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Alex Honnold makes his way up Yosemite’s El Capitan, without ropes or help from friends. Every week, embark with host Boyd Matson on an exploration of the latest discoveries and interviews with some of the most fascinating people on the planet, on National Geographic Weekend. Please check listings near you to find the best way to listen to National Geographic Weekend on radio, or listen below!
If poachers continue to reduce valuable crown jewels of a country’s wildlife without fear of a very heavy price, including forfeiting their lives, what’s to curtail this ugly business? If a species is a keystone species, that is as the tiger, is an instrumental regulator throughout an ecosystem, its loss would negatively impact the health of many species of flora & fauna very quickly, and especially considering its value relative to its low numbers in the first instance, and its niche cannot be replaced by another species in the second. About This BlogTune in every week, or any day, to enjoy National Geographic Weekend for two hours of international adventure and interviews with some of the most fascinating people on the planet. Follow Us on FacebookNG Weekend on Facebook: See photos, videos, and participate in conversation about each week's show. Radio ArchiveListen Now: Explore the full archive of National Geographic Weekend shows from 2007-2012.
Explorers NewsletterSign Up Now: Stay in the know with a monthly email highlighting the exciting work of our explorers around the world. Exploration Topics: Discover new faces and famous figures working with animals, the ancient world, photography, and more. An Old Havana street serves as a field of dreams for young boys engaged in one of Cuba’s national passions—baseball. A Nat Geo travel photographer and writer gives us the inside scoop on her time spent in Cuba's capital city. Follow the siren song of salsa and you will experience the very soul of this passionate Caribbean isle. On a nine-day trip from vibrant Havana to colonial Trinidad and beyond, meet Cuban historians, teachers, artists, and musicians, and experience this fascinating nation. Playground of the tsars"Russia needs its paradise,” Prince Grigory Potemkin, Catherine the Great’s general, wrote in 1782 urging the annexation of Crimea, and no wonder.The Crimean Peninsula, with its voluptuously curved Black Sea coast of sparkling cliffs, is paradise—with Riviera-grade vistas but without Riviera prices. France’s new capital of cultureOn a once derelict jetty, opposite the stone ramparts of 17th-century Fort St. A vibrant historical mosaic in ItalyAt first glance, there hardly seems to be any comparison between Ravenna and Rome: Ravenna is smaller, sleepier, and without Rome’s domed skyline or ruins.
The fresh face of Ecuador’s old citySurrounded by bunches of bright sunflowers and chamomile, Rosa Lagla gently performs soul-cleansing limpia treatments in a market just a few blocks from Plaza de San Francisco, hub of Quito’s restored Old Town. A spiritual awakening in MyanmarThe once isolated nation at the culturally rich crossroads of India and China is a land that imbues even the most jaded traveler with a sense of wonder.In Myanmar, government reforms since 2010 and the election of democracy activist (and Nobel Peace Prize recipient) Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament have propelled a profoundly gracious land, formerly known as Burma, onto the world stage. Nova Scotia’s treasured islandDuring the 18th and 19th centuries, fishermen and settlers from France and Scotland came to Cape Breton Island, drawn by its rich fisheries, ample timber, and the chance of a better life.
Africa’s new frontierUganda, once the cornerstone of Africa’s Grand Tour, is today bypassed by most visitors. New York’s original art showNot even Rip Van Winkle could sleep through the cultural clarion of today’s Hudson Valley. To delete this file, click the file name with your mouse, then right-click and scroll down the menu to the "delete" option.
To remove the photo permanently from the desktop, locate the photo on the hard drive and drag it to the trash. Landing at Princess Juliana International Airport, a looming 747 thrills visitors on Maho beach, a famous plane-watching spot. Nazroo, a mahout (elephant driver), poses for a portrait while taking his elephant, Rajan, out for a swim at Radha Nagar Beach in Havelock, Andaman Islands. The rising sun illuminates Black Rock Desert and the Fly Geyser, which sends a continuous stream of scalding, mineral-laden water sky-high. A tail of smoke chases the space shuttle Endeavour as it lifts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on March 11, 2008.
The azure waters of Chandra Tal—Lake of the Moon—in Himachal Pradesh, India, reflect the vivid hues of a bright Himalayan day. Sunrise lights up the verdant hills of Palouse, Washington, beneath the watchful gaze of a lone early bird.
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A photo of a woman spotlit by the glow of her phone on a crowded train has been chosen as the grand-prize winner of the 2014 National Geographic Photo Contest.Selected from more than 9,000 entries, the photo, titled A Node Glows In The Dark, was shot at Ocean Park in Hong Kong. Honnold plans to free solo Taipei 101, the world’s 5th tallest building, this spring.
The exact date of China’s first skiers is debatable, but Mark Jenkins tells Boyd that today, tribes in the Altay Mountains practice an ancient type of skiing that they use for traveling, hunting, and occasionally, getting air off jumps. But unlike airplanes, once submarines are as far from sea-level as they can go, they act as a window to a world full of strange animal life.
Since leaving the military, Mander has applied the skills he acquired in war to protect animals to start the International Anti-Poaching Foundation.


We should invest whatever’s available to insure tigers survive, and for this reason give it extra priority not less. Balmy with 300 days of sun a year (“It is never winter here,” said the writer Anton Chekhov, who had a dacha near Yalta), the place served as the playground of tsars and Politburo fat cats. Jean, a new glass-and-steel building shimmers behind a lacy spider’s-web facade of finely cast concrete.
But back in the fifth century, it was Ravenna that served as capital of the Western Roman Empire. The Great Bear Rainforest, the planet’s largest intact coastal temperate rain forest, is an untamed strip of land stretching 250 miles along British Columbia’s coast that harbors extensive tracts of giant hemlock, Sitka spruce, and red cedar.
Rubbing handfuls of stinging nettles, sweet herbs, and rose petals into the skin drives out bad energy, she says, working the plants to a pulp.
Originally settled by the ancient ancestors of the Micmac people, this island off Nova Scotia now lures visitors with its abundant wildlife, natural beauty, and assembly of French, Micmac, and Celtic cultures.One-fifth of Cape Breton is preserved as a national park, laced by 25 hiking paths and looped by the Cabot Trail, a 186-mile driving route frequently ranked among the world’s most spectacular.
The nation and its people have been brutalized by dictators, battered by warlords, and negatively portrayed by viral videos. The legendary snoozer in Washington Irving’s tale might descend from his Catskill Mountains hollow to find some of the country’s best folk musicians at the Clearwater Festival in Croton-on-Hudson. It remains one of the last urban seafronts in southern Europe not hemmed in by a giant marina. Tornado-chasers there covered seven hours and 150 miles (241 kilometers) tracking the supercell thunderstorm that produced this cloud formation. The photographer, Brian Yen of Hong Kong, said: "I feel a certain contradiction when I look at the picture.
Submarine pilot and National Geographic Explorer Erika Bergman shares what life is like 2,100 feet under the sea off of Honduras’ Caribbean coast.
Russians practically wept when, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Crimea was pulled out of the orbit of Russian rule and became part of an independent Ukraine.A trace of Soviet hangover endures in the form of unsmiling babushkas and concrete block architecture. Poised between lapis sea and Marseille’s sun-drenched hills, the National Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (MuCEM) stands at the entrance to the Vieux-Port, the city’s historic heart. In this burgeoning city, Roman rulers built monuments celebrating both Christianity and their own power—monuments famous, then and now, for their sweeping mosaics.Seven of Ravenna’s eight buildings from the fifth and sixth centuries are spectacularly decorated with examples of this ancient art.
The mighty trees rise high above a moist and ferny forest floor patrolled by coastal wolves, minks, Canada’s largest grizzly bears, and rare white Kermode spirit bears.This tranquillity has recently been rocked by a proposal to send tar sands crude oil from Alberta to a terminal at Kitimat in the Great Bear Rainforest.
Bordering Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zambia, Malawi is an increasingly steady presence within a dynamic continent. With botanicals brimming from plastic bags, Lagla brings the Andean healing practice to guests of the newly restored Casa Gangotena on the plaza. Safarigoers line up in next-door Kenya and Tanzania, with only a few coming to Uganda to see the famed mountain gorillas.The land mixes savanna, enormous lakes, rain forests, and the glacier-clad Rwenzori Mountains, one of Africa’s tallest ranges. Instead, wooden caiques still ply the quiet bay while footpaths trace the meandering waterfront of Greece’s second largest city, some 320 miles north—and a world away—from chaotic Athens.Although the euro crisis has caused ripples of discontentment here, it’s the century-old street markets filled with ripe fruits and barrels of fresh feta that symbolize this city.
Supercell thunderstorms are known to spawn tornadoes with winds exceeding 200 mph (322 kph). The grand-prize winner receives $10,000 (?6,368) and a trip to National Geographic headquarters in Washington, DC, to participate in the annual National Geographic Photography Seminar in January 2015. He tells Boyd that he regularly takes the elevator to the observation decks of tall buildings whenever he travels, but this time, he will use the building’s window sills as hand and foot holds and will reach the top floor under his own power. Dungey says that people should try to find out about recycling opportunities before the needles start to fall off. Visitors can tour the once secret nuclear-blast-proof Soviet submarine base in Balaklava, a piece of Cold War history, now a museum. And when it opens in May 2013, MuCEM will be a bold symbol of Marseille’s reemergence as a flourishing pan-Mediterranean hub.Cities may rise and fall, but the great ones—and Marseille is among them—always rise again.
The project would entail two pipelines crossing some of the world’s largest salmon-producing watersheds and a steady procession of supertankers plying the narrow channels. Last year, a political transition introduced the world to Joyce Banda, a progressive new president and the second female chief of state in sub-Saharan Africa. The headwaters of the Nile originate here, then burst through a cleft in the rocks at Murchison Falls. Tucked between relics of Byzantine and Ottoman antiquity are art galleries, bohemian nightclubs, and culinary hot spots, all part of a grassroots vision turned reality by Thessaloniki’s large (about 50 percent of the population) do-it-yourself youth culture.
Afterward, retreat to one of the briny health resorts of the west and east coasts for a therapeutic mud bath, or go for a run down to Livadia Palace in Yalta, scene of the 1945 conference that reconfigured postwar Europe.Summer is high season, crowded with Russian and eastern European tourists (North Americans are still rare). Founded by ancient Greeks, France’s second largest city was already 500 years old and a bubbling stew of many cultures when Caesar laid siege in 49 B.C. A mini-archipelago of rain-forest-clad islands, cays, mangroves, and pearlescent beaches off the coast of West Papua, Indonesia, this marine frontier brims with life. The local First Nations and environmental groups are vehemently opposed, fearing the catastrophic effects of an Exxon Valdez–type spill.
More than a domestic shift, this turning point presents an invitation to explore Africa’s best kept secret.“When you make friends with a Malawian, they watch out for you,” says Moses Mphatso Kaufulu, a blogger from the historic British capital of Zomba.


Though its Spanish colonial center has been enshrined as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1978, the area has more recently undergone a renaissance warranting longer stays.
In autumn the air turns soft and it’s harvest time at vineyards like Massandra, built in the 19th century to supply wines for Nicholas II, the last Russian tsar.
A 20th-century wave of immigrants from Algeria and some other former French colonies led to Marseille’s modern reputation as a city far removed ethnically and psychologically from the rest of France.
Expect close encounters with recent discoveries such as Raja Ampat’s walking shark and pygmy seahorse, along with more familiar creatures—manta rays, leatherback turtles, and bumphead parrotfish. In the past decade, city officials have invested nearly $500 million to make improvements to its historic quarter. At sunset, find a perch and gaze over the panorama of castle-like structures shimmering in the golden light.
In 1745 this garrison withstood a 48-day siege by New Englanders, backed by British naval support, before surrendering. Hippos graze along the shores of Lake Edward in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, while lions lounge in the trees of Ishasha, in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Bless it!”Just a couple hours north of New York City, this is a land of mom-and-pop shops, “u-pick” wildflower fields, and organic farm stands where “chain” is a four-letter word. Despite recent headlines about drug-related crime, Marseille still stands tall as a world-class city.These days Marseille has every right to act the cagou (slang for a show-off) as it and the surrounding Provence region assume the role of 2013 European Capital of Culture.
Not to mention three-quarters of all known coral species.The scenery proves just as spectacular above the surface.
At Quito’s heart, cobblestoned streets and pastel-colored mansions hem the revitalized San Francisco Church.
In 2013, the reconstructed fortification celebrates the 300th anniversary of the founding of the French colony of Ile Royale (present-day Cape Breton). The star in Bwindi is the mountain gorilla, a species down to about 720 animals visible in their tiny habitat.Uganda has tough decisions ahead. Between the Culinary Institute of America grads too enchanted to leave Hyde Park and the influx of NYC chefs realizing the land is greener (and apartments bigger) here, area eateries such as Blue Hill at Stone Barns are stoking locavore passions.Artists of all media find their muses here. Private and public bus and train routes connect most cities, and taxis are readily available. Visitors admire pieces by contemporary mosaicists including Chagall, Mathieu, and Vedova at the MAR (Museo d’Arte Ravenna) or poke into cluttered bottegas (workshops) where modern artists use the same methods as their Byzantine forebears.
Many restorers of the landmark learned to apply gold leaf, inlay wood, and chisel statuary in a nearby workshop with a mission to teach skills to impoverished teenagers with an aptitude for art. Take a drive to the newly expanded Hudson River School Art Trail to see 17 sites in New York that inspired America’s great mid-19th-century landscape paintings. Young, multiethnic crowds gather for cutting-edge happenings at La Friche la Belle de Mai, a tobacco factory turned art and performance center. At the Parco della Pace, locals relax beside mosaic sculptures; even the city’s street signs glitter with glass fragments. Major renovations have polished up many of the city’s 20-plus museums, including the Musee Cantini, whose trove of Picassos and Miros is housed in an elegant 1694 town house. Dusty roads connect towns, and mountains give way to plains of green maize punctuated by baobab trees. Emphasizing storytelling, Casa del Alabado arranges its pre-Columbian art and artifacts thematically to dramatize the mystery of the ancients. But tourism dollars could provide an easier coexistence between banana-loving gorillas and banana farmers in Bwindi.
For all the new energy, Marseille’s old pleasures remain as alluring as ever: a stroll along the narrow lanes of the Panier Quarter, the lusty aromas of a good bouillabaisse, a boat ride into the fjordlike inlets called calanques. Visitors can gawk at new pieces, listen to musicians, and learn to make their own masterpieces. But the nation’s heart is a watery realm where waves lap the sand, leaving streaks of silt. Or visit museums such as the outdoor Storm King Art Center sculpture park to see the work of contemporary visionaries.Some villages marry art and music famously. Cruise the region aboard an upscale conversion of a traditional phinisi schooner or stay at a hideaway such as Misool Eco Resort, with its swanky overwater bungalows. In the wonderfully weird and artsy Woodstock, indie performers and music icons rub elbows and grab crusty loaves at Bread Alone Bakery. Budding musicians bring their bongos to the weekly hippie drum circle on the Village Green.Much like Rip, Hudson Valley wanderers often wake up to find this is where they long to rest their vagabond souls.
The fictionalized chronicle of the rise and fall of brutal dictator Idi Amin was the first feature film completely shot on location in Uganda.
From New York City, drive north on either side of the Hudson River via I-87 (tolls) or U.S.



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