Nepali Pachyderms

We went on multiple jungle walks in Chitwan, including a visit to a watering hole. On each of these adventures, the highlight was pairs of rhinos, each a mother with a calf. Young rhinos stay with their mothers for about four years, until her next child is born. One of the calves was pretty small. It was fun to see them wander around, with the mothers always watching nearby. We also had a great time watching the tame elephants, who provide security and continuously munch on their favorite forest plants.

*Pachyderm is a term often used to describe elephants, rhinoceroses, and hippopotamuses, all large vegetarian mammals with thick skin. Despite their similarities, these animals are not closely related, and are all taxonomically grouped into different orders.

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Chitwan Courtyard

One of my favorite things about my time in Kenya was the wildlife and birds I saw from my porch. Chitwan National Park in Nepal is similarly rich in diversity. We were fortunate to see tame elephants and wild rhinos (more pictures of both to come) on our short trip there. But we also had a lot of fun birdwatching at the resort, and seeing all the animals in the trees and vines around our tent. Some of my favorites were the fantail bird and the eyelashes on the hornbill.

Bad Kösen Castles

Last weekend we went on a hike from the small town of Bad Kösen that looped through woods to two castles: Rudelsburg and Naumburg. Built as border posts in the 11th and 12th centuries, these two castles still overlook the town and the Saale river. One houses a museum and the other a lively restaurant. Along the hike were other monuments to important points in German history: a carved lion memorial to Germans who died in WWI, an obelisk to Kaiser Wilhelm I, a statue of Otto von Bismark and his dog, and a monument for soldiers who fought in the Franco-Prussian war in the 1870’s.

Past Snapshots: Yosemite

Wrapping up my trip through 2011 photos was a September trip to Yosemite, another one of my absolute favorite places. Of all my trips there, this one stuck in my mind for negative connections with a family emergency that happened just afterwards. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed returning to these photos. The short trip was packed full of classic Yosemite moments: an icy morning in Tuolumne Meadows, a scramble hike to Gaylor and Granite Lakes, afternoon and sunset along the Tuolumne River, a quick stop at Fern Springs, ravens and El Capitan views from Taft Point, and a final sunset on Sentinel Dome. My approach and style has changed in the last eight years, but there were still a lot of shots I like.  I hope they make you smile too.

Chitwan Jungle Walk

We spent our second week in Nepal at Chitwan National Park, at the Tiger Tops lodge. The lodge is situated near the edge of the park, and hosts guided walks through the jungle to see the wildlife. In addition to the naturalists walking along with us, mahouts rode elephants at the front and back of the group. The elephants acted as security detail. If wild animals were to charge, the mahouts would move the elephants in front of the group as a very hefty protective wall. This provides security for the hikers and employment for the mahouts without overburdening or harming the elephants. Just a few minutes into our hike, we saw three rhinos (a mother and baby, and another female) and got to watch them interact. Later on the hike, we came across the mother and baby again wallowing in a waterhole.

Past Snapshots: Point Lobos

I’m still working my way through my photo drive, and I’ve made it to the summer of 2011. Here’s some pictures from another one of my favorite local parks, Point Lobos. Every time I visit there I find something different to focus on–and on this day, it was the details of texture in seaweed and shells washed up by a recent storm. This coincided nicely with this week’s Lens Artist Challenge: close up, so I thought I’d share a couple. I took these pictures with my Canon Powershot G-10, which I carried with me everywhere for years.

Past Snapshots: Pinnacles

My photo drive is full. I’ve hit the limit on multiple recent imports, and had to frantically reshuffle and delete a couple folders to finish getting all of the current days’ photos off my memory card. I therefore have a forced “opportunity” to purge thousands of old photos, which has resulted in some fussing and a lot of fun memories.

I decided to share quick posts of older pictures as I run into sets I particularly like, sometimes with a new pass at editing them. This first batch is from a trip to Pinnacles National Park in summer of 2010, back before it gained its park status! This has been one of my family’s favorite places to revisit throughout the years, and a fantastic place to learn photography through trail and error. I took these particular photos on my dad’s Nikon D200, and I especially loved the contrast of bright color and deep shadows in the caves. Almost ten years later, my photography style has changed somewhat, but I still really enjoyed the vividness of these shots.

Nepali Mountain Views

To get out of the smog in Nepal’s cities, we took a ride into the foothills of the Himalayas, and a one-day trek through the villages of Dhampus and Astam. The sunrise was stunning, with glowing colors spreading over the mist, and the Annapurna peaks shining. As the day progressed, we wound our way up and down hills on small rocky paths, enjoying both the natural scenery and the small villages.

*Please note–all photographs of people were taken with explicit permission, here and in any other post. In this case, we stopped to have cha (hot tea) and chat with these women. The first one asked me to take her photo, and the second is laughing because she was surprised to hear me speak in (rusty) Hindi.

Sunrise at Sarankot

We spent our first week in Nepal in Pokhara, a medium-sized city centered around the Phewa Lake. Guidebooks of the area always feature crystal-clear reflections of snow-capped mountains surrounding the town, but increasing pollution in recent years has made the mountains a lot harder to see. Even though we were there in one of the clearer times of year, the views from the city ranged from hazy to cloudy, without a peak in sight.

Early one morning, we took a car up a windy road dotted with tourist guesthouses to Sarankot. The lookout there stands at 1600 meters, up above most of the haze. It was incredibly crowded, with people filling the the tower, clustered along the stairs, and spread across the grass at its base. Even packed in tight, we watched in awe as the sky slowly brightened, and a faint line of clouds hovering above the valley coalesced into the range of mountains. The sky brightened and colored until it was crisply blue, and then the fog spread up, we drove back down the hill, and the mountains disappeared once again.