Articles by Steve Cook

Steve Cook

Steve joined Audley as web content editor in March 2010 and took over the day-to-day management of the Indian Subcontinent, South & Central America and Polar region sections of the web site. His top travel experiences so far include scuba diving off the coast of Grand Cayman, white-water rafting on the Shotover River near Queenstown and hiking over the Fox Glacier in New Zealand. If he had the choice to go anywhere in the world for his next trip, he'd probably pick a wildlife-spotting hike through the lush rainforests of Borneo or a trip to Guatemala to visit the ancient Mayan ruins of El Peten. [Steve Cook has now left Audley.]

Signs of spring at the New Mill

Muntjac spotted foraging in the woodland next to our offices

Muntjac spotted foraging in the woodland next to our offices

Despite the noticeable cold that has managed to take hold over the past week, we’ve begun to spot a few signs of spring here at Audley HQ.

Clear blue sky, bird song and the year’s first daffodil shoots have started to paint a picture of the approaching season, and this was all topped off nicely by the sighting of an inquisitive muntjac foraging in the woodland next to our offices.

After what has seemed like a long, dark and damp winter, sights such as these are definitely pleasing to the eye. Let’s hope that spring continues to show its face over the coming weeks.

Click on the thumbnails below to see more images of our resident muntjac:

Recipe of the month: Keralan fish curry

A traditional Keralan curry uses a delicate blend of herbs and spices

A traditional Keralan curry uses a delicate blend of herbs and spices

I was speaking with one of our Indian Subcontinent specialists yesterday about his recent trip to Kerala in the south of India.

During his trip, James spent a few days at a rural homestay in Palakkad. In addition to the the warm, friendly service and beautiful surroundings, it was the delicious, home-cooked food that became a highlight of his visit.  Continue reading »

Today marks Shackleton’s 137th birthday

Shackleton's ship the Endurance became stuck in an ice floe during an ill-fated expedition to Antarctica

Shackleton's ship the Endurance became stuck in an ice floe during an ill-fated expedition to Antarctica

Today marks the 137th anniversary of the birth of one of history’s most famous polar explorers.

Ernest Shackleton was born in County Kildare, Ireland on 15h February 1874. After spending his formative years as an officer on a number of expedition vessels visiting Antarctica, he eventually became captain of the Endurance and led a group of sailors on his own expedition to reach the South Pole.

He became immortalised for his heroic leadership and courageous endeavour following the landing of his ship on an ice floe. Despite the harsh weather and limited supplies, Shackleton and his men managed to survive and escape in lifeboats after almost 500 days stuck in the frozen ice of the Weddell Sea.

After returning to the polar regions on a number of successful expeditions, Shackleton died from a heart attack at the age of 47 and was buried in Grytviken, South Georgia.

You can find out more about the life of Ernest Shackleton and many other famous explorers past and present in our guide to Polar Explorers & Exploration. If you’re interested in visiting the polar regions for yourself then click to find out more about booking a tailor-made trip to Antarctica and the Arctic.

South America’s ‘Wild Coast’ – volunteering abroad

BBC Radio 4 show discusses the pleasures and pitfalls of volunteering in and travelling to Guyana and South America's Wild Coast

BBC Radio 4 show discusses the pleasures and pitfalls of volunteering in and travelling to Guyana and South America's Wild Coast

I’ve just been told about a radio show that aired on BBC Radio 4 over the weekend. Part of the ‘Excess Baggage’ series, which looks at topical travel subjects and recounts travellers’ tales, this latest episode focuses on Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, known as South America’s ‘Wild Coast’ region.

The 30-minute show includes stories from John Gimlette, travel writer and author, about the pleasures and pitfalls of volunteering abroad and travelling to this fascinating part of South America. The show is available to listen to on BBC iPlayerclick here to find out more.

Winners of the Christmas Quiz announced

Audley announces the winners of last year's Christmas Quiz

Audley announces the winners of last year's Christmas Quiz

We’d like to say a big thank you to all of you who entered our Christmas Quiz in December last year.

The questions were tough and the competition even tougher – we received thousands of entries over the course of the Christmas period, many of which had all of the answers correct (there were 12 multi-choice questions in total). Continue reading »

Bhutan sees first snowfall of the year

Mount Jhomolhari in the Paro district of Bhutan

Mount Jhomolhari in the Paro district of Bhutan

One of our ground handling agents got in touch today to tell us that Bhutan has seen its first fall of snow in 2011.

As any of our Bhutan specialists will tell you, the towns, villages and rural landscapes of the country become even more beautiful in the snow, and a hike along one of the trails leading up in to the foothills of the Himalaya mountains becomes even more exhilarating. Some of our favourites include the walk from Paro to the remote Taktshang, or Tiger’s Nest Monastery, which clings to a sheer cliff face commanding far-reaching views over the valleys below.

Other excellent treks can be found in the four valleys that surround the small town of Bumthang, with trails to suit everyone and beautiful scenery in all directions.

If you’re keen to find out more about Bhutan or interested in a tailor-made trip of your own, give the team a call on 01993 838 320 or visit our website »

Don’t miss Polar Bear: Spy on the Ice tonight

Using state-of-the-art equipment and special filming techniques, Polar Bear: Spy on the Ice follows a group of polar bears as they emerge from their maternity dens and venture through the frozen Arctic landscape in search of food.

The one hour show airs tonight on BBC One at 8:00pm and features some clever and revelatory footage of these majestic animals. A variety of remote controlled spy cameras are used to get within a paw’s swipe of the polar bears and capture breathtaking images of adults and cubs in the wild.

Following a festive season of the usual movie repeats and Christmas special soap episodes, this might make for a welcome inclusion to this week’s TV schedule!

Click the arrow below to watch a clip from tonight’s programme.

Audley’s Movember fundraiser draws to a close

Audley staff members participating in "Movember"

Audley staff members participating in "Movember"

Following a month of dedicated moustache growth and more than a few celebrity comparison jibes, the Movember charity fundraising event will reach its conclusion this week, and congratulations are in order for all those involved. Continue reading »

Audley raises money in support of “Movember”

Audley raises money in support of Movember

Audley raises money in support of Movember

Visitors to our offices in Oxfordshire over the past few weeks may have noticed a strange new trend emerging throughout the male members of staff.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the moustache had become the latest fashion craze at Audley HQ, but the real reason is down to the “Movember” charity fundraising event, which sees thousands of men around the world grow moustaches throughout the month of November to raise money in support of The Prostate Cancer Charity (TPCC). Continue reading »

Watch Sir David Attenborough’s First Life Tonight

Sir David Attenborough's First Life series explores the origins of life on Earth

Sir David Attenborough's First Life series explores the origins of life on Earth

The second and final installment of Sir David Attenborough’s latest wildlife series will air tonight on BBC 2 at 9pm.

Attenborough’s First Life brilliantly documents the origins and evolution of life on earth as we know it. In tonight’s episode, Britain’s favourite wildlife TV presenter will travel to Canada‘s Rocky Mountains and the arid deserts of Morocco to uncover recent fossil discoveries and explain how they are helping to shape our understanding of Earth’s evolution.

In last week’s show, Sir David travelled to Australia to investigate the fossilized remains of a 600 million year old animal. Journeying through Australia’s Queensland coastal region, Sir David also visited the Great Barrier Reef to explore recent findings made by scientists there.

Being one of our favourite regions of Australia, we’ve created an itinerary that allows you to follow in the footsteps of Sir David during the filming of the series, taking in places such as the tropical rainforests north of Cairns and the warm, pure waters surrounding Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef – click here to find out more.

Find out more about Attenborough’s First Life series (link opens in new window).