Dave's Photo & Travelblogue

Photo shoots. World travel advice. Tips on Munich & environs.

Creepy Crawlies in the Jungle

For the squeamish readers, you may want to stop now. This post is about things that might make your skin crawl, like a big, hairy spider the size of a lumberjack’s hand. Personally, I loved playing hide-and-seek with the jungle insects in the Tambopata Reserve:

Hide-and-Seek with a Rainforest Insect

This guy was really beautiful, especially up close. The short focal distance of the 18-200mm VR lens definitely helped get magnified, sharp shots.

Up Close and Personal with a Rainforest Insect

I caught this stick insect in the middle of a meal, as he was munching on a leaf:

Stick Insect having a Leaf for Dinner

Another stick insect we saw was just hiding in plain sight. If I weren’t an intelligent species I really would have mistaken him for a twig:

Stick Insect Hiding in Plain Sight

Last, but not least – in fact, the largest of the night’s finds – this huge spider, which was (no exaggeration) bigger than my hand:

Giant Rainforest Spider

In case that isn’t enough to give you nightmares, here’s a close-up of the body. Mu-hahaha!

Close-up of a Giant Spider's Body

Sweet dreams! Surprisingly, I slept quite well that night at Explorer’s Inn, even knowing that I might wake up to a tarantula in my shower.

Posted 12 years, 2 months ago at 3:19 pm.


Otters, Monkeys, and Spiders

My full day in the Amazon rainforest at Explorer’s Inn started early, with a 5am wakeup (May 15th) just as the howler monkeys started their calls. We wanted to be on the trail by 6am to spot jungle animals on our way to Cocococha, an oxbow lake formed by a cut-off bend of a river in the Tambopata reserve.

Our guide’s strategy worked! Along the way we met a group of Saddleback Tamarin Monkeys (also known as the kissing monkey, because of the noise they make). They were quite curious and posed for us until we headed on our way. Can you see the bug in this picture?

Saddleback Tamarin Monkeys

Apparently in this species the fathers take care of the babies, who often ride on their backs.

Saddleback Tamarin Monkeys - Dad and Baby

Along the trail we spotted a lot more fauna than this, but I just can’t show everything now. There is too much for one post. At Cocococha Lake, we took to the canoes and saw a family of Giant River Otters. One of them caught a tasty meal:

Giant River Otter dining on a meal of fish

Then, we were lucky enough to see a very rare sight: another kind of otter that is almost never spotted in this area. Our guide identified it from my photo as a Neo-Tropical Otter:


Can I just say that I love my Nikon D90 and 18-200mm VR lens? Okay, an expensive 70-200 f/2.8 would be better for nature photography, but just look at this guy. Beautiful.

Here’s another interesting denizen of the jungle, the Hoatzin. It’s known locally as the “Stinky Bird,” though we weren’t quite close enough to smell it:

Hoatzin, the stinky bird

I’ve got dozens more great pictures of frogs, ants, lizards, and plants. But here’s one more for today: the Pink-Toed Tarantula. What would you do if this were waiting in your shower in the afternoon? That’s exactly what happened to one of our group!

Pink-Toed Tarantula in the shower

I’ll stop here for now, though I might do another post about this day, just to throw in a few of the amazing insects and spiders we saw on our night walk. Thanks again to Noemi for her excellent guiding and fauna spotting!

Posted 12 years, 2 months ago at 4:17 pm.


Lamma Island – Day Trip from Hong Kong

I met a friendly Brit in Hong Kong when I was hiking up Lantau Peak.  He advised me to check out Lamma Island, but warned me about spiders.  So I’ll pass that along now: there are a lot of spiders on Lamma.  A metric arse-load, to be exact.  And we’re not talking about teensy-weensy spiders here like the one that climbed up the water spout; these are 3″ long beasts that look like they could tie up a small hobbit.  There are several pictures of them in this post, so prepare yourself.

It’s an easy day trip, or even half-day trip, to Lamma Island.  You can take the ferry there (half an hour or so with lots of departures), hike across the island for about an hour or two, and then take a different ferry back from the town at the end of the hike.  I walked from Yung Shue Wan to Sok Kwu Wan, ate at the very tasty Lamma Hilton (mmm, garlic chili tiger prawns!), and then headed back to Hong Kong Island.  There’s a beautiful beach near Yung Shue Wan:

Panorama of Hung Shing Yeh beach

Panorama of Hung Shing Yeh beach

I had seen a couple of spiders in webs above the trail before arriving at Hung Shing Yeh beach.  But after that they grew in size, and the webs spanned the trail.  All were well above my head, but I was still a bit nervous that the spiders would fall off in the breeze and land on me.  Here’s one of ’em:

This qualifies as a SMALL spider on Lamma Island

This qualifies as a SMALL spider on Lamma Island

This guy was probably the largest spider I saw.  He was over 3″ in length.  I had to crouch down to get far enough away to snap some shots (one drawback of the 70-300mm VR is the ~4′ minimum focus distance).  This made me pretty nervous, being directly under a massive spider that’s only hanging onto his web by a few legs.  Notice his protege in the background.  “Let me show you how it’s done.  Look at that tourist quiver in fear!”

Nightmare spider

Nightmare spider

Some of the webs were truly impressive in their size and perfection.  Here’s one that was backlit rather nicely by the sun:

This is a BIG web

This is a BIG web

Finally I reached Sok Kwu Wan at the other side of the island and had some dinner, well away from any spiders.  Seafood on Lamma Island is fantastic: I recommend the Lamma Hilton, which was as good as promised by my anonymous British tipster.  Thanks, anonymous!

View of the bay at Sok Kwu Wan

View of the bay at Sok Kwu Wan

Getting to Lamma Island:

  • Depart from the Central Ferry Pier on Hong Kong Island (Pier #4 at the time of writing).
  • Make sure to get exact change after checking the current price (there is a change booth at one of the piers)!
  • Take the ferry to Yung Shue Wan.
  • Hike across the island on the (paved) trail.  Avoid the spiders!
  • Take the ferry from Sok Kwu Wan back to the Central Ferry Pier.

Posted 13 years ago at 3:19 pm.

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