- Photo Essays
It’s common knowledge that there are grizzly bears in Alaska. So on a horse-riding trip in the Talkeetna mountains in Alaska it made sense to ask our guide whether there was any chance of encountering a grizzly.
“Oh they usually tend to stay away from the horses”
The only word I heard in that sentence was “usually”.
I’ve had such an incredible year and now 2012 is approaching so fast it’s making my head spin.
The first half of 2011 was pretty quiet for me on the travel front, but the second half certainly made up for that! I travelled to some of North America’s most spectacular places this year, I redesigned my blog and my readership has increased dramatically over the past six months. So thank you so much to all of you who have made that happen!
There were some very definite highlights from my travels, so these are the places and experiences that had special significance and are the best memories of my adventures in 2011.
There are no words to describe the feeling you have when your face is only a couple of feet away from a polar bear: so close that you can imagine the heat of their breath.
Of course, if this happened away from the safety of the hulking polar rover, there would be no imagining necessary. These polar bears have been living on a diet of berries for months now. They are carnivores. They are starving. I rest my case.
Things can get pretty wild this far north. And I’m not talking about the nightlife.
But for today at least the weather is behaving itself. It’s minus 13 degrees Celsius with wind-chill out on the sub-Arctic tundra near Churchill, Manitoba but the skies are clear and the barely-there dawn light is perfect.
I feel like I have been driving forever.
Since that first nerve-wracking drive through Anchorage over two months ago I have driven nearly 4000 miles (6400 km) through Alaska and the western states of the USA. I was sure I would never get used to that uneasy feeling of driving on the right-hand/wrong side of the road, and yet now I feel as though I could do it in my sleep.
“On the ragged edge of the world I roam, and the home of the wolf shall be my home”
from ‘The Nostomaniac’. Robert Service.
I am awake long before my alarm sounds at 4am. Rising at 4am is not something I do well. In fact, I actively try to avoid any kind of anything before 7am. But today is different: today I plan to see wolves in the wild in Yellowstone National Park.
I know you can’t plan these things but there’s nothing like a little positive thinking to start the day. Actually, I prefer to start the day with coffee – several even – but the town of Gardiner near the north entrance of the park is eerily quiet at 4am and sadly coffee is but a distant dream.
I have to admit, my initial impressions of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming / Montana were far from enthusiastic, and as we drove around on our first day in the park I got to wondering what on earth all the fuss is about.
Most people have probably not even heard of Kamchatka. And it’s not surprising. This volcanic wilderness is a 1250 km long peninsula on the far eastern coast of Russia and is almost as remote as it gets.
Until 20 years ago tourists were not able to visit the area and even now parts of it are only accessible by helicopter. Kamchatka is very difficult to explore independently and, unless you happen to have your chopper license handy, often impossible.
There are of course companies that offer organised trekking tours. For a price.