Published on October 13th, 2012 | by admin
Insider: DayMen’s Ty Wivell on Costa Rica & Mexico Travel
As the national sales manager for DayMen’s brands Lowepro, JOBY and Acme Made, Ty Wivell has plenty of experience working in the outdoor, travel and adventure industries. He has been working in the outdoor industry for nearly two decades, and has written numerous articles about his travels and two guidebooks, Discover Maine – A Guide to Hiking, Biking, and Paddling the Pine Tree State, and Passport to AMC’s High Huts in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. In this exclusive interview, Wivell shares his expertise in Costa Rica and Mexico travel, and his plans for an upcoming trip to Ecuador.
What’s one of your favorite experiences that you’ve had in Mexico? Do you have a favorite place to visit?
My favorite experience in Mexico was experiencing and photographing the Guelaguetza Festival in Oaxaca. The Oaxaca region is well-known for its vast, beautiful and diverse topography. My travels there included exploring the lush, white sand beaches of Huatulco National Park, the extraordinary ruins at Monte Alban (a World Heritage Site) and the fascinating petrified waterfalls at Hierve el Agua. But Oaxaca is equally regarded for its indigenous peoples and cultural diversity. Guelaguetza is an eighty year old festival, held on successive Mondays in July that draws communities from throughout the state to celebrate their respective cultural traditions through music, costume, food, song and dance. It is an incredibly colorful event, and irresistible for a photographer.
You’ve also visited Costa Rica; what do you like best about that destination, and what are some of your favorite experiences/places in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is justly famous for its breathtaking landscape and diverse ecology. Virtually every modern traveler goes there to experience its extraordinary biodiversity.
Interestingly, my last trip there was spur of the moment. I found an incredible last-minute deal and made the decision to go the day before the flight! Fortunately, I had long since mapped out many places I dreamed of visiting in Costa Rica, as well as the flora and fauna I hoped to see.
My journey encompassed much of the country’s Western region, including visits to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and Manuel Antonio National Park. The cloud forest was particularly fascinating. We were lucky enough to see an amazing array of plants and animals including beautiful orchids, three-toed sloths, capuchin monkeys and the elusive Resplendant Quetzal.
The most interesting experience was a night tour of the cloud forest canopy, when many of Monteverde’s animals are most active. There’s nothing quite like being in a remote, wild region after dark with nothing but a flashlight in hand pointed skyward and a pair of large, unknown eyes staring back at you!
For outdoor enthusiasts, how do you compare Mexico to Costa Rica? Are there certain types of travelers that you think each place is most ideal for?
Both countries are ideal for outdoor adventure travelers. Mexico’s incredibly diverse topography draws everyone from kite boarders in Baja to mountaineers scaling its 3,000M and 4,000M volcanic peaks. And, while Costa Rica is essentially known for ecological exploration, it also draws surfers from around the world to both of its beautiful coasts.
Personally, I found Mexico to be more culturally authentic, which is ironic given its proximity to the U.S. In terms of Costa Rica’s outdoor exploration and adventure, there are endless possibilities. I’m particularly interested in returning to Costa Rica to explore the more remote regions of Guanacaste. And I’ve always wanted to explore the remote biosphere reserves in Mexico, especially Calakmul in the Yucatan Peninsula and the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Central Mexico. The latter is home to nearly one billion butterflies (as many as sixty million per hectare!), including the wintering Monarchs who inhabit the area between October and March.
While it’s relatively easy to prepare a trip to each country within the confines of a programmed tourist outfit, my preferred means of travel is more independent and spontaneous. If it’s “off the map,” my sense of adventure kicks in which can be exciting but not always safe. Ironically of the two countries, my closest call to danger was an attempted robbery outside of San Jose in broad daylight. ¡Pura Vida!
I understand you’re planning a trip to Ecuador. Where will you be headed and what made you decide on Ecuador?
Yes, I am planning to travel to Ecuador in early 2013. It is my first visit, and the result of an invitation by well-traveled relatives who work in the diplomatic community and will be based in Quito for the next year.
Of course I jumped at the opportunity to visit and explore Ecuador. It is a fascinating country and a gateway to incredible places for the adventurer and explorer. Naturally, the Galapagos Islands are high on the list, but Ecuador has mountains, cloud forests and an attractive coastline too. I’m also interested in exploring San Francisco de Quito, which — at 9,350 feet — is the highest capital in the world, and a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.
You work for a company that specializes in gear made for travelers, photographers and adventurers. Since you obviously have an “insider’s” perspective on gear, how does your work affect the way you pack?
My travels frequently involve packing a lot of specialized gear and equipment, whether I’m photographing, climbing, exploring or traveling for work. Efficient organization and the flexibility to reduce to essentials is an absolute necessity. As a result, I rely on technical, lightweight, multipurpose gear whenever I can.
The core of my luggage is always a backpack; a reliable, quality mid-size backpack (30L to 50L) provides me with the best means of modifying my load for various adventures. And it allows me to carry and access my most valued possessions as securely as possible. I also usually carry a ‘pack within a pack’ so I can lighten the load when necessary, or quickly reorganize to adapt to changing circumstances. At Lowepro we just released the new Rover Pro AW series, which are among the most technical backpacks we’ve ever made and perfectly aligned with my preferred means of travel. The Rover Pro 35AW and Rover Pro 45AW are innovative, modular backpacks designed to carry a professional DSLR plus lenses, camera accessories, hydration reservoir and camping supplies – a perfect fit to protect my gear in the backcountry.
Which of your company’s products do you personally always make sure to pack?
I’ve been using Lowepro products for nearly 20 years. When I joined the company in 2011, I counted seven packs and bags among the Lowepro gear I already owned. Everything from my Lowepro Top Loader Pro 70AW to carry on my chest during ski, alpine and mountaineering excursions to my DryZone 200AW which is essential to protecting my camera gear in waterborne canoe and kayak excursions.
I often carry the Lowepro Photo Sport 200 AW – it’s a versatile ultra-lightweight pack designed for an outdoor/adventure photographer’s core camera kit (DSLR, 3 lenses + accessories), plus plenty of extra room for personal items. I also never travel without my JOBY Focus Tripod with Ballhead. It’s an extremely adaptable and lightweight camera tripod that allows me to take a professional-level tripod into environments where a full-size tripod would be cumbersome or impossible to carry.
To protect my laptop on the go, I use the attractive Acme Made Skinny Sleeve which is both protective and flexible – exactly the qualities I look for to support my adventure travels.
MORE TRAVEL TIPS & TRAVEL NEWS:
• Join the fun. Become a fan of LatinFlyer & Mundera Media!