Archive for the 'Volcano' Category
It’s not easy being an adventurous spirit but living confined to the city, so today, October 8th, 2021, I am starting my 3 days snorkelling-intensive trip in the Galapagos Islands with a tailored-made itinerary.
I visit the islands as much as I can, but each new occasion makes me feel like I’m a privileged alien who is on a mission to discover an entirely new world, not ruled under the normal laws of biology.
This time, I have coordinated my hotel stays, meals, and snorkelling tours with Andean Travel Company. The rest of the adventure is up to me, so here we go!
Yesterday I arrived and took the afternoon at leisure to explore Santa Cruz island’s amazing white coral beaches where flocks of iguanas defiantly stare at you and block the way. The world’s only marine iguana is endemic to these islands.
I’m staying in a hostel in the middle of the bustling, colourful town of Puerto Ayora, one of the three urban centres of the archipelago. I would very much prefer this whole place to be inhabited, but people have been driven to these islands by the promise of economic success for decades now.
I was picked up by my guide and we walked a couple of blocks towards the dock. We embarked on a speedboat to Seymour Island.
I was provided all the necessary equipment and went directly to business (after listening to the guide’s directions). My very first sight was a group of whitetip reef sharks cruising between the low basaltic cliffs below me. I did not expect that my first animal observation would be this quick and thrilling!.
Colourful fish such as the king angelfish, boxfish, and parrotfish swam around, and I got lost in thought admiring them. A strange sound brought me back to reality. It was as if small missiles were being shot… It was the sound of blue-footed boobies and pelicans plunge-diving at enormous speeds to catch fish!
These daily snorkelling tours provide lunch, and I’m grateful for that, as it is a very energy-intensive activity.
In my second swim of the day, I spotted one of my favourite marine animals, the black-botched ray. It looked so elegant with its perfectly aerodynamic platform and majestic in its cyclic underwater flight. I also hoped to see a scalloped hammerhead shark, but they are difficult to find, so let’s see what happens tomorrow.
Today, October 9th, 2021, I’m heading to one of Galapagos’ most iconic landmarks. Pinnacle Rock on Bartolomé Island. Located northeast of Santa Cruz island, 2 hours away in a boat, this is an immense spearheaded obelisk rising from the ocean. We disembarked on the appropriately named Golden Beach, and from there I started swimming into a shallow cove full of precious coral formations and reef fish.
During my time inside the cove, however, my mind was obsessed with swimming around the massive Pinnacle Rock itself. We got there in due time, along with the rest of the group and the guide. (No matter how good of a swimmer you are, when snorkelling always stay close to your group!)
At the underwater intersection where the sea bottom becomes a cliff, I found spectacular lava formations, where reef and Tiger sharks were accommodated inside natural galleries. Swimming ahead, I found medium-sized sea lions who adventured so close to my face that I actually got a bit scared. I tried to make as much eye contact as possible with them, and it’s a tender sensation that I will never forget.
To finish off this day perfectly, we spotted the endangered Galapagos penguin standing on some rocks above the water. An Antarctic bird in these warm waters is certainly an unexpected sight, but they are one of the best examples of the unique animal adaptations happening on these islands.
Day 3! I cannot believe that today is the last of my snorkelling trip. We navigated northwest to Santa Fé Island. The area destined for snorkelling was well-protected from open sea currents, so my first thought was that this might be a smart choice for beginners. These calm, shallower waters, however, delivered generously.
Fluorescent blue chin parrotfishes, yellowtail surgeonfishes, and pufferfishes swam around the turquoise waters, and sea lions made me close company again. I really felt as if these boys knew that I was on a mission, and decided to escort me to the right place. To the open waters where the scalloped hammerhead sharks finally decided to reveal themselves. What an amazing creature, a perfect example of the ambitious effects of evolution. Its distinctive, enormous head works as a sensor that has yet to be explained by science. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to this trip.
Thank you, Galapagos! May we be able to do enough to preserve your treasures!
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On August 3rd I drove 400 miles from Couer d’Alene Idaho to Portland, Oregon, transversing eastern Washington State ,then along the Columbia river as the desert emerges into green forest. Portland is home to my Son, his Fiancée and soon, my Grandson.
I stayed in beautiful downtown Portland in an AirBnb very close to my son’s. The Rose City was on war footing as nightly street battles erupted between extreme left and extreme right factions along with police and federal agents.
The Apple Store destroyed, with the senseless destruction uploaded via Apple devices. However Fox News dogwhistles on “Antifa ” were largely to spread panic and give undercover law enforcement free rein . TotalAdventure does best to stay neutral in these extremist political times. We are about bringing the world together, not ripping it apart.
Burned and Bashed – The Federal Courthouse.
In a three week break from the road ( TotalAdventure and family business) we managed to take beautiful trips within the state.
Crater Lake was created in one day 7000 years ago when the mountain blew its’ top. Thousands of years of precipitation, mainly melted snow, have filled the crater with water almost 2000 feet deep. There is one swimming area, reachable by a path that descends 800 feet from the rim.. . See the video where we jump off a 35 foot cliff.
Portland is two hours from the Pacific Ocean. The X2 had finally made it coast to coast !
In Portland it was 96 degrees, in Tillamook the air was 74 and the ocean ,an icy low 50s. If TotalAdventure is unable to swim, that means the water is only swimmable in a wetsuit.
In Montana the X2 had reached 10000 miles, at the tender age of 3 months on the road. In Portland BMW performed the first free maintenance and took care of a few very minor repairs, as well changing oil.
On August 19th, it was time to explore California !
- Klyuchevskaya Kamchatka Siberia RingofFire ArcticTropic
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In the Summer Of 1993 when Perestroika was in full bloom , with Russia and the United States in full economic cooperation, most attention was focused on the traditional Moscow St. Petersburg realm, with some forays into oil-rich ,newly independent Kazakhstan.
The above video, “Russia’s Wild East “ focuses on business opportunities in the Russian Far East. Alaska Airlines was the bridge for US investors and explorer to travel there. At the time, Russia, emerging from the breakup of the Soviet Union needed to make an immediate move into a market economy . Americans were there to help. The Peace Corps , normally sending young people to Africa, recruited older ,experienced businesspeople as advisors to Russian companies. We interview some of them here, along with younger entrepreneurs , lawyers and other pioneers. We even visit the nascent Vladivostok Stock Exchange.
The video, produced in the analog age, was formatted for television, so there is a few seconds of black before the program starts .
11 time zones to the East – the diplomatically long frozen Bering Strait crossing had thawed. Alaska Airlines began twice weekly flights to Vladivostok, Khabarovsk and Yakutsk, with first stops in Magadan.
The focus of the trip was to explore the Russian Far East for cross strait opportunities for American business who were opening up the market economy on Russia. Rehabilitating old Soviet companies and factories, bringing in new products and services for sale and train the former communists in the nuances of a market -for-profit economy. In addition, we were to discover the incredible natural wonderland, especially in Kamchatka.
My coproducer Yuriko Gamo and I met in Seattle. She flew in from San Francisco and I from New York. We spent a day there interviewing the Alaska Airlines marketing team at their headquarters. It was a big investment for them to open up the Russian Far East. We then boarded our four-hour flight up to Anchorage. Alaska Airlines paid for our flights from Seattle to Anchorage and on to Vladivostok round trip. In Russia we took two internal flights on Aeroflot on its ancient Soviet fleet.
We landed at 10 PM on a sunny Alaska night in early July. It never got completely dark there, some twilight around 2 AM. We had 2 days until our Russia departure so went down to Homer where we swam in the far North Pacific and visited villages where Russian was still spoken from times before “Seward’s Folly.
At 1 PM on Saturday July 10th We departed ANC for a beautiful flight, first seeing Mt.McKinley in the distance, then swampy Tundra. The Bering sea, Chukotka, in Russia and then leading at the Arctic port of Magadan. On landing, our pilot said welcome to Magadan Russia – where it is 1 PM – tomorrow. While we had a 4-hour flight, with a four-hour time change backwards, we crossed the International Date Line. It was 1 PM Sunday, July 11. In Magadan we entered a primitive Soviet cinderblock terminal to have our visa booklets and passports stamped – then back on the plane to Vladivostok – 4 hours to the south.
Arriving in Vladivostok , my co-producer and I were greeted by Dimitry Motovilov. We stayed at his sunny, comfortable apartment in a pleasant Soviet flatblock. He was our guide for our several days there .
A journalist by background he went on to teach journalism at the local university and is currently the Media Assistant of the US Consulate in Vladivostok.
The US Consulate ( not pictured above) was invaluable in setting up the Peace Corps program, and along with Dmitry, set up interviews with businesspeople, factory supervisors, shipyard owners, and the stock exchange. They are the go-to for American businesses in the region, including the US oil companies drilling in Sakhalin. In an uninformed ,shortsighted move, outgoing Secretary of State Pompeo temporarily ceased operations at the Consulate. It is hoped that newly appointed Secretary of State Blinken can quickly restore the very important American outpost – rather than having to rely on Moscow embassy ,6000 miles away.
From Vladivostok station we took an overnight train ride on the Trans Siberian to Khabarovsk. A sleeper compartment was about 1000 rubles – $ 5.
Khabarovsk is the main gateway to Northeast China. Chinese markets sprang up all over the outskirts of the city for Russians to buy much needed consumer goods. The main currency in the markets was dollars- not rubles or yuan.
We visited ancient, dusty factories to try to determine how they could be converted to a modern day business model. Please view the video “Russia’s Wild East ” above.
In our rare calls to the US we did not use this phone. We had to speak on satellite pay phones at $ 12 a minute. Needless to say , we did not engage in idle chat about the weather.
The Khabarovsk weather by the way, was beautiful – hot and dry, nearly 100 degrees along the Amur River, a nice contrast to cool foggy Vladivostok. Khabarovsk, on the edge of Siberia sees -50 in winter.
From Khabarovsk, we flew on an ancient Aeroflot TU-34 to Petropavlovsk, only city on the California sized Kamchatka Peninsula. Kamchatka is the most volcanically active area in the world, with 16 active volcanoes.
We drove the full 80 miles on Kamchatka’s only road to a geothermal plant high in the mountains. We slept in dormitories there. After a long hike to the volcanoes, it was great to have a hot shower from the unlimited supply of hot water pumped up from the earth. One could take a shower lasting millions of years and the hot water would never run out.
Kamchatka is one of the most adventurous and hard to get to places in the world. This coming summer of 2021 , Yakutia Air plans to start weekly (return ) flights from Anchorage to Petropavlovsk. TotalAdventure welcomes Kamchatka providers to upload trips immediately. We welcome providers from all over the Russian Far East and Siberia.
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Last January TotalAdventure flew across the Pacific from Portland,Oregon to Tokyo. TotalAdventure had only 8 days in Japan, so we decided to split it between Tokyo, one of the most urban places on Earth, and Hokkaido, one of the widest ,snowiest islands on Earth.
We Only Had Four Days, So We Stuck To The Sapporo Region. At Two Million People,Sapporo Is One Of Japan’s Smallest Cities.
Shinto Temples Abound Everywhere.
Year Round Outdoor Cafe. Coffee Is Overtaking Tea In Japan.
A Woodcut of Otaru Port In The 1600s.
Winter Festival In Sapporo. TotalAdventure Watched The Sculpting.
Global Warming Is Not Yet Affecting Hokkaido. When It Does, More Snow Will Fall.
At 6 AM on Wednesday, October 11 we left Uyuni Town and headed south 3 hours to the southwestern corner of Bolivia – not far from where the country meets with Chile and Argentina. There, we left the highway and would not see a paved road until the return to Uyuni two and a half days later.
The only settlements were some mining and farming villages.
Llamas, a distant relation to camels, are a source of wool and meat, are semi – domesticated , grazing for scarce vegetation and sometimes return to pens, herded by dogs and farmers.
Spring snowmelt brings some drinking water.
The land is rugged and never dips below 12,000 feet. By this time , TotalAdventure is quite comfortable with the altitude. We stopped at a hot springs at mid day. Please view the video above to see it. Swimming was balmy at 105 degrees ( 41C) while there air was around 40 ( 5 C).
Climbing higher, we reached Laguna Verde. The green color comes from a high concentration of arsenic. Swimming in or drinking from the lake can be fatal. There are no fish ,birds or four footed animals anywhere near the lake.
Close to 16,000 feet we reached the remains of winter snows, that actually can fall in the summer as well. The strong dry wind and strong subtropical sun three miles above sea level evaporate it into strange shapes.
The ground underneath is always frozen.
From underneath the frozen ground comes boiling sulphur clouds. All of the Bolivian Altiplano borders the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Llama and quinoa for lunch. Tough and lean, but tasty and very healthy !
A steam vent.
Rock formations that look manmade but aren’t.
We spent the night at Hotel Tayka. See more in the video. Amazingly at 15,500 feet, ten hours over very rugged dirt tracks from the nearest paved road , that such a hotel can exist. Comfortable beds, reasonable heat and solar generated hot water (quick shower) .Oxygen is kept behind the front desk for those in need.
The next morning we explored several lakes that were home to huge flocks of flamingos. Most people think of flamingos as a bird of the tropics – but here they thrive in very cold temperatures.
A coyote enjoys some llama meat.
San Pedro de Quemes from another Tayka Hotel.
The town store closes early, but has the essentials.
On The last night in Bolivia, TotalAdventure looked forward to Salar de Uyuni the next day.
Crossing North Iceland from Egilsstaðir to Akureyri was slow going as a blizzard struck in the mountains. The landscape was literally torn apart by volcanoes and earthquakes over many millennia. We also crossed from Europe to North America, as this is where the Eurasian and North American plates meet on the MId Atlantic Ridge.
Cold beyond imagination.
City Church. Akureyri 65.68 North.
For adventures in Iceland, CLICK HERE
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After a rough sail southwards from Iceland, dodging icebergs along the way, we finally make landfall about 10 days after leaving Reykjavik Harbor. At 39’30’ North, 31’ 10” West we reach Corvo.
Most of the islands were or are still volcanic. Many have hot springs. The Azores are one of the the highest mountain ranges in the world after Hawaii.
The mild mid North Atlantic is not known for snow – but Pico is snowcapped half the year.
Though in the high 30’s North Latitude ,São Jorge has an almost tropical feel.
From here one can fly to Lisbon, and in the summer – to Boston.
And now, we continue to the Portuguese islands of Madeira. An interesting note – almost all the islands of the Atlantic speak either Portuguese ,English or Spanish– or dialects thereof.
An ideal sailing trip to visit all the Atlantic Islands would take about 12 to 18 months, leaving Iceland in the late spring ,witha first stop in the Azores. By the beginning of the Antarctic summer, the boat would be in the far South Atlantic , visting Tristan da Cunha,South Georgia and the Malvinas ( known as the Falklands by the British), before turning back north to visit the Brazilian islands, on to Bermuda, St. Pierre and back to Iceland.