Nature Science Travel

Everything you need to know about Yosemite’s stunning ‘firefall’ phenomenon

In what looks like a scene from a fantasy movie, the ‘firefall’ phenomenon in Yosemite is spewing lava-like water again.

Called Horsetail Fall, the fiery waterfall makes an annual appearance for two weeks around February. The fiery orange glow of the waterfall emerges from the illumination of the setting sun over the 1500 foot flowing water.

Yosemite’s stunning ‘fireball’ phenomenon
via twitter

The tight window around catching the Firefall natural phenomenon in Yosemite

The Yosemite Firefall phenomenon is a summer tradition that dates back to 1872.

People would gather at the eastern edge of El Capitan Yosemite to watch ember from the bonfires get pushed over the edge of Glacier Point, creating a man-made fiery waterfall.

As travel blogger James Kaiser notes on his blog:

For decades those words ushered in one of Yosemite National Park’s most famous spectacles: The Yosemite Firefall. Each evening in the summer, a roaring bonfire was built at the edge of Glacier Point , which towers 3,200 feet above Yosemite Valley. By sundown hundreds of spectators had gathered in Curry Village below. At 9pm sharp, a master of ceremonies in Curry Village shouted out, “Let the Fire Fall!” and the bonfire’s glowing embers were pushed over the edge of Glacier Point, creating a glittering “Waterfall of Fire.”

The National Park Service ended the Yosemite Firefall in 1968. But then nature magically took over to recreate the scene.

Today, the scientific miracle of intermixing chemicals including barium, aluminum and strontium mix together with the sunlight at dusk.

Writes Kaiser on the Yosemite Firefall website:

Then in 1973, within months of the 100-year anniversary of the first Yosemite Firefall, photographer Galen Rowell took the first known photo of the “Natural Firefall” at Horsetail Fall. That single photo ushered in an exciting new chapter in the history of the Firefall, and within a few decades the Natural Firefall had become as famous as the Manmade Firefall.

The firefall phenomenon only lasts about 10 minutes so you’ll need to be patient to catch it just as you would a solar eclipse. If you’re planning a trip to Yosemite, check out some of the best lodging sites here.

Video via Calia Domenico/tw


A navigational nightmare: Watch a time-lapse of Port of Amsterdam

The Port of Amsterdam in the Netherlands is the 4th busiest port by metric tons of cargo in Europe.

As you can see in the time-lapse of traffic patterns, navigation looks nearly impossible to control on a daily basis. So we did some digging to find out if this sort of nautical chaos was normal.

As one Twitter user noted, this time-lapse was taken during the Sail Amsterdam event which occurs every five years. This would make sense given all the fleet of tall ships and masted sails rolling about.

It’s also worth mentioning that David Bowie recorded a song in the port’s name.

In the port of Amsterdam there’s a sailor who sings

Of the dreams that he brings from the wide open sea
In the port of Amsterdam there’s a sailor who sleeps
While the river bank weeps to the old willow tree

In the port of Amsterdam there’s a sailor who dies
Full of beer, full of cries in a drunken town fight
In the port of Amsterdam there’s a sailor who’s born
On a hot muggy morn by the dawn’s early light

David Bowie, Port of Amsterdam
Architecture & Design Travel

Spooky Indonesian church shaped like a chicken

There is a bizarre-looking church in the Indonesian jungle that’s shaped like a giant chicken.

Located in the forests of Magelang, Central Java (here it is on Google Maps, Gereja Ayam or “Chicken Church” was built in 1992 by Daniel Alamsjah.

He foresaw the structure in the late 80s when he received a spiritual message from God telling him to construct a prayer house for all religions in the shape of a dove. However, given the small beak and fluffy feathers, it appears to look more like a chicken.

Closed temporarily in 2000 for renovation — the second-floor walls have since been repainted with scenes from Indonesian mythology — the church has since been reopened as a tourist attraction but still offers a religious tour.

You can learn more about the church on its official tourism website.

Spooky Indonesian church shaped like a chicken
Spooky Indonesian church shaped like a chicken
Spooky Indonesian church shaped like a chicken
Architecture & Design Technology Travel

The musical road in the Netherlands that sings Frisian national anthem

There’s a road in the Netherlands that starts to sing the Frisian Folk Song when cars hit the right speed of 60 kph/40 mph limit.

The musical road resides in the village of Jelsum in the north part of Holland. The structure was built in 2018 to celebrate the unique language and culture of the Friesland region. But the special ‘singing road’ also served as a warning to slow down speedy drivers.

However, the musical road struck a chord (literally) with the locals who grew tired of hearing the notes 24 hours a day.

According to Dutch News, the €80,000 custom-built road was finally removed for driving (see what I did there) ‘psychological torture’.


Amazing "bird's eye" view

Ever wondered what Earth might look like from a bird’s perspective, soaring through the sky?

Elite Falconry, a falconry center based in Scotland, put a backpack camera on of its White Tail Sea Eagle to record flying over the beautiful cliffs of Orkney, Scotland.

Writes the company on its Facebook page:

Over the past number of years, we have developed an incredibly small, aerodynamic, lightweight, amazingly well balanced, and most importantly, comfortable, onboard fullHD video camera that some of our birds can carry. If you are a long time follower, you will have seen several of the videos we have created. Lots of the work, especially those created with Marra our White tail Sea Eagle, and Stanley, one of our Golden Eagles have featured on numerous TV shows and documentaries. We are delighted with so much of the work, but for us, this one, made on a trip for a little goose hunting on the utterly breathtaking Orkney Islands, on the sea cliffs near the Kitcheners Monument, looking out over the Atlantic Ocean toweards North America and Iceland, is our absolute favourite.

In addition to offering flying demonstrations, Elite Falconry invites wedding organizers to hire the birds of prey to gather aerial footage of events.

Be sure to follow along their Instagram for more!

Culture & Society Nature Travel

Born to dive: The Bajau sea nomads spend 60% of their day underwater

The Bajau sea nomads

The Bajau sea nomads are people from the Malay Archipelago (Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia).

Aquatic life is literally in their DNA. According to a study from the journal Cell:

They are renowned for their extraordinary abilities, diving to depths of over 70 m with nothing more than a set of weights and a pair of wooden goggles (Schagatay, 2014) and spending 60% of their daily working time underwater (Schagatay et al., 2011).

They’ve evolved to harbor extreme breath-holding capabilities with up to 13 minutes underwater. For thousands of years, the Bajau people have developed expanded spleens due to their dependency on diving underwater for food.

No one knows what originally compelled the Bajau to dive other than their need to survive and feed entire families.

Without experimentation, evolution does not exist. It is through struggle and adaptation we evolve.

Learn more in the video below.