Each year, the Travel Beyond team travels around the world to our specialty destinations, checking in on properties, meeting our on-the-ground partners and experiencing the essence of each destination. As we begin 2016, we asked our consultants to recap their 2015 trips, whether educational trips to improve their consulting knowledge or relaxing personal vacations with family and friends!
In January, I returned to Botswana on a 10-day safari. I wasn’t back in Minnesota for long before heading back to Africa—this time to Rwanda on a 7-day gorilla trek. As I explain on my bio, there is no wildlife experience in Africa that can match the feeling you get when you see the gorillas appear in the mist. I rounded out my Africa trips for the year with a weeklong trip to Morocco to attend the luxury travel show PURE. At PURE, I met with representatives from the most luxurious and unique properties and experiences in the world to gain fresh ideas for our loyal clients.
What a wonderful year in travel, as I was fortunate to visit Africa twice in 2015. In March, I was in Kenya where I not only saw the Big 5, but had a magical cultural experience at Sarara Camp. In May, I visited Cape Town for a full week and stayed at the iconic V&A Waterfront and at one of my favorite hotels in the world – The Cape Grace. I ate my way through Cape Town (wonderful food!) and also had an incredibly unique experience visiting the biggest township in South Africa. What a wonderful year, and I’m looking forward to 2016 as I will be visiting Botswana and Peru!
I was lucky enough to take two great adventure trips in 2015. All travel to me is an adventure, but these two trips are in the dictionary under “adventure.” The first was to Kenya and Uganda. I hadn’t been to either of these countries in over 20 years, and both exceeded my expectations. A quick two weeks after Africa I was off to the Arctic. Nobody to worry about up there. Those polar bears look cute, but it was nice having a Silversea expedition crew to protect you. Did you know in Ny-alesund it is illegal to lock your doors? That way there is always a way out in case a polar bear wanders through town.
My first big trip of 2015 took me back to Africa – this time to the incredible country of Kenya, checking out beautiful properties around the country. I kayaked, explored a truly local village, saw my first cheetah in the wild, and so much more! I truly fell in love with Kenya on this trip and can easily name it as my favorite destination in the world. I recently got back from an extended vacation to southeast Asia with my colleague, Kayla Torgerson. We spent 3 weeks exploring Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar. It was a very different experience for me, as I’ve never been to that part of the world. Of those 3 countries, Myanmar was definitely my favorite. It is still very much in its raw form, which was so cool to see – I’m sure it will change a lot over the next decade.
My most recent trip was a 2 week journey through Malawi and Zambia in May/June 2015, where I was able to see lots of amazing wildlife and spend some time with the locals too. After that, I met up with my wife, Jen, and 4-year-old son Cory for 5 more nights of safari in South Africa. This was our first international trip with our son, and he constantly asks when we are going back!
In March 2015, I spent two and a half weeks in Chile, visiting Santiago, the Atacama Desert, Patagonia and boarding an expedition cruise through Tierra del Fuego. In September 2015, I explored the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador on an expedition cruise with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions.
This year was one of my all-time busiest for international travel. I visited 10 countries, only 3 of which were countries I had visited before this year. My first trip in 2015 was to Chile, and I’m already eager to go back to Patagonia’s beautiful Torres del Paine National Park! (Pictured at the top of this blog.) In the summer, I visited Greece for a friend’s wedding, and last fall I spent two months traveling in Southeast Asia and Southern Africa with two different Travel Beyond colleagues. After a quick trip home for Thanksgiving, I was back out in the field visiting dozens of hotels and lodges in South Africa, Botswana, and Victoria Falls (on both the Zimbabwe and Zambia sides). It’s wonderful to be back in Minnesota after a crazy year of travel so that I can share my experiences with prospective travelers. If you’ve never considered going on safari or to Cape Town, now is the time to go! It’s simply magical!
In April 2015 I traveled to India for almost three weeks, starting in Delhi and covering three of the National Parks in Madhya Pradesh Central India: Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Pench; in search of the elusive Bengal tiger. We managed to see wild dog, leopard, Gaur (Indian bison), wild boar, spotted deer, sambal (another beautiful antelope), loads of black-faced langur monkeys and one tiger! We also spent some time in the bustling seaside metropolis of Bombay and ended in princely Rajasthan, where I fell head over heels in love with both Jawai Leopard Camp and Jodhpur and it’s magical Mehrengarh Fort.
In November of 2015, I returned to Brazil to explore some spectacular destinations including lively Rio de Janeiro, the charming colonial town of Paraty, the cultural epicenter of Salvador, the magical remote island of Fernando de Noronha, and the hip city of Sao Paulo. This was my fourth trip to Brazil, and I’m more excited about it than ever. This country is incredibly diverse and truly has something for everyone.
This year was light on the international travel front, but my 2016 is shaping up to be a busy year! I am starting off the year with a January trip to Hawaii, and looking forward to break from the cold wintry weather as well as the opportunity to hike volcanoes and snorkel with manta rays. This spring, I’ll be embarking on an in-depth 3-week exploration of Botswana. I’ll begin in the north to experience the Chobe, Selinda and Linyanti regions, and then will check out may areas of the amazing Okavango Delta, enjoying both land and water safaris. I’ll end my stay in the magical Makgadikgadi Pans, for my first chance ever to interact with meerkats – I am looking forward for this exciting year of travel ahead!
I visited my family in Tokyo, Japan in February 2015 with my eldest son, Kenya. We visited with my parents and my brothers family, running around Tokyo and experimenting with new food for Kenya. It was the travel highlight of 2015!