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Alexander33 last won the day on June 18 2016

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About Alexander33

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  1. Okay, I admit it: I'm envious already. Great start, great sightings, great photos. Can't wait for more.
  2. @Atravelynn @michael-ibk @AndMic I'm just now finding your report, and what a joy it is to read. I've always found the idea of Ethiopia to be a fascinating travel destination, though, as a history buff, Lalibela and Gondar have also been at the top of the Ethiopia must-do list, as well. That being the case, the logistics for fitting everything in have been challenging, so I've put it off thus far, but your delightful report certainly brings things to the forefront. Of all all the wonderful sightings you've reported so far, I have to say that the gelagas with their coats blowing in the wind, all in sync with the long grasses surrounding them, are just magical. I could spend days just trying to capture the "perfect" photo of that. The birds are so appealing, as well. Very sorry to to hear that you got sick, Michael. That's the last thing anyone wants while traveling, but it sounds as if you recuperated heroically in no time at all. I'm looking forward to more. And what a treat it will be for the three of you to travel together once more. We will be all the more better for the shared experience, wherever your travels may take you.
  3. @Kitsafari Based on everything you've said, not the least of which is that you've been happy overall with a bridge camera, it seems to me you should stick with a bridge. I wouldn't switch to a DSLR unless there is something specific you know the DSLR will offer that you can't get with your bridge. You mention poor low light performance, but you're going to have that same challenge with a DSLR unless you get into all the things you say you want to avoid: ISO, aperture, shutter speed. We took a Nikon P520 bridge with us for our first safari to South Africa 4 years ago, and were generally happy with it, but I wanted something faster for action shots and also something that performed better in low light, so I bought a Nikon D5200 beginner DSLR for our next trip. My big mistake was thinking that, simply by my virtue of having a DSLR, those issues would be magically resolved. The result was 2 weeks of sheer frustration and a bunch of memory cards filled with garbage photos. These days, I'm one of those bores lugging around multiple DSLRs and heavy lenses, sacrificing clothes in my luggage for camera equipment, talking about things like optimal ISO ranges to anyone who will listen, and so on and so forth, but that's because I wanted to learn all that stuff. I ended up taking photography classes at a local university's night school program. It's become a passionate hobby. I enjoy it. If that's not for you, then why not stick with what you know and generally like? There's something to be said for being reasonably happy.
  4. @Tulips Yikes! That puts the pressure on! I will do my very best to get the report started before then, but, in the meantime, if you have any specific questions or concerns, feel free to PM me. It really was a magnificent experience.
  5. @janzin Now, that's my kind of problem! Let me add my vote for Madagascar. I really want to go there, but, like you, I'm thinking a tour group could make sense. We always travel independently, but, at least right now, I'm just not feeling overly confident that we can manage Madagascar on our own. Would be interested in what you find out and what your experience ended up being like. So, yes, definitely Madagascar.
  6. So glad this appears to be behind us, albeit a little too late for us. We were in Johannesburg earlier this week, rerouting on our return home to the U.S. via London. Our British Airways flight from Johannesburg to London was as routine as ever, but it was interesting to look across the way to the gate where the South African Airways flight to New York was boarding. All passengers had to line up for an individual pat-down, and following the pat-down, they then had to place their hand baggage on a table for inspection before they were allowed on the plane. Men were assigned male inspectors, and women, female inspectors. At our American Airlines connecting gate in London, airport personnel had a preprinted list of passengers who had been selected (apparently at random) for the same thing -- a pat-down and search of their hand baggage, but not all passengers were subjected to this additional security protocol as they were in Johannesburg. Not one security officer ever so much as batted an eyelash at our two carry-on Pelican cases loaded with camera equipment. If this is the "new normal," it certainly appears to be something I can live with. It definitely strikes me as a more rational approach to the threat that has been expressed. Speaking of the Pelican cases, we really liked them. In fact, it was nice to not have to hoist and lug around our camera backpacks (which were packed in our duffel bags), but as someone earlier in this thread alluded, they do automatically say, "Expensive stuff in here." A number of people automatically knew we were carrying camera gear and asked us if we were professional photographers (not!), so we did feel compelled to watch those cases like a hawk when we weren't carrying them around. Hopefully we will never have to check them.
  7. @monalisa I've been away, so just got caught up with your report. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. It looks like you really benefited by taking the risk (even if you didn't know it was a risk) and going in May -- exclusive or almost-exclusive jaguar sightings are practically unheard of. In fact, the whole crowding issue was one reason I deferred the North during our trip last year to another time. I'm still looking for a solution to that, as I definitely want to see jaguars. When do you go to Botswana (another targeted destination of mine)?
  8. @xyz99 That sounds like a great underlying itinerary. Ha! You brought back some memories, as, now that you mention it, the Ramada Costa del Sol was very loud, but not because of the planes. It was the damn car alarms going off continuously throughout the night, and not because they were being broken into. Maybe the sound waves from the jets were setting them off, but, whatever the cause, they were incredibly annoying -- all the same brand, the ones that cycle through different types of noises over and over again, so, yes, earplugs might not be a bad idea.....
  9. @xyz99 Sorry for my delay in responding. We were out of town. 😃 Our trip to Peru in 2014 centered on Tambopata and Machu Picchu. I have not been to Manu (would love to go someday) or to the Amazon proper (Iquitos). A number of thoughts and impressions, in no particular order: 1. With limited time, accessing wildlife from Puerto Maldonado served us well because LAN (now LATAM) had numerous daily flights between Lima-Cusco-Puerto Maldonado. The segment between Cusco and Puerto Maldonado is short, like 45 minutes, and this schedule is a real time-saver when you are trying to combine wildlife and Machu Picchu/Sacred Valley On our "transfer" day, we went from a morning hike on a trail in Tambopata to lunch in Cusco to dinner and drinks in the Sacred Valley seamlessly. 2. The flight schedules into and out of Lima are very weird, but we actually worked it to our advantage. There is a hotel directly across from the airport that you can easily walk to by skybridge (Ramada Costa del Sol) with a surprisingly good restaurant. It was really nice to just walk over there after going through immigration for decent food, a shower and some sleep and then starting our trip in earnest the next day. On your return home, you should be able to get back to Lima and your connecting international flight in the evening without having to spend another night in Lima. 3. Personally, I highly recommend doing the wildlife portion of the trip first. Whether you go north to Iquitos or south to Manu or Tambopata, it will be hot and sticky. It was sooooo refreshing to go from a week in the rainforest to the cool mountain air of Cusco/Sacred Valley/Machu Picchu. It also gave us time to get daily cups of coca tea and our altitude sickness medication into our system. We had immediately felt the effects of the altitude in Cusco when our flight to Puerto Maldonado stopped there, but when we returned a week later for the second portion of our trip, we were fine and never had any troubles. 4. Tambopata (and I suspect Manu and the Amazon areas in the north) are nothing like the Pantanal. Best comparison to Tambopata I can come up with for you: imagine Bosque del Cabo's landscape, but relatively flat (after you climb up the riverbank) and just as humid, if not more so -- and, at least downriver at the Research Center, much more remote. And obviously no deck overlooking the Pacific! Wildlife was more abundant and much easier to see in the Pantanal. So glad to hear you are going there. 5. Best memory of Tambopata: the night walks. The jungle transforms, with frogs and insects and night monkeys all coming out, and we had 1 1/2 hours each night to explore this world with nothing but our guide and our flashlights and headlamps. I've never experienced anything like it since. With all due respect to Philip at Bosque del Cabo, the night walk he leads around the lodge there is nothing like actually being on the trail in the jungle at night, and due to the flat terrain at Tambopata, it's relatively easy. 6. Definitely spend two nights in Aguas Calientes. Machu Picchu is spectacular. Why go all that way and then not savor your time there? The Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo in Aguas Calientes was an expensive indulgence that was worth every penny. They also have a spectacled bear rehabilitation program where they are taking captive bears and slowly reintroducing them to the wilderness in Machu Picchu National Park. It takes real luck to see one that has been fully reacclimated to the wild, but you will definitely see bears in a wild (albeit controlled) setting. 7. Cusco is an amazing and unforgettable historic city. We were really glad we devoted two nights to our stay there. Well, hope that's a start. Let me know if you have any questions. (I'm now aching to go back to Peru!)
  10. My countdown has just ended -- in a good way. After months of fretting about U.S. electronics bans, Pelican cases for cameras, the lingering question of whether lenses were included in the ban, the potential for an airspace blockade of Qatar (our transit point), and every other doomsday scenario I could conjure up, whether legitimately perceived or not, we are here in Rwanda, the afternoon of our arrival. 13 days, and I plan on enjoying every single moment of them. What a refreshing change of pace that will be. Finally! Thanks to everyone in the Travel Planning forums for their gentle support while I freaked out from time to time.....
  11. @monalisa I love those photos of the capuchins. We saw them only twice at Barranco Alto, and both times they were very shy. I certainly didn't come close to getting anything near the quality shots you did! I've never heard this. Although our week at Barranco Alto was our only stop in the Pantanal last year, and they certainly don't bait or otherwise feed the wildlife there (although, actually, one day one of the hands did place a few large bunches of palm nuts out in the pasture between the lodge and the river that the hyacinth macaws attacked), eco lodges in the Mata Atlantica rainforest along the coast certainly feature bird feeders, both with seeds and fruits (including bananas and mango halves), not to mention many well-stocked hummingbird feeders. From a photographic standpoint, I'm not a fan of baited set-ups. It all just looks too staged. But if I stay at a lodge where they happen to have bird feeders, I won't lie and say that I've never taken advantage of the situation. I guess it's karma, though, that I've always been happier with my photos taken purely in the wild. Very glad to hear it that it stopped raining for you. I have to say that the lush green landscape made for an awfully spectacular setting for everything that you saw. Great report. Can't wait for more.
  12. Wow, that's a major lodge. I'm glad no one was hurt and that they've managed to find alternative accommodations for their guests. Not something you want on safari -- arriving only to find out that your lodge burned down......
  13. Hooray on the rhinos! Great start. So glad you had a good trip and that you have already started your report. That's very impressive -- I'm already 2 reports and a year behind. 🙁 I can't wait to hear all about how things unfolded for you all. Unfortunately (or fortunately, actually), we depart for Rwanda tomorrow, so I won't be able to follow along "real time," but that will just give me an opportunity to binge read after we get back!
  14. Very cool to find the chestnut-eared aracaris in the tree hole. We didn't see those during our stay. So glad you got your anteater "fix." Lovely photos of the landscape at Barranco Alto -- they brought back so many fond memories. Looking forward to your report port from the North!
  15. @Kitsafari I had thought your beautifully-written trip report was over, and, upon realizing that my conclusion was premature, it has been my good fortune at this late date to savor these last few pages. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this unforgettable experience with us. This has been one for the ages, an epic, and I anticipate that it will be one of those to which I return again and again over time.

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