The Negev Desert is a dry mass of undulating beige and cream-colored mountains, hills, slopes and valleys. There are even a few archeological ruins here and there. In its midst is Ramon Crater, a 25-mile-long natural geological wonder that looks similar to a heart. There are a few others in the Negev, but, Ramon, officially known as Makhtesh Ramon, is the largest. Makhtesh, means mortar grinder, suggesting a resemblance to the bottom of a marble mortar, sans pestle. Its straight walls run about 1,700 feet to its crater floor. In some spots it spans about one-half mile across. Make no mistake, this makhtesh, formed a few hundred million years ago, wasn’t caused by a stray meteor. No, nature did this, and it’s almost otherworldly. It could be a contender for its Eighth Wonder of the World, though there are a few other Israeli contenders.
Dubai is a city of achievements - the tallest building (the Burj Kahlifa), and the largest indoor theme park (IMG Worlds of Adventure), just to name a few. And, their latest achievement is just as important. Following the soft opening of The Westin Dubai, Al Habtoor City late last year, a milestone of 100,000 hotel rooms was reached across Dubai’s expanding hotel and apartment inventory.
A herd of about 30 elephants come within about 50 feet of our open safari vehicle. Suddenly, one turns toward us, lowers its head and starts running. Our driver coolly eases out of its path. He says it is a false charge. You could have fooled me.
You never know what to anticipate on a Southern African safari. But, the many luxurious bush lodges are no surprise.
Here is a sample of some in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia. Each is unique and all-inclusive including game drives. Note that many are only accessible by charter jet.
There are a number of islands off the coast of Africa that are neither safari destinations, nor do they offer the typical African experience. For the intrepid traveler looking for a taste of culture and a beach break for a few days, these islands in the Indian Ocean offer nothing less than a delicious chance to break from the norm and really get a feel for the journey.
The island of Mauritius has a culture steeped in a melting pot of Indian, African and French influence, all part of the island’s history. Indeed, Americans should put Mauritius on their bucket lists. Europeans have known about this high-end travel destination for years.
Few countries in the world have a rich artistic and cultural history that has lasted for millennia like Egypt. Nearly 4,000 years ago trade with other countries opened up to the outside world and the trend continued through a steady cycle of growth. Eventually tourism replaced trade and the public’s attraction to visit the fabulous Egyptian monuments, to luxuriate in opulent palaces, to sail down the Nile on a five-star ship and to be treated like royalty has never waned. Interviews with tour operators specializing in the country indicate that Egypt is not only safe but affordable. Egypt is now.
I’ve always been drawn to the beauty and mystery of the desert. There’s something about the stillness that’s otherworldly. The Negev Desert is where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob tended their herds, according to the Christian, Judean and Moslem faiths.
It would be impossible for a traveler to see and experience everything that Dubai and Abu Dhabi have to offer in one trip. A very small sample of the must-see sights in Dubai include the man-made Palm and World Islands, which provide a breathtaking view when seen from the air. Encourage clients to visit the Dubai Museum for a sense of history and culture.
South Africa is an amazing destination that has lots to offer the North American traveler. South Africa offers everything from fine dining in Cape Town, to compelling iconic cultural attractions in Johannesburg, to everyone’s favorite - wild game safaris, highlighting the Big Five; Lions, Elephants, Buffalos, Leopards, and Rhinos.
Once President Obama signed the Joint Plan of Action with Iran on July 14, 2015, public perception of Iran changed dramatically. Travel sanctions were lifted (not without warnings) as did the veil of negative perceptions. Iran has recaptured the attention of globetrotters who’ve been waiting to tick it off their bucket list. Tourism is an important government directive in Iran. According to sources, the country is investing to invigorate tourism, in contrast to the past. Recent statistics indicate a 40 percent rise in tourism since 2014.
There is a cadence in a giraffe’s walk that makes it appear as though they are keeping time to music in their heads. They nod and lope along to a slow rhythmic beat and gently bob their long graceful necks. I think they might be the most beautiful of all the animals in Kenya. On Crescent Island in Lake Naivasha they are the stars of the show because they allow you to get very close and observe them. Walking here, unencumbered by the confines of a safari jeep, it feels as if you are on a film set for Out of Africa. Indeed, these very creatures could be the offspring of the African animals that starred in that 1985 classic movie; it was filmed right here on this 8 acre island.