A Travellerspoint blog

May 2020

Quick snorkel in Waisai, Indonesia before dive trip

The colors photograph so much better snorkeling than diving; Waisai is in eastern Indonesia, SE of the Philippines and SW of Palau

The colors photograph so much better snorkeling than diving; Waisai is in eastern Indonesia, SE of the Philippines and SW of Palau

Crown of thorns sea star; this species is a large starfish that preys upon hard, or stony, coral polyps; the crown of thorns sea star receives its name from venomous thorn-like spines that cover its upper surface, resembling the biblical crown of thorns

Crown of thorns sea star; this species is a large starfish that preys upon hard, or stony, coral polyps; the crown of thorns sea star receives its name from venomous thorn-like spines that cover its upper surface, resembling the biblical crown of thorns

Humphead wrasse; this largest species of wrasse is capable of reaching lengths of more than 6 ft. from tip to tail and weighing up to 400 lbs

Humphead wrasse; this largest species of wrasse is capable of reaching lengths of more than 6 ft. from tip to tail and weighing up to 400 lbs

Clark's anemonefish; these fish, popularized by the movie Finding Nemo, always photograph better than most other fish with my camera

Clark's anemonefish; these fish, popularized by the movie Finding Nemo, always photograph better than most other fish with my camera

Bleeker's parrotfish; water visibility was excellent with abundant, healthy coral and tons of fish; unlike the islands around Bali, there was also no current to contend with

Bleeker's parrotfish; water visibility was excellent with abundant, healthy coral and tons of fish; unlike the islands around Bali, there was also no current to contend with

Acropora coral; the small town of Waisai (pop 8000) is the starting point for many of the liveaboard dive boats that explore the Raja Ampat area of Indonesia

Acropora coral; the small town of Waisai (pop 8000) is the starting point for many of the liveaboard dive boats that explore the Raja Ampat area of Indonesia

Pink anemonefish; getting to Waisai from Bali involved 2 flights (one was overnight) and then a 2 hour local ferry that would have been miserable if I weren't so exhausted that I slept through most of it

Pink anemonefish; getting to Waisai from Bali involved 2 flights (one was overnight) and then a 2 hour local ferry that would have been miserable if I weren't so exhausted that I slept through most of it

Feather star; graceful, flowing arms like fern branches float in the water column, grabbing bits of plankton passing by; because feather stars do not have an official stomach, consumables cycle through their body in waves while still providing nutrition

Feather star; graceful, flowing arms like fern branches float in the water column, grabbing bits of plankton passing by; because feather stars do not have an official stomach, consumables cycle through their body in waves while still providing nutrition

Feather stars come in a wide variety of colors; feather stars are known for being self sufficient - their bodies have evolved over time to decompose and recuperate when necessary

Feather stars come in a wide variety of colors; feather stars are known for being self sufficient - their bodies have evolved over time to decompose and recuperate when necessary

Posted by VagabondCowboy 21:16 Comments (0)

Hanging around with cool chimpanzees in Uganda

Chimpanzees are endangered; they are typically 3-4.5 ft tall, weigh 88-130 lbs and live, on average, about 15 years (some have lived to be more than 60)

Chimpanzees are endangered; they are typically 3-4.5 ft tall, weigh 88-130 lbs and live, on average, about 15 years (some have lived to be more than 60)

This is a chimpanzee nest from a recent night (they make a new nest each night); the gestation period for chimps is 8 months with babies being totally dependent on their mothers until 2 years of age when they can move and sit on their own

This is a chimpanzee nest from a recent night (they make a new nest each night); the gestation period for chimps is 8 months with babies being totally dependent on their mothers until 2 years of age when they can move and sit on their own

Black-and-white-casqued hornbill; this species is monogamous with pairs nesting in suitable tree cavities (it's only found in central and western Africa)

Black-and-white-casqued hornbill; this species is monogamous with pairs nesting in suitable tree cavities (it's only found in central and western Africa)

We saw virtually no other tour groups and seldom saw any other white people; the locals generally ignored us while the kids would always wave and get excited

We saw virtually no other tour groups and seldom saw any other white people; the locals generally ignored us while the kids would always wave and get excited

We were stuck in traffic in Kampala for hours; for long stretches we barely moved and apparently this is typical; the west side of town was much nicer with better roads

We were stuck in traffic in Kampala for hours; for long stretches we barely moved and apparently this is typical; the west side of town was much nicer with better roads

Chimpanzee's diet consists primarily of fruit; between 172,700 and 299,700 individuals are thought to be living in the wild, a decrease from about a million chimpanzees in the early 1900s

Chimpanzee's diet consists primarily of fruit; between 172,700 and 299,700 individuals are thought to be living in the wild, a decrease from about a million chimpanzees in the early 1900s

The Great Rift Valley runs about 3700 miles from Lebanon to Mozambique; in Kenya and Uganda, the Valley hosts the most famous national parks and most important lakes

The Great Rift Valley runs about 3700 miles from Lebanon to Mozambique; in Kenya and Uganda, the Valley hosts the most famous national parks and most important lakes

This area was full of tea plantations; bananas are the number 1 crop and were everywhere (they make all kinds of dishes with bananas and even have banana wine and banana beer)

This area was full of tea plantations; bananas are the number 1 crop and were everywhere (they make all kinds of dishes with bananas and even have banana wine and banana beer)

Mbarara is the second largest city in Uganda and hometown of the president; the roads are better here than in Kampala because the president has funneled a disproportionately higher share of government money to this area

Mbarara is the second largest city in Uganda and hometown of the president; the roads are better here than in Kampala because the president has funneled a disproportionately higher share of government money to this area

Chimpanzees and humans share as much as 98 percent of the same DNA; in terms of biology, a chimpanzee’s DNA is closer to a human’s than it is to a gorilla’s

Chimpanzees and humans share as much as 98 percent of the same DNA; in terms of biology, a chimpanzee’s DNA is closer to a human’s than it is to a gorilla’s

I never ate with the group but Lee said the food was pretty good; the dishes I saw were not ones I would have cared for; I had canned fruit or cereal instead

I never ate with the group but Lee said the food was pretty good; the dishes I saw were not ones I would have cared for; I had canned fruit or cereal instead

Posted by VagabondCowboy 02:30 Comments (0)

Addo Elephant National Park nice alternative to Kruger

Our tour group was 9 women plus Lee and myself; many were German speaking but most lived in the UK; we also had 2 Swiss, 1 Canadian and 1 Norwegian

Our tour group was 9 women plus Lee and myself; many were German speaking but most lived in the UK; we also had 2 Swiss, 1 Canadian and 1 Norwegian

The landscape here reminded me of Sonora, Texas where there was scrubby vegetation in a very arid region; I wasn't sure if Lee was napping or just lost in thought

The landscape here reminded me of Sonora, Texas where there was scrubby vegetation in a very arid region; I wasn't sure if Lee was napping or just lost in thought

Cape buffalo have few natural predators and are capable of defending themselves against (and killing) lions; the mud covering helps with thermoregulation, as well as providing sunscreen and removing parasites, or even soothing insects bites

Cape buffalo have few natural predators and are capable of defending themselves against (and killing) lions; the mud covering helps with thermoregulation, as well as providing sunscreen and removing parasites, or even soothing insects bites

The hadeda ibis is known for its loud three to four note calls uttered in flight especially in the mornings and evenings when they fly out or return to their roost trees; they are worse than roosters early in the morning!

The hadeda ibis is known for its loud three to four note calls uttered in flight especially in the mornings and evenings when they fly out or return to their roost trees; they are worse than roosters early in the morning!

Mountain zebra; Addo Elephant National Park is the third largest national park in South Africa and located near the city of Port Elizabeth

Mountain zebra; Addo Elephant National Park is the third largest national park in South Africa and located near the city of Port Elizabeth

Female kudu; Addo is the only park in the world to house Africa's Big 7 (elephant, rhinoceros, lion, buffalo, leopard, whale and great white shark) in their natural habitat

Female kudu; Addo is the only park in the world to house Africa's Big 7 (elephant, rhinoceros, lion, buffalo, leopard, whale and great white shark) in their natural habitat

Our campground had only one hotel room available (AC, private bathroom, comfy beds) and Lee let it be known that we wanted it; luckily, the others in our group seemed quite OK with camping

Our campground had only one hotel room available (AC, private bathroom, comfy beds) and Lee let it be known that we wanted it; luckily, the others in our group seemed quite OK with camping

The gemsbok (South African oryx) are widely hunted for their spectacular horns that average 33 inches in length; these animals are mainly found around deserts and have been introduced into New Mexico

The gemsbok (South African oryx) are widely hunted for their spectacular horns that average 33 inches in length; these animals are mainly found around deserts and have been introduced into New Mexico

The leopard tortoise is the fourth largest species of tortoise in the world, with typical adults reaching 16 in and weighing 29 lb; a very long-lived animal, the leopard tortoise reaches sexual maturity between the ages of 12 and 15 years

The leopard tortoise is the fourth largest species of tortoise in the world, with typical adults reaching 16 in and weighing 29 lb; a very long-lived animal, the leopard tortoise reaches sexual maturity between the ages of 12 and 15 years

Our campground had the largest jacaranda tree I'd ever seen; the UCLA campus is adorned with jacarandas and I always loved seeing them in bloom

Our campground had the largest jacaranda tree I'd ever seen; the UCLA campus is adorned with jacarandas and I always loved seeing them in bloom

Greater kudu; I guess some of the animals are used to safari vehicles and don't see them as a threat since this kudu didn't budge

Greater kudu; I guess some of the animals are used to safari vehicles and don't see them as a threat since this kudu didn't budge

Addo has roughly 50 endangered black rhinos although we didn't see any; lions and spotted hyena have recently been reintroduced into the park

Addo has roughly 50 endangered black rhinos although we didn't see any; lions and spotted hyena have recently been reintroduced into the park

Posted by VagabondCowboy 20:34 Comments (0)

Cool creatures on Manta Sandy dive, Raja Ampat

Manta is Spanish for cloak which refers to their large blanket-shaped bodies; unlike other rays, mantas do not have a spine on their tail for defense

Manta is Spanish for cloak which refers to their large blanket-shaped bodies; unlike other rays, mantas do not have a spine on their tail for defense

Devil scorpionfish; this species is a bottom-dwelling fish and is sometimes partially covered with sediment; it is an ambush predator and feeds on passing prey such as invertebrates and small fish

Devil scorpionfish; this species is a bottom-dwelling fish and is sometimes partially covered with sediment; it is an ambush predator and feeds on passing prey such as invertebrates and small fish

Manta Sandy has a low stone wall that divers kneel behind to watch the mantas come by their cleaning station; it was very crowded with diminished visibility so I can see why the mantas stayed away

Manta Sandy has a low stone wall that divers kneel behind to watch the mantas come by their cleaning station; it was very crowded with diminished visibility so I can see why the mantas stayed away

My diving buddies suggested what this creature might be but I'm not sure exactly what it is; it looks like a tunicate but they typically have two holes and I only saw one here

My diving buddies suggested what this creature might be but I'm not sure exactly what it is; it looks like a tunicate but they typically have two holes and I only saw one here

It was only after we left the usual manta sighting spot that we actually saw some; there was a boat with lots of Chinese divers making this one of the most crowded Raja Ampat dive sites

It was only after we left the usual manta sighting spot that we actually saw some; there was a boat with lots of Chinese divers making this one of the most crowded Raja Ampat dive sites

Cool upside-down jellyfish; this species has a flattened bell so it can easily rest on sediment (hence the name); they have a mild sting since they are primarily photosynthetic

Cool upside-down jellyfish; this species has a flattened bell so it can easily rest on sediment (hence the name); they have a mild sting since they are primarily photosynthetic

Pulsing Xenia coral is an interesting invertebrate in that each extension has small, feathery-like polyps that will contract (pulse) together; the reason for why these corals pulse is still a mystery (thanks Gary for identifying!)

Pulsing Xenia coral is an interesting invertebrate in that each extension has small, feathery-like polyps that will contract (pulse) together; the reason for why these corals pulse is still a mystery (thanks Gary for identifying!)

Giant clam; the small Indonesian island of Mioskon is known for its giant clams that can be 5 feet across and weigh more than 450 lbs; unfortunately, since they are edible, they are being harvested

Giant clam; the small Indonesian island of Mioskon is known for its giant clams that can be 5 feet across and weigh more than 450 lbs; unfortunately, since they are edible, they are being harvested

Sponge-eating nudibranchs concentrate the chemical defenses from their prey in their bodies, rendering themselves distasteful to predators; so they don't have to worry about their bright colors making them stand out

Sponge-eating nudibranchs concentrate the chemical defenses from their prey in their bodies, rendering themselves distasteful to predators; so they don't have to worry about their bright colors making them stand out

Blackblotch lizardifsh; they are small and may look innocent but  their jaws have one or more lines of needle-like teeth; they grab their victims with lightening speed often taking quite large prey

Blackblotch lizardifsh; they are small and may look innocent but their jaws have one or more lines of needle-like teeth; they grab their victims with lightening speed often taking quite large prey

Like some whales, mantas will occasionally breach (I saw it happen!) but scientists don't know why; they have a large brain relative to their body size in comparison to other sharks and rays

Like some whales, mantas will occasionally breach (I saw it happen!) but scientists don't know why; they have a large brain relative to their body size in comparison to other sharks and rays

Clove polyps are a beautiful fast-growing soft coral that are often sold for saltwater aquariums (thanks Mike for identifying this!)

Clove polyps are a beautiful fast-growing soft coral that are often sold for saltwater aquariums (thanks Mike for identifying this!)

Eightband butterflyfish; this species feeds exclusively on coral polyps; not to be outdone, there is the nine-banded armadillo found in Texas and a few lesser places

Eightband butterflyfish; this species feeds exclusively on coral polyps; not to be outdone, there is the nine-banded armadillo found in Texas and a few lesser places

Posted by VagabondCowboy 21:36 Comments (0)

Spectacular vistas made Nusa Penida so photogenic

The 1000 island viewpoint is on the eastern tip of Nusa Penida; the view was spectacular but no one could explain where the name originated since there were just a handful of islands nearby

The 1000 island viewpoint is on the eastern tip of Nusa Penida; the view was spectacular but no one could explain where the name originated since there were just a handful of islands nearby

Diamond Beach was the most gorgeous beach on the island but a long drive from most hotels; it was perfect for the Instagram generation but the waters too rough to swim

Diamond Beach was the most gorgeous beach on the island but a long drive from most hotels; it was perfect for the Instagram generation but the waters too rough to swim

The Blue Lagoon is the biggest attraction on Nusa Ceningan; no swimming is allowed due to the rough waves but it's nice to view

The Blue Lagoon is the biggest attraction on Nusa Ceningan; no swimming is allowed due to the rough waves but it's nice to view

Diamond Beach was named because the rock islands resembled diamonds; it is the most picture perfect beach on the island and well worth the drive

Diamond Beach was named because the rock islands resembled diamonds; it is the most picture perfect beach on the island and well worth the drive

The diagonal slash down the cliff are the steps, built into the cliff, down to Diamond Beach; there was no admission charge but donations were solicited to aid upkeep of the beach

The diagonal slash down the cliff are the steps, built into the cliff, down to Diamond Beach; there was no admission charge but donations were solicited to aid upkeep of the beach

At high tide Diamond Beach comes close to disappearing; it also becomes more challenging to reach the steps up from the beach

At high tide Diamond Beach comes close to disappearing; it also becomes more challenging to reach the steps up from the beach

At one point I thought I was going to get sucked out to sea thanks to the strong currents here; Atuh Beach looked to be in a protected cove but that appearance was deceptive

At one point I thought I was going to get sucked out to sea thanks to the strong currents here; Atuh Beach looked to be in a protected cove but that appearance was deceptive

Broken Beach; Lee and I hired a driver to take us around Nusa Penida for the day; he didn't speak much English but could manage the treacherous roads

Broken Beach; Lee and I hired a driver to take us around Nusa Penida for the day; he didn't speak much English but could manage the treacherous roads

The view from the top of Kelingking Beach was spectacular; like most of Nusa Penida, the views and photos often paint a more flattering picture than reality

The view from the top of Kelingking Beach was spectacular; like most of Nusa Penida, the views and photos often paint a more flattering picture than reality

Angels Billabong is a natural pool (the greenish water) several meters above sea level; the area was roped off since rogue waves are possible and the rock is extremely sharp

Angels Billabong is a natural pool (the greenish water) several meters above sea level; the area was roped off since rogue waves are possible and the rock is extremely sharp

Kelingking Beach is the most photographed spot on Nusa Penida and on every brochure and postcard; there was an orderly queue to have photos taken at this particular spot

Kelingking Beach is the most photographed spot on Nusa Penida and on every brochure and postcard; there was an orderly queue to have photos taken at this particular spot

Kelingking is an attractive beach with nice sand but there was plenty of trash in the water and rough seas; rain was also imminent so we tackled the hike up before it got slick

Kelingking is an attractive beach with nice sand but there was plenty of trash in the water and rough seas; rain was also imminent so we tackled the hike up before it got slick

Kelingking Beach was the only place we saw monkeys on the island; it was a tough climb up and down from the beach so it was easy to get quite thirsty

Kelingking Beach was the only place we saw monkeys on the island; it was a tough climb up and down from the beach so it was easy to get quite thirsty

This is actually the easiest section of the hike down to Kelingking Beach; the lower section had steeper steps and ropes to assist with the challenging sections

This is actually the easiest section of the hike down to Kelingking Beach; the lower section had steeper steps and ropes to assist with the challenging sections

Crystal Bay had the best snorkeling we found on Nusa Penida; I swam out around the island where there were plenty of fish and fairly good visibility

Crystal Bay had the best snorkeling we found on Nusa Penida; I swam out around the island where there were plenty of fish and fairly good visibility

Bali cattle; these attractive animals are noted for their remarkable ability to grow on low-quality fodder and their high fertility as well as their high resistance to most diseases

Bali cattle; these attractive animals are noted for their remarkable ability to grow on low-quality fodder and their high fertility as well as their high resistance to most diseases

Nusa Penida had very little tourist infrastructure and super narrow, busy roads; it was a nice contrast to the crowded resorts on the island of Bali

Nusa Penida had very little tourist infrastructure and super narrow, busy roads; it was a nice contrast to the crowded resorts on the island of Bali

Broken Beach is behind the arch but there's no access to the actual beach plus the sea is just too rough there; the arch is pretty wide so you don't even realize where it is when you're walking around the beach perimeter

Broken Beach is behind the arch but there's no access to the actual beach plus the sea is just too rough there; the arch is pretty wide so you don't even realize where it is when you're walking around the beach perimeter

The cost to ride this swing was ridiculous but some tourists paid anyway; maybe they just wanted the breeze after walking down so many steps to reach Diamond Beach

The cost to ride this swing was ridiculous but some tourists paid anyway; maybe they just wanted the breeze after walking down so many steps to reach Diamond Beach

Gamat Bay; only accessible by boat, this beach is the place to go if you want to have the place to yourself (and have some good snorkeling too)

Gamat Bay; only accessible by boat, this beach is the place to go if you want to have the place to yourself (and have some good snorkeling too)

It started monsooning while we were at Atuh Beach so we took shelter in a snack hut while the stairs up from the beach became a waterfall; it hadn't even rained on most of the island

It started monsooning while we were at Atuh Beach so we took shelter in a snack hut while the stairs up from the beach became a waterfall; it hadn't even rained on most of the island

This view of Klungking Beach is the one you see on every blog and promotional piece about Nusa Penida; there is a queue to sit in that spot but fortunately we arrived early in the day

This view of Klungking Beach is the one you see on every blog and promotional piece about Nusa Penida; there is a queue to sit in that spot but fortunately we arrived early in the day

Atuh Beach is a rustic, isolated cove beneath a sheer cliff face, with a sandy beach and cool offshore rock formations; Lee and I were eager to swim around the natural arches but the currents quickly changed our minds

Atuh Beach is a rustic, isolated cove beneath a sheer cliff face, with a sandy beach and cool offshore rock formations; Lee and I were eager to swim around the natural arches but the currents quickly changed our minds

Diamond Beach had perfect sand but the sun was brutal and there was no shade; the stairs, carved into the cliff, were added in the last year to make access easier

Diamond Beach had perfect sand but the sun was brutal and there was no shade; the stairs, carved into the cliff, were added in the last year to make access easier

Posted by VagabondCowboy 21:34 Comments (0)

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