A Travellerspoint blog

July 2020

Splendid scenery on Eagle Rock dive in Raja Ampat

I saw plenty of tasselled wobbegongs on the trip but never saw one swimming; the Russian man in our group would get video of swimming wobbegongs but it wasn't until the last day that we saw him prodding animals so they would move

I saw plenty of tasselled wobbegongs on the trip but never saw one swimming; the Russian man in our group would get video of swimming wobbegongs but it wasn't until the last day that we saw him prodding animals so they would move

Map puffer; the Indonesian capital of Jakarta is the world's second most populous metro area (after Tokyo) with more than 30  million people; I've heard of no reason to visit though

Map puffer; the Indonesian capital of Jakarta is the world's second most populous metro area (after Tokyo) with more than 30+ million people; I've heard of no reason to visit though

Clark's anemonefish; the Dec 26, 2004 earthquake and tsunami killed more than 130,000 Indonesians; the earthquake was the third-largest ever recorded and had the longest duration of faulting ever observed- between 8 and 10 minutes

Clark's anemonefish; the Dec 26, 2004 earthquake and tsunami killed more than 130,000 Indonesians; the earthquake was the third-largest ever recorded and had the longest duration of faulting ever observed- between 8 and 10 minutes

Bluespotted ribbontail ray; this species faces intensive fishing pressures since it's actually utilized as food in East Africa, Southeast Asia, and Australia causing its conservation status to be near threatened

Bluespotted ribbontail ray; this species faces intensive fishing pressures since it's actually utilized as food in East Africa, Southeast Asia, and Australia causing its conservation status to be near threatened

School of bluestripe and brownstripe snapper; of Indonesia's 17504 islands, only about 6000 are inhabited with the islands having more than 50,000 miles of coastline

School of bluestripe and brownstripe snapper; of Indonesia's 17504 islands, only about 6000 are inhabited with the islands having more than 50,000 miles of coastline

Eagle Rock is home to the largest population of mantas in the northern part of Raja Ampat but we didn't see any; the site was named for the 3 islands marking its location

Eagle Rock is home to the largest population of mantas in the northern part of Raja Ampat but we didn't see any; the site was named for the 3 islands marking its location

Scorpionfish; I don't like it when such venomous animals are so well-camouflaged!; the spines of the dorsal, anal and pelvic fins all have venom glands at their bases

Scorpionfish; I don't like it when such venomous animals are so well-camouflaged!; the spines of the dorsal, anal and pelvic fins all have venom glands at their bases

The Eagle Rock dive site is off the NW tip of Waigeo Island; I wonder if most of our tropical waters used to look as beautiful as this

The Eagle Rock dive site is off the NW tip of Waigeo Island; I wonder if most of our tropical waters used to look as beautiful as this

Pin cushion sea star; I saw plenty of sea stars but not many of this variety; rows of tube feet are on the underside and it has a central mouth (the body cavity is filled with water!)

Pin cushion sea star; I saw plenty of sea stars but not many of this variety; rows of tube feet are on the underside and it has a central mouth (the body cavity is filled with water!)

Huge green table coral; despite the pristine beauty of Raja Ampat, Indonesia scores very poorly with its environmental performance (among the lowest in the Asia-Pacific region)

Huge green table coral; despite the pristine beauty of Raja Ampat, Indonesia scores very poorly with its environmental performance (among the lowest in the Asia-Pacific region)

Black knobby sea cucumber (sure looked blue to me though); this is one of the larger varieties growing to about 10 in and has a distinctive squarish cross section

Black knobby sea cucumber (sure looked blue to me though); this is one of the larger varieties growing to about 10 in and has a distinctive squarish cross section

Posted by VagabondCowboy 04:42 Comments (0)

Explosion of colors at Bryce Canyon National Park, UT

It's been exactly 20 years since Lee and I first visited Bryce Canyon but that visit was a brief drive thru on a day trip from the Grand Canyon

It's been exactly 20 years since Lee and I first visited Bryce Canyon but that visit was a brief drive thru on a day trip from the Grand Canyon

Natural Bridge is 85 ft high but it's really an arch; formed over millions of years by wind, water and chemical erosion it's an essential photo op along the 18 mile Scenic Drive

Natural Bridge is 85 ft high but it's really an arch; formed over millions of years by wind, water and chemical erosion it's an essential photo op along the 18 mile Scenic Drive

Bryce Canyon lies between 8000 and 9100 ft above sea level and is very dry; Chapstick is essential and your clothes and shoes will be covered in dust

Bryce Canyon lies between 8000 and 9100 ft above sea level and is very dry; Chapstick is essential and your clothes and shoes will be covered in dust

I loved spotting the endangered Utah prairie dogs in the park!; during high season a shuttle service runs throughout the park since parking is very limited at the most popular trailheads and overlooks

I loved spotting the endangered Utah prairie dogs in the park!; during high season a shuttle service runs throughout the park since parking is very limited at the most popular trailheads and overlooks

Bryce Canyon is actually a series of giant, natural amphitheaters; the red, orange and white colors of the rocks provide spectacular views and endless photo ops

Bryce Canyon is actually a series of giant, natural amphitheaters; the red, orange and white colors of the rocks provide spectacular views and endless photo ops

Bryce is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks; despite its remote location, the park sees almost 3 million visitors a year

Bryce is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks; despite its remote location, the park sees almost 3 million visitors a year

Bristlecone pines can live to be thousands of years old and are highly resilient to harsh weather and bad soils; they do poorly in good soil but do very well where most other plants cannot even grow, such as in rocky soils with virtually no rainfall

Bristlecone pines can live to be thousands of years old and are highly resilient to harsh weather and bad soils; they do poorly in good soil but do very well where most other plants cannot even grow, such as in rocky soils with virtually no rainfall

One afternoon I did the Peekaboo Trail which involved a steep, slippery descent and then an endless climb back out of the amphitheater; it starts and ends at Bryce Point which is where people are standing just above the center of the photo

One afternoon I did the Peekaboo Trail which involved a steep, slippery descent and then an endless climb back out of the amphitheater; it starts and ends at Bryce Point which is where people are standing just above the center of the photo

The Wall of Windows; Bryce was not formed from erosion initiated from a central stream, meaning it technically is not a canyon

The Wall of Windows; Bryce was not formed from erosion initiated from a central stream, meaning it technically is not a canyon

Scooby-Doo Hoodoo; some of the hoodoos are named but I saw this one and named it myself; viewing the hoodoos is like a Rohrschach test with each person seeing something different

Scooby-Doo Hoodoo; some of the hoodoos are named but I saw this one and named it myself; viewing the hoodoos is like a Rohrschach test with each person seeing something different

I stayed at 100 yr old Ruby's Inn just outside the park; the campgrounds were full and there are very few hotels close to the park with Ruby's being the largest

I stayed at 100 yr old Ruby's Inn just outside the park; the campgrounds were full and there are very few hotels close to the park with Ruby's being the largest

The hikes in Bryce Canyon are deceptively challenging; the footing is treacherous in places and the climb out of the amphitheater at the end of a hike is brutal

The hikes in Bryce Canyon are deceptively challenging; the footing is treacherous in places and the climb out of the amphitheater at the end of a hike is brutal

The Uintah chipmunks are about the same size as a rat but much cuter; their primary diet consists of seeds from fir and pine trees along with berries

The Uintah chipmunks are about the same size as a rat but much cuter; their primary diet consists of seeds from fir and pine trees along with berries

Bryce Canyon is surrounded by the 2  million acre Dixie National Forest; the warm temperatures made early settlers think of the Deep South hence the name (but will it be changed?)

Bryce Canyon is surrounded by the 2+ million acre Dixie National Forest; the warm temperatures made early settlers think of the Deep South hence the name (but will it be changed?)

Due to its remote location, Bryce has one of the darkest skies in North America; you can see 7500 stars here with the naked eye versus only a couple of dozen when in a large city

Due to its remote location, Bryce has one of the darkest skies in North America; you can see 7500 stars here with the naked eye versus only a couple of dozen when in a large city

Hoodoos exist on every continent but Bryce Canyon has the largest concentration on earth; I loved the hoodoos (fairy chimneys) in Cappadocia, Turkey too

Hoodoos exist on every continent but Bryce Canyon has the largest concentration on earth; I loved the hoodoos (fairy chimneys) in Cappadocia, Turkey too

Bryce Canyon can easily be seen by just stopping at the many viewpoints along the Scenic Road; like Zion, admission is $35 per car and is good for a week

Bryce Canyon can easily be seen by just stopping at the many viewpoints along the Scenic Road; like Zion, admission is $35 per car and is good for a week

Masks were not required in the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center nor in my hotel, grocery store or shops; this is despite Utah and nearby Arizona setting daily Covid-19 records

Masks were not required in the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center nor in my hotel, grocery store or shops; this is despite Utah and nearby Arizona setting daily Covid-19 records

Posted by VagabondCowboy 23:50 Comments (0)

Citrus Ridge dive near Gam Island, Raja Ampat

I can see why the Citrus Ridge dive site is often referred to as an aquarium; the dive site got its name due to the many orange, yellow, pink, green, and purple soft corals that carpet the area and much of the ridge parts of the reef

I can see why the Citrus Ridge dive site is often referred to as an aquarium; the dive site got its name due to the many orange, yellow, pink, green, and purple soft corals that carpet the area and much of the ridge parts of the reef

Octopus; among the most fascinating creatures to discover on any dive!; normally they are so well-camouflaged that they are very difficult to spot

Octopus; among the most fascinating creatures to discover on any dive!; normally they are so well-camouflaged that they are very difficult to spot

Map puffer; these solitary animals use an extremely toxic sodium channel blocker to protect them from predators; unlike most fish, this species doesn't have scales

Map puffer; these solitary animals use an extremely toxic sodium channel blocker to protect them from predators; unlike most fish, this species doesn't have scales

We did 21 dives over 8 days but there are literally hundreds of known dive sites and more are being discovered every year in Raja Ampat; I would wonder if anyone had ever dived a particular spot as we passed in the boat

We did 21 dives over 8 days but there are literally hundreds of known dive sites and more are being discovered every year in Raja Ampat; I would wonder if anyone had ever dived a particular spot as we passed in the boat

Unique sea pen; I had never seen one of these plankton-eating animals before; their primary predators are nudibranchs and sea stars

Unique sea pen; I had never seen one of these plankton-eating animals before; their primary predators are nudibranchs and sea stars

The high marine diversity in Raja Ampat is strongly influenced by its position between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, as coral and fish larvae are more easily shared between the two oceans

The high marine diversity in Raja Ampat is strongly influenced by its position between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, as coral and fish larvae are more easily shared between the two oceans

Guineafowl puffer; when this fish is scared or frightened, they inflate and make themselves larger; this species is occasionally harvested for the aquarium trade but they can get quite large (2  ft)

Guineafowl puffer; when this fish is scared or frightened, they inflate and make themselves larger; this species is occasionally harvested for the aquarium trade but they can get quite large (2+ ft)

Granulated sea star; it is a carnivore and has its mouth on the underside of its body, like other sea stars; its prey include carrion and small invertebrates such as coral polyps

Granulated sea star; it is a carnivore and has its mouth on the underside of its body, like other sea stars; its prey include carrion and small invertebrates such as coral polyps

Pinnate spadefish; as a juvenile it is blackish brown, or black with an orange stripe outlining its entire body; this fish grows to a maximum size of 18 inches

Pinnate spadefish; as a juvenile it is blackish brown, or black with an orange stripe outlining its entire body; this fish grows to a maximum size of 18 inches

School of barracuda; these ferocious predators feed on an array of prey including fish such as jacks, grunts, groupers, snappers, small tunas, mullets, herrings and anchovies by simply biting them in half

School of barracuda; these ferocious predators feed on an array of prey including fish such as jacks, grunts, groupers, snappers, small tunas, mullets, herrings and anchovies by simply biting them in half

Dog-faced puffer; this species feeds on corals (usually Acropora tips), crustaceans, mollusks, sponges, tunicates and algae; instead of teeth, it has a fused beak-like structure which it uses to crush prey

Dog-faced puffer; this species feeds on corals (usually Acropora tips), crustaceans, mollusks, sponges, tunicates and algae; instead of teeth, it has a fused beak-like structure which it uses to crush prey

Blacktip reef shark; I never see sharks eat anything; maybe it happens so fast that I don't notice but I also don't see fish species fleeing to get away from the reef sharks

Blacktip reef shark; I never see sharks eat anything; maybe it happens so fast that I don't notice but I also don't see fish species fleeing to get away from the reef sharks

The six-banded angelfish is often seen in pairs, as it mates with one partner and they stay together for life; these fish are omnivores, eating worms, mollusks, and tunicates, sponges, corals and algae, and they are also known to eat other fishes' eggs

The six-banded angelfish is often seen in pairs, as it mates with one partner and they stay together for life; these fish are omnivores, eating worms, mollusks, and tunicates, sponges, corals and algae, and they are also known to eat other fishes' eggs

Camera-shy turtle; notice around the turtle the incredible variety of coral and plant life; with easy inspection, smaller creatures could be found throughout the healthy ecosystem

Camera-shy turtle; notice around the turtle the incredible variety of coral and plant life; with easy inspection, smaller creatures could be found throughout the healthy ecosystem

Posted by VagabondCowboy 03:47 Comments (0)

Angel's Landing hike in Zion National Park for the fearless

My hike ended at the base of Angel's Landing where the chain section starts (it was closed due to Covid-19); the trek up the spine of the ridge is the highlight of the hike but I enjoyed the views anyway

My hike ended at the base of Angel's Landing where the chain section starts (it was closed due to Covid-19); the trek up the spine of the ridge is the highlight of the hike but I enjoyed the views anyway

The Angel's Landing hike climbs 1500 feet from the floor of the valley; the trail is largely paved which made it much easier than I expected

The Angel's Landing hike climbs 1500 feet from the floor of the valley; the trail is largely paved which made it much easier than I expected

There's a sign at the beginning of the hike noting that 10 people have died on the trail in the last 15 years; with no guardrails and loose sandstone it's easy to see how accidents could happen

There's a sign at the beginning of the hike noting that 10 people have died on the trail in the last 15 years; with no guardrails and loose sandstone it's easy to see how accidents could happen

Condors have been reintroduced to Zion with the first chick being born in 2019; they have a wingspan of nearly 10 ft, can fly up to 50 mph and travel more than a hundred miles a day

Condors have been reintroduced to Zion with the first chick being born in 2019; they have a wingspan of nearly 10 ft, can fly up to 50 mph and travel more than a hundred miles a day

The toughest part of the hike was Walter's Wiggles, a series of 21 very steep switchbacks; the wiggles are named after Walter Ruesch, who was the first superintendent for Zion National Park and constructed the switchbacks in 1926

The toughest part of the hike was Walter's Wiggles, a series of 21 very steep switchbacks; the wiggles are named after Walter Ruesch, who was the first superintendent for Zion National Park and constructed the switchbacks in 1926

In 1847, Mormon farmers from the Salt Lake area became the first people of European descent to settle the Virgin River region; Zion (within the Mormon religion, Zion is used to connote an association of the righteous) National Park was established in 1919

In 1847, Mormon farmers from the Salt Lake area became the first people of European descent to settle the Virgin River region; Zion (within the Mormon religion, Zion is used to connote an association of the righteous) National Park was established in 1919

Least chipmunks were scurrying around (especially at the top) and not afraid of people; there is a big fine for feeding the wildlife so I behaved myself

Least chipmunks were scurrying around (especially at the top) and not afraid of people; there is a big fine for feeding the wildlife so I behaved myself

The stream gradient of the Virgin River, whose North Fork flows through Zion Canyon behind me, ranges from 50 to 80 feet per mile (0.91.5%)ne of the steepest stream gradients in North America

The stream gradient of the Virgin River, whose North Fork flows through Zion Canyon behind me, ranges from 50 to 80 feet per mile (0.9–1.5%)—one of the steepest stream gradients in North America

The 162 mile long Virgin River is a tributary of the Colorado River; it's hard to believe that this stream carved Zion Canyon although the water flow is significantly greater in the spring with snow melt

The 162 mile long Virgin River is a tributary of the Colorado River; it's hard to believe that this stream carved Zion Canyon although the water flow is significantly greater in the spring with snow melt

A prominent feature of the 229-square-mile park is Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles long and up to 2,640 ft deep; the canyon is difficult to photograph because the walls are so high and the canyon relatively narrow

A prominent feature of the 229-square-mile park is Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles long and up to 2,640 ft deep; the canyon is difficult to photograph because the walls are so high and the canyon relatively narrow

Black-headed grosbeak; a system of timed shuttle bus tickets has been implemented and I was fortunate to get ticket since they sold out quickly; without a ticket, you had to bike or walk into the park from Springdale

Black-headed grosbeak; a system of timed shuttle bus tickets has been implemented and I was fortunate to get ticket since they sold out quickly; without a ticket, you had to bike or walk into the park from Springdale

The white layer is the Temple Cap and consists of sandstone and a layer of mudstone formed by coastal sand dunes and tidal flats during the incursion of a shallow inland sea which took place in the Jurassic period 170 million years ago

The white layer is the Temple Cap and consists of sandstone and a layer of mudstone formed by coastal sand dunes and tidal flats during the incursion of a shallow inland sea which took place in the Jurassic period 170 million years ago

Posted by VagabondCowboy 05:33 Comments (0)

Great animal variety at iSimangaliso Wetland Park,S. Africa

Our tour had touted snorkeling in the Indian Ocean here but that was all hype; the water was rough and the currents very strong which is just what I remembered from my previous visit in 2000

Our tour had touted snorkeling in the Indian Ocean here but that was all hype; the water was rough and the currents very strong which is just what I remembered from my previous visit in 2000

I think this hippo looks sad because he's too big for any of the lounge chairs; the hippos feed at night when it's cooler before returning to the river where they spend the day

I think this hippo looks sad because he's too big for any of the lounge chairs; the hippos feed at night when it's cooler before returning to the river where they spend the day

The monkey population at the beach seemed to be thriving with lots of little ones; they were very sneaky with one distracting you while another grabbed any food you had

The monkey population at the beach seemed to be thriving with lots of little ones; they were very sneaky with one distracting you while another grabbed any food you had

Banded mongoose; this species lives in colonies with a complex social structure; we saw dozens of them together foraging for food around a campground

Banded mongoose; this species lives in colonies with a complex social structure; we saw dozens of them together foraging for food around a campground

This vervet monkey seemed to be playing hide and seek with the baby; this species is highly clever and steals whatever they can get from humans

This vervet monkey seemed to be playing hide and seek with the baby; this species is highly clever and steals whatever they can get from humans

Timing is everything for dung beetles so you'll see them on only the freshest piles;  if the dung has been sitting long enough to dry out, the beetles can’t suck out the nutrition they need

Timing is everything for dung beetles so you'll see them on only the freshest piles; if the dung has been sitting long enough to dry out, the beetles can’t suck out the nutrition they need

iSimangaliso Wetland Park is in the NE corner of South Africa; because of the rich biodiversity, the park is justifiably famous for the unique ecosystems and natural beauty occurring in a relatively small area

iSimangaliso Wetland Park is in the NE corner of South Africa; because of the rich biodiversity, the park is justifiably famous for the unique ecosystems and natural beauty occurring in a relatively small area

Tawny eagles have a wingspan of 63-75 inches and can live 15  years; they are often spotted next to highways since roadkill is one of their primary sources of food

Tawny eagles have a wingspan of 63-75 inches and can live 15+ years; they are often spotted next to highways since roadkill is one of their primary sources of food

White rhino; iSimangaliso Wetland Park was previously known as Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

White rhino; iSimangaliso Wetland Park was previously known as Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Not your everyday warning sign!; the town of St. Lucia has a population of only 1100 but it's entirely focused on tourism and the closest town to iSimangaliso Wetland Park

Not your everyday warning sign!; the town of St. Lucia has a population of only 1100 but it's entirely focused on tourism and the closest town to iSimangaliso Wetland Park

Vervet monkeys are known for their many human-like habits with the species often used in biomedical research; they can live 12  years in the wild and 24  years in captivity

Vervet monkeys are known for their many human-like habits with the species often used in biomedical research; they can live 12+ years in the wild and 24+ years in captivity

The park is home to 1200  Nile crocodiles who shared the waters with 800  hippopotomi; the crocodile is the largest freshwater predator in Africa and can exceed 20 ft in length

The park is home to 1200+ Nile crocodiles who shared the waters with 800+ hippopotomi; the crocodile is the largest freshwater predator in Africa and can exceed 20 ft in length

Yes, I'm keeping my eye on you!; the word hippopotamus comes from the ancient Greek for river horse but their closest living relatives are whales and dolphins

Yes, I'm keeping my eye on you!; the word hippopotamus comes from the ancient Greek for river horse but their closest living relatives are whales and dolphins

It seemed odd to see a bushbuck in the sand along dunes at the beach but they are highly adaptable and have a simple diet of leaves and twigs; they are very good swimmers, easily crossing rivers 3  km wide

It seemed odd to see a bushbuck in the sand along dunes at the beach but they are highly adaptable and have a simple diet of leaves and twigs; they are very good swimmers, easily crossing rivers 3+ km wide

Warthogs have very short necks and can't reach the grass unless they are kneeling down like this; warthogs like to live in abandoned burrows that were dug out by other animals, such as aardvarks or porcupines

Warthogs have very short necks and can't reach the grass unless they are kneeling down like this; warthogs like to live in abandoned burrows that were dug out by other animals, such as aardvarks or porcupines

The road through the park looked recently paved and I wonder if the workers had guards watching out for dangers; lions were reintroduced to the park in 2013 after an absence of 44 yrs

The road through the park looked recently paved and I wonder if the workers had guards watching out for dangers; lions were reintroduced to the park in 2013 after an absence of 44 yrs

Red forest duiker; duiker is a word meaning diver in Dutch, which refers to their practice of diving into tangles of shrubbery to escape predators

Red forest duiker; duiker is a word meaning diver in Dutch, which refers to their practice of diving into tangles of shrubbery to escape predators

Samango monkeys are not common in South Africa, existing only in the coastal forests in the NE part of the country; their diet changes with time of the day with fruit in the morning and leaves in the afternoon

Samango monkeys are not common in South Africa, existing only in the coastal forests in the NE part of the country; their diet changes with time of the day with fruit in the morning and leaves in the afternoon

Dung beetles roll dung into round balls, which are used as a food source or breeding chambers; they can move dung balls weighing up to 50 times the animal’s own weight

Dung beetles roll dung into round balls, which are used as a food source or breeding chambers; they can move dung balls weighing up to 50 times the animal’s own weight

We felt this boat was encroaching on the hippos territory and were waiting to see if the hippos would let them know it; fortunately, the hippos tolerated the aggressive tourists and all survived unscathed

We felt this boat was encroaching on the hippos territory and were waiting to see if the hippos would let them know it; fortunately, the hippos tolerated the aggressive tourists and all survived unscathed

You can see where vervet monkeys get their nickname; these monkeys rarely leave the trees since their primary predators are caracals, servals, crocodiles, hyenas and pythons

You can see where vervet monkeys get their nickname; these monkeys rarely leave the trees since their primary predators are caracals, servals, crocodiles, hyenas and pythons

Posted by VagabondCowboy 04:17 Comments (0)

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