About Amanda

Hi there, thanks for looking at my blog page, I am a keen photographer/traveller who is hooked onl wildlife and the exploration of more remote places off the beaten track; in other words where other tourists are not. I have a love of Rainforests and so far have been to the Rainforests of Costa Rica (2008), Guyana in South America (2011) and Madagascar (2011). In complete contrast to this I also went to Patagonia and Antarctica (2010) In 2012 I shall be spending 3 months in the Amazon....... Its adventures such as these that make me feel alive, long may they continue.....

Nepal: Trekking the Foothills of the Himalayas

Following on from India, I travelled from there in our group of 6 friends including my mother, on this tailor-made trip to experience Nepal which is home to eight out of the fourteen highest peaks in the world and trek in the foothills of the Himalayas with views of Mount Everest the mountain I was particularly interested in.

One of my Views flying over Everest in the small plane

Kathmandu seen as a sacred site is a chaotic hustle bustle of a place full of people and pagoda temples, the roads are dusty and bumpy but infused with the smell of ever burning joss sticks, it was originally first discovered as a small settlement during the dark ages at the end of the Licchani period.

These days Kathmandu is seen as a place of worship with its Buddhist temples and statues where incense sticks are burnt continuously and the symbolic colourful flags are hung for protection, many climbers like to visit the flags in the hope it will bring them luck on their climbs.

We went to an older part of Kathmandu which I did not like at all, it had a medieval feel about it and I split from the others as I preferred to explore the area alone, however then walked unwittingly into an area where an animal sacrifice was taking place, it shocked and upset me and I had to run away from it as not only could I not bear to see it I also could not stand hearing it.

It was beyond appalling and cruel.

Further on I came to a temple where there is a Living Goddess, a young girl chosen from the age of around 6 years old for her psychic abilities and a series of other tests, a tradition of Hindu and Buddhism which continues to this day. Once chosen the girl or Goddess as she has now become is given the name Kumari Devi and worshipped on all the religious occasions.

The selection of the Living Goddess is an ancient tantric ritual where she must pass the 32 attributes of perfection test, including the colour of her eyes, the shape of her teeth and the sound of her voice and her horoscope must also be fitting as the first part of selection.

They will then attempt to frighten girls who are being tested by making them confront a goddess in a darkened room with Buffalo heads scattered around, masked dancers made to look like Demons and terrifying noises. The real goddess is unlikely to be frightened, so the one who remains calm throughout the process is the only girl who is entitled to sit on the pedestal for worship as the Living Goddess. Other tests are performed where they are tested for any sign of psychic ability, then as a final test similar to that of the Dalai Lama, the Kumari then chooses items of clothing and decoration worn by her predecessor.

The Singing Gibbons

When I went to Vietnam earlier this year (2012) on the caving expedition with my friend Jonas we could hear the sound of Gibbons singing in the distance in the very early mornings in the area of Cat Tien National Park.

It was such an unusual sound that in fact at first I had absolutely no idea what was making it, in the end we hired a guide and getting up at 03:30am walked along a starlit track to meet this person.

On meeting him, in fact there were two of them we then made our way through the forest on a long walk which consisted mostly of tripping on the twisted roots and being in danger of getting garroted by the low hanging branches.

Suddenly we stopped, the man in front and his friend seemed to know that the Gibbons were there, though at that point we heard nothing, out of the darkness dawn broke and the sky got lighter, we waited….

Then suddenly out of nowhere came this extraordinary sound, this is what we heard:

The group of Gibbons that we stood and listened to in awe are the White Cheeked Gibbons (Nomascus leucogenys) and like much of the wildlife are sadly endangered.

Often referred to as ‘lesser apes’ Gibbons are smaller than the like of Gorillas, orangutans and other apes and display similar movement tactics to monkeys swinging adeptly from tree to tree being the fastest and most agile of the mammals that live in trees and do not fly.

These sociable, fast-moving mammals who live in groups can travel up to 35 miles per hour and leap as far as 8 meters which is astounding, here’s hoping that some protection will be given to these beguiling mammals and that their numbers will improve.

Cambodia – Temples and Sunsets


Following the Vietnam Cave Expedition my friend Jonas from Copenhagen in Denmark and I decided to take some time out to fly across to Cambodia, Siem Reap, which was only 1 hour away by plane and here we experienced the impressive Temples of Angkor along with cycling to Tonle Sap, getting caught in a freak storm and seeing a memorial of the Killing Fields victims.

Here is an account of that trip, including this quick film extract below of Cambodia Water life that I filmed on a hand held camcorder:

After a transit day from Vietnam to Cambodia we arrived at the airport of Siem Reap where we had the unfriendliest Visa check from two seemingly very angry, aggressive and frustrated officials, this was not quite the welcome we had expected when entering a new Country.

We then met up with our guide and headed to the Siddharta Boutique Hotel, which was just a short drive from the airport and there we had the most amazing, friendliest welcome which more than made up for the airport officials. We were both given Cambodian scarfs in a little bag and then had a tropical fruit welcome drink, after a check in we had an evening walk around the grounds and outside the perimeter of the hotel to look for tree frogs and insects, we found some interesting orange coloured toads.

Asian Painted Frog (Kaloula pulchra)

Day 1- Wednesday 25th April
We had a superb breakfast of fruits, yogurt and toast with Dragon fruit and lime marmalade, then we were collected by the guide and headed out to see our first Temple Angkor Wat.

Angkor Wat
We arrived at Angkor Wat at 7am and the sky was pink with the risen sun, this Temple was extremely impressive with a huge moat surrounding it, the name Angkor Wat means City Temple and is steeped in mythology.

Angkor Wat

Outside the Temple there are many statues of ‘Naga’ the seven headed snake which protects it and is a symbolic ‘rainbow bridge’ for man to reach home of the Gods making Angkor Wat a ‘Heaven on Earth.’
What was hilarious was that a group of monks walked past in their colourful orange robes and then stopped and all took a picture of the temple entrance with their Ipads, it looked really funny.

The Monks taking photos with their ipads

Walking Britains oldest road 87 Miles in 4 days

Walking Britain’s Oldest Road

White Horse Hill, Uffington

The Ridgeway has been walked on for at least 5000 years and this ancient track once used by traders, villagers and travellers is rich in history dotted with Bronze and Iron Age Hill Forts, small burial mounds and Long Barrows along the way.

You will see many burial mounds, also called Tumuli along the way, these oblong raised grassy mounds are approximately 4000 years old and are often fenced off or have trees planted around them making them easy to spot should you see evidence of this in an open field.
It is often referred to as Britain’s oldest road and was once used as a route by the invading Danish Viking armies back in the dark ages.

The Enclosures Acts were passed by Parliament which ordered the open land to be divided into privately owned fields which were hedged off thus keeping the passing livestock contained on track and therefore protecting the surrounding local fields. This served to shape the Ridgeway as a singular track which became more and more worn over the years.
The Ridgeway was seen as an important long distance walking route from 1947 and the Ramblers Association became involved acknowledging the route in the 1950s until it finally became recognised as a National Trail in 1973 by the National Trust and these days is enjoyed by walkers from near and far.

The Ridgeway crosses five Counties for the 87 miles and I decided to walk it in the direction starting from Ivanhoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire, then going through Hertfordshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire and ending up at Avebury in Wiltshire.

It is generally suggested that you walk the route starting at Overton Hill in Avebury and ending at Ivinghoe Beacon in Aylesbury, the main reason for this is that the wind will be behind you, however I chose to walk it the opposite way round and finish at Overton Hill so that I could then head to the Red Lion pub at Avebury and enjoy the view of the stones.

I planned this walk in memory of my boyfriend James Wyse, who died in 2011 as he was so knowledgeable and interested in the history of the Ridgeway, which is Britain’s oldest road, the walk was for charity to raise money for Sobell House Hospice.

Rather than do it in the advised 6 days, I would do it in 4 days instead for a challenge and camp along the route.

After some careful thought I also decided that it would be much better to have company along the route, so I put posters up around the local pubs in my home town and invited friends who knew James to take part in the walk, either in its entirety or in sections and also for any volunteers who may like to get involved.

A Vietnam Caving Expedition

I wanted to create a cave expedition to look for areas that are little known and explore in the hope of finding a ‘Lost World’, somewhere on our constantly changing planet that was still relatively untouched, I filmed as much footage as I could with a small hand-held video camera and created a self-made documentary of the experience, here is a very brief extract from that documentary:

The caves and surrounding areas were stunning and had a surreal feel about it, below is a short film extract from one of the caves….

What led to this expedition was that a friend of mine (Vorsila) sent me some images of a Cave in Vietnam located at in the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park called Hang Son Doon meaning Mountain River Cave. This has taken over Phong Nha as the largest cave in the World, however it was not the cave that drew me it was what was inside it….

The cave was discovered in 1991 by a local ‘jungle’ man called Ho Khan, other locals were suspicious of the echoes from the fast river running through it and so would not go near it.

It was not until 2009 when a team of British Cave Researchers went to explore it further and breaking through a huge calcite wall discovered chamber after chamber of natural wonders including a rainforest growing in an area where the roof had collapsed producing light and it was this that drew me, I wanted to explore what I felt was a true ‘Lost World’ and document what type of insects, amphibians and birds were living there.

I invited a friend of mine Jonas from Copenhagen in Denmark to come in on this, as he is a superb photographer and would be a valued companion to have along.

I then set about contacting 11 different companies to try to get us there, but we were turned down by 10 of them, then one company, Haivenu Tours Ltd, said they could get us there, however we would need a letter of endorsement to apply to the Vietnamese authorities to get to the cave.

So I wrote to a few people, but heard nothing, then wrote a letter to Sir David Attenborough who sent me a lovely warm and encouraging reply wishing us luck, however he could not endorse it and so I eventually got my letter from a company called Care for the Wild and sent it off with a back up letter from my local Mayor as a character reference.

I also wanted to try to get Ho Khan the local jungle man to take us to the cave, this was looking very possible if we got that letter approved, however, 4 weeks prior to going (flights, etc already paid for and booked) the Vietnamese Authorities said that we would not be permitted to get to Hang Son Doon, as it is too dangerous.