Animals: The Bucket List

Four legs, 100 legs, or no legs at all. Beaks, wings, claws, teeth. Search for lions in the Serengeti or crocodiles in an Australian swamp. Ride elephants or camels or donkeys. Look for tigers in India or quetzals in Central America. But who wouldn't want to swim with dolphins or ride an elephant? BucketTripper Tip: Lots of these trips are great for families.

Into the sea!

Horseback Riding into the Sea in Turks and Caicos Islands

Diamond had been rescued from a schizophrenic pothead on Provo, I learned. The standardbred horse sometimes takes issue with people at eye level, but he was a sweetheart once I took the saddle. Similar stories ride on the backs of the two dozen or Read More

Icelandic horses have long manes and thick coats.

Joining the Rettir, Iceland’s Annual Round-up of Sheep and Horses

I'd been driving aimlessly on a back road near the village of Sauðárkrókur in northwest Iceland when a group of parked cars caught my attention. Usually, cars on the side of the road meant tourists and something to see, like a waterfall. These Read More

Our chariot (Roberta Sotonoff)

Exploring Custer State Park, South Dakota

Custer State Park is big - 71,000 acres big. And, it's beautiful which is probably why it became a backdrop for films like "A Man Called Horse" and "Dances With Wolves." Winding roads pass lakes, lodges and lots of animals like bison and pronghorn Read More

View from Finch Bay Hotel, Galápagos Islands (©photocoen)

Sharing Breakfast with Darwin’s Finches on the Galápagos Islands

I was the only guest left in the dining room. Two Darwin's finches hopped on a chair before zeroing in on a bowl with freshly cut papaya, watermelon and pineapple on the breakfast buffet. When Natalia, one of the cooks, spotted the birds, she Read More

Day trip with the Sea Lion to Paltra Sur (©photocoen)

Snorkeling with Sharks in the Galápagos Islands

"Shark!" I was facedown in the water, following a schools of surgeonfish weaving their way among the rocks, yet the word registered loud and clear. I looked up and saw my partner Coen waving frantically, pointing to something underneath his body. Read More

Horseback riding at Hacienda Zuleta (©photocoen)

Horseback Riding to Ancient Pyramids at Hacienda Zuleta in Ecuador

"If you turn around you will see the entire row of pyramids," Alice said. I pulled lightly on the reins and Esthela immediately reacted, at which I quietly breathed a sigh of relief because truth be said, I was not so sure that she would listen to Read More

Booted Racket Tail Hummingbird (©photocoen)

Watching Hummingbirds at the Mashpi Lodge in Ecuador

Purple-Crowned Fairies, Green-Crowned Wood Nymphs and Violet-Tailed Sylphs were fluttering all around me. Had I just landed in an elf forest? It most certainly felt like it. Surrounded by a towering wilderness of forested mountains with grey clouds Read More

Swimming with leatherbacks. Photo by Shannon O'Malley

Swimming with Leatherback Turtles in Barbados

Shannon was crying. I knew she would. I knew she was crying, in fact, even before she lifted her snorkel mask. She still cries, after all, every time she talks about a leatherback sea turtle nest-hatching experience we shared in Antigua a few Read More

Zipolete, Mexico

Skinny-Dipping or Snorkeling in Zipolite, Mexico

I chose it because the beach was of a clothing-optional variety, and coming from a fairly purist Southern family, I’d not seen a lot of that sort of thing: strangers’ boobs set free in nature and whatnot. I couldn’t very well tell my girlfriend at Read More

Lighthouse at Pot du Phare (Photo credit: Roberta Sotonoff ©2012)

Birding the Quebec Maritimes’ Islands near Rivière-du-Loup

The Quebec Maritimes are a haven for people like me who are into nature. This northern part of Quebec along the St. Lawrence River provides both a serene escape from the city and incredible scenery. Jagged rock formations erupt from the water. Birds Read More

El Limon -- we're here!

Riding to the Domincan Republic’s El Limon Waterfall on a Horse

I am not a horsewoman. I did not grow up around horses, and they've always been a mystery to me. When people say a horse is nervous, or bad tempered, or skittish, I don't know how they know this, as I can't figure out a horse's mood when I'm near Read More

La Marmotiere

Sailing to Les Ecrehous in the English Channel in the Early Morning

As the boat slowly sailed past the St Catherine’s breakwater, on the north-east corner of Jersey, a small flock of Brent geese, winter visitors from the Arctic, took off ahead of us. Clearing the breakwater, our skipper, Richard, revved the motor, Read More

Garden Eels and King Angelfish

Finding Water at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Aquarium in Tucson

We wanted to time our walk to see plants and wildlife early in the morning at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. Instead, we got lost and were late. When we arrived in town the hazy cloudless sky had already stoked up the mid-day temperature; the hot Read More

Yellow-eyed penguin in nest (Courtesy Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust)

Searching for the Yellow-eyed Penguin in New Zealand

The word “maybe” is out. We might see some, but there is no guarantee. Do we still want to go? We do. A guide points to our transportation--an 8-wheel-drive Argo--a cross between a tractor and a boat. We'll be taking this vehicle to see the penguins Read More

Americqn Alligators Hunt with Eyes Ears and Nose

Communing With Wildlife at St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park, Florida

When a close friend asked me to join her in a visit to her favorite zoological park in Florida, I jumped at the chance. I was curious to discover why my well-coiffed girlfriend of 50 years was so enamored with the mostly dark scaly skinned Read More

Macaws rescued from illegal trafficking in Bolivia (©Coen Wubbels)

Taking a Break at Biocentro Güembé in Santa Cruz, Bolivia

"Another Inca ruin?" "Again so many hours in a bus?" "Can't we go swimming somewhere?" "More markets? I want to go swimming! Please!" I don't have kids but I can imagine this being a frequent scene between kids and parents on vacation (or Read More

Bottom of 1,600 foot (487 metre) long water slide at Buena Vista Lodge, Costa Rica. The leather "diaper" is worn by women in standard bathingsuits so they won't scratch their bottoms while sliding down the concrete chute. Photo by Yvette Cardozo

Taking Costa Rica’s “Mega Combo Adventure Challenge” in Guanacaste on the NW Coast

I am seriously short on attention span: It's not enough for me to just do a zipline or hot springs or ride a horse. I've gotta do them all, preferably on the same day. Enter Buena Vista Lodge & Adventure, located in Guanacaste in northwestern Read More

Lighthouse

Winter Critter-Cruising on an Aquarium Research Boat on Long Island Sound, Connecticut

"Whose idea was this?" I demand. There is an inch of snow on the ground, the temperature is in the teens, the weather forecast is for more snow, and the living room floor is covered with ski clothes, hats, socks, gloves, long underwear and anything Read More

Entrance-to-the-Oakland-Zoo-

Visiting the Oakland Zoo in the San Francisco Bay Area

The elephants remind me of a story about a female pachyderm that lived at the then-downtown Oakland Zoo. "Effie" was so used to seeing the owner's family stroll on the grounds that one day she did what family members do: Help push the baby's Read More

Orange jellyfish at Vancouver Aquarium

Visiting the Vancouver Aquarium of British Columbia, Canada

The creature has no bones, no heart, no brain and no eyes. Shredded ribbons of white jelly seem to drift away from its flamboyant bell-shaped body. The orange jellyfish is one of the fascinating exhibits of the Vancouver Aquarium. Like most people Read More

A thin piece of numbered metal is put onto a songbird's leg.

Learning About Bird-Banding and Migration in Gulf Shores, Alabama

I am holding a life in my hands. It consists of less than half an ounce of feathers, one fast-beating heart, and not much else. This tiny gal -- the plumage says it's a female -- has just flown over the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, a solid Read More

Birds like to use the dead trunks and branches as lookout points (©Coen Wubbels)

Bamboo Rafting in Kerala’s Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, India

Tiger footprints. We stop in our tracks. Excitement rises. Our guide kneels and studies them, and concludes they are old ones. Disillusion comes with a hidden sense of relief. There is a gun-carrying guard with us, but still. We set off once more Read More