We love Africa so much that we keep returning — this was our fourth trip (Aug. 2018) to this beautiful continent … from which we all came! We were moved by our visit to the Cradle of Humankind — a powerful reminder that we are all one, diverse species. We traveled with six dear friends and enjoyed a wonderful adventure, including (photographic) safari visits at four bush camps. We saw lots of magnificent animals — including the Big Five — up close and personal. But so many are endangered — it is heartbreaking. We met many, many wonderful people, ate many delicious meals, and luxuriated in being totally off-line for several weeks. We also loved Cape Town. Bob’s short video is below, with some of our favorite stills below the video. (Click any photo to start a slideshow.)
To be only ten feet away from a pride of lions or a heard of elephants, in an open and unprotected Land Rover, it takes your breath away! The beauty of Africa is amazing as we watch a watering hole a few feet away, where 8-10 different species share the water. Okavango Delta… Victoria Falls… are just a couple of the wonders of this region. We keep returning!
We visited the mountain gorillas of the Virunga Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda for two days. We were visiting with the “Hirwa” group, and as I was filming, Mom and Dad decided to put on a real show for us. WOW! Here is the result.
Our guide explained that it is very rare when gorillas mate in front of spectators. No kidding, just like homo sapiens.
The Silverbacks (group leaders), as the mature males are called, can reach 400+ pounds and can live to be 50 years old. Mountain gorillas subside mostly on stems, leaves and bamboo. Fortunately, poaching in Rwanda has been stopped a few years ago. Size of family groups can range from 5-46. Making eye contact with a Silverback gorilla from 15 feet in their natural habitat is really impossible to describe. It must be experienced! Priceless and unforgettable!
In Mozambique, we went scuba diving at Tofo Beach near Inhambane and swam with 35ft+ long whale sharks along with smaller creatures. A humbling experience. It literarily took our breath away! These gentle giants can live for 70 years, are the largest living fish species and feed on plankton. They originated over 60 million years ago and can reach 40ft+ in length and weigh more than 21 tons! It is truly a humbling experience to swim next to an amazing creature the size of a school bus.
We made a spur-of-the-moment trip up to see this beautiful natural wonder in May 2021 with dear friends Tom & June. Finally the weather was clear on both ends of the trip for the ~2-hour flight from our home airport of Manassas, VA (KHEF) in N8475Y, our Piper Twin Comanche.
Watch Bob’s short video on our Niagara adventure — and scroll down for a few more photos and story.
Visiting the Falls had been on my (Diana’s) list for quite some time; Bob had visited many years ago, as had Tom & June. And all four of us had visited Victoria Falls (southern Africa), so it was also interesting to contrast and compare.
Arriving in the vicinity of Niagara Falls, we entered the very specific flight pattern for fixed-wing aircraft: maximum speed 130 knots, clockwise circuit, above 3,500′, staying below Rainbow Bridge and above the dam. A tight circuit! We made two clockwise circuits before landing at nearby Niagara Falls International Airport (KIAG). It was great to get this aerial perspective before spending some time up-close-and-personal with the Falls.
Our hotel (Sheraton) was in a great location, and we walked everywhere. We were blessed with excellent weather and NO crowds. Alas, the Canadian border was closed due to the pandemic, as I think it would have been interesting to see the Falls from that perspective — it looks like they have better views, to be honest.
As you can see from Bob’s video, three of us took the Maid of the Mist boat ride … into what is basically completely different weather down at the foot of the Falls! Very windy and rainy — like buckets! We saw thousands of seagulls; I didn’t realize they could be so far inland.
How does Niagara compare with Victoria? I would say that Victoria Falls are much larger — wider and more volume of water. But it’s a very different experience between the two, because Victoria Falls descend into a narrow slot — no boat ride, no visiting it at river level. They are both very dramatic and stunning, just different. You can view photos & video of our 2018 trip to Victoria Falls. We also made a 2003 trip to Victoria Falls.
The morning of departure, we again flew two clockwise circuits over the Falls — just beautiful. We learned the Falls are 12,500 years old … they are slowly eroding and won’t be here in 10,000 years. So be sure to go before then!
Wow, what an amazing trip — our seventh* trip to Africa. Yes, we keep going back! This trip included the Masai Mara and the Seregenti, which together comprise an enormous contiguous area in which animals (including, most famously, wildebeest) migrate freely.
We viewed many incredible animals … most notably a “big cat” day, during which we viewed leopards, cheetahs, and a memorable half-hour up-close-and-personal with two lionesses with four cubs, literally next to our vehicle. A highlight was visiting the Hadzabe tribe of bushmen, who have been living much as they have for thousands of years.
We very much enjoyed interacting with many local people, including the Masai, who retain their ancient lifestyle and culture. The Ngorongoro Crater is a special place — 14 miles across (largest in the world) and a virtual Shangri-La inside.
It was powerful to be inside the East African Rift Valley, where the oldest remains of our hominid ancestors have been found, including the 3-million-year-old “Lucy.” We all come from Africa.
View Bob’s short video, and some of our favorite stills below. Click on any photo to view a slideshow.
We took up diving rather late in life, in 2007. It is a fantastic sport — while it’s all about safety, we see the most amazing sights and creatures underwater. It’s a beautiful world down there, though we do see terrible evidence of the environmental harm that human behaviors have caused to our oceans.