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BAY OF NAPLES, ITALY

From Naples, to colorful Procida Island, and a castle on Ischia Island.

sunny 22 °C

My next stop in Italy was Naples. I arrived via train from Venice. I just used Naples as a jumping off point though to see some of the islands in the Bay of Naples. There's not too much to see here, so I only spent part of a morning exploring the castle located across the street from the ferry terminal.
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This was my very first castle!! Castel Nuovo was completed in 1282.
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This is the entrance, a 2-storey Renaissance triumphal arch called Torre della Guardia.
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Detail under the arched entrance.
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It costs 5E to enter ... or you can walk under the arch and into the hallway up to the interior and look around (so long as you stay behind the guard rail) for free. This is the view of the interior from the guard rail.
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After checking out the castle, I then headed to the ferry terminal to get a ticket to Procida Island (15E). When I got there I had just missed the 8:35am ferry by 5min! The next one wasn't until 12:30pm! Bah! So I would recommend getting your ticket first, then go checkout the castle while you wait. As I waited for my ferry, I noticed that ferries to Capri were departing every 30min! Boat loads of people headed to the same tiny little island! No thanks! It would be so crowded there! I was sick of crowds at this point, so I'm glad I decided to visit the 2 lesser known/visited islands of Procida & Ischia instead. I like quiet, peaceful, not crowded places. But if you like people and partying, then head to Capri.

The ferry to Procida was about 30min. The ferry arrives in Marina Grande - you'll be disappointed, at least I was, cuz its a bit run down and needs a paint job. But its the village on the other side of the island that is the one in all the postcards. But Marina Grande has more restaurants and shopping.
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From the marina I took a short taxi ride to my hotel - Le Grand Bleu Apartment. Normally I don't bother taking photos of my accomodations unless its extra nice. This was one of those places. It completely surprised me!
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I was expecting it to be crap, as I was looking for cheap, not for luxury. I had paid $104 for a hotel room the size of a jail cell in Venice. This one was even less, only $74, so I wasn't expecting much. But I got a full apartment! It had a bedroom with a queen size bed, a kitchen, living room, dining area, computer and desk, bathroom with bidet, a private patio/terrace, and free wifi!
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My outdoor eating area.
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And there was a rooftop terrace with 360 degree views, with sun loungers, and an outdoor kitchen area for communal use :)
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The island is very small, only 4sqkm, so I walked everywhere. Christine, the friendly owner of the hotel, provided me with a map of the island, and off I went. The streets are VERY narrow and all cobblestone. They are only wide enough for one car to go through. If another car is coming in the opposite direction, they either have to back up, or wait until the other car is fully out, lol!
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There's no sidewalks, so when a vehicle comes I quite literally had to press myself against the building! The vehicles are tiny though, like Smart Car size, and Mini Coopers, and a lot of Vespas and motorbikes.

I found my way to that colorful village that first drew me to this island. It is called Marina Coricella. There are various ways to get here, so just ask your hotel which way is easiest/closest for you. large_IMG_8522-001.jpg
There was a big flight of stairs from the lookout point down to the actual village. That is Terra Murata in the background.
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The village reminded me of Santorini the way the homes were built on a cliff on top of eachother ... with a lot more color though!
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To get to the best lookout point you will either have to go back up to the first lookout point and continue on down the same road (at the intersection head right), or from the village ask a local for directions through the homes. I opted to walk through the homes via all the stairways. They are steep and narrow, theres tunnels too. Not for the claustropbic that's for sure!
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I couldn't resist taking photos of all the colorful doors, handles, peeling paint, etc along the way. Such a photogenic place!
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Keeping walking and you will eventually get to this perfect lookout point! Just look at that view!
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At the lookout point there are also a few canons overlooking the bay.
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I wandered the twisting cobblestone streets and came across yet another lookout point. This one was over the Bay of Naples. That is Mt Vesuvius in the background (located on the right of the photos).
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I headed back down to the village for lunch at one of the cafes along the water.
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I had spaghetti carbonara and freshly squeezed lemonade :)
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There were many hungry kitties crowding around my table waiting for something to drop, lol!
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This cutie placed himself right at my foot and kept meowing until I gave him something. How could I resist that face?!
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On my 2nd day here I headed to the nearest beach ... Spiaggia di Chiaia. You will have to descend 182 steps (there is no other way) ... be prepared to climb 182 steps back up again! Wow, what a workout!
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Spiaggia di Chiaia is a black sand beach. You can see the colorful Marina Coricella in the distance. I was here in late October so it was too chilly to actually hangout at the beach, and all the little food huts were closed for the season. But I enjoyed the sunrise anyways :)
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I made my way across the island, back to the other marina. I just loved wandering the streets here :) It wasn't crowded or touristy at all. I only saw a handful of tourists at the main lookout point, and that was all. That was partly due to the time of year I was here, but also due to the fact that everyone else was in Capri, lol!
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This side of the island has a courtyard, and the big, yellow Santa Maria della Pieta cathedral.
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All ferries heading back to Naples or to Ischia Island depart from Marina Grande. There is a terminal in which you can buy tickets off to the side from where the ferry drops you off. A ferry between Procida & Ischia costs 8E. However I accidentally booked a ticket to the wrong port ... there is more than one on Ischia. I just booked the one that was departing the soonest. If you are wanting to be near the castle that is the main draw of this island, then be sure to book a ticket to Ischia Porto. I booked a ticket to Casamicciola Terme ... a $35 taxi ride away from where I needed to be!

I stayed at Hotel Ulisse ... checkout the view from my room! You can even see the castle in the background!
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It was located only a 3min walk to a Spiaggia dei Pescatori (beach with views of the castle), 10min walk to the castle that I came to see, had 2 pools, free breakfast & free wifi ... all for $63 :)
To get to the castle you can either walk along the beach, or through the town. I did both, I took the beach route there, and the town route back.
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There were many beachfront restaurants & bars. But just a head's up, they all close from 3-7pm!! Around 430pm I was so hungry because I had accidentally skipped lunch cuz I was too busy sightseeing. Everything was closed - restaurants, shops, markets, etc. I asked a local if it was a holiday. He said in Italy the work day is 9am-3pm, then everything closes 3pm-7pm, and re-opens at 7pm. Whereas in North America our workdays are 9-5pm. Closing restaurants from 3-7pm though?! Thats prime 'eat supper and watch the sunset over the castle' time! I was not impressed.
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The name of this awesome castle is Castello Aragonese. It is actually a castle, cathedral, convent, and crypt! The first fortress was built in 474BC! However the rest of the structures were built throughout the 1400s.
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It is built on rock island and connected to the mainland by a causeway.
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A view of the town from the castle's causeway.
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It cost 10E to go inside the castle. This is the entrance tunnel (below) that leads to an elevator that has been added on. The elevator whisks you to the top for awesome views over the island.
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I took a lot of photos of the inside of the castle cuz when I was researching this place prior to arriving, whenever I googled it, only photos of the exterior came up. I had no idea what to expect of it. But I wasn't disappointed! I had a blast exploring this place! There was even a restaurant built at the top.
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The following photos are all of the inside.
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Ancient toilets. Back then going to the washroom was a public thing - no privacy at all!
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The crypt where the family members who used to live in this castle, still had painting on the walls!
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Living quarters
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A church inside the castle.
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Wine cellar
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Olive press
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Some of you would probably only spend 30min here, but I was here for hours! I really enjoyed wandering around the old castle, imagining how people would have live 100s of years ago! There's so many tunnels and rooms to explore :) Afterwards I headed back to my hotel by wandering through the town (and stopping for some Nutella gelato!).
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I relaxed by the pool, and then ended the day with a sunset from my balcony :)
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Posted by ChantelleS 20:30 Archived in Italy Tagged boat village island castle bay europe naples colorful ischia procida Comments (0)

FLORES & KOMODO NATIONAL PARK - INDONESIA

This place is a dream come true! Literally ... it looks like paradise (beacuse it is), and I got to see Komodo Dragons in the wild!!!

sunny 40 °C

After a bunch of rainy days in Jakarta I flew all the way over to the island of Flores. I knew I would love this place even before the plane landed. The views from my tiny airplane window upon landing were spectacular!!! It flew over volcanoes and 100s of vibrant green islands surrounded by a ring of turqoise water!

The airport in Labuan Bajo is tiny. And by tiny, I mean they off-load your bags and leave them on the tarmac for you to pick up, lol! I didn't have any luggage to wait for, cuz I travel with only a carry-on size backpack, so I headed straight to where the taxis were waiting. The exit doors to get out of the airport were locked though ... but not to keep me in ... to keep all the taxi touts out! You should have seen them, it was hystercal! They were all pressed up against the windows, like children trying to peek into a toy store, lol! Their faces were smooshed up against the glass and everything. A guard unlocked the doors for me and I was instantly bombarded by every single taxi driver trying to get my business. You can definitely tell its low season and they are hard up for some business. I chose a driver and told him to take me to a beachfront resort. He took me to La Prima. One of the best parts about traveling in low season is the good deals. This fancy resort that was beachfront, had a big infinity pool with a swim up bar, massage parlor & spa, free breakfast & wifi, etc, was $120 a night in high season, but only $51 in low season :)

This was the fabulous view from my balcony!
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Turns out my taxi driver's brother runs houseboating tours to Komodo National Park, so as soon as I mentioned I was interested, he called up his brother who arrived in under 5min to give me his business shpiel before I even had a chance to bring my backpack up to my room! Once again I got a steal of a deal cuz of low season!! This has got to be the best deal of 'em all! I booked a 2 day/ 1 night houseboating tour to Rinca Island & Komodo Island for only $75!!! Regular $300 in high season (accordingly to my Lonely Planet guide)! I was smiling for the rest of the day :) After I gave him a deposit, I dropped my bag off in my room and headed to the pool/beach.
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So this next story I'm about to tell has never happened to me anywhere else in the world, but its happened over & over again every island I've visited in Indonesia ... random locals will approach me wanting their photo taken with me, or will be taking selfies but making sure that I'm in the background, or hide in a bush to take my photo! Some just walk right up to me while I'm tanning poolside and take my photo without asking! Its so annoying, I hate it! Has this happened to anyone else?! Do I look like someone famous (I dont think I do), or is just cuz I'm tall, white, and have blond hair??? Whatever the reason, it got real annoying, real quick. Now I 100% always ask a local if I can take their photo rather than trying to be sneaky about it, cuz now I know how it feels having someone invade your privacy. This is what African wildlife must feel like when a jeep full of tourists shows up and starts clicking away, lol!

My first amazing Indonesian sunset :D
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The next day I checked out of my hotel, but left the majority of my stuff there in storage (just took enough with me for my 2 day adventure), and promised I'd be back for it. My taxi driver's brother was supposed to pick me up at 6:30am to take me to the marina to join the other people on my houseboating tour. After 15min of waiting I was beginning to think I'd been scammed. But finally, around the 20min late mark, he showed up. I joined 5 other Canadians for the adventure of a lifetime :)

This was my home for 2 days & 1 night. The open part in the front was our sitting area by day with all our luggage piled in the middle, and our sleeping area by night. Thank goodness for perfect weather, cuz I wouldnt wanna sleep out in the open if it was raining! It was not the fancy yacht I was expecting, more of a beater putzing along, lol! But the scenery & company made up for it :) The captain & crew got bunkbeds; we slept in the open on the floor (more photos to come of our sleeping arrangements a little later). There was a toilet (squatty potty version), but no shower.
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Sailing away from Labuan Bajo.
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Our first stop was Rinca Island. It wasnt too far away, under 2hrs, but I cant remember exactly how long it took. I was too mezmorized by the scenery to pay attention to the time. Everything was so wonderfully green!
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Upon arriving at Rinca Island we were assigned a ranger / guide. This we found out, is not included in the price we already paid. Plus there was a fee to bring a camera. I cant remember how much the extras fees were since this trip took place 9mths ago, but it wasnt outageous or anything. Theres 4 people to a guide, so you split the cost between 4ppl, and you each pay your own camera fee.
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Right off the bat we spotted this Komodo Dragon snoozing in the shade near the ranger station!
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Before the 2hr hike began, we were given a quick safety briefing and a stick to ward off any dragons lurking in the tall grass. I'm pretty sure a twig isnt gonna save my life. We were told that twice in recent years Komodo Dragons had walked into the ranger station and cornered the ranger working in there! There is only one door, and so no way to escape. One bite from a Komodo will kill you! Not from venom, but from so much bacteria. Its a long, slow death. After being told that, me & my stick were on high alert!!

The first hour of the hike was more of a walk than an actual hike. We were taken to a Komodo nest to see where they lay their eggs in holes they have dug in the ground.

We spotted this baby Komodo peeking his head up above the grass, and another one lumbering down the very path we were walking on!
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The 2nd hour turned into an actual hike ... through a furnace! The first half was in the forest, which provided shade from the 45C heat (although its still about 37C in the shade)!! The second half was out in the open, no trees for any cover at all, and straight up a hill to a lookout point. It was honestly like being in a furnace. If you've been to Mexico or the Caribbean and think you know what hot weather is ... think again! Travel to the equator, and then you'll know what real heat is like! You know how during Canadian winters the cold & wind can freeze your skin in seconds ... thats how the heat is here! You burn in 2.0 seconds. And by burn I mean it feels like your skin is on fire! So wear a hat and preferable light linen pants/shirt unless you like sunburns :) And dont forget to pack sunscreen & water!

Hiking out in the open
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This was the lookout point we were rewarded with.
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Back at the dock we noticed 100s of teeny tiny Fiddler Crabs! The whole thing was no bigger than my thumbnail!!
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Back on board we were served a tastey lunch. The captain was also our chef, and if you could have seen the kitchen he was working in, you'd be amazed by the meals he put out!
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While we ate we sailed towards Pink Beach, which was our next stop for some snorkeling and relaxing on a beautiful beach.
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Pink Beach ... the sand has a slight pink hue to it due to the red coral offshore.
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Some locals chillin' on their boat anchored at Pink Beach
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One of said locals offered to lead me down a trail, and up a small hill to this lookout point over the beach.
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So guess what I did? I mooned the captain. By accident of course! After swimming we all needed to change into dry clothes. There's not alot of privacy on the boat, so everyone would try to find a corner and change with a sarong wrapped around themselves for privacy. So I did the same ... changed from wet bikini to dry underwear. Then I came out of my corner with my sarong still wrapped around me, to let someone else use that corner. As I was struggling to keep the sarong up, but pull on some shorts at the same time, I decided to just drop the sarong. Panties are no different than a bikini bottom ... unless your wearing a thong! OMG! I totally forgot what kind of underwear I had on, LOL! My back was to a wall, or so I thought, so no big deal, right? Wrong! The 'wall' had a window for the captain to look out while he drove the boat. And guess who happened to be looking out the window when I dropped my sarong? Yup, Mr Captain got a good view of me ars, lol!

After a few hours here, we sailed over to Flying Fox Bay where we anchored for the evening. We watched the sunset by climbing onto the roof of the captains bunk.
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We were told 100s of Flying Foxes (giant fruit bats) would fly across the bay at sunset ... there were 10. One at a time. Not the spectacle we were waiting for, lol! There were also a few of these birds fishing/diving into the water around our boat.
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Sunset from our boat
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So our sleeping arrangements ... not ideal. Near bed time we were told to drag all our luggage out on to the bow of the boat cuz we'd be sleeping on the floor! The captain dragged out 6 flat mattresses for us to sleep on. But only 2 sheets and 2 blankets (and 6 smelly pillows)!!! Luckily the 2 sheets were large enough to cover all 6 little mattresses. But the blankets were to fit 3 people per blanket! Um, what? I dont know any of these people, I dont want to snuggle with 2 strangers under my blanket! Thankfully it was 27C at night with no chilly wind, so I didnt even need the balnket. I just used my sarong to cover my legs a bit. Again, so thankful for perfect weather, lol! Here is a crappy iPhone photo of our 'spooning train'! Thats me on the end in the pink shirt.
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I actually slept really good considering. Sleeping under a clear sky speckled with stars in Indonesia ... awesome!! But bring earplugs, unless you enjoy listening to 5 other people breathing & snoring.

DAY 2
The next morning we were woken up by the rising sun, around 5:45am, grooooooan.
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We cleared out the mattresses & bedding, and brought our bags & benches back in while the captain made us banana pancakes for breakfast. Then we sailed to Komodo Island, only 10min away.
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Once again we were assigned a guide/ ranger, and had to pay extra fees for him (you cannot go hiking without a guide so you have no choice but to pay the fee) and for a camera. There were a few different hikes to choose from. We ended up splitting our group up into 2. Myself & the French couple did the easy 1.5hr hike, and the other 3 did the more strenuous 2hr hike.

My hike started along the beach where we waved hello to a few local ladies walking past from nearby Komodo Village.
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We saw 7 Komodos total today :) Two babies (which look alot like Monitor Lizards in Africa and are the same size too), 2 fully grown ones in the forest, and the rest were by the ranger station.
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In addition to the dragons, we also saw Roosa Deer (I'm sure I've spelt that wrong), and one cockatoo. This one was missing an antler??
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Costa apple growing on a tree
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After taking photos of the villagers, komodos by the ranger station, and deer, we headed into the forest. Our first stop was atop Fregata Hill for a great view over the area.
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I love the mountains here, they have a Jurassic feel to them ... quite fitting since the Komodos look like little dinosaurs :)
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After a short break at the lookout point, we headed back into the forest where we eventually came across 2 big Komodo Dragons! A little orange butterfly landed on the dragons nose!!! Brave!
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Anyone who was brave enough could stand behind a Komodo and the ranger would take your photo with it. Yes please! Thats me in the middle.
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All of the trails on Komodo Island were made entirely of broken coral & seashells!
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Guys working on the trails
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Filling bags with broken coral
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Our hike ended at the beach where we started. We had about 20min to wait for the other group to finish their hike. In the meantime I made friends with this little guy.
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The beach & pier in front of the ranger station
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Our next stop was Manta Point for some snorkeling with Manta Rays! (I didnt take any photos, no underwater camera). There were about 30 or so of them gliding effortlessly through the water.
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After about 40min here, we made one last stop at one of the many little islands for more snorkeling / swimming / tanning. This is my boat anchored at the beach.
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Paradise ...
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Two-tone blue water :)
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Thats it, thats all! By far my fave part of my whole month long trip, and definitely one of my Top 5 travel experiences ever!!! Then we sailed back to Labuan Bajo and said our goodbyes. I spent an additional 3 days back at La Prima Hotel relaxing poolside by day, and enjoying the incredible sunsets by night.
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One evening a storm rolled in. I watched it come for miles before it finally reached me. My balcony was covered so I was able to watch the storm and not get wet :)
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Well thats got to be my longest post ever! Hope you enjoyed all the photos & stories :)

Posted by ChantelleS 20:10 Archived in Indonesia Tagged landscapes beaches boats islands water boat ocean wildlife beach indonesia volcano cruise blue island sand coastline dock bay pool tropical lizard asia komodo Comments (0)

WALVIS BAY, NAMIBIA

Bay cruise with loads of Cape Fur Seals, huge pelicans and more flamingos!

sunny 23 °C

The owners of the apartment I rented for 3 days in Swakopmund helped me book a spot on a cruise departing from the harbor in Walvis Bay, out to Pelican Point. It was $500 Namibian Dollars ($62 Canadian), which included pickup in Swakopmund and roundtrip transfer to Walvis Bay, a 45min drive, the cruise, and a light lunch.
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Once on board we sailed towards Pelican Point. Along the way a Cape Fur Seal hopped on board! Turns out this seal was orphaned when he was young, so the employees took to feeding him so he wouldnt die. Now he makes an appearance every time they sail across the bay :)
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Waving 'Hello'large_IMG_0080-001.jpg
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Here are some views along the way of Cormorants and Flamingos on the beach, as well as a few shipwrecks!
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Shipwreck & flamingos in the background
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Flying flamingos!!
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Landing flamingos that appear to be dancing :)
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Shipwreck from 1932.
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The lighthouse at Pelican Point. It used to be located right at the tip of the sandy peninsula, but due to Namibia's ever-changing coastline of shifting sand dunes, the lighthouse is now 3km from the tip! Thats how much the coastline has changed! Crazy!
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There were 2,500 Cape Fur Seals at Pelican Point! I could hear them well before I could see them. They sounds like barking dogs ... imagine 2,500 barking dogs!!! They were everywhere on the beach & in the water! (But of course the 1 photo I took of the whole beach full of seals won't upload).
They were quite curious and would come right up to the boat, peek their heads out of the water at us, then dive back down.
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I was trying to take photos of the seals when this bird flew right into the photo :)
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Looks like this young one is giving his parents a private moment ;)
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Hungry pelicans were always near our boat looking for fish. They were HUGE! About double the size of the pelicans we have in Canada!
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The harbor was full of massive cargo ships plying the ocean between Europe & Africa. Notice the sand dunes in the background.
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Thats all for Walvis Bay, next post will be all about the desert :)

Posted by ChantelleS 15:29 Archived in Namibia Tagged ocean wildlife cruise bird africa bay seal namibia flamingo walvis Comments (0)

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