Photo of the day (12.2.10)

Seeing animals in the wild can be one of the highlights of any trip, especially when everyone comes out of it with all body parts intact. Flickr user kumukulanui captured this “Emu intensity” in Perth, Western Australia. I love the emu’s soulful eyes and curious/bordering-on-scary expression. I don’t know how the meeting will end, but I’m glad to have caught a moment. Emus are native to Australia and quite bold about approaching human, particularly when they have food, and have also inspired the Perth-brewed Emu Beer.

Have any interesting animal encounters on your travels? Add your pix to the Gadling Flickr pool and we may use one for a future Photo of the Day.

Wildebeest migration one of the natural wonders of the world

Every year during this season, millions of wildebeest migrate northwards from Serengeti in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya. It’s part of their annual cycle of looking for green pastures and plentiful waters. Zebras, antelopes, and other animals come along too, with predators like lions and cheetahs hanging on the edges of the herds hoping to catch the slow or the weak.

The Maasai Mara Game Reserve and Serengeti National Park are the two most popular places to see the migration, and the Kenyan newspaper Daily Nation reports hotels are already full, with even the Kenyan tourism minister saying he couldn’t find a room.

The annual migration is like a dream safari intensified, with the plains blackened by the herds. This National Geographic video shows just how big this mass movement of animals is. So if you want to see what ABC News has dubbed one of the new wonders of the world, you better book early for next year so you don’t get caught out. Sadly, there’s another reason to act soon. Observer Science Editor Robin McKie includes the migration in his list of ten natural wonders we can no longer take for granted due to global warming. McKie points out that if current trends continue, the plains will dry up and there won’t be enough pasture for the herds.

Image courtesy user Haplochromis via Wikimedia Commons.

Wild animal travel: Where the hunter becomes the hunted

There’s nothing quite like seeing a wild animal in its natural habitat. It’s why people go on safari in South Africa to see lions and elephants, trek through the jungles of Borneo in search of monkeys, and submerge themselves in steel cages off the coast of Baja California to swim with Great White sharks. But it’s important to remember that despite the precautions taken by tour guides and rangers, these are still wild animals and getting close to them in nature carries some risks. In other words: there’s a reason that safari guide carries a gun.

Forbes Traveler has put together a list of “10 Places Where Animals Eat You”, a collection of destinations where the danger of visiting wild animals in nature is greater. Among the spots that made the list are Khao Sok National Park in Thailand, where cobras kill several hundred people per year; South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, where aggressive hippos have been known to flip boats and even eat people; and Ranthambhore Bagh, India, where around 100 people are attacked by tigers each year.

The article goes on to detail other encounters with wild animals, like when the girlfriend of a Tanzanian guide had her sleeping bag dragged 30 yards by a lion, while she was sound asleep in it. It seems animal attacks can happen almost anywhere though, and the danger certainly won’t stop most people from visiting these areas to see wild animals up close. You may just want to think twice about wandering too far away from your guide.

Photo of the Day (8-5-09)

Wow! That was my first impression when coming across jonrawinson’s shot of Venice Italy’s sky. His photo is a terrific reminder that when taking travel photos, that the place one is visiting can be a backdrop for creating a visual message. The way I know this is Venice is because he says that it is. The buildings, however, do give a hint of location and provide allure. The sky, though, is the star. The static quality of the buildings make the sky a dizzying display of movement. Seriously, superb. Plus, when I head to Venice tomorrow, this photo is a reminder to look up.

If you have a shot to consider for a Photo of the Day, please send it our way at Gadling’s Flicker photo pool. We’re delighted when you do.

Debauchery tourism: travel for partying, sex and drugs

“There is no future! Why save money? Why worry about traditional morality!?”, the anything goes attitude when on vacation seems to be the latest travel-trend amongst western 25-34 year-olds, according to the 2007 World Travel Market’s annual Global Trends report.

A wild spin off the nudist, lifestyle and hedonist resorts concept, the travel industry has tagged this as “debaucherism”, and as long as it’s legal, the hotels will take care of all your demands. Well, almost all: a complimentary copy of Playboy and a box of cigars in your room, and room-service for sex toys, erotic DVDs, and velvet restraints (!). Some of these hotel rooms that encourage debauchery to attract clients even have in-room stripper poles (hmmm.) Gambling and strip-club tours that include chauffeur driven limousine transport and entry to the clubs and all-day US$5000 in hotel pool-parties are among the popular requests.

The crowd hungry for these types of self-indulgent escapes are mainly recent out of university workaholics who just want to liberate themselves and experiment, or those who get a rise by imitating binge-drinking-and-partying celebrities.

Hot debauchery spots include Las Vegas, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Dubai (!!!!), Hanoi and Macau.

Photo gallery: Sex and tourism — how do they mix?