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Rhinos are rare and endangered animals, as most people know. Hunted to near extinction for their horns — used in traditional Asian medicine and for making dagger handles — they now mostly survive in protected areas and zoos. They’ve made a modest comeback, and hopefully the trend will continue.
I’ve only ever seen 4 rhinos in the wild, all in the Ngorongoro Crater. They’re magnificent animals — imposing, unforgettable. In the above photo, the massive lumbering rhino is contrasted with dozens of small, graceful Thompson gazelles (Tommies) leaping across the floor of the crater. I wish I’d captured the scene on video. It sort of crystallized the African game-watching experience for me — the great admixture and fluid interactions of all …
The Maasai are a distinguished tribe residing in eastern Africa (Tanzania and Kenya). Tall, with handsome features, Maasai people can often be recognized at a distance by their brightly colored (mostly red) garments. They are herders, raising cattle, and have a semi-nomadic life.
While on safari in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, we spent an hour visiting a Maasai village near the Olduvai Gorge. We were invited into their homes and treated with kindness. The village consisted of a series of small huts constructed of sticks and cow dung, surrounded by a tall thorny fence — a rather primitive and dismal place. Still, they seemed quite content. A highlight of our visit was when the Massai entertained us. The …
I love being in the mountains! One of my greatest travel experiences was a trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro. Mt. Kilimanjaro is a massive free-standing extinct volcano (actually a fusion of 3 volcanoes) in Tanzania, just south of Kenya and near the equator. It’s the highest peak in Africa (5,895 m or 19,341 ft) and, as such, one of the Seven Summits (highest mountain on each of the seven continents). Its summit can be reached without technical climbing gear but it’s a long walk up.
Our camp before the night of our ascent to Uhuru Peak was at around 18,000′ (5500 m) above sea level, right beside the glaciers of the Western Icefields. The light at …
We had spent the past week slowly working our way up the slopes of Kilimanjaro via the Shira route, an experience I’ve previously described in blog posts here and here. Finally, after a chilly night’s camping beside the Furtwangler Glacier on the Summit Plateau, the Roof of Africa was only a few hours away.
We were up before dawn, enjoyed hot tea and a light breakfast and were eager to tackle the 800′ climb separating our camp from Uhuru Peak (19,340′). It was slow going in the thin air and steep slope but what an experience to watch the early light of sunrise on the eastern horizon! The sky above us was mostly …
We had ascended the western base of the volcano this past half week, had hiked through jungle and moorland, as I’ve described in a prior blog post here, and were now entering Kilimanjaro’s alpine desert zone, characterized by wide open spaces with sparse, small plants. We began feeling the altitude as our pulse and breathing grew more rapid in the thin air. The views were unobstructed and wonderful — it seemed like you could see all of Africa from here. But in reality we enjoyed the African plains, the Shira plateau to the west and the iced peak of Kilimanjaro to the northeast. Often the clouds would roll by thousands of feet below our camp (Like …
Mt. Kilimanjaro has fascinated me ever since I read Ernest Hemingway’s classic novella, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro“. Little did I know as a schoolboy that I would one day walk its slopes. As it turned out my journey to the Roof of Africa was one of my greatest travel experiences.
Some facts about the mountain: At 19340 feet (5895 m) above sea level, Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa. Even though the mountain is near the equator, it’s so tall the summit is always covered by ice and snow (“Kili” means cold.); this snow-pack is an important source of water for the foliage and animals living around its base. The lower slopes …
The last safari destination we visited in Tanzania was Lake Manyara National Park. We left our camp after breakfast and drove the Ngorongoro Crater Rim Drive through misty rain-forest We stopped for some memorable views and then left the Ngorongoro Crater. After having spent a week in the wilderness, the transition to “civilization” was abrupt and not pretty, with many poorly kept homes, scrawny domesticated animals, and lots of people. We drove east past farming fields, though with no crops really growing — off season, I guess (normally corn, wheat, millet and coffee are grown). There were many towns and villages but no cities and also no wildlife.
By late morning our travels bring us to Lake Manyara National …
In all my travels, visiting the Ngorongoro Crater remains one of my most precious experiences. The setting of this collapsed volcanic crater, its many animals and beautiful landscapes are still fresh in my mind. A nomad I met in Guatemala once described his visit to the Ngorongoro Crater like “visiting Noah’s Ark” — now I know why, because there are so many different animal species here. It’s a destination worth flying half way around the world to see by itself. When you combine it with a visit to the Serengeti and a trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro, you’ve an itinerary that’s hard to beat!
The journey to the Ngorongoro Crater:
From Serengeti National Park we drove overland heading …