Lockdown Reflections 6 – The Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya , the Masai

Lockdown Reflections 6 – The Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya , the Masai

The Masai Mara richly deserves its reputation as one of the great natural reserves in the world

Here one finds the living culture of the Masai people,

The amazing landscape of the the norther Serengeti Plane, and

Most notable the array of unique and amazing African wild life

The Masai are reputed to be warrior tribe but traditionally they have been primarily nomadic pastoralists roaming the grassy planes of what was once known as Masailand.

These days like many of the tribes in North East Africa the Masai way of life is in a battle to adapt to evolving life in Africa.

The nomadic life is more constrained due to population, land use and the desire to remain close to schools and education for the next generation.

Over the next few posts I will look at the amazing wild like of the Masaimara,

Lockdown Reflections 4 – Rift Valley Lakes, Ethiopia

Lockdown Reflections 4 – Rift Valley Lakes, Ethiopia

Hippo in Lake Chamo

Lake Chamo

South of Addis Ababa, running down from Ethiopia’s central plateau is the Rift Valley

Near the city of Arba Minch is Lake Chamo the last of 8 lakes in the Rift Valley running south from Addis Ababa.

From points in Abar Minch you can look over Lake Chamo and Lake Abaya

Abar Minch is a great stepping off point to explore the tribal south of Ethiopia and the Bale mountains.

But a boat ride on Lake Chamo is a must before heading south.

To see the Nile Crocodile nursery

To see the African Pelicans. These birds migrate up into the Danube Delta in Romania for the European summer (see Danube Delta blog under Romania in the menu).

See the fishermen casting for Nile Perch just around the corner from the crocodile nursery

Till the sun starts to set on the beautiful lake.

Lake Awasa

Awassa and its lake are approximately 290 km south of Addis Ababa and a well serviced tourist destination.

At a bit over 1,700 meters above sea level Awasa retains the mild temperatures that are a feature of Ethiopia’s Central Plateau.

The colourful fishing boats and fish market is an attraction of Lake Awasa

As is the wild life in particular the Marabou Stalk, particularly in and around the fish market (see above)

But also:

Sea Eagles

King Fishers large and small,

Jacana and

Colobus monkeys on the lake shoreline.

The area around Awasa is very productive

With abundant fresh fruits

And lots of coffee being grown dried and sorted in the region.

Because Ethiopia is the home of coffee.

The Awasa Valley is also where Lucy the skeletal remains of a 3.2 million year old hominin were found.

The reconstructed skeleton of Lucy is on display in the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia is an amazing country. One of a handful of countries never to be colonised by a European power. (Though there has been significant European presence and influence).

Unfortunately political tensions have again arisen which hopefully be resolved.

I leave my lockdown reflections of Ethiopia now.

Next reflections in Africa will be in Kenya and the amazing wildlife there.

For those wanting to find out more about Ethiopia I recommend the above book amazing research text and images.

Though my wings have been clipped birds of a feather flock together

Though my wings have been clipped birds of a feather flock together

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It was 2015 that I spent a full winter in Melbourne,

Australia’s southernmost mainland capital

Renowned for its cold and changable winter weather

Cold and foggy mornings lasting till noon when the weak winter sun burns the mist away.

Four seasons in one day

Was surely written about Melbourne’s weather by Crowded House

The current lockdown restricts me to my environs and luckily the local waterways

The bicycle has most of the time replaced the Moto Guzzi

So on my ride I flock together with the local waterbirds

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The Spoonbill

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The Egret

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And the hungry Pelican

They aren’t locked down but choose to enjoy what winter offers

Across town there is the beautiful Yarra Bend Park

With its early 1900’s boat house

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On the banks of the Yarra River with paths to meander along

And the Cootamundara, a beautiful winter flowering tree in full bloom

The park is on the city doorstep with beautiful views of the city

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Which makes a beautiful backdrop for my Aprilia Pegaso – my fave bike around the city

At the end of a day heading across the town and home

The St Kilda Pier runs west into the Hobsons Bay and offers spectacular views of the sunset

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Though the lock down is is hard the rules allow the opportunity to get out to exercise

That means I can revisit and appreciate some of my favourite places in my home city.

Hopefully one day soon fellow travellers you can as well.

Not Travelling in the time of Coronavirus- Melbourne lock down clips my wings

Not Travelling in the time of Coronavirus- Melbourne lock down clips my wings

The second Melbourne, Australia lock down has just been implemented

After being in and out of lock downs in Spain and England and quarantine in a Melbourne Hotel, this second lockdown in Melbourne has finally anchored me.

 

Famous landmarks of the usually bustling city cast with an almost ghostly quietness

Even the usually bustling Victoria Market with its colourful displays of produce, like the life has been sucked out of its ancient stalls and sheds

 

No queuing four deep at my favourite stall

Chance meeting with someone I hadn’t seen for a while

Little is left to chance in the time of coronavirus

At the eastern end of the city

The Monuments, the Shrine of Remembrance  and the Old Observatory along with Gardens and the floral clock stand alone

 

In the lanes and alleyways of the inner city

Usually vibrant

The graffiti almost mocks the quiet desolation

 

The next 6 weeks (the length of this lockdown) will be a time and thought of what has been and what will be.

Something different to share over the coming weeks.

The Mighty Breva meets the Mighty Murray in North East Victoria

The Mighty Breva meets the Mighty Murray in North East Victoria

I had approached the Upper Murray from the long way around

Starting from Yarram in South Gippsland

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A small town famous for its street murals.

Its winter and the high roads over Mt Hotham and Falls Creek are closed so it was the low road

Bruthen to eskdale

A pearler of a ride from Bruthen north to the little Village of Eskdale 223 km of curves and into the Upper Murray Region.

Has to be the greatest unrecognised rides in the world.

It was damp cold and at a pass through the Alpine National Park it was 1c and my mind turned to thoughts of black ice on the road.

A cabin waited for me at the Eskdale Caravan Park

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Welcome refuge after a long wet ride

A good night sleep and onto my next destination

The Great River Road starts at the bridge that connects Victoria and NSW at Hume Weir and follows the winding course of the Murray upstream to Khancoban at the base of the Kosciusko National Park.

The Road is around 180km of scenic windy road along the Murray River.

The views of the Murray are special especially if you take a bit of time and pull off into some of the river side reserves and camp grounds.

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The weather was cold but clear and not too bad for riding if you have the right gear.

But the joy of winter camping is campfires

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As the Great River Road is developed as a tourist road the is are well layed out scenic  stops with interpretation on the river and pieces of sculpture

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The camp facilities along the road are great quality. Especially at  Walwa where you can camp with great facilities and a campfire right on the banks of the river.

The road finishes at Lake Khancoban in NSW

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The scars of the recent bushfires are there, both on the landscape and in the stories of the locals

But the land and the people are resilient and signs of renewal abound

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And of course there is something  very special about a winter sunset inland

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Maldon in the Central Goldfields of Victoria, Australia

Maldon in the Central Goldfields of Victoria, Australia

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In many ways Maldon is the little town that stood still

Built in the 1860’s during the height of the Victorian Gold Rush

It remains largely unchanged

 

There is a lovely 2 hour ride to Maldon through the Central Highlands of Victoria

Past the farming and old logging towns of Greendale and Trentham

To the Spa centres of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs

The Hepburn – Newstead road is a little ripper

From Newstead perched on the Loddon River its a gentle curves and sweepers through scrubby bush to Maldon

And its Gold mining history of diggings and old gold processing building ruins

 

And like all good old country towns there is the little quirk

The little Triumph motorcycle shop.

Looking as old as the town and the Triumph Motorcycle itself

Not surprising as Maldon host the a major highlight of the annual All British Motorcycle rally

The ride from the Newstead Racecourse camp ground to Maldon

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One of my most memorable visits to Maldon was to see a round of the 2013 World Motorcycle Trials World Championships

Held on a specially designed course on the side of Mount Tarrengower

Which provides a beautiful view over Maldon

What a beautiful ride on a crisp winters day!

Apollo Bay to Port Campbell on the Great Ocean Road

Apollo Bay to Port Campbell on the Great Ocean Road

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Apollo Bay Fishing Harbour

To get to Apollo Bay there is the route along the eastern part of the Great Ocean Road or

The Road over the Otway Ranges from Forest

After travelling via Anglesea and Lorne last week this time it was over the Otways.

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Tucked between the Otway Ranges and the sea Apollo Bay remains one of my favourite places to visit and to stay.

From Apollo Bay heading west along the Great Ocean Road in the midst of the Otway National Park is the turn off to Cape Otway and its impressive light house proud upon the steep cliffs of the Cape.

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A beacon for shipping on Victoria’s Shipwreck Coast

Past Cape Otway the landscape and the road changes.

East of Cape Otway the road is narrower often clinging to the cliff face and the corners tighter, with patches of dense rainforest.

The sandy surf beaches nestled between rocky headlands like Lorne, Wye River and Apollo Bay

West of the Cape the road evens out more sweeping curves than tight corners, the land an open plateau across the top or the windblown cliffs with offshore the rocky monuments carved by the prevailing wind and sea.

From Port Campbell the view back along the sandstone cliffs toward Cape Otway in the late afternoon light is a sight one never tires of.

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The Great Ocean Road continues onto Warrnambool from Port Campbell, but my route took me north through the coastal hills and farming land to historic Camperdown

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And its famous clock tower.

Then road back to Melbourne.

It is so wonderful to be able to do this ride again free of traffic like it used to be 40 years ago, when sections of the road through the forest was still gravel and tourist coaches had not been invented.

The lockdown provisions in Victoria still preclude staying away overnight.  All the hotels and camping grounds are still closed.  It was nearly a 10 hour trip by the time I got home in the cold and the dark but what a ride and how good to be free!

Travelling in the time of Coronavirus-the Spanish lockdown

Travelling in the time of Coronavirus-the Spanish lockdown

I arrived in Jerez de la Frontera the day the Moroccan Govt closed the border with Spain

That was the end of the Morocco trip

I had booked into the alburgue in Jerez. I extended my booking a couple of days so I could think of the next move

In Jerez some sherry tasting a must

No tasting for this adventurer

I guess it was a sign of what was to come.

So I had to console myself with some garlic prawns and red wine

The was hardly any activity in the Square. Some locals and a few tourists, from the USA and UK by the accent

The cafe owners strangely subdued. Maybe they new something was about to happen

Maybe the lost income from the covid19 pandemic was weighing heavily on them

That Saturday night the lockdown was proclaimed for 15 days

Everything to shut except food stores, pharmacies and petrol station.

Stay indoors

The streets of Jerez totally deserted on Sunday mid day

Initally I had thought Id sit out the lockdown in Jerez.

Sunday all seemed OK. A long term rate could be negotiated. Fix it up Monday morning

It was warm in Jerez, the alburgue was modern big grounds to exercise in and a pool. Perfect place to sit out the lockdown

Monday morning all had changed. Tuesday I had to be out.

Thinks change quickly during a pandemic!

Sunday France had declared a lockdown so travelling back through France was off the cards

Frantic work on the phone.

Booked a ferry spot from Santander to Portsmouth the next Saturday.

All the hotels were shut. Where to stay.

Thank you to the good hearted souls who have given me shelter via airbnb

It was a cold ride from Jerez to Valladolid where Im currently staying locked down

It had snowed the night before on the skifields south of Salamanca. But the sun was out

I pulled into a parking bay. Pulled out my little burner and made a coffee and had a snack of cheese, olives and manderine

And though Spain is beautiful even in the time of a lockdown

At 10pm at night in Jerez, in Valladolid and across Spain. People clap and cheer in appreciation of the health workers.

Cause they are on the front line of the pandemic

The Spanish are beautiful people

Travelling in the time of Coronavirus

Travelling in the time of Coronavirus

Lone tourist with mask on Lambath Bridge

London was surprisingly quiet as I wended my way to the Tate

Few tourists about

A lone fellow with a face mask taking pics of Parliament House

Even Borough Market had lost its hustle and bustle

It was an easy saunter past Lambath Palace

Past the war museum

Past typical London Street Art

And the Houses of Parliament to the Tate

And an Aubrey Beardsley exhibition

But that was a couple of days ago

And as the WHO declares a Coronavirus pandemic

I’m on the ferry from Portsmouth to Bilboa

Australia’s Summer of Discontent

Australia’s Summer of Discontent

When I arrived back home in Australia in October 2019 the bushfires had already started.

The amazing temperate rainforests of Northern NSW and Qld were already on fire

Rainforests don’t burn we thought but things have change

Beautiful ancient forests dating back to Gondwanaland were on fire

It was heart braking

The long summer of bushfires cast a pall over the country

Dead wildlife, rare forests burning, towns and cities choking on the the thick smoke

My long Bike trip in Europe had left me sore, depleted and nursing some nasty Shoulder Tendinitis

So my mood was low and the acrid smoke that clung to the skies of Eastern Australia only darkened my feelings

Dark like the smokey sky and the burning bush

Dark and disturbing

On a ride to Omeo in Victoria just after Christmas , I was spooked by closeness of the fires the smoke so thick

The town cut off from electricity

An eerie smokey foreboding of the horror fires that were to be unleashed on New Years eve in the east Gippsland forests.

Spooked a bit by the smoke ad proximity of the fires I left

Leaving I had a fall off the bike on some leaf litter while pulling off the road

Dislocated thumb ouch, nothing todo but pull it back in and ride the 400+ km home.

So the New Year was seen in with a cast on my hand and Australia Burning

Indeed a summer of discontent

This summer say the sale of Futura

I did the last slip, scrub and paint

And as I write, she with her new owner is approaching her new home in Whyalla South Australia

As the final blow there is now Coronavirus

Emerging and spreading

Quiet leaving Melbourne Airport

Planes only half full

A friend has told me that I’m stubborn and wont change my plans for anyone or anything

Maybe right

As here I sit in London

I’ve collected the Mighty Breva

And on Wednesday I head to Portsmouth to start the journey south to Morocco on the ferry to Bilboa

The summer of discontent, though, is a weight on my enthusiasm

And as I have been reminded though I’m 35 between the ears im actually in a 62 year old body.

But in the world of the traveller a summer of discontent doesn’t lead to winter.

Its spring here

The daffodils are in bloom in Perivale Park

And life’s adventure must go on