2018 was an especially good year for travel. I was fortunate to be able to travel somewhere fun almost every month, both in the US and overseas.
Many of the locations that I visited were new to me, including a new continent-Africa. I also revisited some of my favorite cities-London, Istanbul and Washington D.C. I have written about my experiences for many of these destinations-but some are still sitting in my draft que, waiting to be finished (one of the resolutions for 2019 before I start traveling again).
I’m a planner. For me, figuring out the details of a trip is just as much fun as the actual travel. But not surprisingly, I discovered that the most meaningful experiences are often the unexpected ones.
“Please. Come into my shop. Let me show you what I have. I will make you a good deal”. This was the constant litany that accosted us as we wandered the narrow lanes in historic Stone Town. But I wasn’t interested just in shopping. What I was really on the hunt for was to see the famous carved Zanzibar doors.
The photo for this post was recognized in the 2018 North American Travel Journalists Association awards competition with a Bronze in the Photography, Portrait, People,- Online category.
As we were touring the Sultan’s Palace Museum in Stone Town on the island of Zanzibar, a group of local students were also visiting on a school field trip. They were all dressed in what was clearly a school uniform – the boys in grey slacks and yellow polo shirts and the girls in ankle length grey skirts and yellow head scarves. I was struck by the contrast of the girls with their simple head coverings as they were studying one of the displays in the museum, and the painting behind them of a very elaborately dressed Empress Elizabeth of Austria. The painting was given as a gift when Zanzibar’s ruler, Sultan Barghash bin Said, signed a treaty with Austria-Hungary’s Emperor Franz Josef in 1888.
The narrow alley like streets in Zanzibar’s historic Stone Town are filled with stores and vendors that all seem to sell the same carved wooden masks, kaleidoscopic lion paintings and made-in-China t-shirts. There was one store that I discovered though that was different – Sasik. This is a non-for-profit women’s cooperative that makes beautiful applique cushion covers and wall hangings based on Arabic designs. The proceeds from the sales go back to the women and their families.
If you visit Stone Town, make sure to check out and support Sasik.
We ended our tour of East Africa with two days on the island of Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania. After almost two weeks of driving through game parks and seeing so much wildlife, sitting on the beach for a day felt like I had been transported to a different world, even though it was just a short flight away. I love to watch sunrise and sunset on a beach. Since our hotel was on the island’s east coast, in this case it meant getting up early to see the Zanzibar sunrise. Definitely well worth the early morning wake up call.
An African safari should be more than just seeing the BIG 5. The extent of the animal diversity in this part of the planet was amazing. This photo essay shares the great 55 African safari animals that I saw in the many parks I visited on my first Kenya and Tanzania safari adventure.
We were treated to a spectacular sunset on our last evening on safari in Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park. One of the things that made this park unique from the others we had visited was not the animal life, but rather, the plant life – the baobab trees to be specific. The distinctly wide and bulbous shaped tree trunk stores water for the tree so that it can survive drought conditions, thereby its other name “Tree of Life”.
Photo Location – A lion prowls the savanna grasses in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania, Africa. An appropriate photo for this old Turkish Proverb.
This lion was just one of the many animals we were fortunate to observe in their natural habitat inside the unique ecosystem that makes up the Ngorongoro Crater, one of Tanzania’s UNESCO Heritage Sites. The crater is the largest inactive caldera in the world and supports a huge diversity of wildlife. Because of its enclosed area, the crater has one of the densest populations of lions in East Africa. We ended up seeing seventeen lions during three separate sightings on our game drives in the crater.
After a month of traveling, I once again have the time for these weekly inspirational quotes.