Category archives for Featured
After 24 hours on a bus we were all a bit tired, cranky, and hot, but the moment we saw Norman Carr Cottage and the dancing waters of Lake Malawi out front we took a deep breath and the whole world changed. We instantly knew we were going to love it here and soon three days turned into eight.
Every morning we went out on their rustic and charming boat Alfie. We bought fish from the local fisherman floating around in their dugout canoes and as we threw them into the air fish eagles would gracefully swoop down and grab them in their claws.
We snorkeled and took in the incredible medley of fish. Some had polka dots, some had neon stripes, and others were even black and white. We jumped off boulders into the warm water and each evening we would swim again as the sun dipped behind the shores and return to a candlelight dinner on the veranda.
On market day we went to the village. The market was full of piles and piles of old clothes.
There isn’t a Gap or any store around and even if there was the families are too poor to buy anything. It made me a bit sad but we decided to do a costume party with my family, Jenny, Taffy, Alida, and Alice (the owners of our amazing home for the week and two of their friends.) The theme was movie characters and we all had to buy for someone else. I bought a Maria costume from The Sound of Music for Alida, and Alice bought a flapper costume for me. We looked ridiculous but no one cared. After our fun night we donated all the clothes back to the community.
Throughout the week we listened to the beautiful sounds of the local people singing in their huts just steps away. Our final day it hit me that the end was near and that we needed to enjoy every last second so we hopped in some kayaks and explored the lake for hours. The setting couldn’t have been more picturesque; the mountains in the background, the fishermen in their wooden boats and the sparkling turquoises water. We had such an amazing stay that this was one of the most difficult places to leave. Thank you Jenny and Taffy, and goodbye Lake Malawi!
This spring, swarms of periodical cicadas will emerge on the east coast of the United States. These Brood II (or Brood 2), 1.5-inch long cicadas spend most of their lives underground, coming to the surface 17 years after they were laid as eggs by their mother! The cicadas start appearing after the temperature in the ground rises to 64°F. The year’s first cicadas have been spotted in the last few days.
They don’t sting or bite, but there will be millions of them crawling and flying around.
You may have seen a dog accompanying a passenger on your local bus, but some wild animals have been spotted hitching a ride on public transportation! In 2002, a coyote climbed aboard a Portland, Oregon, light rail train and snuggled into a seat. Wildlife specialists removed the coyote before the train started moving. Cats, pigeons, and even rhesus monkeys have been spotted on buses and light rail trains!
11% of the Earth’s surface is used to grow crops.
Calling all budding chefs! If you are between the ages of 8 and 12, you are eligible to submit an original recipe to the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. After the grand success of its inaugural year, Michelle Obama, the USDA, the U.S. Department of Education, and Epicurious have teamed up once more to see what delicious and healthy recipe kids have to offer.
“Last year’s young chefs impressed and inspired me with their creativity, and I can’t wait to welcome a whole new group to the White House this summer and taste their creations,” says Michelle Obama.
One winner from each of the 50 states and U.S. Territories will come to Washington D.C. over the summer and attend the Kids’ “State Dinner,” which will be hosted by the First Lady! Selected entries will be served at the event.
You can submit virtually any meal or dish, from sandwiches, soups and pastas to salads, stews, and yogurt parfaits. Your submission has to be original, affordable and delicious. Since this is the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, half of your dish should be made up of fruits and veggies, grains, lean proteins, or low-fat dairy.
So, in the words of the First Lady, “let’s get cooking!”
Do you like to cook?
Erin Henderson, a linebacker on the Minnesota Vikings football team, has always loved big cats. While watching shows on the Nat Geo WILD channel during Big Cat Week, he was inspired to become what we like to call a “LIONbacker,” and help raise awareness of these endangered animals. He wants to make sure they will still be around when his two-year-old son grows up. He contacted National Geographic and offered to raise both awareness and money through his “Sacks for Cats” campaign–he pledged to make a donation for every sack he made during the 2012-2013 NFL season.
Henderson recently visited National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C. with his family to present a $5,000 check to the Big Cats Initiative.
Andrew Evans, National Geographic’s Digital Nomad, recently traveled to South Padre Island in Texas. During his stay, he visited Sea Turtle Inc, an organization that helps injured sea turtles recover before releasing them back into the wild.
Andrew met a turtle named Allison at the facility. Allison is a green sea turtle that has lost three out of her four flippers, probably to a shark. Allison has been given a prosthetic fin to help her swim.
Helping the planet is a big part of what our world trip is all about and that’s exactly what we did this past week.
We helped get a hydroponics farm started. This farm will be a model for the local villagers so they can start their very own self sustaining farm. Hydroponics is a type of farming that uses a third of the water needed in an average farm and it is covered by a tarp so the elephants and rhinos don’t smoosh it.
The farm is set right next to a beautiful flood plain (the sunsets are epic) and the property is home to trees that have lived for thousands of years. Speaking of trees, one of my projects while we were there was planting trees that will one day be just as amazing as the others. There was one great granddaddy called a baobab on the property. It was so big; when I saw it my mouth dropped open.
All of the villages throughout Botswana have their own chief who controls a certain amount of land. We had the opportunity to sit in on a meeting with the chief of Katchikow, we called it “Catch a Cow.” In the meeting we discussed starting a hydroponics farm in his area. He seemed to be all for it and said that it was god’s plan that the project we were helping with had come to his area.
Another problem the village people face is the destruction caused by wild animals such as the elephant. Elephants will walk through and destroy their crops, trees and huts in just one night. The cheap and easy solution is to soak rope in chili water and put it up around their fence and it will keep the elephants and other wild critters away.
It is crazy to think that the garden is their life, where as for us it is really something we do for fun. We take for granted that we have other options if our fruits and vegetables don’t grow. It will definitely be something that I will think about a lot more when we go home.
The difference we made by just sharing some new simple farming methods is astonishing. Our hope is by teaching these new methods they will double their crops and their income.
It was a fantastic week and it always feels good when you know you are making a difference in the world. I hope to continue to “make it a better place for you and for me and the entire human race…”
James Cameron, the movie director and National Geographic explorer-in-residence who made the world’s deepest solo dive last year, donated his DEEPSEA CHALLENGER sub and formed a partnership with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, or WHOI. The scientists at WHOI will work with Cameron to use the sub’s technologies on other research platforms and expeditions.
Just looking at our Land Cruiser made me excited, it was the perfect open air safari truck and how we would be traveling through Botswana’s best game parks for the next week. Our guide William was a wealth of knowledge with everything from birds and antelope to the traditional food (which he ate an extraordinarily large amount of)!
Our first sighting was a herd of elephant just steps away. We thought we were hearing lions off in the distance but William told us that it was just the sound of the elephant’s stomachs digesting their food.
Speaking of digestion you should know that while all of this was happening I was curled up in a ball with a case of African belly. But it was my fault for trying all these new yummy African foods.
Even though I felt awful we still had an epic game drive. We saw loads of impala, warthog, elephant, and monkeys with blue butts (they are called velvet monkeys, although I think they should just be called blue butts). As we were setting up camp a herd of elephant walked right by, it made my heart beat soooo fast! We spent all of our nights enjoying braii cooked meals and gazing at the stars.
That night while we slept hippos danced two feet from our heads, lions walked through our camp and monkeys got into our trash. It’s a good thing that I am a sound sleeper.
We saw hundreds of elephants throughout our next day and they always brought a smile to my face.
We then experienced a giraffe fight. There were two males fighting over a female and they would swoop down with their heads and bang the other guy in the belly. It seemed like this was all happening in slow motion and made it very funny to watch. I wasn’t sure who was winning but I knew the next day they were going to have some serious stomach aches (just like me.)
Each of our games drives had been so incredible that we couldn’t imagine things getting better, but they did… guess what we saw? Ya… you are right it, was a male lion walking down the road… wait no he wasn’t walking he was strutting his stuff just as if he were a runway model. He had all kinds of scars all over his face so we realized he wasn’t the kind of cat you wanted to cuddle up with.
Then something even more amazing happened we came across a leopard and her fully grown cub lounging on a dead tree. They didn’t have a care in the world all that mattered to them was their nap. After we watched them lounge for a while it started to rain cats and dogs… no not latterly but if you keep listening we saw more of each!
Next a lion spotting even more amazing than the first. He was in the high grass and you could tell the thunder and lightning really freaked him out. Whenever it would boom his eyes got really big and he would yawn giving us a great view of those massive canines. Right then William got close enough that in one little bound he could be on my lap but luckily that didn’t happen! Phew!!!!
Now you want to hear about the dogs? Okay, I will tell you. On our way back to a swamp of a camp I spotted something frightening two wild dogs trying to get a yummy impala dinner. We were really lucky to see these wild guys because William told us there are only 4,000 in all of Africa.
To end our epic day we saw a black mamba getting a drink from a puddle. Just so you know black mambas are very poisons and my mom doesn’t like snakes so it absolutely freaked her out.
On our final day in Chobe National Park we completed our sightings of the big five with a cape buffalo off in the distance. I heard they can be very ornery for no reason at all so I was fine by me that they were far away. Their horns look like someone used a lot of gel in their hair to make a silly hairdo.
Sadly all of the excitement in these incredible parks was coming to an end, but there are still loads of adventures to come. Talk to you next week!
The spotted beauties were pacing back and forth in anticipation of our arrival, actually their yummy lunch, just as we pulled into the Cheetah Conservation Fund. The ravenous cheetahs welcomed us as they devoured their horse and donkey meat.
Their meat is surrounding a big bone to slow them down. In the wild they have to eat extremely fast, if they don’t vultures or jackals will take their kill away from them. The only problem is, if they eat super fast they might choke. The six in front of us had very good manners.
We spent the day wandering the 60,000 hectare property and shared dinner with all of the remarkable staff and volunteers. CCF is an amazing project leading the world in the conservation of cheetahs. The project is home to 46 orphaned cheetahs that will never be able to go back to the wild. They have done extensive research on the cheetah and taken injured cheetahs found on the land of local farmers and released them back into the wild after healing injuries or illnesses.
On our first evening we had the honor of meeting the person behind the entire project, Dr. Laurie Marker. She is such a humble and extraordinary lady. We could have talked for hours. She is known as one of the world’s leading cheetah experts. She came to Namibia in 1977 and found her love for these gorgeous creatures. She learned that they were in serious danger. Instead of waiting for someone else to help she decided to BE that someone. In 1990 she founded what is now the Cheetah Conservation Fund.
She has inspired people all over the world to start projects to save the cheetah and other endangered species. One day I hope to do something as incredible for this world of ours as she has.
Dr. Marker and CCF have done some other things to help make our world a better place. They are now taking an encroaching acacia bush and turning it into a slow burning organic wood logs. This is creating jobs and restoring the cheetah’s habitat.
Our next day we watched three cheetah siblings devour their lunch and were told this incredible story:
There once was a mama to be cheetah wandering around a farmer’s property. He didn’t want the cheetah to harm his livestock so he shot the mama. He then realized the cheetah was pregnant. Luckily the babies were developed enough that when he cut her stomach open he saved three of the four cheetah cubs. The farmer tried to care for them but didn’t really know how so he took them to CCF and they have been there ever since.
At sunset we took a beautiful drive through the CCF game park and the Waterberg Plateau. Kudu, eland, warthogs, springbuck and Oryx were roaming around us as the sky turned orange and purple.
Our final morning Dr. Marker wanted me to hear her babies purr so she let me go in and watch an incredible cheetah run. It was epic! They were so close that I could feel the wind as they ran by. I had the once in a lifetime chance to sit down with them and hear them purr… my heart stopped!
I learned so much the last few days and have a new found love for these creatures. Leaving was SO hard I could have stayed forever, but I know that one day I will return and be reunited with my spotted friends and my new role model, Dr. Marker.
Water is a very important resource for life. Every day we use it for drinking, washing, farming and cooking. But it’s not an unlimited resource, so we need to find ways to use it more wisely.
The Colorado River is one source of water that is disappearing. It stretches 1,450 miles (2,333 kilometers), but can barely even reach the sea anymore. The water is split up among seven states in the U.S. and Mexico. Around 30 million people use this source of water for drinking and irrigation. This means that there is little water left over to support the ecosystem that lives along the river’s path.
It may be hard to believe, but we all use the water from the Colorado River. It isn’t just farmers who use it for irrigation or big cities like Las Vegas. Many of us consume items produced in the region, such as hamburgers and cornmeal.
Did you know that the average American uses twice as much water as the global average? That’s about 2,000 gallons per person every day!
To make a difference, adults are pledging to change what they do on a daily basis, by eating less meat or carpooling. For every pledge that an adult makes, Change the Course will help put back 1,000 gallons of water to the Colorado River. Ask your parents if they want to learn more about Change the Course.
And yes, please do turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth. Every drop counts.
What will you do to change the course?
Let our African animal adventure begin!
Etosha National Park or “Great White Place of Dry Water” is a world renowned game reserve; it is also where we spent our next epic week! Fun fact… Etosha covers an area of 22,912km.
Within minutes of entering the park we spotted an oryx catching some shade under a tree, from then on the excitement continued. At our first campsite there was a beautiful watering hole filled with all kinds of game; zebra, springbok, kudu, dik-dik, oryx, wildebeest and my favorites… a family of giraffe coming for dinner and a drink. There were four of them so they reminded me of our family. As the sky started to turn purple we watched a lone elephant come for a bath and a drink. Did you know that over 12,000 elephants now live in Namibia thanks to the help of animal conservationists?
Just as the sun was waking up the next morning we left for a sunrise drive.
Coming across the savannah were different kinds of antelope, zebra and then the most amazing of all, can you guess what it was? It was a lioness and her two fully grown cubs. They had just killed a zebra for breakfast and they were gorging themselves on his tender organs. You could hear them tearing his flesh to pieces with their razor sharp teeth. It wasn’t a pretty sight. They couldn’t have been any closer; if I stuck my hand out the window I could nearly touch them. They definitely are not vegetarians like me!
After a yummy breakfast and a successful hunt they were tuckered out so they said goodbye and were on their way. We couldn’t have started the day with anything more incredible.
The watering hole at our next peaceful amazing campsite was beautifully natural and also full of wildlife. Our best sighting was of four rhino coming for an evening splash. They are so prehistoric looking with their wrinkly skin and crusty horn. I had never seen a rhino before so it was extra special.
Our next radiant morning was unbelievable; we saw another elephant, a group of three giraffe just a few feet from our car and last and certainly most amazing a leopard pacing in the bush. That made four of the big five. What is the big five? The big five is denoted as the hardest animals to hunt on foot. We aren’t hunters but seeing those animals was pretty special. We had seen lion, leopard, elephant, and rhino all we need now is a cape buffalo.
Each of our evenings in Estosha was spent by the campfire cooking dinner, gazing at the brilliant sky and sharing stories about the animals and our adventures with my family. We were really lucky to have seen SO many beautiful animals.
Namibia is an extraordinary country full of natural beauty and wonder!
Scientists have recently discovered two new moons orbiting the dwarf planet Pluto, bringing the total up to five. SETI scientists are asking people to send in their name ideas for the newly-discovered moons. The names must come from Greek or Roman mythology and have something to do with Pluto/Hades and the underworld. The three moons that already have names are called Charon, Hydra, and Nix.
The Namibian sand was calling our name so we grabbed our Kalahari Ferraris (sand boards) and hit the dunes. My heart was thumping in my chest as I was hanging over the slip face. I didn’t even have time to catch my breath and they pushed me over the edge. Each of our seven runs was steeper and faster than the last.
After our adrenaline buzz we wandered the beach and streets of Swakopmund and came across the world’s largest quartz crystal cluster. It is estimated to be about 520 million years old and weighs 14,100 kilograms. Namibia is home to some of the world’s most fine gemstones.
Our next stop was Cape Cross, home to over 100,000 cape fur seals; half of them were one month old pups. The moment we saw the seals our mouths dropped open. Many of the adorable pups were taking their first swim in the ocean and you could tell they were having a ball.
Then something awesome yet scary happened, we were charged by a seal. He was trapped in the pathway and thought we were in his territory. At first it was kind of fun having the seal be so close to us but when he bared his teeth we ran as fast as we could to the truck.
Next we were off to
Brandberg, home of the desert elephant. On our way we visited a local Himba village and learned about their culture and purchased some traditional crafts. The Himba people rub their bodies in a red ochre and fat to protect them from the harsh desert climate. Arriving in Brandberg we were greeted by Bonnie the meerkat and Peanut the talking bird.
The next morning we set out for a sunrise game drive. “ELEPHANT!” is what Everest screamed when he saw a massive bull only ten feet away from us. We drove on and saw another 30 incredible elephants; Moms, Dads, and lots of little calves.
After an epic elephant experience we went back in time 6,000 years to when the local Bushmen roamed the land. There were ancient rock engravings that they used to inform the other tribes what animals were in the area, what animals they were hunting, and to teach the children about the animals. The engravings at Twyfelfontein were very stark but had a beauty about them. My favorites were the engravings of the giraffe. Did you know the Bushmen never killed the giraffe because they thought the giraffe had long necks to speak to the sky gods who brought the rain? Africa couldn’t be more amazing!
National Geographic Kids magazine is on its way to claiming two Guinness World Records! 30,914 people helped take the title for most people running 100 meters in 24 hours, on October 26, 2012. NG Kids hopes to set the title for largest of collection of shoes to recycle.
This morning, NG Kids staff emptied over 50 gigantic boxes of shoes and laid them all out heel to toe at National Geographic Society’s headquarters, and then the official count by Guinness World Records began. Guinness World Records officials will be on hand to announce the number of shoes collected at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, February 5.
All of the used sneakers were collected from families and kids who wanted to help make a difference. However a few of those sneakers came from the likes of Taylor Swift, One Direction, Eli Manning, Danica Patrick, and Amanda Beard!
The athletic shoes will be sent to the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program which recycles shoes into Nike Grind. This is a material used in athletic surfaces like basketball courts and running tracks. The record will not be known until the shoes have been delivered to Nike for recycling.
NG Kids has set five other Guinness World Records in the past including longest line of footprints, largest collection of plush toys, longest chain of shoes, most items of clothing collected for recycling, and most people doing jumping jacks in 24 hours. We can’t wait to add two more to the list!
Please be patient while we create certificates for those of you who had 100 participants or more in running events.
Let the planning begin. This crazy week was spent preparing for our awesome trip to Africa. We started by narrowing down the countries that were the highest on our list. After hours of studying travel books, maps, and websites our heads were spinning but our current plan is to start in Namibia and travel on to Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and finally Mozambique. There are tons of incredible things to do in Sub Saharan Africa. I was only five when I came to Africa the first time so I am super excited to go again. Have you ever been to Africa?
I still can’t believe we have been to 27 countries already in the past 18 months and that this is our last continent. I could travel forever. I love everything about our journey but maybe not the packing. We spent an insanely busy weekend packing our one carryon suit case with school books, a very small amount of clothing, cameras, and binoculars. On Sunday morning we said a sad goodbye to my grandma and grandpa and hopped on the train to Chicago. In Chicago the temperature was four degrees and we nearly froze our fingers off, but we ended our day with piping hot Chicago style pizza.
We left Chicago the next morning and started out on our four day journey to Africa. Within the first five minutes of our drive from the airport to our hotel in Windhoek, Namibia we saw two gorgeous giraffes grazing in the bush.
When we arrived at our hotel we jumped in the pool and started talking to travelers from all over the world. They shared their stories and confirmed that there is an endless list of amazing things for us to do and see. Our first day we toured the city of Windhoek. We visited the handicraft center and saw handmade creations from the small villages throughout Namibia. The indigenous people use things that we would just throw away and turn them into beautiful creations. There were picture frames made of bike chains, boxes made of computer keys, African animals carved from old wood, they even took old radio parts and made solar powered portable radios. It just makes you realize our trash is their treasure. I am so excited to explore the rest of this awe inspiring African continent!
January 13 marks the 125th anniversary of the National Geographic Society! Back in 1888, 33 men founded the Society at a meeting held at the Cosmos Club in Washington D.C. Since then, the National Geographic Society has grown to be one of the world’s largest scientific and educational organizations. To celebrate, we are planning events throughout the year, and will look back on all of the amazing discoveries and adventures, as well as look ahead to the exploration that is still to come!
How are you going to explore the world this year?
Paleontologists in Nevada have discovered a Triassic-era sea monster that is the size of a bus! It lived about 244 million years ago during the Triassic era. The creature is called “lizard-eating sovereign of the seas,” or Thalattoarchon saurophagis. T. saurophagis was an early ichthyosaur, a giant reptile that lived in the oceans.
The fossil was partially excavated in 1998, and National Geographic explorer and T. saurophagis study co-author Nadia Fröbisch and her colleagues excavated the rest of the fossil in 2010. The complete fossil has a huge skull and big, sharp teeth that may have been used to eat prey the same size as T. saurophagis.
The birds-of-paradise of Australia and New Guinea are visually stunning and have amazing courtship dances. A new exhibit at the National Geographic Museum highlights all 39 species of these incredible birds with photography and video.
The exhibit is open now and will be at the National Geographic Museum through May 12, 2013.
Photograph by Tim Laman, National Geographic
Although lions are known as the kings of the jungle, their numbers have been dwindling due to a loss of habitat and prey. Humans have been encroaching on the lion’s home turf by cutting down trees to create farmland and other developments. This causes the lions to lose both their home and favorite foods.
Any amount will do, but five dollars can buy a lion guardian to protect the big cats.
Photograph by Beverly Joubert