Postcards from a solo adventure traveler…
Created over a span of 40 years by French artist Jacques Majorelle, then saved from oblivion by couturier Yves Saint-Laurent for whom it became a major source of inspiration, the Majorelle Garden remains an exotic botanical haven in the heart of Marrakech.
Florence, the widely acknowledged cradle of the Renaissance, owes its splendor and unique influence on the development of the western world in great part to the dominant ruling family of the period, the Medici.
Bruges, just one hour’s drive from the cosmopolitan center of Brussels, is one of these enchanted cities European fairy tales are made of; cities vanished into the sea at the height of their grandeur to reappear untouched by time every 100-years or so. Bruges, however, shines on.
The canoe is silently taking us upstream along the narrow channel that connects the Napo River, a major tributary of the Amazon, to Anangucocha Lake. We are in the heart of the ancestral territory of the Kichwa Anangu community in Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve regarded by scientists as one of the highest bio-diversity areas on the planet.
In 1831, Charles Darwin boarded the Beagle as a naturalist on a survey expedition along the coasts of South America. His momentous visit to the Galapagos Archipelago has captured the imagination of adventure tourists ever since.
The present-day city of Granada was founded in the early eleventh century, three hundred years into the Moors rule over Spain. When a civil war ended in the victory of Berber general Ziri Ibn Manad, he wisely chose to locate the capital of his new kingdom on a high promontory. A millennium later the Alcazar remains one of the wonders of the modern world.
From Arcos de la Frontera, the tiny White Village atop its limestone cliff and Ronda, the city perched at the edge of the El Tajo gorge to La Mezquita, the Great Mosque turned cathedral in the historic center of Cordoba, Moorish Andalusia is a photographer’s paradise.
Seville’s origins are shrouded in legend, but from the Romans to the Moors and the Catholic Kings, it is the great cultures of the past two millennia that have left their mark on the capital of modern Spain’s southern-most region of Andalusia.
We are entering the final week of our itinerary around Bhutan. In the highest valley in the Bhumthang district we overnight in the remote, high altitude village of Ura, where we are the overnight guests of a local family. The people in this remote rural community are mainly sheep and yak herders, and believed to be the descendants of Bhutan’s earliest inhabitants.
As the tiger flies (in Bhutanese lore, tigers do more than their fair share of flying) the distance between Jakar, capital of the Bumthang district in central Bhutan and Mongar, gateway to the eastern part of the country, is approximately 35 miles. For humans however, the only option is a 125-mile, daylong roller-coaster road trip that includes a steep ascent to Bhutan’s highest pass, Thrumshing La.
It’s only 80 miles from Wangdi to Trongsa, the geographical center of Bhutan, but the drive takes a solid five hours of hairpin turns up and down a narrow and improbably steep road. Trongsa Dzong, the largest fortress in Bhutan, is built on a spur overlooking a deep gorge of the Mangde River. From here, the view goes on forever, from the sky-high mountain range to the bottom of the gorge, a striking reminder of the dzong’s original strategic purpose.
Wedged high in the eastern end of the Himalayas, Bhutan is one the most isolated countries in the word, and the last remaining Buddhist kingdom. Today we leave the capital, Thimphu, to start our journey eastward deep into the country’s heartland.
The flight into Paro, Bhutan’s only international airport, has to be one of the most spectacular in the world. We get an eye-level view of the Himalayas gleaming against a robin-egg blue sky, including Mounts Everest and Kanchenjunga and the sacred mountain of the Bhutanese Buddhists, Mount Jomulhari, before floating down into a layer of puffy clouds. When we emerge below the cloud cover, the plane is wending its way along a deep tree-lined valley dotted with farmhouses clinging to its slopes. I understand why only the handful of Druk Air pilots are certified to fly into this airport.
I was barely in my teens when travel became a driving force in my life. Now as a travel writer and photographer, I have visited over 45 countries in some of the most photogenic corners of the planet, taking tens of thousands of pictures along the way. With my work, I thrive to capture the natural and cultural uniqueness of each area I visit. Get to know me better…