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Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Sloth Spotting in Costa Rica

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Standing in the cool misty mountain morning I watched headlights grow larger and brighter making their way up the windy road. It’s 5:30 am and as the truck pulled up Giovanni, our wildlife tour guide, beamed Buenos Diás, good morning. His infectious smile had us all relaxing and even those ‘I’m not a morning person’ people in the group leaned forward to hear what was on the agenda. Our intrepid early bird group of five would start by visiting a place where toucans like to greet the new day before heading to his private reserve. That’s where we would play spot the sloth. Sure enough less than ten minutes later we rattled to a halt and everyone perked up. Giovanni excitedly pointed high up into a nearby tree. The signature bright sunflower of a yellow-throated toucan’s breast was gleaming as the rising suns first rays illuminated the canopy. “It is…
Sailboats and stretches of palm-fringed beaches with sugar-white sand came into view as our catamaran from St. Thomas approached Virgin Gorda’s Yacht Harbor and Spanish Town. Covering only eight square miles and sparsely inhabited, this third largest of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) is a sleepy, idyllic Caribbean hideaway where goats and cattle own the right of way over island traffic. The island’s fascinating name was christened by famous explorer, Christopher Columbus. In Spanish it means “Fat Virgin.” Apparently to these sea-weary mariners, the island’s shape on the horizon wistfully resembled a curvaceous woman lying on her side. Quite the imagination these intrepid sailors had, but humorously, the name stuck. After a quick processing through British customs, our group of four excited explorers were off on a 15-minute open air taxi ride to the destination we had longed to see — the magnificent geological wonder called the Baths of Virgin…
Tuesday, 01 September 2020

Diving into the Mayan Underworld

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It was a long way down peering over the cliff-like edge into the most beautiful cobalt blue water I’d ever seen. Capturing the sun streaking through it, huge electric blue butterfly wings appeared shimmering. As if by magic. That is how this pristine cenote got its name Mariposa Azul, Blue Butterfly. It’s no wonder the ancient Maya believed these cenotes were sacred places and the entrance to the underworld. There’s an energy surrounding them. As if magic is in the air and anything is possible. Thank all the Mayan gods and goddesses there were long steep staircases leading down to that glorious fresh water because I wouldn’t have had the courage to jump. Not from that height. People do, from about half way down and that still takes courageous soul in my book. This magical Blue Butterfly is one of seven secluded cenotes I experienced that day. All pristine. All… is the world’s largest live nature cam network. Imagine seeing Bald eagles, elephants, gorillas, hummingbirds, giraffes and polar bears from the comfort of your home. You can also watch highlights that others have saved if waiting for a discovery is not your thing. When you do see an animal, you can take a snapshot of the moment to comment on and share with others or download it. From oceans to birds nests to African watering holes to animal sanctuaries, there’s got to be something for everyone. Perfect for quarantining. Northern Lights: Want to check out the northern lights, live? Late at night check out this livecam: African Wildlife: Baby Pandas (in a park): Kitten Rescue: Pacific Ocean:
A magical world for your imagination exists 750 feet below the surface of the earth in the Southwestern United States. Formations called The Lions Tail, Breast of Venus, Dolls Theatre, Hall of Giants, the Caveman, the Chandelier, and the Rock of Ages are some of what you can find in the subterranean world of Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. The famous comedian Will Rogers said that Carlsbad Caverns was the “Grand Canyon with a roof on it”, when he visited in the 1930s. Painted Grotto My ears popped as I descended the equivalent of a 75-story building in one minute in an elevator from the Visitor Center to the starting point of my adventure into the dark world of the of Stalactites and Stalagmites. There are two ways to reach main cave of the park, the “Big Room”, one is to hike down the switch backed path from…
Thursday, 01 November 2018

Paddle Boarding with Flying Rays in Loreto

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While driving to the Villa del Palmar Beach and Spa Resort in Loreto, Mexico, my driver stopped at a view spot to point out the leaping rays. These creatures were jumping six feet high in the air so vigorously above the water, that the slapping sound they made when they fell back into the water could be heard for miles. It was a magnificent show and I wanted to be out in the water to see these creatures up close. Villa del Palmar Beach and Spa Resort is located in a canyon along the Sierra Gigantic mountains and the turquoise waters of Danzante Bay. Each room in the multi-story hotel offers stunning ocean and mountain views. There are three ocean breeze restaurants, five beautiful tile mosaic swimming pools, two tennis courts, a 39,000 square foot luxury Sabila Spa, world class 18 hole golf course and complimentary kayaks and paddle boards.…
The High One it is called, Denali. The highest peak in the United States soars above the tundra of central Alaska. Seeing Denali is rare as most days it is shrouded in clouds and mist. It is one of the sights of the Alaskan Grand Slam: Mt. Denali, Grizzly Bear, Moose, Caribou, and Dall Sheep. If you see all five during your trip into Denali National Park, the 13 hour bus trip to Kantishna has been worth it. The late July morning was basked in the early glow of a nearly cloudless Alaskan sky. A good omen, I thought as I boarded the Kantishna Experience tour bus. The first thirteen miles into Denali National Park are paved and can be driven by passenger cars but most wildlife encounters occur beyond that limit. You have to take a tour bus or one of the national park shuttle buses into the depths…
Have you ever been drenched by a desert rain? The Tatacoa Desert is the place to find one, with its reddish arid expanse stretching from one wall of mountains to another, riddled with sudden drops and numerous cacti. “I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams...” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince The Tatacoa Desert, or the Valley of Sorrows, as it was called in XVI century by a Spanish conquistador, is a massive swath of arid land in the South of Colombia. Located between two Andes ridges – 330 square kilometers filled with incredible vistas and landscapes – and also renowned for its fossils and clear night skies. It doesn’t look like a typical desert one tends to imagine – an endless sea of yellow sand dunes. Depending on the…
I couldn’t place the sound. It wasn’t one I had heard before. It was like the muffled hybrid of a bear’s growl and a dog’s bark; guttural, harsh and unsettling. I stopped dead, my heart pounding. I couldn’t see more than a meter in any direction, surrounded as I was by the 10-foot high tussac grass that covered this landscape, but all around me was movement and commotion. I hadn’t expected to find them here. Not yet. It was too soon. Hoping not to startle my quarry any further I hopped up onto the stool of the nearest tussac stand, giving myself both visibility and vision. All around me southern sea lions bounded with surprising speed through the grass, spooked by the shouts of their fellows and eager to evade whatever threat might be lurking. When they were twenty meters away they congregated and turned to look at me, craning…
Monday, 31 October 2016

From Leh to Lamayuru, India

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Here in the valley of the Indus, the sharp peaks of the Ladakh and Zanskar Ranges pierce the sky like jagged swords. The Indus River flows through the high Ladakhi plateau swiftly, sculpting the greater Himalayan landscape. Fifty million years ago, the Indian plate surged across the Tethys Sea to collide with the stationary Eurasian plate. This dramatic impact resulted a colossal pileup as sediment from the bottom of the sea was thrown up to form Earth’s highest plateaus and mountain ranges. Today, the high desert landscape of Ladakh looks sepia toned in the unfiltered light of the mid morning sun. Mountains of limestone, red sandstone and shale dominate the horizon. We follow the Indus River from Leh to Lamayuru as it curves along the mountain ridges; the foamy white water rapids catching the sun now and then. Several Himalayan villages dot the water’s edge like welcome desert oases. The…

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