Archive for the 'Wildlife' Category

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On the morning of Friday,July 24th I left Deadwood South Dakota and within an hour had entered Wyoming on SD 34/ WY 24 . The first stop was Devil’s Tower.

Beartooth Highway

Rising straight out of flat farmland,Devil’s Tower is 867 feet and formed in a short time due to volcanic upthrust. It is very geologically different than the Black Hills over 100 miles away, or the Rockies , more than 200. You can experience it in the video above.

A Sheer Climb,With Nowhere To Rest. This Zoom Is About 400 Feet Up.

By mid afternoon I settled into Sheridan, at the foot of the Big Horn National Forest. As usual I dined alone on the hotel porch rather than in a lively restaurant .COVID life on the road. Everything closed by 8 anyway.

Ranch Riding

Big Horn National Park offers hundreds of square miles of hiking, climbing, glacier trekking and ATV trailing. Since it’s not a National Park, it’s not well known except locally. I was the only Florida plate, most were from Wyoming and Montana.

Wyoming Has The Lowest State Population 578,759 – Less Than Uptown Manhattan.
Snake River Canyon – Wyoming/Montana

Dropping down a few thousand feet from the Big Horn Range, TotalAdventure explored the Snake River Canyon , traversing the Wyoming Montana border. The canyon had been dry with a seasonal stream until a dam was built in the 1930s.

# 48 !

I then entered my 49th state, Montana ! Just one more to go – Oklahoma, but won’t be there until the return trip East in September.

Mountain Goats Above Snake River
Dinner In Red Lodge

Before Yellowstone, I overnighted in Billings and Red Lodge Montana. In Billings I enjoyed a big Montana steak, but when I arrived at my hotel in Red Lodge after a day in Snake River, about 7:30 to discover that due to COVID my hotel restaurant was closed and the few restaurants still open in town would be closing at 8. This New York/Miami traveler is not used to small town hours but had to adjust on this trip or face night time starvation. I was the last one served from the line at a Mexican cantina and scored a PBR from the bar/casino across the street. The bars closed at 9 !

Late July Beartooth Highway

From Red Lodge to Yellowstone the winding ,high altitude Beartooth Highway crisscrossed several times between Wyoming and Montana.

1st National Park – 1872

The Summer of 2020 was probably one of the best to explore Yellowstone. Though crowds were sizable , they were all American crowds, as most foreigners, not even Canadians, could visit in the COVID summer. The notorious traffic jams did not appear.

Do not pet the furry cow. He can ram and stomp you .
Geyser

Yellowstone sits atop a super volcano. When it does finally blow – anytime between the next 10 minutes to 10,000 years – the park will become a 50 mile wide lake of boiling red lava and will cause global cooling for years to come.

If You Stick Your Leg In Here, Only Bone Will Come Out.
One Ton Swimmer
Yellowstone Grand Canyon Falls

The falls look even more incredible in the video above. Be sure to watch it all.

After a day and a half in Yellowstone ( many people stay a week or more) it was time to head north into Montana. Passing Big Sky on a beautiful highway with a legal speed limit of 80 mph I arrived in Butte around sunset. I would stay there 2 nights, to explore the old mining city , to catch up on work ,do laundry and get the extremely dusty X2 washed.

Gold Copper and silver were mined here. Butte was known as the “Richest Hill On Earth.” Miners came from all over the world. Copper is still mined, but there’s not much left. The old city is quiet but not quite abandoned.

Lucky 13 ?
Big Money In 1900

From Butte , a few more hours to the Northwest and I arrived in Whitefish ,gateway to Glacier National Park. Whitefish was full of California ‘refugees”,many who had arrived in private jets ,escaping mask and lockdown restrictions in their home state.

Entrance To Glacier National Park

In Glacier , on the first day of August, I swam over a mile in 2 lakes and walked in the snow.

Summer Snowfields That Won’t Completely Melt Before First Snow In September.
The X2 Loves Mountains.
Cold & Clear
Above The Snow Line
Granite Peak

On the morning of August 2nd, I left Whitefish for a day of mostly dirt roads from Montana into Idaho. I missed my westward turn and would up at the Canadian border. When I originally thought of this cross country trip,years ago, I had always meant for it to include Canada. Winnipeg, Saskatoon, and Banff would have been on the itinerary. But in March 2020, the Canadian government had shut the borders to all but commercial traffic, due ,of course to disease spread.

Canada – The Forbidden Land – Looking Into British Columbia

All I could do was look into this closed off , beautiful land – in this case the easternmost corner of British Columbia ,near Alberta. The next several hours was on windy isolated dirt roads – into the town of Yaak .

Yaak Montana – The Political Scene Of Summer 2020

I walked inside the bar, which of course was all bikers . Had a friendly beer and they were amazed I was all the way from Miami. No photos were permitted, probably for very good reasons.

Northern Border Country
Target Practice On The State Line

I spent the night in touristy Couer d’Alene, Idaho, another town where restaurants closed at 8 and I had to order pizza by 9 before that closed too. Changed clocks back for the last time. The next day – through Washington State, past Spokane – to Portland ,Oregon – almost completely cross country !

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The Simian Mountains In Northern Amhara State Were Formed By Extreme Volcanoes About 40 Million Years Ago. They Tower West Of The Rift Valley, Which Runs Almost The Whole Length Of Africa.

The Highest Mountain Is 15000 Feet ( 4550 m) . Snow is known to fall in the wet season. TotalAdventure experienced below freezing temperatures in the early mornings.

A Gelada Monkey Family Forages For Dinner. Snacks from tourists are strictly forbidden.

A Guard With An AK-47 Is Mandatory , To Guard Against Hyenas In Simian Mountains National Park. Hyena jaws are so strong they can snap a femur like a small chicken bone.

GeladaMonkeys sleep on the cliffs at night, in order to be inaccessible to hyenas.

A Father is unfazed by his human cousins. They are 5 times as strong !

Sunset From 11,000 Feet ( 3384 m) at the Simian Mountain Lodge.

A Fireplace Keeps The Dining Room Warm. Outside it was 26 F ( -4 C)

Our drive out of the mountain range. Drivers must be careful, with 3000 ft. cliffs on every curve.

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After many delays and thirty hours flying time via Dubai, I finally arrived in Addis Ababa late Monday night. Tuesday morning we started out on our two day road journey to Lalibela. The bandwidth is very low, it took me all night o upload the camel video. Just a few pictures today.

Gelada Monkeys, Known as the Bleeding Heart Baboon. They are not baboons, however.

At A Roadside Donkey Market.Or A Hay Market ?

Impalas Or Gazelles Join Us For Lunch.

Strong Coffee Is Served !

A Troop Of Geladas.

Trying To Learn Some Amharic.

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A glimpse of Douala

I arrived at Douala airport (one of the two biggest cities in Cameroon) late in the evening August 10th, 2019. I was warned before arriving that I would very quickly and easily make friends. This was lucky for me because the very first person I met on the airplane was crucial to my making it safely to my destination. In Cameroon, people tend to be very kind and inviting. Perfect strangers helped me fill out paperwork, navigate the airport and safely find my driver.

Once I was in the car, the ride to the volunteer house was about an hour and a half. The city of Douala was such a culture shock- it was almost indescribable. Unfortunately, it was after midnight, so I could not see much, but what I did see was SO different. The city was nothing like my experience of a US city. The infrastructure from roads to buildings were seemingly dilapidated and old. Many markets and shops were simple tents or just products (like bed frames) laying on the side of the street.

Yet, much of the city was still very much awake at 1AM. There were clubs and bars full of people and loud music. The most mouthwatering smell of grilling chicken permeated the air everywhere we went.

Older cars and bikes were driving all over the road in a strictly Cameroonian way of driving. The traffic was another major culture shock. Laws that would be enforced in the US seemed more like suggestions here. Red lights don’t necessarily mean stop- they mean look before you go. Many roads were not divided into lanes, and the ones that were were completely ignored. Cars weaves around each other sometimes squeezing four side by side. Bikes, pedestrians, and cars shared the road equally.

Perhaps the scariest part is when we were stopped at two roadblocks- one leaving Douala and one entering Limbe- by police. They just wanted to check our identification, but they were holding very threatening machine guns and were not very friendly. The stretch between the cities was very natural and forested, but too dark to see anything.

Limbe

I woke up to the sounds of an animal orchestra outside of the research house. Combined with the sounds of all the primate species at Limbe wildlife center were the screeches of all the neighborhood chickens, cats, dogs, pigs, horses, and other unidentified animals.

Sunrise in Limbe

Limbe wildlife center is a major attraction of Limbe and the reason why I am here. The LWC is a wildlife education and conservation center. The animals kept here were orphaned as a result of bushmeat hunting or the pet trade. This is a huge issue in Cameroon and throughout Africa. Animals are often killed for meat, and the infants are kept as pets or trophies in horrible living conditions. They are rescued and brought the LWC for rehabilitation and to live with members of their own species. I am lucky enough to be spending 3 weeks volunteering at this sanctuary.

View from the Volunteer house

One of my first stops in Limbe was the local market “old market”. The most efficient way to get there is by motorbike. This was a totally new experience to me- clinging to the back of a bike in weaving traffic. The market was much like stores in Douala where tents or small wooden shelters cover the fruits and vegetables spread on burlap sacks on the ground. There were probably 20 or so shops at the market with a wide variety of African produce. Many merchants will help you find what you’re looking for, and you’re almost guaranteed to go home with a free sample of some new or unique produce.

The town of Limbe

Just a few blocks from the market is mars bar- a European themed restaurant and bar on Down Beach. Down beach is a black sand beach that stretches along the coast of Limbe. It is not very good for swimming because of the amount of litter, but it is popular for the fishing culture and economy of Limbe. The beautiful Mountain View and the sunset over the ocean also make it well worth the visit.

View of Down Beach from Mars Bar
Litter on Down Beach

Finally, another worthwhile attraction is the Limbe botanical garden. The garden is home to many beautiful (and some edible) plants. There is also a “naturalistic” amphitheater, a nearly 200-year-old cemetery, and plenty of beautiful views. While you are there, be sure to check out Hot Spot, a restaurant within the garden that has delicious burgers, and sometimes even cheeseburgers- which are extremely rare in Limbe.

Entrance to Botanical Garden
Limbe Botanical Garden
Overgrown ampitheater
Cemetery at Botanical Garden
Childrens swing set at Botanical Garden

Overall, the breathtaking nature, incredibly sweet and welcoming people, and the laid-back lifestyle of Limbe made it one of my all-time favorite destinations.

TotalAdventure does not currently . have adventures in Cameroon, but we invite Cameroon companies to apply. For another exotic area in Africa, check out our trip to Ethiopia. https://totaladventure.travel/trips/203383

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     In the summer of 2019, I was offered the amazing opportunity to volunteer at a Cameroonian primate sanctuary as an animal care giver. During one of my days off from the sanctuary, a fellow volunteer (Tesse) and I took a tour with local guide Thompy Ekonde. He showed us around “Mangrove Forest” just outside of Bimbia. The road there was long, winding, and treacherous with huge rocks, ditches, and falling logs. Many times we had to pull over to calculate exactly how to place the car. Upon arriving at the forest, we trekked through the trees for about two hours as Thompy showed us some of the breathtaking native African flora.

Tesse, Thompy, and I

We had to wade through two shallow but powerful rivers cutting through the lush forest.
Termite Mound

This tree is called the “milk tree” by locals. It is used in Cameroon as a medicine, the bark and white sap underneath are harvested and made into a drink for breast feeding mothers. The drink is said to increase the amount of breast milk produced, in a country where it is culturally significant to have many kids.


This tree pictured is the largest and oldest tree in the forest at over 400 years old, and too tall to see through the forest canopy.

This is a small section of the acres of mangrove forest. During our visit, it was low tide and was very easy to see the magnificent system of roots tying this forest together.

TotalAdventure does not currently . have adventures in Cameroon, but we invite Cameroon companies to apply. For another exotic area in Africa, check out our trip to Ethiopia. https://totaladventure.travel/trips/203383

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2014 was an incredible travel year for ArcticTropic. We explored Myanmar ( Burma), European Russia,Siberia,Mongolia,China,Japan,British Colombia,Canada,Singapore,Philippines and Panama. Here’s 184 clips in 11 minutes. This version is natural sound,a musical version will be uploaded soon.

Jul 14th
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From Europe,to Asia back to North America, British Columbia was the last stop on ArcticTropic’s Round The World Adventure. After a long flight from Tokyo,via Manila , we settled into Vancouver to readjust to North American life, then ventured North of the city.

Fjords begin just out of Vancouver and stretch thousands of miles up into Alaska.

Glaciers overlook the Pacific.

A young Miamian enjoys the summer snow.

Mysterious life forms in the rainforest.

Road signs in First People’s Native Language of Tsihqot’in.

Enjoying the northern sunshine.

Back across the Date Line.

And finally – Home !

 

For adventures in Canada, CLICK HERE

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Yamanouchi is an ancient village in the Japanese Alps, in the Prefecture of Nagano. Snow monkeys live in the forests and bathe in the volcanic hot springs. For a few months the forests are free of snow and the monekys give birth to many offspring.

A protective Mother.

Geysers shoot boiling water up from the volcanic ground.

While melted snow fuels the icy waterfalls.

Mother and Child in the forest.

Yamanouchi is an ancient village built atop thousands of hot springs. Buildings are heated naturally.

Social life revolves around the baths.

Inside a men’s bath. Cold water is mixed with hot to create a bath of 42 C ( 107 F ) .

A Zen Dinner at the Ryokan.

 

For adventures in Japan, CLICK HERE

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The Mergui Archipelago is one of the last untouched tropical paradises on Earth. Only a few hundred miles from the packed tourist hotspots of Phuket and Ko Samui, Thailand – there has been almost no development here. The Archipelago was paced off limits to outsiders – even citizens of Burma – by the government for over 50 years. The 800 islands receive only 2000 visitors a year – mostly divers . One must obtain a permit ( in addition to the visa ) from the Ministry of Tourism .

ArcticTropic stayed at the Myanmar Andaman Resort ( Some Good Pictures ). Comfortable bungalows with air conditioning. I was one of 3 guests there.

Macleod Island ( many of the islands still retain their old British names ) is not easy to get to . One must fly from Yangon via Air KBZ. The fight stops in Yawe and Miyek along the way to Kawthaung. Foreigners are not allowed to drive north of Kawthaung, the southernmost point in Myanmar. After numerous formalities the resort will transport you by speedboat – a 2 to 3 hour journey ,depending on waves. It is also possible to take a ferry from Ranong,Thailand to Kawthaung.

 

For adventures in Burma, CLICK HERE

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After Namibia , ArcticTropic had less than a week to explore the vast territory of South Africa. 3 days in Cape Town was plenty, but the 1000 mile,1600 km journey back to Johannesburg via the Wynlands,the Great Karoo and the South Coast was quite a feat, meaning many hours in the car.

 

For adventures in South Africa, CLICK HERE