Travel highlights of 2018 – My best experiences this year

Quietly my blog turned one year old at the beginning of this December. Reasons enough for me to look back on my first blogger year. Just to the right time Andreas from Reisewut asks other bloggers to share their best travel experiences of 2018 in a “blogparade”. Of course I’m very happy to participate again. Maybe you remember the last “blogparade” of Andreas “Moments for eternity” where I share my most memorable moments with whales and dolphins.

What was my travel highlight in 2018?

In my case it is very easy to answer, as I traveled only once (but for two months) this year to another country.

And that was to Brazil.

For me it was my first journey to Brazil, and in general, to South America. I was very impressed with Brazil and its biodiversity that the country has to offer. Time goes by way too quickly. I undertook this journey already several months ago. Nevertheless, I’m still very excited about this amazing journey and busy telling you here on this blog about the wonderful places I saw in the South of Brazil. However, why it took me so long to write about it has also some other reasons.

And that is blogging itself.

Me (and I’m sure other travel bloggers as well who write passionately about their journeys) know what it means to start and care for a blog. In my case, I had to learn much about many new topics like for example creating a website with wordpress. Starting a blog is not only just about writing texts. There are still many topics I have to learn more about like for example search engine optimization. This topic definitely came too short this year. Another topic which requires a lot of time is social media. Sometimes I felt overchallenged with the time I thought I have to dedicate in social media. And all this beside two jobs and a more or less new occupational direction. It was a quite chaotic year for me.

But of course, I wouldn’t do all this if I wouldn’t enjoy blogging. It is a lot of work, but I’m very keen to continue with my blog. At the beginning I was not aware of all the work that is involved in such a blog. But now I know it and I’m curious about all the challenges that will wait for me. Thus, my first blogger year was not only dominated by my journey to Brazil, but also by blogging itself.

Which moments were especially memorable for me this year?

With respect to my journey to Brazil it is not quite easy to answer. There were so many memorable moments which I will not forget. Especially animal encounters.

Southern muriquis in the Atlantic Forest in São Paulo

One very memorable moment this year was definitely my encounter with the muriquis although my journey in Brazil did not start very “successful”, because we were searching in vain for Northern muriquis in the Feliciano Miguel Abdalla Natural Reserve close to Caratinga in Minas Gerais. Just before our arrival in Caratinga we got a message from the people who organize tours to the muriquis that they couldn’t find a local guide for us. We could enter the natural reserve anyway, and apparently, it is possible to observe Northern muriquis on a walk through the forest. However, we were not successful. During our whole journey I was thinking of the muriquis again and again, because their situation is sad and I wanted to tell you about their plight here on this blog. According to the IUCN the Northern muriqui is “critically endangered”. Sometimes I also get the impression that muiquis unlike gorillas and orang-utan are underrepresented when talking about the protection of non-human primates. You will find more information about gorillas or orang-utans in the internet than about muriquis. As much as I love gorillas and orang-utans as well, I find it quite important to tell more about muriquis and their critical situation in Brazil as well.

As I could not stop thinking of the muriquis, I was looking for other opportunities to observe muriquis in the Atlantic Forest. Luckily, I found this opportunity with the NGO Associação Pró-Muriqui. Thanks to the people of this organization I could observe muriquis in the Atlantic Forest in São Paulo. However, this time we were searching not for the Northern, but for the Southern muriquis. According to the IUCN the situation for the Southern muriquis is a little bit better, but they are still „endangered“. At the beginning of next year I will write about my incredible encounter with the Southern muriquis on this blog in a detailed report.

Wildlife Travel
Southern muriqui in the Atlantic Forest in São Paulo

Golden lion tamarins in the Atlantic Forest

Another monkey species I observed in the wild for the first time this year was the golden lion tamarin. Golden lion tamarins have one thing in common with Southern muriquis. Both are “endangered” according to the IUCN. I could observe golden lion tamarins thanks to the organization Associação Mico Leão Dourado. I wrote about my encounter with the golden lion tamarins already in one of my previous blog posts. The special thing about this encounter was, golden lion tamarins are endemic to the Atlantic Forest in Rio de Janeiro. That means, they only occur in these forests and not in any other place in the world. This encounter was also very special for me like the one with the Southern muriquis. When I was looking for more information about where to observe golden lion tamarins in the wild, I could not find so many information again although the Associação Mico Leão Dourado is very easy to reach from Rio de Janeiro.

Wildlife Travel
Golden lion tamarins in the Atlantic Forest in Rio de Janeiro

Guiana dolphins in the Sepetiba Bay

My encounter with the guiana dolphins was very short when compared to the ones with the Southern muriquis and the golden lion tamarins. Nevertheless, my encounter with the guiana dolphins was a quite memorable experience. I wrote already about the guiana dolphins in a previous blog post. This encounter was quite memorable for me, because when we visited these guiana dolphins in March, not all of them were well. In March, about 200 dolphins had already died few weeks before because of a virus. We participated in a dolphin watching tour starting in Itacuruça. Two biologists were on board. Both of them looked out worriedly for the guiana dolphins. Indeed some of them looked quite thin and we could see already their ribs from afar.

After this dolphin watching tour I asked myself several questions. Why do so many dolphins die just now? Is their a connection between their deaths an the industrial development in the region? I have not found an answer to these questions yet, but I will follow this and of course write about it here on the blog.

Wildlife Travel
Guiana dolphins in the Sepetiba Bay in Rio de Janeiro

The world’s biggest fly

Another encounter which was quite special was the one with the world’s largest fly in the Feliciano Miguel Abdalla Natural Reserve. Maybe there are even bigger flies in this world, however, so far this fly I had seen and photographed is known to be the world’s biggest fly to date. The Latin name of this fly is Gauromydas heros. I could not find any English name. I have to admit here, that I was not aware of this special encounter in the moment when I encountered it. I hadn’t known it, because I’m not an insect specialist. Therefore, I’m so grateful that there are websites and internet communities where you can ask insect specialists about  a species. I did this on iNaturalist. I’m so impressed by this community and the people who share their knowledge. Be it insects or birds, you will find people with different and deep knowledge who can help you in the determination of animals or plants. This way an insect specialists told me that I encountered Gauromydas heros which is, he told me, by the way the biggest fly in the world. I was very thrilled when I heard about that and I feel like I have to go out and explore nature even more (this definitely came to short during my biology studies…).

Wildlife Travel
The world’s largest fly in the Atlantic Forest in Minas Gerais

Birds in Brazil

Of course, Brazil is very special with respect to birdlife. Due to the vast variety of birds in Brazil, I saw only a tiny fraction of the bird diversity. Hummingbirds, toucans, tanagers, tyrant flycatchers or parrots. At each place I observed a new bird species. Therefore, it is quite difficult for me to decide which encounter was most memorable for me in Brazil. However, if I have to decide for one encounter, I might decide for the hyacinth macaw in the Pantanal. Their blue and yellow feathers left a permanent impression on me. In the beginning of next year I will tell  more about these birds and all the other animals I have seen in the Pantanal on this blog. Nevertheless, there are many other places where you can observe many, many birds in Brazil as well. For example the Itatiaia National Park, Ubatuba or Itaúnas. The Feliciano Miguel Abdalla Natural Reserve where I was searching for the Northern muriquis is also a very special place for bird watching.

Wildlife Travel
Hyacinth macaw in the Brazilian Pantanal

Was hat mich besonders beeindruckt auf meiner diesjährigen Reise?

Of course, I was impressed by Brazil not only because of its animals, I also felt very welcome in this beautiful country. Two months were just too short. Although I had seen so many new things, there is still so much to see. Brazil is just a great place for a biologist and for all other people who are interested in animals and plants. There is so much to see. I also met so many people who are actively engaged in conservation. This motivates me even more to continue with this blog and tell you about their great work.

What will you find on this blog next year in 2019?

It is December and this year is almost over, but I do not have concrete travel plans for 2019. Of course, I have some ideas, but as blogging is so time-consuming for me and as I have to improve so much on this blog, I haven’t had the time so far to make my next travel plans (or it was not my priority in the last few weeks, respectively). I’m full with ideas, but I cannot tell you here exactly where my journey with this blog will lead me next year. But anyway I’m already excited about what will come next year.

At this point I want to say thank you to Andreas from Reisewut who started with this “blogparade”. I can already say that next year I definitely will participate in other “blogparades” again as it is a good way to share travel stories and get to know other travel stories from other bloggers.

To date the following blogs participated in the “blogparade” (I will update this list until the 30th of January)

Michael and Janet from Breierblog
Anja from Das fliegende Klassenzimmer
Sonja from Join the Sunny Side
Ingrid from Schädelmädel
Ina from Mit Kind im Rucksack
Heiko from People abroad
Ilona from Wandernd
Janine and Stefan from Gepackt und los
René from Reens Blog
Tobias from Pennyblog
Geheimtippreisen
Ina and Thomas from Gin des Lebens
Sabine from Ferngeweht
Katrin from Côte d’Azur Unlimited
Sandra from A decent cup of tea
Stefan from Schwerti on Tour
Julia from Traveling Kinder

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