It’s that time of year again. Dust off your finery and head to the red carpet – the Oscars with all their Hollywood razzmatazz are upon us.

Mind you, despite our best efforts, I think nature can give us a pretty good run for our money. With that in mind here are my hot tips for the Animal Oscars of 2014, with a dose of artistic licence and more than a little help from some of our recent travellers:

Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominations include jaguar, cheetah, lion, but the award goes to:
Up a tree only 10 yards from us was a leopard sleeping. It is extremely rare to spot a leopard, so to have one so close to us was a very special moment. We watched and waited for about 10 minutes before it stretched and stared back. Without making a sound it slowly stood up and gracefully descended. As it disappeared into the undergrowth we could track its movement by the warning cries the birds were giving each other as the leopard moved amongst them.

leopard

leopard

Most Promising Newcomer
Definitely one to watch in future this, from Kenya:
Perhaps the most enchanting experience was watching a newborn topi (antelope), less than 10 minutes old, stand and take its first steps and suckle immediately.

Adult Topi

Adult Topi

Best Action Movie
This one goes to Brazil (and I don’t mean football):
Witnessing a stand off between four Giant Otters and a Jaguar just has to be one of those very special wildlife events. The screams and sheer aggression from the Otters was something we were not expecting and neither was the Jaguar which climbed a tree to get away. Something they rarely do.

giant-otter

Giant Otter

Best Sibling Scene
A hotly contested category, mainly between the big cats, and  the winners are:
We had been tracking the cheetahs for a couple of days and then had to give up and come back to the camp but our fantastic tracker spotted them on our way back. It was wonderful to see three brothers all relaxing but then they got up, started to stalk and then they flew after an impala and we flew with them in our vehicle – AMAZING!!

Cheetah

Cheetah

Best Visual Effects
Zambia’s carmine bee-eaters came close but the award goes to the macaws of the Peruvian rainforest:
Heath River – the clay lick was the highlight and worth the 4.30am start. Spent hours watching the intensely colourful array of birds from the floating hide, a sight not to be missed.

clay-licks

macaws – clay licks

Most Agile Performance
This exciting award goes to Ecuador:
In the rain forest we saw a troop of squirrel monkeys crossing the river by jumping one by one from the top of the highest tree to the other side – like watching a breath-taking acrobatic performance at the circus.

squirrel-monkeys

squirrel monkeys

2014 Cheeky Critter Award
A new category for this year, with a well-deserved winner:
We were warned that opossums might come in our room during the night and steal food. We left some food out on purpose and indeed, the opossum came and began to eat my chocolate bar. I took some pictures then tried to rescue part of the chocolate but he was holding it with his tiny foot and tried to scare me with funny noises. One of the ever sweetest animals I saw.

oppossum

Oppossum

Hollywood – eat your heart out! These guys are the real deal. Why not get your nomination in for 2015 and make your favourite a winner. Just follow these 3 easy steps. Book your holiday with us, go on your trip of a lifetime, and share your special memories and photos with us when you come back!