Travel diaries: Experiencing the wild magic of Tanzania and Costa Rica as a couple
A pair of photography enthusiasts travel the world, driven by their shared desire to capture the natural wonders as Mother Nature intended. This is their story.
When I was young, my parents took me to visit a zoo. I remember seeing a very sad bear inside a rather spartan cage, and having a huge urge to come back at night to free the poor bear. I've never stepped foot in a zoo again.
Years later, when I happened to watch a documentary about Africa, I realised I’d never actually seen wild animals in their natural habitats. So in 2015, my husband Bob and I decided to go to Tanzania for our honeymoon.
Tanzania instilled a huge sense of wonder in us, making me feel like a little kid again.
Whether it was an encounter with the Dik Dik in the Legendary Lodge garden (I was shocked there could be a creature so small and cute), or the massive river crossings, or seeing so many stars for the first time in my life, I remember thinking what a miracle our world was, and wondered how I even got there.
The itinerary from Jacada Travel was thoughtfully pulled together for a first-timer’s Africa trip, slowly ramping up in intensity, led by a guide who had experience with photographers and their needs.
Since then, we’ve embarked on more safari trips to India, Borneo and most recently, Costa Rica.
In India, tracking tigers taught us that mother nature doesn't promise anything just because you showed up with a camera and expectations. We learned to mellow out and not think of these experiences like a wish list to check off. Nature is nature – try your best and set yourself up for success, but ultimately enjoy the journey and not the destination.
In the end, instead of seeing tigers we saw a pair of Indian wild dogs in Kanha National Park, which we later discovered was an even rarer sighting.
Recently, we travelled to Costa Rica, spending two free-format days with our ornithologist guide in the Osa Peninsula, which is incredibly rich in wildlife.
The key to a photography-themed vacation is really patience and time – we like to add extra days to the standard typical stay at a particular camp just to give ourselves a bit more of a chance to see things. Most animals are only active in the early mornings and evenings, so we try to make sure we are out on an activity during those times if the park time permits.
Our guide and driver in Costa Rica were a hilarious combo and brought the dull hours to life while we were waiting for the birds to flutter back to their nests.
We love safari travels because each trip is different – even if it is to the same place because you can't control nature. You just have to submit yourself to chance. You live in the moment.
Through our shared photography hobby, Bob and I have really grown more like each other. Photography has fostered our drive and discipline, and it teaches us to be calm when stressed out in a time-critical moment, as well as to think out of the box to get a photo from a fresh perspective.
I will always treasure our time spent together experiencing something new and creating memories.
As told to CNA Luxury contributor Karen Tee. Jacqueline and her husband Bob, both in their 30s, are safari addicts who are constantly challenging each other to take the next breakthrough picture.