The Water Issue
CONSERVATION AND FREEDIVING WITH HANLI PRINSLOO JAGUARS IN THE BRAZILIAN WETLANDS DIVING IN INDONESIA
Set just off Cape Townâ€™s buzzy Kloof Street, Cape Cadogan is your base for exploring the beautiful Mother City, the Whale Coast and the Winelands. Live like a local and still be treated as our guest at Cape Cadogan Boutique Hotel.
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ANANTARA OFFERS AFRICAN ISLAND ROMANCE, STEEPED IN LUXURY AND ADVENTURE Located on a tropical Indian Ocean island off the coast of Mozambique, the boutique Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort is exclusive, idyllic and luxurious, featuring the country’s largest spa. Renowned as one of the world’s top snorkelling, diving and fishing destinations, the Bazaruto Archipelago boasts year-round warm waters, dazzling soft coral ridges, dolphins, whales, turtles and the largest population of the rare dugong on the African east coast. Guests can tour the island by 4x4 to discover towering dunes that offer both beach and desert experiences, pristine bays, local life and exotic flora and fauna. The soft, powdery white sands can be cantered along on horseback and riders can even take their steed into the sea for a swim. End the day on a sunset dhow cruise and dinner under the stars.
Editor Heather Richardson Sub-editor Kirsty Page Design She Was Only shewasonly.co.uk Illustrations Lauren Crow
Sarah Marshall Travel Writer A wildlife obsessive and eco advocate, Sarah is happiest tracking big cats across plains, bears on ice or squirrels in her south London back garden. As travel editor for UK newswire The Press Association, she spends a lot of her time galloping across the globe in search of stories and characters with four legs – or two.
Sofi Sugiharto Photographer Jakarta-based Sofi first participated in an underwater photography competition in 2006, with only 30 or 40 dives under her belt, and won with a photo of a white lionfish. Since then, she has ranked in several competitions and been on numerous diving trips around Indonesia and beyond. Many of her images have been used by various Indonesian tourism boards.
Travel enquiries firstname.lastname@example.org jacadatravel.com UK +44 2037 335 698 US toll-free +1 877 967 0096 HK +852 2110 0537 Advertising email@example.com Cover image Peter Marshall
The Explorer is published quarterly by Jacada Travel Online jacadatravel.com/the-explorermagazine
Meera Dattani Travel Writer Meera is a freelance travel journalist with a love of independent travel, walking and cycling holidays, wildlife and national parks, and anything with a green/ecotourism focus. With several solo backpacking trips under her belt, she’s always on the lookout for interesting adventures, stories and people on her trips, which have included Argentina, South Africa, India, Cambodia and French Polynesia.
Heather Richardson Editor/Travel Writer Heather is the editor of The Explorer and an awardwinning travel writer. She has had the travel bug ever since her first big trip to South America at age 18, which included six weeks in the Amazon rainforest and a stint in the Galápagos highlands. She has recently moved from London to Cape Town, where she spends a lot of her free time trail running, hiking or being decidedly less healthy in the Winelands.
Address London 144 Liverpool Road, London, N1 1LA, UK Hong Kong 29/F Wyndham Place, 40-44 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong Cape Town Suite SP7C6, Somerset Square, Highfield Road, Cape Town 8005, South Africa Connect #JacadaTribe #JTExplorer @jacadatravel
“When you have your first experience swimming with whales and dolphins, you get it” Page 22
22 Making Waves Heather Richardson interviews South African freediver, Hanli Prinsloo, talking swimming with sharks, how the body responds to several minutes without oxygen and saving our oceans.
32 A Little Life Photographer, Sofi Sugiharto, captures the smallest creatures on a dive in Indonesia. Jobi Chan, Jacada Travel’s dive master, explains how to spot these animals for yourself.
44 The Wild Wetlands In the Brazilian wetlands, the South African safari model is being used to protect the region’s jaguars. Travel writer, Sarah Marshall, journeys to the Pantanal to see it in action. CONTENTS
BOARDING CALL 10 Briefing The latest news from the world of luxury travel
“Prinsloo can hold her breath for over five and a half minutes, which allows her a different kind of access to the underwater world.” Page 22
14 The List Ethically produced travel products
ARRIVALS 54 Hot Tickets What to book and where to travel now 56 Foodie Chef Willibald Reinbacher explains his passion for the cuisine of the Indian Ocean
15 Responsible Travel Meera Dattani’s new column
60 Ask the Experts George Warren answers your questions on travelling to Antarctica over the infamous Drake Passage
16 A Thousand Words Annapurna Mellor introduces her image of a Varanasi baba
61 Letters from the Field Jobi Chan reports on her trip to the Maldives
18 Hotel of the Moment Susann Pietschmann recalls her trip to Galápagos Safari Camp
62 Giving Back Sharon Kwok introduces Mission Blue and their Hope Spots Page 16
64 The Five-Q Travel Interview Big-wave surfer Mark Healey answers our five travel questions
DEAR TRAVELLERS ISSUE 8
n February this year, the UN launched its #CleanSeas campaign, which aims to encourage governments, the public and the private sector to tackle the issue of marine plastic litter. At least eight million tonnes of plastic are leaked into the ocean every year, harming hundreds of marine species who either ingest it or become entangled in it. I often recall a time a few years ago when I was walking around a beautiful island in Fiji as the sun started to set. The beaches were spotless, all gleaming, golden sand and clear tropical water with coral reefs just off the shore. But as I rounded a corner, suddenly, in front of me, sprawled a rotten carpet of litter. The entire beach was covered in waste – largely plastics – regurgitated by the sea. Some current must have carried the debris to that particular bay. Fiji is often portrayed as an unspoiled paradise, yet even here, human impact was horribly evident. I picked my way across the rubbish heap, walked through a palm grove and shortly found myself on a pristine beach without a single footprint in the sand and a setting sun that cast burnt-orange rays up from the glittering horizon. Instantly, that beach of garbage was forgotten – and that’s the problem.
It’s too easy to ignore or forget what we cannot see. This was a point also raised by Hanli Prinsloo, the South African freediver I interview on page 22, and the reason she is dedicating her time to taking people – everyone from decision-makers to underprivileged children – into the ocean to see the animals that live there for themselves. Reducing the use of plastics is a way in which we can all help improve the health of the oceans. On a personal level, you can try saying no to plastic straws where possible, reusing water bottles or carrying a reusable bag to replace plastic carriers when you go shopping. These minor changes amount to something significant when we all take action. The ocean’s depths are mysterious and mostly unexplored. There is still so much we do not know about countless marine animals. I love Sofi Sugiharto’s macro photography on page 32 because it draws attention to the tiny creatures that live in the sea, often unnoticed, but part of the rich tapestry of wildlife that make up marine ecosystems. 71% of the Earth is covered by water. This issue of The Explorer is all about our blue planet, from the deepest oceans to tropical wetlands, and from the biggest animals to the tiniest.
Heather Richardson Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Boarding Call 10 Briefing 14 The List 15 What is Responsible Tourism? 16 A Thousand Words 18 Hotel of the Moment PAGE TITLE
BRIEFING Openings and news in the luxury travel world.
MACHU PICCHU ACCESS TO CHANGE FROM 1ST JULY Access to the ancient Inca citadel Machu Picchu will be on a half-day basis from 1st July 2017. Currently, tickets allow access for a full day. From July, visitors can choose from two shifts: 6am until 12pm or 12pm until 5.30pm. The new tickets are available now.
CHILE GETS AN EXTRA TEN MILLION ACRES OF NATIONAL PARKLAND Three new national parks will open in Chile according to a new agreement, which sees the Chilean government donating nine million acres of land and 43,000 new jobs created for locals. A further million acres will be donated by Kristine McDivett Tompkins, the former CEO of Patagonia Clothing.
EDEN PROJECT WILL BUILD AN £8.5 MILLION ECOFRIENDLY HOTEL A new eco-friendly hotel at the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK will be designed by Tate Harmer, a firm specialising in environmentally sustainable structures, and will incorporate existing features of the site, such as ancient trees and stone walls, as well as adding an orchard and a meadow. The opening is slated for April 2018 and the project is estimated to cost £8.5 million (US$10.6 million).
China will close a third of its ivory factories and shops China has announced that it will close 67 of its ivory carving factories and stores in which the product is sold, which is around a third of the total. The move is part of China’s pledge to end domestic ivory sales by the close of 2017. Its effort to reduce sales is being heralded as a ‘game changer’ by conservation groups. Sydney to get a second international airport Australia’s biggest city, Sydney, will get a second international airport at a cost of around A$5 billion (US$3.7 billion). The new airport will be in the suburb of Badgerys Creek, around 50 kilometres west of the city centre. It is hoped the airport will take some of the pressure off Kingsford Smith, the current international airport, and will also provide around 9,000 new jobs. Cape Town’s great white sharks continue to be hunted by killer whales In May this year, the famous, endangered great white sharks disappeared from False Bay after orcas (killer whales) moved into their waters and began hunting them – a development that has fascinated local biologists. Wounds found on washed up sharks show a neat removal of the sharks’ livers, suggesting orcas as the predators. The most recently found shark was a 4.2-metre male.
RWANDA RAISES GORILLA TREKKING PERMIT COST TO US$1,500 Rwanda has increased the price of gorilla trekking permits from US$750 to US$1,500, effective immediately. The Rwanda Development Board has introduced the changes to pursue the country’s aim of becoming a high-end tourism destination with a low-footfall, high-spend model. Visitors who have already bought their permits will be uneffected.
NEW POPULATION OF RARE CAT SPECIES DISCOVERED IN BORNEO The rare bay cat has been caught on camera traps in central Kalimantan in Indonesian Borneo. Researchers were carrying out wildlife surveys using camera traps when they spotted the animals in their footage, though they were some 64 kilometres away from the cats’ known range. The bay cat is listed as endangered, its threats being habitat loss and hunting.
FIRST LUXURY HOTEL TO OPEN BY ICELAND’S BLUE LAGOON Iceland’s Blue Lagoon will get its first luxury hotel when The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland opens later this year. The 62-room hotel will be built into the 800-year-old lava flow on the southwest of the lagoon, fuelled by geothermal energy, and will have a private pool, so guests can enjoy the restorative geothermal water of the Blue Lagoon away from the crowds.
A NEW SPECIES OF PARROT IS DISCOVERED IN MEXICO Research published this week reveals a new species of parrot discovered by ornithologist Miguel Gómez Garza in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. The parrot, which has a red front and bluetipped wings has been named the bluewinged Amazon parrot or Amazona gomezgarzai after Gómez Garza.
FIRST LUXURY SLEEPER TRAIN LAUNCHES IN PERU The Belmond Andean Explorer launched on 4th May, the first luxury sleeper train in South America, departing Cusco for Arequipa. The journey is two nights’ long, seeing guests travel through the Andes, with off-board experiences including a tour around the floating islands of Lake Titicaca and lunch on a private beach overlooking the peaks around La Paz, Bolivia.
Ethical travel goods
Sustainable brand platform, Positive Luxury, selects their favourite products for travellers who care.
1 IWC Pilot Watch Timezoner Chronograph $11,900 iwc.com
2 Mayshad Paris SS7 card holder $110 mayshadparis.com
3 Robe De Voyage 'Swift' shawl in 100% Khadi wool $220 robedevoyage.com
5 Elvis & Kresse Weekender Bag £299/$387 elvisandkresse.com
Chartwellandg Wide-brim Panama hat with white skinny scarf £230/$300 chartwellandg-estore.co.uk
6 Pembe Club Mikumi leather cord necklace with porcupine, baobab and elephant tusk pendants £415/$538 pembeclub.com
Okapi Large travel backgammon board $250 okapi.com
For more information about these products, check out The Explorer blog (jacadatravel.com/the-explorer). 14
In the first installment of her responsible tourism column, travel writer, Meera Dattani, starts to explore what it actually means to travel responsibly and why it’s such a complicated business.
Illustration: David Doran
WHAT IS RESPONSIBLE TOURISM? How many times have you read the words ‘responsible travel’ or ‘sustainable tourism’, or ‘eco-hotels’ and ‘green travel’? Then there’s ethical travel, community tourism and conservation… As travellers, how do you know what it all means – or whether it means anything at all? It’s not surprising these terms blur; it’s a complicated business. Put simply, if that’s possible, sustainable tourism is tourism which reduces negative impact and maximises benefits for communities, cultures and environments. It’s the umbrella term under which more specific initiatives exist. However, as Xavier Font, Professor of Sustainability Marketing at the University of Surrey, points out, “Sustainable tourism is something of an oxymoron – 80% of CO2 from travel is from flights and cars; 20% what you do at the destination. Currently, we are geared to spending more on hotels and transport, and less at the destination. If we genuinely want to be sustainable, we need to reverse it.” One initiative to encourage sustainable tourism is ecotourism. That means travelling in a way which minimises the impact of tourism on the environment and wildlife. Costa Rica, often billed as the ‘poster child’ of ecotourism, made concerted efforts to form tourism policies which protect nature. Within this are green or eco-hotels, so-named for their efforts to protect the environment, for example by conserving water or using solar energy. Another term is community tourism, when local people, often from poorer or marginalised areas, shape the visitor’s experience; this could be a homestay or a locally created tour. Encompassing this is ethical tourism; tourism which doesn’t exploit, but rather benefits local people and the environ-
ment. This concept covers anything from businesses paying better wages to local guides or hotel restaurants sourcing their ingredients locally. It’s also in the approach – this might mean running sensitive and thoughtful township tours with genuine benefits to locals, rather than inviting busloads of visitors into undeveloped areas to peer at the inhabitants. That approach also extends to wildlife; good examples include not riding mistreated elephants or petting ‘calm’ (i.e. medicated) tigers. Of course, these issues are rarely black and white. “There are good and bad examples,” says Leah Carriere from Sustainable Travel International. “Take sea turtle tours. Some have conservation as a priority, others don’t. That’s where using a responsible tour operator and doing your research comes in.” Travelling responsibly simply means in a way which helps local economies, protects fragile cultures and habitats, and reduces negative effects. When destinations offer appealing, sustainable experiences, travellers play their part by choosing them. Using tour operators who’ve done the legwork
helps, whether they’re offsetting carbon footprints or offering genuine eco-friendly experiences. “Another way is to increase length of stay,” says Xavier Font. “For example, tourism boards shouldn’t be encouraging people to see seven cities in seven days. Amsterdam Tourism suggests exploring further afield; the same carbon footprint, but the impact and income goes to different places.” There’s still an onus on the visitor to research. With no international regulation, certification programmes varying in standards and often expensive, some destinations and businesses are guilty of ‘greenwashing’ (making out they’re greener than they are). Conversely, others undersell their sustainable credentials. While visitors play a role in ensuring sustainability, they’re just one part of the equation. “Everyone in the tourism industry, from tour operators and travellers to governments and residents, have a responsibility to make sure this goal is realised,” explains Sustainable Travel International’s Leah Carriere. “Destinations must be considering the environmental and social impacts, then making decisions to ensure the needs of visitors and the host community are met. In a nutshell, it’s not just about increasing tourist numbers.” More information Those who want to make better choices can join Sustainable Tourism International’s Travel Better Club: sustainabletravel.org/ get-involved/travelbetter. Use the code ‘iTravelBetter’ for free registration. Check out The Explorer blog at jacadatravel. com/the-explorer for more about responsible travel and Meera Dattani’s regular column. RESPONSIBLE TOURISM
A THOUSAND WORDS
Photographer, Annapurna Mellor, talks about taking this portrait of a holy man in one of the world’s most sacred cities, Varanasi, India.
Who is in this photograph? Varanasi is a city of babas (baba is the street term, most commonly used by Indians. Sadhu is the official term, essentially meaning a Hindu holy man). This baba is one of many who live on the ghats, stairs that lead into the Ganges, along the river in the city. I met him in the early morning around sunrise and he kindly let me take a few photographs of him. Sometimes I will spend a long time with my subjects before creating portraits, other times it’s very quick – as it was in this case.
unfortunate pollution in the city creates a golden mist over the Ganges and with the birds flying, the boats on the water and the rainbow city in the background, it really is a dream for me to photograph.
What is he doing in the photo? He’s smoking a pipe. A lot of the babas smoke marijuana in this way. Initially, he didn’t want me to take a picture of him with the pipe as it can give the wrong impression of the life these holy men lead, but eventually he said it was ok. He sits in this specific spot for most of the morning; I saw him there every day as I went down to the ghats at sunrise. How do you go about taking a portrait? It depends on the situation, but usually I start by just approaching someone in a friendly way and ask them if they are ok being photographed. Babas often make a fair amount of their living costs from photography, so they’ll always accept if you can make up the right fee. I took about ten pictures of him sitting and smoking. He was very comfortable in front of the camera, which is always nice for me. Afterwards, he took a look at some of the photos on the back screen and he was really happy with how they came out, particularly when the smoke is in his face, which makes the shot for me. Was this your first time in Varanasi? This was my second trip to Varanasi, one of my favourite cities in the world, especially for photography. I spent around four days in the city before travelling overland to Nepal. Every day, I would wake up before sunrise and take local boat trips across the river with the pilgrims. The light is breathtaking at this hour. The 16
What makes Varanasi so special? Varanasi is the most spiritual place in the world for Hindus and you really feel that. The whole city seems like a magical, colourful vision of the vibrant religion. You can sit in backstreet lassi shops and watch the bodies carried past ready for the burning ghats. Cows run riot down the alleyways and babas sit on every corner. The main market streets are a complete maze and to find the hidden gems, it’s best to get truly lost. I could spend a lifetime exploring Varanasi and I’d never see it all. It is a place that time forgot; modernity will probably never creep up on it. It is one of the most special places on the planet. The Ganges has recently been granted living river status, so it now has the same rights as a human being. It’s an essential step to cleaning up the body of water and making it a safe place for pilgrims to bathe. The technical details Canon 5D Mark II / 24-70-mm lens / ISO: 160 / Aperture: 4. I shot this with a Canon 5D Mark II, which I used for the whole of my India trip, and with a 24-70 lens which is my go-to for travel photography. Often for portraits, I will swap to a 50-mm lens with a wider aperture, but in this case, I didn’t. It was shot at F/4, 1/250 and ISO 160. There’s very little editing on the image – the colours are just as vibrant in the RAW file. Annapurna Mellor is a travel photographer and writer whose work can be found in National Geographic Traveller and Lonely Planet books, amongst others. Her work focuses on people and cultures and she has a particular love of Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. When not travelling, she is based in Manchester, UK. @annapurnauna / annapurnamellorphotography.com
We’re loving the fact that you needn’t be boat-bound when you visit the iconic Galápagos Islands. Jacada’s Latin America concierge, Susann Pietschmann, recalls her time glamping at Galápagos Safari Camp.
HOTEL OF THE MOMENT
GALÁPAGOS SAFARI CAMP
The Galápagos Islands are 600 miles off mainland Ecuador and arguably the most celebrated archipelago in the world. These are the volcanic isles that heavily contributed to Charles Darwin’s ground-breaking theory of evolution, with their huge number of endemic species. For wildlife enthusiasts, there are few other places on the planet in which you can see such incredible, unique animals up-close. Until recently, cruises were the manner in which visitors would explore these islands – but lodges such as Galápagos Safari Camp have changed that. Susann Pietschmann spent a couple of nights on the family-owned site. How did you get there? We flew out of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s second-largest city. The journey to the Galápagos takes about an hour and a half. You can also depart from Quito, the capital, which is a two-hour flight. At Baltra Airport, we
were met by our guide and taken on a tour of the Santa Cruz highlands, before arriving at Galápagos Safari Camp. What was your first impression? Galápagos Safari Camp has the most beautiful Pacific Ocean views from its hilltop perch. The nine, raised tents are spacious and roomy, with high canvas ‘ceilings’, lots of light and comfortable beds. It’s certainly glamping rather than camping, with electricity in each tent, turn-down service and private bathrooms. What did you do during your stay? Even though we were land-based, we still spent plenty of time out on the water – this is the Galápagos, after all! Snorkelling with the playful, curious sea lions is a stand-out moment for pretty much everyone, and you certainly don’t miss out on these kinds of experiences by being based on the islands.
Left. One advantage of choosing a luxury camp over a cruise is being able to take your trip at a slower pace.
Below. The raised tents (left) and the main lodge’s lounge area (below), where guests can chill out after exploring the islands.
We went hiking and biking, too, exploring the volcanic hills and the animals that live here, such as the famous giant tortoises, which you can often see in the camp itself. Taking boat trips around the coast, we saw marine iguanas sunning themselves on the black rocks, and tiny penguins diving into the sea. What are the pros to being land-based over taking a cruise? When you come to the Galápagos, you must choose between taking a cruise, staying on land or a bit of both. A cruise will allow you to see more of the Galápagos archipelago and its wildlife, but being land-based allows more flexibility (cruises must stick to a strict schedule), personalisation and a more private experience. Both options have their perks – if you can, as I did, a combination of the two is best. Who would this appeal to? Anyone who loves wildlife must visit the Galápagos Islands. Galápagos Safari Camp is ideal for families or travellers who prefer to take things at their own pace. Need to know The Galápagos is a year-round destination. For bookings or more information, contact travel designers Jen Richt (jennifer@jacadatravel. com, based in London, UK) or Jobi Chan (jobi@ jacadatravel.com, based in Hong Kong). HOTEL OF THE MOMENT
Features 22 Making Waves 32 A Little Life 44 The Wild Wetlands
South African freediver and ocean conservationist, Hanli Prinsloo, talks to Heather Richardson about her life of competitive diving, swimming with sharks and how she hopes introducing people to the underwater world might eventually help change attitudes towards protecting our great blue planet. 22
he first thing Hanli Prinsloo does, as she sits down opposite me at a seaside café in her Cape Town home suburb, Kalk Bay, is ask if I know why the area’s famous great white sharks have suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. “There have been four sharks washed up around Gainsbaai with their livers bitten out. They’ve been doing all this research – and it’s the orcas!” she exclaims, excitedly. “These poor little things – poor little five-metre things – are targeted. They’re hiding.” You may already know who Prinsloo is, especially if you know anything about freediving – the practice of diving on a single breath – in which she set 11 South African records. Prinsloo now devotes her time to coaching and ocean conservation, primarily through I Am Water, which she co-founded with her partner in business and life, Peter Marshall, an American swimmer who held eight backstroke world records throughout his career. Marshall is also the photographer behind Prinsloo’s Instagram profile, which has close to 16,500 followers at the time of writing. It’s a grid of unreal images, mostly taken by Marshall, of her swimming mermaid-like alongside an array of mesmerising ocean animals: placid whale sharks in Mexico, bizarre-looking hammerheads in the Bahamas, soaring manta rays in the Maldives and frolicking dolphins in Mozambique. Farm to fjord You might – as I did – immediately imagine that Prinsloo was virtually brought up by the ocean. In fact, she was born just outside Pretoria on a horse-breeding farm, in inland South Africa. “Something that a lot of people misunderstand about a love of the ocean is that it’s really just rooted in a love of wilderness,” Prinsloo explains. “Then you get the opportunity to be in the water, and that’s what makes you fall in love with the ocean. The farm I grew up on was really wild, a huge farm, and my sister and I had so much freedom. I think that’s really what shaped who I am today and what I want to do with my life. “One of the rules was get home before the sun sets, and the other one was don’t die,” she laughs. “We would climb the tallest trees and explore all the rivers and dams. But being underwater was already, even then, a huge passion for me – whether it was swimming laps underwater in a pool or in the dam where you couldn’t see anything. My sister and I just wanted to be underwater.” Her introduction to freediving began in the icy waters of Sweden, where she moved to study performing arts after school. Following a disappointing scuba diving experience in South Africa – “I felt so limited and it was so loud” – freediving in a frigid fjord struck a chord. “The wetsuit didn’t fit and the mask leaked and everything was wrong, but as soon as I got underwater and swam down – well, 20 years later, I’m still doing
it! It really was a sense of coming home. It sounds like a cliché, but it’s quite powerful when you find that.” She began to compete and realised she had a natural talent for the sport. “It taught me so much,” she says of her freediving career. “When you’ve really explored your own limitations and challenges and physical restrictions, it makes one a much better coach. That’s what I’m really happy for, those years of figuring things out in my own body. It’s helped me to help others figure it out.” She now trains top athletes in freediving and breath control, including the South African rugby team. Many consider freediving an extreme sport, but Prinsloo is not happy with this definition. “We often get lumped together with adrenaline sports like base jumping and off-piste skiing, you know – I’ve been interviewed in those ranks so many times. I’m like, but all I really do is very, very good relaxation and focus.” She stresses that freediving – when done correctly with an understanding of personal limitations and a lack of ego – is a very controlled, calculated sport. The mammalian dive response Personally, I am fascinated by the science of freediving. I’ve read about the mammalian dive response and ask Prinsloo about it. “Phenomenal,” she agrees. “Our body has the same adaptations for being in and under water and for breath-hold as ocean mammals do. So, whales, dolphins and seals have this mammalian dive response – it’s part of the mystery of how a breathing creature like a sperm whale can dive down to three kilometres and spend an hour down there. “The first thing that happens in the human body that’s similar in aquatic mammals, is that when water touches our face, our heart rate slows down. That’s bradycardia, the slowing down of the heart rate to conserve oxygen. The second thing that happens is that the body starts noticing the rising levels of carbon dioxide (as you hold your breath, it’s not low oxygen that triggers a reaction, it’s rising levels of carbon dioxide). Blood gets flushed from your extremities, from your hands and feet and arms and legs, back to the core, to the vital organs, to be circulated to where it’s most needed – and that’s vasoconstriction, the constricting of the blood vessels in your arms and legs. It almost feels like your wetsuit got four sizes too small.” Prinsloo sucks in her breath with a pop to suggest a vacuum-packed wetsuit. “Then the spleen response is something that’s like total magic to me, that we have this little organ that’s always been kind of low-glory, nobody really sings the praises of the spleen and we can live without one,” Prinsloo continues. “It’s a storage space, like a warehouse of oxygen-rich haemoglobin. When we freedive, and the body realises it wants and needs more oxygen, the spleen constricts and releases this oxygen-rich haemoglobin into the blood stream. It’s almost like blood doping – except that our bodies do it for us, it’s totally legal and you don’t wear Lycra for MAKING WAVES
it to happen,” she laughs. “Slowly, the body turns into some memory of what we once were – some aquatic past that we have shared with these animals.” Swimming with giants Prinsloo can hold her breath for over five and a half minutes, which allows her a different kind of access to the underwater world and the creatures that live there, one that removes the need for noisy diving equipment. “When I get to use those skills to keep up with these animals for a while,” she says, “or to dive deeper to a pod of whales that’s sounding or something like that, I’m really grateful.” Her first experience of swimming with big animals was off Aliwal Shoal in South Africa’s eastern province, Kwa-Zulu Natal, just outside Durban. “There are tiger sharks that come there during the warm summer months. Seeing these huge females coming up, seeing their curiosity, their intelligence and just how unbelievably beautiful they are – they’re just so graceful and languid, it’s almost like this sinuous swaying – I was hooked.” Since then, she has spent time with many of the most iconic creatures on our planet, but she can’t
choose a favourite. “They’re all so different. I don’t think it’s fair to compare the curiosity and playfulness of a juvenile dolphin, that’s swimming around you like a crazy person wanting to play, with the majesty and grace of a giant manta ray that’s like a small aeroplane underwater. And then, compare that to the absolute bizarreness of a hammerhead shark that’s confident and comfortable enough to swim right past you, almost brushing past, with those weird protruding eyes.” Prinsloo does seem to have an affinity with the sharks she encounters. Fear is replaced with a mixture of fascination and deep respect. “They’re just so mysterious,” she says. “There’s that intelligence and that incredible instinctiveness, because they’re just ancient. The seven-gill sharks we have here are literally like swimming fossils. Most sharks have five gills, they’re the modern sharks, but these have seven. They’re ancient.” However, it’s with mammals that there is a real connection. “When you have your first experience swimming with whales and dolphins, you get it. With the dolphins we swim with in Mozambique, they recognise us now. There’s three or four of them that just love Peter! Whenever he gets in the water with a cam-
WHEN I GET TO USE THOSE SKILLS TO KEEP UP WITH THESE ANIMALS FOR A WHILE,” SHE SAYS, “OR TO DIVE DEEPER TO A POD OF WHALES THAT’S SOUNDING OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT, I’M REALLY GRATEFUL
era, he gets circle-swum by four dolphins – and that hardly ever happens. “There’s research that shows that of course they have a language – we just don’t know how to talk to them. I think these animals really offer us an opportunity to reassess how we look at other species and how we’ve seen our superiority and to question that a little more. That’s really exciting.” The orcas currently hunting apex predators in the bay we overlook are perfect examples of that high intelligence. “There has never been a negative encounter between an orca and a human in the wild. Ever. So, they know we’re something else,” Prinsloo explains. “They come into our bay and they’re hunting dolphins right here, but my friends who have been in the water with them say they know we’re not food. How the hell do they know?” Changing behaviours Prinsloo encourages people to get in the water and physically see how much could be lost when we avoid complex issues such as climate change, pollution and overfishing (she no longer eats seafood, believing it is currently impossible to do so sustainably). “I think part of what puts the ocean at risk is that people look at the surface, and they look at this expanse, not understanding that the topography of the mountains we see rising up here is even more fascinating down there,” she says. “We don’t have a single Cape leopard left on this peninsula, but all the predators that were here hundreds of years ago in the water are still here. It’s remarkable. They’re not contained in
parks. It’s a different kind of wilderness. I think what we’re trying to do by sharing the ocean with others and sharing these big animal experiences is just to open people’s eyes to what’s going on down there and to its majesty, fragility – all those things.” I Am Water has a foundation side, working with children to foster an early passion for the sea and its inhabitants, but it also offers paying clients the opportunity to explore the world that dwells beneath the water’s surface, in the hope of inspiring a shift in attitude. “We all agree that we are the biggest problem. But it’s not until we understand how we can be part of the solution that we actually change,” Prinsloo notes. It’s true that being with animals in the ocean evokes powerful emotional reactions. Prinsloo tells me about a businessman from the UK whom she and Marshall took swimming with dolphins in Mozambique. He’d not been overly interested in the experience, but had gone along with his wife anyway. “Peter swam up to me and said, ‘Don’t look now, but he’s crying’,” Prinsloo remembers. “This 55-year-old man in the water, taking off his mask, wiping his eyes and looking down again. You could hear him crying through his snorkel. That’s not from anything we do. We just facilitate nature to do its thing. That’s our alchemy.” Jacada Travel is working with Hanli Prinsloo and I Am Water to offer our travellers the chance to experience the ocean’s marine life up close. For more information, please email email@example.com. MAKING WAVES
When I started diving, like most people, I liked to spot large animals such as turtles, sharks, manta rays and whale sharks. But after several years, I started to search for smaller creatures. Amongst these, my favourites areÂ nudibranchs (pictured here),Â ghost pipefish, pygmy seahorses, flatworms and gobies. I particularly like to spot juvenile fish, such as oriental sweetlips and batfish, because the colours and patterns on their bodies are different from those of adults.
A Little Life
Take a close – really close – look at what lies beneath the water’s surface on a dive in Indonesia. Words by Jobi Chan. Photographs by Sofi Sugiharto.
Indonesia is amazing for diving, with more marine diversity than anywhere else in the world. There are over 18,000 islands, with more than 600 types of coral and around 3,000 species of fish. Iâ€™ve dived all over, including Raja Ampat, Bali andÂ Kalimantan in Indonesian Borneo. Manado, in North Sulawesi, is where most of these photographs were taken â€“ it has the ideal conditions for finding the tiny inhabitants of the sea, such as this cyerce nigra, a type of shellless mollusc.
I canâ€™t say any particular area of Indonesia is best, because it depends on what you want to see. You can go for a shallow dive in the calm Lembeh Strait and spot little creatures such as seahorses or nudibranchs. Or you can go to Raja Ampat for wobbegong sharks and walking (epaulette) sharks. If you enjoy cold water and deep sea, you can dive in Bali and wait for the giant sunfish to appear at around 30 metres or so.
A LITTLE LIFE
This maleÂ jawfish was captured with his mouth stuffed full of eggs. Come breeding time, jawfish often use their jaws in courtship. Males try to show females that they have the biggest and mightiest jaws, because after she lays her eggs and he has fertilised them, it's up to him to look after them â€“ and he does this by using his mouth as an incubator. The male picks up hundreds of eggs in his jaws, where he incubates them for a week or two before they hatch.
Left. This is a flatworm pictured at night. I saw similar kinds of flatworms dancing during a night dive in Raja Ampat in December last year (2016). When people see them during a dive in the day, they are usually crawling or lying horizontal. But at night, they become active and hunt for small prey like waterflies. If you are lucky, you can see it dancing in the water, like in this photograph.
Above Clownfish are very attractive to beginner divers, because they’re easy to find in shallow water anemones, colourful and cute. This photograph tells a less cute, but fascinating story. The tongue-eating parasite, cymothoa exigua, which you can see here in this clownfish’s mouth, waits for a fish to swim past before shooting up from the ocean floor, through the gills and latching onto their host. The tongue of the host fish will eventually wither away and fall off, forcing the fish to use the attached parasite as a replacement. A LITTLE LIFE
The most common activity for a nudibranch, like the one pictured, is eating. They dedicate most of their time to it, spending approximately three to five hours a day inactive. They are mostly found on the ocean floor and move on a flat, broad muscle called a foot, which leaves a slimy trail. Some can swim short distances by flexing their muscles. They move at a speed of around ten metres per day.
A LITTLE LIFE
If you go diving at a site many times, you may start to remember the locations of certain animals. For example, you might find a goby on a particular whip coral, a turtle in the cave in which it usually sleeps or maybe a string ray or garden eel on a patch of sandy ocean floor. A good guide will know the area well and will be able to show you all these special inhabitants of the ocean.
How do you learn to spot these minute animals of the ocean, such as this shrimp? Practice makes perfect and you will need to train yourself to develop an eagle eye. First, you need to be still in the water withÂ neutral buoyancy. Then, simply take your time, breathing slowly, starting to look at each type of coral, searching for the small creatures that make their home here.
Jobi Chan (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Jacada Travelâ€™s resident diving expert and Hong Kong-based travel designer. Sofi Sugiharto is a photographer based in Jakarta, Indonesia. See more of her photography on flickr.com (sofi_sugiharto).
A LITTLE LIFE
Travel writer Sarah Marshall tracks jaguars in the Brazilian wetlands, the Pantanal, and learns how the area hopes to mimic a South African safari and conservation experience.
ewing frogs whine like Formula 1 racing cars, as a setting Brazilian sun threatens to scupper our own desperate charge for the finish line. Nine-banded armadillos scurry through tangerine-tinged dust clouds kicked up by our 4WD and roly-poly capybaras sensibly waddle into the swamps, gazing curiously at our urgency. On any other occasion, sightings of these creatures would justify a stop, some observation and considered discussion, but right now we have only one mammal in mind – the jaguar. The Pantanal, a sprawling wetland in the heart of South America, straddling Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, is one of the best places to see these elusive cats. Traditionally, the predators are observed along riverbanks, where they come to hunt or cool off in the water. But at Caiman Ecological Refuge in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, things are done a little differently. Similar to an African safari, guests go searching for the cats on game drives and viewings are largely on land. The high-end eco-lodge also has the benefit of an on-site research team, Onçafari, who have a pioneering approach to ecotourism. Lead field biologists, Lilian Rampin and her husband Leo, have alerted us to a sighting of Esperança and her two cubs Cema and Suricata. They’ve been spotted at a kill and we’re hoping they’ll stick around long enough for us to get a good look. Lili’s team of five biologists have been monitoring the cattle carcass for several days with the aid of a camera trap, using an iron stake to prevent the jaguars from dragging it to a secluded spot. We arrive to find the giant-jawed cats taking it in surprisingly courteous turns to tear ravenously at the flesh. Bellies inflated like balloons, they eventually topple over in ecstasy and exhaustion. Every so often we edge closer, first coughing to make the animals aware of our presence and then switching on the vehicle ignition. After an hour, we’re just 30 metres away – so close, I can even hear bones crunching as they polish off their family meal. The carefully orchestrated approach is part of Onçafari’s jaguar habituation process.
Main. The Brazilian wetlands, otherwise known as the Pantanal.
Below. One of the photographic safari vehicles at Caiman. Bottom. A jaguar peers through the vegetation.
“We never come at them directly or shine lights in their faces,” explains Lili, who works tirelessly day and night to take care of her cats and still manages to smile effusively in between. “It can take several generations to gain the animal’s confidence, but it does work. We just need them to get used to the vehicles,” she tells me as we drive back to the lodge in a darkness illuminated by nocturnal eyes dancing in the headlights. “Funnily enough, the big males are often the easiest to habituate because they’re already too confident!” Onçafari’s founder, Mario Haberfeld, an environmentalist and retired Formula 3 racing champion who was part of Jackie Stewart’s team, came up with
the idea after seeing a similar strategy successfully used with leopards in South Africa’s Londolozi Private Game Reserve. “I always knew that when I retired from racing I wanted to work in conservation,” says Mario, who admits he’d only been to the Pantanal once (and not seen a jaguar) before starting the project in 2011. “Being Brazilian, I felt I needed to help our native wildlife.” His strategy is clearly working. Several years ago, only 20% of guests saw a jaguar; in 2015, that figure rose to 60% and last year sightings became even more reliable. Anyone staying at Caiman can book one to three days in the field with Onçafari; choose the longer package and Lili guarantees a jaguar sighting. When I first arrive, after a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Campo Grande airport, our vehicle startles two jaguars on the driveway – that’s even before I’ve unpacked my bags. Caiman’s owner, Brazilian paper baron Roberto Klabin, started his ecotourism venture on family land 30 years ago and provides free research space and accommodation for Onçafari. There are two main high-end lodges and one private villa on the 53,000-hectare ranch, and even at full capacity, less than 35 guests are on site at any one time. I stay in the six-room Baiazinha Lodge, shaped like a bird with open wings and embracing a lake stuffed with snorting caimans camouflaged beneath a tangle of water hyacinth. Nimble jacanas flit like fairies across the unpredictable surface, too fast to risk any danger, although it’s entertaining to anticipate where the next burst of reptilian frustration might erupt. In between activities, which normally begin after breakfast (around 8am), with a long break for lunch (depending on the heat), I spend hours sat on the decking behind the communal dining area. At dusk, roosting snowy egrets dress a strangler fig tree bridal-white, stripping away at dawn in a shower of celebratory confetti as the sky roars rapturously red. The habitual display becomes a welcome bookend to my day. One of both Caiman’s and Onçafari’s primary aims is to prove jaguar – and indeed all wildlife tourism – can be a profitable business in the Pantanal. Conflict between cattle farmers (pantaneiros) and jaguars is an ongoing problem, with an alarming number of cats shot in retribution or simply out of fear. What was once revered by ancient civilisations as a creature of great power and stature is now a source of revulsion. According to camera-trap observations by global wild cat conservation organisation, Panthera, the Pantanal has a density of eight jaguars every 100 kilometre-squared. But with 90% of that land belonging to private farms, such a high concentration poses huge challenges. Lili gives presentations to farmers to explain the economic potential of jaguar tourism. “It’s sad to reduce a jaguar to a number, but we have to prove to people how much they’re worth,” she insists. “We won’t win this battle with love alone.” 48
Right. One of Onçafari’s collared jaguars.
Interestingly, Roberto also rents part of his estate to a cattle rancher, yet remarkably only 1% of the 36,000 cattle is lost to jaguar predation. It’s a shining example of how wildlife conflict can be avoided with proper farm management. In another move to earn support from the community, many former pantaneiros are employed as naturalists and guides at Caiman. Selmo, a former cowboy who wears a gleaming gold belt buckle and a grin from ear to ear, guides me on a morning walk through the cordilheira forest (tree clusters on ground high enough to avoid flooding). I discover the cooked wax tree, so-called because its ‘melting bark’ acts as a natural fire guard, and learn how to curl a bromeliad leaf into a piece of cutlery. “This is Esperança’s favourite tree,” says Selmo, pointing to the pliable bark shredded by cat talons. Nearby, a camera trap with a flash and motion sensor has been set up. The custom-made kit belongs to National Geographic photographer Steve Winter who’s positioned several cameras around the estate as part of a much larger project on the Pantanal.
Below. Capybaras wading through the waterhole. Opposite from top. Chilling out on the deck; the yellowbilled cardinal, one of the Pantanal’s bird species; and an aerial view of Caiman Ecological Refuge.
Along the way, we meet shy toucans whose curved bills droop like bananas from the higher canopy, and not-so-shy chaco chachalaca birds whose onomatopoeic name is irritatingly catchy. Two sapphire-blue hyacinth macaws peer from a wooden nest box, beneficiaries of a 20-year conservation project at Caiman designed to save a species decimated by an illegal exotic pet trade. More animal encounters are in store on a night drive around the estate. Our red flashlight captures several giant anteaters with obedient young draped across their backs like saddles, and an abundant mango harvest has attracted dozens of tapirs, tickling the air with long, leathery tongues to find their way. And, of course, there’s always the chance of running into a jaguar. In the last five years, Onçafari have registered 65 jaguars in the area, although currently only around 20 are monitored. Some are collared and can be tracked using a telemetry device – although even with sophisticated technology, the animals can be hard to find. One cat close to Lili’s heart is Issa, an orphaned cub rescued with her sister, Fera, and brought to Caiman. Over the course of a year, the team helped rewild the cats, teaching them to hunt live prey from the safety of a one-hectare enclosure and monitoring their development until they were ready to roam free. After hearing about the project, British producer Joe Stevens came to film the story for the BBC Natural World documentary, Super Cats. Sir David Attenborough even enthusiastically agreed to narrate the programme after learning about the important work being done by Caiman and Onçafari. Lili has big ambitions and hopes the techniques her team have been employing will eventually be rolled out not only in other areas of the Pantanal, but also with different endangered species. “Caiman is like a giant laboratory where we’re testing ideas,” she says, admitting she often draws on experience gained from her previous employment at Sao Paulo Zoo. For now, jaguar numbers are stable, but the race is on to safeguard Brazil’s poster boy species for years to come. Lili is acutely aware that there is still so much work to be done – and that the finish line is far from sight. Pack your bags Spend a week in Brazil, including a three-day private jaguar safari with Onçafari at Caiman Ecological Refuge, from US$5,300 per person. For more information, contact travel designers George Warren (email@example.com, based in London, UK) or Jobi Chan (firstname.lastname@example.org, based in Hong Kong).
Arrivals 54 Hot Tickets 56 Foodie 60 Ask The Experts 61 Letters from the Field 62 Giving Back 64 Five-Q Travel Interview PAGE TITLE
HOT TICKETS The destinations and holidays you should be booking now.
TREKKING IN PATAGONIA September 2017 to April 2018 Travel to Patagonia to explore the peaks, forests and plains of southern Chile and Argentina. The southern hemisphereâ€™s summer is the best time to go hiking around the iconic national parks such as Torres del Paine.
SUN AND SEA IN GREECE
CHRISTMAS IN LONDON
Greece is the perfect summer destination, with its postcard-perfect whitewashed buildings, sunny climate and beautiful landscapes – so it’s no wonder that the best hotels book up months in advance. Don’t miss out on next year’s summer getaway to these historic shores.
London is magical at Christmas. Warm up with some mulled wine at a festive market, go ice-skating at Somerset House or shop up a pre-Christmas storm on Bond Street. Now is your last chance to snap up the capital’s top hotel rooms for the 2017 festive season.
ITCHY FEET? Travel Now
ZIMBABWE The dry season is an ideal time to go on safari in Zimbabwe. The animals cluster around waterholes, making wildlife sightings much easier, and the temperatures are more comfortable. It’s also a great time to visit Victoria Falls with a combination of good water levels and less spray.
TOP END OF AUSTRALIA The north-west of Australia is at its best during the coming months. On Ningaloo reef, it’s whale shark season. Further north, the dry season (April until October) is the perfect time to visit the tropical city of Darwin and the Kimberley’s wilderness of dramatic mountain ridges and gorges.
INDONESIA If you were inspired by Sofi Sugiharto’s photographs of the incredible underwater world of Indonesia (page 32), it’s not too late to plan a trip to the rich waters of the Komodo Islands or Raja Ampat on a luxury phinisi boat. Some of the private charters still have space. HOT TICKETS
AQUACASIA: THE CUISINE OF THE INDIAN OCEAN
Chef Willibald Reinbacher of the Mauritian resort, Shanti Maurice, tells us about the concept behind the recently award-winning Aquacasia – Culinary Jewels of the Indian Ocean, his book of recipes showcasing Indian Ocean cuisine.
What is the concept of ‘Aquacasia’? ‘Aquacasia’ was conceptualised by MPS Puri, who believes that the best chefs are simply ‘translators of a place’; they tell a story through the flavours and tastes of a region, and it was this simple concept that gave him inspiration for Aquacasia. Aquacasia brings together authentic, wholesome dishes from the isles of Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Réunion, Indonesia, Maldives and Western Australia. Inspired by resourceful street traders and authentic family recipes passed down through countless generations, Aquacasia is all about a gastronomic journey through the rich and colourful flavours of the Indian Ocean islands.
What's special about Indian Ocean cuisine? It would have to be the sheer diversity of cuisine that stretches across all of the islands. From Australia in the east to Madagascar in the west, each country’s signature recipes have been influenced by traders and immigrants who have lived there over the years. The Indian Ocean, which is the warmest of the world’s oceans, is still very rich in fish and seafood. The sea around Madagascar contains a vast amount of prawns, crayfish and crabs whilst, here in Mauritius, we have some of the best yellowfin tuna I have ever tasted. Also, each of the islands’ tropical climates allows for a large variety of fruit and vegetables to grow locally, such as coconut, tamarind, lychee and mango. Aquacasia showcases this gastronomic diversity by celebrating the bounty of the Indian Ocean. The aim is for our recipes to delight European, Asian and Middle Eastern palates, with a type of food that is genuinely a ‘Joy to Eat’ [the recipe book’s strapline]. How did you research the recipes for the book? In order to curate the recipes for the Aquacasia – Culinary Jewels of the Indian Ocean recipe book, I have had to really get to know each of the islands. I have been a chef for a total of 15 years and have spent several of these here in Mauritius learning the mastery of spice. I have also had the opportunity to visit many of the surrounding islands, seeking inspira-
Left. Chef Willibald Reinbacher working at Shanti Maurice. Main. Tectec soup. Tectec is a clam collected at low tide and traditionally used in soups.
What's your background? I grew up in an Austrian ski resort where all crops were farmed locally – this definitely contributed to my strong passion for homegrown ingredients, which developed at an early age. When I was 15, I started my apprenticeship in classical French cuisine, and I then spent nine years in Dubai working alongside some of the best chefs in the world. How do your Austrian roots influence your food (if at all)? There is a strong Austrian influence in the menus at Shanti Maurice; this is especially evident in our focus on locally sourced ingredients, which we grow in the hotel’s herb garden.
Above. Slow-braised lamb shank, one of the Aquacasia recipes. Top right. Fishing for ingredients in the Indian Ocean.
tion from local chefs. My most recent trip was to Sri Lanka, where I found the cuisine to be similar to that of Mauritius with an emphasis on coconut, rice and key spices. I also enjoy experimenting with different recipes at home and often reach out to local island friends for their insights and expertise. Does any one country stand out the most for you personally? Why? When I met my wife, who is Mauritian, I found my second home on the island. Mauritius is the perfect place to live and I have the culinary jewels of the Indian Ocean right on my doorstep. From a gastronomic perspective, I am particularly fond of Bali and Sri Lanka, which offer a rich diversity of locally sourced and fragrant flavours. For me, the greatest attribute of the Aquacasia recipe book is that from a cooking point of view, I now have all of the islands in one place.
What are some of your favourite dishes featured in the book? At this moment in time, it would have to be the fish ceviche with coconut and lemon – the acidity of the citrus is mixed with a fusion of sweet and spicy flavours, all of which hit your palate at the same time, a gastronomic explosion! It is a joy to eat – and the perfect representation of Mauritian cuisine. That said, there are so many wonderful dishes in this book and most importantly, they are all very easy to cook at home. What kind of things will guests of Shanti Maurice learn about food whilst at the resort? To describe it in a few words, ‘eating in our resort is like a journey from island to island’. The Indian Ocean islands are an untapped resource when it comes to their cuisine, but the one thing they all have in common is the celebration of homegrown ingredients.
Clockwise from below: Janeth and Alex in the South African Winelands; Dunbar and Anastasia in Torres del Paine, Chile; Joe and Gail in Iceland; and the Savio family in Myanmar.
We love it when you share your travel photos with us. Here are some of our recent favourites.
ASK THE EXPERTS How bad is the Drake Passage?
For me, it wasn’t as bad as I had expected. Of course, there are times when it is very rough – known as the ‘Drake Shake’ – but it can also be placid (the ‘Drake Lake’). There were anti-seasickness patches available on board, which I used on both journeys. During the crossing, I spent my time attending lectures and getting to know my fellow explorers. It was a great time to prepare for the animals and learn about the history of the continent with some reading. There were lots of different types of birds and whales for company along the crossing, including albatrosses and a blue whale. Seeing the first penguin and the first iceberg were very special moments.
Polar destination expert, George Warren, answers your questions about crossing the infamous Drake Passage when travelling to Antarctica.
What are the benefits of flying vs sailing?
Taking a flight from southern Chile replaces a two-day voyage by sea with a journey of a few hours by plane. For those with less time to spend or those prone to severe seasickness, it’s a great option. Of course, like any journey there are risks of delays and cancellations. Safety is a top priority and if it’s not safe to fly, you can find yourself spending some more time in the city of Punta Arenas. Another massive benefit of travelling from Punta Arenas is that you’re just a few hours away from Torres del Paine National Park in southern Chile. A few days there makes a wonderful addition to stretch the legs before or after Antarctica.
What can we do to best prepare ourselves for it?
What did you enjoy most about sailing the Drake?
It’s a good idea to limit your alcohol intake during the crossing. Get plenty of rest and drink lots of water.My advice would be to take it all with a smile. You’re travelling about 1,000 kilometres to get to the most remote, harshest part of the planet. More than seasick, I felt excited and exhilarated to be travelling such an intrepid and historic route to get to Antarctica.
The lectures along the way gave a personal insight from the on-board experts about the history and wildlife of Antarctica. I even tried some yoga and drawing during the crossing. As awesome as the whales and the birds were on the Drake, the thing I enjoyed most was the camaraderie on board. There was a real buzz of excitement among the guests and the crew, building and building until we jumped into the Zodiacs to set foot on the ice for the first time.
LETTERS FROM THE FIELD Jacada’s travel designer, Jobi Chan, in the Maldives
just got back from a diving trip to the Maldives. I was based at Hanifaru Bay, Baa Atoll, where great numbers of manta rays can be found. This location is also popular for spotting whale sharks, as it’s one of the few known places in which they gather to mate. Hanifaru Bay is well regulated to protect the animals and the reef, with a park ranger to look after the area. The
hotel boats can go there every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and the diving boat (snorkelling only) and the liveaboard boat visit on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Visitors can only snorkel for 45 minutes, but there is no time limit on boats searching for the mantas. We sent a drone out to look for them every morning. I’ve been diving properly since 2003 when I got my first PADI Open Water
certification in Bangaram Island, India. I went on to get my Advanced Open Water on Langkawi Island in Malaysia, and my Rescue, Nitrox and Dive Master certifications in Phuket, Thailand, before getting my PADI Instructor License in the Maldives in 2012. In between, I’ve dived all over the world, including in Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, the Galápagos Islands and with sharks in the Bahamas and Fiji. 61
What do you do at Mission Blue? I'm on the board and one of the key things I do is attend meetings to strategise about marine conservation awareness and projects. I have lots of other broad roles within Mission Blue and l'm also a â€˜Blue Voiceâ€™ in Asia. How did you end up working in oceanic conservation? Growing up spending time in Hong Kongâ€™s Ocean Park on almost a daily basis afforded me many magical moments connecting with different animals and helped to nurture an appreciation of biodiversity.
MISSION BLUE Sharon Kwok, one of the directors at marine conservation charity, Mission Blue, gives us the lowdown on her job and the work of Mission Blue.
How did you first get involved in conservation in a practical sense? I began getting actively involved in conservation several years ago, starting a journey to explore and learn so that l can effectively educate others. This is essential to help change habits that are detrimental to nature. What are the major threats facing the ocean today? Overfishing, pollution, acidification and global warming all play a role. Temperature changes can wipe out great areas of reef and taking away certain apex predators will destroy food chains, just to name a few issues. What can people do at home and in their day-to-day lives to help? It takes all of us working together to bring about the kind of change needed now, including using less or no plastic straws, avoiding as many single-use plastics as possible, cutting back or abstaining from meat consumption and being aware of which seafood is non-sustainable. Spreading the message will also help our oceans a great deal. What are the key projects currently being undertaken by Mission Blue? Mission Blue leads the global initiative for Hope Spots: areas in our oceans that are set aside as protected or as sanctuaries. We are also heavily involved in deep sea exploration and education.
5 BEAUTIFUL HOPE SPOTS
The Mesoamerican Reef Reaching from the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico to the Bay Islands of Honduras, the world’s second largest barrier reef is home to hundreds of creatures, including 500 fish species, 65 species of stony coral and over 350 of mollusc. The barrier reef sees whale sharks, the world’s largest fish, visit the surrounding warm waters and, along with coastal seagrass beds and mangrove forests, it protects Central American coasts from storm erosion.
Cape Whale Coast This stretch of South African coast is not only visually stunning, but it also supports a vast array of wildlife. The water, a combination of the Atlantic and Indian Ocean currents, is bursting with nutrients and makes this 200-kilometre coastline a happy habitat for iconic animals such as great white sharks and several different species of whales, as well as the African penguin and Cape fur seal.
Lord Howe Rise Located between Australia and New Zealand, Lord Howe Rise is a section of the sunken continent, Zealandia. Lord Howe Island is part of the mountain that reaches above the surface and is home to over 100 species that are found nowhere else on earth. The submerged area of Lord Howe Rise also hosts hundreds of animals unique to this spot, several of which have only recently been discovered, but which are threatened by large fishing trawlers dragging nets through the area.
The Outer Seychelles A key area of this Hope Spot is the Saya de Malha Bank, the world’s largest submerged bank, between the Outer Seychelles and Mauritius. The region’s remoteness makes it a key area to protect and foster biodiversity away from human activities. It is particularly rich in nutrients due to an upwelling that forces cold water to the surface and is home to key species such as the green turtle, which feed off the seagrass bed. It is also a breeding ground for blue and humpback whales.
1 Balearic Islands The sea around Spain’s Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera) is a Hope Spot, protected for its high biodiversity. In 1999, the Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows between Ibiza and Formentera were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The southern area of the archipelago is also a crucial area for loggerhead turtles and bluefin tuna. Meanwhile, the Balearic Basin, which sinks to below 2,000 metres, is home to deep sea fish such as the Mediterranean spiderfish. Asociación Ondine partner with Mission Blue to support this Hope Spot through beach clean-ups and running courses for kids about plastic pollution. Jacada Travel support Asociación Ondine by donating a set amount of profits from each Jacada trip to Europe.
THE FIVE-Q TRAVEL INTERVIEW
Image credit: Fred Pompermayer
Mark Healey is a Hawaiian ‘waterman’, most well-known for his career as a professional bigwave surfer. He is also a champion spear-fisherman, freediver and part-time Hollywood stuntman.
Where was your last trip? North Island, New Zealand. I was bow-hunting for a week in the mountains. What was the highlight? Some of the early mornings out in the bush at sunrise. I’d be walking through these tree fern forests that were sparkling with frost. It was just such a surreal environment. It felt like a dinosaur was going to pop out at any second! What are your three travel essentials? A good wet/dry bag, my Bremont Supermarine watch, a GoPro.
What is the most memorable place you have visited? A village in remote Fiji that I used to go to and stay for a month at a time. Being surrounded by that much raw beauty with nothing to distract you is something I think everyone should experience. What is the greatest lesson you have learned from travelling? That we as human beings want pretty much the same things. When you spend enough time travelling to get beyond the initial cultural and communication barriers, you realise how similar we all are at a base level. We all want clean air and clean water, food, shelter and to be able to take care of our loved ones.
INTRODUCING THE DELFIN III, THE NEWEST LUXURY BOAT IN THE PERUVIAN AMAZON.
WWW.JACADATRAVEL.COM LONDON GEORGE@JACADATRAVEL.COM / +1 877 967 0096 (US TOLL-FREE) / +44 203 7335 698 HONG KONG JOBI@JACADATRAVEL.COM / +852 2110 0537
TRAVEL LIKE A ROYAL JACADA TRAVEL LAUNCH TRIPS TO THE SOUTH PACIFIC.
Complete an action-packed tour of New Zealand with a few days on idyllic Tahitian shores; jet from cosmopolitan Sydney to the laidback luxury of a Fijian island; or simply hop from one sublime beach to another, swimming with languid turtles, tucking into fresh seafood on white-sand beaches and acclimatising to the island way of life. To celebrate our new destinations, the first three Jacada travellers who book a stay at The Brando – a French Polynesian private island retreat built by Marlon Brando – will receive dinner and a massage on us.
FOR BOOKINGS OR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT OUR TRAVEL DESIGNERS LONDON KATIE@JACADATRAVEL.COM / +1 877 967 0096 (US TOLL-FREE) / +44 203 7335 698 HONG KONG JOYCE@JACADATRAVEL.COM / +852 2110 0537