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Galapogos Islands

Discussion in 'Nature' started by MarkB1, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. MarkB1

    MarkB1 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    546
    Oct 30, 2010
    Australia
    I am thinking of going to that part of the world next year, Ecuador/Peru/Chile and I was wondering if anybody here has been and if so what is a good time of year for macro. Towards the start of the season would probably be best and I could ease into the summer and leave when it gets too hot, or just go south along the coast - is my current thinking. But I am flexible.

    I am not up to mountain climbing, or bashing through the jungle any more but I would like the opportunity of seeing and capturing some of the exotic insects of the region and seeing some of the non tourist sights. So if anyone has been or even lives in the region I would appreciate some direction.

    I know I can find out everything I need to know on my computer but I still prefer good old recommendations, places to go, see and stay. A particularly good guide book, on a budget but not camping or slumming it. I will of course be carrying some camera gear, laptop, etc, etc.

    So security is a consideration, with occasional bandwidth for uploads to sites, and I would prefer to hire a vehicle cheap and stay at small local places rather than bigger towns. Definitely no group tourism, not of the usual kind anyway.

    I have been looking and am leaning towards March/April/May departure (I am free to do as I please for a while) to arrive in Santiago/Chile, there it would be pretty much off tourist season - I suspect - and towards the end of the macro season there - though the wet mountain ranges may make a big difference to what I find at that latitude here in Brisbane, have a look around and depending on what I find eventually start up towards Lima, maybe even cross the Andes to La Paz (around lake Titicaca) - Cuzco/the interior on the way. Then up the coast for a bit to perhaps turn around in Ecuador.

    Would sure like to hear from any macro tog who has gone this way, off tourist season.

    Anyone?
     
  2. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Your broad a question is probably best asked on one of the guidebook sites (Lonly Planet, Frommers, etc.) or tripadvisor.com. That's why no responses here. But re Galapagos I can give you a few tips:

    The number of tourist boats permitted into the Galapagos waters is about sixty. All the tour companies are reselling the same boats. To get the best deals, you need to figure out and deal with the companies that own the boats and sell directly. Search using the boats' names and you can sleuth them out. When we were there two or three years ago, tourism was way down and a number of boats were not even operating. With little effort, I got a 40% discount over the posted price for the boat we had picked out. Watch, too, to see what is included in the price quoted. All inclusive will include round-trip airfare from Guayaquil on the mainland and all park taxes and entry fees. Sometimes a price will omit these mandatory costs.

    On the islands, something llike a 14-140mm is perfect. The animals are completely uninterested in tourists and you can get very close. Photographing a baby sea lion, for example, you will have to watch to make sure you don't step on another one nearby. Same story on the birds and the reptiles. If I went again I would probably carry a second body with a 9-18mm and expect to use it frequently on wildlife. You really do get that close.

    Re mainland, we spent our time in Ecuador. I would recommend, though, a side trip to spend a few days at a rain forest tourist camp. It's amazing.
     
  3. lefty

    lefty Mu-43 Regular

    I spent 2 months touring Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and bit of Brazil back in 2006. If it's insects you're after then you must head into the jungle! As a side tour from all the historic ruins in Peru, I spent a few nights in a jungle lodge in Puerto Maldonaldo which is a short flight from Cuzco. There were pink toed tarantulas crawling all over the place. I agree with oldracer, i recommend it and it's off the beaten tourist track. Iguassu falls was also a standout for wildlife, lots of butterflies flying around. One thing that stood out in my mind was when I went to the famous Cristo Redentor statue in Rio. It was a cloudy day so wasn't good for taking pics of the cityscape and there was the usual bazillion tourists taking pics with their arms out in front of the statue. But at the base of it , I was amazed to find a multitude of beetles, all of different colours and patterns. I literally mean HUNDREDS of different species of beetles. If I can find the pics I'll post some up.
     
  4. MarkB1

    MarkB1 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    546
    Oct 30, 2010
    Australia
    That's useful information. I know I will have to get on a mainstream site for more detail but my primary interest is the macro. So I start here.

    Thanks OR.

     
  5. MarkB1

    MarkB1 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    546
    Oct 30, 2010
    Australia
    Thanks Lefty, Cuzco was on the agenda. Interesting about the beetles, maybe it's the night lights at the statue - I suspect there are some.

    What time of year did you go?

     
  6. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Re macro, forgot to mention: In the Galapagos you will be in a group of 16 or fewer people (Most boats hold 16. Don't choose a bigger one.) with a guide and restricted to marked paths. The group will be almost constantly moving, walking a circuit on each island you visit. The result is that you will have little or no time to stop and patiently set up a shot.

    I am not really a macro guy, but I think a ring light and a lens on rigid extension tubes would probably be the right tool. Tripods, bellows, any kind of complicated claptrap, etc. will be very tough or impossible to use. Maybe even try something like the Nikon 200mm medical lens with the built-in ringlight.

    In the Amazon basin, if you go there, I would email ahead with the camp to see if you would be permitted to leave camp on your own for some patient setups and shooting. If you can't find a camp where this is possible, you will again have the "always moving group" problem.

    Edit: We stayed here: http://www.sachalodge.com/english/home.php I'm not sure you could go out on your own but they have a very neat butterfly house where you could spend time. http://www.sachalodge.com/english/atractions.php#mariposas

    Sorry if that's rain on your parade. :-(
     
  7. MarkB1

    MarkB1 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    546
    Oct 30, 2010
    Australia
    Not at all, a rain on ... Useful info as I have never been a tourist of any kind, just a traveller. Groups would not suit me at all. As for the macro; I have one of the simplest setups possible, see here 1/2 down the 1st page : Post Your Set Up! - FM Forums and you would be surprised what is about your feet. No need to traipse through the jungle for the exotic, only for the particular. I'm not particular.

     
  8. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Agreed, but in the Galapagos you are pretty well stuck. Unless you can buy a whole boat for yourself, I guess.
    That looks like it might work, but don't expect a lot of tripod setup time. The key is to set up and get your shot within about one minute, I think. I don't think the guide is allowed to leave you even a little bit behind and let you catch up. He has to have his eye on his charges at all times, keeping them on the path and keeping them from touching or taking. The Ecuadorean government regulates this very heavily to balance getting the tourist revenue with not destroying the park.

    Your light snoot looks a little fragile. You will be traveling between the boat and the islands in "pangas" which are little inflatable Zodiac type boats. There will be both "wet" and "dry"landings -- self explanatory. In this process there will be many times you'll need both hands and will not be able to protect that snoot. I'll stick with my suggestion of a ringlight. You might also want to buy a scuba-diver type dry bag to hold your rig while you're moving back and forth between ship and shore.
     
  9. MarkB1

    MarkB1 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    546
    Oct 30, 2010
    Australia
    Well, it looks like if I go to the Islands I won't be doing macro. Would never use a ring light anyway, nor a tripod.

    I might still visit just so I've been there.
     
  10. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Don't pass it up. It is one of the world's great trips.

    Here's another thought: There are a couple of hotels on the islands. Most guide books recommend against hotel-based tours because it is impossible to visit several of the important islands on day trips. But it might be possible for you to arrange some kind of hotel-based activity with a private guide that would give you the time you need for what you want to do.

    Not really macro, but fun:

    Maring_Iguana_301.

    Marine Iguana, Panny G1, hand-held almost on the ground, articulated viewfinder deployed, natural light, no cropping. The original EXIF is not available to me right now, but I'm pretty sure the lens was the 45-200mm zoomed at least part way out.
     
  11. MarkB1

    MarkB1 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    546
    Oct 30, 2010
    Australia
    Very nice shot OR.