After retirement, we decided our goal was to travel to all 7 continents. We completed that goal in January 2020 with our trip to Australia and New Zealand. We are often asked, which trip was the best? Our top three rankings are as follows: 1) Africa 2) Antarctica and 3) Galapagos Islands.
Africa just blows you away with the breadth of nature and animals. What impressed us most was the proximity to wildlife – it was nothing to come upon a pack of lions feasting on a kill and be literally 20 feet away, or drive into a field of elephants happily munching away on trees and they give you no regard. Patty and I are both photographers and to see up close and personal, the big 5 in their natural habitat was awe-inspiring. Each day brought new sights and amazement.
It was a land of stark beauty. Towering ice flows, and of course the adorable penguins. Surprisingly, it was not terribly cold; in fact it was warmer in Antarctica than back home in PA.
They were much like Africa inasmuch as the wildlife had no fear of you, and you would wander the beaches and you literally had to be careful not to get too close to animals as they paid you no attention, provided you did not get near their young. All in all, we have found that we prefer trips that involve nature and wildlife. The big cities are nice, but nature is pure and untouched…the wow factor is off the charts
We have booked with Grueninger for over 40 years (and we live 2 states away!). The one thing that stands out on all of our trips is the level of completeness that GTS provides.
All documentation (itineraries, contacts, schedules, etc.) are always complete and accurate. We can travel knowing everything has been taken care of, and we can sit back and enjoy our experience without any concerns. The Africa trip involved 30 hours of flights, remote camps in the wilderness and multiple internal flights that were handled seamlessly.
Other travelers have commented to us on the amount of information we have, and remarked that their agent is not as thorough. On a personal note, Debbie has become a close friend whose opinion on all things travel we take as gospel. Having known us for so many years, we trust her when she recommends vendors or destinations or guides us away from those she knows would not meet our expectations.
Our suggestion for anyone traveling, regardless of the vendor or destination? The first rule is comfortable, waterproof footwear. You are on your feet constantly and you don’t want to be miserable after the first day.
Beyond that, take a chance on a new adventure. In most cases these are once-in-a-lifetime locations and you may never get to experience them again. We’ve been fortunate to kayak in the Antarctic, snorkel the Great Reef, walk the Great Wall, etc. The sunrise over Lake Louise is true magic. Make the effort and you will be rewarded with a great memory. Take the time to make friends with your guides. They can open doors for you to locations and sights you might not ordinarily see. Lastly, don’t be afraid to make new friends on the trips. Most groups are made up of individual couples who don’t know anyone either. We have made lasting friendships (some going back 25 years) from people we have met on tours.
All Photos courtesy of Bob and Patty Chadderdon, ElBe Photography