Category: Travel Journal

There Are Lots Of Animals In Galapagos But Here’s Photos Of Just Sea Lion Pups

sea lion pup

The Galapagos Islands are one of the most bio-diverse places on Earth, in fact, 97% of the land animals there can be found nowhere else on the planet. During the week I spent visiting the archipelago as a guest of Andando Tours, I took over 300 photos and more than 12 hours of video footage of blue-footed boobies, lava lizards, giant tortoises – as much wildlife as possible.

There is though, one animal any camera seems unable to avoid, so much so, it became a running joke onboard the Mary Anne: sea lion pups always steal the spotlight. Our guide Fernando Ortiz (whom I can’t recommend enough) confirmed every group is the same – unable to resist the baby sea lions.

To be fair, the sea lion pups often do their best to pose and grab your attention.

sea lion pup galapagos

I’ll be posting more about the Galapagos and its wildlife as a whole soon but these photos are a reflection of what happens as you hop from one island to another. At most stops there are more than a few cute sea lion pups hanging out, and no matter how many you see, you’ll take 40 more pictures of them.

sea lion pup galapagos

The general rule is to stay 2 meters (~6 feet) away from all the animals in the Galapagos where possible. With even an average zoom lens, you’ll be able to capture shots like this.

sea lion pup

Sea lions for the most part behave a lot like dogs, except the adults ignore you, and the pups are cautious but inquisitive.

sea lion galapagos

They…

sleeping sea lion

…also,

sea lion cute

sleep…

sea lion family

a lot.

sea lion pup sleeping

For the most part during the first year of their life, sea lions stay on land not venturing out beyond a few meters into the water. (Nearly always under the attentive eye of an experienced mom.) Otherwise sea lion pups are vulnerable to shark predation; instead they spend much of their time entertaining tourists.

sea lion galapagos

As they grow older and become more independent, adult sea lions will start to spend weeks at sea eating fish. (The book Why We Sleep explains how this is possible – sea lions lightly sleep half their brains at a time in the open ocean.)

Still, when they return to land, they’re adorably tired.

galapagos sea lions

The adults leave the posing to the pups while they take a well-earned rest. Even in this state, sea lions are incredibly photogenic, despite being the occasional snotty sneeze. (The 2 meter rule is more for you than them.) I’ll have more on what travel to the Galapagos Islands is like, showing the incredible animal diversity here in the coming weeks – but as they did during my trip – the sea lion pups have taken over for now.

My 2018 Year In Travel Review

When I first began putting this post together, I had thought 2018 wasn’t the busiest in terms of travel for me. I didn’t realize how much I actually got to see and although it’s been over 10 years now, was amazed to be so incredibly amazed by one place in particular. You can see my 2018 year in travel in the video above, where I’m also running another giveaway for you too.

Of course more travel videos in 2018 meant a lot more bloopers. Below is a super-cut of all the bloopers from the past year – there are occasions where you have to embrace your mistakes so I hope you enjoy!

Thank you again for a wonderful 2018 – I hope this look back gives you some travel inspiration in the coming year for destinations you might not have considered, weren’t sure about, or may have been putting off.

A Galapagos Review Of The ABOX Budget Action Camera

There are a lot of budget action cameras on Amazon averaging less than $200 of GoPros that were new in 2016. Unfortunately, the last GoPro clone I reviewed left a lot to be desired, except for the price tag. Recently I got my hands on the ABOX 4K and wondered what would happen if I took a budget action cam to the perfect place. Under ideal conditions, how good or bad would the footage look?

abox 4k action cameraABOX 4K Action Camera

buy from amazon

So I decided to take the ABOX to the Galapagos Islands. You can see the results (and sea lion pups!) in the video above. Let me know what you think of the footage in the comments below!

Beirut Might Be The City That Explains Us All

beirut corniche

At the airport in Athens the young guy behind the counter asked me for my final destination, “Beirut,” I replied. His confused looked was followed by, “are you sure?” He wasn’t joking.

What I expected to find was a city struggling after years of war, in one of the worst regional neighborhoods in the world, mixed with 18 officially recognized religions who’ve all fought at some point. It sounds like a recipe for disaster and in fairness, much of its recent history has not been good. But somehow now, Beirut is working, and working well.

Everyone should visit here. Beirut’s a vibrant city that’s as good, bad, nuanced, and hypocritical as any of us. The deceptively polished corniche is a few blocks away from expensive, modern shopping centers that sit mostly empty – built for (often wealthy) Gulf state Arabs who come to enjoy fermented beverages and fashion not acceptable back home. If your style is more burqa, that’s fine too. Popular restaurants are popular with everyone, so long as you don’t preach to the table next to you.

empty beirut

Beirut is glaringly tolerant, I must be missing something.

Spruced up shopping districts are dotted with cranes meant for new high rises in between broken buildings from Israel’s 2006 bombardment of the city. Some facades have numerous bullet holes that looks almost unreal. Across the street you’ll find the best falafel in the world. Side-by-side businesses run by two brothers who hate each other, but not enough to move their shops apart. These guys have survived all Beirut has seen – the horror that was whatever caused all those bullet holes – but haven’t spoken in over a decade. The constant reminder that life is short staring these two 60-year old siblings in the face isn’t enough to budge their pride or falafel shops.

bullet holes beirut

A walk from the corniche to the predominantly Christian neighborhood of Badaro is a 30 minute history reel as you walk through conservative Muslim neighborhoods, then past military fortifications behind barbed wire, after McDonald’s, and a few hipster-enticing pubs.

Beirut has seen some shit. And the city doesn’t hide it.

israel lebanon

Maybe that’s why it seems to work, at least now. Maybe things have to get so bad for so long, that people simply got sick of trying to solve all the problems. Like the falafel brothers, the defacto state seems to be: you’re free to do what you want, but don’t tell me what to do – no matter how close we are, even if you’re literally next door.

Complicated recipes are usually easier to screw up, but Beirut’s blend might be getting something right. The secret sauce seems to defy all conventional wisdom so I hope someone is taking notes, nobody here wants to start from scratch.

You Can Fly Stunt Planes In Las Vegas: A Review Of Sky Combat Ace

Las Vegas is a city of experiences and if flying in the highest performance-certified aerobatic aircraft is your type of adventure, then you need to plan a visit to Sky Combat Ace. There’s a lot more in the video above but in short, imagine being flown in a stunt plane by a former jet fighter pilot, flipping and doing tricks for 15-20 minutes. Or playing laser tag with your friends as you fly an Extra 330 in a virtual dog-fight. Those are some of the types of rides you can choose, starting at $300. The Sky Combat Ace website describes their adventures as intense roller-coasters but let me tell you, there’s no comparison.

There are a few ways to save on the price, plus the complete review and other Sky Combat Ace tips, in my video Flying Stunt Planes in Las Vegas.

What To Expect At Your First Creation Las Vegas Star Trek Convention

creation las vegas star trek convention

You might be a Star Trek fan who’s finally decided to attend a convention (or be the friend roped into it all) that’s got no idea what goes on at the annual 5-day Creation Entertainment event in Las Vegas. To help prepare you, here’s everything you need to know about the Creation Star Trek convention held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino every summer.

Why Las Vegas?

There are plenty of Star Trek conventions around the world but the Las Vegas event held at the Rio All-Suite hotel is North America’s largest. (Creation’s convention competes with several in Germany every year for the world’s largest attendance.) Over 15,000 people are expected at the 2018 convention.

What Do You Do All Day?

There are events all day and night planned for the August 1-5th convention but most first-timers have no idea what that means. The easiest way to put it into perspective is to think of the Las Vegas Star Trek convention like Comic-Con, but focused on Star Trek. There are 30-60 minute panels throughout the day which consist of talks plus Q&A sessions with Star Trek actors, directors, writers, and artists like Oscar winner Michael Westmore. (I highly recommend his book Makeup Man for the Michael Jackson stories alone.)

makeup man bookMakeup Man: From Rocky to Star Trek

buy from amazon

Additionally, Creation invites scientists and other engineers to hold discussions on space exploration. Several engineers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will be giving talks on current and fictional Star Trek technologies that may become reality in the near future. (Sorry, transporter technology seems the longest shot.)

klingon armor discovery

People tend to float in and out of the talks, making their way through the vendor room where there’s all kinds of nerdom represented. Need a Starfleet uniform or a Darth Vader mug? The vendors will have it. There are also a lot of independent artists and creators selling handmade crafts as well, in my opinion the most interesting items sold at the convention.

In the evenings you can opt for additional events like a 45-piece orchestral performing Star Trek: Live, or swing by the Masquerade Bar where by Thursday night the entire hotel has been taken over by Star Trek fans.

Do You Need To Dress Up?

No – but a lot of people do. Uniform t-shirts are common but then there are real cosplayers, peaking on Saturday when an annual costume contest is held. Here are pictures of the best cosplay from 2017 and 2014 to give you an idea but what you wear is up to you.

star trek cosplay

Why Do People Go To Star Trek Conventions?

For a variety of reasons but basically to have fun with other people who are really passionate about Star Trek and science fiction in general. In 2017 I asked a bunch of people why they go to Star Trek conventions, here’s what they said:

People who make it to their first Las Vegas Star Trek convention often return year after year. You see the same people and it has almost become an annual pilgrimage for many, much like Comic-Con is for other fans. If you’re in the Las Vegas area August 1-5, 2018 and interested in attending, you can purchase individual day tickets here (I would recommend Saturday if you’re choosing just one) or get all 5 days at a discounted rate.

Once you’ve got your tickets, you can check out this insider’s guide on saving money, meeting celebrities, and making the most of the Creation Las Vegas Star Trek convention. Qa’plah!

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutI'm the blogger and computer security engineer who writes foXnoMad while on a journey to visit every country in the world. I'll show you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter. Read More


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