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Skateboarding – and still in nappies

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Two-year-old Kahlei from Victoria, Australia, displays his skateboarding skills on the streets near his home. Kahlei, who has been skateboarding since he was six months old.

Take a look inside the world’s largest cave

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Son Doong Cave in Vietnam – which is so big it contains a jungle and a river – is now open for public tours. But don’t expect it to become crowded: just 224 tourists will be permitted to visit this year

It’s so big you could fit a 40-storey skyscraper inside, but Son Doong cave remained undiscovered until a local man found it in 1991. Even then, no one explored beyond its vast entrance until British cavers visited in 2009. All photographs: Ran Deboodt

Ropes and harness are needed to get inside Son Doong, and any visitors will need to rappel 80 metres to reach the cave floor.

Pilot tours took place in August, but so far only 10 people have visited. Oxalis Adventures have been working closely with the government to ensure a sustainable future for the cave: this year they are able to take 224 tourists to Son Doong.

The first night of the six-day tour will see visitors camp near the Hand of Dog, a giant stalagmite said to resemble a dog paw.

Inside the cave is a huge river – but the source of it remains unknown. In March, a team from the British Cave Research Association, who first explored Son Doong, will return to try and shed more light on the cave’s many mysteries.

New species of plant have been discovered by scientists within the cave’s lush interior.

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Awesome Photo

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Blue Jays

Blue Jays

Awesome Photo

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sunset

Awesome Pic

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The high road: Argentina to Chile by bus

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Buses are usually just a means of getting from A to B, but the journey across the Andes from Argentina to Chile is a true adventure, showcasing magnificent scenery, rare wildlife and, at times, extreme weather

A llama herd at around 4,000 metres. Photograph: Kevin Rushby

On the upper deck of the trans-Andes bus, the gap-year backpackers from every advanced economy of the globe did not appreciate the danger we were in. Not yet. When I looked back from my seat at the front, I saw that many of them were busy with iPads and iPhones, a few were asleep and the rest were chatting.

No one was watching the digital display that recorded the outside temperature. It had been falling ever since we left behind the last human habitation, in Argentina. Now it was below zero and still dropping. Rolling sheets of ice particles were scouring the road, while the midday sky remained an imperturbable blue.

We had spent several hours winding westwards towards Chile, up into inhospitable realms, passing vast salt lakes presided over by snow-capped peaks and seeing signs of life disappear. Now there were no more vicuña and guanaco, the wild llamas of the Andes, no suri, the giant flightless bird. At 4,800m, even the golden tussock grass had given up and there was nothing, only the jagged peaks rising from a barren plain. The bus lowed, then gave a shudder as an icy blast hit it broadsides.

Crossings are often the best part of any journey, whether it’s over a border or pass, or through straits. Humans have long known that such moments require the greatest concentration, for in those crossings comes the greatest danger – and the greatest pleasure. My favourites have always been mountain passes: the modest Lake District, or the dizzying Rockies or Himalayas.

I was looking forward to my first journey over the Andes, and to this pass, from Purmamarca in Argentina to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. I was expecting something special from the 10-hour bus ride. But I had not considered that a journey over a barrier like the Andes can take a traveller over subtler barriers too – like the one that separates you from the local culture.

The woman across the aisle let out a howl of frustration: “No signal!” Along the deck, headphones were flung aside, screens tapped, phones raised. The bus kept grinding upwards and the temperature gauge settled for -10C. The sheets of ice had become storms of blinding white. Then, with a lurch, we stopped. Ahead of us a lorry was jammed into a bank of driven ice. There was no way past, and our coach could not reverse or turn around. I saw the driver, or one of his assistants, struggling through the blizzard.

Lorries struggle through icy winds. Photograph: Kevin Rushby

“There’s this girl I know on Facebook,” said someone behind me, “she was stuck for two days and then they went back to Purmamarca.”

This news caused alarm: “They shouldn’t allow the buses to go if it’s dangerous!” “I’ve got a flight to catch.”

I pulled on my boots and jacket, grabbed my camera and set off to the lower deck. On the stairs the transition from tourism to adventure travel was drawing differing responses. A few passengers were embracing the excitement, but most were grim-faced. “The toilet’s blocked.” “I’m cold.” We’d been stopped less than 10 minutes.

Fortunately for me the adventure had started a day earlier and I was already in the mood. Sometimes a trip does that: jumbling any plans and demanding that you leap from tourist to traveller. My plan had read: “Transfer by car from Salta to Purmamarca via the famous tourist attraction of Humahuaca Gorge, then take the bus across the Andes to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile.” That was not exactly what had happened.

I’d driven out of Salta early the previous morning with Edgar, my guide there. We were talking about the astonishing Museum of High Altitude Archaeology in the town square.

“It’s still controversial with some people,” Edgar had said. “They don’t like their ancestors to be disturbed.”

Five centuries ago the Incas, revering the eternal sun and the restless volcanoes, had sacrificed children by leaving them to die on the top of particular mountains.

“It’s not a human sacrifice,” said Edgar. “Don’t call it that.”

Their diminutive corpses were discovered in 1999 – preserved by severe cold and depleted oxygen – and removed to Salta. In the museum the story of how they came to be on a remote, 6,700m mountaintop builds to a remarkable moment of ghastly drama, when you come face to face with one of the children. It is a moving experience, giving a glimpse into ancient times, when people believed that mountains were living beings who made war on each other. In those times the few humans who passed that way came as supplicants, filled with a sense of awe and magic.

“Some people still revere the mountains,” said Edgar. “They wanted those children to be left alone.”

Read more with a link to a great photo album

Read more with a link to a great photo album

Comment:

I have done a similar trip from Calama (Chile) through San Pedro de Atacama up over two passes 4,000+ Susques and down to San Salvador de Jujuy in Argentina.

When it comes to adventure, sometimes perilous adventure, this is hard to beat.

 

 

Nature is Full of Surprises

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The world’s biggest (not deepest) canyon has been discovered. Now, how did we miss that?

It was covered in ice…

Huge canyon discovered under Greenland ice

Scientists are surprised the feature has not been worn away by successive glaciations

One of the biggest canyons in the world has been found beneath the ice sheet that smothers most of Greenland.

The canyon – which is 800km long and up to 800m deep – was carved out by a great river more than four million years ago, before the ice arrived.

It was discovered by accident as scientists researching climate change mapped Greenland’s bedrock by radar.

The British Antarctic Survey said it was remarkable to find so huge a geographical feature previously unseen.

The hidden valley is longer than the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It snakes its way from the centre of Greenland up to the northern coastline and before the ice sheet was formed it would have contained a river gushing into the Arctic Ocean. Now it is packed with ice.

The ice sheet, up to 3km (2 miles) thick, is now so heavy that it makes the island sag in the middle (central Greenland was previously about 500m above sea level, now it is 200m below sea level).

The canyon still runs “downhill”, though, and meltwater from the ice sheet seeps out below sea level at the northern end – at a relative trickle, rather than a torrent. Glaciologists think the canyon plays an important role in transporting sub-glacial meltwater produced at the bed towards the ocean.

Read more, see more

Read more, see more

Awesome Bike

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Methanol-rapom-v8

Methanol-rapom-v8

Largest BBQ

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“The World’s Largest Grill and Smoker,” can cook an amazing amount of food.  The wood-fired 48″ by 120″ grill cooks approximately 200 steaks simultaneous or 1000 hot dogs.  Its smokers can smoke 2000 pounds of meat at the same time!

Source: Fiery Foods

Awesome from Gambia

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Just one of the awesome faces from: Gambia Portraits

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