Dear Advisor Partners,

Dorothy was right when she proclaimed, “Oh My!” in the Wizard of Oz. Since my last dispatch, I have now seamlessly crossed from Kenya into Tanzania. A friendly medical technician visited me in my hotel to conduct my PCR test. The crossing into Tanzania was effortless as I had my e-visa in hand, arrival and health forms that were printed out ahead of time, and the fast travel service at Kilimanjaro airport in hand in the FBO terminal.

After picking up the two travel advisors who would journey with me, I immediately went back to the land of Oz and the yellow brick road. It was Dorothy, the courageous lion and me (I am not sure if I was the Scarecrow or the Tin Man) off to see the wizard, in this case, named Ngorongoro.

After seeing a full range of wildlife in the crater floor and spending the night at my second home, Gibbs Farm, I flew to the Serengeti to explore the newly rebuilt Namiri Plains. I loved this camp in its original form when it first opened, however, seeing old friends from other camps now at Namiri made me feel right at home. On that first afternoon, a herd of big bull elephants ambled into camp. Stylishly late as I always am for afternoon tea, as I walked to the main entrance of the camp one of the bulls began eyeing me and moving towards me. Either he was scolding me for being late or was intrigued by my sharp fashion sense…  I like to think it was the latter. By the second day, the only sighting missing was a leopard.

Now as I write this, I confess to eagerly sabotaging the camp menu, showing the camp chef my favorite recipe for Maru Na Bhajia, crisp potato fritters or pakoras, a comfort food from my childhood in East Africa.

What started as a simple request from one of the advisors turned into a cooking experiment that either will solidify my legend as the bhajia king of Namiri or confirm that I still don’t know a thing about making good food. It’s likely the latter, however, I can dream, right?

Enjoy the latest video of my journey through East Africa. I am happy to share any input for anyone wondering about the entry and departure protocols in Kenya and Tanzania. I proudly share that our team has it down pat in both countries, including employing the newly utilized testing clinic in central Serengeti.

Stay tuned for Part 3 as the bhajia king… er… as I complete my safari with a visit to our ongoing foundation project at Ereto Primary School outside Arusha.

In the meantime, consider creating your own adventure in Tanzania such as on our Tanzania Highlights of the Northern Safari Circuit

Dear Advisor Partners,

I write this blog sitting just outside the fence of Tsavo West National Park in the private Mbulia Conservancy owned by the Taita community, who are based inside Tsavo West National Park, with the Mkamba community on the other side near Tsavo East National Park.

The view is just stunning, looking out over the sanctuary with Kilimanjaro as the backdrop. Not even 24 hours since I arrive and already I have spotted a leopard by a water lagoon, three herds of elephant, and even a herd of the famed and heavily endangered “big tusker” elephants. Incredible!

Tsavo likely has a historic connotation for anyone who read about the ghost and the darkness described in John Henry Patterson’s 1907 book The Man-Eaters of Tsavo, detailing his experiences building a railway bridge over the Tsavo River. Well today on the way in, I went right past the old Kenya Uganda railroad where the two male lions were caught in the late 1800s. One of those lions remains on display at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. If you haven’t heard about this book, I urge you to read Col Patterson’s original published journal. There are movies, of course, but trust me, the journal is better.

The Mbulia Conservancy is magnificent as is the story of the Taita people who built that railroad during the time of those lions. Today the same Taita community is at the forefront of conservation, working in partnership with the Mbulia Conservancy as lessors of the land that Kipalo Hills is built on.  Where else could you have a secluded camp like Kipalo Hills in a secluded conservancy such as Mbulia nestled deep inside Tsavo West National Park?

This is the Kenya even Hemmingway didn’t write out. Explore these extraordinary locations and much more on our President’s Pick Wilds of Uganda and Kenya

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my adventure. And if anyone wants to know what it was flying through Amsterdam to get here, just ask.

Dear Advisor Partner,

I grew up watching Japanese anime. Yes, you know those tech-focused cartoons that came long before Pokémon. My favorite, which fellow nerds will appreciate, was Voltron. Cheesy, maybe, however it was amazing and you either loved it or you didn’t. When this form came along it wasn’t trying to please everyone.  It came in two forms – anime (animation) and manga (comics), with most works starting out as manga before becoming anime.

If you look past the product and back into history, you see that manga originated in scrolls in the 12th century while anime only got its start at the beginning of the 20th century and was mainly used for political propaganda in Japan.

What better way to get our children past SpongeBob and take them back to anime that they can really connect with? This includes Beast Lion, the reboot of Voltron! Ok, I am geeking out, it’s true, however, we don’t see our children discovering something like this every day. That was the essence behind Precious Journeys® when we launched family travel so many years ago.

Today families, including grandparents, make up 30% of Big Five’s travelers. And, that number is growing. Why? Because our family travel experiences let children lead! They set the example for us to follow. I’ve experienced that with my own kids, who are inspired to explore the world.

Enter our latest family program, Precious Journeys® Japan Family Adventure into Animation. Kids get to explore the history of Japanese anime while visiting the sites that inspired the backdrops of some of the latest productions, including the Kamogawa River and the steps to Suga Shrine, both recreated into anime icons.

Enjoy the video for this unique adventure into the heart of some of Japan’s unique cultural gems.

Dear Advisor Partners

I remember as a little kid when I first heard the term ornithologist. I remember because I confused it with orthodontist, and confused birds with crooked teeth.  Sounds funny, I know. Of course, growing up within the Big Five universe, I learned the definition early on, I think even before I could count properly.

When I was 16, I experienced the meaning of the word firsthand during my first visit to Ecuador with my best friend Fred. The infrastructure was certainly not what it in today, however, the charm was just as powerful and, of course, the birds just as captivating. I often think about that adventure as I explore the Galapagos, the cloud-forest before any development, and the Amazon where the skiffs were locally made and the channels to reach the lodge even narrower.

You can see how much Ecuador has changed over the decades as it has grown in popularity. However, with more than 25% of the population indigenous, and one of the best variety of wildlife in the world, there is hardly a moment that feels boring.

My last visit four months ago was just as exciting as my first visit as a clueless teenager. What continues to draw me in still are the birds – more than 1,600 species, one of the richest most diverse avian populations on the planet. All these years later I still get excited talking about the wildlife of Ecuador. So you can imagine how my jaw dropped as I read this new program our team has just designed. When I love a program I normally share it with the team to prepare it to put it online, and share it on a blog as well as schedule it out. This program was so exciting that it simply could not wait, so the team rushed to prepare this program, because it just had to be shared. Trust me, it’s that good, even better if you love wildlife. And birdwatchers…  whoa!

Introducing our newest President’s Pick, featuring the Ecuador you know and the Ecuador that may surprise you. Beyond the Galapagos Islands, which is a perennial favorite with us, lies the protected lands within the Amazon Jungle, where thick vegetation, undisturbed landscapes and the absence of city lights allow the night sky to illuminate the entire horizon.  The Tandayapa Valley in this adventure is the true birders paradise going beyond known favorites such as the Mindo to a reserve where hummingbirds and orchids are the stars.

And, of course, you can’t have a complete program in Ecuador without being suspended near the tree line on a moving cycle through the branches… Now that is just plain cool!  Watch the great video to see for yourself.

From the first visit to the latest visit, Ecuador never ceases to show me something new. Enjoy our newest President’s Pick A Birdwatchers Paradise.

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