Ask the experts
Seeing the world while trying to make it a better place; coming face to snout with Guyana’s wildlife; and fi nding our feet on the Norfolk coast – our experts put you in the know…
Walking the Norfolk coast, getting wild in the jungles of Guyana and checking our travel privileges – our experts have their say
TRAVEL THE WORLD AND DO SOME GOOD ALONG THE WAY Q I’m looking to take a sabbatical from work and want to do something around responsible travel. Suggestions? James Smith, via email
A When it comes to ‘green travel’, there are different ways to approach it. A sustainability-focused way is to volunteer on a biodynamic or organic farm via an organisation like World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). You can also commit to staying at eco-friendly accommodation as much as possible, use ridesharing when travelling regionally, as well as bicycle sharing schemes where available.
Another, and often less obvious, way to travel sustainably is by embracing a ‘less is more’ mindset and spending longer stretches of time in fewer places. By doing this, you not only reduce your carbon footprint by literally travelling less (fewer flights, fewer bus rides, etc), you also tend to consume less when living like a local and staying put in a single place for more than a week.
Finally, sustainable travel is not only about what you consume but also what you contribute. When opportunities to give back to a specific community, cause or a group of people arise, explore them. During our year-long trip, we stayed in Dharamsala, India, for nearly three weeks and volunteered at a Tibetan refugee centre, where we helped with English-language classes. Experiences like this provide a very different level of satisfaction, beyond the foundational enjoyment you get purely from travelling. Alexandra Brown
GO WILD IN THE PARKS AND JUNGLES OF GUYANA Q I’ve got a week in Guyana and love wildlife. Where should I make sure to visit? Emily Chomicz, via email.
A Little-visited Guyana has wonderful wildlife-watching opportunities, even if you’re only there for a week. Starting in Georgetown, you can hand-feed manatees at the ponds of Guyana National Park or look for the rare blood-coloured woodpecker in the Botanical Gardens, which alone boasts almost 200 of the 850+ bird species in the country; or travel down the coast in search of hoatzin, Guyana’s national bird.
From Georgetown, take a day trip by plane to the spectacular Kaieteur Falls, almost five times the height of Niagara. Here you may also see the orange Guianan cock-of-the rock and the tiny golden rocket frog,
which spends its whole life on one leaf of the giant tank bromeliad.
Flying or driving into the interior, you can stay in one of the rainforest lodges, such as Atta Rainforest Lodge. This is located by the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway, a great spot to see and hear the forest come alive at dawn or dusk and catch a glimpse of some of its many species of monkey, including the red howler, the loudest mammal in South America. Nearby, at the moment, there’s also one of a handful of accessible harpy eagle nests, the largest raptor in the Americas.
Top off the trip with a river journey to Karanambu, home of giant otters, giant anteaters, countless birds, giant water-lilies and incredible spotlighting trips on the river at night. Here you can see black caiman as well as participate in collecting research data. You may even spot an elusive jaguar. Claire Antell
DISCOVER THE NORFOLK COAST Q What day walks along the Norfolk coast incorporate the most variety of landscapes? Daniel Judd, via email
A This peaceful, undramatic countryside is full of subtle charms, picturesque villages, wild shores and secret spaces. It all adds up to number of great day walks.
For a short trip, try Ringstead to Old Hunstanton (6.5km), where the classic farmland of the final sections of the Peddars Way can’t prepare you for the beauty of the coast as you wander beach and boardwalk.
A longer trek is Brancaster to Wells (20.75km), from salt-marshes to the sands at Holkham. Explore pine-backed beach before strolling the shore and a forested section to a causeway that leads to the town.
Some of the most spectacular marshes can be found on the Coast Path from Stiffkey to Cley (11.25km), passing arguably the best bird reserves in the region, with Blakeney Point dominating the horizon. And finally, Sea Palling to Winterton-onSea (10.5km) is a wild and empty coastline with beautiful beaches and the bonus of a seal colony at Horsey, right on the shore. Alexander Stewart