No more robo phone calls, no posters and signs gathered in clusters on every corner, no cell phones or social media. Just lions and leopards and maybe a cheetah or two.
We bet many of you and your families are dreaming of the week after the elections in a land far, far away, where the most exciting commotions come from the full-throated voice of a lion outside camp and the hot air comes in the form of a balloon drifting above the golden African plains. Or maybe it’s catching sight of a leopard up a tree on a night game drive, or watching a cheetah racing across the plains as you walk with your Maasai guide.
Africa – there is no place better to unhook from the everyday and discover the extraordinary. Reconnect with the wider world in all its wonder. Savor picnic lunches in uncrowded private reserves and sundowners around the campfire at the end of the day.
Come to Africa to refresh your perspective and get lost for a day or ten on our Private Conservancies of Kenya & Tanzania.
There’s still time.
After such a nerve-wracking presidential election cycle, many of us are ready to take a deep breath and move on. We know that regardless of the outcome, we will go on, the sun will come out, the birds will sing, and the holidays will sneak up on us… as usual.
So here are five items that should be at the top of your post-election “to do” list:
Whatever your post-election plans include, be sure to make your holiday plans while there is still time and space available.
Caves are mysterious, sometimes other worldly, landforms that prove endlessly fascinating to almost any nine year old as well as grown spelunkers, cave enthusiasts and geologists. Plato used the Allegory of the Cave in his master work Plato’s Republic to talk about the nature of reality.
Evidence suggests that caves were occupied during the Mesolithic period about 6000 BCE. At least some of the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in India, were inhabited by Homo erectus more than 100,000 years ago with Stone Age rock paintings some 30,000 years old.
Cave paintings and drawings on walls or ceilings date back some 40,000 years to around 38,000 BCE in both Asia and Europe. The exact purpose of the Paleolithic cave paintings is not known as they have been found in caves not considered to have been continuously inhabited. They have also been found in areas of caves that are not easily accessible. Theories’ range from communication to ritual, ceremonial or religious purposes.
Caverns proved to be natural sites for shrines. In India, rock-cut architecture is found in greater abundance – more than 1,500 structures – than any other form of rock-cut architecture around the world. Many of these contain artwork of global importance and are decorated with stunning carvings. These ancient constructions represent important achievements in engineering and artistry.
The Badami Cave Temples are a complex of four Hindu and Jain cave temples located in Badami in Karnataka, India. Four caves were carved into the soft sandstone cliffs in the late 6th to 7th centuries CE, and are examples of Badami Chalukya architecture.
Badami was previously known as Vataapi Badami, the capital of the early Chalukya dynasty, which ruled much of Karnataka from the 6th to the 8th century. Badami is situated on the west bank of an artificial lake and is surrounded on the north and south by forts constructed sometime later.
The entrance to the caves is through a terrace that leads to a columned main hall, and then into the first cave, features sculptures of Hindu divinities with a prominent carving of the Tandava-dancing Shiva as Nataraja. The second cave has Hindu subjects including a relief of Vishnu as Trivikrama while the third cave, the largest, encompasses Vishnu-related mythology and is also the most intricately carved. The cave four is dedicated to revered figures of Jainism.
These cave temples represent some of the earliest known examples of Hindu temples. UNESCO has described the designs of the Badami Cave Temples as well as temples in Aihole as having transformed the Malaprabha River Valley into a cradle of temple architecture that defined the components of later Hindu temples elsewhere in India.
These amazing cave temples and the rich heritage of Southern India are featured in our new 14-day President’s Pick: Southern India’s Vijaynagar Empire.
There are many delightful advantages to living in sunny South Florida, but hurricane season isn’t necessarily one of them. As we prepare for a possible landfall of Hurricane Matthew, we consider his origins.
Hurricanes are a global spectacle. Many have their beginnings in the sands of the massive Sahara Desert. A tropical cyclone may form as the areas of disturbed weather move westward across the Atlantic. They whirl and thrash their way across the Atlantic to the sandy coasts of the Caribbean, Florida and beyond.
According to National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Hurricane Iselle, which landed in the Big Island of Hawaii on August 8, 2014, was likely part of a wave that formed more than 8,000 miles away off of the West Coast of Africa – a powerful example of the far-reaching influence the Sahara Desert has on our planet’s weather.
As we prepare to get wet, we wish we were in a dryer locale, like maybe the Chile’s Atacama Desert. Indeed, it is the driest non-polar desert in the world and occupies some 105,000 square kilometers/41,000 square miles. The average rainfall is said to be about 15 mm/0.6 in per year.
In spite of the lack of rain, some 500 species of flora have been found here, and are remarkable for their ability to adapt to this extreme environment. Except for those most extreme areas of the desert, some creatures have been able to make this almost inhospitable land home such as sand-colored grasshoppers, beetles, desert wasps, red scorpions and butterflies. Certain areas are occupied by birds, Humboldt penguins, Andean flamingos, hummingbirds and threatened species such as the endangered Chilean woodstar. A few specially adapted mammal species include Darwin’s leaf-eared mouse, the South American gray fox, guanaco and vicuña with seals and sea lions often gather along the coast.
So, while we wait out Matthew, you can think about exploring this remarkable, and dry, desert on one of our adventures such as the 17-day Chile and Argentina journey
PS Holiday space is still available.
PPS Be sure to follow us on Instagram to see if we are underwater or just a bit wet and for the latest hurricane updates: @bigfivetravletours #bfhurricane.
PPPS Why yes, that is a satellite shot of the Atacama desert you clicked on.