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.

The brown bear of Asturias

During the half-term holiday of 2015 we visited a tiny village in Asturias famous for its European brown bears in an effort to conquer our top three animals of Spain: European brown bear, Iberian lynx and Iberian wolf.

We arrived at the village after leaving our luggage at the hotel, which to my surprise, had heating, and like always, a few minutes after we arrived we were already walking on a mountain trail looking for a bear. There wasnt really a certain place the bears had been seen so all we could do was scan the entire valley. For two days we did just that but we were unsuccessful. On the third day I had given up and went to spend the day exploring the village and eating Halloween sweets from the night before I found a big cow market and spent the rest of the day there. At around 3:00 I went back to the hotel to pack the bags. We set off at 5:00 and before leaving the town, we parked at the bottom of a hill and scanned the treeline. For ten minutes my dad hopingly looked through the telescope than said “”get out the car boys”s I sighed and stopped the “plants vs. zombies” game I was playing and asked if he had seen some more chamois goats. He looked at me with a relieved smile and answered “it’s a bear.” I hopped out the car and ran to the telescope and, with some guidance; I spotted one of the rarest species of moving black dots in the world.


The Iberian lynx of Andujar

In the half term holiday of 2015 we went to Andujar in Spain to try and see the Iberian lynx. We went there because a friend had been and said that he had seen one on the fifth day of his 5 day trip.

We arrived at the hotel and like usual we left our bags and within a few minutes of arriving we were in the car driving to the location our friend had spotted the lynx. We passed a fighting-bull farm and within 10 minutes of arriving we were at the recommended destination. We scanned the valley for about five minutes. After minutes of looking we decided to move up the road to another spot and as we buckled up we looked forward to see a distinct cat like shape moving  across the road. Nailed it. My brother held his finger on the camera as the device made a machine gun-like sound. When we reviewed the footage later it looked like a stop motion while flipping through the trillion pictures that we took in only five seconds of the lynx appearing and disappearing out of nowhere.

The story of the second lynx was that we were driving to the destination of the first lynx on the third day when we passed a man. He saw our car coming and immediately faced his telescope in another direction as if he was hiding something. This was suspicious so we drove by slowly and stared at the spot the telescope was originally facing and as we were about to leave the scene, I saw a cat shaped head and screamed “lynx!” luckily the window was closed so the lynx didn’t hear me. We backed the car up and scanned the spot again and there, to our delight, there was yet another lynx.

My mom is a teacher and therefore missed the first 3 days of our holiday at work so when she arrived we were eager to find a lynx for her. We drove down the road we had seen the first two lynx. Further up the road was group of parked vans that grabbed our attention. We drove up to the group and got out the car, whilst a man helpfully showed us where the lynx was. At the start you could just see its distinct pointy ears that the lynx is famous for, but then it got up and walked down the hill as we prepared the camera. The cat walked across the road and we got a nice picture, I don’t know if it’s ever been done before but we had completed and photographed an Iberian lynx hat trick in five days!

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 quetzal of Monteverde (Costa Rica)

In the summer holiday of 2016 we went to Costa Rica. While we were there, we stopped by at a place called monteverde to look for hummingbirds but mostly to see a quetzal.

I was watching “The great British bake off” when my dad came into the room with a big grin on his face. He said he had seen the rare bird in somebody’s farm in an avocado tree. I sort of sighed because birds weren’t usually to my taste but my dad said there was a cafe, so I got up and left. We walked about ten minutes over to this guys farm and went up all the way to the avocado tree which was at the border of his property and there in the tree was not one but seven quetzals! We then went down to his cafe and stared at the photos of quetzals on the wall. As we left we passed a small shop and at the back, in a glass frame, was a quetzals feather. I said earlier that I didn’t really care about birds, but this one was impossible not fall in love with, everything about it was beautiful: its green chest, its red belly, its long tail feathers…

Its rare enough to find 1 quetzal let alone seven in one tree and especially rare to see a magnificent male with large tail feathers like the one pictured above. Local people in monteverde loved the quetzal too and it looked as if their economy was based on it because every restaurant, every shop, every bar and every hotel had something that resembled a quetzal.


The sneaky leopard of Yala

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.