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JAKARTA - INDONESIA

Stuck in filthy, raining Jakarta for 4 days because a volcano was erupting in the area I was originally planning on visiting. Luckily I found a zoo to visit on the one sunny day I was here.

rain 35 °C

After my 5 days in Borneo, I flew to Jakarta, Indonesia. Jakarta was just supposed to be a one night thing before heading to Yogyakarta to see Borobudur (one of the top things I came to Indonesia to see), but as it turns out, Mt Kelut was erupting in that area!! No flights were being allowed to land or take off, over 100,000 people had been evacuated, and everything was covered in 2 inches of ash! So I canceled my flight and was stuck in filthy Jakarta for 4 days days rather than just one!!

I found a hotel in Jakarta on Expedia, but decided to not book it, but rather to just show up without a reservation and hopefully get an even better rate. My plan failed. The Expedia rate was $32 ... the rate I was quoted by just arriving was $98!!!! How can Expedia be less than half the price?! So I stood there in front of the desk clerk, whipped out my phone, and proceeded to book a room on Expedia at the cheaper rate. Then we stood there staring at eachother while he waited for my reservation to come through in his system, lol! Awkward.

The hotel was called NEO Tendean, and was awesome! Super modern, everything wonderfully clean, great staff, etc. My only complaint is that the one & only restaurant had a very limited menu of only spicy food. But other than that it was a great place to be stuck for 4 days. And again, I forgot to take photos of it. The views from my room on the other hand ... well, have a look and see.
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That river looked like the kind of river you'd see a dead body floating by in. But it was nice to be able to see into local life and take photos through my window without walking through the neighborhood like a tourist with my camera.
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Of the 4 days I was stuck here, 3 of them rained :( On my one sunny day, I headed to Ragunan Zoo. I thought that cab ride there was going to cost a fortune because it took at least 30min. But it was only $5 CAD :) And admission to the zoo was only 4500 Rupiah ($0.40!!!) I have no idea how they manage to pay the employees and feed all the animals with only 40 cents admission!! The zoo was HUGE! SO many animals, each with their own keepers / handlers.

The first thing I saw upon entering the gates, was a pond area full of massive pelicans! We have pelicans in Canada, but they're only about 1/3 of the size of these ones!! And I just loved the colors on their faces!
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At the gate you get a map, which is not in English, so good luck to you. I'm not exaggerating when I say I was there from 9am until closing time and only saw half of it!! So be sure to wear good shoes. I made the mistake of wearing flip flops, and my feet were killing me by the end of the day. There are few signs, which are also not in English (but that is to be expected, as I'm not at home any more, I dont expect the whole world to have everything in English just for me). But the signs usually had a photo as well, so a sign with a photo of a tiger should mean "tigers this way!" I made a bee-line to the tigers, cuz they are my favorite of the large cats, and I'd never seen one before!
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They're so cute, and orange, and stripey :)
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Yawning tiger
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He just wants a belly rub like all kitties :)
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Pooping tiger, lol!
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Grooming himself
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He looks like he's scheming on how to eat me for lunch!
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The bigger animals, like the tigers, lions, elephants, komodos, etc, were NOT in cages. They were in a 'pit' with a 'moat' around it. So people can be eye level with the animals, and dont have to worry about stupid cage bars obscuring their view, but are still safe because of the moat (which was about 15-20ft deep, and 10-15ft across). Here is a photo of an elephant in his enclosure so you can see what I mean. (Its alot deeper than it looks, but the foliage is filling it up).
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Asian Elephants look very different from their African cousins. I think they are actually quite homely looking compared to African Elephants. They have small droopy ears, rather than the huge open ears of their cousins. They also have hollow faces, 2 big bumps on tops of their heads, and are alot smaller. Here's a photo of an Asian elephant, followed by an African elephant I photographed in South Africa last year so you can see the difference.

Asian Elephant
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African Elephant - much more beautiful in my opinion. Those big ears make all the difference :)
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Elephant tail. The 'hair' is very wiry, and there were places selling bracelets made of elephant tail hair!
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Elephant foot
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And my favorite ... elephant trunk.
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Next up were the Malayan Sun Bears. My first time seeing a bear! I live in Canada, and apparently theres bears here, but I've never seen one.
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There were alot of orangutan enclosures throughout the park. I got to see a male orang which had the massive (and ugly) cheek pads. I'm very thankful I got to see orangutans in the wild in Borneo before seeing them here, because they are SO FAT in the zoo! Morbidly obese actually! Poor thing is so fat it cant even close its legs!!
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Male with its cheek pads. They should not be flopping over like that ... thats extra fat as well. And that 'bag' of fat hanging from his neck ... also not supposed to be there, all fat!!!
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It looks like he's giving me the finger, but he's really just holding up his fat face, lol!
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I came across another orangutan enclosure with another alpha male. His cheek pads were more normal sized, but look at those dreadlocks!!
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There are signs everywhere indicating not to feed the animals, but stupid tourists still throw cheezies to them. No wonder they are fat!
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Look at this thing! Doesnt it look like a man in a Sasquatch costume, lol?!
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Strange looking creatures thats for sure!
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So flexible!
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There were a few deer (not sure what kind) that were wandering around freely. But when they spotted me, they froze,and watched my every move.
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This racoon looks like he had a rough night, LOL!
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I walked around, and when I came back to the racoon he had switched to this position, hahaha!
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Black Tonkean Macaque
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Silver Leaf Monkey
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Gibbon
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Bintorang, aka Asian Bear Cat
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I'm not sure what kind of little antelope this was, cuz the sign was in Indonesian. But it was so tiny I could have held it in one hand!
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Within the zoo, there is a separate Primate Enclosure housing gorillas, more orangutans, chimps, and a variety of smaller monkeys. It has its own admission price of 6000 Rupiah (only $0.55). I walked around in that enclosure for at least an hour searching for the chimps & gorillas, but I just couldnt find them! Oh, I found their enclosures alright, but it was so big, with so many trees, that I probably walked right past them without seeing them. Theres even a skywalk / boardwalk thing up high so you can look down at them. Finally when I was about to give up I found 2 massive gorillas!!!
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They are seriously huge! Much, much bigger than a human! Taller, and twice as broad as a football player!!
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'Zoolander' gorilla giving me his best 'blue steal' pose
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I never realized how flat their faces were!
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Look how big his head is!!
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And last, but not least ... Komodo Dragons! These guys were another of my top reasons I chose to visit Indonesia. But now for my predicament ... I wanted my first Komodo sighting to be of wild dragons, not in a zoo! In a few days time I would be flying to Flores to go houseboating in Komodo National Park and hopefully see some Komodos in the wild ... but what if I didnt see any in the wild, and had passed on seeing them in the zoo?! I'd go home not seeing any! I've had such bad luck with wildlife in the past (going cage diving with Great Whites ... but not seeing any sharks; going whale watching ... and not seeing any whales), that in the end I decided to see them in the zoo.
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THEY WERE SO BIG!!! 9ft long! Like a massive black iguana, that walks like a crocodile, with a tongue like a snake!
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One good thing about deciding to see them in the zoo, is that I happened to arrive at feeding time!
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Their handler whistled and they came lumbering over like little dinosaurs. Just like dogs looking for a treat!
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Bird? What bird? I dont know what your talking about.
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I always thought Komodo Dragons were venomous, but all that slobber you see is not venom. Komodos actually have so much bacteria in their salivia, that one bite from a Komodo can kill by infection!
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Look how thick that tail is!!! It was as thick as my thigh!
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The handler and his pet dragon :)
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Thats all for Jakarta. I had one more day here, but it rained again. So in 4 days, all I got to do was visit the zoo.

Posted by ChantelleS 15:35 Archived in Malaysia Tagged wildlife indonesia elephant zoo city animal dragon tiger asia bear orangutan komodo Comments (0)

BAKO NATIONAL PARK, BORNEO - MALAYSIA

It took 6hrs of hiking in the rain, but we finally came across the world's rarest primate ... Proboscis Monkeys!!

rain 35 °C

Well, today sucked, but was awesome all at the same time. My number one reason for choosing to travel to Borneo was to see orangutans & proboscis monkeys in the wild.
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When I woke up this morning it was really cloudy and looked like it might rain, but I headed to Bako National Park anyways, seeing how I only had 5 days total in Borneo I didnt want to waste a day. I took a taxi from Kuching to Bako NP for 50 Ringgit ($17 CAD). Yes, theres also a bus that will take you there. No, I did not feel like searching for the correct bus stop, nor standing around waiting for it. As soon as my taxi arrived at the boat termianl to Bako NP it started raining. And by raining, I mean pouring!! Sigh. Luckily there was a guy selling rain ponchos! It was the best 5 Ringgit I ever spent, lol! It kept me & my camera gear dry.
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Myself, and a handful of other tourists who had their hearts set on seeing proboscis monkeys, decided to sit in the boat terminal and see if the rain would let up. It didnt. In the mean time I met a wonderful girl named Izabela from Poland. It was her last day in Kuching and she wasnt leaving until she saw some monkeys. We became instant friends :) I'm so thankful I met her, cuz if I hadnt, I probably would have gotten back in that taxi and went back to my hotel. But instead we waited until the pouring rain turnt into a light drizzle, and shared a boat to Bako NP. You pay per boat, not per person. No one else wanted to join us in the rain, so it was 47 Ringgit each (that inc paying the boat driver to stay and extra hour in the park), $16 CAD.
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Some views from the boat along the way.
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Arriving in Bako NP we found out there is no pier. They just drop you in thigh deep water and you have to wade to shore. Not fun when its already raining.

Arriving in Bako NP
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As soon as we made it to shore, it starting pouring again. And what do I do? Slip and fall in my flip flops, stub my big toe, and rip my toenail off!! Completely off! I nearly vomited it was so gross!! Thankfully there is a lodge here with a medical center (who fixed me up good), toilets & a cafeteria. The food was cold and gross, so bring your own if you can. We ate a crappy lunch together, and then sat watching the rain for awhile, hoping it'd let up. It didnt. So we donned our rain ponchos, and huddling together under my umbrella, we walked the trails, looking up into the falling rain, in search of the world's rarest primate! It was great to share this adventure with someone who appreciates wildlife as much as I do, and understands how incredibly rare these animals are!

Well the first 5 soggy hours all we found were some wet Bornean Bearded Pigs near the lodge, and a few Long-Tailed Macaques.
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Even though it literally rained the entire time we were here, one could not complain. The rainforest is SO lush & green! And despite the rain, we weren't cold because it was still 30C out! We were prunes by the end of the day though, lol!
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Part way down one trail was a shelter-hut. We stopped to take a few photos. Izabela set her backpack down, and a macaque stole it in 2.0 seconds!! They can be quite vicious, so you dont want to just walk up and take your bag back. No point in getting bitten / rabies. With one bite it had chomped a hole right through the canvas material!! But Izabela needed her backpack back ... her passport was in it! So I gave her my umbrella to use as a sort of shield to protect herself in case the monkey attacked. She opened & closed the umbrella over & over again in front of the monkey and that scared the monkey off. Backpack saved :)
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We took a break from walking through puddles and staring up into the trees, and headed back to the lodge. We were beginning to feel defeated, that we had wasted our money and an entire day. But then we talked to some people who had been staying in some of the cabins for rent in the park who said the proboscis monkeys come close to the lodge around supper time because they can smell the food. We decided to take a chance and paid our boat driver to wait an extra hour til supper time in hopes of spotting some. And it was the best decision of the day!! Sure enough, right around supper time we heard a 'bang bang bang' as a huge proboscis monkey jumped out of a tree, landed on the metal roof of a nearby cabin, ran across it, and then lept into a tree!!! Rain ponchos on, umbrella up, and off we went cameras in hand to get a closer look :)
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They are tall like a man! Much bigger than I was expecting! And the noses ... hahaha! The males have a huge nose! They look like Muppets :)
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Eventually the big male lept from tree to tree and disappeared deeper into the rainforest. But now our spirits were up, and the rain even stopped! So we went exploring once again.
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They are quite active, but I managed to get a photo of one leaping from one tree to the next.
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The females are alot smaller, and dont have those big noses.
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We even spotted this baby way up in the trees :)
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That last hour that we paid the boat driver was definitely worth it, but it went by much too fast. After a successful, albeit wet, day, we headed back down the river to the boat terminal. Only to discover that all buses & taxis disappeared after the park closed. So we were trapped in a little village. But we made the most of it. We found a little outdoor market.
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Beside the market was a little shack of a restaurant where I ate the best meal I had the whole time in Borneo! The ladies working there didnt speak a word of English so we had no idea what we were going to get. But what we got was delicious and only $1! A great end to the day :) We hitched a ride back to Kuching with a local man heading that way in his car. Call it hitchhiking I suppose ;)
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Posted by ChantelleS 20:05 Archived in Malaysia Tagged rainforest wildlife monkey malaysia jungle borneo animal pig proboscis Comments (0)

LAKE BRATAN, BALI - INDONESIA

Lakeside hotels with volcano views, temples on the lake, a waterfall, and many crazy creatures for me to hold!

sunny 25 °C

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Today started awesome, and ended of with a pervert. Allow me to start from the beginning ...
I woke up in Jatiluwih and took a taxi for 200,000 Rupiah (about $16) to Lake Bratan. It was a 1hr scenic drive through mountains/volcanoes, rice fields and villages. I checked in to a hotel called Ashram for one night, located on the side of a hill overlooking Lake Bratan, its temple, and volcano on the other side of the lake.

View of my hotel on the hill
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My little bungalow
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It was a fairly basic hotel for 200,000 Rupiah. It had hot water & free breakfast (although not a big selection), but no a/c. But it turns out I didnt need it. It gets chilly at night up in the mountains. I actually had to throw on linen pants, an extra shirt, and use the extra blanket off the 2nd bed to keep warm! Definitely wasnt expecting that at the equator! Normally Indonesia is like a oven, and I'm constantly covered in sweat, but today I didnt sweat at all while exploring. It was nice actually.

View from my room
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My favorite thing about this hotel was the gardens. Actually I dont think it was a garden, Bali is just covered in tropical flowers wherever you go!
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After walking around the garden for awhile, I headed to the temple on the lake. I could see it clearly from the hotel's vantage point on the hill overlooking the lake, so I didnt need directions, I just walked over there. It was only about a 10min walk along the lake to get there.

The temple's name is Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. Admission was 30,000 Rupiah ($2.50 Canadian). These were the entrance gates.
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The grounds were quite large, but not at all what I was expecting. There were giant plastic dragons, frogs, eagles, etc everywhere. It looked like a child's playground. I dont understand why these tacky, plastic things were everywhere, but if you can look past that, it was actually really beautiful.
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Steps tiled in tiny stone mosaics.
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There were colorful boats to rent lined up alongside the temple (and also tacky plastic swan paddle boats)
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Stupa
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And finally, the part of the temple that was on the lake.
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As I was heading back to the main gate to leave, I noticed an area with a bunch of animals. Real animals, not plastic ones. For $8 I could hold as many animals as I wanted, for as long as I wanted, and take as many photos as I wanted. Deal! First up was a Giant Fruit Bat! And by giant, I mean GIANT! I didnt know bats could get this big! LOOK AT IT! Once you agree to hold it, they dont give you any time to freak out or change your mind. They just tell you to put your hand a certain way, and suddenly BAM, your holding a giant bat!!
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He's even kinda cute. He has the face of a small dog.
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Then I held some absolutely adorable baby owls!!
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Then I held a Hornbill! I dont know what kind of hornbill it was because the guys didnt speak enough English to know its name. All I know is it was WAY bigger than the ones I saw in Africa! They covered my arm with something so the its claws wouldnt dig into me. This guy made me a little nervous, not gonna lie. Look at that footlong beak!! I was scared he'd stab my eyeballs out with it! But he didnt. Turns out he's not as scary as he looks ... he liked belly rubs, lol!
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The yellow bulge under his chin felt like a balloon.
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I was told to put my hand in its beak. I'm not sure why I did it, perhaps cuz the guy went first showing me it didnt hurt. It didnt hurt at all, just a little pinch.
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After spending about 1.5hrs at the temple and with the animals, I walked across the street to a restaurant for lunch (I cant remember the name of it). I was expecting it to be super expensive, considering it was located right across the street from a tourist attraction, was 3 stories high with lakeviews, and offered free wifi ... but it wasnt. For $3.35 I had crispy teryaki chicken, a huge pile of sticky rice, and a salad. Food here is SO cheap! I also had an iced hazelnut mocha for another $3. It was so tastey I ordered a 2nd one! Much better than anything at Starbucks ;)

So, next comes the pervert. I walked around negotiating rates for a ride to Gitgit Waterfall. I ended up choosing a guy (the wrong guy as it turns out) who offered to drive me there, wait for me, and then drive me back, for 140,000 Rupiah (about $11). As soon as we hit the road he was trying to hold my hand, or put his arm around me. I just removed his hand & shrugged his arm off of me and turnt away from him to look out the window and ignore him. He stopped the vehicle and I thought he was gonna leave me in the middle of nowhere cuz i rejected him. But instead he was stopping so I could take photos of a viewpoint over the lake.
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Then we got back in and continued on our way. Once again he started trying to hold my hand, and I kept pushing it away saying 'no' as firmly as I could. But he spoke 4 words of english, and apparently NO wasnt one of them. And of course I dont speak a word of Indonesian. Again I just turnt away to look out the window. He tapped me on the shoulder, so I looked, and with his hands he was making an absurd jerking off motion!!! Ugh! What does it take for this loser to take a hint?! I would've just made him stop and let me out, but we were literally in the middle of nowhere and there wasnt much traffic. I didnt want to end up stranded somewhere. So I did the only thing I could think of that would be universal in every language ... I gave him the finger. And he finally understood!! But he wasnt impressed. He then proceeded to drive with road rage along the twisty turny mountain roads at high speeds! Now I was scared for me life, as he was only using one hand to make these turn, while he smoked a cigarette with the other. Finally we arrived in a small town. I got out and slammed the door. I assumed he was going to either take off and leave me there, or actually wait for me while I walked down to the waterfall. But instead he led me all the way to the falls. But he was walking so fast he was practically running, I could barely keep up! I wanted to take a leisurely walk to the waterfall, enjoy the scenery, and take photos along the way. But wouldnt have any of it. Every few minutes he'd turn around and see that I was waaaay behind, and wave frantically for me to hurry up. It was a 20min fast paced walk amongst many, many souvenir vendors.
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When we finally arrived at Gitgit Waterfall, the cool mist from the falls was very welcome after that sweaty high speed race through the jungle. I gave him my camera to take a photo of me ... and then he was ready to leave. Really? I didnt just drive 30min dealing with your bullsh!t the whole way, race down to the waterfall, take one photo ... and then leave?!
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He was honestly SO mad at me, although he's the one that was the perv. After about 7min at the waterfall we raced back up to the parking lot, got in the vehicle, and drove like a crazy person all the way back to Lake Bratan in silence. What a waste of time that was, sigh. And then, get this, he DARED to ask for a tip!!! I flipped him the bird again and slammed the door! Good riddance. So like I said in the beginning, the morning was amazing, the afternoon not so much. Unfortunately I dont think theres anyway to avoid pervs. As a single woman traveling solo, you never know what you going to get when you get into a cab. I ended my day by purchasing some fresh strawberries from a street vendor and heading back to my room. Northern Bali is known for its strawberries, so make sure you try them, they were tasty. Well thats it for Lake Bratan, I left the next day. That guy ruined it for me. Jerk. My next post I will be in southern Bali :)

Posted by ChantelleS 14:03 Archived in Indonesia Tagged boat bali wildlife indonesia temple lake waterfall animal asia båt owl Comments (0)

HUATULCO, MEXCIO

January 21-28, 2014 Waterfalls, iguanas & butterflies, and a stunning sunrise!

sunny 37 °C

My first trip of 2014 was to Huatulco, Mexico. I was hired to photograph a Destination Wedding there :) The bride & groom put me up at the amazing Dreams Huatulco Resort. As I was going through my photos to select ones for this blog post, I realized I didnt actually take that many of the resort itself, but this was my room. large_IMG_4893-001.jpg

View from the beach bar :)
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One of 6 pools (3 of which were infinity pools).
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The resort was located on Tangolunda Bay, one of nine bays in Huatulco.
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I went for a walk to the other end of the beach where there was a pier (above photos), lots of birds fishing, local fisherman, and loads of tropical flowers/plants.
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I only had 2 days of 'work' while there, one day to shoot the wedding, and a second day to do more family photos, otherwise the rest of the days were mine to do as I wanted. So one day I headed to the Yee-lo-bee Butterfly Farm. I just took a taxi and paid the entrance fee once there. Taxi & admission was around $30. Much cheaper than the $80 the resort wanted for a tour! I met 3 Canadians ladies there, and we toured the place together, then stopped for freshed squeezed lemonade afterwards :)
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The 'farm' is a giant greenhouse dome filled with tropical plants and 100s, if not 1000s of butterflies! I think I spent about 1hr in there, trying to photograph each kind of butterfly. If your patient they will eventually land on you :)
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Caterpillar
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Also at the butterfly farm was an iguana hatchery! Bonus! They had Black Iguanas & Green Iguanas of various ages. They breed them here, then release them into the wild ... or so they say.
Black Iguana
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Green Iguana
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They asked if I wanted to hold them ... of course!
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The baby Green Iguanas were my favorite! So cute! They look like the little Giecko gecko from the commercials, lol!
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Colorful bougainvillea were everywhere!
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There was also a pond area at the butterfly farm with these odd looking ducks.
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After a few lemonades, I hopped back in my cab, which had waited for me, and headed back to the resort. Its really only a 10min drive or so, so dont let a cabbie charge you a ton of money! So on the drive back my cabbie decided to hit on me. First he asked if I liked Huatulco. I said yes. Then he asked if I'd like to move here. I saw where this was going right away, lol! This isnt my first time out of the country, I'm no fool. So I answered him with a big NO. But that didnt deter him. He then asked if I liked dancing. NO. He still proceded to ask if I wanted to go to a disco with him that night. No deal. And then finally he asked if I'd like to go to a nude beach with him! Hahahahaaaa, no thank you greasey Mexican, no thank you!!
Back safely at the resort I enjoyed a beautiful sunset.
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The next day I took a stroll through town and found a little spa and got a 1/2hr massage for a fraction of the cost of one at the resort's spa. I also came across a local tour agency offering all the same excursions that the resort was. I booked a tour to a waterfall. Resort's price ... $85. Local agency price ... $40! If you've never been on an all-inclusive vacation before, my #1 tip would be to never ever book excursions through your resort. Just walk across the street to a local agency and get the same tour for half the price. Literally. Resorts always tell you that the local places will rip you off. Not so. I use local agencies wherever I travel. Its the big resorts that are ripping people off!
The drive to the waterfall, however, is brutal! Long, potholes, twisty & turny, up & down! If you get motion sickness easily, take Gravol beforehand, and try to sit in front of you can.
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The walk from the parking lot to the falls is easy, but theres is 2 sets of steep stairs.
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But the walk back was a different route along the river with no steep stairs.
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The waterfall is named Cascada Magica. It has many tiers, a rope swing, and shallow areas for safe swimming. But my favorite part was that there were only 5 other people there!
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After a few hours at the falls, lunch was at a coffee plantation. I'm not one for trying new food, but I did try fried cactus (yuck), and hibiscus juice (yum). They actually put the flowers in water. Let it sit overnight. Then drain the water out & add sugar. It tastes a bit like fruit punch, but not as sweet.
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On the last day I got up at the butt crack of dawn to watch the sunrise. The sun doesnt rise at my beach, so I hitched a ride with the front desk girl's surfer boyfriend to a place called La Bocana.
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The sunrise was the best I've ever seen!
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There was a little pond/pool of water where the river ended with a perfect little boat with peeling turqoise paint floating on it. It was just screaming for a photoshoot ;)
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Silhouetted heron
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After taking more than enough photos of the little boat, I walked across the beach to the ocean where there was a giant piece of driftwood covered in birds sunning themselves as the sun came up.
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I was the only one on this beach, other than the friend that came with me, and a local surfer girl.
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2 birdies gossiping
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So many birds!!
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I took a walk to the far end of the beach where there was a massive flock of American Black Vultures. No one else was on this beach, just me & the vultures! In that moment I forgot I was in one of the most touristy countries in the world!
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I walked very slowly amongst the vultures. They didnt fly away, not even one.
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But they all had their beady little eyes on me! Every time I took a step they'd turn their heads collectively as one, and stare at me. I'd stand still and wait for them to go back to feeding, then take another step ... and they'd all turn & look at me again.
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They were busy feeding on a stingray carcass.
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Not gonna lie, I was nervous that'd they'd attack me. But they didnt. One thing I learnt in Africa is to give wildlife space, move slowly, and they'll mind their own business.
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Cute little hut on the beach.
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After 6hrs at this awesome beach, I had no choice but to head back to my resort. It was time to checkout and head to the airport :( But not before I found a cute little parrot!
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Thats it for Mexico. Next up will be Indonesia :)

Posted by ChantelleS 12:00 Archived in Mexico Tagged wildlife beach mexico bird waterfall iguana animal butterfly Comments (0)

CHOBE NATIONAL PARK, BOTSWANA

Chobe River boat cruise & Chobe NP camping Safari. April 3rd & 4th, 2013

overcast 27 °C

I was staying in Livingstone, Zambia and had booked a 2 day \ 1 night camping safari in Chobe National Park in Botswana. Livingstone is approx 45-60min from the Zambia \ Botswana border. I booked it online prior to arriving in Africa through Kalahari Tours. It was $234US, and included pickup at my hotel in Livingstone, transportation to the border, an escort to help me through customs \ border crossing & get visas (if you know you will be exiting / re-entering Zambia during your stay, purchase a multi-entry visa for $80, rather than 2 single entry visas for $50 each), I was then introduced to a rep from Kalahari Tours on the Botswanan side and led to a ferry that crossed the Zambezi River, where I then met my Game Ranger who made sure I got on the correct safari vehicle. I'm sure if I'd attempted all that on my own, I would've been lost! Also included was a riverboat cruise on the Chobe River, then lunch at a lodge, and an afternoon game drive, tenting accomodation, all meals, and 2 more game drives on day 2 before being brought back to the border, and back to my hotel.

When taking the ferry from Zambia to Botswana across the Zambezi River, there is a point on the river where 4 countries meet ... Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe & Namibia. So for a brief moment I was in 4 countries at the same time :)

After a quick breakfast at a lodge, myself and others on the camping trip, were led to the river where we boarded a double decker pontoon boat for a cruise along the Chobe River.
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Elephants were absolutely everywhere! Every bend in the river was home to yet another herd of elephants. It was incredible to watch them coming out of the trees \ hills to drink from the river, and play in the water :)
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Adorable baby elephant!!
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I saw a total of 4 pods of hippos chillin' in the river! I LOVE hippos!
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Mama & adorable baby hippo :)
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More elephants ...
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Charging elephant
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Pooping elephant, lol!
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Cormorant
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Baby croc
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Nile Crocodile
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"Monster" tree
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I wish I had been on a smaller boat like the 1 in this photo ... look how close they got to these impalas!
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Fighting ellies!
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Sniffing the air for danger
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Another charging elephant
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After the 3hr riverboat cruise, we stopped for lunch at a lodge. Afterwards we switched to an open-air safari vehicle for a 3hr game drive through Chobe National Park.
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Giraffe snuggles :)
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Impala ... "Who's on my bum?"
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THIS is the photo I came to Africa to get!!! More than anything, I wanted to see a giraffe bending down awkwardly ... and I got TWO of them, plus the 2 matching giraffes in the background! I couldnt have choreographed it better :)
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A herd of giraffes is called a 'journey of giraffes'
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Adorable baby giraffe :)
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We got REALLY close to a herd of elephants! Uncomfortably close!
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Poke ... this little ellie kept bugging the other one to play
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Here he's nudging the other one, lol! He even ended up sitting on top of the other one! He just wanted someone to play with!
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Love this one!
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Peek-a-boo!
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My favorite elephant photo!
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Baby elephant trying to suckle
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Dung Beetle
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My game ranger, Sinka, holding a Leopard Tortoise
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Dragonfly on someone's hat
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Puku - a type of antelope I never knew existed! Looks very similar to an impala, but its bigger and furrier.
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One of the hi-lights of the day was finding this lion eating a warthog!!!!!!
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We were only a few feet away! So close I could hear bones crunching and guts squishing! Totally disgusting, yet totally awesome at the same time!
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We later came across a 2nd lion ... this one wasnt all bloodied up
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Traffic in Chobe
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Impala
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Around 5pm we drove down to the shores of the Chobe River to watch all the animals come for a sundowner. The first animals to show up were a troop of baboons.
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A young baboon playing with elephant poo
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Adorable baby baboon! Look at those big ears!
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Baby baboon playing with a rock
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Mama & youngster drinking from the Chobe River
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Then some giraffes showed up at the river
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Fighting giraffes!
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Chobe River
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Male kudu
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Egyptian Goose
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Sunset over the Chobe River
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After the sun set we drove to our camp. There were 8 tents set up in a semi-circle, and 18 camp chairs set in a circle around the campfire. I assumed supper would be hotdogs & hamburgers, but the game rangers-turned-cooks made us beef stroganoff, steamed veggies and dessert.
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Sleeping in a tent alone was scary ... it is NOT quiet at night! Nocturnal birds, animals & insects could be heard all night long!
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At 12:30am I had to pee. But since I was alone, I didnt have anyone to watch my back as I walked to the bush toilet, aka pit latrine. I shone my flashlight all around a few times, looking for any eyes glowing in the dark! When I didnt see any I quickly just peed beside my tent as fast as I could, and then jumped back in! And no joke, no sooner had I climbed back into my sleeping bag, I heard a lion roar!!!! I nearly crapped my pants! I was JUST outside and there was a lion nearby! The camp was not fenced, so anything could wander past my tent! I also heard an elephant trumpet, and something lumbered past my tent! I think I slept 1hr total, lol!
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Bush shower
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Good morning ... I survived the night!
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The morning game drive began at 6:30am. Unfortunately the 1st 3hrs were very quiet. We saw a few impala & warthogs, and lots of birds, but no big game til later in the morning.
Lilac-breasted Roller - Botswana's national bird
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Vulture
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Guinea Fowl, aka 'Chobe Chicken'
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Warthog
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Kneeling down to eat
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Ox Pecker eating ticks off of an imapala
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The excitement began when our ranger got a call about a male lion sighting! He put pedal to the metal and raced across the park to get us to the lion before he disappeared into the bush! We raced 'Dukes of Hazard' style, swerving around corners on the sandy roads, and flying over bumps, lol, it was so much fun ... and we got there in time. There was 1 male and 2 females relaxing by a tree. When we neared, the male went into 'pounce' position. That was a tad nerve racking cuz he was within 8ft of our open-air vehicle!
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There was a buffalo that the lions were following, but nothing ever happened. We were hoping to see some action.
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There was a herd of impala across the road, and every single one of them had their eyes on those lions! They were so focused on those lions that they didnt even pay us any attention! But whichever impala takes its eyes off those lions would probably end up their lunch!
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Impala bum
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Fish Eagle
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Nile Crocodile
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Martial Eagle eating a mongoose ... can you see the mongoose's tail hanging down?
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Warthog in a mud wallow
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He was enjoying rolling around in his very own mud bath
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3ft long Monitor Lizard
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Cape Buffalo & Cattle Egret
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We parked near the Chobe River and watched a herd of 250 Cape Buffalo swim across.
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There were 3 crocs lurking in the water waiting for a straggler! As the last baby buffalo crossed the river, a croc attacked and killed it :( The saddest part was that the momma buffalo stood at the water's edge mooing/calling for her baby long after the rest of the herd had moved on!
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Ox Peckers eating ticks off of a buffalo's back
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We came across this lone buffalo sleeping beside the river (not the smartest place for a snooze considering all the crocodiles lurking in the river), with a pesky cattle egret & ox pecker bothering him.
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Pied Kingfisher
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Beautiful Chobe River
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Thats all for Botswana! I then headed back into Zambia for a few more nights before flying to South Africa. That will be in the next post.

Posted by ChantelleS 16:00 Archived in Botswana Tagged boat wildlife elephant tree river africa safari animal crocodile camping buffalo lion botswana baboon impala kudu warthog Comments (0)

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