I have been lucky enough to see predators in the reserves of Kruger and Chobe; hear the Indri call from the Madagascar rainforest; swim with whale sharks in the Mozambique Channel...and that's just in the last 4 months. Previously unsuccessfully searched for tigers in India; scuba dived in the Great Barrier Reef; traced butterflies in Cameroon highlands of Malaysia and seen deer on my runs through Richmond Park! All experiences I have thoroughly enjoyed...and now the Valdes Peninsula in Eastern Argentina is no different. Seeing elephant seals, sea lions and penguins was great to experience even if was a shlep to get there!
More importantly when observing animals in the wild you would love to see the elephant seals fighting each other or the orcas beaching to hunt a seal...the reality is far less dramatic. BBC and NatG take months to get those shots so are great to show you what happens but unfortunately I was only here for a day...you would have to pack loads of Kit-Kat to catch those moments!
The reality for me is that seeing sea lions roaring, sleeping and waddling in the wild beats hands down seeing them in a cage at a zoo.
(Before you all start tearing my heart out I would like to point out that these are my opinions only and that of a ginger Attenborough wannabe with no skills in zoology, biology or botany...just an appetite for opening my eyes to the natural world)
Best way to clear the hangover is to be an underprepared rambler so ventured to Llao Llao for a stroll with a local map that was so basic would be better placed at Disney World. Yup I got lost within 50metres!! So I clocked a woman who looked as lost as I was so in my worst Spanish asked for help and we ventured into the wilderness. She spoke as much English as my Spanish but had French as a middle ground...a poor solution hence kicking myself to improve my linguistic skills but meant I could improve my charade skills. Reminded me of the scene in Love Actually with Colin Firth flirting with his Portuguese helper except without the subtitles...unfortunately didn't end up with us jumping into the lake like the film but was a fun afternoon regardless.
So determined to make amendments I took the same map up the mountain (ski resorts look odd without snow!!) the following day and after a cable car up I descended over Fray with spectacular scenes (2000m down to 1000m...yup I cheated and went down!). Without wanting to sound like an arrogant show off again the challenges and vistas have a hard time to match Kilimanjaro. Although did make me realise I need to get a ski chalet when I get 6 matching balls...ski, trek, mountain bike, climb, golf and cycling all in the same place...all year round activity centre!!
(Waiting for a bus this morning saw a gentleman in a Harlequins rugby top. Thought he was English and thus local to me...turned out an Argentine. He thought the team was French...I furthered his disappointment by pointing out the London Eye silhouette on the top thus must be English. His sad face was enough for me to politely slip away.