A massive storm rolls across the mighty Serengeti while a mother elephant and her baby look on.
In nearby Pushkar we heard stories of a baba who was over 125 years old. Some said he never ate any food. Some say he only ate rice. Others told us he lived in a tiny room where a fire burned that never went out.
Babas are men of respect in Hindu culture. Traditionally they leave behind the demands of society, foregoing money and possessions to live in the wild for years. They only emerge from the forest to take alms and eventually to offer teachings to other Hindus. With this path through life the baba is said to be able to escape the wheel of reincarnation. He can move on to whatever celestial heaven and no longer be trapped on this earth.
Some 40km outside of the holy town of Pushkar we found the Baba. Who’s to say he was 125 years old, but he certainly lived in a tiny room with a constantly burning fire. You had to duck down in the room just to breathe. The baba himself kept falling to sleep while we talked.
There was certainly something about his ascetic existence that made me consider the power of belief. I may not believe in it, but he certainly did.
The white rhino (Ceratotherium simum) is famously adorned with serious armor and weaponry. The rhino however leads a pretty boring life as few animals dare test its mettle. As such the rhinoceros spends its days grazing and napping under shady trees. Rhinos have incredibly poor vision and have been known to occasionally mistake nearby vehicles for possible threats.
Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth and final guru of Sikhism, and I just so happen to have the same birthday. Here at the Harmandir Sahib, “The Temple of God,” or more commonly “the Golden Temple” thousands upon thousands come to enter the temple that resides inside a massive square lake, the so called “lake of nectar,” where they can view the holiest book of the Sikh religion. On our birthday the lake was surrounded by lit candles and a fireworks show was put on.
The source of the mighty river Nile was famously sought out by the likes of David Livingstone, Richard Francis Burton, and John Speke, but I was able to find it pretty easy. Here where the White Nile (one of the two rivers that join to form the Nile) leaves Lake Victoria in Southern Uganda a couple young fishermen were seen casting their nets.
The Thar Desert of northwestern India is home to one of the more uncomfortable tourist activities a person can find. If you’re inclined you can ride one of the many camels (Camelus dromedarius) deep into the desert where you can sleep (comfortably) under the stars.
Here in Ngorogoro Crater of Northern Tanzania the zebra populations are kept contained by the massive walls of the ancient caldera. Not exactly known for their friendliness this zebra (Equus quagga) keeps a steady eye on friend and foe alike.
Hard not to imagine a dinosaur when looking at a Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri). These massive hornbills spend their time on the ground hunting for whatever they can grab with their razor sharp beaks. Here in Lake Nakuru NP of Kenya I was lucking enough the capture this frogs’ final moments.
Hawa Mahal, or “The Palace of Winds,” was built in 1799 as a summer palace for the women of the Maharaja’s entourage in Jaipur, Rajasthan. The palace was cleverly constructed to catch the wind and pass it through narrow windows and openings, further cooling its shady interior.
The Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) is widely known for its dangerous and violent behavior. Here these two hippos, though seemingly locked in a violent struggle, are only sparring. A real fight would surely end in blood or even death as this pair were not using their teeth as they thrashed about in the water.
The hammerkop (Scopus umbretta) is an unusual bird to be sure. While strange enough in appearance, the oddest thing about this bird is its nest. It builds enormous nests, sometimes 1.5 meters wide, high in trees. The nests are made of sticks and mud and are reminiscent of beaver dams.
This Rajasthani man demonstrates some ancient tools for smoking opium in the ancient Jodhpur fort of Northern India. Opium production in India went up sharply during the time of the East India Company as it was sold in incredible amounts to the Chinese during British rule. Opium use is now illegal in India.
The Okavango Delta of Botswana is massive, one of the largest inland deltas in the world in fact. The water flowing from Angola into this 15,000 square kilometer area drains into the center of Southern Africa rather than terminating on a coastline like a traditional delta.
All of this water produces an ever changing swamp-like environment and as such no human roads exist to enter into this large area. I was able to charter a plane over the delta and was lucky enough to see a group of elephants on one of the many roads they have created over the years.
Visiting an old friend from college, I found he had fostered an exhaustive knowledge of the pacific northwest’s many parks in the years since I had seen him. Here in Northern Cascades National Park we prepared for one of the more beautiful hikes I have ever been on.
Quranic verses adorn the arches leading to Alauddin Khilji’s tomb in the Qutb complex of Delhi. The complex of buildings, tombs, and monuments is almost entirely of Islamic origin dating back to the time of the Mughal rulers of India.
Outside the window on a short flight from Zanzibar to Arusha I noticed the very road we had decided wouldn’t be worth the drive. Tanzania’s roads leave a lot to be desired, the flight was well worth the extra cost.
Deep in the Western Desert of Egypt, in one of the many ancient mud-brick cities, people still live life mostly unchanged. This family has operated their forge in this same location for generations. The father is pumping the bellows by hand, keeping the fire hot, so that his son may work uninterrupted.
The White-capped Redstart (Chaimarrornis leucocephalus) is only found in the high mountain ranges of Asia. They prefer to spend their time along rocky streams and waterfalls, especially during breeding season.
The east side of Glacier National Park offers a much more solitary experience than the crowded west side. Grinnell Lake is just a short hike away from the main trailhead, but offers complete solitude in the winter months. A freak snowstorm the night before my hike out made for a wet and cold climb but the scenery made it worth it.
This Flap-necked Chameleon (Chamaeleo dilepis) has eyes that can both move and focus independently, providing it with a full range of view of its surroundings.
The story goes that Absalom Lehman was riding one day and his horse fell through the ground revealing the beautiful cave system that now bears his name. Despite the dubious veracity of the story, the cave certainly provided Lehman with a good income over the years as he began giving tours not long after he discovered it in 1885. The caves are found in Great Basin National Park in Nevada. It is one of the Parks’ Service least visited parks.
Walking amongst the 80 foot pillars of the hall one cannot help attempting to imagine the civilization that used this incredible structure. Construction began around 3300 years ago, a time and place far removed from our modern world. In ancient times the ceiling was closed and the vast interior likely lit by torch and candle.
The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) needs quite a large area in which to hunt successfully. Unfortunately due to competition with other large predators in a relatively small area it does not do well in game reserves. Declining populations of cheetah in Africa have led many to set up cheetah rehabilitation centers to help injured or otherwise struggling cheetahs like the adult male pictured here. For more information about cheetah conservation please visit the Cheetah Conservation Fund website.
In 1905 irrigation canals from the Colorado River were overwhelmed and the resulting disaster gave us the Salton Sea. Now a major stopover for migratory birds, the sea is estimated to support thirty percent of the population of American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos), pictured here.
Pushkar is said to be one of the oldest cities of India. In the Hindu mythology it is said that Brahma sat here when he created the world. The city is home to hundreds of temples, but some are off limits to foreigners. In the late hours of the day I was lucky enough to quickly snap this photo through the entrance of one such temple.
Monument Valley is featured in just about every old western and Wile E. Coyote cartoon, but this iconic landscape takes up a much smaller area of the american west than one would think, occupying just five square miles of southeast Utah. This picturesque landscape is part of the Navajo Nation and driving the seventeen mile loop you find many old settlements still in use.
Zebra need no real introduction. A common site throughout eastern sub-Saharan Africa they aren’t easily confused with another species. The Plains Zebra (Equus quagga) pictured here produce on average a foal a year. These young zebras are able to stand within fifteen minutes of birth and to suckle within the first hour. Being able to move on one’s own within such a short time is incredibly advantageous for an animal such as this, the plains of Africa are a very dangerous place. As you can see young Zebras like this one spend the first few months of life without perfect stripes, their famous marks are adorned with a furry red tinge.
One of my favorite excuses to get up uncomfortably early is to try and take pictures in the changing light of the rising sun. Most of the time it’s really cold and you don’t get any really great photos (sunsets always being better for that) but everyone once in awhile you get to see something amazing. Grand Teton NP is a perfect place to wait and watch as much fewer people visit this park than its much more famous neighbor to the north, Yellowstone.
A young monk looks back into the crowd as incense burners pass alongside. Tsongkhapa died way back in 1419, but before he did he founded the Gelug school of Tibetan buddhism. McLeod Ganj in Northern India is where the most famous member of the Gelug school, the Dalai Lama, calls his home. Every year on the anniversary of Tsongkhapa’s death the monks unroll a massive tapestry and chant mantras in his memory.
The Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) pictured here is the larger of two species of flamingos that spend some part of their year here in Lake Nakuru of central Kenya. The Lesser Flamingo, the smaller and less colorful of the two species, can sometimes be found in groups of up to two million individuals.