October 31, 2007
From 2/4/2005 – 26/2005, my wife and I went to India on a World Wildlife Fund trip. This was our first trip with a digital camera. We had replaced our two film camera bodies with a single Canon EOS 20D. We also replaced our wide angle lens, due to the 1.6x conversion factor of the camera body. We began using our current wide angle lens, a 17-85mm EF-S Image Stabilized lens.
Obviously, we hoped to see tigers on this trip but were trying our hardest not to get our hopes too high. It is very possible to go all the way to India on a trip specifically designed to maximize tiger viewing and still not be lucky enough to see one. So, we tried our hardest to prepare ourselves for the possibility of poor luck. Of course, we also hoped to see a lot of other amazing wildlife that exists throughout India.
Our total counts for the trip were 180 bird species and 21 mammal species. Even those impressive stats do not do justice to this truly wonderful and very different trip for us. Surprisingly, even many of the human aspects of the trip were incredibly interesting. The culture of India is truly unique. We saw evidence of the early Jain and Hindu culture, as well as the later influence as the Muslims and Christians came through. Many aspects of this even caught the attention of this misanthrope.
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September 24, 2007
Peru is a place of incredible biodiversity and very much worth the trip. Though most people go to Machu Picchu, and there is some good wildlife there, I would strongly recommend the lowlands, especially of the Amazon basin. When planning a trip to Peru, consider that there are 1,800 bird species there, as compared with 500 for all of North America. Also keep in mind that the country is incredibly rich in mammals and reptiles.
Our tally at the end of the trip was 230 bird species and 27 mammal species.
Our trip began at Tahuayo, a 2.5 hour boat trip from Iquitos. This lodge was a truly remote experience. All day trips began with a boat ride from the lodge. Trails were typically fairly primitive and muddy. Our guides were excellent at finding the wildlife. I would note though that at 5’7″, I am not used to thinking of myself as tall. That changed in the rain forest. With guides cutting trails with machetes being significantly shorter, there was always a branch to duck under … or walk into forehead first. Don’t grab for handholds on the trails either. Many of the plants have nasty thorns that leave little bits in your hands. And, do take the lodge up on their rubber boots. Standard hiking boots, even gore-tex ones, are just a tad low for that level of mud.
The wildlife was phenomenal and well worth it. This was where we saw the Amazon Pink River Dolphins, locally called botos. They are beautiful and not as hard to see as one might imagine. But, they do not stay up long. If you want photos of them, you will end up with a lot of photos of empty water. This would be OK with digital photography. We were using film. This was the best one we got.
While there we also saw many kingfishers of various species, three toed sloths, hoatzin, and this Pygmy Marmoset who posed for us for quite some time, long enough to set up the tripod and put extenders (1.5x & 2x) to get an effective 1200mm lens (mirror lockup required).
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