Me alone in the forest

With only the rustling

Of leaves and the songs

Sung by birds

Tiny seedlings popping

Out of the ground—they love

That there is no one else around

I teeter over a log on a muddy stream

This all must be a dream

I drift out into

A clearing of trees

Sitting there quietly,

a sacred young deer who

Locks eyes while

Putting me in a trance

Looking me up and down

And says, “ok, you are

Welcome here

But steer clear.”

Slithering snakes come out

Of an ancient decaying tree

I wonder aloud where have you

Been all my life

“Here, we are one,” they said,

“The beauty in me is

The beauty in you.”

The woodpecker grinned,

And the frog grunted

So I agreed.

Off I floated

Down the path

Me in the forest

I am not alone.

~Musings by Brooke

 

Obsessed by a fairy tale, we spend our lives searching for a magic door and a lost kingdom of peace. ~Eugene O’Neill

Yes, you heard right. There is an island in Kenya: Crescent Island. Okay, it’s not “technically” an island.  It’s actually a crescent-shaped piece of land that juts out on the very large, freshwater lake in Kenya—Lake Naivasha— where herds of animals run happily.

Arriving in Kenya, we really didn’t know what to expect. We had driven half way across the country through the amazing Rift Valley with a guide who promised to show us where the best wildlife is. And Lake Naivasha was no exception.

It was pouring rain at the time we were to board a rickety boat to go across the lake, where we had heard that hippos swam around in abundance. So I was a little nervous, but excited!

Boats for exploring Lake Naivasha

Boats for exploring Lake Naivasha

Our boat driver said, “Nothing is guaranteed. Sometimes the animals will hide when it’s raining.”

The boat engine rattled on anyway, and we remained hopeful in our rain coats while holding up an old umbrella with holes. I don’t mind getting wet, but I’ve got to keep my camera equipment dry!

Cloudy skies above Lake Naivasha

Cloudy skies above Lake Naivasha

We drove on for about an hour along the coast of the lake shore not seeing much except these amazing trees jutting out of the water that looked like rugged branches piercing the sky. Then we headed towards the island.

All of a sudden, the rain stopped and the island came into view.

Wildebeest and zebras on Crescent Island

Wildebeest and zebras on Crescent Island

We could see zebras and wildebeest running in herds around the island as if playing tag. We could see majestic water buck up to their necks in the water, enjoying the abundance of water plants. An amazing array of birds of all shapes, sizes and colors flocked around the island.

My heart stopped for a second.

These are the best feelings in life, being surrounded by untouched nature in the middle of nowhere, witnessing such magic.

In dry season, they dock the boat and you can walk among the animals! But we were in wet season and the shore was washed out and inaccessible. We felt like we were disturbing them less by just floating by in a boat, so we were okay with that. Also, the animals walk right up to the balconies at the lodge we stayed at— the amazing Sopa Lodge! (more about that at the end!)

Surreal.

I fell in love with water bucks. Who can resist a heart-shaped nose?

And the zebras! I don’t know, but they seemed like striped unicorns to me. Magical.

Bird lovers paradise!

Egyptian Ducks

Fish Eagle

 

Pink-backed Pelican

On the way back, we DID see the hippos, but they were taking a nap.

Back on land, it is a paradise where humans and animals roam free in harmony, like the garden of Eve.

 

The Sopa Lodge is right near the lake, where all the animals graze on the grass day and night. During the day, herds of waterbuck, zebras and giraffes walked right by us. At night, we had to be more careful, as the hippos came out of the water and were eating grass right below our balcony. Magic, magic, magic!

Sopa Lodge – Lake Naivasha

Baby Water Buck

 

To be continued with our adventures in the Maasai Mara in Kenya!

Keep in touch with our everyday travels by following us on Instagram at @compassionatenomads!

To purchase prints, contact capturedbybrooke@gmail.com or visit www.capturedbybrooke.com 

Peace, Love, Travel!

x

Brooke

 Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

As we are all aware, flying on a plane isn’t the most eco-friendly activity. Neither is driving a car, which is hard to avoid unless you live in a city and ride a bicycle everywhere. I truly love you, bicycle riders. I miss being close enough to work to bike it!

I’m hoping someday we can fly all flights on alternative fuel. There are several airlines offering biofuel already, and it’s been increasing in the past few years, reducing the carbon footprint. Biofuel is actually trash that is converted into fuel. I’m excited for a future where we don’t use fossil fuels for transportation.

You can reduce your carbon footprint in several ways right now and still see the world!

  • BRING YOUR OWN REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLE
    We always bring our own stainless-steel water bottles when traveling. It is convenient to fill up at drinking fountains in the airport and— if you are lucky— in cities where there is clean drinking water. If there is no clean drinking water, you can try a water filter for your bottle.If all else fails and you have to buy bottled water, get the biggest jug you can find— or able to carry— instead of buying several smaller bottles. Make sure it goes into recycling, if you can find a bin. Plastic is awful for the environment. Just making a conscious effort to reduce those one-use disposable plastics will help!
    On the airplane, some flight attendants will give a new plastic cup with every beverage. I always tell them I’m trying to reduce disposable plastic usage, so please use my water bottle instead of a plastic cup!

Filling my stainless steel water bottle in a natural spring in Croatia.

      • BRING YOUR OWN CONTAINERS/UTENSILS
        Along with reusing your water bottle, you can bring your own containers and utensils to avoid using the plastic cutlery and styrofoam and other non eco-friendly materials. I usually bring a silver spoon, fork, knife, bowl and plate in my luggage. Wrap it in a reusable shopping bag that you can use to avoid plastic bags while shopping. Never take the knife or fork in your carry-on; it will probably get confiscated by security. I even got a spoon confiscated once! Try a bamboo utensil set.

     

      • WALK, BIKE, OR TAKE TRAINS
        When possible: walk, bike, or take trains to your destination and/or around your destination.  Not only is it more environmentally friendly, but you’ll see more of the landscape and scenery, interact more with the environment, and meet people while traveling overland. We’ve had some of the best times walking around for miles lost in a foreign city or an ancient forest. Hey, it’s the journey, not the destination! 😉

     

      • STAY AT AN ECO-LODGE
        I love eco-lodges! They always seem to have a good vibe to them. Eco Lodges are built and designed to have the least environmental impact on the natural environment around them. Hence, they are usually really green and in a remote location! Sometimes they have gardens growing food, composting, recycled materials, and they use methods to save water and other resources.
    Upachaya Eco Lodge in Roatan, Honduras

    Upachaya Eco Lodge in Roatan, Honduras

      • LEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTS
        Please don’t litter, harm natural environments, or disturb wildlife while traveling. It’s easy to leave a place the same way you entered it or better. Pick up trash along the way, protect wildlife, and keep the Earth beautiful!

 

      • AVOID ZOOS, AQUARIUMS, AND ROADSIDE ANIMAL ATTRACTIONS
        Zoos and aquariums take animals out of their natural habitat and put them into cages for human entertainment. We love animals, so we go on wildlife tours or explore natural habitats to see them in their natural environment  Legit animal sanctuaries exist where you can see the animals and volunteer while they are being rehabilitated to be released back into the wild, or taken care of if they are disabled or unable to be released.
        Seeing animals in the wild is so much more rewarding. It’s not guaranteed so you appreciate it more. It also motivates the locals who share their environment to help protect them instead of see them as a hindrance.

        Seeing animals in the wild is so rewarding. Gorillas in Uganda

 

      • BUY LOCAL
        Supporting local artisans and businesses is not only eco-friendly but it helps the people living in the place you’re visiting. One good thing is the product doesn’t have to travel as far to be sold to you. Another is the products are most likely made from local resources and it contributes to their economy.
      • PACK LIGHT
        I know this is hard for many of us but the poundage you take on a plane really adds to the fuel it needs to get you to the destination. Not only will the environment thank you, but so will your back!
      • TRAVEL WITH A TOUR COMPANY THAT GIVES BACK
        Aim to go on tours with local guides that give back to the community and find ways to be more eco-friendly and respectful of the environment.

      • EAT PLANTS
        Last, but not least, eat plant-based vegan food. Animal agriculture contributes to global warming and environmental destruction more than ALL transportation combined. We’ve managed to travel to 60+ countries and have not had to eat animal products. Of course, some countries are easier than others but there are vegans and plant-based food in nearly every country in the world- in fact it’s usually the cheapest staple (i.e. rice, beans, fruit, grains, etc). Even the Aryan tribe in the harsh, cold Himalayas have been vegan more than 5,000 years. Check out our post How To Travel As A Vegan for some helpful tips.

        Vegan cheeseburger in Melbourne, Australia. Made from plants!

         

        Eat Fruit!

Thanks for checking out my latest post! If you have any more ideas to travel compassionately, please comment below.

Peace. Love. Travel.

xoxo

~Brooke

P.S.  If you’d like to see more travel photos, FOLLOW MY INSTAGRAM at www.instagram.com/capturedbybrookephotography. 🙂

 

 

 

Ohhhh, The Places You’ll Go! ~ Dr. Seuss

hiking and travel

I was born in a small town in Northern Minnesota in an area called “The Iron Range”, heavy on mining and bars and not a whole lot to do for kids. Although we moved around a lot from town to town around the Range, I never really experienced a big city until I was around 10 or 11. When we finally drove down to the big city of Minneapolis and the first time I saw the skyscrapers, I was blown away.

I just had this feeling of awe in the pit of my stomach and a flutter in my heart.
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Myanmar, the Land of Golden Pagodas!

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I felt almost a sense of nostalgia stepping foot in Finland, the same place where my great grandparents set off to America from in the early 1900’s.

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So oftentimes, we go on and on about compassion for others, but in the process, we forget about ourselves. We tell ourselves negative things about how we aren’t good enough, we deprive ourselves of sleep, we deny ourselves radical self-love because, you know, we don’t have time for that. This has been a lifelong struggle for me.

“Never mind. The self is the least of it. Let our scars fall in love.” –Galway Kinnell

So I’ve come to realize, we are worthy of giving ourselves compassion too. The saying goes, you gotta love yourself before you can love anyone else. And to expect reciprocation from others in order to validate ourselves isn’t always viable. In fact, it can make us crazy if we spend our whole lives waiting for someone to be nice to us or return the favors. We just have to let our inner love radiate out and it will touch everyone you meet and someday, maybe, it will boomerang back (it will).
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I’m a huge animal lover. HUGE. And not just that, I think the least we can do in the world is not harm animals when we have no reason to.

sanctuary-2We can live and thrive wonderfully without harming others and by living vegan.

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There’s something about being in the back of a tuk-tuk, wind blowing in your hair, watching a land seeming so ancient and mystical fly by.

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You feel more of a part of it all.
A part of something real.
A part of something that’s been around a REALLY long time.

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This was on our bucket list for a long time…to see gorillas and chimpanzees in their natural habitat. And last year, we made it happen!

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On the way to Bwindi. From this view, we could see the Congo, Rwanda and the Virunga Volcano.

The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda is one of the best places in the world to see mountain gorillas- if you are lucky to find them.

They are wild and are not tracked by tagging, but certain gorilla families are observed in their natural habitat for research and trackers go out in the early morning to find out their general vicinity. Read More