The Spirit of the Moment

I’m thrilled to share that VirtualWayfarer just passed 1,000,000 views on YouTube (I’m so incredibly humbled and flattered – you are all amazing!). To celebrate, I decided to dive into my video archives, sort through the footage I’ve accrued over the past six years, pull out some favorite shots and to create a travel tribute video exploring and embracing snippets from some of the incredible adventures I’ve had over the past few years.  The result is just under 15 minutes of some of my favorite HD footage and spans 19 countries.

To go with the footage I pulled up a chair, sat down, and attempted to explore the lessons I’ve learned from travel.  The result is a heartfelt exploration of life, travel, and the magic of the road.  In it, I attempt to share some of the more significant lessons I’ve learned from travel, offer some advice, and aspire to convey the sense of ever-increasing wonder I have at the richness of the world at large.

It’s a smudge long, but the feedback has been that the combination of the footage and some of the ideas expressed in the monologue make it well worth the watch.  I hope you’ll take the time to give it a watch and then to share some of your own revelations or grand adventures. At the end of the day, travel and the opportunity to embrace the spirit of the moment is a wondrous thing.

Thank you all so, so, much for continuing to read (and watch!) VirtualWayfarer, offer your feedback, share your special moments, questions, and passion with me. I’m profoundly humbled and flattered by the messages you share with me and that you find my stories, photography, and video interesting.

Some have asked about the quality differences given clips were filmed over 6+ years – footage was shot on a mixture of devices. The earliest footage was filmed on an old Flip HD 720p handheld cam. Other footage was taken on a Vixia HF200. More recent footage was taken on a Canon 600D and a Canon 6D.  Video didn’t load properly?  View it here.

The Elephant Crossing – Weekly Travel Photo & Product Review

The choice to cross obviously rested in the tusks of a powerful matriarch.  As she deliberated, surveying the water carefully for threats, her familial herd clustered around her with eyes open and surveying in every direction.  From time to time they would move ever so slightly closer to the water’s edge.  When they did, we readied ourselves, perched as we were in a raised observation platform atop a deck on the opposite side of the river. With equal care our eyes were focused as we surveyed the river as it stretched out before us…likely looking for the same threats the great matriarch worried about.  We spotted several crocodiles and a handful of seemingly docile hippos nearby. Were either threats? It was hard to know.

A Lion Cub At Sunset – Weekly Travel Photo

Lion Cubs Playing at Sunset

With a glimmer of light reflected in its eye this young lion club relaxed with its brothers and sisters in South Luangwa National Park in Zambia.  The cubs’ mothers were out hunting and enjoying some free time away from the kids, leaving them to lounge in the late afternoon sun, chew on each other’s tails, and generally do all of the things you’d expect over-sized kittens to do.

Make sure to head over to flickr to see the rest of the album.

Would you like to see previous Weekly Photos? View past travel pictures here. This photo was taken on a Canon T3i (600D) Camera.

The Lion Cub’s Gaze – Weekly Travel Photo

Lion Cubs Playing at Sunset

This magical moment happened in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park while I was on safari.  We had stumbled onto a group of five lion cubs between the ages of 4-6 months just before sunset. Their mothers were off hunting and the cubs were taking a much-needed break after a day full of exploring and childish antics.  This cub in particular was feeling quite relaxed, though he still kept a close eye on us.  He repeatedly lounged around, rolled onto his back, and then stared at us almost as if inviting us to head over and to give him a tummy scratch.  His gaze was incredible and cut right to my core. Hands down some of my favorite moments from the Safari.

Make sure to head over to flickr to see the rest of the album.

Would you like to see previous Weekly Photos? View past travel pictures here. This photo was taken on a Canon T3i (600D) Camera.

Elephants Feeding – Weekly Travel Photo

Elephant Herd - South Luangwa - Zambia

Wild elephants are incredible creatures.  They are intelligent, curious, and have a certain personality to them that conveys a compassionate spirit.  Their relationships with other members of their herd, and their young in particular, offers insights into the emotional bond they share with each other.  It also doesn’t take long to see just how different their personalities can be.  While they may look like large, gray, animals relatively difficult to tell apart – they are each unique.   From the fearful child to the rambunctious teenage male and powerful-aged matriarch they remind me in many ways of humans.

This photo was captured in South Luangwa National Park in the heart of Zambia.  You’ll note the calf which is feeding.  Elephants share several surprising traits with us.  One is that their front legs are actually arms that bend at the elbow. The other is that they have two mammalian breasts located on their chests vs. the more common teats or udder you find on the vast majority of other mammals.

Would you like to see previous Friday Photos? View past travel pictures here. This photo was taken on a  Canon T3i (600D) Camera.

Bungee Jumping Victoria Falls – Weekly Travel Photo

Victoria Falls - Zambia

I’m not really a fan of heights. Don’t get me wrong, I love massive mountains, towering skyscrapers, and cliffs that leave you shaking. I just don’t like the fact that you can fall off them. Which probably explains why I’ve never bungee jumped or tried skydiving. I know. I know. Some adventure travel blogger I am, right? Still, I do enjoy watching others plunge to their mostly, probably, likely, completely safe near-deaths. Wingsuit basejumpers? Awesome. Canyon swings? Awesome. Bungee jumping? Pretty darn cool.

In today’s photo I give you the large bridge on the back side of Victoria Falls, shot from the Zambian side. This is the same bridge where a bungee jumper’s bungee snapped last year (oops). If you look closely (you can click the image for a larger version) you’ll spot a successful bungee jumper tantalizing the crocs and dangling a bit above the Zambezi’s raging waters.

Where’s the coolest place you’ve bungee jumped? What’s the wild and craziest thing you’ve done?

Would you like to see previous Friday Photos? View past travel pictures here.

This post was made possible in part due to the support of the folks at Mahlatini Luxury Travel who offer Zambian safaris.

My Top 5 Travel Videos From 2012

Alex Berger Year In Review

In 2012 I filmed a ton of HD video footage as part of my mission to do more videos.  A lot of that footage still needs to be edited.  My equipment has also improved a lot over the course of the year as has my understanding of how to create and edit a video.  Ultimately, I ended up uploading 22 videos that highlight everything from student life here in Copenhagen to polar bears waging fairly epic mock battles in Churchill, Canada.  I’ve gone through and picked 5 of my favorites, but you can see all of the videos over on youtube. I’ll also be adding a bunch of new ones over 2013 (already have the footage from Prague and Scotland lined up!) so make sure to subscribe.

1. The Great Polar Bear Migration

2. The Death of a Hippo (May make you cry)

3. A Video Tour of Cappadocia in the Snow

4. Tasting Olive Oil (watch to the end)

5. The South Luangwa Safari (Wildlife Footage)

These are just a few of the year’s videos and there are quite a few that just barely missed the list (underground cave cities and sleepy lion cubs to name a few).  Now that the year is winding down and i’m forced to pause for a breather and reflect on the past year, it’s amazing to recall just how different the start of the year which was spent in Turkey and Italy was from the summer which I spent in the heart of Africa and Northern Scotland and which was a stark contrast to end of the year which I rounded out in rural Canada.

Video was shot predominantly on my Canon Vixia HF200 and my Canon T3i (600D) dSLR. Voice overs used my iphoneor the built in microphone on the HF 200.

Thank you all so much for your support in 2012, your feedback, your kind words, your likes, your shares, and your attention.

Have special requests for 2012 or questions? Let me know!

Leopard In The Dark – Weekly Travel Photo

Wild Leopard - South Luangwa, Zambia

While the racing thud of our heart beats may not have been audible to our insensitive human ears, I wonder if the dull pounding echoed in those of the massive leopard that silently strolled our way. He tolerated us with a veteran expertise that half-ignored us as we jockeyed for position, and half seemed to play with us, the constant click of our dSLRs, the bright glare of our spotlights and the dull rumble of our land cruisers thundering across the otherwise tranquil African landscape.

In the moment, there was little room for fear.  It was driven out by the excitement of having a large male leopard strut its way towards us, only turning to walk around the vehicle slowly but with purpose less than 5 feet off the nose of our land cruiser.  In retrospect though, it is amazing to think how casual and calm an experience it was given the powerful predatory nature of Leopards and their position as one of Africa’s top predators. In the blink of an eye he could have closed the gap, leapt into the exposed bench seats of the cruiser, and caused us significant harm.

Yet, that’s the strange relationship between safari goers and big predators. So long as you stay in the vehicle, respect their space, and keep your head about you…they’re content to leave you be.  To watch you as you watch them.  You know they can smell you, even if their eyesight doesn’t let them make out the distinct shape of your figure.  They know you’re there, but they’re content to focus on their normal prey, and their normal day-to-day activities.  Allowing safari goers to follow and interact with them, at a basic level, as a mixture of voyeur and paparazzi.

It is an incredible experience.  One that I hope this photo from a night Safari with Shenton Safaris (Kaingo.com) in South Luangwa, Zambia helps showcase.

Would you like to see previous Friday Photos? View past travel pictures here. This photo was taken on a Canon T3i (600D) Camera using a Canon 55-250 mm lens.