Category Photo Friday

Photo Friday: Grand Canyon Vista from Shoshone Point

grand canyon genuine journeys

It is certainly a WOW experience the first time you see the Grand Canyon. Sadly, at most viewpoints you have to jostle for views with hundreds of tourists. But there is another way. I took this spectacular vista for Photo Friday from a ‘secret’ lookout at Shoshone Point, which actually is not too far by car from Grand Canyon Village. If you are lucky you will have the lookout completely to yourself.

We were there at dusk in late May and a wedding was about to take place accompanied by haunting tunes from a Native American flute player, whose notes echoed across the canyon.

It feels like you can see every nook and cranny from here…a never-ending series of brightly striated buttes, cliffs and plateaus. You can see parts of the Colorado River in the distance as well as Horseshoe Mesa and the Grandview Trail in the east and the South Kaibab Trail which snakes its way to Skeleton Point.

How to get to Shoshone Point

From Grand Canyon Village, take Desert View Drive (also called East...

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Photo Friday: Sega Dancers on the Beach in Mauritius

MAURITIUS-Sega-dancers-on-the-beach

I took this photo of Sega dancers on the beach at a small island off Grande Baie in the Northeast of Mauritius. It was a special event for international journalists as part of the annual Kreol Festival of music and dance in December.

Sega Dancing forms a strong part of Mauritian national identity and when you visit Mauritius you must try and see a performance, although the hotel offerings tend to be rather touristy.  Families love to relax and picnic by the beach on the weekends and you will often see people dancing Sega together. If you are lucky to see some of this dancing it will offer a much more authentic experience.

In her book on Mauritius entitled Culture Shock!: Mauritius, Roseline NgCheong-Lum describes the Mauritian Sega in the following terms:

“It is both song and dance...

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Photo Friday: Three-Michelin-star Michel Bras’ famous flower and vegetable dish

michel bras ff

The three-Michelin-starred Michel Bras restaurant in the small village of Laguoile in the heart of Central France is renowned for its contemporary interpretation of the Gargouillou, the traditional Aubrac dish of ham, potatoes and vegetables.

I photographed this dish recently during a revelatory meal there.

“We have a very simple principle of respecting raw materials and following the seasons,” said Sebastien Bras, son of the founder Michel Bras, who recently retired. “We particularly rely on vegetables and plants using all sorts of flowers, herbs and seeds in our creations.”

The restaurant sources more than 230 cultivated vegetables, herbs and flowers in addition to foraging for hundreds more…wild thyme, fennel and flowers with names like queen of the fields, melilot and liveche… in the hills and valleys around Aubrac.

“Our technique is always used to accentuate the taste of the raw material, never the reverse,” Sebastian explained...

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Photo Friday: Trainee Geisha Playing Drinking Games in Kyoto

Trainee geisha or maiko playing drinking games in Kyoto

I took this photo of 17-year-old Tanefume, a trainee geisha playing drinking games with tourists at the Gion Hatanaka Ryokan in Kyoto. The delighted expression on her face contrasts strikingly with her formal attire and shows just how young and ingenuous she is!

The Gion District of Kyoto, with its wooden inns, restaurants and ocha-ya or traditional tea houses is the heart of the geisha quarter.

You might catch a glimpse of a geisha, dressed in an elaborately patterned silk kimono, her face painted in traditional white makeup and hair piled high with delicate decorations, as she slips through a doorway. It is, however, very expensive and next to impossible for foreigners to hire a geisha for an evening’s entertainment of singing, dancing and drinking games.

However the enterprising Gion Hatanaka Ryokan, or traditional inn, offers a traditional Kyoto kaiseki dinner in bento boxes and entertainment with two maiko, or trainee geisha.

It is an entrancing experience where you watch the...

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Photo Friday: outrigger canoe in Papua New Guinea

PHoto Friday outrigger

I took this photo while on a multi-day, 80-kilometer kayaking trip in Papua New Guinea with Australian-owned No Roads Expeditions.

My husband and I and our three teenage daughters paddled alongside the Tigak and Tsoi islands – coral atolls with swaying coconut palms that meander from the main island of New Ireland to the brooding jungle-covered hulk of Lavongai.

One day, I paddled with local guide, Lapin who couldn’t wait to show us his home on Nusakelo. “I love my island – the wide sandy beach, the orchard and vegetable garden, the coral reef,” he says quietly. “Can you believe an American found Nusakelo on Google Maps and tried to buy it for $70,000? We said ‘No.’ because we want to keep it just the way it is.”

Lapin’s relatives arrive in outriggers, painted the same delicate turquoise as the surrounding sea. They brought the day’s catch for our lunch. This photo is of one of their outriggers left on the side of the lagoon.

New Guinea is a surprising place...

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Photo Friday: Rocky Mountaineer Train Vistas through the Canadian Rockies

This view of tranquil Lake Kamloops is just one of the many exquisite views from the Rocky Mountaineer train through Canada's Rocky Mountains

I took this picture for Photo Friday at Lake Kamloops while riding the spectacular Canadian Rocky Mountaineer train from Vancouver in British Columbia to Jasper in Alberta. This privately-owned, daylight-only train adventure offers sensational itineraries through the Canadian Rockies.

It comes from a proud pedigree of two great railways, the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National Rail, which played a key role in the settlement of Canada.

The president of Canadian Pacific Rail believed tourism was vital to the railway’s success and he famously said back in the 1880s, “If we can’t export the scenery, we’ll import the tourists.”

And import them they did with both companies developing grand hotels to entice travellers along their routes. More than 130 years later Rocky Mountaineer Gold Leaf guests still stay in spiffed-up, Victorian-era edifices like the Banff Springs Hotel, Chateau Lake Louise and Jasper Park Lodge, now all run by the esteemed Canadian hotelier Fairmont.

The be...

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Photo Friday: Wharekauhau New Zealand luxury lodge

Wharekauhau Luxury Lodge is on the southern tip of the North Island of New Zealand

I took this Photo Friday image on the way to one of New Zealand’s spectacular luxury lodges: Wharekauhau Country Estate.

Wharekauhau Country Estate

Driving 90 minutes from the nation’s capital of Wellington to Wharekauhau Country Estate, I zigzagged through the brooding Rimutaka Ranges and then followed country roads over rolling green hills. Everywhere I looked were gamboling long-tailed suckling lambs with their mothers. The whole landscape was Pure New Zealand, where sheep outnumber people twenty to one.

In the distance, nestled amongst hedgerows in a fold of emerald green pasture is Wharekauhau’s cream stucco Edwardian manor house with a steeply pitched roof dotted with large chimneys, its expansive bay windows overlooking a shimmering celadon sea...

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Photo Friday: The Endangered Orangutans of Borneo

Indonesia's orangutans are endangered because their habitat is being destroyed

Becky is a young orangutan mother who is very skilled at teaching her baby to live in the wilds of the Borneo jungle in Indonesia. Under her silent but perfectly calibrated watchful gaze he climbs up and down the tree trunk and right to the edge of the branch she is sitting on. Becky is displaying the sort of initiative and teaching skills that are hallmarks of orangutans’ superior intelligence

Sadly, orangutans such as Becky are under serious threat due to the fact that almost 80% of Indonesia’s rainforest has been lost in the past 50 years. Australia’s neighbor is the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, due almost solely to the destruction of its rainforests and carbon-rich peat lands for palm oil production.

Orangutan Odysseys

I visit Central Kalimantan or Indonesian Borneo with Australian-owned Orangutan Odysseys, the only orangutan tour company that visits all the orangutan quarantine stations in both Borneo and Sumatra...

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Photo Friday: Fishing boats at La Grande Baie in Mauritius

Fishing boats at dusk in La Grande Baie in Mauritius

I took this Photo Friday at dusk one day at La Grande Baie in the north-east of Mauritius. A calm had settled on the waterscape and all the fishermen and kids had left the boats. I love the saturated colors and the reflections in the waters.

What to do at La Grande BaieLa Grand Baie is the country’s burgeoning St. Tropez whose bay is filled with catamarans and big game fishing cruisers alongside traditional fishing dinghies. Seafood restaurants frame a wide sandy beach and upscale boutiques offer the latest fashions. Nearby beaches at Pereybere, Mont Choisy or Trou aux Biches offer even better swimming.

Take a day-sail on a large catamaran out to Flat Island where you can snorkel around fringing coral reefs to see clown and parrot fish darting around anemones and brain coral. You’ll enjoy a barbecue on board the boat and often catch sight of humpback whales breaching on the way back into Grand Baie.

Where is Mauritius and what is it like

It seems to be in the middle of nowhere in ...

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Photo Friday: Sunset in the Palmeraie outside of Marrakesh

Sunset over the Palmeraie outside of Marrakesh in Morocco

I took this photo at sunset in the Palmeraie outside of Marrakesh in Morocco.

With 130,000 hectares of greenery and over 180,000 palm trees, the Palmeraie is an oasis on the edge of the desert just outside of Marrakesh in Morocco. It was originally a thriving market garden area but today much of the region is dotted with luxury resorts and golf courses. You can still, however, experience the grandeur of its palm groves during sunsets like these.

One delightful place to stay is Jnane Tamsna, which is a privately owned estate set in nine lush landscaped gardens. Created by Ivory Coast born lawyer turned designer Meryanne Loum-Martin and her ethnobotanist American husband Gary Martin, this chic compound offers a minimalist approach to Moroccan design. Traditional furnishings and carpets are mixed with artwork from Mali and Senegal in a series of serene contemporary spaces while the locavore meals from homegrown organic produce are often served in the lush gardens...

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