An Eye-Opening Serengeti Safari

 Serengeti Safari Wonders in Tanzania by GeoEx

Eli has a smile that would shame the noonday sun. It breaks through the morning darkness; I recognize him before I recognize anyone else at the early campfire. “Good morning, Eli,” I say, and he says the same thing, always, “Are you ready? Good to go?” sweetly, in his Tanzanian accented English. We get up early in the Serengeti in Tanzania; it is barely light. If you have neglected to set your alarm, it does not matter; you will wake to the unzipping of tents and the voices of your neighbors. “Could you hand me my flip-flops?” “I need to help with breakfast, I’ll see you there.” We are camped in a close semicircle; we know who is snoring and who is giggling in the night. I know that everyone will hear me when I get up to look at the moon casting shadows between the evenly spaced acacia trees. They will hear me rustling in the grass as I use my...

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Sharing in the Wonder of Angkor Wat

Candace Rose Rardon is an American writer, photographer, and artist who recently returned to the United States after years of living and traveling in Europe and Asia. She sketches as she travels, and these sketches, combined with the stories behind them, charmingly capture those fleeting, layered moments that are the stepping stones of travel. Wanderlust will be presenting her on-the-road sketches-and-stories–her sketchbook of serendipities–in the months to come. In the pre-dawn darkness of a still-cool Thursday morning, I hit the streets of Siem Reap, alone on a rusty yellow bike. Behind my decision to cycle to Angkor Wat was a desire to feel, for even a few seconds, a sense of exploration, to try to channel the sublime thrill French explorer Henri Mouhot must have felt in 1860, when he pushed through dense jungle overgrowth to discover the largest religious monument in the world.

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When the Cherry Blossoms Bloom

I have just returned from five weeks exploring Old Japan in Kyoto and on the island of Shikoku on two glorious GeoEx trips, and one of the lessons that resonated most deeply with me was the extraordinary attachment to cherry blossoms that the Japanese maintain even today. During the evanescent two-week period when the cherry trees exploded into pink splendor, Kyoto blossomed too–the streets festive with petal-worshipping locals and tourists alike, and especially, florescent women in pink and blue kimonos, taking selfies. I was transported back to my first spring in Japan, when this phenomenon was new to me. At that time all I knew was limited to what books could teach: that cherry blossoms so suited the Japanese sensibility that they had long ago become an unofficial symbol of the country (the official symbol being the chrysanthemum), and that the word for flower, hana, had become synonymous with the cherry blossom itself; that cherry-blossom-viewing...

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Adventures in Pakistan

I know that there is always trouble in Pakistan and that you need to be careful when you travel there, but my sixteen clients and I didn’t like hearing that, right before our June 2014 trip, the Pakistani military has decided to engage the Taliban on the Afghanistan border, and that the Taliban had called foreigners “fair game.” My group was concerned but adventurous and we knew we would not get close to the conflict. Nonetheless, I tried to keep far ahead of the news with ears to the ground and my eyes wide open. Our trip to the Baltistan region of Pakistan started in the western Chinese town of Kashgar, an oasis city in the middle of the desert that has seen many rulers due to its key location on the ancient Silk Road. Despite the plethora of regimes it has since remained relatively unchanged for generations. As an adventure tour leader based in Sausalito, I used to bring clients through this area on the way to Pakistan quite often in the 1990s. I...

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Renaissance in Rwanda

There are 275 different varieties of birds in Rwanda’s Nyungwe National Park and as the sky reverberates with shrieks, it seems they all wake up in unison. It is 6:00 in the morning, and I have embarked with a small group from the ranger station deep into the Cyamudongo forest that is home to a large family of chimpanzees, in hopes of sighting one of my relatives, with whom I share 98 per cent of my DNA. The going is rough. I had balked when handed a walking stick at the start of the trek, but now I clutch it in a death grip. Caesar, our guide, literally slashes the branches as we climb, all eight of us crouched in a pretzel-posture, up steep expanses of rock and roots. Mercifully, I am told there are no snakes. Caesar’s walkie-talkie crackles with sporadic news from the trackers, whose job is to follow the chimps daily from nest to nest along the soaring canopy of jungle. After an hour, he lights up. “They have heard the call, so the animals are on...

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Don George, Editor

Don George is Editor in Chief of Wanderlust: Literary Journeys for the Discerning Traveler. He has been Travel Editor for the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle and Salon.com, and Global Travel Editor for Lonely Planet Publications. Don has published eight books, including Travel Writing, A Moveable Feast, The Kindness of Strangers, and Tales from Nowhere. E-mail him at [email protected]

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