Chasing the pod, Oman

During the Christmas holiday of 2019, i went to Oman looking for Oryx, Gazelle and of course the Arabian Leopard but to my surprise after a week of scanning mountains and driving through Savannah, we hadn’t seen a single land mammal and i certainly didn’t expect that the animal id squeeze a story out of a desert was a dolphin.

We woke up at 5:am and drove to the port for a boat trip my Dad had booked to see birds. We met our captain and he took us to his six seater boat and after navigating through the port, we finally broke out on to the open sea. After about ten minutes we first caught a glimpse of a pod of dolphins jumping in the water but this was very far away and there weren’t very many but i clicked away at my camera expecting that this would be the only mammals we saw all holiday. We then stopped here and there to pour fish oil into the water to attract sea birds but this also attracted something else.

As I looked to the left I stared blankly at a pod of over 150 dolphins heading straight for our tiny boat. Soon they had caught up and I expected them to go around the boat but to my surprise they started following us. They were attracted by the waves our boat made causing them to jump just metres away from us. This species was called the spinner dolphin and they definitely lived up to their name as they demonstrated the coolest tricks that you cant even see in zoos. Some were just curious to look at the boat and would occasionally pop their heads out at a distance you could touch them while others raced the boat with ease as their strong tails propelled them through the water. Photographing them was quite hard though seen as they only emerge every couple of minutes to take a breath so i just faced my camera at the ocean and clicked whenever one was in frame.

They didn’t seem to have anything to do out in the ocean as whenever our boat turned they would follow us since they had nowhere to go so we had a long time with them next to us but finally we had to turn back. As we made our way back to the port the dolphins could be seen on the horizon with the sunset in front of them like some romantic movie. We also past some turtles, rays, fish and sea cucumbers before finally arriving into the port having witnessed one of the coolest things the Arabian sea had to offer.

Komodo Island (Indonesia)

During the summer of 2014 I went to Komodo island in Indonesia to look for real life drgons as part of a mission to to see the  real Indonesia by doing a tour of the country before I moved house.

As we approached the island on boat, a crowd had formed on the bay circling a pair of dragons on the beach. I was exited and started to run towards them but I was quickly stopped by a guard who told me that these dragons had venom  in their spit and were very aggressive. I ran back to my mum and carried on with our journey. We walked to the guide hut and sorted out some papers but my attention was drawn to a rubbish dump were, unlike most rubbish dumps, had six adult dragons in it! we went deeper into the forest as I walked nervously in the middle of the group. Our guides had long sticks with a V shape at the end to  draw away the komodos by the neck.We came to a clearing and my question had been answered: what do more than 2000 dragons on one small island eat? A large heard of deer grazed nervously as a pair of large dragons rumbled loudly shaking the ground in the process. The guides had told us it was their mating call. He later told us that that was a quite mating call because the dragon didn’t want attract the attention of much bigger males which made me wonder, if that was a small dragon and that was a quite rumble, I wonder what a big male and a loud rumble look like. Maybe the reason there are so many males is why there are lots of earthquakes in the area!

Elephants of Yala (Sri Lanka)

During the Christmas holiday of 2017-2018 we went on a safari to Yala national park in Sri Lanka where we saw lots of Asian elephants but also saw a leopard and many more animals.

On the day of our safari the army looking vehicle pulled up at our hotel at around 4:30 am and as soon as we got into the car the race started. The race was to get to the ticket office early because with new rules allowing only 400 cars into the park 10 minutes can make the difference between getting into the park or not.

The thing i found on safari was that everyone mistook “ National Park” for “Safari Park” and seemed grumpy at the fact the pile of carrots meant for the animals would go to waste because quite frankly, the animals were wild and the closest you could have got to the big tusker was when it flipped the jeep over.

We went on safari 2 days in a row and my favorite elephant sighting was on day 2. We had seen the leopard on day 1 and on day 2 i was a lot more relaxed and appreciated the small animals a lot more for example the Egyptian mongoose or the pied horn bill. I didn’t expect to see a leopard and instead focused more on getting some shots i would be proud of. Day 2 of our Yala trip was coming to a close and there were two safari cars parked near a watering hole so we investigated. I got the camera ready and was delighted to see how close up the elephant was meaning that i got a nice closeup shot of the elephant.

Orangutans of Borneo

In the summer holiday of 2014 we decided to visit Indonesia (the country I was brought up in) to catch up after a year in Spain. While we were there we went to Tanjung Puting national park on a 3 day boat safari.

An hour after touchdown on the island of Kalimantan we were on a boat pulling away from the dock. We entered the start of the river to be greeted with loud howls and roars from the trees inviting you to explore just a little further and that’s when we realized we really were in orangutan territory. Compared to other boats ours was small and therefore faster. We past many boats and after about 3 hours I felt a bit scared because I was in the middle of a jungle but I soon calmed down after passing a rangers hut and a small museum on the river bank. On the first day we had made two stops to look for orangutans and both were successful but they were only females and babies. I was looking for a big male like the concrete one seen at the entrance of the river. On the third and last day we pulled up at our first stop and some bananas were thrown onto a wooden stage. For twenty minutes we looked at a gibbon eating the bananas set for the orangutans when, king-Kong style, a massive male jumped onto the stage almost cracking a plank of wood.

The sneaky leopard of Yala, Sri Lanka

In the Christmas holiday of 2017-2018 I went to Sri Lanka to look for the elusive Sri-Lankan-leopard. To achieve this mission we decided to go to Yala national park.

On the day of our safari the army looking vehicle pulled up at our hotel at around 4:30 am and as soon as we got into the car the race started. The race was to get to the ticket office early because with new rules allowing only 400 cars into the park 10 minutes can make the difference between getting into the park or not. We followed a narrow road to the park and before we even got in we had seen some wild pigs, a peacock, water buffalo and an elephant. We waited for the documents to enter the park and in the meantime visited a small museum they had behind the ticket office. We amused ourselves in the museum looking at some crappy taxidermy fails. At around 5:00 am we entered Yala national park. We entered the park through some Jurassic-park-like doors than immediately zoomed off into the jungle. Everywhere I looked you could imagine a leopard lying down and staring at you. It seemed like the perfect setting. We had seen almost everything there was to see except for the leopard. Time was running out quickly and I was about to let out a big sigh when as we approached the exit the drivers phone rang and it was his friend. My angry sigh turned into one of relief as he made a u-turn and sped off in the other direction. We turned off onto a small dirt track and as we went deeper and deeper into the park, the landscape started to change. What was a few minutes ago was a lush jungle was now a deer-packed grassland. In the distance you could see a line of cars moving quickly and before I knew it we were at the end of it. The guide pointed to a rock around twenty meters away and told us to follow the horizon of the rock until I saw a leopard silhouette and my face was lit up with pride as me,a kid who writes a blog about leopards, can finally say I’ve seen one.