EXTRA Special Destinations – Weekly Photo Challenge

“Worthwhile destinations always take extra effort.”

Gary Henry



This week our Photo Challenge is Extra. Coincidentally, I’ve been invited by Booked.netTop Destinations to Go There –  to participate in their “Top Destinations” Travel Blog by posting 5 of my favorite places (click on Top Destinations to Go There for a look). What could be more important to our travels than looking for places that offer that special something extra?  So I’ve combined the two opportunities for your reading and viewing pleasure – hopefully you’ll enjoy your virtual visit almost as much as I enjoyed my actual travels :-).  And if you’re in the mood for a bit more, visit my guest post about the US National Parks at Dwellable.com here

The photo above is from our safari in Botswana. (Nice of the colorful stork to share his extra – a snake dinner-UGH!) Personally I think it’s a destination that everyone should have the opportunity to visit.  We’d been told that an African safari was a life-changing experience; having been there, I totally agree. It’s a place of superlatives – from the vastness of the landscape to the brilliance of the sunrise/sunset over the savannah, to the magnificent creatures in their natural habitat -Africa is a magical place not to be missed.



“When you have caught the rhythm of Africa, you find out that it is the same in all her music.”

Karen Blixen



“The drums of Africa still beat in my heart.”

Mary McLeod Bethune



“In Africa, we have a saying, to get lost is to learn the way.”

Peter Cawdron

My next choice for an extra special place is Patagonia.  It is a land of enormous vistas, snow-capped mountains, calving glaciers, and rugged terrain. Here we met the challenge of long, difficult hikes that rewarded us with scenery we could not have imagined. We visited Los Glacieres National Park in Argentina as well as Torres del Paine in Chile – both breathtaking. We augmented the natural beauty of the Andes with side trips to Mendoza’s vineyards and the bustling, historic city of Buenos Aires. The trip offers something for everyone, no matter where your interests lie. Of course, you have to get up extra early to catch the sunrise over the mountains, and work extra hard to hike to the top of the mountains for the best views 🙂



 “The mountains are calling and I must go.”  

John Muir



“Be still as the mountain.”

Sun Tzu



“May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”

Edward Abbey

Next on our list, our most recent trip – the wonders of China. Candidly, it was not high on my list but everyone we knew who’d been there told us we HAD to go. How right they were! My husband and I were astounded by how incredible the trip was. We visited the great cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong as well as many of the most remote areas. We hiked the Great Wall (a life-long dream) and slept above the rice fields of Longsheng. We ate marvelous food and met warm, friendly people who were as interested in us as we were in them. It’s a fantastic journey not to be missed, and well worth taking some extra time to see the many different faces of this fascinating country.



Let China sleep, for when she awakes she will shake the world.”




“To speak Chinese is not to know China.”

Dr. Geoff Raby



“You can never let go of China in your mind.”

Amy Tan



“In Chinese, the word for heart and mind is the same.”

Stephen Levine

Fourth, a wonderful trip to Cambodia. We traveled across most of Southeast Asia and loved all of it, but for me Cambodia was a clear favorite. Because of their difficult history, the people are happy simply to be at peace. Progress has been slow to arrive which means roads are mainly dirt, homes are thatch-roofed and farming typically means cows in the kitchen and oxen in the fields. As if that weren’t enough, the magnificent ruins of Angkor Wat are every bit as beautiful as those who have experienced them say they are.



 “Cambodia, the most dangerous country you’ll ever visit, because you’ll fall in love with it…and then it will break your heart”.

Joseph Mussomeli



 “Let the peace of this day be here tomorrow when I wake up.”  

Thomas Pynchon



“The world is quiet here.”

Lemony Snicket



“Peace is always beautiful.”

Walt Whitman

My final choice – the wild, untamed landscapes of Alaska. Glaciers, mountains, whales, puffins, sea lions, bears…you name it, we saw it. Fishing, hiking, boating, photography…you name it, we did it. There are few places left in the world today that offer so much for those who love adventure. The scenery is astounding, the wildlife omnipresent. It’s not easy to get there, but nothing worthwhile ever is, is it?!



“I am glad I will not be young in a future without wilderness.”

Aldo Leopold



“The Wilderness holds answers to more questions than we have yet learned to ask.”

Nancy Wynne Newhall



“We have yet to become fluent in the language -and music- of the wild.”

Boyd Norton

I hope you’ll forgive my extra-long post about some of the amazing places I’ve been fortunate to visit.  As an aside, I’d have included Australia and New Zealand among my favorites (the Great Barrier Reef is a contender for the top of my favorites list) but most all of my photos of that trip were lost to a corrupt external drive – AARGH!!!  Here’s to our bucket lists; may we never lose our sense of wonder at the beauty that surrounds us.

If you’re a fan of travel blogging, have a look at some of these:

The Urge to Wander

Canadian Travel Bug

China Sojourns Photography

Ron Mayhew’s Blog

The Palladian Traveler

My Enz

If you’d like to see some other entries to this week’s challenge, click here.


129 thoughts on “EXTRA Special Destinations – Weekly Photo Challenge

  1. Absolutely lovely! Thanks for taking us on this fantastic trip around the world. Haven’t been to any except China… But they are all on my bucket list! 🙂

    • My pleasure Rusha! The rice fields were incredible. Other than the Great Wall, my favorite place on the trip. So remote, really life as it once was across China. If you’re interested in more about them, just do a search on my blog for Longsheng. I did a post on them while I was over there. Thanks for stopping by.

      • Thanks for letting me know where to find more. We toured China with Viking River Cruises, but there’s a down side to those tours: not enough time to see what I want to see. You’re helping take a look at what I’ve missed!

  2. The best, the most inspiring beautiful post I’ve read and enjoyed so far. Thanks for presenting these magic places, Tina. And heartfelt congratulations on your contribution to booked.net! 🙂
    I’m especially drawn to anything icy, the arctic is top favourite on my bucket list. Your images of the world are outstanding and confirm my wish. :-)Thanks for the John Muir quote, it made me 🙂 as I’m planning our hiking trip on the John Muir Trail in Scotland; National Geographic presented it last on their list of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world.
    Happy traveling, Tina – love your photo stories! ❤

    • A lovely compliment Dina, thanks so much! Hadn’t heard of the Muir Trail but Scotland is coming up on our list (we are golfers after all) so perhaps I’ll follow you there! Be sure to post about it (as I know you will)!

    • Based on your India photos Lynne I think you would adore chine. It’s fantastic but changing every day…go before it’s totally modernized! Thanks so much for your lovely comment.

  3. I am so thrilled to see each of photos and their captions. Educative too. The quote by Sun Tzu ~ “Be still as the mountain” has is now etched in my mind.

    Many thanks Tina and regards. 🙂

    • Thanks PJ! Yes that one was a very lucky capture. I was shooting the very colorful stork and had timed the shot for when he picked up his head. How was I to know he’d have a snake in his mouth LOL?!

  4. I think Patagonia just steals it for me, but I was changing my mind all the way through the post, Tina! Those Chinese rice fields and your incredible lion shot… your photography is stunning! 🙂 I continue to dream.

  5. “Around the World with Tina.” Seriously, a beautiful post and great destinations. So much to experience and so little time. Now I need to redo my bucket list.

  6. A beautiful post that recreates some of the magic of these special destinations for me Tina. Many thanks for the shout out! Much appreciated 🙂

  7. You have been to some exceptionally lovely places Tina. For me my heart lies in Africa. But I am very happy to travel vicariously with you wherever the road takes you…
    Jude xx

  8. Tina – these are great images to represent each of your trips. I imagine that for you just looking at the pictures takes you right back to those amazing places and experiences you had there. I am totally in love with those rice terraces (of course, that’s what I went to Bali for!) of Longsheng. I could probably spend a few weeks just in that place…

  9. I love these jaunts with you. As much as I love animals, the Mystical photo held me. So nice of you to share. I’m (re)inspired!

    • AB, how great to see your name pop up! Was just asking Jane about you yesterday. So sad that both of your arms are broken—can’t think of any other reason that I haven’t seen a photo or two of baby Aahna!!!

      Sent from my iPad


  10. Absolutely wonderful post Tina!!! I have no words….Your photographies are so so great…Thanks a lot for sharing them…I bet it has been quite difficult to choose them!!! 🙂 🙂

    • Thanks Cindi! Was pleased so many got thru it, it was so much longer than my norm! BTW, loved the blue cow. Did u get my comment? Your .org site is acting a bit oddly 😦

  11. Pingback: CBBH Photo Challenge: High Tea and ‘Food Glorious Food’. | anotherdayinparadise

  12. Pingback: EXTRA Special Destinations – Weekly Photo Challenge | Travels … | fast horses

  13. The Botswana photos knocked my socks off- beautiful , but emotional too, since you captured each animal ‘s essence, mood. i’d love to know how long those lenses were – great close ups but the animals are unaware and you must have been a safe distance away… Also love the rice terraces , glacier bay and Cambodian kitchen. Great post. Bravo!!’

    • Thanks Amy! Trust me, I had plenty of lens for these! Interestingly tho, in Africa the animals are not interested in the humans. They see us neither as threat nor as food as long as we don’t do anything foolish. You really do see them as their true selves which is a wonder! Thanks for the lovely comment!

      Sent from my iPad


  14. “Worthwhile destinations always take extra effort.” and I couldn’t agree more. This is a beautiful post, and you did well with your selections. Cambodia/China/African safari, so life changing and in such a large variation of ways. My favorite, however is the photo that matches John Muir’s quote….and I really do need to visit this area, how beautiful. And of your choices, I think the greatest surprise for me was Alaska as it is so close to my hometown (relatively speaking) yet I have ignored it because of its nearness. From your photos, that is now #1 on my list. Beautiful photos and beautiful writing Tina! Really an exquisite post.

    • Thanks Randall, for the beautiful review. Yes, I was thinking about the amazing variety as I put the post together :-). Interestingly, the photo w the Muir quote was the most difficult to get. It was the middle section of a 9-hour hike and included 90 minutes straight uphill into a major windstorm. My friend was quite literally blown over near the top! It was an exhilarating moment that I truly treasure to have reached the top, and we had to leave immediately as the storm became quite dangerous. So happy you chose it! And definitely go see Alaska, it’s wilderness areas are breathtaking. The cities not so much 😉

      Sent from my iPad


      • Tina, I am so glad to have picked the shot most difficult to obtain…just shows your quote about extra effort is accurate. It is a breath-taking shot. Nothing better than getting rewarded for your efforts. Cheers!

  15. You have just been to the BEST places, all over the world, and you’ve brought back terrific images. I know you won’t lose your sense of wonder – and though I won’t go as far as you, neither will I! 🙂

  16. Tina, my heart aches to travel when I see your marvelous photos. The leopard captures my heart…at least until I see the mountains. Then I’m lost. Thanks so much for the time you spend brightening the blogosphere.


    • 🙂 A truly lovely comment Janet, thanks so much. I feel as you do – a difficult choice between those beautiful creatures and the magnificent mountains! Lucky me, I get to see both 🙂

  17. I’ve been transported to these beautiful places through your eyes and the cameras lens. I love the elephants eye. So telling of their nature. When are you going to read “Modoc…the greatest elephant that ever lved” ????

  18. What a wonderful breathtaking journey you have taken us on Tina. Thank you; I feel like I’ve seen the world in just a few memorable moments. How unfortunate to have had a corrupted external drive; fortunately nothing can corrupt your beautiful internal drive that continues to inspire us every day 🙂

    • Thanks so much Andrew. Love your analogy on my internal/external drives!! Fortunately I have a wonderful scrapbook of photos from the trip, just don’t have them digitally any more. Some day I’ll scan them I guess. Gotta say tho, the Great Barrier Reef ? Unbelievable!!!

      • Unbelievable is so right. I have some great photos of the Reef which I should post some day. Like you I have I have thousands of photos, plus negatives and slides. A full time job to scan and save. My lifetime project 🙂

    • Thanks so much Sylvia – The stork is quite the colorful fellow isn’t he? The birds in Africa were spectacular. One of these days I’ll do a post just for them.

  19. The first capture is simply marvelous. The entire set is mostly a tribute to nature,and you’ve honored her. I’d really like to gaze upon those rice terraces. They hold my attention. Well done.

  20. Thank you so much Tina for following my invitation and contribute such a wonderful and exciting series of destinations. This beautiful post made me want to visit some places you have shown with such gorgeous photos. Chose Alaska as our common destination to visit again made your post very special for me. Thank you for participating and sharing your wonderful trips with us Tina.

    • Hi Erwin – thanks so much for pointing me there! Just sorry my Australia/New Zealand trip couldn’t make it – it’s was truly incredible. The Great Barrier Reef was simply astounding!

      • Hi Tina, Did you do some diving in the Great Barrier Reef? We have in Western Australia a smaller, but more healthy and intact reef. Maybe you heard from the Ningaloo reef. It’s near Coral Bay and Exmouth and only few hundred meters from shore. Yes Australia has amazing and stunning seascape, and New Zealand is beautiful but the landscape is too close to my country Switzerland. Especially the south island. I’m glad you liked the contribution. Maybe we should continue this kind of post or change it a little to 5 places in a country. Cheers Erwin

      • Hi Erwin, yes we did dive the reef. We took a boat for the day to get out deeper and it was incredible. But the more impressive thing was the small plane ride we did over the reef. Only then do you realize how amazingly huge it is! Haven’t heard of Ningaloo but hope to come back to Australia some day!

      • If you come back include Western Australia. Nothing cultural or big cities but beautiful land and seascape. Nature pure. I think the plane ride is the impressive thing to see the size of the reef. For diving the Ningaloo Reef is a little divers secret and if you have the chance to dive with wale sharks it will be an unforgettable experience. You have to chose the right time.

  21. Tina, bravo! Well done..Bigstew

    Allan & Pamela Stewart 130 Flyway Dr, Kiawah Island, 29455 843-768-3666 (home) 843-834-6012 (Allan cell) 843-834-6013 (Pam cell)


    • Thanks so much Amanda – i’ve had some wonderful journeys and have terrific memories from each of them. As Jimmy Stewart said “It’s A Wonderful Life” 🙂

  22. You have had extraordinary travels, Tina! For me, of course, the animals were my favorite photographs. The photo of the elephant is almost heartbreaking; it is absolutely beautiful.

    • Thanks Lois, I have indeed. I love that you found the elephant “heartbreaking” It’s one of my all-time favorites and I hadn’t thought of it that way so it gave me a new perspective. One of my favorite things about blogging 🙂

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