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Mike Arkus
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An inveterate traveler, Mike Arkus worked for more than four decades as a Reuters journalist, much of it as foreign correspondent, being based in posts as disparate as France and Cuba, Israel and Brazil for over three years at a time.

He has so far visited 273 of the 321 countries and territories listed worldwide by the Travelers' Century Club - from Greenland and Iceland to Antarctica, Patagonia and the Falklands, and from Papua-New Guinea and Borneo to Sao Tome and Principe and Gabon. In a typical year he spent a week in the Virgin Islands; another week in Saba, Statia, St. Barths and Anguilla; a month in the Galapagos and Ecuador's Andean and Amazon regions; and seven weeks in Angola, both Congos, Djibouti, Somalia (Somaliland) and Ethiopia.

Entries by Mike Arkus

Norway's Iconic Lofoten Islands: A Nutter in Norway on the Looney Front - Part 3

(0) Comments | Posted July 9, 2016 | 6:28 PM

Some 2 billion years ago, give or take a couple of months, Mother Earth gave an enormous belch off the north coast of Norway, though Lord alone knows what sector of the globe it was on then, following up with a whole series of new belches over the next 2...

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Lofty Daredevil Feats and Sedater Pleasures in Norway's Fjordlands: A Nutter in Norway on the Looney Front - Part 2

(0) Comments | Posted July 7, 2016 | 4:22 PM

Lysefjord in southwest Norway might not have the official cachet that inclusion on UNESCO's World Heritage List bestows on Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord, further north, but it is the proud owner of some of the most iconic images and daredevil feats - or dumb-arse antics, depending on your persuasion - that...

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Norway's UN World Heritage Site Fjords: A Nutter in Norway on the Looney Front - Part 1

(0) Comments | Posted July 6, 2016 | 2:38 PM

When UNESCO in 2005 inscribed Norway's Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord on its World Heritage list, it cited them as 'exceptional in scale and grandeur in a country of spectacular fjords... among the most scenically outstanding fjord areas on the planet.'

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Geirangerfjord
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The World's Best (?) Beaches: Beach-Bumming on the Looney Front - Part 2

(0) Comments | Posted May 15, 2016 | 6:42 PM

Continuing the quixotic crusade against prioritising beaches as the world's best or most beautiful, on the Top Ten list, or Top 25, or Top 50, let's tilt at a few more windmills in the current craze to number everything as the top 7, top 11, top 9 ¾ etc.

...
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The World's Best (?) Beaches: Beach-Bumming on the Looney Front - Part 1

(0) Comments | Posted May 12, 2016 | 11:43 AM

Which is the world's best or most beautiful beach? Or the Top Ten best or most beautiful beaches? Or the Top 25? Or the Top 50?

The fact that there are so many differing lists, from Condé Nast Traveler to Rough Guides to TripAdvisor to The Guardian to Thrillist, some...

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The Mediaeval Greek Fortress Town of Monemvasia: Spring Break 2016, Breaking Bad on the Looney Front - Part 6

(0) Comments | Posted May 2, 2016 | 12:36 PM

Enough of 'equivalents' already. Lonely Planet deems Monemvasia, on a little island off the Peloponnese's third dangling tentacle, 'the equivalent of France's Mont St-Michel.' But this Greek fortress town is vastly different from the picture postcard fairy-tale abbey and village off the Normandy coast.

For starters, from the land...

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Greece's Mani Peninsula, in the Footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor again: Spring Break 2016, Breaking Bad on the Looney Front - Part 5

(0) Comments | Posted April 30, 2016 | 5:07 PM

Patrick Leigh Fermor - that intrepid traveller who walked 2,500 miles across Europe in the 1930s when he was 18, then wrote about it 40 years later in several highly acclaimed books, he whose footsteps I vaguely, oh so vaguely, traced in Athos last year - lived his last years...

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Greece's Vouraikos Railway, One of the World's Most Spectacular Train Rides: Spring Break 2016, Breaking Bad on the Looney Front - Part 4

(0) Comments | Posted April 28, 2016 | 3:29 PM

It's only three short carriages long, has a gauge of merely 2.5 feet across and travels less than 14 miles, but in that scant distance Greece's Vouraikos Gorge railway soars 2,460 feet through an ever narrowing ravine with the aid of a rack and pinion system of cogs, fully deserving...

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Greece's Breathtaking Vikos Gorge, The World's Deepest: Spring Break 2016, Breaking Bad on the Looney Front - Part 3

(0) Comments | Posted April 26, 2016 | 5:12 PM

The spectacular Vikos Gorge in northwest Greece, topped by massive rounded cliff buttresses and craggy walls in light grey and orange-yellow, is classified by the Guinness Book of Record as the world's deepest, plummeting some 3,000 feet, a gold based on both depth and width-to-depth ratio.

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The Magnificent Lakes and Mountains of North-West Greece: Spring Break 2016, Breaking Bad on the Looney Front - Part 2

(0) Comments | Posted April 25, 2016 | 3:41 PM

If I look to the left my eyes land in Albania, if I look to the front my eyes land in Macedonia, and if I look at my feet my eyes land in Greece.

I am in fact in the far north-western nook of Greece on the shore of tri-national...

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Past Armageddon and on to Zippori, one of Israel's Premier Archaeological Sites: Spring Break 2016, Breaking Bad on the Looney Front - Part 1

(0) Comments | Posted April 23, 2016 | 3:34 PM

If you're driving up Israel's coast, turn inland past Armageddon, site of the fortified biblical town of Megiddo that served 3,000 years ago as the royal stables for King Solomon's chariots and, a thousand years later, was 'revealed' by St. John the Divine as ground zero for the final battle...

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And Narcissus Blushed -- Brazil's Beauty Spots, Selfiedom's Mecca: Brazilian Briefs on the Looney Front, Part 3

(1) Comments | Posted March 14, 2016 | 12:00 AM

To rewrite Churchill: 'We shall selfie on the beaches, we shall selfie on the landing grounds, we shall selfie in the fields and in the streets, we shall selfie in the hills; we shall never not selfie...'

The selfie craze is a worldwide pandemic, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, from the...

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The Diamond Cliffs, Brazil's Gem of a National Park: Brazilian Briefs on the Looney Front, Part 2

(0) Comments | Posted March 6, 2016 | 11:00 PM

I'm flat on my belly, atop a perpendicular cliff, 280 feet above a gaping void, in the wilds of north-eastern Brazil, inching forward like a demented caterpillar, ever closer to my personal Armageddon, my every limb tingling with vertigo, just to catch a glimpse, far below, of the crashing finale...

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Brazil's Exotic Fernando de Noronha Island: Brazilian Briefs on the Looney Front, Part 1

(0) Comments | Posted February 28, 2016 | 2:33 PM

There are 21 specks in Brazil's Fernando de Noronha archipelago, little more than rocks apart from the seven-square-mile main island, cast adrift in lonely isolation in the south Atlantic 220 miles off the coast of the mainland South America and three degrees south of the Equator.

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Jaws, Section II -- Komodo Dragons: Animal Planet on the Looney Front, Part 11

(2) Comments | Posted February 14, 2016 | 1:04 PM

Moving on from the Great Australian Saltwater Crocodile to the Komodo Dragon might seem a bit of a come down after so many thousands of teeth and so many thousands of pounds of jaw pressure, let alone the great length and weight.

While 'Saltie' can reach up to 23...

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Llamas & Co, the Camels' Spitting Image - Camelids, Section 3: Animal Planet on the Looney Front, Part 19

(0) Comments | Posted February 13, 2016 | 1:55 PM

Llamas & Co are the spitting image of their camel and dromedary cousins, but only literally - both branches of the camelid family spit at you if you piss them off. There the resemblance ends. These South American relatives roaming the mountains and altiplano of the Andes have no humps...

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Camels, Ships of the Desert Plying the desert - Camelids, Section 2: Animal Planet on the Looney Front, Part 18

(0) Comments | Posted February 12, 2016 | 10:27 AM

Moving on from single-humped dromedaries in this second blog on camelids, we come face to spitting face with double-humped camels in darkest Asia. I'm afraid this one is going to be a mainly photo-free zone due a camera mishap in Central Asia.

You can see the majestically swaying two-humped...

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One Hump, Two Humps, No Humps - Camelids, Section 1: Animal Planet on the Looney Front, Part 17

(0) Comments | Posted February 11, 2016 | 3:24 PM

They have a common ancestor, the two-humped camel and single-humped dromedary of Asia and Africa on the one hand and the llama, alpaca, guanaco, and vicuña of South America on the other. But you wouldn't think so to look at them today. For starters, the Latin American cousins have ditched...

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Tarsiers, the World's Smallest Primate: Animal Planet on the Looney Front, Part 9

(3) Comments | Posted January 31, 2016 | 10:31 AM

It has the largest eyes of any mammal in relation to its body size (each eye is heavier than its brain), it bears the largest baby in relation to its adult size, and it is arguably the world's smallest primate -- at barely a hand's length.

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Take A Yellow Submarine; No Need To Scuba To See The Creatures of the Sea - Section IV: Animal Planet on the Looney Front, Part 16

(0) Comments | Posted January 23, 2016 | 5:08 PM

After all the shenanigans of the previous three blogs in my craze to keep dry, here you can actually go deep under water just like a scuba diver without getting wet - and breathe normally without any, or at least much less of the panic and claustrophobia that afflicted Yours...

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