Costa Rica: Close encounters of the animal kind.

13 07 2009

Monkey leaf

Have you ever had the feeling that someone is watching you? You look around and lock eyes with the person, then quickly break eye contact so as to avoid embarrassment on either side. Well this tends to happen quite often in Costa Rica, except that the pair of beady eyes staring back at you belong to a monkey. Or a raccoon. Or a sloth. Well actually the list of animals is endless, and yes – they all stare!

Costa Rica is a nature lovers paradise. The lush, tropical country located in Central America contains an impressive 5% of the world’s biodiversity. Around 25% of the country’s land area is in protected national parks and protected areas, the largest percentage of protected areas in the world. All of this translates to an amazingly unbridled experience of nature at its finest. It is clear that these animals are not visitors to our environment, we are visitors to theirs.

On a recent trip to Costa Rica, I made my way to Manuel Antonio National Park. Located just south of Quepos and about 80 miles from San Jose, Manuel Antonio offers adventure immersed in nature. Whether you are on a budget or looking for luxury, Manuel Antonio has it all – nature, adventure, excitement and relaxation. Miles of white sand beaches merge into fertile green forests, teeming with hundreds of native flora and fauna species for your viewing pleasure. There are endless options to satisfy your adventure cravings on both land and sea. Options range from zip-lining, canopy tours, river rafting and horseback riding to diving, snorkeling, surfing and sailing to name but a few.

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We made our way through Manuel Antonio park, following the natural dirt paths en route to one of the beaches and stopping every so often to watch as monkeys jumped from tree to tree overhead. Tucan’s were perched stoically on branches while sloths moved about in ultra slow motion. Once we reached the beach we settled down under a shady tree looking out at the sparkling Pacific. Only a couple of minutes had passed when a girl called out to us in Spanish while pointing behind us, “Cuidado! Cuidado!” We spun around just in time to spot the bespectacled thief attempting to steal our bag.

Sneaky racoon

Sneaky racoon

Caught in the act, the raccoon sheepishly walked away empty handed. I presume he was plotting his next attack on some unwitting tourists further down the beach. We kept a watchful eye on our belongings as we swam in the ocean, when a small crowd of people began to gather around our things. As we approached the tree, we joined the crowd in looking up to spot about a dozen white-faced Capuchin monkeys casually chilling on the branches. There is little more thrilling than being so close to witness the behaviour of animals in their natural environment. Even better was the fact that they paid no attention to us at all! They went about their business and then were gone just as quickly as they came, jumping to the next tree on their way back into the forest.

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Photos and Post by: Merav Benedetti © 2009

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Spot The Imposter 2

5 11 2008

 

 

One is Venice.

 

One is Vegas.

 

 

Which is which.

 

 

 

 

(answer tomorrow)

 

 

 

 Photos and post by:

 

Simon Vaughan





Spot The Imposter

28 10 2008

 

One is Venice.

 

 

One is Vegas.

 

 

 

 

 Which is which?

 

 

 

 

(answer tomorrow)

  

Photos and post by:

Simon Vaughan





Travel Photography 101 18/18

22 08 2008

Confessions, musings and tips from a snap-happy wanderer.

 

Wave!!!                         (Sydney Harbour Bridge and Australian ensign.)

If flags are good enough for Jasper Johns and Charles Pachter, they’re good enough for you!

 

Every country and most territories and cities have their own flag. In many cases, these internationally recognised symbols have become synonymous with their regions so why not feature them in your travel photography?  Flags are often colourful and eye-catching flying against a clear blue sky, or better yet, when beside a famous monument or landmark. They also provide an instant identifier for the country in which the photo was taken. Look for a good angle or background…but take caution: in some countries it is illegal to photograph the flag.

 

Photo and post by: Simon Vaughan





Spot the Photographer

12 08 2008

Venice masks

The man in the ivory mask.                                              (Venice)

Spot the photographer.

 

Photo and post by: Simon Vaughan





Travel Photography 101 16/18

8 08 2008

Confessions, musings and tips from a snap-happy wanderer.

The Great Wall of Primer                                                    (Melbourne, Australia)

 

 

Always look both ways before you cross the road.

 

Or, more accurately, always look both ways when walking down the road! Check side streets and alleys for interesting shots. Sometimes you find quaint shops or hidden corners of the city untouched by commercialisation or modern development. Sometimes it can be intriguing shadows or unique graffiti, or perhaps a nice tunnel to frame whatever is at the far end. It is these tiny streets and curious alleys that often provide a glimpse into a city’s true identity and character.

 

Just make sure that nothing unwelcome is lurking in those shadows!

 

Photo and post by: Simon Vaughan





Travel Photography 101 9/18

29 07 2008

Confessions, musings and tips from a snap-happy wanderer.

 

Discovery

Space Shuttle Discovery, Kennedy Space Center

Carry spares…of everything!

 

Pretend you are going into space: take extra batteries, extra rolls of film, extra memory cards…extra everything. Assume that you can’t buy anything locally. Take an extra camera or extra camera body (even if it’s just a disposable). It doesn’t have to be as good or expensive as your main camera, but at least you won’t miss a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity if the unmentionable happens and yours gets lost or broken.

 

Photo and post by: Simon Vaughan © 2008