The Sorry State of the Travel Channel

Given the amount of traveling I do I don’t have many opportunities to watch television. When I am back in the US I use Hulu and Netflix to catch up on some of my favorite shows as well as watch some of my favorite channels. In addition to the Discovery Channel and the History channel one channel I used to watch extensively before I started traveling was of course the Travel Channel. The Travel Channel was one of the ways I got my travel fix before I hit the road. When I’ve tuned in to the Travel Channel this month things were different.

It is hard to describe how disappointed I’ve become in the Travel Channel.

Outside of Anthony Bourdain, who is really a food guy when you get right down to it, Travel Channel basically has nothing to do with travel anymore. Take a look at some of their current shows:
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August 2011 Question & Answers

The Brewers are up by 7.5 games in their division and the Packers are looking good in their preseason games for another run at the Super Bowl. Sweet corn is on sale on the roadside in Wisconsin and the weather is neither too hot nor too cold. All seems right with the world.

As such it is time once again for another Q&A.

Annabel Candy from asks: Hi Gary, I have three, yes three digital cameras. I love taking photos and, like everyone, I don’t think I’m bad.

Taking photos while traveling is always a highlight of my trip but I never get out of automatic mode, even on my SLR. It seems too complicated! So please can you share one or two easy ways to get out of auto mode?

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Photo Essay: The Glacier Fields of Kluane National Park

Kluane National Park is on the Canadian side of the St. Elias Mountain Range with includes Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska. It is the home to Mt. Logan, the highest point in Canada and lies in the extreme Southwest corner of the Yukon.

I had the pleasure of having two aerial photography sessions over the ice fields of Kluane National Park in the Yukon back in June. One in a helicopter and the other the next day in a fixed wing airplane. It was one of the best photography experiences I’ve had in my 4.5 years of traveling.

I’d like to give a big thanks to Yukon Tourism for showing me a great time and giving me the chance to take such amazing photos.

Now I’ll let the photos speak for themselves….

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Garajonay National Park

UNESCO World Heritage Site #152: Garajonay National Park
Garajonay National Park: My 152nd UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for Garajonay National Park:

La Gomera lies to the west of Tenerife and is one of seven islands that make up the Canary Islands archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa in the Atlantic. The island is accessible by ferry from Tenerife. The park can be reached by road from the island’s major towns and villages.

The 1812 Constitution abolished the estates of the nobility and transferred ownership and administration of the forests to the municipal governments. The forests were declared public property and appeared as such in the last Register of Public Property listing dated 1879. The park encompasses San Sebastian, Hermigua, Agulo, Vallehermoso, Valle Gran Rey and Alajero mountains. It consists of an eroded plateau and gently sloping central terrain whose steep sloping escarpments comprise uneven steps that extend as far as the park boundaries.

La Gomera is the only island in the Canaries that has not experienced an eruption in recent times. Thus, ash and lava fields have been eroded away leaving mature soils formed from horizontal basalts cut by a series of ravines (barrancos ). The local landscape is further characterized by volcanic dikes and domes (roques ), examples of the latter being Agando, Ojila, La Zarcilla and Las Lajas in the south-eastern sector of the park.

The park harbors one of the largest continuous areas of laurisilva (laurel) forest, a habitat that has almost disappeared from southern Europe and North Africa. Almost half of the remaining forest in the Canary Islands is included in the park. In spite of being biologically diverse, a large proportion of the flora (25%) and fauna (50%) is endemic, and many species are considered to be nationally threatened.

Garajonay National Park sits in the middle of the island of La Gomera, one of the smallest of the Canary Islands. The laurel forest which covers the interior of this island can be extremely haunting, especially if the forest is in the clouds at the time.


Garajonay National Park

Garajonay National Park is a national park located in La Gomera in Spain’s Canary Islands. This was established as a national park in 1981 but was inscribed into the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1986. The entire park measures at 40 square kilometers, which covers up to 6 municipalities on the island.

The Garajonay National Park is named after Garajonay. This mark as the highest point on the island with up to 1,487 meters in height. Aside from being a UNESCO site, it is also one of the most popular tourist attractions in La Gomera.

Aside from the rock formation in Garajonay, there are many notable natural features in the park. One of them is the fact that this park is the best example of Canarian laurisilva. This is a type of humid subtropical rainforest that covers a huge percentage of Southern Europe. Meanwhile, there are plenty of other rock formations on the island. These rock formations were once volcanoes that eroded over time and have resulted in these various rock shapes as they are now seen as. Today, these natural formations make up a huge part of the national park wherein a large network of foot paths has been provided for tourists. With that said, trekking and hiking are two of the most popular activities for the tourists who visit this park.

Fast Facts

Garajonay National Park

There are a few things you need to know about the Garajonay National Park:

  • The national park is comprised of one-third thick laurel forest. This is a prehistoric forest that is now considered rare in most parts of southern Europe and Northern Africa. This landscape features rich volcanic soils, springs and streams.
  • The land covered by Garajonay National Park is uninhabited by people. However, the island of La Gomera itself is historically home to the Gaunche people. These people and their cultural heritage are still embedded on the island.
  • The humidity level in Garajonay National Park is relatively high (about 75 to 90%). This humidity has resulted in the formation of a mist over the forest. Meanwhile, the average annual rainfall on the park (and the island in general) is at 24-31 inches.
  • There is a rich biological diversity in the park. However, it is also noted for its isolation. The isolation means that there are plenty of endemic species on the island (and within the park).

Tips for Visiting

Garajonay National Park

Garajonay National Park is located on the Canary Islands, which sits on the northwest African coast. To get to the national park, you must take a ferry to La Gomera via Tenerife. For international tourists, there are two international airports that serve Tenerife.

When deciding when to visit, it is important to know the season beforehand. The park is mostly mild in climate throughout the year. However, it can be misty and there is a high chance of rainfall for most part of the year. Therefore, you need to pack warm and waterproof clothes to stay comfortable.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Spain.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 23, 2017 @ 4:28 am

Teide National Park

UNESCO World Heritage Site #151: Teide National Park
Teide National Park: My 151st UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for Teide National Park:

Situated on the island of Tenerife, Teide National Park features the Teide-Pico Viejo stratovolcano that, at 3,718 m, is the highest peak on Spanish soil. Rising 7,500 m above the ocean floor, it is regarded as the world’s third-tallest volcanic structure and stands in a spectacular environment. The visual impact of the site is all the greater due to atmospheric conditions that create constantly changing textures and tones in the landscape and a ‘sea of clouds’ that forms a visually impressive backdrop to the mountain. Teide is of global importance in providing evidence of the geological processes that underpin the evolution of oceanic islands.

Mount Teide is the highest point in all of Spain and it sits at the center of Tiede National Park. The park itself is a giant caldera with geologically recent lava flows and a desert like environment. On the drive up to the park, you will pass through several different ecological zones including a forest of Canary Island Pine Trees. Tiede really is one of the most spectacular parts of the Canary Islands and if you are there on a clear day you will be able to see at least four other islands.


Teide National Park

Teide National Park is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Spain located in Canary Islands. If you are planning to visit Tenerife, a visit to this national park is therefore a must. Aside from being a UNESCO site, it also earns the distinction for being the highest national park in the island (it is also the highest mountain in Spain with a height of 3,718 meters). It was declared as a national park in 1954 but was recognized by UNESCO in 2007. The annual average tourist visits for this national park is around 4 million!

About Teide National Park

Teide National Park features Mount Teide as its main attraction. However, the entire coverage of the protected area by UNESCO spans to 18,990 hectares in land area. After it was named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2007, it was also recognized as one of the 12 Treasures of Spain. As of 2015, Teide National Park is the most visited national park in Europe and Spain! It also ranks number eight in the world in terms of national parks with most tourist visits. Hence, it speaks to the popularity of this national park as a tourist destination, apart from its cultural and natural value.

Teide National Park

Aside from Mount Teide, Pico Viejo is also part of the national park area that was inscribed by UNESCO. Pico Viejo is the second highest peak in Canary Islands with a height of 3,135 meters. These two mountains are the only ones to exceed the 3,000 meter height level of all the volcanoes in Canary Islands.

On top of these two peaks, the Observatorio del Teide belongs within the national park limits. It is located on a ridge to the east of Mount Teide. It is also known as Teide Observatory. This was distinguished as the first major international observatories that were established. Due to the good astronomical sight-seeing conditions in the region, it has attracted the attention of many people, especially the astronomical enthusiasts.

Natural Features in the Park

Teide National Park

Mount Teide and other volcanoes and observatories found within Teide National Park are not the only sights available to enjoy here. This UNESCO site also boasts of having a variety of flora and fauna species, as well as distinctive landscape formations.

The lava flows from Mount Teide has resulted in a mineral- and nutrient-rich soil within the premises of Teide National Park. This rich soil has made it possible for various life forms to grow and develop among its land. In fact, there are 168 vascular plant species within the park, and 33 of those are endemic to Tenerife.

Meanwhile, the park is also filled with Canary Island pines that cover the middle slopes of the volcano. For the higher altitudes, the Las Cañadas caldera offer shelter for other fragile species including the Canary Island cedar and pine. The Teide white broom is the most dominant plant species found within the park. Other unique plant species that are found within the park include wallflower, Teide bugloss, Teide violet, and Teide daisy.

Teide National Park

Aside from the flora species in Teide National Park, there is also a rich invertebrate fauna species collection within the park. About 40% of them are endemic to this national park. Meanwhile, there are 70 invertebrate fauna species that are found only within the park. When it comes to the vertebrate fauna species, however, there are a limited number of them that live and thrive in the park. For example, there are only 10 species of bird that includes blue chaffinch, Atlantic canary, and Berthelot’s pipit.

For the mammal species, Teide National Park is home to bats (specifically Leister’s bat). This is the only mammal species that are found within the park. Over the years though, other mammals were introduced into the park such as the rabbit, house mouse, mouflon, Algerian hedgehog, and the feral cat.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Spain.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 22, 2017 @ 8:08 pm