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Wildlife Photography


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: Okavango Delta, Botswana

It was my fiftieth birthday. A boatman silently propelled the mokoro boat through a labyrinth of hippo-carved channels. The liquid beauty of the vast Okavango Delta shimmered beneath the setting African sun. Gin and tonic sundowners were on ice. I was among friends. “Does it get much better than this?,” I thought as my heart swelled in gratitude.  

When I unravel the thread of planning involved in crafting unforgettable travel memories like this one, I see the handiwork of trusted professionals—a network of travel insiders with firsthand experience and local connections—whose specialized knowledge and expertise informed and inspired them.

Fifteen years of working with travel specialists and tour operators for articles and photo assignments has given me a well-vetted network of people who know the best places for spotting wildlife, experiencing culture, or luxuriating in awe-inspiring settings. And I love to share these insider contacts with travelers. 

In this case, it was thanks to the referral of luxury adventure travel advisor, Susan Kelly, that I came to celebrate half a century of life in Botswana. And, it was the expert planning of Africa safari specialists, Extraordinary Journeys, that led to the mokoro experience at &Beyond Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp on this very special day.

Is Africa on your bucket list? Do you have a life event coming up that you’d like to celebrate somewhere special? Use the comments below to let me know. I’d love to put you in contact with a trusted insider to help you create your dream trip and get the most value for your dollar.

 Click here to view more photography from &Beyond Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp.



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. 



Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

I could read about it forever. Look at other people’s photos. Dream about going. But until I personally came face-to-face with the extraordinary wildlife that inhabit this special part of the world, it was impossible to fully wrap my head around what an amazing vacation a trip to the Galapagos really is. 

Marine iguana, Española Island, the Galapagos. ©Ellen Barone.

What makes the experience so unique is the opportunity to get up close and personal with the unusual creatures that define the famed archipelago where animals have no instinctive fear of humans. For wildlife lovers and photographers, the Galapagos Islands are as good as it gets.

Crouching down inches from this colorful marine iguana on Isla Española, I was able to capture this tight portrait during a recent week long voyage with Ecoventura, a leader in responsible tourism to the Galapagos Islands since 1990. 

 Click here to view more Galapagos photos or here, to read my recent article ‘GALAPAGOS ADVENTURE CRUISE: Reptiles, Preservation and Paparazzi, featuring the voyage. 



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. 



Baja Yacht Cruise: Mexico's Sea of Cortez

I’m just back from hosting a photo-themed adventure yacht cruise in the nature-rich Sea of Cortez - “Mexico’s Galapagos.” Bountiful wildlife combined with a unique landscape of desert and sea make this remote region an ideal location for a photography expedition. Click thru to view the complete gallery of images from the voyage. 



NEXT UP, Hawaii! Who’s in? To learn more, visit


photos ©2011 Ellen and Hank Barone. 


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.




Nilgiri Biosphere, India

 This month’s photography comes from photojournalist D.K. Bhaskar.

Covering an area of 5500 sq. km. in the states of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, India’s Nilgiri Biosphere begins in the Nagarhole National Park of Karnataka and the adjoining Wayanad sanctuary of Kerala. The moist deciduous forests and teak plantations harbor abundant populations of gaur, spotted deer, sambar, and wild pig which support a sizeable number of carnivores such as tiger, leopard, and wild dog. The forests of neighboring Bandipur National Park and Mudumalai Tiger Reserve complete the quartet of sanctuaries famed as a prime habitat for Asian Elephants. 

photo © D.K. Bhaskar of DewWorks

During a monsoon time trip to Bandipur and Wayanad, a friend and I left our jeep and waited by a water hole for nearly four hours without a sighting of even the common spotted deer. It was a disappointing morning. As we prepared to pack up and leave, a small herd of elephants walked right next to the bushes where we were sitting. On hindsight, it was a dangerous situation and we were lucky to escape unharmed. Why they chose to walk next to us is still a mystery.

However, when they entered the water we had a beautiful view of the young calf learning to drink. Young calves learn from their aunts, uncles, cousins and nephews, imitating everything the sub-adults and adults do. I love this picture for its simplicity, animal behavior, the majesty of the elephants, and the environment. Just a few minutes after the elephants left, we heard the alarm calls of a bonnet macaque and were pretty sure a predator was around. Tiger? Leopard? We never saw what was hidden in the nearby forest.


Professional photojournalists D.K. Bhaskar and Eric Lindberg lead cultural and nature photo tours to India. Their next trip will be a unique journey across South India. For more information visit:




Backcountry New Mexico

© Ellen Barone. Pronghorn antelope near Carrizozo, NM

I love little more than a New Mexico road trip.  I’ll take any excuse to hop behind the wheel and cruise the state’s scenic back roads. And you can bet there’ll be a camera on the seat beside me!

I spotted this group of antelope off Hwy 54 just north of Carrizozo on one such trip. The drama of a stormy gray sky and the spotlight ray of sunshine lend the shot, and memory, a tinge of New Mexico magic. It’s just this kind of natural beauty that makes me glad that 12 years ago I came to New Mexico for a week, and decided to stay for a lifetime!

I have my New Mexico; now you can share yours for a chance to win Fodor’s guides and a subscription to New Mexico Magazine. Enter the “Show Us Your New Mexico” contest at  Entry deadline May 15, 2009.

Click here for details. 



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.