The Ulot River Torpedo Boat Adventure experience at Paranas, Samar – the longest river in the entire Samar island crossing all 3 provinces, Samar, Eastern Samar and Northern Samar.

The Torpedo Boat Adventure route, however, only traverses 11.5 kilometers of this lengthy river (23 kms back and forth) and takes about an hour downstream, and over an hour upstream back to the jump-off point.

The jump-off point is located near the HQ of the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) in Paranas, Samar along the Buray-Borongan highway.

Getting there: It’s about 1.5 hours drive from Tacloban City to the jump off point. From Tacloban City, head on to Catbalogan, Samar via the Maharlika Highway. Upon reaching the Buray junction (this is before Catbalogan), turn right headed for Borongan. SINP HQ is 16 kilometers from the Buray junction.

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The staff of calle Z Cafe goes on its Annual Summer Outing, April 22, 2011 at the Ulot River Torpedo Boat Adventure at Ulot Watershed, Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) in Paranas, Samar.

calle Z Cafe closes operation only 6 days in a year: Good Friday, June 30, Dec 24 & 25; and Dec 31 & Jan 01. Good Friday is usually when the staff goes on a summer respite.

The Ulot River Torpedo Boat Adventure is about an hour’s motorized banca ride (no outriggers) downstream at Ulot River – Samar’s longest river – and back upstream (1.5 hours) navigating portions with river rapids. Traversed distance is about 23 kilometers, roundtrip.

The river boat adventure is located near Samar Island Natural Park HQ at Paranas, Samar. It’s almost a 2-hour drive from Tacloban City.

GETTING THERE: From Tacloban City, take Maharlika Highway headed towards Catbalogan, Samar. At the Buray junction (that’s before Catbalogan), turn right. The jump off point is 16 kms from the Buray junction. Read more from my previous post: http://callezaragosa.com/gerryruizphotoblog/2010/11/eastern-visayas-newest-destination-ulot-river-torpedo-boat-adventure/

For travel assistance and other arrangements, contact Leyte Gulf Travel & Tours: (053)321-7966; (053)523-7966. email: leytegulf@callezaragosa.com

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We went on a birding sortie recently at the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) in Paranas, Samar – site of the country’s few remaining primary and secondary forests today.

It was my 3rd time to be there in recent months in what always turns out to be a most enjoyable nature-trip sojourn.

The first time we went there was to experience for ourselves the Ulot River Rapids Torpedo Boat Adventure (fun!) The second time was to sample Samar’s enormous avian wealth, together with experienced birders (such as the Dutch Ambassador – an avid birder).

I have to confess I am a complete newbie in this department. Birding or bird photography is a pastime which only a few can indulge in. It’s because it entails getting expensive long camera lenses and other equipment; having the needed patience and the luxury of time to travel, the physical stamina to endure hiking/trekking into the wilderness, and the willingness to update one’s stock knowledge and learn more about the avian world.

Hence, please bear with me; my Canon 70-200mm (even with a 1.4X extender) can barely reach for a medium shot of a bird perched on a tree 20 meters away. I need to really creep slowly and get real close to them to be able to get fairly decent shots of these fascinating flying wonders.

The ultimate satisfaction one gets in bird photography is when you’re able to get a perfect, close-up shot of a rare or hard-to-find bird.  The ensuing natural high one gets is beyond words. Definitely more than just WOW!

Here are some of the birds we saw at SINP in the heartland of Samar, last February 24 & 25, 2011.

1.) An Everett’s White-eye (Zosterops everetti), one of several comprising a merry barkada of tiny birds barely 3 inches in size. They fly and eat in groups quickly descending on berry-bearing trees boisterously and then just as quickly fly away.

Source: Wikipedia

2.) The Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops superciliosus/philippinus)

This is a bird which breeds in sub-tropical open country, such as farmland, parks or ricefields. Like other bee-eaters it predominantly eats insects, especially bees, wasps and hornets.

They look out for suitable prey from a tree branch or high wire (about 7m and above) then swoop down onto it and snap up their victims. To get rid of the sting, the insect is vigorously whacked against the perch or simply squeezed to get rid of the venom.

Source: Wikipedia & Sungei Buloh

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We were privileged to have Manny Librodo back with us for the second time around last weekend, January 29 & 30, 2011 during the “Landscape of Emotions 2″ – an advanced photography workshop conducted by the famed photography master himself.

A Filipino photography artist based in Bangkok and Manila, Manny Librodo is a multi-awarded and internationally published photographer who conducts workshops all over the world.

Manny Librodo was named by Scott Kelby – a recognized international photography authority – in 2009 as one of the “Five Best Photographers of the World (that you probably haven’t heard about)“.

Organized by the Camera Club of Leyte and Samar, the workshop featured Kharunisia Jazmin – Manny’s favorite model, his “Muse for the Philippines” – a versatile artist herself: costume designer/stylist/make-up artist/model/photographer all rolled into one. A very smart, intelligent girl, she’s quite pretty and attractive, too, and can project various moods/looks effortlessly.

Workshop participants were all amazed at her versatility and projection; one could not imagine getting lousy shots with Kharu as the model, unless there was something seriously wrong with the camera or the photographer’s settings!

Needless to say, everybody had a fun time and a great learning experience as guided by the maestro, Manuel Libres Librodo, Jr.

Thanks to Manny Librodo, Kharunisia Jazmin, the Camera Club of Leyte & Samar (CCLS) and CCLS Immediate Past President Orlando Uy

Photoshoot location: Caluwayan Palm Island Beach Resort, Brgy. Caluwayan, Marabut, Samar

Post-processing Workshop: Rotary Center, Sagkahan, Tacloban City

View behind-the-scenes photos >>>

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