Updated: Thu, 03 Feb 2011 14:12:10 GMT | By Nick Bruno, contributor, MSN Travel
24 seasonal wonders

Mating dance of blue-footed boobies, Galápagos



Mating dance of blue-footed boobies, Galápagos (© Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)
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  • Mating dance of blue-footed boobies, Galápagos (© Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)
  • Perito Moreno glacier, Argentina (© Dario Lopez-Mills_PA)
  • Pantanal birdlife, South America (© Jane Sweeney_Lonely Planet)
  • Red crab spawning, Christmas Island (© James D Morgan_Rex Features)
  • Piton de la Fournaise, Indian Ocean (© Fabrice Wislez_PA)
  • Pacific salmon run, North America and Canada (© Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)
  • Humpback whale feeding frenzy, Alaska (© Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)
  • Singing Sands of the Gobi, Mongolia (© Martin Moos_Lonely Planet)
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April - May
The jaunty name 'booby' derives from bobo: Spanish for fool. And this bird certainly throws some baffling shapes, clumsily waddling on blue webbed feet. The sight is well worth a trip to the Galápagos - the bizarre dance begins with the male's shrill whistle followed by a slow, high-stepping strut and wing stretches. So far, so ordinary, until the female starts to mimic the male's prancing, with the couple both pointing their bills in the air. Approval is issued with a large honk from the female.

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24 seasonal wondersWith spring around the corner, we list the best time to witness the world’s most spectacular beauties. Get your calendar at the ready…Nick Brunocontributor, MSN Travel2011-01-17T13:01:222011-02-03T14:12:10Anyone who has been stranded by Icelandic volcanoes or impromptu snow blizzards will find it hard to accept Mother Nature's timing is anything other than bad - at a push, comedic. But catch her at the right time, the right place and in the right conditions, and she will - metaphorically - blow you away.Some of these awe-inspiring natural events only happen once a year, on a stage that shifts from oceans to deserts, volcanoes to glaciers, beaches to backyards. Some are almost certain to unfold, others aren't. But then again, that's what makes the experience so thrilling. Get ready for the best show on the planet - as we present its most jaw-dropping sights, season by season.Nick Bruno is a freelance writer.true52 sweet weekend ideasFind cheap flight deals with BingSimon Reeve on BrazilVideo: Mount Etna eruptsStunning photo extracts from Human PlanetSalar de Uyuni, BoliviaNovember - MarchSalt of the earth does not come more flatly packed and panoramic than the Salar de Uyuni - a remnant of the prehistoric Lake Minchin. In the Bolivian Altiplano at nearly 3,657 metres up, it is located on the crest of the Andes stretching over 10,582 square kilometres. The top crust acts as a lid over briny water that is 20 metres deep in parts and, between November and March, seasonal rains dissolve crystals on the surface, creating a dazzling mirror that reflects the sky.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia(©Alfredo Maiquez_Lonely Planet)Reindeer migration, NorwaySpring and Arctic autumnFor the Sámi of Finnmark in northern Norway, their nomadic lifestyle is tied to reindeer migration paths. Spring is the best time to visit, as they herd the animals to the Arctic coast, passing stunning landscapes of water and ice. The sight is quite spectacular, and experiences include riding along with the Sámi, eating their food and sleeping in a lavvu - a tent made out of reindeer hide.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Reindeer migration, Norway(©Kris Davidson_Lonely Planet)Reindeer migration, Norway(©Kris Davidson_Lonely Planet)Reindeer migration, Norway(©Kris Davidson_Lonely Planet)Reindeer migration, Norway(©Kris Davidson_Lonely Planet)Reindeer migration, Norway(©Kris Davidson_Lonely Planet)Reindeer migration, Norway(©Kris Davidson_Lonely Planet)Reindeer migration, Norway(©Kris Davidson_Lonely Planet)Reindeer migration, Norway(©Kris Davidson_Lonely Planet)Reindeer migration, Norway(©Kris Davidson_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone national park, USMay - JuneThe world's third largest hot spring is the star attraction among the Midway Geyser Basin's geothermal spots. Shrouded in steam rising from the bubbling waters (64-87°C), the spring is deep blue at the sterile centre with a rainbow of colours radiating towards the lake's mineral-rich margins. Ringed by vivid green algae, the outermost edge is pigmented with bacteria in yellow, orange and red hues.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone national park, US(©Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone national park, US(©Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone national park, US(©Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone national park, US(©Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone national park, US(©Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone national park, US(©Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone national park, US(©Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone national park, US(©Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone national park, US(©Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Cherry blossom season, JapanJanuary - AprilOne of the most elegant natural wonders, Japan's cherry blossom season even has its own forecast on TV weather reports. Each fleeting display lasts not much longer than a week, so planning Hanami (flower viewing) picnic parties under the arbours becomes a national obsession. January sees the first bursts of pink and white in the southern subtropical islands of Okinawa. By the end of March and April, the parks of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka are sprinkled with fragrant petals.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Cherry blossom season, Japan(©Frank Carter_Lonely Planet)Cherry blossom season, Japan(©Frank Carter_Lonely Planet)Cherry blossom season, Japan(©Frank Carter_Lonely Planet)Cherry blossom season, Japan(©Frank Carter_Lonely Planet)Cherry blossom season, Japan(©Frank Carter_Lonely Planet)Cherry blossom season, Japan(©Frank Carter_Lonely Planet)Cherry blossom season, Japan(©Frank Carter_Lonely Planet)Cherry blossom season, Japan(©Frank Carter_Lonely Planet)Cherry blossom season, Japan(©Frank Carter_Lonely Planet)Sardine run, South AfricaDubbed 'the greatest shoal on Earth', the annual run of sardines follows the cool Atlantic currents off the tip of South Africa, where they meet the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean. Along the way, winged and finned predators pick off any stragglers. By boat or plane, you can watch as dolphins round up the silvery swirls of sardines into 'bait balls'. Orcas, sharks, seals, gannets, cormorants and bluefish join the feeding frenzy. Within 10 minutes, the pilchards are toast.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Sardine run, South Africa(©Michael Aw_Lonely Planet)Sardine run, South Africa(©Michael Aw_Lonely Planet)Sardine run, South Africa(©Michael Aw_Lonely Planet)Sardine run, South Africa(©Michael Aw_Lonely Planet)Sardine run, South Africa(©Michael Aw_Lonely Planet)Sardine run, South Africa(©Michael Aw_Lonely Planet)Sardine run, South Africa(©Michael Aw_Lonely Planet)Sardine run, South Africa(©Michael Aw_Lonely Planet)Sardine run, South Africa(©Michael Aw_Lonely Planet)Desert bloom, South Africa and NamibiaJuly - SeptemberWater can transform most barren landscapes into lush, blossoming wonders, but a quarter of the blooms in Namaqualand cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Hardy seeds tucked deep inside the soil lie dormant for years, flourishing into a kaleidoscope of plants, including nearly 4,000 species. Daisy season is when dusty valleys are carpeted with flaming orange daisies and marigolds, attracting exotic butterflies, birds and the Earth's smallest tortoise - the Speckled Padloper.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Desert bloom, South Africa and Namibia(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_Lonely Planet)Desert bloom, South Africa and Namibia(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_Lonely Planet)Desert bloom, South Africa and Namibia(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_Lonely Planet)Desert bloom, South Africa and Namibia(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_Lonely Planet)Desert bloom, South Africa and Namibia(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_Lonely Planet)Desert bloom, South Africa and Namibia(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_Lonely Planet)Desert bloom, South Africa and Namibia(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_Lonely Planet)Desert bloom, South Africa and Namibia(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_Lonely Planet)Desert bloom, South Africa and Namibia(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_Lonely Planet)Monarch butterfly migration, Mexico and CaliforniaNovember - MarchFrom August to the first frost, a longer-living, migratory generation of the North American Monarch butterfly flaps southwards to balmier climes. By November, millions come to rest in the Mexican Mariposa reserves and Californian forests. Resembling dead leaves, the butterflies unfurl their orange, black and white wings, coming to life again in spring. When they wake up it is quite a sight, as they fill the forest with fluttering banners of colour before heading off up north.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Monarch butterfly migration, Mexico and California(©Sipa Press_Rex Features)Monarch butterfly migration, Mexico and California(©Sipa Press_Rex Features)Monarch butterfly migration, Mexico and California(©Sipa Press_Rex Features)Monarch butterfly migration, Mexico and California(©Sipa Press_Rex Features)Monarch butterfly migration, Mexico and California(©Sipa Press_Rex Features)Monarch butterfly migration, Mexico and California(©Sipa Press_Rex Features)Monarch butterfly migration, Mexico and California(©Sipa Press_Rex Features)Monarch butterfly migration, Mexico and California(©Sipa Press_Rex Features)Monarch butterfly migration, Mexico and California(©Sipa Press_Rex Features)Mating dance of blue-footed boobies, GalápagosApril - MayThe jaunty name 'booby' derives from bobo: Spanish for fool. And this bird certainly throws some baffling shapes, clumsily waddling on blue webbed feet. The sight is well worth a trip to the Galápagos - the bizarre dance begins with the male's shrill whistle followed by a slow, high-stepping strut and wing stretches. So far, so ordinary, until the female starts to mimic the male's prancing, with the couple both pointing their bills in the air. Approval is issued with a large honk from the female.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Mating dance of blue-footed boobies, Galápagos(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Mating dance of blue-footed boobies, Galápagos(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Mating dance of blue-footed boobies, Galápagos(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Mating dance of blue-footed boobies, Galápagos(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Mating dance of blue-footed boobies, Galápagos(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Mating dance of blue-footed boobies, Galápagos(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Mating dance of blue-footed boobies, Galápagos(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Mating dance of blue-footed boobies, Galápagos(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Mating dance of blue-footed boobies, Galápagos(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Perito Moreno glacier, ArgentinaJune - AugustPerito Moreno, the Southern Patagonian glacier, is an awesome sight at any time of year, but in winter the massive ice walls reflect the low-hanging sun's subtle colour changes. There are three options for experiencing the sight: a two-hour coach tour from El Calafate; a boat trip on Lake Argentino, which gives the best angle for viewing 74-metre-high ice walls; and trekking trips that allow you to hike up the wall.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Perito Moreno glacier, Argentina(©Dario Lopez-Mills_PA)Perito Moreno glacier, Argentina(©Dario Lopez-Mills_PA)Perito Moreno glacier, Argentina(©Dario Lopez-Mills_PA)Perito Moreno glacier, Argentina(©Dario Lopez-Mills_PA)Perito Moreno glacier, Argentina(©Dario Lopez-Mills_PA)Perito Moreno glacier, Argentina(©Dario Lopez-Mills_PA)Perito Moreno glacier, Argentina(©Dario Lopez-Mills_PA)Perito Moreno glacier, Argentina(©Dario Lopez-Mills_PA)Perito Moreno glacier, Argentina(©Dario Lopez-Mills_PA)Pantanal birdlife, South AmericaOctober - AprilFrom October to March, the rainy season in the world's largest wetland area acts as a giant bird magnet, drawing in ordinary flocks and more endangered beauties. Covering an area of over 140,000 square kilometres in Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, over 650 species of birds fly over, including Spoonbill and Wood Storks from the Everglades. Keep your eyes peeled for the rare metre-long blue and yellow flash of the endangered hyacinth macaw and greenish glow of the blaze-winged parakeet.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Pantanal birdlife, South America(©Jane Sweeney_Lonely Planet)Pantanal birdlife, South America(©Jane Sweeney_Lonely Planet)Pantanal birdlife, South America(©Jane Sweeney_Lonely Planet)Pantanal birdlife, South America(©Jane Sweeney_Lonely Planet)Pantanal birdlife, South America(©Jane Sweeney_Lonely Planet)Pantanal birdlife, South America(©Jane Sweeney_Lonely Planet)Pantanal birdlife, South America(©Jane Sweeney_Lonely Planet)Pantanal birdlife, South America(©Jane Sweeney_Lonely Planet)Pantanal birdlife, South America(©Jane Sweeney_Lonely Planet)Red crab spawning, Christmas IslandOctober - NovemberBring a brolly for the Red crab spawning season on the beach - on Christmas Island, it is the rainy season. Sturdy shoes wouldn't go amiss either, as the crabs carpet the entire area, from the forest floor to the sandy coast. Their aim is to dip, dig, breed and brood. The spellbinding sequence begins with the males, who take a dip in the sea, and then dig a cosy burrow in the sand for the mating ritual. Females release some 100,000 eggs each, usually at dawn, at the turn of the high tide. Then everyone totters off home.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Red crab spawning, Christmas Island(©James D Morgan_Rex Features)Red crab spawning, Christmas Island(©James D Morgan_Rex Features)Red crab spawning, Christmas Island(©James D Morgan_Rex Features)Red crab spawning, Christmas Island(©James D Morgan_Rex Features)Red crab spawning, Christmas Island(©James D Morgan_Rex Features)Red crab spawning, Christmas Island(©James D Morgan_Rex Features)Red crab spawning, Christmas Island(©James D Morgan_Rex Features)Red crab spawning, Christmas Island(©James D Morgan_Rex Features)Red crab spawning, Christmas Island(©James D Morgan_Rex Features)Piton de la Fournaise, Indian OceanApril - OctoberRising from the Indian Ocean, Réunion Island's Piton de la Fournaise ('Peak of the Furnace' in French) is currently one of the world's most active volcanoes. Expect some kind of effusive volcanic spectacle, from viscous basalt lava fountains to steamy eruptions inside and outside the five metre-wide caldera. Visit during the driest months - April to October - as cyclones can make trekking soggy and hazardous.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Piton de la Fournaise, Indian Ocean(©Fabrice Wislez_PA)Piton de la Fournaise, Indian Ocean(©Fabrice Wislez_PA)Piton de la Fournaise, Indian Ocean(©Fabrice Wislez_PA)Piton de la Fournaise, Indian Ocean(©Fabrice Wislez_PA)Piton de la Fournaise, Indian Ocean(©Fabrice Wislez_PA)Piton de la Fournaise, Indian Ocean(©Fabrice Wislez_PA)Piton de la Fournaise, Indian Ocean(©Fabrice Wislez_PA)Piton de la Fournaise, Indian Ocean(©Fabrice Wislez_PA)Piton de la Fournaise, Indian Ocean(©Fabrice Wislez_PA)Pacific salmon run, North America and CanadaJuly - OctoberHundreds of millions of Pacific salmon return to the mountain streams of their hatching spots to spawn and die. Various species of the leaping migrants - from the mighty Chinook to the wee Pink - attract ravenous visitors including grizzly bears, golden eagles and shutter-snapping tourists.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Pacific salmon run, North America and Canada(©Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Pacific salmon run, North America and Canada(©Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Pacific salmon run, North America and Canada(©Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Pacific salmon run, North America and Canada(©Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Pacific salmon run, North America and Canada(©Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Pacific salmon run, North America and Canada(©Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Pacific salmon run, North America and Canada(©Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Pacific salmon run, North America and Canada(©Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Pacific salmon run, North America and Canada(©Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Humpback whale feeding frenzy, AlaskaMay - OctoberHumpbacks migrate at different times on both sides of the equator. In the northern hemisphere's spring, summer and autumn months, Alaska's waters are awash with flipper acrobatics. Lucky travellers can watch 'bubble net' feeding, where a pod work together circling and diving below a school of sardines, blowing bubbles to trap their prey. It's not so lucky for the fish, unfortunately. Once in place, the whales ascend as one to take big gulps.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Humpback whale feeding frenzy, Alaska(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Humpback whale feeding frenzy, Alaska(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Humpback whale feeding frenzy, Alaska(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Humpback whale feeding frenzy, Alaska(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Humpback whale feeding frenzy, Alaska(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Humpback whale feeding frenzy, Alaska(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Humpback whale feeding frenzy, Alaska(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Humpback whale feeding frenzy, Alaska(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Humpback whale feeding frenzy, Alaska(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Singing Sands of the Gobi, MongoliaAugust - OctoberFor a spine-tingling musical show performed by nature, Hongory Els - meaning 'singing sands' - plays all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. In the dry, windy months of late August to October, the round, uniform grains in the Gobi Desert rub against each other creating acoustic energy. Low booming sounds of up to 100 decibels result from the vast scale of these vibrations. Covering nearly 200 kilometres between Mount Sevrei and Mount Zuulun, this range of roaring dunes reaches heights of between 15 and 30 metres. When sport enthusiasts sand-surf down the dunes, they can generate mini-avalanches that produce haunting drones.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Singing Sands of the Gobi, Mongolia(©Martin Moos_Lonely Planet)Singing Sands of the Gobi, Mongolia(©Martin Moos_Lonely Planet)Singing Sands of the Gobi, Mongolia(©Martin Moos_Lonely Planet)Singing Sands of the Gobi, Mongolia(©Martin Moos_Lonely Planet)Singing Sands of the Gobi, Mongolia(©Martin Moos_Lonely Planet)Singing Sands of the Gobi, Mongolia(©Martin Moos_Lonely Planet)Singing Sands of the Gobi, Mongolia(©Martin Moos_Lonely Planet)Singing Sands of the Gobi, Mongolia(©Martin Moos_Lonely Planet)Singing Sands of the Gobi, Mongolia(©Martin Moos_Lonely Planet)Autumn colours, New ZealandMarch - MayMove over New England - make room for the exotic autumnal hues of New Zealand. Cooler temperatures bring crisp blue skies that contrast with the burnt orange and yellow leaves of southern and silver beech trees, interspersed with fruiting evergreens tawa and kamahi. Conifers kahikatea, rimu and totara are towering survivors from when the island was part of the ancient super continent Gondwana.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Autumn colours, New Zealand(©David Wall_New Zealand Tourism)Autumn colours, New Zealand(©David Wall_New Zealand Tourism)Autumn colours, New Zealand(©David Wall_New Zealand Tourism)Autumn colours, New Zealand(©David Wall_New Zealand Tourism)Autumn colours, New Zealand(©David Wall_New Zealand Tourism)Autumn colours, New Zealand(©David Wall_New Zealand Tourism)Autumn colours, New Zealand(©David Wall_New Zealand Tourism)Autumn colours, New Zealand(©David Wall_New Zealand Tourism)Autumn colours, New Zealand(©David Wall_New Zealand Tourism)Emperor penguin crèche, AntarcticaNovember - MarchMarch of the Penguins fans will be familiar with the emperor penguin's epic lifecycle and stoic shuffle in temperatures that dip to -60C. In the flesh, the sight of nearly 200,000 pairs braving the fearsome Antarctic winter is even more impressive. They can travel almost 60 miles to reach their breeding grounds in March or April, where females lay eggs and fasting males huddle together, standing sentinel over their offspring for nine weeks. Specialist voyages set out in the Antarctic spring, enabling lucky adventurers to see fluffy chick antics.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Emperor penguin crèche, Antarctica(©David Tipling_Lonely Planet)Emperor penguin crèche, Antarctica(©David Tipling_Lonely Planet)Emperor penguin crèche, Antarctica(©David Tipling_Lonely Planet)Emperor penguin crèche, Antarctica(©David Tipling_Lonely Planet)Emperor penguin crèche, Antarctica(©David Tipling_Lonely Planet)Emperor penguin crèche, Antarctica(©David Tipling_Lonely Planet)Emperor penguin crèche, Antarctica(©David Tipling_Lonely Planet)Emperor penguin crèche, Antarctica(©David Tipling_Lonely Planet)Emperor penguin crèche, Antarctica(©David Tipling_Lonely Planet)Green turtle nesting, Great Barrier ReefDecember - MarchHeron Island's Green turtle rookery is most popular, but further north, isolated Raine Island is home to the world's most important nesting site, where some 14,000 nesting turtles may clamber upon the protected tiny coral cay in one night. Scientists and lucky volunteers study female turtles laying, on average, six clutches of 120 eggs in two week intervals. Some turtles travel from as far afield as Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific archipelagos of Vanuatu and New Caledonia.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Green turtle nesting, Great Barrier Reef(©Leonard Zell_Lonely Planet)Green turtle nesting, Great Barrier Reef(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Green turtle nesting, Great Barrier Reef(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Green turtle nesting, Great Barrier Reef(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Green turtle nesting, Great Barrier Reef(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Green turtle nesting, Great Barrier Reef(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Green turtle nesting, Great Barrier Reef(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Green turtle nesting, Great Barrier Reef(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Green turtle nesting, Great Barrier Reef(©Ralph Hopkins_Lonely Planet)Starling displays, Northern EuropeLate autumnMillions of starlings show off spectacular aerial displays, flowing into spellbinding shapes above roosting sites an hour before dusk. The sky ripples with the nimble, balletic movements, and it takes place all over northern Europe, including Gretna, Jutland, Rome, and closer to home, Brighton. Many scientists believe that the displays are to protect themselves from predators such as peregrine falcons.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Starling displays, Northern Europe(©Gareth Fuller_PA)Starling displays, Northern Europe(©Gareth Fuller_PA)Starling displays, Northern Europe(©Gareth Fuller_PA)Starling displays, Northern Europe(©Gareth Fuller_PA)Starling displays, Northern Europe(©Gareth Fuller_PA)Starling displays, Northern Europe(©Gareth Fuller_PA)Starling displays, Northern Europe(©Gareth Fuller_PA)Starling displays, Northern Europe(©Gareth Fuller_PA)Starling displays, Northern Europe(©Gareth Fuller_PA)Stargazing, ChileOctober - JuneBring a bivouac and powerful lens for a Chilean summer under the stars - the ideal season to explore the heavens in one of the best stargazing places on Earth. Elqui Valley, in the Coquimbo region of Chile has an average of 320 clear days and nights per year, little light pollution and a pristine atmosphere. If that's not celestial enough, head to the eerie yet beautiful Atacama desert: the driest place on earth and home to the most powerful telescopes. The picture above, shows the moon seen through a telescope located in the desert.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Stargazing, Chile(©Alamy)Stargazing, Chile(©Alamy)Stargazing, Chile(©Alamy)Stargazing, Chile(©Alamy)Stargazing, Chile(©Alamy)Stargazing, Chile(©Alamy)Stargazing, Chile(©Alamy)Stargazing, Chile(©Alamy)Stargazing, Chile(©Alamy)Wildebeest migration, TanzaniaApril - JuneAlmost two million herbivores - including nearly half a million wildebeest - shuffle and stampede around the vast Serengeti-Mara. In April they trek north-westwards, following the rains across the central plains, Western Corridor and Grumeti River. Jeep and hot-air balloon safaris track the wildebeest crossing the river, while zebras and gazelle join en route seeking lush grasses. Predators such as crocodiles, lions, cheetahs, leopards and hyenas lurk behind, waiting to pick off game.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Wildebeest migration, Tanzania(©Andy Rouse_Rex Features)Wildebeest migration, Tanzania(©Andy Rouse_Rex Features)Wildebeest migration, Tanzania(©Andy Rouse_Rex Features)Wildebeest migration, Tanzania(©Andy Rouse_Rex Features)Wildebeest migration, Tanzania(©Andy Rouse_Rex Features)Wildebeest migration, Tanzania(©Andy Rouse_Rex Features)Wildebeest migration, Tanzania(©Andy Rouse_Rex Features)Wildebeest migration, Tanzania(©Andy Rouse_Rex Features)Wildebeest migration, Tanzania(©Andy Rouse_Rex Features)Northern lights, Arctic regionsAutumn and springThe closer you are to the north magnetic pole, the higher your chances of witnessing the northern lights - the heavenly glow that spooked Vikings and Inuits. Scientists have a more mundane explanation - the swirling curtain of light is the collision of charged particles. At higher altitudes, increased levels of oxygen create green and brownish-red hues while nitrogen emissions closer to Earth render the lights blue and red.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Northern lights, Arctic regions(©Gareth McCormack_Lonely Planet)Iguazu Falls: Brazil, Argentina and ParaguayAugust - OctoberSome 275 falls span nearly three kilometres of the Iguazu River, reaching heights of 60 - 80 metres. Helicopter rides, an Argentinian railway and various walkways allow access to spectacular views. Many recommend August to October as the best time to catch the sight of decent volumes of cascading water set against a backdrop of generally clearer, more photogenic skies and fewer visitors.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Iguazu Falls: Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay(©Jorge Saenz_PA)Iguazu Falls: Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay(©Jorge Saenz_PA)Iguazu Falls: Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay(©Jorge Saenz_PA)Iguazu Falls: Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay(©Jorge Saenz_PA)Iguazu Falls: Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay(©Jorge Saenz_PA)Iguazu Falls: Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay(©Jorge Saenz_PA)Iguazu Falls: Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay(©Jorge Saenz_PA)Iguazu Falls: Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay(©Jorge Saenz_PA)Iguazu Falls: Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay(©Jorge Saenz_PA)Pororoca tidal bore, BrazilFebruary - MarchThe pororoca translates as 'great destructive roar' in the Amazonian Tupi language, which means that at the very least, you'll hear the mighty tidal wave long before it arrives. Around 30 minutes later, the Atlantic tidal wave, which forms at the head of the Amazonas, sweeps upstream gathering speeds of up to 20 miles an hour. In February and March, the moon, equinox and high water levels work together, creating the mightiest wave in the Amazon. Brave surfers come to ride waves that can reach heights of up to 1.5 - four metres.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Pororoca tidal bore, Brazil(©Enrico Marone_PA)Pororoca tidal bore, Brazil(©Enrico Marone_PA)Pororoca tidal bore, Brazil(©Enrico Marone_PA)Pororoca tidal bore, Brazil(©Enrico Marone_PA)Pororoca tidal bore, Brazil(©Enrico Marone_PA)Pororoca tidal bore, Brazil(©Enrico Marone_PA)Pororoca tidal bore, Brazil(©Enrico Marone_PA)Pororoca tidal bore, Brazil(©Enrico Marone_PA)Pororoca tidal bore, Brazil(©Enrico Marone_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Cherry blossom season in Japan(Kohji Sasahara_PA)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Salmon migration(Mark Newman_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)Grand Prismatic Spring(Jim Wark_Lonely Planet)

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