Jonathan Irish, director of National Geographic Adventures, just got back from mushing across the snows of Lapland to the Icehotel on our dog-sledding adventure in Sweden. Here’s what he had to say about his legendary—and ephemeral—accommodations.
By Jonathan Irish
The Icehotel is more of an art exhibit than a place to lay your head. Sure, you can sleep in the below-freezing rooms on a slab of ice with reindeer pelts and down sleeping bags to keep you warm. In fact, I slept pretty darn well during my stay in one of the beautifully carved “art suites.” But you don’t come to the Icehotel for a restful night’s sleep.
With 2012 now behind us, we’ve tallied up the Top 12 National Geographic Expeditions of the year based on the number of travelers who joined us, and the list spans the gamut from Alaska to Antarctica, and from wildlife adventures to photography workshops.
Coming in at the top is the Galápagos, that wonderland of rare and fearless species. One of our most popular destinations ever, the islands continued to draw families, photographers, wildlife enthusiasts, as well as travelers in search a destination that is truly unique.
By Andrew Evans
It takes nearly six hours to fly across the Sahara Desert —
—about the same distance it takes to fly across the United States.
Indeed, the biggest desert in the world is as wide as the continental U.S., and from high up in the sky, I was able to take in the sea of sand from one end to the other. Hour after hour, I watched the tan sea of sand below us, interrupted only by the rippled dunes left by long tracks of hot wind. We left Egypt behind us and then passed Libya, then Tunisia and Algeria, landing after dark in the great and ancient city of Marrakech.
Upon arrival, I found Morocco’s most-visited city surprisingly dark and devoid of streetlights. I have been here before, stayed in a tumbledown room in the medina (old city) and wandered the labyrinthine stone streets as if lost in the most frenetic dreamland.
National Geographic Traveler’s Digital Nomad, Andrew Evans, visits the sights of Luxor, Egypt and compares them to his home of Washington, D.C. Andrew is traveling Around the World by Private Jet with National Geographic Expeditions.
By Andrew Evans
I am relieved to discover that King Tut’s tomb is smaller than my apartment back home.
Now, when I return from this transcendent circumnavigation, I am less likely to suffer from any serious bouts of post-travel claustrophobia. After freely roaming around the gargantuan sphere of Earth, I expect my home in the city will seem small, but not as small and confining as the eternal home of poor undignified King Tut, laid to rest in a windowless underground studio apartment with the unromantic address KV62, dishonored daily by the noisy parade of uninvited sunburned guests.
As mummified humans go, King Tutenkhamen is quite small. Archeologists estimate that in life, Tut was 5’11” and standing next to him, my ballpark guess is that over the millennia, he’s shrunken at least a foot. I stare at his black raisin of a body, shriveled up and cloaked in a shroud, as if lying on a table, waiting for a massage.
By Andrew Evans
We speak of the blue planet, and praise the beauty of our living green Earth, but I am swiftly discovering that much of our world is simply brown.
This is not a bad thing.
Brown can be beautiful when it goes on forever, as it does on the plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania. The dry brown land is an endless ocean here, a rippled landscape that disappears into the single blue horizon in every direction.
This sea of dirt is brown, the dying grass is brown, the dead trees are brown, as are the ominous vultures that roost in the branches. Brown is the color of elephant dung; the color of my khaki clothes and the color of so many different antelope that pop up from the grass—the gazelle, impala, topi, dik-dik, waterbucks and wildebeests. I watch the smaller antelopes as they twitch about in the knee-high grass like self-conscious teenagers, always unsure, never relaxing, ready to spring away if needed.