Monday, February 11, 2013

Romance is for the Birds

Nature has made it pretty clear that birds rule when it comes to mating displays and courtship rituals. Many types of birds are known to pair up and mate for life, while few other species do. 
So with all the romance in the air this week, I thought it would be a good opportunity take a closer look and see just how the birds do it.

Photo notes:
1. Galapagos Gulls, South Plaza Island, Galapagos, Ecuador.
2. Nazca Boobies, Genovese Island, Galapagos, Ecuador.
3. African Penguins, Boulders Beach, South Africa.
4. Storks, The Chellah, Rabat, Morocco.
5. Blue-Footed Boobies, North Seymour Island, Galapagos, Ecuador.
6. Swans, Santa Rita, Chile.
7. Bald Eagles, Ucluelet, British Columbia, Canada.
8. Hyacinth Macaws, The Pantanal, Brazil.
9. Galapagos Gulls, Genovese Island, Galapagos, Ecuador.
10. Flamingos, Walvis Baty, Namibia.
11. African Fish Eagles, Okavango Delta, Botswana.
12. African Penguins, Boulders Beach, South Africa.
13. Magnificent Frigate Birds, North Seymour Island, Galapagos, Ecuador.

I posted this originally on February 12,in part to honor the birthday of Charles Darwin, who spent a great deal more time studying the birds of the Galapagos than I have.

All images on this blog may be licensed here: Mira Terra Images.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Nothingness of Namibia

If getting out in nature and getting away from it all is your thing, then Namibia should be at the top of your list. Located in one of the most desolate corners of our planet, Namibia is an African country with the second lowest population density in the world - fewer than 3 people per square kilometer. That means there's a lot of land, and a lot of space.

Landscapes of the Namib Rand

And not a lot of....tourists.

Otherwordly setting for an afternoon sundowner outside of Swakopmund

What Namibia lacks in human population, it makes up for in stars.  That's right, the night skies are loaded with stars, earning the Namib Rand Nature Reserve recognition as a "Gold Tier" International Dark Sky Reserve in 2012.  At Sossusvlei Desert Lodge in the heart of the Namib Rand, there's an on-site observatory, and an on-site astronomer.  Even if star-gazing isn't your thing, one evening here and you'll be ticking off constellations and star clusters, wanting to reach out and touch the Milky Way or take a chunk of cheese from the moon.

Rising sliver moon over the Namib Rand

When I mention Namibia to people who haven't been, they look at me with this "Why on earth would you ever go there?" glaze.  Some come straight out and ask it....along with other questions like:

"Is it safe?"  

Yes. That's why you've probably never heard of it - it doesn't make the news with terrorist threats or kidnappings or natural disasters.  In terms of political stability, it currently ranks better than it's neighbor, South Africa. And here's an added bonus: even the tap water is safe to drink.

Zebras drink from a diminishing waterhole in Etosha

"Is there anything there?" 

Yes. It is Africa, after all, so there is plenty of wildlife. 

The sleek and beautiful Oryx

Giraffes grace the landscape of Purros Conservancy in Kaokoland

The elusive and free-roaming desert-adapted elephants, found only in Namibia

And interesting indigenous peoples like the Herero and Himba.

Himba Village Children

Not to mention a capital city with shopping malls, fancy hotels, and decent food. But the comforts don't stop there - the safari camps and lodges are among the most luxurious in all of Africa.

The delightfully refreshing "Barefoot Bar" at Emanya Lodge in Etosha
 "But what is there to see in Namibia? It looks like there's nothing there."   

This is the question when I want to shake them silly and scream "that's the beauty of it!" 

Private verandah and view from the Okahirongo Elephant Lodge

When is the last time you truly got away from it all, and found yourself sitting in a spot on the planet where you felt utterly insignificant, and utterly in awe all at once? Have you ever felt that? 

Contemplating a dune at Sossusvlei

"Still, what is there to see?"

Fine. I give up. For some places, there are simply no words.  I'll let my camera answer that.

For captions and details on the above images, plus many more, please visit the Mira Terra Images Namibia Gallery, where all images are also available for licensing.

Also of interest: Namibia by Dune, Full Moon, and Hot Air Balloon

And finally, if you are inspired enough to learn more about travel to Namibia, please join me for an online travel webinar all about Namibia on Wednesday, February 6, at 11:00am (Pacific time). Here's the link: Travcoa's Namibia