Wildlife photographer Matta Maran explains why he has a thing about bears
Mountain/ocean/jungle/desert – which are you and why?
I should be ocean after spending over 1,000 hours on the water, photographing for my book over the past six years, but after never recovering from sea sickness I’d have to say jungle. I’ll never forget my first rainforest experience in East Africa watching monkeys swinging through the trees. Since then my love of primates has also taken me to the jungle in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Malaysia.
What was your first great travel experience?
Visiting East African National Parks...
What was your favourite journey?
A float-plane journey in Alaska from King Salmon to Katmai National Park. The scenery was spectacular – we saw humpback and fin cross paths, while brown bears patrolled the lake shores.
What are your top five places worldwide?
West coast of Vancouver Island; Borneo; Alaska; Bolivia; central and north-east India.
Name a special place to stay.
Bako National Park, Malaysian Borneo. Sleeping in a hut with three different species of monkey crashing in the canopy above was a very special experience.
What three items do you always pack?
Spare camera batteries, memory cards, hard drives – forgetting any of these would be disastrous on a photographic expedition.
Which passport stamp are you proudest of?
Vietnam – because I got it after not realising I needed one only a few days before I was due to arrive in Hanoi. Big thanks to the Vietnam Embassy in Kuala Lumpur ...
Which passport stamp would you most like to have?
What is your guilty travel pleasure?
Beers and cheese.
Window or aisle?
Who is your ideal travelling companion?
Best meal on the road? And your worst?
Best – Zanzibar Pizza.
Worst – three-day old rice which tasted of bins.
Most surprising place? And your most disappointing?
Most surprising was Bolivia, I knew very little about it and was blown away by the landscape. With desert in the south and the Amazon basin in the north it is diverse and very beautiful.
Most disappointing was Ha Long Bay. Despite being a UNESCO World Heritage site and beautiful it was polluted and overcrowded.
Where do you NOT want to go?
New Zealand – not enough mammals.
Who/what inspired you to travel?
Big cats and David Attenborough.
What do you listen to on the road?
Meshell Ndegeocello/ Prince.
Does any song take you back to a particular place?
Stranger in Moscow by Michael Jackson takes me back to East Africa.
What do you read when you travel?
Mammal and bird field guides.
Is there a person you met while travelling who reaffirmed your faith in humanity?
A family took us into their home after our Land Rover broke down in a remote part of western Kenya. They gave us our own room and fed us for two weeks and all for free. It was an amazing show of generosity which I will never forget.
What's the most impressive/useful phrase you know in a foreign language?
Jambo jambo – the most used greeting in east Africa.
What is your worst habit as a traveller?
Not washing for days, which I love!
Snowbound in a tent in Antarctica, how would you entertain your companions?
Recount sketches by my favourite stand up comedians, Bill Hicks, Doug Stanhope and Stuart Lee and hoping they laugh.
When and where in your travels have you been happiest?
On a boat watching breaching humpback whales in Barkley Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
What smell most says 'travel' to you?
Charcoal burning in the streets.
Given a choice, what era would you travel in?
The 60s – for the hippy vibes.
If you could combine three cities to make your perfect metropolis, which would they be?
New York, London, Rio.
Matt Maran is an award-winning photographer whose passion for wildlife and landscapes has taken him all over the world. He has won Wanderlust Travel Photographer of the Year and his new book, Vancouver Island: Barkley to Clayoquot, can be ordered on Amazon now.
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