Meeting the Batwa people in Buhoma

Visited in July 2014.

Sometimes the best travel experiences are found when you least expect them. We were in Buhoma, a gateway village outside of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park on the day after a successful gorilla tracking experience and were looking for one last activity before driving to Kigali. The idea to do this tour came from my Lonely Planet guidebook and this was another highlight in a three-week African trip already full of them.

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Addis Ababa

Last visited in June 2016

Serving as home to the headquarters of the African Union, the UN Economic Commission for Africa and a host of other international organizations, Addis Ababa is sometimes called Africa’s political capital and like many other world capitals, it’s far from the most interesting place in Ethiopia. But there is no avoiding the city on any tour of the country, as it serves as the location of Ethiopia’s only international airport.  And Addis is not without its charms. The city does has some interesting sights, modern tourist infrastructure and a thriving art scene. Continue reading Addis Ababa

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

UNESCO World Heritage List Inscription Details

Visited in July 2014

Bwindi is home to 340 or more than a third of the world’s remaining 800 mountain gorillas and  gorilla tracking is without a doubt one of my most memorable travel experiences. I highly recommend it to anyone. However there are a few things to keep in mind when planning this “trip of a lifetime” : you have to plan far in advance, as permits are limited, the trip is not  cheap, and there is no guarantee you will actually see the gorillas, although the park estimates your chances at 95%. In my view however, this trip is definitely worth the expense and risk of disappointment.

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Arenal Volcano National Park

Visited in March 2016.

All seasoned travelers have had at least one disappointing trip. At some point, things start to seem familiar or even worse, inferior to what you’ve already seen and you start questioning your choice of destination. I hate to admit it, but this happened to me in Costa Rica. By the middle of my trip, I was feeling somewhat underwhelmed. I had not seen as many animals, as I had expected, had little interest in many of the activities on offer, and was starting to question whether coming to here was the right decision. And then on my fourth morning in country, I was on the bus to La Fortuna from Monteverde, we turned the corner and there was Arenal in all its glory. What a sight! It made me remember why I love travelling so much and why I had wanted to come here to begin with.

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Notes from several trips in 2014, 2015 and 2016

For many people of my generation, the first thing that comes to mind when Ethiopia is mentioned is the horrible famine that ravaged the country in the 1980s, the worldwide relief effort, “Live Aid” and “We are the World”. While Ethiopia today is still very poor, it’s developing fast and is a much more prosperous place, than these stereotypes would have one believe. Furthermore, the country is wonderfully diverse and incredibly rich in history and culture, with some sites that truly are wonders of the world. But it’s greatest asset are the gentle and hospitable people who live here and make all visitors feel welcome and at home. When I first visited in summer of 2014, I immediately fell in love with the country and came back for a longer trip in 2015 with friends, and then again in 2016 for a photography workshop. I am sure I will keep coming back and I wholeheartedly recommend it to all travelers who value excitement and beauty over comfort.

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Rio de Janeiro

UNESCO World Heritage Site Inscription details

Visited in October 2015

A friend of mine who has worked in Rio for the last couple of years very aptly described the city as a gorgeous beach with a city attached. At the risk of offending the city’s many fans, I found the city’s natural setting  the most beautiful thing about Rio de Janeiro. The combination of beach, mountains and Atlantic forest is truly spectacular. And while the city has its share of man-made wonders, they pale in comparison to the works of Mother Nature.

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Notes from group visits in 2013 and 2016

No matter how popular Georgia is with travelers from the former USSR, the country is still one of the world’s best kept travel secrets and deserving of a much bigger reputation then it currently enjoys. I think there will come a time when all the world’s travelers will come to appreciate all the good things about coming here – the warm hospitality of the Georgian people themselves, the beautiful scenery, the ancient winemaking traditions and spectacular cuisine, the unique culture,art and architecture. In the meantime those of us in the know can enjoy all this with less competition.

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Lavaux Vineyard Terraces

bUNESCO World Heritage Site Inscription Details

Last visited in May 2015

Set on a 30 km stretch of the south facing coast of Lake Geneva between Lausanne and Montreux in the canton of Vaud, these beautiful vineyards have been described by Forbes as “the Best Wine Region You’ve Never Heard of“. The region is comprised of 8 wine-making villages on  Lake Geneva  and the setting of Lavaux is beautiful any time of the year. You can hike here any time from March to November, according to Switzerland Tourism, but if you want to come both see Lavaux and sample the wines, there is one perfect time to do it – the weekend of  Caves Ouvertes Vaudoises (Open Cellars) in May.

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Lake Sevan and Sevanavank

Visited – August 2013

Lake Sevan lies roughly 70 km Northeast of Yerevan, Armenia’s capital.  It’s the largest lake in the Caucasus region and one of the largest high altitude lakes in the world, however its size has been reduced substantially by human intervention. It remains a very popular day trip destination, as well as the largest freshwater reserve in the Caucusus and although the water in the lake is on the chilly side, you can swim here in the summer.

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Khor Virap

Visited – August 2013

Getting to Khor Virap took a very scenic 40 minute drive southeast of Yerevan to the border with Turkey, surrounded by the vineyards of the Ararat plain. This trip is best done early in the morning, as the monastery is located on the Ararat plains and your chances of getting a good look at beautiful Mount Ararat are better at this time of day.

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