Monday, May 14, 2018

Flamingos in the Camargue

The Camargue National Park, the Rhone river delta wetlands, is a requisite excursion for any visitor to Arles. For the week we are in Arles, we had to contend with two national holidays and one Sunday for bus schedules, in addition to forecasts of thunderstorms. After some hesitation, we decided to brave the Sunday crowds. Did we pick a good day!!

We saw flamingos all day long, thousands of them, a few orders of magnitude greater than all we saw in the two years we lived in Florida.  I was so excited -- it was like the Galapagos plus Uyuni. I realized this must be what parts of Florida would have looked like before all the development. We mostly walked on the dike, out and back. Almost everyone else was on bikes, many family outings.

The mosquitoes were ferocious. We were not prepared. A couple of times we had to reduce ourselves to be repellent beggars. In the afternoon, the breeze picked up, mosquitoes lessened. This place is supposedly perennially windy. Later we learned from the tourist office that it was a particularly good day to see flamingos. I wonder whether it had to do with the wind. Well, things do work in our favor, every now and then.

We rode the early bus to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. All was quiet when we arrived and headed straight for the path along the dike to the lighthouse phare. The parking lot was empty save for a few overnight RVs.
Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

The man made beaches near town were deserted.
Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

3 hrs and 13 kms to the lighthouse Phare de la Gachole.
Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

But the flamingos were busy hunting for food in the shallow waters of the marshlands.
Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

The path/road at the top of the dike was very good for walking ie less mosquitoes, flat, and not busy....yet.
Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

After an hour or so we headed over to walk on the beautiful Mediterranean beach.
Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

A view back to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.
Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

The sand flats were endless it seemed.
Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

And after about 5 kms on the sand we were back on the dike with the lighthouse in view.
Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

The lighthouse had some shady picnic tables and an information center. A good stopping point for both walkers and cyclists. We ate our lunch there.
Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

On the way back to Saintes-Maries there were many cyclists and many flamingos.
Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

Here you can see the beautiful red and black colors of the flamingos, although my camera zooms poorly.
Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

Occasionally we saw the flamingos flying. Very cool!
Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

Back at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, it was busy: horseback riding tours, sunbathers, and day trippers, and more.
Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

The church in Saintes-Maries has a black Saint Sarah image that is revered by Roma people.
Parc naturel régional de Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France









2 comments:

Kathy said...

Major jealousy over the flamingoes! I don't remember seeing any, but then I didn't do all the walking you did.

john said...

@Kathy - The lady at the TI said there can be 50K flamingos in the parc, but zero next to the dike. We were very lucky...except for the hordes of biting insects which even I found annoying. -john