In my last post, I asked you to tell me which animals to go out and find in The Americas. So that over the coming months I can report back with tips to help you get out there and do the same.
The Americas’ Wild 10
You guys did your bit and we now have a list of species for me to start searching for. Without further delay, here is ‘The Americas’ Wild 10′:
- Grizzly bear
- Humpback whale
- Andean condor
- American bison
- Grey wolf
- Hammerhead shark
Thank you for all your votes! Also, it’s noted that 6 out of the 10 could theoretically eat me, thanks guys…
THe Wild 10 Map
Now it’s time for me to do my bit. So I’ve put together a map with locations where I might be able to see some of these incredible beasts (and a bunch of others). This is an interactive plan for the adventure, so if you click on the destinations it includes a list of some of the more exciting species you might encounter and a link to further details.
To find the Wild 10, it looks like I’m going to be heading to the extreme south of Patagonia, in Ushuaia, all the way up to Alaska. But don’t worry, wherever I can I’m mitigating my carbon footprint by using sustainable transport and last year I planted a lot of trees in preparation for this trip. Yup, meaning I literally went outside, dug holes, and put trees in them!
After spending time in each of these places, there will be a post to help you find these species, and many others, in a low impact but cost-effective way. I’ll explain what I did, whether it worked, anything interesting I learned, and provide details to help you if you ever travel to any of these incredible locations (fingers crossed you do).
Training in a Tropical Paradise
As you can see on the map, my first port of call is Ilha Grande in Brazil. Literally translating to ‘Large Island’. This mountainous landscape is one of the few remaining areas of pristine Atlantic Rainforest in Brazil. The Atlantic Rainforest contains a huge range of wildlife. From marmosets and howler monkeys, to sloths, armadillos, and orca (I know, orca in the seas surrounding a tropical island?!).
This visit to Ilha Grande was not actually part of the Lawyer to Lifescape plan, but was a holiday arranged some time ago with friends from England. So I had just a couple of days, during what was a beach holiday, to see some of this incredible wildlife. As a result, I’m treating it as a training exercise, with my approach to be refined and adapted once I’m tracking down The Americas’ Wild 10.
After stepping off the boat and speaking to locals it quickly became clear that the best way to set eyes upon the island’s wild inhabitants would be to get out into the rainforest, on one of the island’s many trails. We were told that moving at a good pace through the jungle, in a small and quiet group, on trails ideally away from the main tourist routes, would give us the best chances of seeing some serious wildlife.
Having been given one day for wildlife by my travel companions, with that mandate also requiring wildlife to be combined with both “beach and beer”, we set our sights modestly, hoping to find some monkeys. We settled on a trail taking us from Vila do Abraão to the popular Lopes Mendes beach, a couple of hours’ walk, followed by a boat home.
The Atlantic Rainforest
Simply walking through the forest in Ilha Grande, whether you see any wildlife or not, is a captivating experience. Everywhere you pass is alive with the sounds and smells of the animal kingdom. There’s a buzzing around every corner and always the chance that when you crest a hill you’ll see something incredible.
As it happened, we were lucky enough to find two groups of marmoset monkeys! As you can see from the images, these guys are extraordinarily cute. Maybe less easy to tell from the photos, they were also very easy to find. We saw both along the trail, which is fairly good evidence the best approach to wildlife watching is to get yourself out there, with your eyes open and ears listening!
Now, training over, onwards to find The Americas’ Wild 10!
Top Tips for Ilha Grande
We’ll post a full page on WildSide soon, for now here’s my top tips for wildlife watching in Ilha Grande:
- Peak season is January, June, and July but low season is still fantastic weather and means fewer people and more wildlife. My research suggests going in April, September, or October to avoid the crowds.
- We were told that the best bet for wildlife watching is to get onto the trails, be quiet, and get away from the crowds.
- We saw marmoset monkeys on the Lopes Mendes trail, twice!
- You can sign up to a number of different hiking and wildlife watching trips. Abraao’s streets are lined with tour operators for those who don’t want to tie themselves to a plan (I still recommend booking a day or two in advance once you arrive). If you want to book ahead a quick google search will find up-to-date options for tours.
- Boat trips around the island are a great way to see the Atlantic Rainforest and mangroves if you don’t feel up to a jungle walk. But your chances of seeing wildlife will be lower as you won’t really get out into the forest.
- If you do come across monkeys or other wildlife, don’t feed them, even if others are. Not only could this result in an unpleasant bite (and a costly rabies shot), but it could also habituate the animals to human contact, making human-wildlife conflict more likely in the future, with the ultimate risk that the animals may come to harm.