COLUMBIA, SNAKE RIVER CRUISE….SOUTH AFRICA/NAMIBIA…MEXICO
What an interesting travel year! I went on two cruises, and my favorite destination, Africa.
I sailed last spring with Un-Cruise Adventures for 7 days exploring the Lewis and Clark trail up the Columbia/Snake River. We started in Portland where our small ship picked us up on the Willamette River near downtown. By dinner time, we set off to explore the beautiful Pacific Northwest. We had a bus trail our cruise so every day we went sightseeing. We toured dams, waterfalls, winetasting, museums and national monuments. All in all a fun, historic and delicious trip. If you’re looking for an easy vacation to take, this is a cruise to consider.
SOUTH AFRICA AND NAMIBIA (Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, Damaraland, Etosha)
Namibia was next on my list of African destinations. I stopped in Cape Town for a day because the last time I was there, I missed Robben Island so I made it the main goal of my stopover. I stayed at the wonderful Table Bay Hotel located in the V & A Waterfront, a 10 minute walk from the ferry to Robben Island. The island was once a leper colony, quarantine area, and prison for political prisoners until 1991; Nelson Mandala was incarcerated here for 18 years.
Next day, I boarded an early morning flight to Windhoek, Namibia. I met my friends at the arrival gate and boarded our plane to Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert. The Namib Desert is considered the oldest dessert in the world with the highest dunes. Not only did we see them, we climbed one of the largest dunes on earth! What a trippy experience.
From Sossusvlei, we flew to Swakopmund. The flight took us over the Skeleton Coast, exposing a shipwrecked graveyard. Swakopmund is the coastal resort area of Namibia and served as one of the country’s main harbors for many years. The town is quaint with a distinct German colonial character. We took a catamaran one morning and sailed around the harbor encountering birds, seals, dolphins. From there we drove along the shoreline in a specially designed 4 x 4 vehicle where we drove onto the Dunes and experienced a Disney-type ride driving fast up and down the dunes. What a blast!
On to Damaraland…a semi-desert wilderness area and home to the desert elephant, black rhino and antelope. Adapting to this environment, the elephants here have evolved to having leaner legs so they can maneuver the terrain and climb over the rocks and hills without difficulty. They can be a challenge to find but I was the one who spotted them.
From Damaraland we flew to the end of our destination, Etosha. This is Namibia’s wildlife reserve. Here we went on game drives to see elephant, lion, rhino, antelope – mainly, 4 out of the 5 big game species. I spent a day by myself at a watering hole and was fascinated by the animals that flock here. How they communicate and move together as a heard was fascinating, and the dynamics of the pecking order they all seem to observe. Elephants arrive, the antelope leave. Zebras move to the side and the smaller animals work their way in between. The day I was there, there must have been close to 30 elephants that came to drink. I brought a book with me to read, but was so enthralled, I never opened it. I sat there all day observing and taking lots of pictures. What an experience I will never forget and great way to end my trip!
PRINCESS CRUISE: (Los Angeles – Ensenada, Mexico)
Celebrating a friend’s 40th wedding anniversary, a group of us sailed on the Golden Princess out of San Pedro, California, for 4 days. We spent a day in San Diego visiting friends. A day in Ensenada wine tasting and shopping. One day was spent cruising the Pacific Ocean. We all had a fun, relaxing trip.