The Arid Trails of Big Bend National Park

The Arid Trails of Big Bend National Park

As I close in on my quest to visit every National Park in the United States, there are still a few I have yet to visit. Today’s guest, Kay Rodriguez, gives us a taste of one of the lesser visited national parks in the US: Big Bend National Park, Texas.

Everyone knows the stereotypes about Texas. The endless, dusty roads littered with tumbleweeds and the scrap metal remains of industrial vehicles. The decaying buildings and ghost towns covered in reddish-brown soot.

Nothingness. Lots of empty nothingness.

In the middle of those dusty roads, on the border of the United States and Mexico, is a breathtaking outcropping of mountains, canyons, and the famed Rio Grande. Perhaps the Texas stereotypes prove true somewhere, but Big Bend National Park is a different story.

Arid landscape of Big Bend National Park
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Treking in the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan

Treking in the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan

Today’s post is by Joan Torres, who is writing about the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan. I was in Tajikistan in 2016 but I didn’t make it to the Pamir Mountains. I know several people who have visited, and from everything I’ve heard, it is an amazing place.

At almost 5,000 meters (16400 feet) above sea level, we finally reached the Gumbezkul Pass, where we were blessed with a 360º view of the Pamir range, surrounded by tens of peaks, which I am pretty sure, they were all above 6,500 meters (21,000 feet).

The Pamir range was like we had read in books: a deep feeling of remoteness, solitude and strikingly sharp mountains. The frozen wind was blowing extremely hard and we had not seen a single soul on the whole trek, besides the occasional nomadic camp and herds of Pamir yaks. There were no signs of vegetation and, at the end of August, all you could see were snow-capped, gray mountains.

It was simply beautiful and not only because of all those gorgeous peaks but also, because of the strong symbolism which, for centuries, the Pamir Mountains have carried. Home to some of the most off the beaten track nomadic camps in Central Asia, these trails had been an important part of the Silk Road, which can be seen in the numerous fortresses and Buddha carvings in what is today a Muslim country.

Trekking the Pamir plateau is the ultimate adventure and a destination only suitable for the most adventurous travelers.
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The Lakes of Band-e Amir, Afghanistan

The Lakes of Band-e Amir, Afghanistan

Any car can drive on any road, as long as the driver is determined enough.

Travel has taught me this lesson time and time again, and the drive to the sapphire lakes of Band-e Amir, Afghanistan’s first national park, is yet more proof.

The road begins innocently enough. Fresh black asphalt cuts through the sparse plains around Bamiyan, a town high in the Hindu Kush mountains, only half an hour from Kabul by plane. The road from Bamiyan to Band-e Amir feels new… and probably will remain that way for years to come, given the only signs of life on the road are shepherds, their flocks, and the occasional motorbike. But all good things must come to an end, and the new road to Band-e Amir is no exception.
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The Bizarre Bone Chapels of Portugal

The first of Portugal’s many Capelas dos Ossos that I visited was in Faro, the capital of the Algarve region. This southernmost slice of the country is best known for its sunny beaches and lively nightlife. Finding out there was a chapel decorated with human bones just a short drive from the sun-loungers and karaoke bars definitely made me raise an eyebrow.

It was certainly quirky enough to earn a place on my travel itinerary, and I jotted it down before absent-mindedly scrolling down to see what else Faro had to offer. It wasn’t until I was actually standing in the chapel, looking around, that I really began to think about what I had come out of my way to visit: a chapel made up of literally thousands of human bones.
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Traveling to Transnistria, a Day in Soviet Disneyland

Stephanie Craig is the History Fan Girl. She has combined her love of history with travel and has been exploring Eastern Europe the last year. She recently visited the breakaway region of Transnistria, which I thought was an interesting place which more people probably need to know about. Here is Stephanie…

This story starts with a Pinterest article. It ends facing down a public squat toilet in a bus station in Odessa, Ukraine.

In the middle, there’s another squat toilet, two bribes, a kind immigration officer, two ethnic slurs, two Russian tanks, a game of computer solitaire, and some cognac.

Oh, and a gargantuan statue of Vladimir Lenin.
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Photo Essay: Laurence Norah

Every so often I showcase the work of other travel photographers on my site. Today I’d like to introduce you to Laurence Norah. He has been traveling around the world since 2009 and blogging and photographing his travels since 2010. He is well known for his stunning landscape images which has garnered him a large online following.

I’ve met Laurence several times at conferences in Europe and I’ve always been a fan of his work. He is one of a select group of online travel photographers who have had great success with his work.

Enough of me yammering, here are his photos….
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Mayan Ruins and Karl ‘The Screw’

This is a guest post by my friend Wes Nations who blogs at I met Wes several years ago in Bangkok and he’s been a big help to me providing graphic design on thing like my travel photography book. Wes has had some of the most interesting stories of any traveler I know, and I’m pleased that he has agreed to share one of them here.

Take it away, Wes…..

I met Karl in Flores, Guatemala, a small island town in the middle of Lake Petén. He was a massive man, tanned and with a thick head of white hair and matching beard. I wouldn’t have guessed it but he was 72 years old. He had a heavy German accent but it turned out that he had emigrated to Australia when he was in his teens and was now living in Florida. A full life.

I asked what he had done for a living and he looked down at his feet for a second before answering. “I’m not proud of it but I was a Screw“. When I just stared at him, confused, he added “I was a prison guard. Twenty five years…”
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Legal Travel to Cuba for Americans and Why NOW is the Time to Go!

Cuba is slowly opening up to Americans. Contrary to popular belief, Americans can go to Cuba and do so legally. I’ve asked fellow blogger and Cheesehead Heidi Siefkas to give an overview for how Americans can travel to Cuba and why they may want to consider doing so now. Take it away Heidi…..

When I told my friends and family that I travel to Cuba, I receive many questions, all with puzzled looks. Many ask if it is legal. Others ask if it is safe. Others wonder why travel to Cuba at all. Having five trips under my belt this year alone as a tour director and four more trips this fall, I have fallen in love with Cuba, its people, and cultural richness. Although Cuba is not on the traditional traveler’s radar, I would like to share with you how you too can travel to Cuba. So here’s the skinny on legal travel to Cuba, how it’s done, and why you should travel to Cuba and NOW.
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