Google Street View Takes Us To New Heights On Everest, Kilimanjaro And More

Google Street View now takes to some of the tallest mountains on the planetWe’re big fans of Google Street View here at Gadling and over the past few months we’ve enjoyed the addition of the Grand Canyon, Great Barrier Reef and the Amazon River, amongst other destinations. Through the use of modern technology, Google has given us the opportunity to explore some very exciting places without ever having to leave the comfort of our own homes. Now, with its latest addition to the Street View Collection, the Internet search giant is taking us to new heights as they take their high-tech cameras to the slopes of some of the tallest mountains on the planet.

The latest Street View gallery is entitled “The World’s Highest Peaks” and it includes views on and around four of the Seven Summits, which consist of the tallest peaks on each of the seven continents. Those locations include Everest Base Camp in Nepal, as well as the summits of Kilimanjaro (19,340 feet) in Tanzania, Elbrus (18,510 feet) in Russia and Aconcagua (22,841 feet) in Argentina. The gallery also spotlights various other sections of each of those mountains, including some of the more well known mountaineering camps or other landmarks, such as the famous Lava Tour on Kilimanjaro.

Not all of the images in the new gallery are captured from such lofty heights, however. For instance, the Himalayan village of Namche Bazaar is given the Street View treatment, allowing us to take a virtual stroll along its narrow walkways. The Google cameras were even allowed inside the colorful Buddhist monastery in Tengboche, a popular attraction for those trekking to Everest.

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to climb these peaks but the thought of the thin air makes you light headed, then this new gallery is just for you. Enjoy the heights of these iconic mountains without ever stepping foot on any of them.

[Photo Credit: Google]

Mount Kilimanjaro Defeats Jordanian Princess

Mount Kilimanjaro
It looks like money and privilege can’t buy everything.

Princess Sarah Princess Sara bint Al Faisal of Jordan, niece of King Abdullah II, failed to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the Tanzania Daily News reports.

The 18-year-old princess tried to scale the famous mountain last weekend with a large entourage of assistants and Jordanian international students. She reached the Kibo point at 4,700 meters (15,420 feet) but developed altitude sickness. Doctors climbing with her advised her to descend instead of attempting to reach the mountain’s highest summit, Uhuru point at 5,895 meters (19,341 feet).

Symptoms of altitude sickness include headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, rapid pulse and more. For full coverage see this PDF document. To prevent altitude sickness, it’s best to ascend in stages, staying overnight at an intermediate altitude to give the body time to adapt. The only cure of altitude sickness is to descend to a lower altitude, which should be done immediately.

It’s difficult to predict who will get altitude sickness. When I climbed to similar elevations in the Himalayas the only symptom I noticed was a need for more breaks. On the other hand, a couple of other trekkers who looked far more fit than I was got very sick and had to descend.

The princess hoped to get a certificate of achievement for scaling the mountain. Only three of her party made it to Uhuru Point and got the certificate. She said that she enjoyed her trip to Tanzania and would try to climb the mountain again.

[Photo courtesy Muhammad Mahdi Karim]

Tourists Amazed By Serengeti Wildebeest Calving

wildebeest, Serengeti
February is a special time on the Serengeti. Right now its population of some 1.5 million wildebeests are giving birth to an estimated 8,000 calves a day, the Tanzania Daily News reports.

The East African nation has seen some 16,500 tourists come to watch the event in Serengeti National Park, including 5,800 domestic visitors who are part of a growing African middle class that’s boosting tourism across the continent.

This mass calving happens every year. All the pregnant wildebeests give birth within the same period of a few weeks, a process called “synchronized calving.” The animals give birth while standing up or even moving around, and wildebeest calves are walking within a couple of minutes. Once all the pregnant wildebeest have calved, the whole herd heads out.

These adaptations help protect the calves from predators. You can bet that hyenas, lions and other sharp-toothed critters are flocking to the area along with the tourists. Wildebeests are also hunted by humans to make a kind of jerky called biltong. This is legal in some parts of Africa although, of course, not in the park. One Tanzanian scientist estimated that half the calves will get eaten or die from other causes during the wildebeest’s 600-mile migration.

[Photo courtesy user zheem via Flickr]

National Geographic Expeditions Celebrates 125th Anniversary With New Travel Options

National Geographic Adventures offers new tours for 125th anniversaryExactly 125 years ago today the National Geographic Society was officially formed. Its founders set out to create an organization “for the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge” and considering everything that Nat Geo has accomplished over the years, I’d say they succeeded. The Society will celebrate this important milestone in a variety of ways throughout this year, including adding a number of special itineraries to their award-winning travel service, National Geographic Expeditions.

Exploration and discovery have long been at the heart of what drives the National Geographic Society forward and the trips that they have scheduled to celebrate their 125th anniversary reflect those values quite clearly. All told, there are ten itineraries to choose from, ranging from a seven-day excursion to Mayan ruins with Nat Geo grantee William Saturno to a 38-day epic journey through South America that includes stops in eight countries. Other options include a visit to East Africa to spot primates and a sailing adventure along Canada’s wild coast. There are even four specially designed photographic adventures that combine amazing destinations with photo workshops. Those destinations include places like the Grand Canyon, Tanzania and Morocco.

Of course, many of these itineraries are available from competing travel companies, often at a lower price. But what sets the Nat Geo Expeditions tours apart are the amazing men and women that you’ll have the opportunity to interact with along the way. For instance, on the photo expeditions you’ll hone your own skills by learning from Pulitzer Prize-winning photographers, while the other trips are led by NG Explorers-in-Residence, writers, biologists and more. These extraordinary people can provide experiences and insights that simply can’t be found elsewhere.

Checkout the entire list of National Geographic Expedition tours on the company’s website and help Nat Geo celebrate its 125th anniversary in style.

[Photo Credit: National Geographic]

Celebrity Climbers Summit Kilimanjaro For A Cause

Celebrity climbers summit KilimanjaroA group of celebrity climbers topped out on the highest peak in Africa earlier this week in an effort to raise awareness of the importance of clean drinking water in developing nations. The group reached the 19,341-foot summit of Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro on Friday after spending seven days scaling its slopes.

The group was led by Grammy-nominated musician Kenna, who was joined by actors Justin Chatwin (Showtime’s “Shameless”) and Beau Garrett (“Tron: Legacy”), as well as Mark Foster of the band Foster the People, amongst others. The team was climbing as part of the Summit on the Summit II expedition, which was organized by Kenna and is a follow-up to a similar trek that took place back in 2010.

The SOTS organization is focused on educating the public about the clean drinking water crisis that many developing countries continue to face. Most of us are accustomed to simply turning on the tap in our homes and getting safe water whenever we need it, but that isn’t the reality for a large number of people around the globe. In fact, according to the Water Project, a non-profit dedicated to delivering clean water to those who need it, more than 800 million people on our planet do not have access to safe drinking water at all. That’s about 11% of the world’s population. This climb of Kilimanjaro was undertaken to educate people of that plight.

A Kilimanjaro trek is a mostly non-technical ascent up the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. If you’re in reasonably good health and take your time, it is possible for many people to reach the summit. Most expeditions up the mountain take roughly 6-7 days to complete, with another day required for the descent. This team went up the scenic Maragnu Route, which is amongst the more popular hikes. A Kili climb is one of the best adventure travel experiences around and there are a number of excellent guide services that can take travelers up the mountain.

[Photo Credit: Summit on the Summit]