32211.jpg

large_d2364410-aa53-11e9-a738-95d34bf32211.jpg

large_dceb5ad0-aa53-11e9-a738-95d34bf32211.jpg

The crab has lost its claw.

large_e65c58d0-aa53-11e9-a738-95d34bf32211.jpg

He still managed to escape though.

large_6049e0e0-aa54-11e9-a738-95d34bf32211.jpg

But not for long.

large_80953e30-aa54-11e9-a738-95d34bf32211.jpg

large_d9dac5d0-aa5b-11e9-a3ee-258caae35491.jpg

A Grey Heron wants to get in on the action.

large_ba1ed210-aa6d-11e9-b750-399c01e62ba1.jpg

large_4a6bc7a0-aa6f-11e9-912e-13124a98c8b2.jpg

large_9dd05a00-aa6f-11e9-912e-13124a98c8b2.jpg

large_4a4aae40-aa73-11e9-9018-c58cb3404e07.jpg

As well as a Western Plantain Eater.

large_1bc12ff0-aa72-11e9-9018-c58cb3404e07.jpg

large_a71e5f50-aa72-11e9-9018-c58cb3404e07.jpg

Time for another siesta.

Posted by Grete Howard 08:52 Archived in Gambia Tagged birds reflections dog river cat sunrise breakfast kite wild africa forest birding coffee bats crab heron dove whimbrel west_africa weaver gambia omelette bird_watching cormorants the_gambia the_gambia_experience plantain_eater wild_birds mandina_lodges makasutu mandina makasutu_forest water_reflections Comments (8)

Butuceni - Capriana - Hincu - Chișinău

Our first canonisation


View The Undiscovered East (of Europe) - Moldova, Transdniestr & Romania 2016 on Grete Howard's travel map.

The restaurant looks completely different this morning without the wedding party, decorations and DJ equipment.

large_Butuceni_E..estaurant_1.jpg

For breakfast we are on the same table as a group of eleven Finnish tourists, and like last night, there is way too much food.

large_Butuceni_E..Breakfast_2.jpg

large_Butuceni_E..Breakfast_1.jpg

Some sort of rice pudding, doughnut-type pastries, feta-style cheese, yogurt and tomatoes more than fills us up.

large_Butuceni_E..Breakfast_3.jpg

After breakfast we take a short walk around Butuceni Village, with its collection of cute old buildings, ornate gates and jumbled street furniture.

large_Butuceni_Village_1.jpg

large_Butuceni_Village_3.jpg

large_Butuceni_Village_4.jpg

large_Butuceni_Village_6.jpg

large_Butuceni_Village_2.jpg

large_Butuceni_Village_5.jpg

I call in the village shop to get some water, and notice the elderly shopkeeper uses an abacus to add up the purchases. I don’t think I have seen one of those in use since we visited the old USSR back in the 1980s.

large_Abacus.jpg

I am also very surprised to see a British car in the village!

large_Butuceni_V..ritish_Car_.jpg

Capriana Monastery

On our way to Capriana, we spot a number of police cars that increase in frequency and number the nearer we get to the monastery. The last bit of road leading to the complex is closed off with a police cordon, and parking is impossible anywhere near the area. There are people everywhere; most dressed in their Sunday best. The national TV station is present and there are food stalls and first aid tents set up. Somebody important must be visiting – other than us, I mean.

large_Capriana_Monastery_1.jpg

large_Capriana_Monastery_2.jpg

large_Capriana_Monastery_5.jpg

Even from a great distance we can clearly hear the church bells and some beautiful chanting.

.

Valeriu is as perplexed as we are, but his confusion soon turns to awe as he realises that the liturgy is being led by none other than the Patriarch of Moscow – who for those of us not in the know (including me and David), he is the 'head honcho' of the Moldavian Orthodox Church, held in the same esteem as the Pope is for the Catholics.

large_Capriana_Monastery_3.jpg

large_Capriana_Monastery_4.jpg

The air is full of celebratory reverence, devoted admiration, and pious wonderment; and we soon discover the reason: Moldova is getting its very first Saint in the shape of Metropolitan Banulescu Bodoni who died 200 years ago. We, along with thousands of others, are in fact attending their – and our - very first canonisation. How cool is that?

large_Capriana_Monastery_12.jpg

large_Capriana_Monastery_10.jpg

The Church of St Mary

The crowds are too great to do sightseeing justice, but we follow the throngs of worshippers into the church of St Mary. Dating from 1545, it is the oldest of the three churches that make up the monastery complex, and the oldest preserved church in Moldova.

large_Capriana_Monastery_7.jpg

large_Capriana_Monastery_6.jpg

large_Capriana_Monastery_13.jpg

After falling into decline during the 17th century, the church was reinvigorated in 1813, and for a while thrived. In 1940, the whole monastic estate was confiscated by Soviet troops, the monks fled and the churches were desecrated and pillaged. During the 1960s and 70s, the monastery was used as a sanatorium for sick children and later as a dance hall. In 1989 reconstruction of the monastery began and Capriana once again became a place of religious services.

large_Capriana_Monastery__5_.jpg

large_Capriana_Monastery__2_.jpg

It amuses me that a woman’s hair must be covered before entering the church, yet a tight, short dress is fine.

large_Capriana_Monastery__9_.jpg

Despite not being religious, I find the visit to the church quite emotional and very spiritual. Valeriu gives us a candle each as we enter the church, for us to say a prayer and then ‘plant’ the candle.

large_Capriana_Monastery__7_.jpg

large_Capriana_Monastery_14.jpg

large_102BD7A39DC546ACFCFE88852B4305C0.jpg

large_Capriana_Monastery_15.jpg

The Church of St George

Dating from 1907, the church of St George is smaller and nowhere near as crowded.

large_Capriana_M.._s_Church_3.jpg

large_Capriana_M.._s_Church_1.jpg

We leave the crowds behind and call Leonid to come back and pick us up for the journey to Hincu.

Hincu Monastery / Convent

Located in the picturesque Codrii Forest, reaching Hincu Monastery involves a very pleasant stroll up through the woods, although I didn’t expect to see a monk on a tractor along the way.

large_Hincu_Monastery_2.jpg

large_Hincu_Monastery_1.jpg

Founded in 1678 by the daughter of the High Steward Mihai Hincu, Hincu is one of the richest monasteries in Moldova. The convent was then known as Parascheva. After the wooden church and cells were destroyed several times during Tatar invasions in the 18th century, the nuns left. The care of the convent fell on monks from a nearby monastery, who repaired the cells and eventually moved in.

large_Hincu_Monastery_7.jpg

With the arrival of the Soviets in 1944, the monastery closed and the monks were 'asked' to leave. In 1978 the monastery was taken into use as a sanatorium for tuberculosis sufferers, while the church was turned into a club. After the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1990, Hincu once more became an active monastery, albeit short lived: in 1992, the community was abolished and the monks moved out. Later the same year, a few nuns returned and started the reconstruction of the monastery / convent – which just proves that if you want a job done, get the girls in!

large_Hincu_Monastery_9.jpg

large_Hincu_Monastery_10.jpg

large_Hincu_Monastery_11.jpg

large_Hincu_Monastery_12.jpg

Next-door a new church is in the process of being constructed, but apparently they have run out of funds, so the interior is still fairly basic, without any of the usual adornments normally associated with orthodox churches.

large_Hincu_Monastery_13.jpg

large_Hincu_Monastery_15.jpg

The grounds are beautiful, with beds bursting to the seams with brightly coloured flowers. I guess this is the female touch that comes from it being a convent now rather than a monastery.

large_Hincu_Monastery_18.jpg

The nunnery has one of the best tended and colourful cemeteries I have ever seen!

large_Hincu_Monastery_19.jpg

From Hincu we continue the short distance to the official visitors area of Codrii Forest.

Codrii Nature Reserve

At the reserve head quarters we have a picnic in a specially constructed ‘pavilion’, set in a serene and tranquil location in amongst the trees.

large_Codrii_Forest_Reserve_1.jpg

large_Codrii_Forest_Reserve_11.jpg

Founded in 1972, it is the oldest scientific nature reserve in Moldova, and boasts some 1,000 species of protected plants, 43 species of mammals, 145 species of birds, 7 species of reptiles and more than 8,000 species of insects.

large_Codrii_Forest_Reserve_2.jpg

Natural Museum

Guided by the curator’s daughter Doina - who is keen to practise her somewhat limited English - we are shown around the small museum detailing some of the species found in the area.

large_Codrii_Forest_Reserve_5.jpg

large_Codrii_Forest_Reserve_3.jpg

large_Codrii_Forest_Reserve_4.jpg

large_Codrii_Forest_Reserve_7.jpg

While David goes with Doina for a hike down to the lake, I join Valeriu in the ‘pavilion’, listening to Deep Purple and discussing palaeoanthropology. As you do.

large_Codrii_Forest_Reserve_9.jpg

large_Codrii_Forest_Reserve_10.jpg

We leave the countryside behind and return to Chișinău, taking a nap in the car on the way.

Chișinău

Back in Chișinău we drop the bags off at the hotel and continue to the National History Museum.

large_Codru_Hotel_2.jpg

Chișinău National History Museum

The museum's large, bright, clean and modern rooms feature exhibits dating from pre-history, through various occupations to independence of this small country.

The visit feels a little rushed, but to be honest I am not at all unhappy about that as I am tired, it is uncomfortably hot and my back is hurting.

large_National_M.._Chi_in_u_2.jpg

large_National_M..Chi_in_u_13.jpg

large_National_M.._Chi_in_u_4.jpg

large_National_M.._Chi_in_u_6.jpg

large_National_M.._Chi_in_u_7.jpg

large_National_M.._Chi_in_u_8.jpg

large_National_M..Chi_in_u_11.jpg

large_National_M..Chi_in_u_14.jpg

large_National_M..Chi_in_u_15.jpg

Hotel Codru

As it is only a couple of blocks away, we walk back to the hotel (rather than let Leonid drive us) to pick up the luggage we dumped earlier and check in. We’re back in Room 313, and yet again we negotiate the tiny lift, just about 1m², where there is barely enough room for two (large) people with two backpacks, two wheelybags and two camera bags.

Dinner

After some chill time and a welcome shower, we wander downstairs to have dinner. The restaurant is closed for of a wedding reception (another one? That’s exactly what happened to us last night!), and the outside terrace is out of bounds because of a private party; which leaves us the bar. That suits us fine, as we really just want a small meal and a glass or three of wine.

large_Chicken_St..nd_Mamaliga.jpg
Chicken stew with branza (feta type cheese), smetana (soured cream) and mămăligă (polenta)

large_Moldovan_S.._Clay_Pot_1.jpg
Moldovan style roast beef in a clay pot
large_Moldovan_S.._Clay_Pot_2.jpg

large_Grilled_Ve..le_Potatoes.jpg
Side dish of grilled vegetables and country style potatoes

large_Pucari_Wine.jpg
Wine!!!!

The food is delicious (especially the cheese) - and we are both very impressed with the wine - very, very smooth!

Thank you to Undiscovered Destinations for another great day in Moldova!

large_38D57E7F0FBD3BA437E7FA05651D78C5.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 00:49 Archived in Moldova Tagged trees food flowers nature hotel cemetery museum woods wine monastery forest saint convent chisinau moldova nunnery natural_history codru_hotel pucari pucari_wine capriana capriana_monastery hincu codrii codrii_forest canonisation moldovian_food Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 4 of 4) Page [1]