All posts by Rob Weir

Loves travelling, photography, walking races, wildlife, sport.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Room 2

Lots of room in the countryside near Palmerston North, New Zealand for this sunrise photo that is submitted for this week’s Photo Challenge – room.

 

Sunrise, Palmerston North

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Four tips for an Iguazu Falls visit

I stayed on the Argentinian side of the falls in February 2014.  If I had stayed on the Brazilian side the correct spelling  would have been Iguassu Falls.

The falls are extensive.  Some facts about the falls:

  • they are 3km wide and the drop is around 80 metres.
  • the average flow rate approximates 1800 cubic metres per second.

For comparison, Niagara Falls has an average flow rate of 2400 cubic metres per second but the height is only 50 metres and doesn’t have anything like the width of Iguazu.

According to our guide, at the time of our visit the flow rate was about half normal.  When you consider the photo below you can imagine how impressive the falls must be at the time I was there.  They were truly impressive despite the ‘low’ flows. It was very noisy standing next to the falls where the photo below was taken.

Argentina14022 - print

 

Tip 1: Visit both sides of the falls

The two sides are different.  In general, walking on the Argentinian side covers a more extensive range of the falls close up.  On the Brazilian side our guide recommended one walk to us and this was relatively short. You tend to have a more panoramic view of the falls from this side.  Nevertheless, the photo above was taken on the Brazilian side so it wasn’t all about distant views.

 

Brazilian side of Iguassu Falls
Brazilian side of Iguassu Falls

 

Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls
Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls

 

I also encountered a very pleasant walk on the Argentinian side of the falls which resulted in the following photo.  This was on the Devil’s Throat walkway.

Argentina14025-2 - print

Tip 2: The upper circuit, lower circuit and Devil’s throat are the key walks on the Argentinian side

The photo labelled Argentinian side of Iguazu falls above was taken on the Devil’s throat walkway. The following was taken on the upper circuit (which is wheelchair accessible).

Argentina14048 - print

The lower circuit provides a different perspective as shown below.

Argentina14060 - print

 

Tip 3: Take your time and rehydrate

I covered the walking activities in a day and a half.  This was enough to give an overview of the area but as a keen photographer there are endless subjects to keep you clicking away.  For this New Zealander the weather was warm and humid.  The walking lasted quite a long time on the Argentinian side of the falls. You will therefore feel much better about your experience if you keep your fluid intake up and you don’t rush things.

Tip 4: Sheraton Hotel is very well located on the Argentinian side of the falls.

Firstly, I will declare that I have no involvement with the Sheraton Hotel and I do not work in the hotel business. From the Sheraton Hotel you have direct access right in front of the property to the Argentinian side walkways.  There is no need to catch a bus to the Argentinian side of the falls.  This strikes me as being highly advantageous.

Conclusions

I hope you find the four tips above useful.  This is not an exhaustive list. If you have been to Iguazu Falls feel free to add to my tips.

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Iguazu Falls – it certainly offers something different to other well known waterfalls both in terms of the falls themselves and the setting they are in (more on this in a future posting).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Split-Second Story

On the 22nd of February 2011 Christchurch, New Zealand suffered an earthquake that measured 6.3 on the richter scale.  One hundred and eighty-five people lost their lives in the earthquake.

Over the last three and a half years there has been a lot of change in Christchurch and there have been lots of powerful images of the earthquake and its after effects. On a recent return to my home town I took a number of photos on my iPhone.  The photo below is of a site that used to be the location of the PriceWaterhouseCoopers building one of the highest buildings in the city.

Split-second

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge

Five hot tips to maximise your Antarctic camping experience

While travelling to the Antarctic peninsula on the Antarctic Explorer trip with Quark Expeditions I was one of 30 passengers to spend a night camping on the ice.

Tip 1: Make sure you pick a trip where camping is offered 

Some companies do not offer camping on the ice as an option and, if the company you are travelling with does do camping options, those options may not be offered on every trip.  So make sure you do your research before selecting the trip you go on.

Tip 2: If you want to camp on the ice book ahead

We had 110 passengers on the Sea Spirit and a maximum of 30 were allowed to camp for a night.  On the departure I was on there were a few more passengers who wanted to camp but were unable to do so.

Tip 3: Know what you want to get out of the experience

We were given a choice of sleeping in a tent or in a bivvy sac. For me, sleeping in a bivvy sac felt like I would be getting the maximum out of the experience. The majority used bivvy sacs on our trip with one tent being used amongst the passengers and another tent was used by the three expedition staff. The two options are seen in the photo below with the bivvy sac in front. Antarctica14742 - print   One reason I was keen to camp on the ice was to experience some different photographic opportunities from those available during the day time excursions. Camping on the ice was the one time my tripod came out in Antarctica.  Unfortunately things didn’t quite go as planned as the sky was overcast on the appointed evening. Antarctica14738 - printAntarctica14748 - print

Tip 4: The bivvy sac was easy to lay out

We received all the gear during the afternoon before camping. This included a bivvy sac,  sleeping bag, sleeping bag sheet and two sleeping mats (one went inside the bivvy sac and one lay between the ice and the bivvy sac). I put my yellow jacket Quark provides to all passengers on top of the bivvy sac and the boots Quark loans for the trip provided the structural basis for my pillow. Before leaving the Sea Spirit the whole bundle was rolled up so it was just a matter of rolling out the bundle and bed was ready once hitting the ice.

Tip 5:  Camping  experiences are different from day excursions When we walked into the area mapped out for camping we noticed a seal and a number of penguins. This was something to ponder given the stories we had heard about seals being found at the feet of passengers in the morning.  However, nothing of this nature was experienced in our group. Antarctica14693 - print After walking around for a while and taking photos we all settled into bed. Before I fell asleep, one of the things I noticed was the sounds from ice movement  and animal life (especially birds). The absence of other human background noise undoubtedly enhanced this experience.

For the record

The 30 intrepid passengers (yellow jackets) and 3 expedition staff (red jackets) who camped on the ice on the night of 11/12 February 2014 are shown in the photo below. Antarctica14740 - print

The diversity of Antarctic animal life: 39 species seen on my trip

You will see a lot of penguins when visiting Antarctica (see my previous blog post here) but don’t make the mistake of thinking that penguins are the only animal life you will see.  After my trip with Quark Expeditions we were given a full list of wildlife sightings while on the trip.  This list is too long to reproduce here but suffice to say along with the penguins I have previously described we saw:

  • four species of albatross
  • twelve species of petrel/shearwater
  • two species of cormorant
  • one species of sheathbill
  • three species of skua
  • four species of gull/tern
  • three species of whale
  • one species of dolphin
  • four species of seal/fur seal.

If you have been reading my blog posts you will know that all this was experienced on a trip exclusively to the Antarctic peninsula.

Following are a few of my favourite photos  showing animal life (excluding the penguins) in Antarctica.

Birds

Antarctica14267 - print Antarctica14670 - print

 

Antarctica14246 - print

Whales

Antarctica14338 - print Antarctica14349 - print

 

 

Seals and fur seals

Antarctica14427 - print Antarctica14325 - print Antarctica14311 - print

 

Conclusions

For me, the penguins were fascinating and there was also a wide variety of other animal life to keep this natural history  enthusiast very excited with this Antarctic trip. I suspect the great majority of visitors to Antarctica have a love for all forms of natural history and for that person, Antarctica is a fantastic place to visit.  If you are thinking about visiting the southern continent I hope this series of posts on Antarctica continues to whet your appetite and encourages you to book your trip.  Feel free to leave your comments on your dreams/plans for an Antarctic trip or your experiences if you have already visited.