Reminiscing Canada

Skaha Lake in the Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada

A few weeks ago, I happened upon a great blog by The adventures of Patchegal about her experience of walking on a frozen lake. It inspired me to dig out my old photos and journals from my first trip to Canada, which was way back in 1985, and reminisce about the time I also walked on a frozen lake. I don’t have a photo of myself, but I snapped some shots of my brother Ross and his Canadian girlfriend Karen on Skaha Lake in the Okanagan.

Ross & Karen on Skaha Lake

I was only 19 years old and this was my first trip overseas as an adult. I had travelled to Europe for three months, before flying to New York to meet up with Ross. We spent two months travelling by kombi van in eastern Canada – which could be another blog reminiscent of Little Miss Sunshine – before he dropped me in Wisconsin to catch up with a friend. I rejoined him for Christmas and New Year in Vancouver.

It is so much fun looking back at old photos and these ones are particularly significant because they mark the beginning of numerous trips to Vancouver, my home away from home. Until now, I haven’t really reflected on this – and just how enriched my life has been because of all my visits to my Canadian family.

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The Jewel of the Kalahari

In the middle of Botswana’s Kalahari Desert, there’s a vast wetland. It’s called the Okavango Delta, and it’s the largest inland delta in the world – over 16,000 square kilometres during the wet season. Its source is the seasonal flooding from the highlands of Angola. The water travels via the Okavango River before spilling into the desert sands, creating a maze of lagoons, islands and swamps. Known as the ‘Jewel of the Kalahari’, it’s a paradise for wildlife.

Travelling in a dugout canoe, called a mokoros, we glide across lily-covered waters and past palm-lined islands. Although wildlife is scarce in the midday heat, I spot an African fish eagle perched on a tree, and zebras meandering close to the shoreline. I dangle my hands in the cool waters as we ply along, but quickly withdraw them as our guide nonchalantly reminds me of crocodiles. Almost on cue a hippopotamus emerges fifty metres ahead of our mokoros.

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Botswana’s elephants

Botswana is home to more than 120,000 elephants. It’s the largest population of elephants in the world, with the vast majority of them in Chobe National Park. Seeing these incredible creatures in the wild was truly magical and this is my recap of an unforgettable day in Chobe.

It is early morning and I’m sitting in a roof seat above the truck’s cabin – a great spot with 360-degree views. Immediately, I begin to see herds of zebra and wildebeest, and giraffe reaching into the treetops to feed. At first, the elephants are elusive, but we see hippos, crocodiles, warthogs and baboons. We even spot a pack of African wild dogs, which is a rare sight, as they are one of Africa’s most endangered animals. It’s not until the afternoon that we find a herd of elephants at river’s edge, gradually making their way out into the water to bathe and splash.

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Awesome hikes: Freycinet Peninsula Circuit

“We were not pioneers ourselves, but we journeyed over old trails that were new to us, and with hearts open. Who shall distinguish?” J. Monroe Thorington

Wineglass Bay lookout at Freycinet National Park in Tasmania, Australia.

Freycinet National Park is a beautiful and rugged peninsula on Tasmania’s east coast, where spectacular granite mountains are surrounded by turquoise bays and long stretches of pristine white sand. The highlight for most people is Wineglass Bay, which can be seen from a lookout on the Hazards mountain range (a two-hour return hike) or be included as part of a longer hike. This gorgeous bay was once named in the world’s top 10 beaches by the US magazine, Outside.

My previous visit to Freycinet National Park was in 2003 and this was on the rest day of Bicycle Victoria’s nine-day, 530km Great Tasmanian Bike Ride. Somehow, in a moment of madness, I was convinced to do the five-hour Wineglass Bay/Hazards Beach Circuit with a bunch of people who were a hell of a lot fitter than me. The only thing I remember about that day is the unforgettable view of Wineglass Bay…. oh, and the nagging voice inside my head that was berating me severely for attempting such a thing on a rest day (particularly as the bike ride was enough of a challenge for me).

So it was really great to have the chance to go back to Freycinet in late October, this time to do the three-day 30 km Freycinet Peninsula Circuit. Here are a few of my photos and a brief recap of each day.

Hiking along Hazards Beach.

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