On an island some 29km long and 8km wide, with its west side bordering the Caribbean Sea and its eastern side facing the Atlantic Ocean, history moves forward – albeit slowly and shakily – in the form of the Saint Kitts Scenic Railway.
Dubbed the “last railway in the West Indies” and one of the few of its kind, the narrow gauge railway loops travellers 29km through verdant jungles, over canyon-spanning steel bridges and along the island’s rocky coast.
Christopher Columbus discovered the islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis in 1493, during an exploration to the New World.
Some say he chose to simply name it after his likeness (the isle is more formally known as Saint Christopher Island).
Others maintain that he thought it resembled the shape of St Christopher, the patron saint of travellers, carrying the Christ child on his shoulder.
Whatever the case, the discovery spawned battle upon battle between the British and French over the colonisation of the islands, which were home to fresh water, large salt deposits and – above all – fertile soil.
A Harz Narrow Gauge Railways steam train arrives at a snow-covered Brocken station
Image Credit: Photograph by Lino Mirgeler/AFP/Getty Images
‘There’s no better way to travel than like the locals,’ says Yanick Targonski, winner of the action category in this year’s National Geographic Traveller (UK) Photography Competition.
In Sri Lanka, that often means standing in the open door or even hanging outside the train because of overcrowding.
This shot was taken on the journey from Ella, in Sri Lanka’s hill country, to Kandy:
‘Capturing the image meant hanging outside the door at full speed – wind in your hair, trees so close you could touch them – and juggling the camera with one hand, holding it as still as possible to avoid camera shake.’
Sometimes, abandoned man-made structures turn into dangerous eyesores, rotting away slowly before returning to nature or being torn down.
But other times, like when abandoned ships are re-purposed as living reefs, or mines colonized by bats, abandoned structures take on a new semi-natural life all their own, like a crab who uses a jar for a shell.
Such is the case with the Newnes railroad tunnel.
The Newnes railroad was closed in 1932 after 25 years of shipping oil shale.
The rails were pulled out of the 600-meter tunnel, which had been bored through the sandstone in the Wollemi National Park, and the tunnel was left to its own devices.
For Newnes, that meant becoming home to thousands and thousands of glow worms.
The glow worm is a catch-all name for the bioluminescent larvae of various species, in this case the Arachnocampa richardsae, a type of fungus gnat.
Found in massive numbers in caves, the fungus gnat larvae cling to the rocky walls of the abandoned tunnel and hunt with long, glowing strings of sticky mucus.
To see the glowing gnats, enter the tunnel during daylight hours, and head to the middle – it gets dark in the middle where there is a bend in the tunnel – with a flashlight, so as not to bump into the walls.
Turn off the light and wait a minute or two. One by one, the gnats will begin to shine like stars emerging in the night.