The Travel Beyond team had another year full of family, fun and (of course) travel! From global adventures to local pursuits, our collective year has blended into a tapestry of colorful and beautiful moments.
We are thrilled to share our annual “Favorite Photos” blog, a visual diary of what we’ve experienced this year. Please join us on this walk through another year of special memories!
Jennifer Gillmore: This was the first of ten thrilling jaguar encounters my colleague, Nicole Cooper, and I experienced on our Brazil adventure in July. “Jaci” was spotted during a day spent with the Onçafari research team at Caiman Ecological Refuge in the southern Pantanal. Truly a dream fulfilled to see these majestic creatures up close and personal in the wild.
Kayla Hoyles: During my recent trip to Kenya, we came across this male ostrich patiently sitting on his nest incubating eggs in the Masai Mara. While this guy likely wasn’t trying to give us a scornful look, I can’t help but imagine he was thinking “Can’t you see I’m busy?”
Erin Johnson: While on safari in Kenya, we caught a sneak peek of a lion napping on some logs in the Lewa Conservancy.
Jenny Falls: In November, I visited Uganda and quickly fell in love with the country. One of the most memorable experiences was embarking on a trek to see mountain gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. After a two-hour trek, I reached the Muyambi group and had an enchanting hour observing them. The young gorilla in the photograph exhibited playful and expressive behavior, as if it was aware that I was capturing every moment.
Rachel David: A highlight of 2023 was traveling to Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands for the first time. This photo of me and my new friend was taken on South Plaza Island.
Elle Kyllo: While on an evening game drive in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, we came across a tiny leopard cub, just three weeks old. We almost missed it as the cub was alone when we first arrived, but luckily our guide was excellent at spotting wildlife. A moment I’ll never forget during my first time on safari!
Kota Tabuchi: Revisiting the place where I first went on safari: the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans of Botswana (first trip was in Oct 2001). Enjoying time with the meerkats along with my colleagues and friends.
Kayla Parrack: At Jack’s Camp in Botswana, I had the opportunity to visit habituated meerkats. I had fallen in love with meerkats during a previous stay at Tswalu in South Africa and I couldn’t wait to be amongst them again. You can’t predict if the meerkats will actually climb on you, but I was very happy when they did! One of my favorite safari experiences to date!
Allie Muehlbauer: 2023 was a fantastic year for me, that included joining Travel Beyond and visiting Africa for the first time. I loved spending time interacting with the meerkats at Jack’s Camp in Botswana.
~Closer to Home~
Katie Gomer: This year, another baby, Clara, joined our family. We’ve loved seeing our girls get to know each other!
Phil Gain: Family obligations kept me close to home this year, but I am living up to my nickname as Travel Beyond’s “air guy.” I am keeping busy upgrading the avionics in my new (to me) 1960 Piper PA 24-250 Comanche.
Ann Broekhuis: 2023 ushered in the age of “SamAnnDa!”
(Editor’s Note: Travel Beyond’s three newest members started in October. Samantha, Ann and Amanda quickly became known as “Samanda,” our best attempt at a Hollywood-style nickname for our dynamic trio!)
Amanda Boots: Amongst the deep frost and sunny snow days of a Minnesota winter, there is beauty in the trees to capture and explore!
Bob Gaston: After moving from Minnesota to Florida earlier this year, I am comfortably settled into my new home office where it is “shorts weather” every day.
(Editor’s Note: We tried to get him to smile!)
Angela Dugan: To quote Charles M. Schulz, “In life, it’s not where you go, it’s who you travel with.” I’m lucky to have traveled to some spectacular places (Spain, Seattle, Dana Point’s Tough Mudder, Okavango Delta, Victoria Falls and, featured in the photo, San Louis Obispo) with this amazing, lifelong friend. Cheers to friendships & happy travels!
Joleen Soderberg: This year we purchased a new cabin in Ottertail, Minnesota and the lake has quickly become our family’s new favorite place. A beautiful sunrise has greeted us almost every weekend morning and we fall in love with our new spot a little more every day!
Melanie Reger: Golden hour at the beach! My colleague Alexis and I jumped for joy while exploring sand bars around Benguerra Island, Mozambique.
Katie Hughes: I visited the Okavango Delta of Botswana in late March/early April. The annual flooding was starting, as rains from Angola made their way to fill the delta. It was fascinating to witness the landscape change day to day as the water filled areas that were dry just days before!
Callie Robinson: My husband and I fell in love with Chile last year and were fortunate enough to make the journey again in April to explore the Atacama Desert for the first time as well as return to Torres del Paine National Park. We loved Torres del Paine even more with the fall colors and had a beautiful day trekking the almost 12-mile roundtrip French Valley hike. Tough, but so rewarding!
Kay Beal: There is nothing quite like the vast expanses in Kenya. Together with both family and Travel Beyond colleagues, we enjoyed sundowners at Elewana’s Tortilis Camp in Amboseli National Park.
Maggie Telitz: My husband and I, with the help of my colleague Dianna Upton, traveled to Vietnam for two weeks early this year. One of our favorite memories was when we enjoyed Valentine’s Day on a private boat in Ha Long Bay.
Natalie Dmytrenko: This year, I traveled to see my boyfriend’s hometown on the Big Island of Hawaii. We drove up to Mauna Kea and watched the sunset from above the clouds, amidst a backdrop of dozens of ancient craters formed by old volcano vents.
~Travel with Family~
Nicole Foels: After many years of having a safari on our joint bucket list, my husband, Blaine, and I were finally able to visit Africa together. Being able to share the magic of Kenya and Uganda with a loved one was truly the best and I am already dreaming of where we will go on our next adventure.
Megan Huntoon: In January, I was lucky enough to return to Kenya, but this time with my husband, parents and in-laws for their first safaris! This photo was taken in the Mara North Conservancy during our last sundowner on safari with the incredible guides at Elephant Pepper Camp! Truly a memory I will always cherish.
Jayme Madson: My husband, Aaron, celebrated a milestone birthday in November. To celebrate, we headed to Nevada for a long weekend. A trip highlight was hiking in Red Rock Canyon. It was stunning!
Craig Beal: Although not family in a “traditional” sense, Kay and I traveled to Kenya with our two daughters and two members of the Travel Beyond family. We loved our stay at Elsa’s Kopje in Meru National Park.
Lainie Overbeck: At the beginning of the year, I was lucky enough to have my mom, Chereen, join me on her very first trip to Kenya in celebration of her 70th trip around the sun. This is my favorite picture of us enjoying sundowners on safari in the Masai Mara.
Dianna Upton: In October, I visited the iconic Jack’s Camp in Botswana’s Kalahari Desert. I enjoyed many activities aside from traditional game drives, but perhaps my favorite was the time I spent with the San Bushmen. On an insightful bush walk, they taught me about local plants and their uses, where to find scorpions hidden beneath the surface and even how to make fire! It was an experience I will never forget and a special glimpse into their unique culture.
Rose Loggi: I was lucky to be able to return to Egypt this year, on a journey which included many exclusive experiences that can be arranged with special permission. One of these was a private visit to the paws of the Sphinx, instead of simply viewing it from afar. This extraordinary statue, with the head of a man and the body of a lion, is even more impressive up close!
Elle Ervin: This year, I had the opportunity to go on my first horseback riding safari in Kenya’s Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. As we followed along with a small herd of zebra, stopped for a quick giraffe crossing, and enjoyed the simplicity of being closer to nature in one of Kenya’s vast plains, I instantly fell in love with this unique safari experience.
Nicole Cooper: Exploring Caiman Ecological Refuge in the Pantanal of Brazil was a highlight this past summer. My colleague, Jennifer, and I relaxed on a sunset canoe excursion and soaked up the brilliant evening colors.
Stephanie Gomer: On my last full day in Kenya, I woke up extra early to soar over the Masai Mara in a hot air balloon. Since there are no roads that enter this forested area surrounding the Mara River, the only way to explore this section of the reserve is from the sky!
Alexis Noack: Jabulani Safaris in South Africa rescued their first elephants almost 20 years ago. Today, their Elephant Encounter allows you to touch and feed these giant animals. I loved the opportunity to get up so close!