11 July 2013

Mission Complete

I’ve been rather quiet as of late, but be assured there is a good reason for this. While some might have suspected something was up, only a few people knew where I was, less knew where I was going.

Where have I been and what have I been doing?

My South American expedition officially came to an end on the 3rd of July 2013, 1 year and 4 days after it started. Total statistics to follow below. While the 3rd of July may have been the last day of this particular tour, it was the start of some rather more arduous travel which went something like this :

Flight from Cartagena to Bogota (01:27 hours)
Flight from Bogota to Madrid (09:38 hours)


Flight from Madrid to London (02:25 hours)

Spent the night in London while running about trying to retrieve some of my equipment that Adrian kindly stored for me. Unfortunately, Adrian had stored it in a rather useless manner in a facility that is not open 24hrs. Back again the next morning to find what I could and leave behind a lot that I couldn’t. Quick cab across south London to my old employers to collect a credit card and say hello to everyone. The credit card hadn’t arrived, rather redundant trip half way across the world as it turned out.

Scoot back to the hotel, repack my gear and head back to London, Heathrow. 


Flight from London to Berlin (01:50 hours)
Flight from Berlin to Abu Dhabi (06:00 hours)


Flight from Abu Dhabi to Johannesburg (09:35 hours)

Had to get my poor parents to drive all the way to the airport in order to arrange a rental car. This was necessary after my bank failed yet again to get my credit card to me. Night drive from Johannesburg to Bela Bela. Spend the day with my parents having some very decent food and sleeping in a room on my own for a change!


Woke up early, perhaps my body clock still confused. Spent the day chatting, eating and watching the television. 


Up at 03:45 for the long drive to Pietermaritzburg some 750km’s away. The winter morning staying dark long past 07:00. Not that I sat on the motorway all day, many stops were taken to bird along the way. A quick stop at the Sterkfontein Dam gave me the opportunity to show distant Mountain Reedbuck to some young British tourists. Drove into Pietermaritzburg in the early afternoon, arriving at the head office of Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures. I didn’t make those arduous flights or drives for nothing, I was here for an interview. Spent the late evening and dinner chatting informally with Adam and some of the team. Got to stay the night at the bosses house.


I somehow slept in late, my future boss (hopefully at this point) woke me up after 08:00. After breakfast, we were back down to informal chatting before I was offered the job and some time to consider the offer. Time to consider? I had no need for that - I had spent the best part of the last two years planning for this very moment. The whole point of my trip to South America was justified as work experience first, birding and adventure second. The culmination of the last two years of my life was offered and I wasn’t about to dither. 

Five minutes later and I was having my photo taken for the new brochure and online bio. I am the newest Rockjumper Tour Leader and still rather struggling to come to terms with it. I wish I had a tail, for I could at least wag something in excitement. However, it is time to start studying. I have an action packed schedule coming up over the next 18 months with trips to various parts of the world, including amongst others : India, Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Panama, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cuba, Cameroon, Papua New Guinea, western South Africa and 3 months in my favourite birding country - Colombia. 


Time to assimilate, need to arrange sim card, bank accounts and a huge spectrum of other bits and pieces. 

South American Statistics

Total Species Recorded : 1791

Birds : 1628
Lifers : 1446

Mammals : 55
Lifers : 49

Reptiles : 15
Lifers : 13

139 Endemics by Country

Argentina : 7
Brazil : 4
Bolivia : 6
Peru : 73
Ecuador : 5
Colombia : 44

Distances and Modes of Transport

Total Distance : 54 477km

Cycling : 7 865km
Bus : 3 425km
Hiking : 1 498km
Ferry : 270km
Taxi : 500km
Motorbike : 15 503km
Hire Car : 6 942km
Train : 660km
Running : 20km
Flights : 22 579km

Days in Country

Argentina : 74
Uruguay : 17
Brazil : 21
Bolivia : 59
Peru : 145
Ecuador : 15
Colombia : 37

View South America Tour in a larger map

Red - Cycling
Blue - Car rental with Adrian
Green - Motorbike rental with Adrian
Gold - Motorbike

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