Tag archives for Cape to Cape Trip

Welcome to Cape Town . . . again. I’m back! So welcome back to this colorful seaside port that I only just recently came to know and which I’ve been desperately missing ever since I left. Since first landing here two weeks ago (aboard the National Geographic Explorer), I have clocked some 25,000 miles by…

Sometimes I choose my destinations and sometimes they choose me. Malawi was a little bit of both: first and foremost, there were some wonderful children that I needed to meet. However, as a lifelong reader of National Geographic, I have always harbored a wish to see the great Lake Malawi for myself and if possible,…

The boy on the swing has tiny legs—much smaller than most. They are two spindly black sticks, dangling awkwardly as he hangs on the swing set, unmoving. I offer to push him, and he only smiles as I put a hand on the back of his tiny body and push forward, again and again, until…

Music might be global but every place in the world has its own unique melody. In Africa, there’s a very special way of singing with leading calls, an echoing chorus, and a kind of rich, soul-warming harmony that brightens any mood. Along with dancing and painting, singing is an important part of education at Save…

Read the full news report from Nat Geo Newswatch. Yesterday, the President of Malawi, Bingu wa Mutharika died from a heart attack. I first heard the rumors about the president’s failing health outside a sugar ration line in central Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, where I was told that the he had collapsed and was…

In Africa, to dance is to live. Ever since I arrived in Malawi, it seems that I have been surrounded on all sides by impromptu dancing. Just clap your hands or bang a drum, and someone within earshot will start dancing. Dancing is also one of the principle education methods for  Save The Children’s HEART…

I admit that my job at National Geographic is a lot of fun. One minute I am blowing up snowdrifts, the next I am dusting away the secrets of Mesoamerican doomsday prophecies, rapping in Japanese, or cuddling wolves. Every day is different and unexpected—as travel should be. But travel is not always fun. Sometimes it…

I forgot that it was Palm Sunday today. That is . . . until I saw the hundreds of green palm fronds waving in the air, held high by a procession of believers on the outskirts of Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe. As a traveler, happening upon great spectacles in the street is part of what I…

At first I saw green—a blanket of green land stretched out to the far edge of every horizon. My heart was happy and my mind took a picture. Here was a new country and my glimpse down through blue sky and broken clouds was our first real meeting. Meeting a country for the first time…

Daze at Sea

Once again, I have sailed across the ocean. Once again, I traveled aboard my favorite ship in the world, the National Geographic Explorer. And once again, I loved (almost) every minute of it. Traveling by sea is far more adventurous than flying or driving and really lets you feel the size and shape of our…

Birdwatchers are one of my favorite species of people to watch. They are curious, motivated by any flash of feathers that passes by their hawkish view. They like to tick lists and they like to count and compare. When people ask me if I’m a birdwatcher, I tell them I like to watch birds–any birds.…

Accessible

I leapt ashore across the bow, afraid to land in the waist-deep surf—afraid the driver of our rubber boat would change his mind and turn away. But I was here. I had landed on Inaccessible Island in spite of its name. Thousand-foot cliffs towered above me, so that my neck ached from the moment I…

Despite all the harm that humans inflict upon nature, nature (somehow) still survives. I know the tragic tales of lost wilderness paradise. I am often disheartened by nature’s defeat across the globe, and I am aware of how many species our species has driven to extinction — but today I’m in the mood for good…

The only thing better than achieving your dream destination is the joy of returning to a place you love. I never thought I’d ever make it to Tristan Da Cunha the first time, let alone return to this isolated speck in the middle of the ocean, but the good fortune of travel carried me back within…

A mournful call sings out on the beach, followed by another similar cry, then another. The sound is throaty and pained, echoing across a mushy landscape of tussock and glacial bog to the severe and impassable wall of rock and ice before us. With every wave, the muted sea gives birth to a new batch…

My travel heroes are many but none of them demand the kind of admiration I have for Sir Ernest Shackleton. So far, my sea voyage has followed in the wake of the very first stage of the infamous Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, in which the heroic polar explorer Ernest Shackleton sailed from Buenos Aires to the…

I keep returning to the places I love most and South Georgia is one of them. South Georgia is the largest bit of land in my ocean crossing from Cape to Cape, a 100-mile long stretch of impervious mountains that rise straight up from the cold polar waters of the Antarctic Convergence. Once the haunt…

I admit I have a thing for penguins . . . . . . but then again, who doesn’t? Perhaps it’s the way they mimic us humans: walking upright, nuzzling their mates, or slapping each other on the back. Or else it’s the way they are different from us: surviving and thriving in the most…

I keep coming back to the Falklands because I like these islands. They form a strangely serene and rather rainy bit of earth in the South Atlantic, but I keep boarding ships that take me there. Last year I was surrounded by beautiful baby birds, and the year before that I ate my fill at…

Cape to Cape

Nothing thrills quite like a great sea voyage does. To travel across Earth’s immense oceans, to feel the true size and expanse of our planet, to roll through at least a million waves, to let go of the sight of land on one side and then hope for that next rare sight of land—this is…

Today is late summer, though yesterday, it was barely spring. Lightning shocks the sky into pure white light. Half-second silhouettes paint tree branches, blowing leaves, and scared dogs. Then darkness. The thunder doesn’t wait for my counted seconds. The clouds crash together like two garbage can lids—my hands cover my ears and I crouch from…

I’ve spent the night in four different countries this week. I went diving on Mexico’s coral reef, was interviewed on French-Canadian television, did laundry in Washington, D.C., and then flew to Buenos Aires for last night’s marvelous dinner at La Cabrera. Though the life of a modern-day nomad sounds extremely fun, it is also a…