Night tour in Monteverde

Our guide, Cristian, stopped on the trail, his torch shining downwards.

“What is it?” we whispered, half hoping it wasn’t the puma that had been spotted nearby, or the jaguar he had joked was stalking us from above.

“I can smell something. Yes, it’s a tarantula,” Cristian replied.

Although it was dark, I tried to scan his face for clues. I’m known to be quite gullible, so I have to be wary in situations like these. “What do they smell like?”

“Well, to be a guide you have lots of training. It takes years to smell it. I can’t describe it really.”

Following the stony path, we stopped to shine our torches into the small holes that burrowed into the verge. Where the path grew wider, we stopped to gaze up at the starry sky with the unmistakable wisp of milky way.

We were walking inside the cloud forest at Refugio de Vida Silvestre, where 30 hectares of cultivated farmland was transformed into a protected refuge for the wildlife.

“Here!” We gathered round a hole the size of a saucer. Poking out, we saw four very hairy legs. Behind those, eight shiny eyes studied us carefully, before retreating slowly. I surreptitiously sniffed the air, hoping to smell something.


During the night tour, our guide pointed out creatures of all sizes, hiding in the undergrowth or concealed in the canopy. Although sightings are never guaranteed when it comes to wildlife tours, with 60% of the wildlife here being nocturnal in one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, we had a good chance of seeing some animals.

Giant stick insects the length of my forearm and fat glow-in-the-dark caterpillars crawled along twigs that shook as they moved. In the depths of the forest, we turned off our lights and as our eyes adjusted to the darkness, a log appeared to emit its own bioluminescence due to the fungi that grew over it.

Higher up, we spotted a sleeping brown jay that had puffed up its chest to stay warm. Beyond it, we saw a male-gartered trogon with its distinctive orange breast. Then not far away, our guide spotted a snoozing white-tailed sabrewing with striking oil-spill feathers.

A sleeping white-tailed sabrewing hummingbird

Armed with a UV torch, I was tasked with trying to find a scorpion in the dead leaves. Some insects are able to see beyond the spectrum of human sight, so using UV light can reveal lichen and other organisms that are not usually discernible to the human eye. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to locate a scorpion, but we did enjoy the fluorescent disco shoes of our hiking companions.

Climbing further into the reserve, Cristian blocked the path with his telescope and asked us to take a peek. Right in front of us hung an acid green snake, only 7ft away. The side-striped palm pit viper is extremely venomous, and can be fatal if an antidote isn’t administered in time. Coiled up and ready to strike, its pale eyes were scanning the ground for a tasty rodent.

A side-striped palm pit viper

Just around the corner, a larger pit viper was scaling a thorny tree. Despite the inhospitable bark, the snake persevered to reach an unlucky wren’s nest.


The highlight of our night tour was seeing a sloth high in a tree. The Hoffman’s two-toed sloths are the only sloth species here in Monteverde, as the three-toed variety have thinner coats and dislike the cooler climate. The female was visibly pregnant and happily munching away on leaves.

Contrary to popular belief, she moved at quite some speed! The locals here call sloths ‘perezoso,’ meaning lazy, but this nickname seemed undeserved after watching her in action. After two minutes, she had clambered into the dense growth, just in time to create a veritable challenge for the next passing group.


If you would like to sign up for the Refugio de Vida Silvestre tour, you can easily book it through your hostel/hotel here in Monteverde / Santa Elena.

Tour: Refugio de Vida Silvestre (Wildlife Refuge), Monteverde
Website: Relaunching soon. More information here.
Cost: $25 per person, plus a 10% tip for your guide in dollars. Discount available for residents.
Duration: 2-3 hours.
Time: 6pm and 8pm every night.
Group size: small, maximum of 8 people per group. We had just 4 in ours, and didn’t bump into any other groups except to share the sloth sighting.
Fitness level: Easy to moderate walk. Might be muddy after rainfall.
What to bring: Raincoat, suitable walking shoes, long sleeves and trousers.
Optional: water, binoculars, camera/mobile phone. We didn’t need insect repellent as we’re at high altitude here.
Included: Spanish or English-speaking guide, torches for each person, a telescope to take photographs/videos through using your mobile.
Lodge amenities: free coffee and bathroom.

In the meantime, check out their Facebook page, Instagram account or TripAdvisor reviews.


We will definitely be returning again soon in the hope of spotting an armadillo, kinkajou, opossum, coati, pygmy owl, resplendent quetzal, scorpion and the resident cloud forest tree frog!

How to get involved in a beach clean

This summer, an interesting trend has emerged on my Instagram feed. Every day, I’m confronted with images of rubbish on beaches and clogging up waterways. Yet it’s not as bleak as it sounds – scores of volunteers up and down the country have been sweeping the shores and cleaning up tonne bags of trash.

Kiko Matthews is on a mission to engage communities around the UK to tackle the problems caused by single-use plastic. Her ‘Kik Plastic’ campaign is an ambitious one with 78 beach cleans scheduled. To make the challenge more difficult, she is cycling the whole way round and is set to total 7,200km by the end of her eco-awareness tour.

Kicking it all off in Margate on 5th May 2019, she has steadily travelled northwards come rain or shine, attracting well over a thousand volunteers to help clean our beaches. While collecting, they have retrieved ghost nets, polystyrene, engine parts, rubber tubing, discarded cans and crisp packets.

In Malin Head, Ireland, she even stumbled across a washed up Minke whale. Kiko suspects that like many oceanic species inhabiting our waters, the baby whale may have ingested plastic at its peril. Highlighting the impact that sea pollution is making is an important part of the journey, along with promoting community spirit and what can be achieved when we come together.

She’s currently in Scotland, so find out where you can join her as she works her way back down the east coast over the next month. Among other locations, she’ll be hitting John o’ Groats on 6th July, Skegness on 21st July, Aldeburgh on 25th July, before finishing up in London on 28th July.

Throughout her efforts, volunteers have been turning up at beaches to help comb the shoreline. Although lots of assistants have turned up at various places, there has been a noticeable shortage from some demographics. So if you’re a guy, or aged between 14-30 years old, go along to represent and help fill some bags!

You can follow Kiko’s journey on Instagram and cheer her on as she continues her battle against beach litter. Even better, get inspired and lead your own beach clean to start making a difference!

Read: Is it illegal to take shells home?

The hidden waterfall tour, Bali

As I approached the ledge, I passed a painted wooden sign tied to a tree trunk. It read, ‘Never try, never know…Test your adrenaline!’ Before I could reconsider, I bounded forwards. The guide stopped me, telling me I had to do a standing jump rather than a running leap. The stone underfoot was cold and wet. My toes curled instinctively over the ledge as Kroya waterfall spat a frothy stream towards me. “Three…two…one…”


Our driver Wayan was visibly distraught. After a long three hour journey winding our way north, we had suffered a burst tyre and were now sat beside a paddy field, far from the last town. We were relatively close to the secret waterfalls, but for now we were stranded.

We understood his frustration. As we drove past the misty shadow of Mt. Agung, Wayan described how his family, who lived within 6km of the volcano, had been evacuated months before. Living in a shelter with his wife and two children, he explained the difficulties of trying to sleep and continue living while the threat of an eruption loomed over them all. This was back in December 2017, and the volcano continues to erupt with an evacuation zone of up to 9km.

He had tried to return to his house to collect some belongings, but officials had turned him away empty handed. In contrast to the media reports that feared the repercussions of lost trade through lower numbers of tourists, he told us that the locals were praying for the volcano to erupt. Waiting in limbo was more of a punishment than losing everything and having to rebuild their lives.


I stood on the ledge, willing my legs to move. They were now planted stiffly. An uncomfortable tingle had lodged itself in the crux behind my knees and in the space between my fingers. A queue had formed behind me. Counting me down to an anticlimax. Expecting me to jump.

As I weakly stumbled back towards the safety of the rocks, I looked up at my family. They had signed up for a whole day of waterfall adventures, and this was only the first jump at 5m. The rest were much higher, at 10m and 15m respectively.

Morale was slipping. I caught sight of a man clambering down the slippery craggy path from the road. It was Wayan, our driver, who had managed to repair the tyre on his car and was rushing to join us.

I pulled the strap of my life jacket and turned round. I strode up to the edge and looked over briefly to qualm my fear of braining myself on the rocks below. The young guide began to tentatively count me down. I moved my weight from my back leg forwards, then fell through the air, not wanting to let Wayan down.


Next, the guide held me in the stream and my legs flopped before me uncontrollably. I was dangling at the top of Kroya waterfall, 12m high. The life jacket buffeted my head as the water tried to dislodge me from the safety of his grip. I tried to make sense of what he was saying, but the deluge of water was all I could hear.

Before I could take a breath, I was spitting out water. My body was in free flow over the edge. My eyes were open but all I could see was spray. I was temporarily held under, before being promptly spat out. I found myself in the serene pool once more, floating downriver to the next waterfall.

The next jump made the first look like child’s play. At 10m high, you could count a clear second or two before your body hit the water. The cliff edge was decorated with pebble dash which made the launch spot uneven underfoot. I watched my partner Tom jump and reemerge around the bend. The grey shadows of rocks could be seen below, so this needed to be a confident jump outwards to clear them.

I psyched myself up, trying not to overthink it this time. Just head to the edge and go. Never try, never know. As I was preparing to jump, a crippling fear overcame my legs. I spun and held onto the guide’s forearms for support. I was laughing but my knuckles were white. I could not move, not even away from the edge. I looked at my family again, who had already decided they were out. I asked Tom to go again.

He didn’t even blink. He casually walked past me, glanced down, then was gone. He resurfaced with a big grin on his face. While he was in the pool below, I would join him, I decided. The only way down there was to jump.

After resigning myself to the fact that this one was simply too high, I was surprised to find that I was hurtling downwards. Shrieking, I crashed into the water and my bottom was slapped hard. I had forgotten to straighten my legs for impact. I clumsily pawed my way over to Tom, my life jacket bobbing around my neck.

The final jump gives me toe cramp just thinking about it. The last waterfall was 15m high, only accessible using a flimsy dog-chewed rope across the fast river. The undergrowth hid the jagged edge of the rocks leading to the abyss below. The guide did not demonstrate this jump. Our gaze followed the water down. It surged forward with a new urgency, dissipating into vapour as it struck a large pool, inky black in its depths.

I did not even entertain the idea of conquering this fall. The last had left a big impression on me (quite literally, my bum cheeks were bruised). This jump was fifty percent bigger. From up here, time would be suspended for a good three seconds as you plunged downwards.

Yet Tom lined himself up and reassured himself of the landing spot. He glanced sideways at me then leapt past the scratchy undergrowth and just out of reach of the hissing water. He screamed this time, before disappearing into a shock of water.

We craned our necks to see over the side. He had not surfaced in the still lagoon yet. Then, with the power of a champagne cork, he launched up in triumph. “How many people complete this last jump?” I asked the guide as we walked down to join him. “Not many. Not many are that stupid.”

5

In the final part of our journey, we walked back upstream and followed a thin snaking path. The sound of pounding water found us before we set eyes on the Aling Aling waterfall. At 35m high, it was a force to be reckoned with. Spray erupted and hung in the air like mist as the thunderous sound grew deafening. This was a jump that even Tom would not attempt.

Tour company – Pink Gorillaz. The Secret Waterfall tour includes transportation. See website for prices and details.

The surprising uses of bamboo

Bamboo is springing up everywhere as the new sustainable alternative for plastic products. From bamboo straws, paintbrushes and bags, bamboo is enjoying a revival in the mainstream economy. Yet bamboo is nothing new – it was used as the main construction material for many ancient civilisations, but now it is being considered for wider applications.

Its uses are endless, from edible bamboo shoots, to furniture, musical instruments, jewellery, scaffolding, bridges, and even making beer. It has been used for medicinal purposes since the 6th Century and is well known for its antioxidant qualities.

Bamboo is eco-friendly on many fronts: it is a fast-growing resource that is straight forward to grow almost anywhere, with between 1,200-1,500 species having been unearthed around the world.

The ease and speed of growing bamboo makes it a renewable material, and it doesn’t require any pesticides to flourish. Some species are ready to be harvested every three to five years, and it rarely needs replanting as it produces new shoots.

Here are four ways you can start using bamboo in your everyday life:

1. Bamboo cups
If you need a hit of caffeine to start your day, why not buy a bamboo cup to have yours on the go? Not only will you be saving money, but you’ll avoid using a single-use cup that takes fifty years to biodegrade. In contrast, because the bamboo cups are made from a mixture of natural bamboo, resin and cornstarch, they only take about a year to disappear. As an additional incentive, most coffee shops will give you a discount for bringing your own cup if you need a refill while you’re out. I bought one locally from ChicMic and my morning cup has never tasted so good.

2. Bamboo clothing
If you like soft, breathable clothes that keep you fresh, look no further. Bamboo clothing has antibacterial and hypoallergenic qualities, and is super absorbent to keep you dry. If you’re active, bamboo clothing is thermal regulating and designed to maintain your optimum temperature, whether the conditions are hot or cold. Compared to cotton, the texture of bamboo clothing is softer, and has the added benefit of staying cleaner for longer. If that wasn’t enough reasons to switch to bamboo, it uses just a third of the amount of water needed to grow cotton. Check out BambooClothes.com for more information, or to update your wardrobe.

3. Bamboo deodorant
If you have made changes to your lifestyle but feel your bathroom routine needs refreshing, you could try using a bamboo deodorant. It’s moisture-absorbing qualities and natural antibacterial defenses make it the perfect combatant to ensure you stay confident throughout the day. While antiperspirants stop you from sweating, they also contain aluminium which is not a sustainable material (transforming Bauxite requires a significant amount of energy). If you want a product that is both environmentally friendly and does the job, you can try the Biossance natural deodorant.

4. Bamboo toothbrushes
In the eco-revolution, the bathroom remains one area where disposable plastic continues to reign. From razor handles, body wash containers and earbuds, single-use plastic is often overlooked. Well, not anymore. The essential items are getting an update, with bamboo handle toothbrushes leading the way. With the aforementioned antibacterial resistance, bamboo makes the perfect sustainable alternative to plastic, and is biodegradable when you need to replace it. To find your new toothbrush, check out this review of the best bamboo toothbrushes around.

Who knew bamboo could be so versatile? If you are ready to make some small changes, give bamboo a shot.

Travel vaccinations

The flights are booked. You’ve found some accommodation. The travel itinerary is filling up. Maybe you’ve even sorted your travel insurance.

But have you researched whether you need any travel vaccinations, or visited your local travel health clinic to talk about immunisation?

When should I look into getting travel vaccinations?

As soon as possible! The NHS recommends visiting your GP or a private travel clinic at least eight weeks before travelling.

Depending on the country you’re visiting, you may need to book a series of injections beforehand. Some vaccinations need to be administered a certain number of days before you travel to ensure your immune system is ready.

For example, according to the WHO (World Health Organisation), the schedule for the rabies vaccinations differs, but it is usually administered in three separate visits in the space of 28 days.

Likewise, if you need the Japanese encephalitis vaccine, it will be given in three doses.

Can my doctor administer my travel vaccinations?

It depends on whether the clinic is registered to give out immunisations, and which vaccinations you need.

However, if you have any existing medical conditions or allergies, it is a good idea to speak to your doctor first. Similarly, younger and older travellers may be more vulnerable so seek out medical advice.

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or suffer from immune deficiencies, you will need to consult with your doctor before booking an appointment elsewhere.

Where should I go to get my travel vaccinations?

You may be able to see your doctor for the travel vaccinations you need, but they may not have everything readily available since vaccinations have expiry dates, so it is not cost-effective to store them.

Instead, many countries have specialist travel health clinics that offer comprehensive travel vaccination services. It is worth researching online to find a clinic near you.

What do I need to think about?

There are a few important things to consider when planning your itinerary:

  • The country you are coming from
  • The country (or countries) you are heading to
  • The specific areas you’ll visit (i.e. coast, mountains, cities, jungle, etc.)
  • How long you will be there
  • The modes of transport you’ll be using
  • The types of activities you’ll be doing
  • Whether you will encounter wild animals
  • The accommodation you’re likely to stay in
  • The type of weather / season
  • The food and drink you plan to eat

If you are backpacking in more rural areas and planning on eating local, trekking in the jungle and camping outdoors, you may be more susceptible to airborne or waterborne diseases than a holidaymaker who has booked a package deal in a four-star hotel.

Are travel vaccinations necessary?

Vaccinations can be categorised into three types according to WebMD:

  1. Routine – the standard vaccinations for children and adults in your country, usually including tetanus, diphtheria, MMR, influenza, rotavirus, polio, HPV, chicken pox, whooping cough, pneumococcal disease and hepatitis B.
  2. Recommended – additional vaccinations to reduce the risk of contracting diseases that are present in the country you are visiting, such as the rabies, cholera, malaria, tick-borne encephalitis, typhoid fever, hepatitis A/B, Japanese encephalitis, tuberculosis and top ups of tetanus and diphtheria.
  3. Required – in some places in South America and Africa, the yellow fever vaccination and certificate is needed to enter the country. In Saudi Arabia, you must have proof of meningococcal meningitis immunisation administered at least ten days before if you are visiting during Umrah or Hajj. Polio is also now being officially monitored by border controls after outbreaks in Papua New Guinea.

Even if you have had a vaccination before, you may need a booster shot if you are travelling in an area where that infectious disease is known to exist.

Do I have to get the travel vaccinations?

By having the travel vaccination, you are protecting yourself from some nasty infectious diseases that could be fatal if contracted.

Pre-immunisation helps your body to fight off the bacteria or virus before you travel, and will help bolster your immune system by creating antibodies to fend off future attacks.

Vaccinations have successfully eliminated diseases such as smallpox. Immunisation strategies were responsible for saving 10 million lives between 2010-2015 according to the WHO.

However, vaccines are only effective if the majority of us are immunised, in what is referred to as ‘herd immunity.’ When you travel, you must be responsible and ensure that you are fully updated with your vaccinations to reduce any risks of spreading infection.

How much do travel vaccinations cost?

In the UK, some travel vaccinations may be covered by the NHS. If your clinic administers immunisations, the following are free:

  • polio (given as a combined shot of diphtheria, polio and tetanus)
  • typhoid
  • hepatitis A
  • cholera

Before you go, check your GP is signed up to provide NHS travel vaccines. If some are not covered, you can research the costs at your local travel health clinics. Prices tend to vary, so do your homework in advance.

Remember, some additional fees may apply if there are multiple doses required, or if you need a dated certificate of vaccination. It is worth budgeting extra to cover these costs, and allowing enough time to fit in appointments.

It is worth noting that some travel insurance policies will not cover medical expenses if you have neglected to have your travel vaccinations.

What else do I need to prepare?

Prevention is a good way of staying safe and not bringing home more than you bargained for. If you’re visiting an area with a high risk of malaria, it is sensible to invest in some non-DEET insect repellent. If you’re trekking, wearing longer layers and buying a mosquito net is advisable.

Washing your hands before eating is another way of reducing the risk of getting ill, and carrying a small bottle of alcohol disinfectant is an easy way to minimise the germs entering your system. Practicing good hygiene is important for staying fit and healthy while you’re away.

In some places, travellers are advised to only drink from bottled water or avoid street food, particularly meat and dairy products, where the chances of food poisoning may be higher. Pack Immodium in your first aid kit, along with some electrolyte packs to stay hydrated. In case your diet has the opposite effect, pop some laxative pills in there too.

In areas where waterborne diseases may be present, eating soft fruits or salad leaves may result in illness. It is sometimes sensible to only eat fruit that can be peeled to reduce the risks of consuming bacteria that your stomach won’t agree with.

In any place you go, whether travelling or not, it is always sensible to practice safe sex. Protect yourself from unwanted STIs by using condoms every time.

Useful links

For more information on travel vaccinations, please visit the following websites that maintain updated travel advice:

Please note, the travel advice here does not replace the updated and specific knowledge of your doctor or travel health specialist. See them for detailed advice about travel vaccinations before you travel.

Saltwater crocodiles

Hypercarnivorous apex predator. The most chilling three words in the English language.

“This is what we do if we get attacked. You go for the eyes, or if you’re caught in its mouth, you need to reach to the back and past the tongue. There’s a flap there which stops water flooding their lungs.” Tom narrowed his eyes and looked concerned, but not about being bitten.

I had spent hours researching saltwater crocodile attacks ahead of our Borneo trip. I had read reports of fishermen in capsized boats being dragged into the water, women who were stolen from riverbanks as they washed their clothes, and swimmers who had disappeared without even a ripple. I had consulted WikiHow about how to survive an attack, and delved deep into the archives of crocodile-related deaths.

As I read our itinerary on the Kinabatangan River, my blood cooled.

Crocodilians can attack at any time, but are most active and most dangerous at dusk and at night. The Sukau Lodge where we were staying was built on the banks of the river. We would be taking boat tours along the river at dusk, along with an optional night cruise.

Crocodiles, in particular, are also known to attack and overturn boats, and will even grab people off of boats and drag them into the water. I flicked through the tour images on the site and was surprised to see how small the boats were. They had motors but were barely above the water’s surface.

Avoid patches of vegetation where these animals could hide. Our guide would steer our boat right into a floating carpet of salvenia molesta aquatic weed where it was rumoured a 5m male crocodile lived. This was also a popular place for females to lay their eggs.

Large crocodilians can launch themselves through the water at speeds of up to 60kmh (37mph), faster than most people can react. As we made our way to the lodge, the engines were cut as we drifted past a 3m crocodile. It was sunbathing on the shore, open-mouthed. We were easily within 10m of it. It banged each leg in turn, twitched its tail, then suddenly snapped its head towards us and launched into the water. Our captain rushed to kick start the motors as we lost track of it immediately in the murky brown water.

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Cruising along the Kinabatangan River, we spotted four adult crocodiles. One of the guests in the boat was an American woman who had done this tour ten times. She lived in Kota Kinabalu but was a wildlife enthusiast and a professional underwater photographer. She said that she’d never seen so many crocs in all her previous trips. She had attended a wildlife conservation conference where she had chatted with a crocodilian expert. According to him, the water temperatures dictate whether the eggs will produce male or female crocodiles. As water temperatures continue to rise, more males are likely to be born. The males are more territorial and aggressive, and can grow up to 2m larger than the females.

Our guide told us that the river can sometimes swell up to 5-6m higher, and the water reaches 2-3km beyond the usual banks. When this happens, more humans are attacked as workers in the plantations do not expect to see a crocodile there. Down the river towards Sarawak, it was reported that the firemen are being trained how to hunt crocodiles following a spate of attacks. As the macaque monkey populations are smaller there, the crocodiles have less food to snatch from the overhanging branches and are forced to hunt other prey.

Tom might have been right. I was getting a bit obsessed. After all, saltwater crocodiles were only one of the Borneo Big Five – we were there to see the orangutans, proboscis monkeys, rhinoceros hornbills and the pygmy elephants too.

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During the night cruise, the strong torch positioned at the back of the boat swung across the treeline, illuminating the greenery in the darkness. The chocolate-coloured water was now inky black. The light hovered across the still water and our eyes followed it with trepidation. The guide was searching for the telltale shine of crocodile eyes. Just as he was about to abandon it and return to the sleeping kingfishers or proboscis monkeys, we caught a glimpse of two gooey gold eyes. The set of eyes silently glided past our boat, the rest of it submerged and unseen. The eyes were close together, meaning it was a young crocodile. We saw three baby crocodiles, then a larger one about a metre long who menacingly kept his mouth wide open as the waves from our boat washed over him. He was on the muddy bank next to our lodge opposite the jetty, reminding us that the danger was close by.

The next morning, our guide Stephen was keen to get out on the water at 5:40am and beat the other boats. He had a knack for finding the biggest salties as they cruised in the water before the whirring of the motors caused them to move away. True to his word, we encountered a huge 3m crocodile swimming alongside our boat. His skin was much darker than others we’d seen, and his body slinked on top of the water before disappearing altogether. Time was suspended as we nervously scanned the surface. He emerged on the other side of us briefly, then I was glad when Stephen spotted him upriver, far from our boat.

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On our final river cruise, we went down a new tributary that was only slightly narrower than the main Kinabatangan. Large cables ran across the river, connecting two large trees on either side. Our guide explained that these were built by the WWF to allow orangutans to cross safely, as crocodiles would hunt anything that had the misfortune of falling into the water. However, it was mainly the proboscis monkeys that made use of the bridge.

It was here that Stephen told us a story that I have not been able to verify online, and I’m not sure I completely buy it in hindsight. It is true that crocodile attacks do go unreported in remote areas, and equally, I understand why a story like this might be quashed. In a nature reserve that relies on tourism to maintain its conservation efforts, bad press could threaten their work.

As the story goes, two European tourists were staying at a nearby lodge, which was discernible only by the wooden hut and steep jetty. At around midday, they decided to go for a swim. They took off their hiking boots and clothes, and made their way down the muddy bank into the water. They both were taken by the crocodiles, and only one torso was recovered. Now, I appreciate this sounds like a story that you’d tell over a campfire, but in that moment, and having seen the large predators over the course of three days, I believed him.

Now that I have had time to absorb the sights and the whole experience, I feel slightly embarrassed by how scared I was each time I boarded the boat. Given the number of tourists that take these tours, I should have been able to settle my nerves.

With any wildlife spotting tour, you are lucky to be in an environment where wild sightings are possible. I felt the same way when I dived with sharks in Komodo National Park. Instead of my phobia bubbling over, I actually willed the black or white tipped reef sharks to appear from the blue and swim nearer to us.

Next time, I’ll spend less time tormenting myself with click-bait reports and devote more time to finding out about the conservation efforts in place to protect these misunderstood species.

Notes
– How to Survive a Crocodile Attack, https://www.wikihow.com/Survive-an-Encounter-with-a-Crocodile-or-Alligator
– Saltwater Crocodiles, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saltwater_crocodile
– Temperature-dependent sex determination in the salt-water crocodile, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/296789610_Temperature-dependent_sex_determination_in_the_salt-water_crocodile_Crocodylus_porosus_Schneider 
– Waterweed-eating Weevils, https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/11/08/waterweedeating-weevils-to-be-set-loose-in-mid2018/

We travelled with Borneo Eco Tours and booked their BB7H experience, taking in the magnificent Sukau Rainforest Lodge (one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World) and Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Highly recommended and a wonderful wildlife spotting trip!