Tag archives for Nat Geo 125 Trip

Superlatives are the bane of travel publishing. Magazines tend to shout their hot pink sans serif headlines, boasting the highest, remotest, southernmost, fanciest, nicest, cheapest, most sophisticated, most beautiful, and most wonderful; in short—the best. But who decides these things, and what exactly constitutes the very best travel experience? Playing with pandas in China? Riding…

I never in a million years ever believed I would get to spend time with gorillas in the wild. The shock of living the pages of National Geographic magazine, over and over, is what makes this 125th Anniversary Expedition so spectacular. For me, Rwanda marked the final stop in what has been, truly, a life-changing…

More than the lions or the elephants or the hippos—it’s the smell of Africa that I find so intoxicating. Right now, in November, it’s the smell of the driest dust—grey Kalahari sand so fine you can taste it on your teeth at the end of the day—and the smell of the promise of rain. Scientifically-speaking,…

There is literally an elephant in the room. For a moment, at least, his trunk is in the room, dabbing the edge of the open door with his quivering nose, as if feeling his way with fingers. Then Lizzy shoos him away with both hands and the pleasant clip of an African accent. “Go away…

Tracking lions all day and all night is tough work, with long hours, little sleep, and great physical effort. “Dereck and I almost have to be like athletes,” says Beverly Joubert, who has spent most of her life dedicated to the high adrenalin sport of wildlife photography. With such a busy life and travel schedule,…

No matter where our plane lands on the globe, we run into family. Indeed, the real perk of National Geographic’s 125th Anniversary Expedition is the chance to meet up (almost everyday) with our crack team of National Geographic Explorers–in the field. In Palau, we had Sylvia Earle, and when when we arrived in Botswana, we…

I didn’t always travel like this (I am quite content just riding Greyhound), but for those of you who’ve asked what it’s like to hop about the globe on a private jet, I’m happy to report that as modes of transportation go, this one has several real advantages:

No discussion about global warming is complete without a nod to the Maldives, the paradisaical Indian Ocean archipelago that spans the equator, comprised of around 1,200 islands. Indeed, the geographical term atoll comes from the Dhivehi word describing these low-lying coral isles that almost seem to float on the flat blue surface of a tropical…

In the Kingdom of One Million Elephants, I only saw two. He was just a baby, huddled against his larger mother with wrinkly skin and sad, wet eyes that blinked against the bright sun. His trunk gripped a shoot of green leaves like a toy, and waving it in the air, the young elephant moved…

She’s the happiest woman in the world with a dour message of doom. “Half of the world’s coral reefs are now gone—or at least in a state of severe decline,” says Oceanographer and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Sylvia Earle. She’s reporting a tragic truth that I’ve witnessed firsthand—bleached and broken coral in the Caribbean, Hawaii and…

Approximately five million jellyfish live in Ongeim’l Tketau—give or take a hundred thousand. This South Pacific city of Cnidarians only came to the world’s attention in 1982, thanks to an article in National Geographic Magazine that detailed Palau’s endemic jellyfish species, Mastigias papua etpisoni, found only in this single marine lake and nowhere else in…

So far, I’ve been to about ten countries that each claim to be the happiest country on Earth. In Iceland, in Denmark, in Holland, even in India once, someone pulled me aside to claim that their country is the happiest. I never disagree; I just simply ask, “How do you know?” I’ve taken enough Stats…

According to the teenager with a shaved head, two hand tattoos and one bare shoulder, the crossed lightning pendant I just purchased will cancel out eighteen different evils and assist me in overcoming 80,000 obstacles. The IRS comes to mind—but the young Buddhist monk who kneels before me offers no policy with my purchase—no small…

From our plane, the city looks as if some fitful child scattered all of his Legos across a blanket of green. Every colored block, some red brick, pale pink, or sea green—is home to a family or two or three, a shop or restaurant, probably cows and goats, too. And all these homes, multiplied by…

Seven Skies

“When you reach an empty part of the desert, if the wind blows from the North, then West, South, and East—if the wind comes from every direction, this means, ‘You are not welcome here’, and you need to leave immediately.” Such is the helpful advice of Mohammed on the microphone, his last-minute lecture—‘Intro to Genies’—right…

Is it possible to fall in love with a place in just one day? Yes, of course. The answer is yes. After leaving London on National Geographic’s 125th Anniversary Expedition, we flew to Oman, and shifted suddenly from the cooler fall of Europe into the steamy season of the Gulf. In total, I believe we…

Dead Reckoning

“You only know where you are by remembering how you got there.” So says our professor, anthropologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Wade Davis, explaining the sailors’ process of navigation, dead reckoning. He stands in the aisle of the plane, gesturing with his hands, while on either side, a dozen flat screen TV monitors all show…

I just can’t keep it a secret this time–no way, no how. My next assignment is just too big, too spectacular, and too special to leave you all guessing along the way about where I might end up in the world. And so, just this once, I am publishing my travel plans in advance (uh,…

I love National Geographic. It’s not a secret. Like most of us, I was obsessed as child. I read (or flipped through), every single issue of National Geographic and World magazines. I grew up watching National Geographic Explorer on television, reading National Geographic books, and competing in the National Geographic Bee. I could never get…