ActiveTravels | get up & go!  
 subscribe to ActiveTravels
 Subscribe by RSS By RSS Feed or Email
 
Follow ActiveTravels on Twitter Like ActiveTravels on Facebook View the ActiveTravels YouTube channel
 
ActiveTravels - Travel Agents You Can Trust
   
     
 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It’s The People Who Make Africa So Special

Everyone seems to go to Africa on safari. And yes, after spending the past week finding lions poking their manes out of the bush, watching a leopard gnawing on a goat high up a tree, and seeing family after family of giraffes, elephants, and warthogs, I can attest to that exhilarating feeling of wild abandonment. But as cute as those animals are, you have very little connection. It’s the people who make Africa a special place, especially in Kenya. From the high-end safari owner who feels it’s her civic duty to provide a water well, schooling, library, and HIV prevention education to a large slum in Nairobi even though she already employs many Kenyans on her payroll. Or the Maasai villager on the Tanzanian border, who after performing a tribal dance in headgear and dress, asks me if I’m on Facebook. He’ll happily send me pictures of the lions, he notes. Or the insightful safari guide, who received his college education in the States after a California professor visited Kenya and was quickly enamored with his brilliance. I turned him on to the African dance tunes of Deep Forest. Or the General Manager of a resort in the shadows of Mount Kenya, who being from India, taught me a secret of dealing with travel dysentery. Always eat yoghurt the first day of visiting a country, especially in places like India or Mexico, known for their laundry list of stomach ailments. Most of all, there are those smiling faces of young children in Nairobi schools and the Maasai villages. The ones I love to pass out “heart” stickers to. These people are the reason I return to Africa. Sure, I love Simba and Pumba like the rest of us, but it’s to the Kenyan people that I say asante sana for a wonderful trip. Hope to see you again soon!


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/23/10 at 01:59 PM
Wildlife Viewing • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Monday, November 22, 2010

London’s Savoy is Finally Open Again

On the way back from Nairobi, I had a 12-hour overnight in London, just enough time to check out The Savoy. The grande dame reopened on 10/10/10 after a 3-year renovation, with Prince Charles on hand to do the ribbon cutting. Now under the helm of the Fairmont, they enhanced the Edwardian and Art Deco design so all that polished silver and lacquered onyx shines again. We had a casual dinner of tuna sandwiches in the Thames Foyer next to a large winter garden gazebo under a glass cupola. Across the room, a woman was belting out “All That Jazz” from the stage of the Beaufort Bar, the same spot where Gershwin first played “Rhapsody in Blue.” That night in the American Bar, the classic cocktail lounge that came to fame in the 30s, Jerry Hall was supposedly in the house near a photograph of a younger Jerry Hall shot by photographer Terry O’Neil. Conveniently located on the Strand in the heart of the Theater District, the Savoy is hopping once again, so stop by for dinner, drinks, or afternoon tea and you’ll probably be staying the night like Richard Harris often did. In fact, there’s now a suite named after him.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/22/10 at 02:00 PM
Lodging • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Maasai Open Their Own Resort

The Maasai are best known for their mud huts. So it might come as a surprise that these tall warriors of southern Kenya have recently entered the hotel business. They have formed a joint partnership with a private safari company, Nairobi-based Art of Adventures, to open Shompole Game Reserve. Shompole is nestled on 35,000 acres of conservation land near the Nguruman Escarpment in southeastern Kenya. The resort only has six mega-sized guest rooms, which comes with private plunge pool and a sprawling lounge area. The main activity at Shompole is game drives, where guests travel through the bush in open-air Land Rovers accompanied by a Maasai tracker. The more adventurous can also go on game walks, sunset trips to Lake Natron to see the flamingos, or evening picnics in the bush.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/18/10 at 02:00 PM
Luxury Adventure • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Friday, November 12, 2010

Mount Kenya Safari Club

If you wander into the bar at the Mount Kenya Safari Club, you will not see Ernest Hemingway telling tall tales from a day of big-game hunting. Nor will you have to fight pet leopards for a seat at the bar. But in the club’s heyday in the 1960s, these things were commonplace. Hollywood heartthrob William Holden (Bridge Over The River Kwai, Network) and his partners, oil billionaire Ray Ryan and Swiss financier Carl Hirschmann, ran the place as the most elite private members’ club in the world. Membership was by invitation only and included Bing Crosby, David Lean, Charlie Chaplin, Steve McQueen, Conrad Hilton, Winston Churchill and the Maharaja of Jaipur. Holden, who fell in love with Kenya on hunting safaris in the 50s was known for his practical joking in the bar, such as snakes hidden in the bottom of a peanut tin. Yet there is more to this sybaritic retreat in northern Kenya than Hollywood magic dust left behind from years of raucous carousing. It is the sheer beauty of this stretch of land that sits at the base of Africa’s second-highest mountain, 17,057-foot Mount Kenya. Manicured lawns sweep down to a pool, past flower-filled ponds and then on to the slopes, where they climb for miles to the snow-dusted peak, known locally as Kirinyaga. The club is built directly on the equator, its line cutting straight through the main bar, following the curve of the national park before running into the seventh hole of the club’s small nine-hole golf course.

There will be no blogs the week of November 15th since I’ll still be in Africa. I’ll be back on November 22nd. Have a great week, filled with adventure!
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/12/10 at 02:00 PM
Luxury Adventure • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Conservation Efforts in the Masai Mara

Mara is Swahili for “dotted hillside,” aptly named for the wealth of wildlife roaming the valley, especially during the fall when vast hordes of wildebeests are making their annual migration from the Masai Mara to the Serengeti. Yet, it wasn’t so long ago that this same wilderness area was rife with poachers aiming to bag their rhino, Maasai warriors spearing male lions as their gateway to manhood, villagers killing ostriches and impala for their meat, and mass tourism unchecked as 20 to 30 land rovers could often be found viewing that same lone leopard. Haji Ogle, who spent the bulk of his life working for the Kenya Wildlife Service battling poachers in the bush, still has his concerns.  He worries about mass tourism and would like the number of visitors to the park each day to be limited by a national government agency, not the local county council that runs the reserve now. Yet he insists that the Masai Mara be open to everyone, keeping the admission price at a reasonable 500 Kenya Schillings or $6.25 US for adult residents of the country.  Ogle is also uneasy about the growth of large wheat farms that are encroaching on the land from the east, yet he can’t help but remain optimistic. “Coming from where I was and where I am today, this is one of the enterprises that has been a success,” say Ogle.  “Kenyan conservation is now widespread.”
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/10/10 at 02:00 PM
Green Travel • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

What’s Doing in Nairobi

First-time visitors to the Kenya have misconceptions that Nairobi will be some dusty backwater where narrow streets are filled with destitute people ready to pounce on your wallet.  Much of this stems from an outbreak of thievery that occurred in the late 90s, earning the city the nickname, “Nairobbery.” Today, especially now that the post-election violence of January 2007 is in the rear view mirror, Nairobi is a relatively safe and cosmopolitan hub of 3.5 million people in East Africa. The poor, who flood out of their shanties every morning to walk to nearby factories, merge with a growing middle and upper class, whose gated estates in the western suburbs of Karen and Langata have far more in common with Boca Raton than Bogota. Travelers are starting to realize that Nairobi is worthy of more than a one-night stopover on the way to safari. At the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, west of the city centre in Langata, baby elephants whose parents have been killed by poachers are raised by workers who actually sleep in their stalls to comfort the young. When they’re old enough, they’ll be brought back to the wild. The suburb of Karen was named after Out of Africa author Karen Blixen, who wrote under the pen name Isak Dineson. Visit the estate she lived in from 1913 to 1931, now home to the Karen Blixen Museum. The grounds, dotted with the prehistoric looking candelabra cacti, overlook the Ngong Hills, and are worth the price of admission alone.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/09/10 at 02:00 PM
Urban Adventure • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Monday, November 08, 2010

Voluntourism in Kenya

I’m in Kenya the next two weeks researching a handful of stories. I’d like to share with you the pitches that were accepted as assignments. Given the current worldwide recession, visiting Masai Mara merely to spot the Big Five from your open-air Jeep or quaff sundowners from your luxury tent seems slightly self-indulgent. That’s why luxury tour operator Micato Safaris offers its clients a chance to give back by participating in its partnership with AmericaShare, a nonprofit foundation Micato Safaris established twenty years ago that supplies education, food, clothing and shelter to thousands of children living in the Mukuru slum in Nairobi. Clientele who arrive or depart from Nairobi participate in Micato’s “Lend a Helping Hand on Safari” program. During these one-day philanthropic excursions to the Mukuru slum, travelers visit the community, plant trees, and donate much-needed supplies. More often than not, the inspiration and urge to help out doesn’t end that day. Many Micato Safaris veterans have become involved in AmericaShare’s School Sponsorship program, which enables needy children to attend boarding school in Nairobi. One recent visitor even helped fund the Harambee House and Women’s Centre, a community center and boys’ dormitory run in part by women with HIV.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/08/10 at 02:00 PM
Green Travel • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Friday, November 05, 2010

Say No to SeaWorld

Several years ago, I wrote a story about taking the family on a road trip along the California coast. The trip started in San Diego, where we had the pleasure to “Dine with Shamu” at SeaWorld. My kids were amazed as we had dinner watching an orca whale doing backflips right behind us. So it came as a shock when I recently read that one of my mentors in this travel writing business, Arthur Frommer, wrote, “I am ashamed. I will no longer recommend that tourists patronize the various SeaWorld parks.” In the wake of the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau, Frommer received a letter from PETA’s Debbie Leahy, an expert on captive animal issues. In the letter, Leahy noted that 21 orcas have died in U.S. SeaWorld facilities between 1986 and 2008, and not one from old age. They died from severe trauma, intestinal gangrene, acute hemorrhagic pneumonia, pulmonary abscesses, chronic kidney disease, chronic cardiovascular failure, septicemia, and influenza. She also mentioned that SeaWorld has been responsible for the deaths of numerous dolphins, including three who died last year at SeaWorld Discovery Cove in less than three weeks time.

I’m paid to write travel stories, but some times I’m simply used as a pawn so companies like SeaWorld can make a large profit. I’m reminded of a hotel in Bali that had a spectacular beach. When I learned that the hotel had crushed the coral reef to bring in their sand, I was irate. As I grow older, I get wiser and try to dig deeper so that I’m convinced that what I’m promoting is ethical. Now and again, you make a mistake, but at least I’m not the only travel writer.

I’m leaving for Kenya on Sunday on a 12-day jaunt to pen stories for five publications. Next week, I’ll share those story ideas with you. The following week, I won’t be blogging. As always, thanks for checking in!
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/05/10 at 02:00 PM
Wildlife Viewing • (1) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Thursday, November 04, 2010

Let it Rain at Olympic National Park

Thanks to La Niña, weather in the Pacific Northwest this winter is supposed to be more extreme than usual. Big whoop. They’re used to winter storms and lots of rain in these parts. So much so that two lodges in Olympic National Park are offering a Storm Watcher Package. Stay at Kalaloch Lodge, featuring breathtaking vistas of the raw Pacific Ocean shoreline from October 21, 2010 to March 13, 2011, and for $149 a night, you’ll receive one night’s accommodation, breakfast for two, two rain ponchos, and a souvenir fleece blanket designed with an Olympic National Park logo. Additional nights may be added at $99 a night. Lake Quinault Lodge, in the heart of the Olympic National Forest, is offering a Storm Watcher Package at $119 a night that includes one night’s lodging, a rainforest tour for two, and the option to add extra nights for a measly $50 rate. Visit Olympic National Parks and use the promotional code: STORM10 for Kalaloch and LQSTORM10 for Lake Quinault Lodge or call 866-297-7367.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/04/10 at 01:00 PM
Lodging • (0) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Back on My Feet

Three times a week at 6 am, a select group of runners head to Boston Common to work out. One day, it could be sprints, the next day a long jog. The one thing these folks have in common besides a good sweat is that they are all homeless participating in the Back on My Feet program. Launched in 2007 in Philadelphia, the nonprofit organization has become such a success that it has already moved on to Baltimore, Washington, DC, Chicago, and this past May, Boston. Obviously, the program is much more than a good run on an often chilly morning. Back on My Feet builds self-esteem and confidence through leadership training. Though it doesn’t provide shelter or food, the organization does help with connections to housing, job placement, and self-sufficiency. All you have to do is be present at least 90 percent of the workouts to show your commitment. As I always say to my kids, strong body, strong mind.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/03/10 at 01:00 PM
Health • (1) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Page 145 of 165 pages « First  <  143 144 145 146 147 >  Last »

 

 
 
 

about us
photo of Steve Jermanok
Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

ActiveTravels.com is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

Adventure Travel Trade Association

 

tags