Off the beaten path.
That’s likely the most over-used expression in travel writing. But I get it. I get how going places that are not touristy can help you. As Robert Frost wrote, “…take the road less traveled.”
Becoming a birder has helped direct me in taking the road less traveled as it has dramatically changed how I travel.
Before I met my husband (the real birder in the household), my travel bucket list was a bit random and unfocused. Don’t get me wrong, dreams of vacationing in Tuscany or hiking the Alps are worthy trips, but usually when I’d travel I would just stay at the usual touristy spots that were highlighted in guidebooks and kept it safe. Going to Rome? I’d get a hotel near the Trevi Fountain and go visit all the usual sites listed in the guidebook. Going on a Mediterranean cruise? I’d stick to the list of shore excursions provided by the cruise line. But was I changed? Oh, a little bit. Travel generally changes people, but did I challenge myself or really pull back the curtains to get a full view of the country?
Now my travels take me to birding spots, which are largely influenced by my husband, and I’m grateful for that. He tends to think more broadly and adventurous and to be quite frank, is better schooled in where to go to find the birds. (We’re also lucky that a lot of the tropical locations for great birding are super scuba diving spots as well since we’re both divers.) Birding abroad also enables us to really get to know the locals of an area, as we are fond of hiring local guides (plus, we like helping the economy in the area we’re visiting). And birding in my own country—sometimes just in Utah where I live now–also opens my mind.
While there are those who visit museums (I’m not knocking museums—I love them. The Musee d’Orsay is my favorite museum, in fact) the jungle, marshes, and birds are my museum. And the artwork often changes daily—Ask any guide who traverses the same spot day after day.
We are indeed lucky that we can travel to see birds and try to fit in at least one big birding adventure abroad a year while trying to squeeze in other birding trips in the U.S. in between. I’ve encountered (actually looked for) army ants, hiked in jungles, canoed while birding, required armed guards in sketchy areas, met fantastic local guides—some who will be friends for life—and been to remote areas that tourists generally miss all because of the birds.
Below are the places we’ve traveled to and the stories/blogs I’ve written and I will make sure to keep this updated as I post new blogs related to the places we travel. I hope it inspires you and helps if you ever journey to any of these wonderful places on our planet.
I say, “Let the birds take you to places you’ve never been to before.”
- House wars: Pale-billed Woodpecker vs. White-fronted Parrots
- Life at Crooked Tree in Belize
- Okay, call me lazy. But I prefer canoeing over walking. (Macal River)
- Extreme Birding (El Pilar)
- Birding Mountain Pine Ridge in Belize
- Coming soon! (Trip planned Spring 2013)
- How I’m planning our Panama birding adventure
- Resources for our Panama birding adventure
- Finding the right guide is no accident: Interview with a Panamanian Bird Guide
- Birding in Cerro Punta, Panama: Seven Lifers in Seven Minutes (Cerro Punta)
- First full day birding Panama: Loads of birds! Tons of lifers! (Cerro Punta)
- My first birding century! I got over 100 birds today in Panama (Cerro Punta)
- Another day of 100+ birds in Panama (Cerro Punta)
- Don’t hate me, but I got 61 more “Lifers” while birding Panama (Gamboa)
- Panama birding continues: Invasion of the army ants. (Gamboa)
- A girl in pursuit of army ants. (Actually, I didn’t want to seem like a wimp.) (Gamboa)
- Adios, Panama (Gamboa)
- Another Panama Bird Report. “Will it ever end?” you ask.
- Tanagers of Panama. It’s like having a closet full of shoes.
- Hummingbirds of Panama
- Oh little birds, why must you hide from me? (Some rarities from Panama)
- Celestun and the “bottomless passion of mosquitos” (Yucatan peninsula)
- Birding on our honeymoon (Yucatan peninsula)
- Not exactly the pelagic lifer I was looking for (Western Caribbean)
- About 800 miles off course (Point Pelee National Park)
- Birding at Whitewater Draw in Arizona
- Wishing it was a Rufous-winged Sparrow
- Snow birding it for a weekend in Arizona
- Learning patience while birding in Maui
- Finding birds on O’ahu, Hawaii
- Aloha to the Pacific Golden Plover
- Lens Envy (Soccorro, New Mexico)
- Rescuing Larry, the Pacific Loon (Cannon Beach)
- Birding at Antelope Island
- Sometimes birds just don’t cooperate (Okay, most of the time) Antelope Island
- Random acts of birding (Delta, Utah)
- Baby Grebes: Prepare to go “Awwwwww!” (Bear River National Wildlife Refuge)
- The medicinal effect of birding Antelope Island
- A Barn Owl and a Porcupine walked into a bar… (Antelope Island)
- For the love of brine flies, brine shrimp and phalaropes (An excellent scientific explanation about Antelope Island by guest blogger, Steve, my husband)
- This is what Antelope Island looks like in October
- A date, a smelly lake and a pair of binoculars changed my world (Antelope Island)
- A last day at Antelope Island