USA TODAY Photo SlideShow: The Vast Expanse of Nothingness!

 

USA TODAY 10best: Clear your mind in these open spaces made for exploring

Get out there

Mongolia by Lisa Niver
Mongolia by Lisa Niver

Traveling by van in Mongolia

One Camel in Mongolia by Lisa Niver
One Camel in Mongolia by Lisa Niver

For eleven days, I traveled by van in Mongolia. Two hours outside of Ulaanbaatar, the capital city, there were no more roads, street lamps or electricity poles.

One camel in the distance

When they told me I was going to the vast expanse of nothingness in Mongolia, I asked, “How will I know when I get there?”

They said, “You will know.”

Gobi Desert Dunes by Lisa Niver
Gobi Desert Dunes by Lisa Niver

The Gobi Desert

The goal of our van trek was to walk in the sand dunes of the Gobi Desert.

A ger, our home in Mongolia by Lisa Niver
A ger, our home in Mongolia by Lisa Niver

Sleeping in gers

Each night we stayed in different gers (you may also know them as yurts) along the route to the Gobi Desert.

Bayanzag, the Flaming Cliffs in Mongolia by Lisa Niver
Bayanzag, the Flaming Cliffs in Mongolia by Lisa Niver

Bayanzag, the Flaming Cliffs

This area in the Gobi is called the Flaming Cliffs, Bayanzag, Bain-Dzak or in Mongolian, Улаан Эрэг, and it’s where many dinosaur fossils have been found. An America paleontologist, Roy Chapman Andrews, discovered dinosaur eggs here in the 1920s.

Polar Bear at Nanuk Lodge by Lisa Niver
Polar Bear at Nanuk Lodge by Lisa Niver

Walk with polar bears

If you’re interested in wildlife, perhaps travel to the northern reaches of the planet where you’ll be outnumbered by animals. At Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge near Hudson Bay, I walked with polar bears with Churchill Wild. It was one of the best bucket list adventures I’ve ever experienced.

 

Arctic Landscape with Polar Bear by Lisa Niver
Arctic Landscape with Polar Bear by Lisa Niver

Touch the Arctic

I took four planes to arrive at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge. There was nothing else around for miles and miles.

Polar Bear at Hudson Bay by Lisa Niver
Polar Bear at Hudson Bay by Lisa Niver

Polar Bear at Hudson Bay

Ride the Arctic Rhino (a lunar rover-like vehicle), spot a polar bear and walk with wild animals.

Wolf seen near Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge by Lisa Niver
Wolf seen near Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge by Lisa Niver

Wolves walked with us, too

During my time at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, we saw over a dozen wolves.

Polar bear from Churchill Wild Walking Adventure by Lisa Niver
Polar bear from Churchill Wild Walking Adventure by Lisa Niver

Arctic beauty

As we drove in the Arctic Rhino and walked in single file to see the polar bears, the landscape seemed surreal.

Rocky Mountaineer Train on bridge by Rocky Mountaineer
Rocky Mountaineer Train on bridge by Rocky Mountaineer

Over the river and across the bridge

If the Arctic isn’t your scene, perhaps traveling by rail through the Canadian Rockies will be more your speed. You’ll feel like you could stare out the giant train windows all day.
Photo courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer

Hells Gate from Rocky Mountaineer Train by Lisa Niver
Hells Gate from Rocky Mountaineer Train by Lisa Niver

Welcome to Hell’s Gate

We traveled along British Columbia’s Fraser River and were able to see Hell’s Gate in southern Fraser Canyon.

Reflections from Rocky Mountaineer by Lisa Niver
Reflections from Rocky Mountaineer by Lisa Niver

Reflections on the lake

During the day, we saw bears, eagles, osprey and the reflections of the clouds in the calm, blue-green waters.

Sunset from Rocky Mountaineer Train by Lisa Niver
Sunset from Rocky Mountaineer Train by Lisa Niver

Sunset from the train

In addition to spectacular views, we saw the historic Spiral Tunnels and Craigellachie, where in 1885, the “last spike” united the East and West of Canadian railway track.

Snowy Peaks from Rocky Mountaineer Train by Lisa Niver
Snowy Peaks from Rocky Mountaineer Train by Lisa Niver

Snow in the peaks of the Rocky Mountains

See the highest peaks in the Canadian Rockies and the remote vistas of Canada’s West.

Zebras in Tanzania by Lisa Niver
Zebras in Tanzania by Lisa Niver

Watching zebras in Tanzania

For wide-open spaces in warmer climes, a trip to Tanzania and Kenya might be in order. I saw these zebras on the first day of my African safari in Tarangire National Park with Abercrombie and Kent.

Hippo Pool in Tanzania by Lisa Niver
Hippo Pool in Tanzania by Lisa Niver

Hippo pool at sunset

It was a treat to be allowed out of the safari vehicle to walk around high above the hippos. As the light faded, we went back to our mobile tent camp, Sanctuary Kichakani, and heard lions roaring around us during the night.

Lions in the Serengeti by Lisa Niver
Lions in the Serengeti by Lisa Niver

Lions in the Serengeti

Early in the morning, we saw these four lions. Soon after, one of the lionesses killed an antelope.

Giraffes in the Maasai Mara by Lisa Niver
Giraffes in the Maasai Mara by Lisa Niver

A family of giraffes in Maasai Mara

After visiting the children at Enkereri Primary School, we passed by this family of giraffes. The Chief of the village near Sanctuary Olonana, Richard, invited me to teach his warriors in the Maasai Mara how to hula hoop.

A Parade of Elephants by Lisa Niver
A Parade of Elephants by Lisa Niver

A parade of elephants

We spent hours watching elephants in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. Some of them were practicing fighting, some were eating and all were moving along towards the water.

See the full article on USA TODAY

Lisa Niver's article on USA Today 10best
Lisa Niver’s article on USA Today 10best

Watch my videos

From my 1st African Safari:

From Churchill Wild:

From Rocky Mountaineer:

 

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver, M.A. Education, is a television host, travel journalist as well as a passionate artist, educator and writer who has explored 101 countries, 6 continents and sailed on cruise ships for seven years on the high seas and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of We Said Go Travel which was read in 212 countries in 2018 and named #3 on the top 1000 Travel Blog and the top female travel blogger 3 times in 2019. Find her talking travel at KTLA TV and in her We Said Go Travel videos with over one million views on her YouTube channel. She has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on both Twitter and Facebook, has over 150,000 followers across social media and ran fifteen travel competitions publishing over 2500 writers and photographers from 75 countries. She has been a finalist for six Southern California Journalism Awards in the past three years and won an award for her Jewish Journal article. Niver has written for AARP, American Airways, Delta Sky, En Route (Air Canada), Hemispheres (United Airlines), Jewish Journal, Luxury Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Myanmar Times, National Geographic, POPSUGAR, Robb Report, Saturday Evening Post, Scuba Diver Life, Sierra Club, Ski Utah, Smithsonian, Trivago, USA Today 10best, Wharton Magazine and Yahoo. She is writing a book, “Brave Rebel: 50 Scary Challenges Before 50,” about her most recent travels and challenges. Look for her underwater SCUBA diving, in her art studio making ceramics or helping people find their next dream trip. http://lisaniver.com/one-page/

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We Said Go Travel

We Said Go Travel