View of Victoria Falls- Zimbabwean Side

What a thrill to buzz the Falls!!

Welcome to Dumatau Camp- Linyanti Reserve, Botswana

How can you top that welcome!!!!

Savuti Camp- Linyanti Reserve, Botswana

Next stop was Savuti Camp, again a Wilderness Camp, on the Linyanti Reserve ( northwest corner of Botswana). Savuti Camp is a wilderness area destination, far from the crowds and along the northern borders of this sandy, thorn-tree country. This is the northern most reach of the Linyanti river system, which in most years has been a barren, grassy gully. Four years ago, the water from the main river 17km’s away reached this and flowed down it creating a lifeline for the wildlife that has learnt to live in this harsh and forbidding zone. The result is a wildlife experience with a difference, and game drives are never sure what they will find. Tents were large and comfortable. Staff was outstanding; so friendly and happy to see us. They greeted us at the entrance with a song and dance, along with a wonderful bar and snacks. Love those gin and tonics out in the bush!!
Savuti is famous for it’s enormous elephant population. In dry season, one can see four to five hundred elephants at one time.

Another View from the Tent- Vumbura Plains, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Vumbura Plains- view from the Tent

Vumbura Plains- Okavango Delta, Botswana

Vumbra Plains is one of Wilderness resorts’ premier properties. Each of the suites has been constructed with a totally private view of the delta floodplains, and are shaded by ancient, tall Jackalberry trees. The rooms are all open-plan in design and have a sunken lounge, spacious bedroom, over-large shower (in-door and outside too), dressing area and writing desk. The outside decks have a comfortable sala, with large comfy cushions to snooze on and of course a small plunge pool for those torridly hot days! There is 24 hour electricity and bed lights for those comfy evenings with a book just before going to sleep in spacious softness, with percale sheets and duvets. In the winter months, a hot-blanket or a hot water-bottle are available. These cabins are a luxury indeed. All of the suites are linked to the main lodge by a raised wooden walkway at the back of the suites that allows the hippo and other game unobstructed access to the river, and allows safe access for guests too. The main lodge with a large fronted service area is spacious, has a dining area, a lounge and a seating area that is slightly separate from the main lounge.
A birdwatcher’s dream, one can sit out on their private deck and be totally entertained.
We took small boats down the river late one afternoon and had sundowners on the boats all tied together. Sunsets in Africa are unforgettable.
Game drives were terrific-hippos, lions, giraffe , elephant, Kudu, Oryx, ending with an incredible leopard sighting. I really hated to leave Vumbra Plains after a very short two days.

Lilac Breasted Roller- Vumbura Plains Camp, Okavango Delta Botswana

Sunrise Botswana- Jack’s Camp

Tracking Lions

Lion’s Call

Jack’s has no electricity after 5PM so when we returned to our tents for bed, we had lanterns. An interesting experience for me, I had never turned on a lantern, and when I move it it immediately went out- plummeting me in complete blackness. Fortunately I could put my hands on the trusty flashlight that Africa Inscribed had supplied us, ran out waving it, and got one of the staff to teach me the ins and outs of lighting and shutting down a lantern. Another new skill.
Next morning I was awakened by a lion’s roar- what a wakeup call!!
Game drive and bush breakfast were in store. I couldn’t think of a better way to start the day. Then we hopped back on our lovely PC12 and flew off to Vumbra Plains

Trance Dance at the BaSarwa Bushmen’s camp- Botswana

An afternoon with the Bushmen- Jack’s Camp, Botswana

We had the pleasure of taking a walk with the local bushmen. Some the new skills we learned were eating sour berries, catching small wildlife with a stick trap, and cleaning a scorpion’s eyes. As the sun was setting, the tribe went into a trance dance in a circle around a fire. A totaling memorizing experience, it depends on the tribal chief’s mood. He and 2 elders dance around a fire with the tribal ladies chanting. He works himself into a trance, contacting his ancestors. Watching the fire, under a canopy of endless stars, with the dancing and chanting is an experience I will never forget.

Not Shy!

Jack’s Camp – High Tea

Five tribe market day- Inle Lake Burma

Shwe Inn Dein Temple complex – Inle Lake Burma

1100 pagodas recently opened by the government.

tmptitle

Inle Lake Burma

tmptitle

Fisherman on Inle Lake

tmptitle

Traveling through Burma

We have landed in the Inle Lake area of Burma. It is like traveling back to a very simple time. We see farmers plowing their fields with cows, horse and buggies used for transport. Inle lake is in the center eastern part of the country. A very fertile area, Inle lake is a shallow lake that is the agricultural heart of Burma. Hundred of floating islands of tomatoes and other vegetables. We flew to Heho, and then took a bus and boat to our hotel, the Inle Princess. Beautiful and very peaceful. Right out of George Orwell’s “Burmese Days”.
Today we are taking the longboats to a tribal market.

Inle Princess Hotel, Inle Lake Burma

tmptitle

Singita Sabora Tented Camp

tmptitle

Recipes from the Road- Singita Grumeti Camps

Singita Sasakwa- image courtesy of Singita Sasakwa

Recipes from the Road: Singita Grumeti Sasakwa

Probably the finest resort in East Africa, Singita Sasakwa is unrivaled in elegance.
Patterned after an English Manor House, Sasakwa sits over the Grumeti Plain offering magnificent views of game below.

Favorite destinations: Bali

VinaVik with our host Gonzague de Lambert

Vina VIK Vineyards 10,000 acres

VIK Vineyards

Dining room Singular Patagonia

Sunrise at Singular Patagonia

Explora Patagonia

I tried my panorama lense.

Room at Explora Patagonia

View from Explora Patagonia. Hard to beat

The Towers. Torres del Paine park

Explora Patagonia lobby

Hallway Singular Patagonia daytime

Top Hotels in Southern Chile

 

 
Singular Puerto Bories  Patagonia 
We stayed at the brand new Singular property near Puerto Natales in southern Patagonia
It was a sheep processing plant built between 1906 and 1914, and closed during WW11 . It is family owned and operated. The architect kept the factory fittings in the main building and added contemporary rooms onto one wing. 60 rooms and suites are in the hotel.  Rooms are large and very spacious in feel. Windows are floor to ceiling Bathrooms are well lit and spacious. The decor follows the industrial chic direction of the factory. Walls are  metallic, ceilings were cement color. Predominant colors were earth tones with  grey and black. contemporary feel. Uncluttered and pleasant. Meals and We found the restaurant delightful. 
 
One goes to Patagonia to hike, kayak, fish, horseback ride, mountain climb, rock climb. I have never in my life seen such glorious scenery.. Two major parks, the Andes mountain chain, lake and glaciers are your focus  One plus for Singular is they cover all of the area including Torres del Paine National Park. They also offer speedboating to see the Seranno and Balmaceda Glaciers, Patagonia Fiords and Lago Azul     The negative is that it takes 2 hours to drive to the park, so your day starts early.  Singular offers three activity levels for guests and about 30 offerings of trekking, biking, horseback riding, fishing and boating, kayaking. All guided by an expert staff.  They can be half day or whole day activities. One major note: in the summer one will be contending with gale force winds on you hikes. Be prepared with wind resistant clothing. 
 
Explora Patagonia 
It is all about the view at Explora. You are situated right in front of the Devil’s Horns in the 
Torres del Paine National Park.  Explora is situated in the middle of the park. The view is beyond breathtaking.  They also offer three levels of activities and about 35 choices of things to do. So activites can more flexible, which can be very good because the weather is often highly unpredictable .They have a strict 4 night minimum,  Singular does not have that restriction. The hotel seems more like a lodge. Rooms are smaller and more simple, as well as small bathrooms. But it is all about the view and convenience of being right in the park.  Explora also offers meals, transfers and activities. 

Glaciers, glaciers, glaciers!

I saw my first group of Glaciers today, what a thrill. The color of that ice is really gorgeous. The blue come from the minerals in the water. It is not photoshopped. We took speedboats to see Fiords in the region near Torres del Paine National Park. The color of the water changes from silver to turquoise to an amazing deep blue. The color depends on the amount of silt that washes down with the glacier runoff. This part of the world is simply breathtaking, photographs simply cannot do it justice.

More glaciers!

My first up close and personal glacier!!!

Winds were 50 Miles an hour he-yulp

Devil’s horns Torres del Paine National park Patagonia

Great travel buddies

Wind was 50 miles an hour. Hey -yulp!

View hiking Torres del Paine national park

View from Explora Patagonia

Patagonia

The bottom of the world

The bottom of the world
Remote, majestic, untouched, wind blown pampas, big sky, spectacular, unspoiled, pictures can’t capture the majic – all these words came to mind as I traveled to Punta Natalas. We are staying at the brand new Singular hotel at the bottom of the world. Activities include trekking on glaciers, hiking to the Torres del Paine National park, fishing, speed boating through the fiords, biking, horseback riding, and or bird watching in some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever experienced!

At the bottom of the world

Packing and planning for Chile: Patagonia and Santiago

I will be trekking in this area!
I am starting to pack for my first trip to Chile. I am really looking forward to it! The itinerary calls for lots of hiking activities and I can’t wait. I am so interested in the Torres del Paine National Park and we will be able to view up close and personal the Paine Massif. We fly into Santiago and then immediately fly to Puntas Arenas in Southern Chile. We will be staying at the Singular Patagonia. http://thesingular.com/puertobories-en
It is an old cold storage plant remade into a first class hotel. They offer 19 activty experiences from hiking to biking, horseback riding, sailing, birdwatching. Levels are easy to expert. I am deciding between trekking to the base of Torres del Paine, glacier trekking the Mirador Glacier grey, sailing around the Patagonia Fjords: Serrano and Balmaceda Glaciers, Lago Azul or a visit to Shotel Aike wetlands. We only have two full days to get in activities and each one take a whole day, so I have to choose wisely! My paperwork says I will only need my passport, hiking boots, camera and a light backpack.
Less is more. Ha ha….

On my walk Las Alamandas

Nice place to have margaritas

One of the rooms

Casa Isabelle-las Alamandas

Las Alamandas

A good comment from Dylan Harriss of Africa Inscribed, about choosing a camp in the Maasai Mara

I think the most important thing when choosing a property in the Mara is it must be on a concession within the park….this will allow good game viewing with limited vehicles around as well as having the option of going into the actual reserve should the guests want. We really like Mara Plains and Cottars for this reason.

Olonana Masai Mara- one of my favorite camps in Kenya. View from Tent # 3 deck

.catherinewhitworth.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/photo25.jpg”>

.

Deck of main house, Sirikoi -Lewa Downs, Kenya

Sirikoi living room

.catherinewhitworth.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/photo23.jpg”>

.

Bathroom with huge tub Ol Donyo Wuas

Birds at Lewa House

Fabulous stables at Singita Saskwa Tanzania. You should see the Tack room!

.catherinewhitworth.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/photo29.jpg”>

.

Livingroom Singita Saskwa

Most glam Luxury tent at Singita Sabora Tanzania

Site visit to Amangiri in Utah- Wow!!

View from a room

Pool at Amangiri wraps around a mesa.

Sight from a Mesa View suite

I was invited to visit the new Amangiri while I attended the Virtuoso Conference in Las Vegas.

 What a day! We started by being treated to a helicopter flight to the bottom of the Grand Canyon by Papillion Air. They are the ones that you want to contract for a helicopter excursion to see the Grand Canyon. Wow, wow, wow  is all I can say!!! Upon landing at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, Aman Resorts hostesses brought out the Champagne!! Veuve Clicquot no less- I love that orange lable!  Nothing short about those cute girls! We then flew on the the fabulous Amangiri Resort. We got to look at all the amazing rooms, suites and Spa. They are set up in the middle of the most gorgeous and emormous boulders in the desert. The most amazing views I have seen in a while. Most guests say that they did not stay long enough. There is so much to do.  Boasting one of the most dramatic landscapes in the USA with deep canyons and towering plateaus, the region has been home for centuries to the native Navajo and Hopi tribes yet is sparsely populated and presents the raw landscape for which the American Southwest has become famous. Activities include 

treks, guided hikes and biking

Amangiri guests may enjoy treks and guided hikes, customised rock climbing, via ferrata (fixed climbing routes) and canyoneering, as well as recreational and advanced biking. Our expert team of guides can teach guests the basics of GPS navigation, map reading, rope techniques and desert travel, as well as providing an introduction to the ecology, geology and human history of the area. For guests who are interested in a more in-depth study of this diverse environment, Amangiri will arrange for expert scientists, geologists and naturalists from the region to be available for tours and lectures.

boating trips

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, with the pristine waters of Lake Powell, slickrock domes and sandy bays, provides access to some of the most amazing scenery and geological formations on the Colorado Plateau, as well as numerous prehistoric cliff dwelling and rock art sites. Named in honour of Civil War veteran and explorer John Wesley Powell, the lake has almost 3,200 kilometres (2,000 miles) of shoreline. Boating day trips provide the ideal platform for enjoyment of the turquoise waters where guests may swim and kayak. For those who enjoy fishing, the lake is famous for its striped bass, walleye and largemouth bass.

archaeological tours

Guests may also experience the history and culture of the region with Amangiri’s natural history, palaeontology and archaeological tours which provide insight into species diversity, prehistoric occupation, Navajo storytelling, culture and art.

scenic tours

From hot air ballooning and scenic helicopter or fixed wing flights to equestrian adventures departing directly from the resort, guests have a unique opportunity to experience the area’s sweeping landscape, canyons, peaks and mesas.
Amangiri is the ideal launching pad to enjoy customised National Park and Monument Tours to the Grand Canyon’s North and South Rims, Bryce and Zion National Parks, Rainbow Bridge, Grand Staircase – Escalante, Vermillion Cliffs National Monuments and Monument Valley in the Navajo Nation – the largest Native American Nation in the US covering over 70,000 square kilometres (27,000 square miles).

I am quoting their website.   http://www.amanresorts.com/amangiri/home.aspx

I am definately going back when I can really stay and explore the area.

Unbelievable Elephant Experience!

Exquisite Asian Flowers!

The flowers here are so exquisite that I am thinking of planning a Garden Tour!  Let me know if you are interested.

More on the magnificent Balinese hotels …

In spite of the ever growing traffic, and development, Bali still has that indefinable magic. The Balinese are still so happy to see us, the hotels are still amazing, the temples are still thriving, great restaurants are growing in number. Craftsmanship is incredible. Bali is one of the best places in the world to shop. For five star hotels, Amandari, Amankila, Amanusa, Four Seasons Sayan, Jimbaran and Bulgari are going strong. The most pleasant surprise was the Bulgari Uluwatu. Very glamorous really beautiful hotel. The bathtub was bigger than most hotel’s plunge pools. In the more moderate range was the Chedi Club- delightful, Uma- with a more health oriented clientel in Ubud, and the Legian Club in Seminyak. In a differnet category, the Tugu- chock full of antiques and more traditional, in Canguu.
I hated to leave.

AAAAHHH Capella Resort Specials-A Brownell Exclusive!

Capella Resorts of North America are the brightest new stars in the Virtuoso collection. Capella has also tapped Brownell travel advisors to be among the first to sample and introduce their properties to our clients. Our most seasoned advisors have visited each of the resorts below and have returned truly WOW’ed by their spectacular service, views, food, amenities, interiors and access to local culture and activities. Take a look below at exclusive offers: Capella Pedregal (Cabo San Lucas) www.capellapedregal.com * CLASSIC CAPELLA * Indulge in a relaxing Mexican getaway at the beautiful oceanfront setting of Capella Pedregal with this weekend getaway package including breakfast for two and your 3rd night free. Rates from $475 for two nights, $0 for 3rd. Book Dates: Now – Ongoing Stay Dates: Now – December 18, 2010 * ESCAPE TO CABO * Take a break from the world with this four-night package featuring daily breakfast and resort credits from $100 — $350 per day. Fourth night free. Rates from $550 per night for 3 nights, $0 for 4th night. Book Dates: Now – Ongoing Stay Dates: Now – December 18, 2010 Additional Brownell-Exclusive Amenities Upgrade Upon Arrival subject to availability Daily Breakfast for Two per bedroom $100 Spa Credit * Traveling with a group or family? Capella Pedregal also has 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom casitas and villas that can accommodate up to 10 guests. Each come with full kitchens and your own private butler. Rates from $1500 per night for 2 nights, $0 for 3rd. Capella Ixtapa www.capellaixtapa.com * BUY 1, GET1 FREE! * Stay at Capella Ixtapa between now and May 31 and receive EVERY second night complimentary. Rates from $395 for 1st night, $0 for 2nd night. Booking Dates: Now – April 6, 2010 Stay Dates: Now – May 31, 2010 * LONGER WEEKEND ESCAPE * Escape to the peace and serenity of Capella Ixtapa with this four-night package featuring daily breakfast and resort credits from $100 — $250 per day. Fourth night free. Rates from $395 per night. Booking Dates: Now – Ongoing Stay Dates: Now – December 18, 2010 Additional Brownell-Exclusive Amenities Upgrade Upon Arrival subject to availability Daily Breakfast for Two One Complimentary Dinner for Two Capella Telluride www.capellatelluride.com * LAST-MINUTE Ski Package * Telluride is truly a skier’s paradise. This last-minute offer includes 4th night free, daily breakfast for two, and daily ski passes. Rates from $520 per night for 3 nights, $0 for 4th. Book Dates: Now – April 4th, 2010 Stay Dates: Now – April 4th, 2010 * SUMMER STAY * The only thing that rivals the excitement and stunning views of Capella Telluride in the ski season, is Capella Telluride in the off-season! EVERY weekend there is a festival to enjoy in Telluride. Jazz, Blues, Arts, Film and Blues and Brews festival! Rates from $260 per night for Summer stays. Additional Brownell-Exclusive Amenities Upgrade Upon Arrival subject to availability Daily Breakfast for Two per bedroom $100 Hotel Credit I’m ready to start planning as soon as you’re ready to get away! Catherine Whitworth An independent associate of Sterling Brownell Travel Telephone 706 714 3766 catherinew@sterlingtvl.com

Favorite Photos from India

I have downloaded some of my very favorite pictures from India to Picasa.  You may access them through this web address:

http://picasaweb.google.com/cwhit6/FavoritesOfIndia02?feat=email#

Enjoy!

The last day …

For the last afternoon game drive at Ranthambore only Martha Gaughan,
Suhail and I visited the park. The rest of the girls stayed at
Vanyavilas.  Upon entering the second gate to the park, we had the privilege of meeting Salim’s father who was Fateh Singh Rathore’s driver( the 1st
director of Ranthambore National park). Salim’s father drove Fateh
Singh Rathore for 30 years, and they photographed tigers for 8 books.
As I wrote in the last blog, Salim’s father  looked at us and said”the
tigress awaits”. Which of course threw us into a fit of excitement.
True to his word and because Salim is such an instinctive guide, we
saw a rare happening- a tiger charging a Shambar deer!
THEN we followed the tiger(who missed the deer) 2 more times and that
video is also amazing.

Tiger tracking!

Getting ready to tiger track – cold early morning

India … Highlights so far!

Let me start by saying that Tigers and Leopards are extremely elusive. Chances of seeing them are slim and none. The only consolation is that there are many many other fasinating amimals to see in the parks. Chittle deer and Samba Deer, Sloth Bears, White monkeys with black faces, Eagles, Kingfishers, Storks, cranes, and a large variety of predatory birds.
At this time of the year, game drives are very, very cold in the morning. One needs glove, stocking caps, windbreakers, and fleece jackets. You can peel off layers, but it is realy cold. The lodges supply hot water bottles and blankets, and you need all of it. You must have good binoculars and a long lense camera. Often the tigers and leopards are in brush and far away. Afternoons get warm so you can take off layers. The drive can be very dusty, hot, and very very bumpy. There can be long periods of seeing nothing but beautiful jungle. Some jungles are teak, some are of a wood called Saab, and some are semitropical.
The parks we visited were Pench, Kahna, Bangadavgarh, and Panna. We saw tigers and one leopard in the first three, and the last Panna was beautiful. There is an amazing temple complex called Khajurao that one should absolutely not miss when in Middle India. The Lodges were all different and each had it’s own personality: Baghvan, Banjar Toli- tented camp-Mahua Kohti, and Pasha Garh.
We are now in Ranthanbor Preserve- the biggest and best of all. It was the hunting reserve of the Maharaja of Jaipur.The park was nationalized b y the Brisitsh  and turned into a park in 1974. We had the distinct pleasure of meeting the first park director Fateh Singh rathore, who photographed the tigers in that park for 30 years. His driver for those 30 years had a son Salim Ali, and Salim was our guide. I would send any client with Salim unless he is off filming with a crew from BBC, National Geographic or Toby Sinclair. Toby did the film Land of the Tiger- a must see on National Geographic channel and it was our privilege to have him with us guiding the trip the all the way until he had to leave in VarNASI. He is off working on a film about the black Tiger at the present.
We sighted 2 tigers the first days at Ranthambore, and on the 2nd afternoon had an unbelievable adventure!
To be continued….

Mahua Kothi and Tiger video

We are at the third camp Mahua Kothi. Very very good camp.

http://sharing.theflip.com/session/e316022c2a19e963a4903b0c8e1a4f8d/video/9889319

We have seen some amazing tigers, and one awesome leopard. Food has been outstanding. Each camp seems to be more luxurious than the last, and they are all luxurious. I am taking a lot of video and tons of pictures.