Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bioparque Estrella

60K.M south of Monterrey, exists Bioparque Estrella, a very calm, laid back, totally green piece of stretch which houses varieties of fauna. Driving down on Garza Sada to Carretera Nacional towards Montemorelos in itself is a pleasing experience. Just before Montemorelos, a gigantic hoarding on the right indicates the deviation that you need to take. Once you deviate from Carretera Nacional, the scenery becomes a lot greener. A narrow road passing along the Mexican savanna containing many ranches on both sides makes the driving more delightful

The parking cost is 15 pesos which has to be paid at the first entrance, which fetches you a free map of the location. The entrance tickets cost 125 pesos.

The first best thing to do is to take the open bus safari (safari would be an overstatement though). Don't forget to grab some food to feed the animals. Once the bus enters the safari area, which houses only herbivores creatures, hungry and desperate double humped camels and ostriches put their faces inside the bus, snatch the food you have. As the bus keep moving, you happen to see many interesting creatures deers, antelopes, black bucks, giraffes, hippopotamus, elephants etc. The safari lasts for about 40 minutes.

There are some fun stuff to do too. Crossing the lake sliding on the cable by holding another for support, cable crossing and rock climbing. There are few food joints which sells food with limited choices for the hungry mortals. There is a lion cub, monkey and pythons with which you can get photographed by shelling out few bucks.

There is an ultra tiny trek along the river which takes you to a place of falling water (calling it waterfall would be an exaggeration). The view is splendid, green valley with a river flowing across.

Let me stop my blabbering here and let the photographs do the talking (click on the images to view them larger). And before anybody would ask me how this landscape shot was taken, let me answer a priori. A technique called HDR (High Dynamic Ranging) is used for rendering this image. 3 or 5 photographs with varying exposure (aperture fixed, only time values changed) is shot and merged using either Photomatix (Photoshop works too) and then tone mapped. The point here is, under such situations where the contrast between the earth and the sky are so high, if I try to shoot the nice blue sky then the earth will be totally dark and if I try to get the green on the earth then the sky will be totally blown out. To handle such situations HDR comes handy. You can either use bracketing (better if you don't have a tripod) or manually the shutter speeds could be changed, just make sure that you don't move the camera even to a minute extent when you shoot.

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