Posts Tagged ‘animals’
Ben and I took a snorkeling tour of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. This was by far the best snorkeling I’ve ever done, the fish and coral are straight out of a National Geographic special. There are tons of fish in all sizes, shapes and colors. And the coral is beautiful – I didn’t realize it could be so varied and colorful – purple, blue, red, orange, etc.
Who knew that part of Australia is a tropical climate with beautiful sandy beaches and rainforests? Ben and I spent 10 very relaxing days in the northeast part of Queensland, where the Great Barrier Reef is just off the coast. We stayed in a small town called Palm Cove in a cute little apartment near the beach. Here’s a few photos from the area… (more…)
When we added South Africa to our RTW itinerary, I imagined going on a safari in an open jeep on rough dirt roads, with lions and tigers roaming around the car and the guide holding a riffle, just in case. But it turns out that in South Africa, going on Safari is like spending the weekend at Yellowstone, just with different animals and scenery.
How it works
We visited Kruger National Park, a huge game reserve east of Johannesburg. You could call this a “self-drive safari” because visitors simply drive their own cars around all day looking for animals. The animals are anywhere and everywhere, and most of the time we spotted them crossing the road, or near a river or water hole. You’re not allowed to get out of your car except in a few designated areas, but with all the animals around you wouldn’t want to anyway.
So Ben and I rented a car and stayed 3 nights inside of the park in a private bungalow with a small kitchen and grill. Each day we would head out, armed with cameras and binoculars, in search of wild animals…
During four days of driving around Kruger, we saw almost every animal imaginable. (more…)
It’s hard to believe that Ben and I are in Egypt and saw the famous pyramids yesterday. I never imagined that I’d make it here… and now that I have, it reminds me once again how amazing this year-off adventure is: Ben and I are truly having the experience of a lifetime.
The pyramids were huge, impressive, and a bit underwhelming all at the same time. It rarely happens this way, but they were exactly what I expected; enormous pyramids made out of limestone sitting out in the desert and surrounded by tourists. Besides the Sphinx (located down below from the Giza pyramids to guard them), there were really no sculptures or statues or any ornamentation at all. Most of the tombs were robbed hundreds or thousands of years go, and anything remaining was moved to the Egyptian museum in Cairo.
Besides the famous pyramids at Giza, (more…)
Ben and I detoured to the extreme south of Chile for two reasons: to catch a flight north, and to see the penguins. Isla Magdalena, an island off the coast of Punta Arenas, is the breeding grounds for over 200,000 penguins. We took a boat ride to the island and had an hour to walk around on a roped off path. In every direction there were hundreds of penguins and holes in the ground where they nest. The penguins were fun to watch and photograph; most of them just stood around, while a few waddled towards the ocean for breakfast, a few couples cleaned each others coats, and one pair got into a fight. Sometimes when we were nearby, they would look at us curiously, even if it involved stretching their neck all the way around to avoid turning to face us.
Here’s a few things Ben and I did while hanging out in the Galapagos Islands after our cruise…
Volcano Tour – By Horse
I’m no fan of horses. I guess it’s because I had a bad experience as a kid, but still I just don’t see the point. I’d rather walk than put my life in the hands of a strong-minded animal. So naturally I was disappointed when I learned that the only way to see the huge active volcano on Isabela Island was on horseback. But I really wanted to see the volcano, so I convinced myself that I could do it.
Long story short, we both survived and it was worth it. The horses were very tame and we didn’t have any problems, although I was completely terrified the entire time.
The Galapagos Islands are home to a range of very unique animals. They traveled here millions of years ago and have been extremely isolated ever since. Most of them have never had predators, so they are not at all spooked by humans when we’re around. This makes it easy to see lots of animals and get really close to take photos. On the island of Genovesa, the birds are so dense that our tour guide even said to “be careful not to step on any birds.”
Here’s some of the animals we’ve seen on the Galapagos:
The symbol of the Galapagos, these birds are found everywhere. Unfortunately we didn’t witness their funny mating dance, but I’m sure we can find it on youtube.
The Galapagos Islands are a totally unique place on Earth, so we decided to check them out while in the neighborhood (they’re off the coast of Ecuador). To see the different islands and animals, you have to take one of many expensive cruises. We found a great last-minute deal on a short 4-day cruise, and then decided to extend the trip by staying 6 more nights on the islands themselves.
We were lucky to get (more…)
Yesterday (Monday) we made our way over more rough roads and through more beautiful scenery, to the town of La Fortuna. This area is famous for the Arenal Volcano, which is an active volcano. So far it’s been mostly cloudy around the peak, so we haven’t seen much. But hopefully one night we’re here it will be clear and we can see it spewing red lava.
Here’s some photos from the drive here. The country side was really pretty. We also drove around Lake Arenal, which is popular for wind surfing. Now we know why – it was VERY windy all around the lake.
While driving, we found a bunch of cars stopped to look at these small racoon-like animals. We’re not sure what they’re called, but they were pretty cute and let us get up close to take photos.
Here’s some photos of the volcano and our awesome hotel. The hotel has beautiful landscaping, lots of humming birds, and an amazing view of the volcano from our cabin porch. Also, the maid created an elephant out of our towels today!
Have you ever tried to take a picture of a humming bird? It’s really difficult! The first picture I managed to catch one sitting still, the send is the result of lots of out-of-focus shots.
Today we took a really fun “Canyoning” tour. We hiked and repelled through a small canyon in the jungle. The repells were over waterfalls, two of them were pretty big. We had a blast, and even managed to keep our camera dry.
As you can see, we’re having a great time here. The weather and scenery have been beautiful. The next two days we’re hoping to get in some mountain biking, a hot springs visit, hiking and sightseeing, and hopefully we’ll get to see the lava at night.
We made it! We flew into Costa Rica via Los Angeles, getting here at 6:20 AM on Saturday. Here’s a picture I snapped while pulling into the gate in San Jose, CR.
For some reason I thought we’d get here rested and ready to start the adventure. But the 5 1/2 hour overnight flight didn’t quite do it – we were tired. Still, we had a rental car waiting, and a 4-hour drive to our first destination: Santa Elena, home to the Monteverde Cloud Forest. This is a small town in the mountains where moisture from the pacific rises and forms constant clouds over the forests. This moisture creates a unique forest with thousands of plants and animals that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. So, we headed out in our small SUV (Daihatsu Terios) Manual 4×4. About half way, we had to turn off of the highway, and start up towards the mountains. The roads turned to very rough dirt/gravel for about 25 miles. The views were great, but it was a bumpy ride. Here’s some photos from the trip:
The rest of Saturday we pretty much chilled out, slept, went out to eat, and did a little shopping.
Sunday we went on a Sky Trek zipline adventure, which was a blast! It consisted of being harnessed and hooked onto cables, then zipping across the jungle. There were 11 cables total and it took about 2 hours. Here’s some photos.
After the zipline, we went to the Monteverde Cloud Forest and spent about 2 hours hiking around. Luckily, we happened upon a small tour group, just as the guide had found a beautiful blue/green bird with a red chest. He let us take a look through his scope. It turns out this was a Quetzal, which is a rare bird that people come to see in Monteverde. On the hike we also saw a monkey up in the trees. Other than that it was uneventful – although the forest itself is pretty. Here’s a couple photos of the cloud forest:
Later, we took a night tour of a different cloud forest reserve (called the Children’s Eternal Rain Forest). We were in a group of 8 plus a guide, given flashlights, and basically hiked around in the dark searching for nocturnal animals. We spent most of the time looking for sloths up in the trees, but what we saw were 3 tarantulas, a couple tiny frogs, tons and tons of sleeping birds (who tuck their head under their wings, and puff up their bodies), a long line of army ants (whom Ben tried to confuse by blocking their path), and some large rodents that I can’t remember the name of. The whole thing was pretty fun, the forest is very noisy at night with beetles, frogs, and other insects. Here’s two contrasting photos – one is the sunset we saw before the tour, the other is of one of the orange-kneed tarantulas (yes, I was scared).
Today we’re heading to La Fortuna, home of the active volcano Arenal. We’ll be spending 4 nights here, and plan to do some fun things like biking, repelling down waterfalls, visiting hot springs, etc. We have wi-fi there so stay tuned for more photos!