“Worthwhile destinations always take extra effort.”
SADDLEBILL STORK AND SNAKE, BOTSWANA
This week our Photo Challenge is Extra. Coincidentally, I’ve been invited by Booked.net – Top Destinations to Go There - to participate in their “Top Destinations” Travel Blog by posting 5 of my favorite places (click on Top Destinations to Go There for a look). What could be more important to our travels than looking for places that offer that special something extra? So I’ve combined the two opportunities for your reading and viewing pleasure – hopefully you’ll enjoy your virtual visit almost as much as I enjoyed my actual travels :-). And if you’re in the mood for a bit more, visit my guest post about the US National Parks at Dwellable.com here
The photo above is from our safari in Botswana. (Nice of the colorful stork to share his extra – a snake dinner-UGH!) Personally I think it’s a destination that everyone should have the opportunity to visit. We’d been told that an African safari was a life-changing experience; having been there, I totally agree. It’s a place of superlatives – from the vastness of the landscape to the brilliance of the sunrise/sunset over the savannah, to the magnificent creatures in their natural habitat -Africa is a magical place not to be missed.
ELEPHANT, MORNING LIGHT, BOTSWANA
“When you have caught the rhythm of Africa, you find out that it is the same in all her music.”
AFTER THE BATTLE, BOTSWANA
“The drums of Africa still beat in my heart.”
Mary McLeod Bethune
YOUNG KING, BOTSWANA
“In Africa, we have a saying, to get lost is to learn the way.”
My next choice for an extra special place is Patagonia. It is a land of enormous vistas, snow-capped mountains, calving glaciers, and rugged terrain. Here we met the challenge of long, difficult hikes that rewarded us with scenery we could not have imagined. We visited Los Glacieres National Park in Argentina as well as Torres del Paine in Chile – both breathtaking. We augmented the natural beauty of the Andes with side trips to Mendoza’s vineyards and the bustling, historic city of Buenos Aires. The trip offers something for everyone, no matter where your interests lie. Of course, you have to get up extra early to catch the sunrise over the mountains, and work extra hard to hike to the top of the mountains for the best views :-)
LAGO DE LOS TRES, PATAGONIAN ARGENTINA
“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILEAN PATAGONIA
“Be still as the mountain.”
SUNRISE, TORRES DEL PAINE
“May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”
Next on our list, our most recent trip – the wonders of China. Candidly, it was not high on my list but everyone we knew who’d been there told us we HAD to go. How right they were! My husband and I were astounded by how incredible the trip was. We visited the great cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong as well as many of the most remote areas. We hiked the Great Wall (a life-long dream) and slept above the rice fields of Longsheng. We ate marvelous food and met warm, friendly people who were as interested in us as we were in them. It’s a fantastic journey not to be missed, and well worth taking some extra time to see the many different faces of this fascinating country.
CHINA’S GREAT WALL
“Let China sleep, for when she awakes she will shake the world.”
“To speak Chinese is not to know China.”
Dr. Geoff Raby
RICE TERRACES, LONGSHENG
“You can never let go of China in your mind.”
“In Chinese, the word for heart and mind is the same.”
Fourth, a wonderful trip to Cambodia. We traveled across most of Southeast Asia and loved all of it, but for me Cambodia was a clear favorite. Because of their difficult history, the people are happy simply to be at peace. Progress has been slow to arrive which means roads are mainly dirt, homes are thatch-roofed and farming typically means cows in the kitchen and oxen in the fields. As if that weren’t enough, the magnificent ruins of Angkor Wat are every bit as beautiful as those who have experienced them say they are.
GENTLER TIMES, CAMBODIA
“Cambodia, the most dangerous country you’ll ever visit, because you’ll fall in love with it…and then it will break your heart”.
“Let the peace of this day be here tomorrow when I wake up.”
MYSTICAL ANGKOR WAT
“The world is quiet here.”
TEMPLE GUARDIANS, ANGKOR WAT
“Peace is always beautiful.”
My final choice – the wild, untamed landscapes of Alaska. Glaciers, mountains, whales, puffins, sea lions, bears…you name it, we saw it. Fishing, hiking, boating, photography…you name it, we did it. There are few places left in the world today that offer so much for those who love adventure. The scenery is astounding, the wildlife omnipresent. It’s not easy to get there, but nothing worthwhile ever is, is it?!
GLACIER BAY, ALASKA
“I am glad I will not be young in a future without wilderness.”
“The Wilderness holds answers to more questions than we have yet learned to ask.”
Nancy Wynne Newhall
“We have yet to become fluent in the language -and music- of the wild.”
I hope you’ll forgive my extra-long post about some of the amazing places I’ve been fortunate to visit. As an aside, I’d have included Australia and New Zealand among my favorites (the Great Barrier Reef is a contender for the top of my favorites list) but most all of my photos of that trip were lost to a corrupt external drive – AARGH!!! Here’s to our bucket lists; may we never lose our sense of wonder at the beauty that surrounds us.
If you’re a fan of travel blogging, have a look at some of these:
The Urge to Wander
Canadian Travel Bug
China Sojourns Photography
Ron Mayhew’s Blog
The Palladian Traveler
If you’d like to see some other entries to this week’s challenge, click here.