Yazd, a historically Zoroastrian town and a sort of desert outpost that took in people fleeing persecution and wars in other parts of the country, is one of our favorite cities in Iran. Its old city is almost entirely built in brown-red adobe clay, helping to blend it into the surrounding desert landscape and to keep its building interiors cool.
Ones eyes adapt to this mono-color, after which the bright turquoise and intricate Persian Islamic design in the Jameh Mosque will make you feel like you’ve put on 3-D glasses. Gaze at the mosque’s designs long enough and they’ll dizzy you, pull you in and play tricks on your eyes as you try to discern the calligraphy, symmetry and symbolism buried within.
Open up the panorama below and take a spin around the almost 900-year old mosque, Continue Reading »
As we take off for Central America (this time to Costa Rica), we think back to our first visit to the region a couple of years ago: Antigua, Guatemala.
Although Antigua has a reputation for being touristy, we found that it wasn’t too difficult to get lost and find a slice of authentic Guatemalan life. One of our favorite places to do this: Antigua’s central market.
Walk past the front section of the market, past the souvenirs and freshly cut fruit intended for gringos, and just keep going back, back — deep into the market, maybe even into the adjacent back parking lot areas where on weekends vendors come from neighboring villages.
It’s beyond this first scratch where you’ll find it: real life. Open the panorama to full screen to see it. Continue Reading »
First day of our Markha Valley trek. We weren’t quite certain what to expect for the remaining six days of trekking through the Himalayas, but we were sure the following day would be steep and uphill, to 4,950 meters/16,200 feet. So on our first day on the trail we were relieved to find relative flatness, to lose ourselves in the red rocks of the canyon around us and to look off into the distance of the climb that awaited us.
Open the panorama to full screen to join us on that first day of our Markha Valley trek. Continue Reading »
While traveling, we often find ourselves focused on the present. This is a good thing. Then, something helps us appreciate the history, the roots of where we happen to be. This too, is useful because it provides perspective.
Likir Buddhist Monastery in Ladakh, at almost 1,000 years old, is one of those places.
For much of our visit to Likir Monastery we were alone, save a sole monk who tidied up and made sure visitors took their shoes off before entering the temples. We enjoyed it all in peace and found ourselves stepping back, literally and figuratively, just trying to imagine how monks had gathered in those spaces for centuries — chanting, meditating, praying.
Open the panorama to full screen to see if you can imagine it yourself. Continue Reading »
Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags greet us as we reach Ladakh’s Gongmaru La pass. All the residual fatigue from climbing up to 16,800 feet/5,130 meters seems to evaporate once we’ve reached this place, our goal. It’s been six days in the Markha Valley and we’ve been up and down — and up again.
We have to remind ourselves not to move around too quickly up here, not to exhaust ourselves from the altitude. But it’s difficult to contain the excitement of being on top of the world — and as photographers, to grab a piece of and bask in every little visual slice that we can capture. The scenery stuns with layers of mountains for as far as the eye can see, while a surprise snowfall earlier in the week means our view is blessed with dramatic snow caps. Continue Reading »
Five days into our Markha Valley Trek in Ladakh, India. We were on our way to Nimiling, a summer hangout for local shepherds (with their flocks of sheep, goats and cattle/yak hybrids called zos) and the overnight base camp for our final ascent to Gongmaru La Pass (5,130 meters/16,800 feet). That morning we endured and enjoyed our share of steep climbs, losing ourselves to the mountains and our slow, deliberate pace.
Then a break: a lunchtime spot at peaceful clear lake with views of Kang Yatze Peak (6,400 meters / 21,000 feet) and the Zanskar range. In so many ways, we felt very much like we were on top of the world. Continue Reading »
Slum. It’s a loaded word, one that conjures a raft of negative imagery. But there’s one characteristic that’s not likely to come to mind: industry.
That’s where Dharavi, Mumbai’s most populated slum, might surprise you. Continue Reading »
There are certain parts of the world that simply cry out: Road Trip! You know the requisite ingredients: rugged cliffs dropping into blue ocean waters, waves crashing against rocky outcroppings, and pockets of white foam shooting into the air. Roads wind, barely two lanes wide, cars hug mountain turns. Drivers and passengers crane their necks to catch a glimpse — the glimpse — over the next cliff, wanting to pull off for the perfect photo.
The whole thing sounds cliché, perhaps, but maybe that’s just because that’s the way it really is. There are a few drives in this world that deliver on all of this. And Chapman’s Peak Drive in Cape Town happens to be one of them. Continue Reading »
Our trek to the Tongariro Crossing on New Zealand’s North Island was the trek that almost wasn’t. Winds were fierce, rains continued to pour down and visibility only seemed to get worse right up to the day before we were set to hike.
As night fell, winds began to subside and the rain slowed, but it still didn’t look good. We prepared ourselves for the worst.
The next morning, however, a shift. Timed for our late start, winds died further, clouds burned off and blue skies emerged. This was our Tongariro Crossing. Open up the panorama to full screen to see what we found: the Emerald Lakes, the Red Crater and hints of Mordor. Continue Reading »
Imagine going to one of the wettest places on earth, only to be greeted with sunshine. This was our experience in Doubtful Sound on the very southwest tip of New Zealand’s South Island. Blue skies in the land of socked-in clouds and precipitation — lucky, we were. Continue Reading »