A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about wheelchair

São Paulo - London - Home

The long journey home


View Pantanal and Amazon 2022 on Grete Howard's travel map.

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.

LATAM VIP Lounge
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.

large_fa4459f0-1b3a-11ed-8090-d14c1e8a2ec2.jpglarge_f9fd8cf0-1b3a-11ed-8090-d14c1e8a2ec2.jpg

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!

large_f99220f0-1b3a-11ed-9f0d-db29d5a85f0c.jpg

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.

large_f9868830-1b3a-11ed-8090-d14c1e8a2ec2.jpg

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...”

large_f9b31670-1b3a-11ed-9802-2d3d39dce2ef.jpg
Cranberry Blush cocktail: vodka, orange, cranberry, and ginger ale

large_f9c93680-1b3a-11ed-8090-d14c1e8a2ec2.jpg

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.

large_f94fe7d0-1b3a-11ed-9f0d-db29d5a85f0c.jpg

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.

large_fa253930-1b3a-11ed-9802-2d3d39dce2ef.jpg

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)

Cuiabá - São Paulo - Itatiaia

Up into the hills


View Pantanal and Amazon 2022 on Grete Howard's travel map.

We have our earliest start yet this morning, with the alarm on for 04:30. After a room picnic of some snacks we bought on the way here yesterday, we are picked up at 05:40 for the transfer to Cuiabá Airport.

When we arrive, we ask the first worker we see inside the door – who turns out to be someone who works for a company that shrink-wraps cases – about special assistance. After previous experiences of very few people speaking English in the airports here in Brazil, David shows him a piece of paper with “I need a wheelchair for my wife” written in Portuguese (courtesy of Google Translate). Expecting him to point us in the right direction, I am very surprised when he jumps into action, runs to the other side of the building to collect a wheelchair, and commandeers a fellow worker to push me to the check-in desk. Such amazing service, but to be honest, everywhere we have been, the service has been exemplary on this trip.

large_b8a365e0-1806-11ed-91da-73eb35fc4ac4.jpg
Waiting in the Special Assistance area to be collected for the flight.

The flight is just over two hours, which goes quickly by the time they have served a drink and some little snacks. Before we land in São Paulo, I am asked if I can walk down stairs (as there is no tunnel up to the plane here), and despite confirming that I am perfectly capable of managing stairs, a porter arrives in the provisions lift, to the door on the opposite side of the plane to the usual exit and takes us down to the ground in the industrial lift that doubles as a disabled carriage and food delivery port. Cool!

The luggage is there by the time we arrive at the carousel, and Ricardo, our new driver-guide, is just outside. He speaks excellent English, is very knowledgable, and we hit it off straight away.

For the first couple of hours, we travel along the most important road in Brazil: the connection between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. It is a smooth, fast road, the best we've seen in Brazil so far.

Lunch
We stop at a service station along the road, where we have to enter through a turnstile and collect a token in the process. We can order anything we like in the food court, and it is charged against this token. At the end of the meal, we then pay for everything at the tills on the way out. An interesting concept, but it seems to work.

large_b8f185e0-1806-11ed-9303-613563e439d7.jpg

We order a burger each, while Ricardo chooses from the buffet, where everything is charged by weight.

Itatiaia National Park
The smooth road ends at the entrance to the park. Our luck is in, the park is free to anyone over 60. The girl at the ticket office doesn't believe us, however, so we have to show our passports. I guess that is a compliment.

Welcoming Committee
The first thing we see when we enter the park is a couple of Brown Capuchin monkeys.

large_cd450ea0-1887-11ed-9244-f9bc49e0f5c0.jpg

Viewpoint
Ricardo claims that the top of the viewing area is a great place for observing different birds, so I struggle up the uneven stony steps. At least there is a handrail on one side to help me.

The view from the top is great, but the birds are hiding from us.

large_b965f290-1806-11ed-b701-a90246d09ac3.jpg

large_b8ebb980-1806-11ed-b90e-798fc042da8c.jpg

Going down the steps is much worse than going up, and by the time I get to the bottom, my knee is very sore.

The rough track – way worse than the Transpantaneira – climbs ever upwards through the forest, until we reach the hotel.

Hotel do Ypé
Built on the side of a hill, the hotel has a very steep and winding incline to reach the parking area and reception.

large_48d4df90-1889-11ed-a1e8-29596be37357.jpg

We asked Undiscovered Destinations to request a room on the level, and the message certainly got through, as we are staying in what is the closest room to the restaurant and reception.

The rooms are wooden swiss-chalet style, reminiscent of a European ski resort, and feature an open fire rather than AC.

large_48a73fe0-1889-11ed-a4b5-03f8339a686b.jpg
Our room with the main building behind

large_4943f510-1889-11ed-8bc2-9532a2e912e2.jpg
Reception and the shady patio

Once we have checked in and taken the luggage to the room, Ricardo shows us the most important part of the hotel: the bird-watching balcony.

large_497ba6e0-1889-11ed-a1e8-29596be37357.jpg

I settle down with my camera for the rest of the afternoon.

large_48d92550-1889-11ed-8bc2-9532a2e912e2.jpg

large_dbc59a60-1889-11ed-8bc2-9532a2e912e2.jpg
Female Ruby Crowned Tanager

large_db98e510-1889-11ed-a4b5-03f8339a686b.jpg
Red Rumped Cacique

large_db87ce10-1889-11ed-8bc2-9532a2e912e2.jpg
Violet Capped Woodnymph

large_db632f10-1889-11ed-a1e8-29596be37357.jpg
Chestnut Bellied Euphonia

large_daa3fdc0-1889-11ed-a1e8-29596be37357.jpg
Short Crested Flycatcher

large_da79b970-1889-11ed-8bc2-9532a2e912e2.jpg
Mr & Mrs Blue Dacnis

large_7534c720-188a-11ed-a4b5-03f8339a686b.jpg
The male is bright blue

large_d9366400-1889-11ed-8bc2-9532a2e912e2.jpg
While the female is green

large_da12ba40-1889-11ed-8bc2-9532a2e912e2.jpg
Golden Chevroned Tanager

large_d9c97c40-1889-11ed-8bc2-9532a2e912e2.jpg
Golden Winged Cacique

large_d913c0d0-1889-11ed-a1e8-29596be37357.jpg
Brazilian Tanager

large_d7b14aa0-1889-11ed-a1e8-29596be37357.jpg
Magpie Tanager

large_d9f12880-1889-11ed-a1e8-29596be37357.jpg
Green Headed Tanager

large_7413edd0-188a-11ed-8bc2-9532a2e912e2.jpg
Juvenile Ruby Crowned Tanager

large_743a6190-188a-11ed-a1e8-29596be37357.jpg
Black Goggled Tanager

large_7438b3e0-188a-11ed-a4b5-03f8339a686b.jpg
Velvety Black Tyrant

large_745897f0-188a-11ed-8bc2-9532a2e912e2.jpg
Red Breasted Toucan

large_74b86b30-188a-11ed-8bc2-9532a2e912e2.jpg
Dusky Legged Guan

large_74eb3b00-188a-11ed-a4b5-03f8339a686b.jpg
White Throated Hummingbird

large_7569e0e0-188a-11ed-8bc2-9532a2e912e2.jpg
Planalto Hermit

large_75b20d70-188a-11ed-8bc2-9532a2e912e2.jpg
Brazilian Ruby

I reluctantly tear myself away when the light gets too low to take photos.

large_453efcb0-188b-11ed-b0a0-c7be103fb97c.jpg
David wanders around the grounds and photographs me from the upper level

Dinner
We go up to the dining room early in order to use the internet (there is no wifi in the room) so that David can check out all his birthday messages.

This hotel is mostly used by large birding groups, and there is a table for twelve Americans next to ours. Their guide is going through what they have seen today, and there is a very loud and irritating woman who asks questions and makes inane comments on everything the guide says.

We are rather surprised to find one of their party sitting at our table (each table has the room number or name of the group on it. We have a table for four as Ricardo was hoping to join us). It later transpires that she has tested positive for Covid and has been banished from their table. She does eventually move on to the far end of their table, but I have no idea why anyone thought it was acceptable for her to sit with us!

Dinner is yet again buffet style, with very similar dishes to what we have been served previously. We eat and then retire to our room.

Goodnight from Itatiaia and thank you to Undiscovered Destinations for arranging this trip for us.

large_12d57320-188c-11ed-b0a0-c7be103fb97c.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 22:50 Archived in Brazil Tagged monkey brazil lunch birding brasil national_park south_america buffet sao_paulo tanager flycatcher wheelchair guan hermit capuchin cuiabá ski_resort bird_watching hummingbird viewpoint itatiaia undiscovered_destinations coronavirus covid covid_19 special_assistance tyrant cacique service_station dirt_track hotel_do_ype steep_hill swiss_chalet euphonia dacnis Comments (0)

Cristalino - Alta Floresta - Cuiabá

Today is just a travel day


View Pantanal and Amazon 2022 on Grete Howard's travel map.

We have a leisurely start to the day, up at 06:30, breakfast at 07:30, and leave at 09:30. We are moving on today, to pastures new.

Cake
At breakfast David is served a birthday cake – it is one day early, but we are not complaining!

large_19477690-175b-11ed-becb-2bf23ed192da.jpg

There is far too much cake for us to eat, and it won't travel well, so we suggest the staff eat the rest.

large_18b01890-175b-11ed-becb-2bf23ed192da.jpg

Gui points out a Scarlet Macaw in the trees above the lodge. It's the first bird we have spotted in or around the grounds since we got very excited about seeing the curassow on the day we arrived. The management does not approve of feeding the birds, which I totally respect, hence why they are not congregating around the lodge.

large_189f9dd0-175b-11ed-a742-1bd1b702ebc6.jpg

As part of our private tour, we travel half an hour from the lodge to the departure point in a boat with Gui, and our luggage while all the other passengers who are leaving today travel separately in another boat.

large_1996f620-175b-11ed-becb-2bf23ed192da.jpg
The welcoming committee at the end of the boat trip

From this point onwards we share a minibus with a delightful young couple from Chicago. She has an ear infection, so we stop at a pharmacy in Alta Floresta, the nearest big town and where the airport is.

Alta Floresta Airport
At the tiny airport in Alta Floresta, we yet again get special assistance, and seats 2A and B on the flight – the first three rows are reserved for people with disabilities, the elderly, pregnant women and anyone else who needs a little extra assistance for whatever reason.

large_18599420-175b-11ed-a742-1bd1b702ebc6.jpg
The waiting room at Alta Floresta Airport

Cuiabá Airport
I know from previous experience when we came out to the Amazon that the walk from the plane to the terminal building is quite some distance along the runway apron, so I am grateful to have a wheelchair waiting for me, even if it means staying onboard until all the other passengers have disembarked.

By the time we get inside the building, the luggage and our driver is waiting for us.

Hotel Deville Cuiabá
The drive to the hotel is short, and check-in smooth, so by the time we have sorted ourselves out and want some dinner (we missed lunch as we were travelling, although we did get some small snacks on the plane), it is 17:45. We spotted a small restaurant on our way in, and I really hope they have pizza, as I have had a craving for one for a couple of days.

What I had forgotten, is how late the South Americans eat dinner – the restaurant doesn't open until 19:00. Groan. We wander over to the Sports Bar to have a drink meanwhile and discover that not only do they serve some small meals, but one of the handfuls of so items on the menu is pizza. Result!

large_182dc930-175b-11ed-becb-2bf23ed192da.jpg

We retire to the room as soon as we have finished the meal, as we have a very early start tomorrow morning.

Goodnight from Cuiabá, and thank you to Undiscovered Destinations for arranging this trip for us.

large_d4fc0aa0-1755-11ed-bb6f-afe71945984c.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 21:53 Archived in Brazil Tagged flight airport cake brazil birthday brasil destinations amazon pizza south_america minibus wheelchair macaw cuiabá undiscovered special_assistance cristalino biirthday_cake boat_transfer alta_florest hotel_deville_prime Comments (0)

Iguaçu - helicopter, glass lift and boat trip

Another busy day


View Pantanal and Amazon 2022 on Grete Howard's travel map.

We are joined by the usual crew this morning at breakfast.

large_f185df90-0b82-11ed-a66b-5175988cef80.jpg
David and his favourite member of staff: Melissa

large_efe1cc80-0b82-11ed-b9a9-8d3aa0602f1c.jpg
Plush Crested Jay

large_ef897350-0b82-11ed-b9a9-8d3aa0602f1c.jpg
Toco Toucan

large_f09c1bd0-0b82-11ed-a66b-5175988cef80.jpg
Planalto Hermit

large_f0e42150-0b82-11ed-a66b-5175988cef80.jpg
Saffron Finch

large_f124d3d0-0b82-11ed-a66b-5175988cef80.jpg
A hungry Coati

Helicopter Flight
As soon as we meet up with our guide Carini, we head straight to the heliport, just outside the park gates.

large_6b17da20-0b83-11ed-a66b-5175988cef80.jpg

large_6b55f490-0b83-11ed-b9a9-8d3aa0602f1c.jpg

We have booked a private sightseeing flight over the falls, which means that there is only us and the pilot on board, and I can move around much more freely in the back seat.

large_6ba85a50-0b83-11ed-b9a9-8d3aa0602f1c.jpg

We can see the mist rising from the falls long before we see the falls themselves.

large_38e6c5b0-0b84-11ed-b9a9-8d3aa0602f1c.jpg

large_3904adf0-0b84-11ed-a66b-5175988cef80.jpg

large_398bb840-0b84-11ed-b9a9-8d3aa0602f1c.jpg
Here you can clearly see the amazing position of our hotel

large_a088cff0-0b85-11ed-81fb-0f54425f8511.jpg

large_2e8298a0-0b85-11ed-b9a9-8d3aa0602f1c.jpg
Devil's Throat

large_2eb3e1d0-0b85-11ed-a66b-5175988cef80.jpg

In the pictures below, you can see just how near we were to the edge of the falls yesterday!

large_2f5048e0-0b85-11ed-81fb-0f54425f8511.jpg

large_2eb0fba0-0b85-11ed-b9a9-8d3aa0602f1c.jpg

large_2e80c3e0-0b85-11ed-a66b-5175988cef80.jpg

The pilot takes a couple of loops around the falls to give us both some great views, but the ten minutes is soon up and we are back at base again.

large_5ee60710-0b86-11ed-81fb-0f54425f8511.jpg

I have hardly had time to breathe on the flight, I have been so busy taking photos, with two cameras, out of the windows on both sides. I would love to go around again without the cameras and just enjoy the scenery. I get out of the helicopter absolutely buzzing with the excitement and adrenalin of it all. Wow! What an experience that was!

Itaipu
Carini suggests we go on an optional excursion this morning, to see something different while we are here: Itaipu Dam. I remember it being pointed out to us when we were here last in 1990, but these days they offer guided tours of the hydroelectric plant, something David thought might be interesting.

We drive through the town of Iguaçu, very much a tourist place, with lots of hotels of every size and budget, and many restaurants. It looks like a laid-back and interesting place, but I would still rather stay inside the national park in the Belmond Hotel das Cataratas.

We get to the power station, where we find the gates locked shut. A security guard explains that they have recently started closing it to tourists on a Tuesday, something Carini was not aware of. Oh well.

Lunch
Instead, we head for a large tourist restaurant at the head of the falls, driving past our hotel to the end of the road. This was definitely not here when we last visited!

In addition to the restaurant, there is a visitors centre and a large souvenir store, where David finds a pair of nice thin trousers, ideal for the jungle.

The restaurant is huge, with seating inside and out. We pay a fixed price on entry and find ourselves a table outside overlooking the river with the top of the falls in the distance.

large_f6c0c5d0-0c02-11ed-9a50-c12519ec6f2d.jpg

large_f6795c90-0c02-11ed-9a50-c12519ec6f2d.jpg

large_f6fe1cf0-0c02-11ed-9a50-c12519ec6f2d.jpg

The food is an all-you-can-eat buffet and is quite pleasant, nothing more, nothing less.

Glass Lift
I remember walking down to this from the hotel when we last came and being amazed by the proximity to the falls and the little swallows nesting behind the falls, flying in and out of the spray.

From the road, there are stairs and a ramp leading down to the upper platform, from which you take a glass lift down to the lower viewing area. We walk straight into the lift, with no queue.

large_031e5510-0c06-11ed-9a3c-2bf9fb3789ed.jpg

large_029e76b0-0c06-11ed-a988-9b9b58e9b9b2.jpg

large_02cd75f0-0c06-11ed-9a3c-2bf9fb3789ed.jpg

There are further walkways to take, in order to get nearer the falls. Both David and I decline the offer.

large_38eb3870-0c06-11ed-9a3c-2bf9fb3789ed.jpg

Selfies
Selfies are the bane of a photographer's life! While having the odd picture of myself or me and David while we travel is nice, I cannot see the desire to be in every single photo I take! It just seems so narcissistic to me. “Look at me! Look at me!” Can people no longer just purely enjoy the surroundings, or it is just for likes on Instagram?

large_92324ae0-0c06-11ed-9a3c-2bf9fb3789ed.jpg

Mind you, it is infinitely better than before the selfie invention, when one person would stand near the edge and their companion on the other side of the path to take their photo so that no one could get past.

And here is our selfie!

large_926c94c0-0c06-11ed-a988-9b9b58e9b9b2.jpg

There is a long line of people waiting for the lift to go back up again, but Carini has a word with the operator, and not only do we jump the queue, we actually get a private lift to ourselves (the service lift).

Macuco Boat Trip
I am constantly impressed with the way Brazilians accommodate less able people. The transfer truck that takes us from the entrance to the funicular, is easily adapted to take a girl in a wheelchair and me on a ramp, while still being able to seat a number of able-bodied passengers. I have never felt that I am a nuisance, every single adaptation and modification has been carried out without hesitation and with a smile.

large_9241fe20-0c0d-11ed-a6ee-dff98e761781.jpg

The truck takes us to the top of a funicular, where there are lockers and changing rooms. There is a choice of “wet” or “dry” boats, and we decide to go for the dry boat so that I can take photos. At the last minute, however, we change our minds, leave everything except the waterproof cameras in the lockers, and go to get wet!

large_92217dd0-0c0d-11ed-9512-cbd2dfae9123.jpg


Getting into the boat is down some very steep steps, from where you step across into the boat. I manage with a bit of help, and the staff effortlessly carry the paralysed girl and place her in a seat. There is no turning back now!

large_91ec6410-0c0d-11ed-a6ee-dff98e761781.jpg

large_91d866e0-0c0d-11ed-9512-cbd2dfae9123.jpg

The boat is extremely powerful and weaves from side to side, leaning right over to add to the adventure, negotiating the rapids with ease. It reminds me very much of the jetboat on the Shotover River in New Zealand.

large_91dde520-0c0d-11ed-85f5-1b5d800bf83a.jpg

large_39ca6fb0-0c18-11ed-a12b-cb0e375a35c2.jpg


We stop to view the falls from a distance, and this is the point at which the “dry” boat would turn around. As a result of all the mist, the view is not great, so I am glad I didn't risk my cameras, as even the “dry” boat would have got us wet from the spray.

large_0c055a30-0c14-11ed-ab70-c70630c40bad.jpg

large_0b3a1af0-0c14-11ed-bc2b-615fbaabb106.jpg

From here it is full steam straight into the falls!


How can I describe it? It starts off as a gentle shower and you brace yourself for the downpour. It doesn't come. Just as you think that “this is actually quite bland, it hits you. Quite literally! Imagine a huge barrel full of icy-cold water dumped over your head without warning... that is what it feels like. To say it's a shock is an understatement!

large_39c20b40-0c18-11ed-8a41-35e254b4a50d.jpg
David looks shell-shocked!

Then they do it again. And a third time. By this time we are both shivering, and the wind as we speed back to the jetty does not help.

For sure it was an adventure, and I am glad I did it – would I do it again? Not on your Nelly!

At the jetty, I struggle to get out of the boat, as I haven't got the strength in my knees to step up onto the seat. It hurts like hell when I try. Panic and distress set in. Eventually, I manage to manoeuvre myself so that my bum is leaning on the back of the seat, and with David's help manage to lift one leg up, and then the other. By the time I have climbed the steep steps back up to the platform, my legs are shaking, and I haven't even got the strength in my knees to walk. I drag my feet on the floor, shuffling along like a zombie.

large_39badf50-0c18-11ed-844d-8dd4c8282328.jpg

Carini is worried about me, and as soon as we get back to the hotel, she asks for a wheelchair for me, as well as some ice to be delivered to the room. As he is pushing me up the incline in the hotel corridor, the porter comments “leg day yesterday, arm day today, no need for gym”.

Dinner
On Carini's suggestion, we order room service for our dinner this evening. This hotel can manage to make a salad and sandwich look like a five-star meal!

The waiter arrives with a large tray complete with condiments as well as a small bunch of flowers.

large_c49968d0-0c18-11ed-a12b-cb0e375a35c2.jpg

large_c4be7d00-0c18-11ed-844d-8dd4c8282328.jpg
My chicken Caesar salad

large_c568c6c0-0c18-11ed-8454-29f304b92e67.jpg
David's tuna sandwiches

large_c55e8d90-0c18-11ed-939b-118522c0682c.jpg
Some fresh fruit to share for dessert

I see housekeeping has been having fun with my glasses again while we have been out, creating a little pouch for them from a face cloth. How sweet.

large_c4a7e7c0-0c18-11ed-8a41-35e254b4a50d.jpg

Tonight we need to pack, as we are moving on to pastures new tomorrow. Why is there so much less room in my bag now than there was when I left home, even though I haven't bought anything?

Goodnight from Iguaçu for the last time. Thank you to Undiscovered Destinations for arranging this private trip for us.

large_51cf4fd0-0c19-11ed-8454-29f304b92e67.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 16:59 Archived in Brazil Tagged waterfalls breakfast brazil lunch mist brasil jay jetty jetboat shock pain coati iguacu devils_throat pilot wheelchair iguassu hermit finch boat_trip hummingbird selfies itaipu hydroelectric helcipter helicopter_flight heliport glass_lift macuco macuco_boat_safari painful_knee room_service Comments (2)

Iguaçu - day trip to Argentina

A new day, a new country, a new viewpoint


View Pantanal and Amazon 2022 on Grete Howard's travel map.

This morning at breakfast, we pick up an extra cookie, which we break up on our table hoping to attract some of the colourful birds. You could say “that's the way the cookie crumbles”. We don't have to wait long before the first visitor arrives.

large_0af9cbe0-09ca-11ed-9855-edf7109a3930.jpg
Saffron Finch

large_0ae5a7a0-09ca-11ed-9df9-974eb4050c6a.jpg
Plush Crested Jay

We deliberately sit at the table nearest the one that staff use as a bird feeding station, despite the seats being outside the covered roof, thus damp from the spray of the falls overnight.

large_0afa6820-09ca-11ed-883e-bb0000a070a9.jpg

Melissa comes along, puts some crumbs in her hand, and a jay almost immediately lands and stuffs its face while perched on her fingers. Apparently, only one bird will eat from the hands, and they have affectionately named it Philhelmina.

large_5b3ad720-09ca-11ed-9855-edf7109a3930.jpg

David tries to do the same, holding his arm out at a right angle for so long it begins to hurt, but he only gets one very quick grab-and-go visit.

large_5add9bf0-09ca-11ed-883e-bb0000a070a9.jpg

large_5b1ffc20-09ca-11ed-883e-bb0000a070a9.jpg

While we wait for Carini to pick us up for today's excursion, we do some more bird watching out the front of the hotel.

large_99057970-09ca-11ed-a8bb-33212fccf616.jpg
Black-fronted piping guan, colloquially known as Jungle Turkey. I can see why.

large_98fc51b0-09ca-11ed-883e-bb0000a070a9.jpg
Southern Lapwing

large_98faa400-09ca-11ed-9855-edf7109a3930.jpg
Scaly headed parrot

We make a quick stop at another viewing platform on the Brazilian side of the falls before continuing.

large_61b86d90-0aad-11ed-b184-2137ba48f8b8.jpg

large_0b55cc90-09e0-11ed-ba04-bf814ffc7837.jpg

Unlike yesterday, which had a reasonably thick cloud cover all, day, today the sun is shining; creating beautiful rainbows over the falls.

large_0b63fd60-09e0-11ed-987c-29035e217583.jpg

Since the start of the Covid Pandemic, the park is closed for cleaning every Monday, so the only people we see today are those who are staying in the Belmond Hotel.

large_0ba1f0c0-09e0-11ed-ba04-bf814ffc7837.jpg

Argentina
From the viewing platform, we continue out of the park and the short distance to the Argentine border. 80% of the falls are in Argentina, and while Brazil has the best views for that very reason, there are some interesting boardwalks on the Argentine side, including one that goes right up to the edge of the most impressive of all the falls, The Devil's Throat.

But first, we have to get into the country.

large_77d31210-0a7b-11ed-b18e-013626b9bba2.jpg

Getting out of Brazil is reasonably quick, but the official at the Argentine immigration claims that we should have filled in and printed out an online application before we arrived. Carini is confused about this, as she came through here last week with British tourists and was not asked for this paper then. “They can be so bureaucratic,” she says. We are sent to a 'special immigration office', but to get there we have to make a U-turn and join the original queue again. Carini is having none of that and opens up a new line by moving some bollards.

large_77b5c610-0a7b-11ed-b622-6570aa27a74a.jpg

Carini is gone for ages, and we can see the official typing away on his keyboard, completing the online forms for us, and we are each issued with a number, which we then take back to the original immigration booth for them to access our online form.

large_7837ee60-0a7b-11ed-97e4-7fe9f2e3da77.jpg

The official studies us intently (David and I have been in the car all this time, letting Carini sort out all the paperwork – that is one of the many reasons we like to have a guide!), before declaring that David's date of birth has been typed in wrong. Sigh.

Being sent back to the 'special immigration office', Carini is at her wit's end, and states that she is prepared to use tears to get what she wants. David and I both burst into song: “Don't cry for me Argentina...”

After one hour and lots of frustration, we are finally in!

The last time we came to the Argentine side of the falls, some 32 years ago, we parked up at the then Sheraton Hotel (now the Grand Meliá) and walked down from there. These days it is very commercialised, very modern, very well organised.

The entrance is huge and the distances great, so Carini arranges a buggy to take me to the train station. Despite there being plenty of room in the buggy, Carini, as a local guide, is not allowed to travel with us, but has to walk.

large_1d6eabf0-0a7f-11ed-a13a-bdd9e86aef48.jpg

Train tickets are timed, and at the station, there is a large waiting area with a souvenir shop and cafeteria.

large_1d1bf810-0a7f-11ed-a13a-bdd9e86aef48.jpg

The announcer is a perfect character for the job, and obviously very funny, as he creates a lot of laughter. It's a shame I can't understand what he is saying. He comes over to me and explains that despite having tickets for the following train, he will not only get me on the next one, but ushers me onto the platform to ensure I get to board first!

large_be4088c0-0a82-11ed-acd6-2195e45f110f.jpg

large_9a239490-0a83-11ed-acd6-2195e45f110f.jpg

At least Carini is allowed to travel with us on the train!

large_bd918410-0a82-11ed-94ea-5b179278e874.jpg

The train makes one stop at the start of the falls, before continuing to the end station and the trail leading to The Devil's Throat.

large_9a70ca30-0a83-11ed-acd6-2195e45f110f.jpg

On the map below, you can see the route from the car park, through the Visitors Centre and Entrance, then the train track down to the station at the end.

large_99da7da0-0a83-11ed-acd6-2195e45f110f.jpg

Last time we only walked the yellow trail along the top of the different cataracts nearest the hotel, so this is an all-new experience for us.

large_6b76ebf0-0a84-11ed-acd6-2195e45f110f.jpg

David and I make a slow start on the boardwalk, while Carini goes off to get a wheelchair for me.

large_38ad60b0-0a88-11ed-b6bf-7f4c7d86412b.jpg

The trail is around a mile in each direction, so theoretically I should be able to do it under my own steam. I don't want to completely ruin my already painful knee at this early stage of the trip, however, so the wheelchair is very welcome when it arrives.

large_385fb5e0-0a88-11ed-b6bf-7f4c7d86412b.jpg

large_01418870-0a8a-11ed-b07f-913734336fc2.jpg

Along the way, we cross little islands while turtles and birds rest on rocks jutting out of the river.

large_6571af60-0a89-11ed-b07f-913734336fc2.jpg

large_656f8c80-0a89-11ed-b913-93611428a4fc.jpg

Arriving at the end of the boardwalk, there are many people and a kind of one-way roundabout system to relieve congestion. It works very well.

large_38549250-0a88-11ed-b913-93611428a4fc.jpg

large_0efee710-0a93-11ed-9023-314964b52c2a.jpg

From a distance, the cascade looks impressive, but that is nothing to how overwhelming the view is once you are literally on the precipice of the falls.

large_2e1a4980-0a8b-11ed-9a5c-235c572e0e8b.jpg

Devil's Throat
The horse-shoe-shaped cataract gets its name from an old legend in which an indigenous chief's daughter, named Naipi, was considered so beautiful that she was able to stop the waters of the Iguaçu River. Learning that her father had offered her to the god M'Boy, she escapes across the river in a canoe with her young warrior lover called Tarobá. M'boy was furious, and in retaliation, opened up a huge chasm in the river, turned Naipi into a rock, and Tarobá into a palm tree at the edge of a nearby abyss. It is said that M'boy stands at this spot to guard over the two young lovers to this day.

large_36b1a0a0-0a9c-11ed-831d-230578ac028e.jpg

Devils Throat is made up of 14 separate powerful waterfalls and at 82 metres, has the highest drop of any of the cataracts in the entire waterfall system; and is also the most photographed.

large_36b52310-0a9c-11ed-b249-978d6f8363d6.jpg

The sheer power of the water tumbling over the edge of the river is mind-blowing, and the spray gets everywhere, as you can see from the video below.


I am forever cleaning my lens!

large_36f64ac0-0a9c-11ed-b249-978d6f8363d6.jpg

The image below, taken from a helicopter, shows just how close to the edge of the waterfall that viewing platform is!

large_4d0215d0-0aa4-11ed-8956-23546a57777e.jpg

The whole experience is totally breathtaking, and I am so mesmerised by the fast-moving water that I don't want to leave!

large_61952e20-0aad-11ed-8658-09589d49d4be.jpg

large_36ff4b70-0a9c-11ed-831d-230578ac028e.jpg

The time has come to return to Brazil, however, and we head back to the train station, where there are as many coati as there are passengers.

large_c876cc60-0a9f-11ed-a5d2-edecdc601691.jpg

large_c8616fa0-0a9f-11ed-b176-49a50c3561dc.jpg

I rename the station Coati Central.

large_c7ac0250-0a9f-11ed-b22f-bd6be4e6ba54.jpg

One of them manages to get into the pushchair storage area of the train, making a passenger in our compartment completely freak out.

The same lovely buggy driver takes us back to the entrance area where we grab a quick burger before returning to the border.

Getting out of Argentina is way easier than getting in! The officials on the Brazilian side want to see our Covid Vaccination certificates – we do have hard copies but didn't think to take them with us today. Doh! We can show digital versions on our phones though, which is good enough for the officers. While David goes with Carini to the office, I stay in the car. They come back for me to find my document on my phone, but by the time they get back to the office with my phone, the screen has blanked and the image 'disappeared'. Thankfully David is able to find it again after some searching.

Insect bites
Both David and I seem to have suffered quite a few insect bites since we've been here at Iguaçu.

large_285ba320-0aa1-11ed-b176-49a50c3561dc.jpg

With David, it is his legs that have been attacked, for me, it is my arms.

large_1fa96140-0aa1-11ed-b176-49a50c3561dc.jpg

The Belmond Tower
I politely decline when David suggests he wants to climb the tower at the hotel, which offers great views over the grounds and the falls beyond. I give him my camera with a fish-eye lens attached and send him on his way.

large_9b20fb00-0abd-11ed-9328-4124f6643cc9.jpg

large_dd1129f0-0aa3-11ed-a0a7-711c48b3a195.jpg
David gets creative while photographing the staircase, and I apply a creative edit

large_dd00af30-0aa3-11ed-99e2-475bd7e81dd7.jpg

large_dd1373e0-0aa3-11ed-8956-23546a57777e.jpg

Sunset
As we are getting ready for dinner, we notice that there is a beautiful sunset this evening.

large_c2ba1510-0aa5-11ed-9058-19ffde111520.jpg

Dinner
Forgetting that Brazilians eat their evening meal much later than we do in the UK, we arrive at the restaurant at 19:00, only to be told that the à la carte dinner is not served until 19:30. We are offered some nachos while we wait.

large_305c3cb0-0aab-11ed-b3e0-c7eebb01a3ec.jpg

Tonight's waitress Ana, is delightful, and we have many laughs. She later comes back to apologise for a joke she told about 'musical condoms', which she feared may have been inappropriate. She obviously does not know our sense of humour.

large_301d5ef0-0aab-11ed-9343-7fdf57761f91.jpg

We order a small pepperoni pizza each, which, when it comes, really is small.

large_30562230-0aab-11ed-b7bd-4bd74e3269fe.jpg

At least it means that we have room for dessert.

large_301ee590-0aab-11ed-991f-f16a8bc7db1f.jpg
David's lemon pie

large_30575ab0-0aab-11ed-9343-7fdf57761f91.jpg
My meringue with berries - I love the design of the plate!

Ana persuades us to try a glass of dessert wine – she suggests two different ones, so we try one each and swap.

large_30581e00-0aab-11ed-8b54-715c44999eb4.jpg

With coffee and liqueurs to follow (Baileys and Cointreau), we are not surprised when the bill for the evening comes to around £200.

large_ab02b480-0aab-11ed-b3e0-c7eebb01a3ec.jpg

Goodnight from Iguaçu and thank you to Undiscovered Destinations for arranging this trip for us.

large_b47c6510-0aab-11ed-b3e0-c7eebb01a3ec.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 15:59 Archived in Brazil Tagged birds sunset tower waterfall dinner rainbow argentina brazil birding pizza iguazu jay south_america cascade helicopter turtle dessert bureaucracy anhinga boardwalk coati immigration iguacu devils_throat wheelchair guan finch spray baileys devil's_throat cataracts fish_eye undiscovered_destinations nachos belmond lapwing insect_bites belmond_hotel_das_cataratas feeding_the-birds lemon_pie meringue cointreau ecological_train torn_ligament lens_cleaning fish_eye_lens dessert_wine Comments (2)

São Paulo - Iguaçu

Stage two of the journey to Brazil


View Pantanal and Amazon 2022 on Grete Howard's travel map.

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.

Breakfast
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.

large_5db68ce0-0756-11ed-af9b-fb6a05c7e487.jpg

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.

large_6eaafed0-0758-11ed-87e4-89df758fd8d2.jpg

Iguaçu
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.

large_412e9170-075c-11ed-87e4-89df758fd8d2.jpg

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.

large_5d7bc7a0-0773-11ed-8a8a-a14d2a08850f.jpg

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.

Lunch
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.

large_5610a330-075c-11ed-9d56-c7dd79be4c84.jpg

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

large_556ce920-075c-11ed-87e4-89df758fd8d2.jpg

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

large_55e85ab0-075c-11ed-bc47-5d9f228f2ee7.jpg

large_561b5190-075c-11ed-9e76-33935f206eab.jpg

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!

large_558468c0-075c-11ed-bc47-5d9f228f2ee7.jpg

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

large_54b38430-075c-11ed-87e4-89df758fd8d2.jpg

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

large_54e6f040-075c-11ed-87e4-89df758fd8d2.jpg

large_553621b0-075c-11ed-87e4-89df758fd8d2.jpg

Oh yes!!!!

large_557b4100-075c-11ed-90ca-7d35081f1483.jpg

David is not quite so greedy.

large_558af870-075c-11ed-8287-8f0cb1b6fcb9.jpg

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!

large_e8f790a0-0775-11ed-9cf4-01ea9b036a7e.jpg
The view from the room

large_3b36d580-0779-11ed-a6e6-f72c4d2a7f04.jpg
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.

large_f6a79080-0778-11ed-9630-43233e7351c1.jpg

large_f6ca33b0-0778-11ed-a6e6-f72c4d2a7f04.jpg

large_f6c15a10-0778-11ed-be15-2f02f60b8273.jpg

large_f7101650-0778-11ed-a6e6-f72c4d2a7f04.jpg

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.

large_b54245d0-0779-11ed-9fb2-652c212ba69b.jpg

large_b48cb170-0779-11ed-9bea-05c4c5f72dd1.jpg
Cold cuts and cheeses to share

large_b4897d20-0779-11ed-a6e6-f72c4d2a7f04.jpg
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.

large_b62165c0-077a-11ed-a095-abf97c164928.jpg

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)

Bristol - Heathrow - BA Club Class Flight

Brazil here we come! After two cancellations, our much-anticipated Brazil adventure is finally here.


View Pantanal and Amazon 2022 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Pre-word

2020
To cut a long story short, back in early 2020, we booked a trip to Brazil in September that year, to replace a much more complicated multi-country tour of South East Asia, which was deemed too complicated to pull off during the Pandemic. Of course, Covid didn't disappear as hoped, so the Brazil trip was cancelled.

In 2021, Brazil was closed to foreign visitors as a result of the pandemic, so again the trip was cancelled – or rather postponed.

This year (2022), with vaccines and boosters in place, things seemed so much more positive, so we re-resuscitated the plans to visit Brazil. Follow along with us to see how this panned out.

April 2022
So far so good. The only snag is that we need to show negative Covid tests on entry to Brazil. That shouldn't be too much of a problem.

May 2022
The negative test requirement has now been lifted, so that is one less thing to worry about.

We do, however, have to show our proof of vaccination. British Airways suggest that we use an app called Verifly, where we can upload our certificates and it should link directly to the BA site. I love it! So easy! I do, however, pack a paper copy, just in case.

large_2e2f6d90-06b9-11ed-a403-bf70f668091c.jpg

June 11th 2022
Checking the British Airways website, it transpires that our flight leaves from Terminal Three, not Terminal Five as stated on our tickets.

No problem, we'll just amend our parking arrangements. Purple Parking claim that it is a busy period, and they need extra payment to move it to T3. £180. That is not so much of a problem, the original cost was £163. No, they want an EXTRA £180, in ADDITION TO the amount already paid. Sod that!

We look at our options. We could continue to park at T5 and take the 20-minute underground train from T5 to T3, although that doesn't seem like much fun when we have tried to minimise hassle by booking the 'meet and greet' service.

Looking around online, we find some alternative arrangements, using a company called Airside Meet and Greet. And they are cheaper than the original company, at £146

Shame on you Purple Parking! We have used them a number of times previously, and have mostly received good service. To their credit, they did refund the T5 parking.

Checking out the review for Airside Meet and Greet on Trust Pilot (AFTER booking, not the wisest move, but we were so excited to find something at a good price) we discover a host of bad reviews. Oh dear. Oh well, time will tell.

24th June 2022 Bristol - Heathrow

During our trip to Scotland last month, I injured myself while trekking through the forest at midnight on my way back from a pine marten hide, tearing a ligament in my left knee, and damaging the ligament in the other too. This has resulted in me struggling to walk – or rather hobble – using a stick for support.

Heathrow
We look for wheelchair assistance on the long walk from the car park to the correct area at the airport, but find nothing. The lady at the Special Assistance Check In Desk, tries to phone for wheelchair assistance, but no-one answers the phone. She keeps trying periodically as she checks us in.

After much typing and frowning, she tells me that my Norwegian passport has flagged up the need for a visa to visit Brazil. Groan. Having checked the Brazilian Embassy website earlier this morning, I know this to be untrue. Eventually, and reluctantly, she takes my word for it and checks us in.

After one last attempt at contacting the wheelchair special assistance counter, she suggests we walk to the desk upstairs. It's another long walk and my knee is really struggling now. The queue at the desk snakes around the corner and down the wall, so we decide to head for the Fast Track security line.

Another long queue. After 45 minutes (if that is FAST track, I dread to think what the regular security queue is like!), we finally reach the conveyor belts. The American girl in front of me has been so busy chatting, that she hasn't even put her liquids in a clear plastic bag at this stage, and holds up the queue as she scrambles through her hand luggage to find various bottles and potions to go in the one bag provided. Groan. Has the pandemic caused people to completely forget airport etiquette?

We head for the Special Assistance counter, where there is another long queue, of course. They suggest I walk up to the BA Lounge. Another long walk. I work out that I have probably walked the best part of a mile by now, and doesn't my knee know it!

The girl on the desk at the lounge sorts out a wheelchair to be delivered for me. Finally!

BA Club Class Lounge
Not having been abroad for the last two years (something that has not happened since we married in 1977), we decided to treat ourselves to Business Class on the transatlantic flights, which means we have the use of BA's Club Lounge at Heathrow.

My first impression is a little disappointing, with the dining area resembling more of a school canteen than a VIP lounge. We have some snacks and a couple of drinks while waiting for the wheelchair to turn up.

large_cbae4940-0684-11ed-baf8-bf0981a767a2.jpg

large_bfb9cd50-0687-11ed-9b6f-559206870821.jpg

large_61dce670-0684-11ed-baf8-bf0981a767a2.jpg

large_bfa90470-0687-11ed-8e5e-a5b1c7be5af8.jpg

large_bfdb3800-0687-11ed-8e42-15da49fbdd25.jpg

Special Assistance
Finally, a very nice young man arrives with a wheelchair for me and pushes me to a waiting buggy which takes me to the gate, where I am left to find my own way down to the plane.

large_bf69ffa0-0687-11ed-9b6f-559206870821.jpg
In the buggy

Thankfully I am able to bypass the long queue at the gate for priority boarding.

British Airways Club World
The arrival on board the plane makes up for the lack of service at the airport: they couldn't be more welcoming and service-minded as I am shown to my seat and my luggage stowed for me.

large_9d33d000-068c-11ed-b49d-575bbdb548d3.jpg

The seats are nice and wide, very comfortable and the way they are positioned, offer great privacy.

large_bd264270-068d-11ed-b0c3-8910d384907b.png
From the BA website

large_b5d42240-068c-11ed-b0c3-8910d384907b.jpg

As soon as we are seated, we are offered a glass of champagne.

large_9d4bebe0-068c-11ed-b0c3-8910d384907b.jpg

Apart from when eating and drinking, masks are compulsory on board the plane; it is dependent on the rules at the destination, and Brazil still has a mask mandate on flights.

large_aec2e630-068c-11ed-b0c3-8910d384907b.jpg

As soon as we are airborne, the steward approaches me and asks: “Mrs Howard, would you like a drink from the bar this evening?” What a difference from the service in economy – I could get used to this!

large_df856f20-068e-11ed-98b8-f1257ebfa261.jpg
Bacardi and Coke served in proper cut glass, with complimentary nuts

It is so nice to be able to remove the mask to drink, that I have another Bacardi and Coke for that very reason! We have become quite used to being mask-free in the UK, and I feel rather claustrophobic wearing one.

Dinner
Once again the steward arrives asking what I would like to order for dinner. It's a difficult choice, with the options being Braised beef cheeks, sweetcorn gnocchi and vegetables, or chicken, leek, and mushroom pie. I opt for the pie.

large_62428310-06a5-11ed-a476-35b41c48ad71.jpg

Starter of roasted cauliflower with red pepper dip and chimmichurri. The dish is very tasty, but I do not like my food icy cold straight out of the fridge, which this is.

The pie is absolutely delicious (David tells me the beef cheeks were wonderful too), and the trio of different breads baked together makes a great accompaniment (despite the rock-hard butter). Chocolate mousse and a cheese board containing Mature Cheddar, Red Leicester, and a fig relish complete the meal. I love the way the food is brought to you on individual trays complete with white cloth and proper metal cutlery.

The lights are dimmed and we settle down to sleep. While obviously not as good as a proper bed, the flat-bed seats sure beat the (non) comfort of economy class.

large_b988c5d0-068c-11ed-b0c3-8910d384907b.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 09:41 Archived in Brazil Tagged flight heathrow wheelchair business_class special_assistance ba_club_world clubworld turn_left storn_ligament Comments (2)

Ashgabat - Dubai - Heathrow - home

The long journey home


View The Forgotten Stan - Turkmenistan 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

After breakfast we wander down to the lobby – partly to access the internet, and partly to get away from the drab room. An English-Danish couple approach us, asking if we know anywhere around the hotel to change money. They are very well travelled, and we hit it off immediately; so much so that they end up sitting there chatting to us for nearly three hours, sharing travel stories.

By this stage we manage to arrange a room swap, and thankfully return to something more comfortable. While we have stayed in very much worse rooms on our travels, they were never part of a four-star hotel!

With the help of a porter, we move out stuff over, followed by another room picnic using up all the leftover snacks. This room is a big step up from last night, with two chairs, a nice rug on the floor, two sets of towels, extra loo paper (that's a first in Turkmenistan!), two dressing gowns, extras pillows, a bolster on the bed, pretty bed spread, and two bottles of complimentary water.

large_e5cac920-90d8-11eb-be56-35c658362d1b.jpg

We take a nice long nap, followed by a shower, and get ready for dinner at 18:30. The restaurant is deserted. We are the only people there (yet they couldn't find us a decent room yesterday?), and the menu is limited.

We both order chicken in cream sauce and I ask for a Fanta. No Fanta, only Coke. Not being particularly keen on naked Coke (without rum or vodka, that is), I ask for an apple juice instead. As with everywhere else, they don't seem to provide individual cartons, so I end up with a whole litre of the stuff!

large_ea294bd0-90d9-11eb-8414-2b807ea9f454.jpg

They have no Berk beer (but there was some in the mini bar in the room earlier), only Zip Light. Light? At 11%? As Boney M says: “Oh, those Russians!”

large_e8ff4ac0-90d9-11eb-be56-35c658362d1b.jpg

The waitress brings over a huge basket of bread while we wait for the food. It is very fresh, and would be delicious with lashings of butter. No butter.

large_Bread.jpg

After a few minutes the surly-looking waitress comes back to explain that they have no chicken. I ask for beef stroganoff with rice instead, while David chooses beef in cream sauce with chips (or rather fries, we've made that mistake before here in Turkmenistan). When the food arrives, David's dish comes with rice and mine is accompanied by chips. Oh dear. The chef had TWO meals to make this evening.

large_ea436380-90d9-11eb-8606-775acdb5589e.jpg

large_ea4622a0-90d9-11eb-b53c-919297b80cd7.jpg

Locals do not eat with a fork and knife like we would, only a fork, using the bread to push the food onto the fork. The food is quite tasty, albeit a little greasy. We don't linger in the restaurant after the meal, but return to the room for a very short night.

large_0060acc0-917c-11eb-a0be-ff377cab8b6c.jpg
Tonight's sunset

Friday 20th September

We're up at 01:00 for a 02:00 pick-up. There is quite literally no traffic, so we reach the airport in just ten minutes, ready to start the rigmarole of getting through the bumbledom of official pomposity and nonsensical regulations.

large_000630b0-917c-11eb-8a5b-1d968120fedf.jpg

In order to enter the airport terminal, we are scanned and the luggage is X rayed, and passports are checked. As soon as we are deemed suitable to be able to get inside, we request a wheelchair for David. Airports in general are such huge places with miles of corridors to make even the most able-bodied traveller weary.

large_00475860-917c-11eb-8957-fdb1cd9660d5.jpg

At check in, we yet again have to show our passports, and by the time we reach the pre-security passport check, we are waved through in front of the queue waiting, without anyone even looking at out passports.

The security check is much the same – the carry-on luggage goes through the X ray, which detects what the official suggests might be a knife. I show him my nail file and again we are just waved through.

large_007f5850-917c-11eb-b633-f3b661cb328f.jpg

By the time we reach the boarding gate, our passports have been checked five times, and we've been through three X rays. Should be safe then. One of the benefits of travelling in a wheelchair, is that you do get priority boarding. Pushing David in the chair down the slope to the plane is hard work, not made any better by the fact that the rubber handles come off the chair where I have held on so hard to make sure it doesn't run away from me.

The plane between Ashgabat and Dubai is nowhere near full, and we get to have a row of three seats each. One poor chap has paid for two seats in order to have the extra space, and not only could he have got that without paying, the two seats he has been allocated are actually far part! Doh!!!!!

The second flight from Dubai to London Gatwick is full, however, and we end up with the two middle seats in a row of four – our least favourite seats. Arriving at Gatwick, we are amongst the first off the plane, and the porters point to a bunch of wheelchair just inside the tunnel “pick a wheelchair, any wheelchair...” It even comes complete with a porter to push this end, so I don't have to. In fact I struggle to keep up with them, and when the lift is not big enough for the three of us, I end up taking the escalators and have to run to catch them up again. We end up in a holding area, which has a great atmosphere, and while we wait for the electric buggy to come and collect us, we bond with fellow kindred spirits (ie other invalids).

large_ffd81bd0-917b-11eb-8667-f99f1c209ce4.jpg
In the buggy

At immigration, the buggy driver gathers up all the passports and takes them over to an official, who brings them back as soon as he has checked them out. The buggy drops me off at the luggage carousel and takes David right through customs to a pre-agreed meeting area while I collect our bags. After helping a girl who is on crutches get her bag, I meet up again with David outside Marks & Spencer for the short walk to where the Valet Parking chap is meeting us with the car.

The journey home takes almost twice as long as it normally does, due to series of traffic jams every few miles. David has booked an appointment with the chiropractor this afternoon, but we have to ring him and cancel, as we won't make it. Which is probably just as well – for the last few miles David's stomach has been feeling increasingly unsettled, and as soon as we walk through the door, it explodes both ends. It must have been something on the plane, as mine follows half an hour or so later. Welcome home!

Posted by Grete Howard 14:46 Archived in Turkmenistan Tagged flight airport security dubai passport luggage plan wheelchair gatwick ashgabat diarrhoea room_picnic grand_turkmen_hotel delsey_dining fanta Comments (2)

Tarangire Part II - Arusha - Istanbul - Birmingham - Bristol

More elephants


View The Howards' 40th Anniversary Tour 2017 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Fully fed and watered after a delicious picnic breakfast, we are soon on our way to “see what nature brings us this afternoon”.

Despite the rainy season being upon us, there doesn't seem to be much water in the Tarangire River at the moment.

large_Tarangire_River_1.jpg

large_Lesser_Striped_Swallow.jpg

A family of Lesser Striped Swallows dig in the dried riverbed for worms.

large_Swallow__Lesser_Striped_1.jpg

large_Swallow__Lesser_Striped_2.jpg

large_Swallow__Lesser_Striped_3.jpg

large_Swallow__Lesser_Striped_4.jpg

large_Tree_Hyrax.jpg

large_6B81FEF39681B5BB13FAE0B9EDD0AB89.jpg

large_Hyrax__Tree_2.jpg

large_Hyrax__Tree_3.jpg

large_A239270EB4976293CF6F39993F6C8627.jpg

The normally shy impala stay by the side of the road looking at us as if transfixed. It makes a great change from them running away as soon as the car pulls up alongside them.

large_Impala_123.jpg

large_Impala_124.jpg

Like the elephants, they are so close I can almost touch them.

large_Impala_121.jpg

large_Impala_122.jpg

They are such elegant creatures.

large_Impala_126.jpg

large_Impala_127.jpg

Impala are affectionately known as “McDonalds”. Not because they make great burgers, but because of their rump markings resemble the “M” on the famous fast food chain's logo.

large_Impala_129.jpg

large_Impala_Bum.jpg

large_More_Elephants.jpg

Another large herd – or memory – of elephants appears as if out of nowhere.

large_Elephants_705.jpg

There are 16 family members in total, including a tiny infant, no more than 10 days old at the most. You can just about see him here (below), immediately behind the leading matriarch, being protected by his older sister with her trunk slung affectionately over his back.

large_Elephants_706.jpg

large_Elephants_708.jpg

The rest of the family follow behind.

large_Elephants_707.jpg

It is fascinating to watch: when the matriarch at the front stops, everyone else stops, even those at the back. When she moves, the rest move.

large_Elephants_709.jpg

large_Elephants_710.jpg

We get really excited when we realise they are all going to cross the road. We might even get to see that baby properly.

large_Elephants_711.jpg

large_Elephants_713.jpg

large_Elephants_715.jpg

Sixteen large animals crossing the road and the only sound we can hear is that of the grass rustling as they walk through. Elephants move in almost total silence, thanks to their spongy hooves that make for a soft step.

large_Elephants_716.jpg

large_Elephants_718.jpg

large_Elephants_719.jpg

The elephants just keep coming and coming. One after another, all in a straight line. Just like Jungle Book.

large_Elephants_720.jpg

large_Elephants_722.jpg

One of them deviates from the line and walks right by our car.

large_Elephants_730.jpg

This little guy seems to have lost his tail, poor thing.

large_Elephants_724.jpg

The elephants continue on their journey through the park, and so do we.

large_Elephants_725.jpg

large_Grey_Headed_Kingfisher.jpg

large_Kingfisher__Grey_Headed_1.jpg

large_Giant_Morning_Glory.jpg

At around eight feet tall, these large flowering plants make me think of a horror film for some reason, where ordinary small plants grow to enormous proportions and take over the world. Yes, I know, I have an over-active imagination.

large_Giant_Morning_Glory_1.jpg

large_Giant_Morning_Glory_2.jpg

large_Namaqua_Dove.jpg

At the other end of the scale, the Namaqua Dove is surprisingly small.

large_Dove__Namaqua_2.jpg

large_Dove__Namaqua_4.jpg

large_F5095540FAB07ED0E862506A7E512E47.jpg

large_F4E38973D56E3CB68F0E5A50C3290E05.jpg

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_32.jpg

large_F50A533AA9444C1C6E774C381C4E930C.jpg

large_Hammerkop_31.jpg

large_F50D1117B07D44F246141783B5CB36F1.jpg

large_Elephants_801.jpg

The elephants of Tarangire are known for their aggression and dislike of people, and one of these makes it quite clear what he thinks of humans as he feels the car is too close to his domain.

large_Elephants_802.jpg

large_Elephants_803.jpg

large_Watching_the_Elephants_1.jpg

large_F62943FEA10A33BF433BB3B97D0FB77A.jpg

large_Elephants_734.jpg

large_Elephants_733.jpg

large_Elephants_735.jpg

large_Bare_Faced_Go_Away_Bird.jpg

The male is energetically performing a courtship ritual by jumping from branch to branch like a lunatic. The female looks totally unimpressed.

large_Go_Away_Bi..ip_Ritual_2.jpg

large_Go_Away_Bi..ip_Ritual_3.jpg

large_Go_Away_Bi..ip_Ritual_4.jpg

large_Go_Away_Bi..ip_Ritual_5.jpg

large_Go_Away_Bi..ip_Ritual_6.jpg

large_Go_Away_Bi..ip_Ritual_7.jpg

large_Mpingo_Picnic_Site.jpg

large_Mpingo_Picnic_Site_2.jpg

large_F9733127F8AA904BC9C81CA8FB25D104.jpg

It doesn't take us many minutes after getting out of the car before we decide that this is most definitely not the place to have lunch. The area is absolutely full of pesky tse tse flies.

The black and blue flag you can see on the picture, is supposed to help keep the population of these horrible little insects down, as the tse tse are particularly attracted to those two colours. The flags are impregnated with a substance which make them infertile, thus the number of flies should become reduced. Sorry guys, it doesn't seem to be working.

large_Tse_Tse_Flag.jpg

We quickly get back in the car again and head back to Matete where we had breakfast this morning, game viewing on the way.

large_Red_Billed_Quelea.jpg

large_FDCEA2F1E08BED22E54E43EDE03E923F.jpg

Popularly referred to as 'feathered locusts', the Red Billed Quelea is Africa's most hated bird. For generations this small but voracious bird has gathered in huge numbers to decimate subsistence farmers' fields across the continent.

large_Quelea__Red_Billed_3.jpg

large_Quelea__Red_Billed_4.jpg

They look such cute little things, but with some colonies numbering into the millions, the quelea is the most abundant bird in the world, and sadly also the most destructive.

large_Quelea__Red_Billed_15.jpg

large_Quelea__Red_Billed_13.jpg

With an estimated adult breeding population of at least 1.5 billion, it is believed that the agricultural losses attributable to the quelea is in excess of US$50 million annually which would be totally devestating to those already barely getting by.

large_Quelea__Red_Billed_5.jpg

large_Quelea__Red_Billed_6.jpg

From our point of view, however, it is amazing to see and hear them take off en masse – the whoosh sound they make as they all fly from tree to tree is quite something.

large_Quelea__Red_Billed_18.jpg

large_Quelea__Red_Billed_7.jpg

large_Quelea__Red_Billed_17.jpg

large_Quelea__Red_Billed_8.jpg

Looking on the bright side, I suppose while they are here in the national park eating wild grasses, they are not causing destruction to farmers.

large_Quelea__Red_Billed_10.jpg

large_Quelea__Red_Billed_16.jpg

large_FE9832EDB17CA6AC7C56973ABC012453.jpg

large_Horn_Bill__Red_Billed_67.jpg

large_Crested_Francolin.jpg

large_Francolin__Crested_1.jpg

large_Grey_Hornbill.jpg

large_Hornbill__Grey_1.jpg

large_02E1CEC5B46B5B25124A746DD892F893.jpg

large_Roller__Li..reasted_603.jpg

large_02E2CBA4F8672803E4C40CD62A5E8351.jpg

large_Dove__Namaqua_21.jpg

large_Calabash_Safaris.jpg

Some months ago I answered a question on Trip Advisor from someone who wanted suggestions for a safari company in Tanzania. Having recommended Calabash, the original poster and I continued to talk from time to time, right up until we left for Africa, and soon realising we'd be in Tanzania at the same time. We knew the only opportunity we had to be able to actually meet in person, would be today in Tarangire. I spot their car from quite a distance, thanks to the Calabash logo on the side.

large_Agata_on_s.._Calabash_1.jpg

It is great to finally be able to put a face to the name, and Agata is every bit as lovely in real life as she is on line. Her partner Dom is a really sweet guy too; and of course it is nice for Malisa that gets to chat with John, their guide, and catch up on news.

large_Agata_on_s.._Calabash_4.jpg

large_Magpie_Shrike.jpg

large_035A6309D0B9717FC53CBFADC0DDA45B.jpg

large_02E0C275F094118602124B143FE932F6.jpg

large_Impala_852.jpg

Today seems to be full of animals and bird that come really close to the car. Unlike most impala, who run away as soon as the vehicle pulls up next to them, these stay right by the side of the road as we stop to admire their graceful appearance.

large_Impala_853.jpg

large_Impala_858.jpg

large_Impala_859.jpg

We have a youngster with an itch that appears hard to scratch.

large_Impala_854.jpg

large_Impala_855.jpg

large_Impala_856.jpg

“I just can't quite reach...”

large_Impala_857.jpg

large_05A0C484CF189409EEFDBD01FA52022F.jpg

A family of mongooses who are milling around in a clearing stop and briefly look at us before carrying on with their lives.

large_Mongoose__Banded_81.jpg

large_Mongoose__Banded_82.jpg

Today really is a day full of close encounters! Crossing the road right in front of us makes this my closest sighting ever of these small furry mammals.

large_Mongoose__Banded_83.jpg

large_Mongoose__Banded_84.jpg

large_Mongoose__Banded_85.jpg

large_Mongoose__Banded_86.jpg

large_Mongoose__Banded_88.jpg

large_Mongoose__Banded_89.jpg

Eggs are one of their favourite foods, and this guy has got a large one. (Excuse the very bad photo, it's the only one I managed to get)

large_Mongoose__Banded_90.jpg

large_Baobab.jpg

Another one of Tarangire's claims to fame is the number, size and age of its baobab trees. Popular with elephants for the ability to store water in their trunks, baobabs are often left with battle scars from the encounters.

large_Baobab_76.jpg

Malisa explains that providing this tree does not receive any further assaults from elephants, it should be able to re-grow and continue to live. Any more battering will surely be the end of it though as it will collapse and die.

large_Baobab_75.jpg

large_24540B8BF9A2611905C0F23AFC33A7B1.jpg

As we are talking about baobabs, a lion appears 'out of nowhere', leisurely walking along the road in front of us, before taking a rest.

large_247B98A8ECEA8796EFAA4D3765D584FD.jpg

large_247F439A92F9FC76843D55285F631510.jpg

large_Lion_73.jpg

After a short break, he continues on his way, slipping into the long grass beside the road. It is all over in a few minutes, and we are the only people who saw him. Right time, right place I guess.

large_24AA1389DDD8C3EB5C1649C970206978.jpg

large_24B0635BE2F2BDEFD0842091465679BA.jpg

large_Lion_77.jpg

Lions are said to be hard to spot in Tarangire, but we have had some luck over the years with a sighting on all but one of our visits (and on the one visit we did miss, we saw a lioness and two cubs outside the park boundaries)

large_24BA1DF5E5F52379199EA2CAA81E93FA.jpg

large_Lion_79.jpg

large_253B2144BE20EA1C958A0E02E7F48947.jpg

Unlike earlier when we stopped here for breakfast, now the picnic site is full of tourists enjoying a break and having lunch.

large_Matete_Picnic_Site_17.jpg

large_2539BE25FF36059B77E41F845B8C72E7.jpg

large_Monkey__Bl..nic_Site__6.jpg

The presence of lots of people also attracts these scavengers to the picnic site.

large_Monkey__Bl..nic_Site__1.jpg

large_Monkey__Bl..nic_Site__5.jpg

They may look cute, but they are scheming little thieves, who hang around the picnic tables, waiting for an opportunity to nab any unprotected food.

large_Monkey__Bl..ic_Site__17.jpg

large_Monkey__Bl..nic_Site__3.jpg

If the opportunities are slow at materialising, these intelligent creatures create their own opportunities. The have learned that if they make a lot of loud noise, imitating their warning calls, down at the railings overlooking the valley, curios tourists will flock to see what is making the monkeys so agitated. This then gives their mates a chance to snatch any food left behind on the picnic tables. We see several people falling for this trick today.

large_Monkey__Bl..nic_Site__7.jpg

large_Monkey__Bl..ic_Site__11.jpg

It's not just the picnic tables that get the once over from these cheeky guys, here you can see one of them checking out our car for the slightest chance of some food. Fortunately we made doubly sure we closed and locked all windows, doors and roof.

large_Monkey__Bl..nic_Site__9.jpg

large_Monkey__Bl..ic_Site__10.jpg

Fed up with the opportunist thieves, a group of French tourists shout “allez, allez” at the monkeys. The would-be robbers take absolutely no notice of course, continuing to approach the table from every angle. Laughter ensues when an Englishman on the next table informs them that the monkeys "only speak English you know”.

large_Monkey__Bl..nic_Site__8.jpg

large_Monkey__Bl..ic_Site__13.jpg

large_Monkey__Bl..ic_Site__16.jpg

One of the most remarkable things about the Black Faced Vervet Monkey, is its bright blue testicles. When I say “bright blue”, I mean iridescent, almost glow-in-the-dark blue.

large_Monkey__Bl..ic_Site__14.jpg

Even a Superb Starling tries to muscle in on the action, looking for crumbs dropped by tourists.

large_Starling__Superb_901.jpg

We have to leave the picnic area, and in fact Tarangire National park, to make our way back to Arusha and later our flight home. We will of course “see what nature has to offer us” on the way to the park gate.

large_Southern_Ground_Hornbill.jpg

This enormous bird (it stands at 130cm / 4'3”) is the largest of all the hornbill species, and as the name suggests is usually found on the ground.

large_Hornbill__..rn_Ground_8.jpg

large_Hornbill__..rn_Ground_6.jpg

This female is doing what girls all over the world do every day: preening herself.

large_Hornbill__..rn_Ground_2.jpg

large_Hornbill__..rn_Ground_4.jpg

large_28280A63D571A2DF77E7E1C092F15261.jpg

large_Go_Away_Bi.._Bellied_41.jpg

large_Go_Away_Bi..ced__41__2_.jpg

large_287BA6D30020E377720333F954619F17.jpg

It looks like this year's elephant fashion includes pierced ears.

large_Elephant_601.jpg

large_2A708EEFE3C20A1A1F327553A9E4D063.jpg

Another mongoose family. These, however, take fright as soon as they see us.

large_2A8D2ED5DCD563109F2B8A46A2262AFC.jpg

large_Mongoose__Banded_102.jpg

Stopping occasionally to check if we are still following them.

large_2C336E95C5155C59F724D52848D58953.jpg

large_2C3A596CE9178862EB6380042637E18F.jpg

large_Mongoose__Dwarf_210.jpg

large_The_End.jpg

And so this ends our 2017 safari in Tanzania. Despite being awfully poorly, I have enjoyed myself very much, thanks to being so extremely well looked after by David, Malisa and all the lodge staff along the way. Not to mention Tillya of Calabash Adventures of course, who made sure I was still OK and coping every day.

Being able to carry on as 'normal' as possible on the trip has been mostly down to adrenalin and as soon as we leave the last park and start the long journey home, I relax and it hits me big time. Everything from then on is a blur: the visit to Tillya's beautiful new office; trying to find a toilet in a leisure centre when I suddenly have a bout of diarrhoea; the emotional moment we have to say goodbye to Malisa; the check in to Kia Lodge in Arusha for a shower, change and dinner; the moving to a different room because the A/C is not working and there is no drinking water in the room; the transfer bus to Kilimanjaro Airport; the panic upon being asked for my UK visa at the check-in desk and having to explain that as an EEA national I don't need one despite the Brexit; the flights from Kilimanjaro – Istanbul – Birmingham; being transported from the plane in a wheelchair; and the drive home where I can finally collapse in bed.

large_Birmingham_Wheelchair.jpg

Writing this blog and editing the photos back home has been great for me, as there is so much of the trip that I don't remember. So many of the notes I made at the time (thank goodness I did) where I have had to ask David: “what did I mean by this?”. This time, instead of re-living the trip as I usually do when I publish my blog after our return home; I have really just 'lived it' as I missed so much the first time round.

Here's to the next safari (this time hopefully in perfect health!) with Calabash Adventures, the best safari operators by far!

large_2CEF3A05D72EC523C0671E192116614E.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 15:02 Archived in Tanzania Tagged elephants africa safari tanzania site lion baobab tarangire wheelchair impala mongoose hyrax hornbill lilac_breasted_roller swallows calabash_adventures hammerkop black_faced_vervet_monkeys tse_tse_flies banded_mongoose birmingham_airport grant's_gazelle go_away_bird dwarf_mongoose matete_picnic giant_morning_glory namaqua_dove red_billed_quelea africa's_most_hated_bird quelea mpingo_picnic_site francolin magpie_shrike superb_starling southern_ground_hornbill Comments (9)

(Entries 1 - 9 of 9) Page [1]