Photo Locale of the Month – August 2017

One of my friends and travel buddies commented to me earlier this week that it has been seven years this month since we trekked with mountain gorillas, experienced the Serengeti wildebeest migration, witnessed Lake Nakuru’s abundant bird life and tree-dwelling lions, and enjoyed tropical Indian Ocean breezes in Zanzibar. Where has the time gone?

Dollar-for-dollar, the heavy reservoirs of cash laid out for three weeks of adventure in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania arguably delivered more bang for the buck than any other travel expenditure. I knew upon arriving at our first safari park of the trip, Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, that we were in for something simply unforgettable.

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Photo Locale of the Month – June 2016

If, like me, you occasionally grow disheartened over the vitriol and hate-mongering that seems so common in the divisive world of today, take comfort in the fact that while our planet can sometimes be a violent place, it is a beautiful place as well.  Few corners of the world are these contrasts so apparent as in Africa.

My first trip to sub-Saharan Africa found me enjoying shoulder season safaris in South Africa and Botswana.  It is about the latter destination that I will focus this month’s photo gallery on.  May, 2009 found me spending three perfect days on makoro (motorless boat) safari in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.

Delta Day 1-38

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Photo Locale of the Month – September 2015

This month’s entry takes us to a new continent and hemisphere.  Roughly one dozen nations across South and East Africa are home to lions, elephants, and gorillas (oh my!), and despite still-dwindling wildlife numbers, there are innumerable game parks to choose from for seeing these beasts, and others, in their natural environment.

I recently published a three-part entry about my 2010 encounter with mountain gorillas in Uganda.  You can access Part One of that series here; it is a personal favorite among my 150+ blog entries so far.  One of my companions from that trip, my friend Mark, requested that I write about another safari from that same trip.  Mark – and others – here are a few pictures and anecdotes about Maasai Mara National Park, Kenya.

Drive to Massai Mara 4

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Gorillas (Not Quite) in the Mist – Part Three

Speechless. Astonished. Flabbergasted. Those are just three superlatives that I can use to describe my elation at having spent an hour with mountain gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Uganda, neighboring Rwanda, and the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) are the only places in the world where these great apes still roam free. And I saw them.

Bwindi gorillas 112

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Gorillas (Not Quite) in the Mist – Part Two

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was just 50 yards from our lodge, Lake Kitandara Bwindi Camp. Our driver, Matthieu, escorted us to the park gate, where we signed in and met the park staff and other trekkers. We showed our permits – a whopping $500 apiece – and were led through orientation. The head guide was a female, something of a surprise in this male-dominated part of the world.

Bwindi gorillas 3

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Gorillas (Not Quite) in the Mist – Part One

Bwindi town 4

I can hardly believe that five years have passed since my three-country safari and hiking trip to East Africa in August, 2010. I wrote about the trip’s climax – a successful summit of Mount Kilimanjaro – last fall, and thought you might like to hear about the Uganda portion of trip, in which my friends and I had one thing on our minds: gorillas!

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Kilimanjaro – A Dream Fulfilled

September is here, and it is my favorite month for hiking.  (Runner-up month: April)  Sure, it is still a bit hot for long hikes across the Santa Monica Mountains – my old SoCal stomping ground and home to the 65-mile Backbone Trail – but many higher-elevation peaks are at their most-accessible in this “shoulder season” month.  I completed the four-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in September of 2005.  I scaled Lembert Dome and Mount Hoffman – two prominent peaks in Yosemite National Park – in September of 2003.  Just one year prior, I bagged the highest peak in the contiguous United States, 14,497-foot Mount Whitney.  I have also climbed (hiked) Mount Baldy, the 10,064-foot SoCal landmark, three times, and two of those were in September (2004 and 2011).

But it is my successful climb to the summit marker atop Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro in September, 2010 that I am most proud of.  Hiking is one of my great passions, you see, and if I haven’t been able to do as much of it over these past few years as I would have liked, I at least know that I have many years of great hiking memories to choose from.  Kilimanjaro is my fondest, and the one I want to tell you more about in the paragraphs below.

Three Countries in Three Weeks

I took my second trip to sub-Saharan African in 2010.  The trip was the brainchild of my friend Miles, just one year after our Great Southern African Adventure of 2009.  This time we were joined by my friend Mark.  Miles and Mark have expensive tastes, and make more money in a week than I make in a year, so they yearned for a pre-planned trip with guide/driver and first rate accommodations.  They immediately declined when I suggested a Kilimanjaro add-on, but we compromised on four days in Zanzibar before they returned to the U.S. and I moved on to Moshi, Tanzania.

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