January 10, 2006, I started my adventure by taking multiple planes (Chicago-London-Johannesburg-Maun-Sandibe Lodge) the total time it took to get to my first destination was 30 hours. The last plane was an 8 seated prop plane. By the way the plane looked I would be happy to arrive in one piece. It was leaking water on the inside of the plane. This is where I met my fellow travelers, two couples from Germany and 2 girls for Switzerland. One of which, Coni, spoke enough English to hold a conversation with during my safari. By the end of the vacation we would all learn other languages. We also met our guide Sam, who was a fantastic resource and had many years of experience in tracking animals.
Once we arrived at Sandibe Lodge I was taken to my room which was a spacious, open air room. We were given instructions that we were not to leave the room at night, because the animals roamed freely around the lodge. If we had an emergency we needed to blow a whistle and security would come to our aid. At this lodge the electricity would be turned off one hour after dinner and turned on one hour before breakfast. At this point I knew I was in for an experience of a lifetime. The following morning I awoke to the beat of drums, this was our alarm clock. During the night I could hear hippos walking in the marsh in front of my cabin. After breakfast we started the game drives.
This area of Botswana is a true oasis that is situated in the middle of the largest stretch of continuous sand in the world, the Kalahari basin. I visited four game reserves, Sandibe, Savute, Moremi and Chobe. My tour operator was CC Africa Expeditions. Several of the CC Africa Lodges have received international recognition for their work with local communities and in the restoration of degraded habitats. I experienced/survived 6 nights of camping. The bucket showers and bathroom trips, second bush to the left, were a treat. Unexpected dinner guests included a hyena and an elephant. Our dinner, which consisted of pizza and homemade bread, even had extra protein: moths! It was amazing. My 4am wake up call was an impala caught by a wild dog, as evidenced by the tracks outside my tent. Overnight we heard lions and a hippo.
Our camps were at Moremi, Savute, and Chobe Games reserves. Moremi is one of Africa's most beautiful reserves. It has excellent game viewing all year-round. Savute and Chobe are well known for their large herds of animals. Despite being an almost semi-dessert like area, these parks offer an astounding game experience. Even at night, when it wasn't raining, we could see millions of stars. Including the Milky Way. One rainy night we had a long wait for our meal, so we started drinking wine. We managed to drink 5 bottles of red wine while waiting for dinner. Needless to say, we all spoke the same language that night, "drunk." At least I slept well...
Travelers have been marveling at Egypt's wondrous antiquities for thousands of years - even the ancient Greeks and Romans were awed by them. A visit to Egypt is more than an immersion in the past glories. The clamorous present is ever-present: Mud-brick villages sprout TV antennae, stone and glass high-rises tower over ancient monuments and pop music counterpoints the call to prayers. Nearly all of Egypt is desert, but the small part that isn't - the valley of the Nile River - is vital to the nation (95% of the population lives within a few miles of the Nile's banks). Egypt is the largest country in the Arab world, and among African nations, is the second in population only to Nigeria. I arrived in Cairo after another long series of plane rides. I was welcomed by Ahmed, my tour director. After I settled into the Semiramis Intercontinental.
My tour started in the ancient city of Memphis. This was the capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom and most of the Pharaonic period. I started on my tour of Cairo. These 4,500 year old pyramids were built for Pharaohs Cheops, Chephren and Mycerinus on the Giza Plateau. The Great Pyramid being the only survivor of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Sphinx is a sculpture of considerable size found on the rock where it was carved so as not to obstruct the views of the pyramids. It has a lion's body and a human's head, which symbolize the strength and the wisdom of the Pharaoh. I checked out of my hotel and started my cruise on the Nile. My tour started with a stop to the Temple at Abu Simbel, just a short plane ride to Aswan. Yes, another plane!
This temple built by the Great Ramses II, Egypt's longest ruling pharaoh, is one of the most recognizable images in the country. Actually two temples, namely the Great Temple of Ra-Harakhte, fronted by the four colossal statues of Ramses II and the Temple of Hathor, dedicated to Ramses' favorite wife Queen Nefertari, they were moved to their current location when the creation of Lake Nasser threatened their existence. Abu Simbel was not freestanding. The facade was a cliff face. The reconstruction is nearly perfect and every year on February 22 and October 22, one day later that originally planned, the dawn rays of the sun reach to the heart of the sanctuary to revive the cult statues. Modern Luxor grew out of the ruins of Thebes, once the capital of ancient Egypt's New Kingdom (1550-1069 BC). The monumental temples at Luxor and Karnak were famed thought the ancient world and have attracted tourists since Greek and Roman times.
Dominating the banks of the Nile in the centre of town, Luxor Temple is an elegant example of Pharonic temple architecture. Dedicated to the Theban triad of Amun, Mut and Khonsu, the temple was largely completed by the 18th Dynasty pharaoh Amenhotep III and added to during the reign of Ramses II in the 19th Dynasty. Although temple was further modified by later rulers, including Alexander the Great, its design remained strikingly coherent in contrast to the sprawling complex that developed at nearby Karnak. The temple is approached by an avenue of sphinxes, which once stretched all the way from Luxor to Karnak, almost 2 km (1.2 miles).