These are just a few of the things that I love: Latin America, photography, travel, nature, and culture. They all came together for an article I recently did for National Geographic Traveller (UK). The issue is dedicated to South America, and the photos come from Ecuador and Colombia. It was great fun to relive some of my trips to these countries as I looked for images that speak to some of the iconic places to visit and things to do when visiting there. It’s on newsstands now, so if you find yourself in the UK, pick up a copy! For the rest of you, here’s a peek at the layout.
Northern Lights, Ketchikan, Alaska, May 2015, on the National Geographic Sea Lion
At the bookends of the Northern Hemisphere,
Two ships sail through calm waters,
Different voyages exploring two of Earth’s numerous natural treasures.
Two nights, almost exactly a month apart, open with clear starry skies.
Yes, stars do produce a spectacular celestial show on their own,
But on these two nights, they were but a prelude for what was to come.
In the darkness, a light…
Not the moon, nor the wish-inspiring path of a shooting star.
In the north, colliding particles in the atmosphere birth tiny bursts of light
Creating dancing ribbons of green and red over the lights of Ketchikan.
On the Equator, hot molten earth bursts from a volcano,
Its red flow producing a glowing ribbon of its own over the land.
Displays like these don’t last forever.
As clouds roll in, the sun rises, and lava hardens into a cold blackness,
The shows come to a close.
But they live on, painted in their fleeting splendor,
Forever on display in the depths of my memory.
Eruption of Wolf Volcano, Galapagos Islands, June 2015, on the National Geographic Endeavour
The beach at Gardner Bay on Española Island is a stunning place with its white sand and turquoise water.
This is one of my favorite times to be in the Galapagos Islands because the sea lions, in addition to being beautiful on the beaches, are particularly active in the water.
A sea lion jumping out of the water near Fernandina Island.
Two young sea lions play with each other near Champion Island.
There are numerous reasons that the Galapagos is one of the exceptional places on this planet. One of them of course, is the wildlife. It is impossible to not be in awe of the multitude of animals that we encounter every week.
Common dolphins swim alongside the ship early one morning.
Marine iguanas warm themselves on the lava flow of Fernandina Island.
During nesting season, numerous marine iguanas prepare burrows in the sand in which to lay their eggs on Fernandina Island.
Nests of Pacific green sea turtles dot the upper beach on Isabela Island.
But the animals are only part of the experience here. There is an incredible team of people on board the National Geographic Endeavour that make each expedition a success. It is a pleasure to work with people who have such passion for the place that they call home.
Staff members wait for to take groups back to the ship after an outing on Fernandina Island.
Zodiac drivers like Nelson take groups from the ship to the islands and back every day.
Aura Banda, a naturalist on the Endeavour speaks to a group of passengers on Rabida Island.
Greg Aranea (l) and Fernando Sanchez (r) are two of the gifted naturalists on board the Endeavour.
There are moments where I laugh out loud as I think about how fortunate I am to know these islands, animals, and people as well as I do. Yes, it is hard work. The days are long, and I am often exhausted on the return flight home. However, in the midst of it all, as sun sinks over the horizon, I breathe in gratitude for the gift of each day and for all that contributed to making it special.
The sun sets over the Pacific Ocean, ending another beautiful day in the Galapagos.
you never know what you’ll see. Our last snorkel outing for this trip was among dozens of sharks. It was breathtaking.
Animals are not often found in isolation. Those living in Galápagos are no exception. Often they congregate in large communities. Last week I noticed the dance in space and time between pairs of animals on many of the islands we visited.
In the spirit of the dance of multiples, a friend and fellow photographer Rich Reid and I played with creating panoramas with his iPhone on the ship one morning. It was quite fun! (And yes, it is a single exposure.)
(Photo by Rich Reid)