Tag archives for National Geographic

It’s summer in Washington and I’m very glad to be home. I do love to travel and that will never change, but I also love waking up in my own time zone and enjoying a meal without juggling my phone and fork. I hope you understand. It’s impossibly hard to step away from a dream…

New Havana

“I wanted to see Cuba,” explains one man in our group, “Before it changes.” We all nod in agreement, except for the two Cubans in the room, who simply smirk. “I’ve been hearing that for the last twenty years!” says Migdalia, our guide. And she’s right—I’ve been hearing (and saying) the same thing for the…

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…

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:

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…

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 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…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: travel is so very personal. Each of us has our own idea of what constitutes a great destination and a great time. Indeed, it’s the beauty of changing seasons is how each one caters to our personal fancies, be it Paris in the spring or Alaska…

For the last 10 days, I have had the very good fortune of traveling with legendary National Geographic photographer Annie Griffiths. Though our expedition around Iceland been a fascinating adventure into some of the most beautiful corners of that country, the real gift of this trip was how much I learned from this illuminating woman…

Iceland is a bit of a misnomer. The country’s frigid name was a bit of a knee-jerk response by the old Norse explorer Flóki Vilgerðarson, who, after suffering a calamitous winter in the West Fjords, climbed a mountain in hope for some hopeful sight and instead encountered a bay that was filled with icebergs (most…

Writing and shooting photographs around the world always leads to great adventure, but what Annie Griffiths and I do is still a job with its ups and downs and long hours. When we get a chance to take a break and chill out (quite literally, up here in the Arctic), we take it. After a…

Angry Birds

A few summers ago, I was attacked by a batch of furious birds. They dive bombed me from above—such vicious arctic terns with sharp and vengeful beaks, who struck the top of my head with such force that little drops of blood trickled down the side of my face. It really hurt. Now—all these years…

I went running that morning. I took off outside the gate and launched up the chocolate-colored road, ankle-deep in dust. A minute later, my shoes and socks were black with dirt, and I tasted the earth on my teeth, like salty crushed graham crackers. Tanzania’s winter is so dry and the air so still, the…

Exactly one year ago I was traveling in South Africa, exploring the disparate coastal cities of that magnificent country while filming a documentary for the National Geographic Channel: “The World In Two Cities”. As someone who normally stands behind the camera, it was a terrific honor to host such a well-made film in such a…

Darwin didn’t have a camera, but he would have made a superb photographer.  His sketches and lengthy descriptions of animals in the Galápagos reveal a traveler who observed everything with curiosity and recorded in colorful detail. We should all learn from him. To this day, I am more of a traveler with a camera than…

It takes nearly six hours to fly across the Sahara Desert — —about the same distance it takes to fly across the United States. Indeed, the biggest desert in the world is as wide as the continental U.S., and from high up in the sky, I was able to take in the sea of sand…

I am relieved to discover that King Tut’s tomb is smaller than my apartment back home. Now, when I return from this transcendent circumnavigation, I am less likely to suffer from any serious bouts of post-travel claustrophobia. After freely roaming around the gargantuan sphere of Earth, I expect my home in the city will seem…

Two Tombs #RTW

In China, it’s all about the gift shop. Since arriving in the Middle Kingdom, nearly every destination we visit comes equipped with a well-stocked gift shop manned by an English-speaking staff all ready to grant us, their new friends, at least a twenty percent discount. Even a callused traveler as myself is susceptible to the…

Working at National Geographic is an awesome learning experience, in which I’m constantly surrounded by real talent, sound wisdom, unique minds and artistic people (I love it). Among the strong and creative team that I work with is one-of-a-kind internet princess Marilyn Terrell (@Marilyn_res), Chief Researcher at National Geographic Traveler and a host of many…

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…

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…