Love was in the air today at the 2014 Los Angeles Times Travel Show where I met honeymooners Chege and Justine, tour operators of African safaris from Kenya! Yes, these naturalist safari guides, with amazing photo skills, just married and they worked their booth giddy happy! For our future African adventures!
And they will smile! Smile! SMILE! They offer an opportunity to get over whatever may be bothering you in your crazy, crazy world and check out the wild things in a peaceful environment! Shhh! I'm photographing a bird.
Before traveling, check the CDC and your doctor for recommended vaccines. I believe for East Africa you'll need vaccines for Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A and B, and pills for Malaria. Don't take my word, though. Check it out, and timing before you go!
Honestly, I felt so good in Chege and Justine's presence, I can't imagine choosing any other tour guide for my African adventure. Click to learn more about Birdwatching East Africa here!
I asked Justine about best times to visit Kenya, and learned August to October is usual ideal 75-80 degrees with bird and animal migrations galore. June to November tourists will see local birds.
"The weather lately is a bit of a puzzle," Justine said. "March to May is rainy season and December, January and February are dry. But this past December it rained."
This refrain of crazy, unpredicatable weather was heard from almost every representative from countries around the world.
Climate Change. It's real. My educated friends know but even for me it was interesting that all these folks at the travel show sounded almost apologetic that they plain didn't know what weather to count on; they could only tell me patterns that may or may not apply.
As Bonaire wasn't well represented, que lastima! (what a pity! in Spanish) -- my girlfriend Christina raves about Bonaire and its world-class diving and birds -- instead I learned a lot about untouched Dominica, the Nature island. I spoke to Fernando Abreu, Deputy Director representing the Caribbean, and when I told Fernando that I love clean air in unspoiled areas with wildlife photo opportunities, he replied,
This unspoiled Caribbean Island comes complete with beautiful birds, sea turtles, 300 miles of hiking trails, great diving, and is accessed by Seaborne Airlines from Puerto Rico. From Dominica it was recommended to take a boat to nearby islands, Martinique and St. Lucia. (Photo courtesy of Caribbean Tourism)
Here's a National Geographic photo and article I found about Dominica. Awesome beauty!
Keeping with the common refrain of today's event, Fernando mentioned due to climate change the weather, while usually a pleasant 80 degrees year round, is occasionally unpredictable. I also learned Dec. 20 - April 20 more folks from the Northeast escape their cold for the Caribbean. And this is predictable!
Romania is the country of my ancestors. I will likely meet family flying to Romania from around the world at some designated time. So I got the scoop about Romania from Roxana Dorobantu of Perfect Tour on the country's clean air Carpathian Mountains, nearby national parks, spas famous for easing arthritis and heart disease, and seeing my grandfather's home town of Bacau.
3000. That's the number! One third of Europe's mineral and thermal springs are in Romania. They are considered to be healing and rejuvenating! With over 70 spas to choose from, Romania is a popular European destination.
Based on my interests, it was recommended to fly to Bucharest (air pollution is common), get a mini-van for family (there are trains) and drive to Brasov, which is surrounded by Carpathian Mountains... Ahh! clean air.
Just outside of Brasov is Bran Castle of Dracula mythology fame.
Photo courtesy of Romanian Tourist Office.
Next stop, a Romania spa experience. Consider a Covasna Spa for its mineral waters, thermal heat, and moffetes treatment for those with heart disease. Then to Baccau. My understanding is driving is about 3 1/2 hours between each jaunt.
I learned that May to October is generally excellent mild weather but Roxana added,
"With climate change, there's no guarantees. Sometimes in July it's dry, other times, all rain. This year we had snow in October whereas usually we have to wait for December!"
To learn about Romania, the country of my ancestors, click here.
Regarding Costa Rica, I spoke to Monica Irauzqui of Yampu Tours. When she heard of my interest in sustainability and wildlife photography, she recommended Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge. I haven't looked into it yet, but the lodge photos -- surrounded by lush greenery and wildlife -- appeared divine!
Other areas of clean air interest included Prescott, Arizona, the mile high city of lakes, trees, rodeos, and quaint Western facades like saloons back in the day; Active Tours out of Santa Monica, which takes small kayaking and photography groups to California and Alaska, and then there's exotic Fiji's MANA Island Resort and Spa and Samoa.
Also at the show were lectures on food, music festivals, and safety. I only made it for the safety lecture, which was most informative. Men, keep your wallets in your front pockets. Ladies, keep that purse and computer in front of you at all times! Never give out your credit card number at a hotel should someone call in the evening saying they lost your number!
I hope to see you at the 2015 Los Angeles Times Travel Show. And perhaps on the road toward cleaner air. Now it's time to turn off the computer, the lights, and unplug.
Until next time, breathe easy and make life an adventure!
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