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Wildlife Viewing

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Top 5 Dream Days in 2016, The Magical Sunsets of the Okavango Delta

There were so many highlights of our 9-day trip with Abercrombie & Kent to Botswana and Zambia in September that it’s hard to pick one day. I loved watching the elephants swim across the Chobe River on the Namibian border, spending an hour with a leopard on a tree in the Okavango Delta, surprising a rhino after an early morning drive, meeting Jabu, a massive African elephant who helps locals overcome their fear of wild animals, canoeing past hippos on the Zambezi River, watching the pounding waters of Victoria Falls plunge to the bottom of the chasm from the Zimbabwean side, and listening to our wonderful guide, Kebby, describe each and every bird like the brightly colored lilac-breasted roller and the southern carmine bee-eater.  

But most of all, I loved each and every sunset, a massive orb of fiery red, orange, and yellow sun that sets the bush aglow before darkness descends. There are few things in life as magical as a sunset in Africa. Late afternoon on our third day of the trip we were picked up at Chief’s Camp and treated to a mokoro ride. In a traditional canoe, a guide poled us through the tall grasses on a leisurely paddle, Botswana’s version of a gondola ride. The sun started to set and the tall reeds surrounding us were aglow. When the paddle ended, we celebrated the last embers of light on land, vodka tonic in hand nibbling on meaty biltong. That’s as close to perfection as it gets in the world of travel. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/03/17 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, November 02, 2016

G Adventures Partners with Jane Goodall Institute

Toronto-based G Adventures has just announced their new partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute. Called The Jane Goodall Collection by G Adventures, the selection of 20 wildlife-themed tours include a chance to observe gorillas in the jungles of Uganda, meet the giant tortoises of the Galapagos Islands, sail up the Amazon River on a small riverboat, and much more. G Adventures will carry on the esteemed primatologist’s mission to protect wildlife and empower local communities. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/02/16 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, September 23, 2016

Abercrombie and Kent Week—The Cherished Memories on Safari

Those close-up shots of leopards, lions, hippos, rhinos, elephants, and giraffes might have impressed my Facebook friends these past two weeks, but 5 years from now I won’t remember any of those animals. Okay, maybe that one rhino in the Okavango Delta we surprised who ran off in a blur. What I’ll remember is that marimba band playing solely for our group as we arrived for lunch at the Victoria Falls Hotel; my guide, Kebby, clearly enunciating the name of that colorful bird, the lilac-breasted roller; waking up to French-pressed coffee at Stanley’s; all those glorious sunsets, especially the one overlooking the Zambezi on the deck of Sussi and Chuma; heading back to our room at Chobe Chilwero after a long day of game drives and boat rides to find that a bubble bath had been prepared; jumping with young children in hand at the Zambian village of Nakatindi; and all those wonderful stories we shared at dinner with our new friends. These are the special moments I’ll remember and inevitably the driving force behind another trip to Africa some 2 years from now when thoughts about taking that long international flight have faded. I yearn to return to that continent and its people more than any other destination. It’s my spiritual retreat where I feel most alive. I want to thank Abercrombie and Kent for the opportunity this time. 

I’m off to Bloomington, Indiana, for Parents Weekend at IU. I’ll be back on Tuesday with blogs about our trip to Cape Town. Have a great fall weekend and keep active! 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/23/16 at 04:00 AM
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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Abercrombie & Kent Week—Our Wonderful Botswana Guide, Kebby Arabang

On safari, you have the choice of booking a lodge and going out on game drives with their respective guides or hiring a highly reputable tour operator like Abercrombie & Kent who will assign a private guide to your group for the duration of the trip. Obviously, there’s an extra cost involved, but if you’re splurging for this amazing opportunity, it’s important to do it right. Lodge guides I’ve had in the past have been hit or miss, depending on their knowledge of flora and fauna and communication skills in English. The guide A&K assigned to us on our travels to Botswana this past week was exceptional. 

Botswana-born Kebby Arabang met us at the airport in Maun, the gateway to the Okavango Delta, and escorted us the next 9 days through the northern tier of the country and onward to Zimbabwe and Zambia. His knowledge of the outdoor world was encyclopedic. Kebby knew every mammal, every bird, every tree, even the planets in the sky above. But it was his genuine passion of the subject, seamless communication skills, infectious smile and sense of humor that made him one of the best guides I’ve ever met. I loved mimicking his Botswana accent, especially when he emphasized the letter r when naming the next exquisite bird like the lilac-breasted roller or southern carmine bee-eater. He took it in stride and laughed along with me, even when the joke lasted far too long. He’s also a talented photographer recently asked by a publisher on vacation to create a book from his work. One of my favorite parts of Kebby’s background is that he spent a year working at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando. When people asked where the giraffes were, he would simply say “up the stairs and to the right.” Now Kebby’s the one reaching as high as those giraffes, climbing the ladder of success as he’s become one of the top guides in Botswana, arguably the best place on the planet for going on safari. I look forward to sending clients his way. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/20/16 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, September 19, 2016

Abercrombie & Kent Week—The Diverse Terrain in Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia

Having just returned from one on of the most memorable trips I’ve ever experienced, an 8-night journey with Abercrombie & Kent to Botswana, I get the added bonus of reliving cherished moments this week on my blog. Botswana was my 5th safari and by far the most diverse when it comes to terrain. Much of the trip revolved around water, which was a welcome relief to often jarring game drives on rutted roads. As soon as we arrived in the Okavango Delta, we were greeted with roads that were washed-out with water. That wasn’t a problem with our A&K guide, Kebby, who would drive though the streams like he was atop a duck boat, not a Toyota Land Cruiser. The maze of waterways dotted with palm trees on our first two nights at Stanley’s Camp reminded me of the Everglades. That is, until you spot a leopard up a tree or a giraffe in the distance. At the recently renovated Chief’s Camp (which I’ll report on later this week), we enjoyed meals while watching elephants and baboons cool off at the nearby watering hole. 

Chief’s Camp was also where we would take our first of many jaunts on the waterways, this time via a mokoro, a traditional form of canoe. A guide poled us through the tall grasses on a leisurely paddle during sunset, Botswana’s version of a gondola ride. The abundance of wildlife at Chobe National Park, our third stop, was mind-blowing, Best known for the largest population of elephants in the world, over 75,000, you peer out and see long parades of elephants, including countless babies. The magical boat ride on the Chobe River, which borders Botswana and Namibia, was so much fun, we asked to go on it two sunsets in a row. We watched as elephants swam across the deep river, joined by large herds of Cape Buffalo, crocodiles as still as sculpture, and all types of antelope. Leaving Botswana, we stopped on the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls to watch the waters of the Zambezi River plunge down one of the widest waterfalls in the world, over a mile long. Then it was on to our last stop, Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma, overlooking the Zambezi on the outskirts of Livingstone, Zambia. We would spend our final day canoeing the river near hippos, warthogs, crocs, and impala. All vivid memories I won’t soon forget. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/19/16 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, August 29, 2016

Off to Cape Town and Botswana

Talk to any experienced African safari guide and they’ll no doubt tell you that Botswana is the best country on the continent for going on safari. Along with Namibia, Botswana is one of Africa’s least populated wildernesses. The country’s enviable conservation philosophy endorses low-volume, high-revenue tourism, and significant benefits for local communities who live amongst the wild animals. Unlike Kenya’s Maasai Mara or Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater, which can often be overcrowded, head to Botswana and you’re not likely to see any fellow travelers out on game drives, walks, or boat rides. The Okavango Delta is a gigantic inland waterway, an island of green in an arid landscape. It’s home to large herds of elephants, some of the biggest lions in Africa, and enough variety of bird life to turn even the most dedicated big-mammal enthusiast into a bird lover. Tomorrow, Lisa and I are headed to Botswana on a 9-day safari with Abercrombie and Kent. We’ll be staying at four of their premier properties, Sanctuary Stanley’s Camp, Sanctuary Chief’s Camp, Sanctuary Chobe Chilwero, and Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma. After a 2-year renovation, Sanctuary Chief’s Camp reopened on June 1st and is now considered the Sanctuary Retreats’ flagship property. 
Before Botswana, we’re spending a week in Cape Town to pen stories and research the lodging, food, wine, art, and biking in the region. I’ll be back the week of September 19th with many stories from our trip. In the meantime, you can follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, where I’ll be posting photos and quick comments from our travels. Be well and keep active! 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/29/16 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Time to Go Whale Watching off Provincetown

Good news! Humpbacks have already been spotted off Stellwagen Bank. Located 7 miles north of Provincetown, Stellwagen Bank is one of the Atlantic coast’s largest feeding grounds for whales. The 18-mile long crescent-shaped bank ranges from 80 to 500 feet below the surface. Currents slam into the bank, bringing nutrient rich cold water to the surface. This attracts fish, which in turn attracts numerous species of whales from April to November—humpbacks, the larger fins, and smaller minkes. One gulp from a hungry humpback whale can take in a ton of fish.

The first trip with Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch is scheduled to go out this Saturday, when temps are supposed to be in the lower 60s. Many of these boats have naturalists on board who not only know many of the whales on a first name basis, but can list the names of their parents and children. They give an intriguing talk about the history of whales migrating up the Atlantic coast and the egregious practice of whaling that was so prominent in these parts in the mid-19th century. Naturalists also point out many of the shore birds that use the coast as an Atlantic Flyway. Rare piping plovers, least and common terns, marsh hawks, American oystercatchers (whose beaks looks like carrots), sandpipers, ospreys, even bald eagles might be spotted on these whale watching cruises. Add playful harbor seals and you have a wonderful wildlife experience. Perfect for families taking April break next week, 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/14/16 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, January 05, 2015

5 Favorite Travel Days in 2014, Snorkeling with Wild Dolphins off the Coast of the Big Island

No one in my family really wanted to get up at 7 am to paddle an outrigger canoe. The night before we had a memorable dinner at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, dining under the stars while being serenaded by a ukulele player. Then our son, Jake, had to wake up at 3 am Hawaii time to register for his college courses. We all wanted to sleep in, but man, am I happy we managed to get out of bed. 
As we pushed off from shore, we spotted a dozen green sea turtles (honus) feeding on the reef. Within five minutes, as we headed to a sheltered bay, we saw our first dolphin jumping high out of the water. “They never usually come this close to shore,” said our guide, a local who seemed just as amazed as we were. He handed us snorkeling gear and the next thing you know, we were swimming next to rows of six and seven dolphins. One zipped right by my daughter, Mel, and me. When we took the masks off and looked up in the air, the dolphins were flying above the water, doing flips. Amazing! Needless to say, we didn’t get much paddling in, but it easily made my list of top 5 travel days in 2014. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/05/15 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, December 05, 2014

The Return of the Snowy Owl

I leave you this week with the latest photo from the talented Paul Cyr. I met Cyr while on assignment from The Boston Globe in Presque Isle, Maine, in search of the elusive Northern Lights. Cyr’s colorfully charged photos of the Northern Lights have gone viral. His shots of Maine wildlife, including moose, bear, and this snowy owl are quite spectacular as well. Next week, I’ll be back with my list of the Top 5 Destinations You Should Visit in 2015. In the meantime, enjoy the weekend, keep active, and find yourself a snowy owl. 

(Photo by Paul Cyr)

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/05/14 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, November 03, 2014

The Tragic Demise of the South African Rhino

Home to the world’s largest rhino population, South Africa recently reported that 820 rhinos have already been killed by poachers in 2014. That’s a dramatic rise from the less than a dozen rhinos killed in 2007. More than half of those killings have occurred in Kruger National Park, home to an estimated 9,000 rhinos. With the cost of rhino horn selling for $65,000 (US) a kilogram in Vietnam, far more valuable than gold, the South African government has no idea how to stop the poaching. Some in the government want to legalize the sale of rhino horn to drive out the ruthless gangs of poachers. About 15 poaching gangs are believed to enter Kruger National Park every day. Rhinos are being captured and relocated to secret protective zones inside the park. Others are sold to private game farms that offer far greater security. If seeing rhinos in the wild appears high on your wish list, you’d be wise not to wait too long. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/03/14 at 06:00 AM
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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. is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

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