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PHOTO OF THE MONTH: Cheetah and Cubs, Namibia

Ours was the only vehicle on the remote dirt track when Kathryn stopped to pull out her binoculars. I searched the empty landscape, having already learned that where I saw an expanse of parched grasslands, she saw life.  

All was silent save the ping of the diesel engine. I closed my eyes and pulled my neck scarf close. There was still a chill in the early November morning.  

Kathryn killed the engine. I opened my eyes to the shimmering mirage of the vast Etosha salt pan as it emptied into the wide grasslands and followed her line of vision to a singular figure. Patterning the golden scrub grass, a spotted head, barely discernible, turned our way.

Cheetah, Kathryn said, confirming my unspoken hope.

The word alone hardly attested to the magnificence of the moment nor conveyed the excitement it produced as one solitary figure morphed into two, then three, four and five.  

Cubs, Kathryn whispered, her voice tinged with anticipation and delight as the wild cat and her young cautiously approached and closed the distance to within a few feet of the Land Cruiser.

The sight generated an urge I struggled to make sense of.  How could I communicate nature’s camouflaged brilliance, the elegance of movement, or the providence that had delivered the moment?

My photographer’s instinct kicked in as I attempted to capture the scene. But as time passed, I came to experience a different desire, a cameraless one that required more awareness than documentation. My flurry of shutter clicks soon dissipated into an elaborate sense of awe and wonder. 



PHOTO OF THE MONTH: Hummingbird Nest, Nicaragua

It’s rare to see a hummingbird’s nest. Even rarer, I think, to spot one in a hotel pool patio. 

But that’s exactly the uncommon spectacle my husband, Hank, and I encountered during a three-month stay at Hotel La Bocona, an elegantly restored colonial mansion in Granada, Nicaragua. 

Hummingbird in nest. © Ellen Barone.

The hummingbird in this photograph patiently incubated her eggs in a nest which, unlikely as it sounds, was perched atop the delicate frond of the potted palm that sat beside our poolside breakfast table. 

Each morning, we drank our fresh carrot or beet juice and ate our beans, plantains, yogurt or eggs, while the devoted mama bird roosted beside us. 

Like proud relatives we awaited the birth of the baby hummingbirds with eager anticipation. 

For weeks, day after day, hour upon hour, the mother bird tucked her wings and sat and sat and sat. No matter what time of day or night it was when we inspected the potted palm, there she was. 

Until she wasn’t. 

My heart sank the day my morning examination revealed two Jelly-Belly-sized white eggs in the miniature nest but no mama hummer. 



PHOTO OF THE MONTH: Lake Moiry, Valais, Switzerland

“I can fit five in the Land Rover for a quick photo op. Who wants to go?” 

Lake Moiry, Grimentz, Sierre, Valais, Switzerland.

I was mid-bite into a hearty lunch of paper-thin dried meats, savory Swiss cheeses and a superb regional Pinot Noir when Martin Hannart, our guide for the week, made his announcement. 

Clouds had obscured the view all morning. But glancing out the restaurant window, I spotted what had prompted Martin’s spontaneous change of plans—sunshine: a glorious pocket of stormy light. 

We were in Switzerland as part of the 2012 Adventure Travel World Summit and had a train to catch. But the shutterbugs among us had put down our forks, gulped down our wine, grabbed our cameras and claimed a seat in the Land Rover - plus one on the rear bumper -  without question. Photogs know the drill. 



Exmoor National Park, South West England

If there is an image of mine that captures the raw, wide-open moorland of England’s Exmoor National Park, where Britain’s oldest breed of pony runs wild, it is this one of a young foal among the heather, bracken and gorse fringed landscape.


Exmoor pony, England. ©Ellen Barone

I came across the foal (and her mother, see below) above Porlock during an eight-day, 68-mile walking vacation across the dramatic open spaces, rugged lanes, historic hedgerows, and green fields of Dartmoor and Exmoor in South West England. Shooting from the hip as we hiked, I stopped, tapped the shutter a few times, then moved on. 



Myanmar, Southeast Asia

This month’s featured photography comes from photographer Allie Almario of Myths and Mountains. 


“I’m pagoda’d out,” I confessed shamefully to my guide.

After nearly a week in beautiful Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) on a research trip for Myths and Mountains, my adventure travel company, I’d spent the last few days in a whirlwind kaleidoscope of golden temples, sacred stupas, and stunning pagodas, each more beautiful and more interesting than the last.  But after traipsing through dozens of them, I wanted to focus more on the people and culture of Myanmar.  On our way to Inle Lake, my guide asked me if I wanted to stop and visit a small monastery.  

   words + photos © Allie Almario 

Since I was wearing shorts, I quickly changed into a longyi, the Burmese fabric which is wrapped tightly around the waists of both men and women.  I had just purchased one for the equivalent of $2 in a small shop in Mandalay, and my guide there had a tailor bind it and shorten it for me for $1 in under an hour.  Proper respectful attire? Check.  Shoes off?  Check.  Now I can enter the monastery.  Inside, the old wooden planks of the floor creaked underneath my feet.  I found a dark corner where I could sit quietly without disturbing anyone, and got my camera ready. Noted wilderness photographer Galen Rowell once said something akin to “Look for the light, and you’ll find a photograph.”  It’s advice I take with me wherever I go.  



Isle of Mull, Scotland

It was pissing down rain, I was soaked to the bone, and I couldn’t have been happier. Why? Because I had an afternoon in an unfamiliar place with nothing to do but search for photographs. 

©2010 Ellen Barone.

It would’ve been easy to blow off the day and wait out the rain in the cozy comfort of the nearest pub. But the weather provided a challenge, the opportunity to reschool my eyes, to increase awareness and get creative. 

There were four of us - two fellow travelers, me, and Sam Jones of Islandscape Photography, our guide for the day. Without Sam’s intimate knowledge of her island, the warmth and off-road access her Land Rover provided, and my waterproof point-and-shoot, the rain might have gotten the best of us. But instead, we ended up playing with the rain, dancing with the saturated colors it accentuated, finding joy in letting go of preconceived images and uniting with the scene that was there. In this case, what was there was magic!

The colorful scene begged to be photographed. We forgot the rain, tuned out the cold and enjoyed the process of composing. We changed viewpoint, moved in closer, further away, played with the lines, shapes, colors and rhythms of the subject. And, best of all, for a rainy afternoon on the Isle of Mull, we made time to see. 

Read more in my article Photographing Scotland at National Geographic Traveler.  


About Ellen Barone: Consumer travel expert Ellen Barone is the founder and publisher of and Learn more here and connect on Twitter at,FacebookGoogle+ and LinkedIn.


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San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico

© Ellen Barone. Low Tide at San Felipe beach.

Through the good fortune of travel and the generosity of friends made on the road, my husband, Hank, and I find ourselves enjoyng a quiet three weeks housesitting in San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico.

Who knew when I met Bob & Lyn Sheedy ( on a flight to Barbados in 2003 that five years later they’d find my business card tucked into a suitcase and reconnect. Who knew that they’d end up spending three months in our casita in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico, or that we’d end up keeping their cat, Meow-Meow, and bird, Bud, company in their desert home in Baja.

For those of us who travel, chance encounters that transform into lifelong friendships, are never a surprise, and in fact, one of the nicest perks. Not to mention, a trip to the beach!

Have a similar story? Share it here! I’d love to hear it.

Life is good,



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Old Mesilla, New Mexico

©Ellen Barone. Patio view at Josefina’s Old Gate Café and Inn, Mesilla, New Mexico.When I’m cravin’ an Old Mexico fix in New Mexico, I head straight for the lively little village of Old Mesilla near Las Cruces. Dating from 1849, the village of about 2,000 boasts one of the Southwest’s most charming historic plazas. First stop is usually Josefina’s Old Gate Cafe, a homey little cafe where I load up on homemade quiche and fresh-baked croissants. Next, it’s off to The Potteries to see what new and irresitable ceramics potters Janice Cook, Bill Cook, and Jeanne Rundell have on the shelves to tempt me. And finally, there’s people watching, a green chile cheeseburger and a margarita (or 3) to be had at the Double Eagle.


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Sea of Cortez, Mexico

© Hank Barone. 

My husband, Hank, captured this photograph as we paddled back to our floating base camp - the luxury yacht, Safari Quest, you see in the distance.  As I look at this picture now, nearly a year later, it summons up a rush of sensory memories from the voyage - the sound of our paddles as they dipped in-and-out of the water, the fresh smell of salt and sea, the exhilaration of exploration and present moment awareness of Universal connection.

This is the picture I go to when I need a mental image of contentment. This is the image I remember when I’m filled with gratitude and appreciation.





Grand Teton National Park

©Ellen Barone. Bull moose in autumn snowfall, Grand Teton National Park, near Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Any opportunity to observe wildlife in its natural habitat is a huge thrill for me. So, imagine my excitement when this bull moose practically walked in front of my lens during a recent visit to Grand Teton National Park. But, apparently, it wasn’t just good luck. Grand Teton National Park ranks as one of the nation’s top hotspot for wildlife viewing.

To read my article ‘The Suite Life in Teton Valley, Idaho’, and see more photography from my recent stay at the elegant Teton Valley Lodge & Spa , click here.



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Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico

© Ellen Barone. Colorful Mexican Weavings, Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico

Mexico is on my mind today. I first fell in love with life south-of-the-border during a yearlong road trip with my husband in the mid nineties. Since then, the infectious allure of Mexico’s people, colors, cultural traditions and way of life has drawn me back repeatedly to travel, work and live.

It’s been nine months since my last visit, and I find myself homesick for its vivid colors, raucous sounds, shimmering sunlight, friendly smiles and boisterous exuberance. And, truth told, I wouldn’t mind a freshly made margarita right about now.


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Island of Tobago, Caribbean

© Ellen Barone. A Day at the Races, Island of Tobago, Caribbean

The Kentucky Derby it most definitely was not. The steel bands were a clue. Another hint, for the unsure, is that there wasn’t a horse in sight. Nevertheless the race day at Buccoo on the island of Tobago is one of the great social events in the Island calendar. What they race here are goats.

The quality of goats is important on an island that depends on the creatures for milk, cheese and meat. Seventy-eight years ago an eccentric Englishman hit on the idea of not just exhibiting them to show their beauty (whatever turns you on, some might say) but actually racing them to prove their stamina.

And so an annual tradition was born. That’s the way in Tobago — any excuse for a party. It’s the most colorful spectacular; silk shirted “jockeys” sprinting barefoot behind their roped animals (some barely hanging on) sprinting down a ragged grass racetrack.



Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona USA

© Ellen Barone. 

Most people know the Grand Canyon as America’s most scenic hole in the ground. But few know that deep in the heart of the gigantic slash there exists a primeval world of heaving and boiling white-water rapids, plummeting waterfalls, emerald pools, graceful ferns, cherry-red monkeyflowers, sandy beaches and billion-year-old rocks.

A six-day rafting vacation with Western River Expeditions  ranks as one of our most memorable adventures. A once-in-a-lifetime must-do for travelers seeking unparalleled whitewater excitement and scenic wonder.

View my video slideshow of the voyage > CLICK HERE



Milwaukee, Wisconsin

©2008 Ellen Barone. Milwaukee Art Museum

I went to Milwaukee expecting to return home with photos of Harley-Davidsons and beer. But, like many first-time visitors, I was pleased to discover a wealth of urban pleasures in this delightful Great Lake city. For instance, the spectacular Milwaukee Art Museum designed by famed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. Perched at the water’s edge, this is a must-stop for visiting shutterbugs - inside and out.  And, after you’ve filled a memory card - or two - there’s Harley’s and beer!



Inside Passage, Alaska


©Ellen Barone. Humpback Whale Tail, Inside Passage, Alaska.

Our second voyage through Alaska’s Inside Passage with American Safari Cruises did not disappoint. Aboard their new flagship vessel, Safari Explorer, the luxury expedition-style yacht cruise served up plenty of opportunities for up-close-and-personal wildlife viewing, gentle kayak explorations in remote bays, gourmet dining and the pleasure of traveling with interesting and inquisitive ship mates.


Click here to view a full gallery of images produced on the voyage!




Provence, France


©Ellen Barone. Poppies paint the Provençal landscape near Lacoste, France. 

I’ve just returned from the sensory high of a Provençal walking vacation with The Wayfarers. If you’re picturing a forced march weighted down by heavy backpacks and hostel-style lodging. Think again. A walk with The Wayfarers falls into a travel category “luxury adventure.” Which is to say, after a day of rambling through the luminous hues of the Provençal landscape and lingering over café lunches in pretty villages tumbling down hillsides, you get to  take a long bath, eat a gourmet dinner, drink fine French wine and sleep in the comfort of luxury hotel. Myself, I can’t imagine any other way to discover the flavors, fragrances, scenery, food and joie de vivre of Provence.

Click here to view my photos of the trip.





Sydney, Australia


©Ellen Barone. Sydney Harbour Bridge as viewed at night from Circular Quay, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Circular Quay is the hub of Sydney Harbour, situated at a small inlet called Sydney Cove, the founding site for Sydney and Australia. It is a stepping-off point for most attractions based around the harbour and an exciting place to be day and night.

On the southern side of Circular Quay is a walkway that leads to the Sydney Opera House and Royal Botanical Gardens; while on the northern side, a short walk along lovely landscaped walkways takes you to the Harbour Bridge and The Rocks, one of the oldest, most attractive and most interesting parts of Sydney. 

The quay is a vibrant, bustling place with ferries leaving every few minutes to different parts of the harbour. Alongside the ferry terminals are a number of small outdoor cafes and the area is a magnet for buskers of every description.

To learn more about Sydney, one of the world’s most popular travel destinations, click here.



Maui, Hawaii, USA


© Ellen Barone. Tropical fruits, Ono Organic Farms,


Hawaii has long been known for its agricultural staples such as sugar and pineapple. But on rural East Maui, the tropical climate and fertile volcanic soil  sustains a number of family organic farms growing all manner of exotic fruits. On an afternoon tour at Ono Organic Farms in Kipahulu outside Hana I was knocked out by the freshness and flavor of the tropical fruits grown there. Never had I tasted fruit so pure in flavor.

When Charles “Chuck” Boerner was born on the island of Oahu in 1945, his paternal grandfather purchased land in Hana, Maui, and began what is now a four generation Boerner tradition - organic family farming in Hawaii. Established more than 30 years ago, ONO Organic Farms, Inc. is a 30-acre, certified organic, exotic, tropical fruit, coffee, and chocolate farm in Hana, Maui, Hawaii on the southern slopes of Haleakala volcano.

Owned and operated by Chuck and Lily Boerner and their children, ONO Organic Farms produces thousands of pounds of papaya, banana, avocado, and other tropical fruit every week. These products and others are distributed by ONO Organic Farms to local health food stores, supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, individual households, and farmers markets throughout the islands of Hawaii.

On Maui, you can purchase products and produce from ONO Organic Farms on Monday and Thursday from 11 AM to 5 PM at their roadside market in Hana Town, and on Saturday morning in their big booth at the Swap Meet in Kahului (next to the post office) from 7 AM to 1 PM.

Meet the Boerner family for a tour and fruit tastings held by appointment every Monday and Thursday afternoon.  Call 808-248-7779 or visit Ono Organic Farms for reservations.  




San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua


© Ellen Barone.

Resort guests cross a suspension bridge high above a lush jungle canopy  at Morgan’s Rock Hacienda & Eco-lodge, near San Juan del Sur, Pacific coast, Nicaragua.

It’s Central America as you may never imagined - miles of pristine beaches, rainforest running down to the sea, spectacular wildlife and a sumptuous planet-friendly home base to enjoy it all in style.



Singapore, Southeast Asia


© Ellen Barone.

Travelers who love to experience the world food-first won’t want to miss the month-long Singapore Food Festival, an annual culinary celebration held each July throughout the island-nation. As part of the festivities, the ladies from Urasenke Singapore Association educate visitors in the art of serving a traditional Japanese tea ceremony at the Senbazuru Restaurant in Hotel New Otani in Singapore.