Denell Falk is hosting her first group back to Africa!

Finally, finally, finally. At the airport on the first leg of our trip to Tanzania. Finally after more than a year and half of business shutdown, travel industry chaos, fighting insurance companies to restore client’s deposits, finally, our group is leaving today. Finally!!

One of the toughest things these last few days is trying to remember all the things that used to come naturally from a lifetime of travel. What to pack. Good thing we have lists. Last minute instructions. Good people in place. What have we forgotten? Good thing we have patience. 

Here we are. The plane is boarding. Butterflies, a thing long forgotten have come back and the anticipation is almost unbearable. Soon we leave and in a day we come again to Africa. Finally!

Travel in The Time of Covid 

You hear horror stories about travel lately. Air rage, lineups , botched reservations and canceled flights. We had none of that. 

Apart from booking the flights, which is so well handled by Civilized Adventures, the mechanics were easy. PCR tests were done by Amyn at The Medicine Shop on 37th St SW in Calgary. Sunday morning, 15 minutes and then home for breakfast. Results came in that evening. Negative as expected. More paperwork than pre Covid, but again, nothing unexpected.

Travel to the airport for 3 hours ahead of flight time. No lineups. Helpful KLM staff and a breeze through security. Hanging around the airport was a little sad with the closed shops and the lack of travel bustle, but a coffee or a beer can always be found. 

Schipol in Amsterdam was so much different. Not as hectic as before, and a few closed shops, but the flight boards were full and people in Europe are moving. A 3 hour wait and time to stretch our legs before the second of two eight hour flights. 

Kilimanjaro International Airport. One flight comes in. Two hours later waiting to get into Tanzania and I remember that I don’t like crowds. But airports are airports and our safari can finally begin.

Welcome to Africa.

Chile’s Great Adventures

We’ve been hiking, fishing, whitewater rafting (class 5), horseback riding, and hiking some more! We leisurely floated downriver, eaten gourmet meals and drank superb Chilean wines, taken in a cultural visit for the ladies to compare recipes and even played some traditional field hockey just as the locals have done for 100’s of years.  My biggest thrill was the helicopter ride over an active volcano at sunset, how very civilized!

Zafferana Etnea’s Volcanic Past

Departing early we made our way to Zafferana Etnea to find our local mountain and naturalist guides. This town has frequently been rebuilt after the volcanic activity in the region and the latest threat was in 1992 when the volcano threatened to erupt yet again. We began our journey through this incredible landscape in the lava cave and continued up the 2500 meter cable car ride to reach the summit craters and the big caldera of Valle del Bove.

After lunch, we were lead to the scenic Monte Serra vineyard, nestled on the slope of an extinct volcanic crater located at about 500 mt (1,640 feet), a true landmark for the area. Back at the bottom of the vineyard, we headed into the traditional “palmento”, a spectacular lava stone vinification hall dating back to the 18th century, one of the best preserved on Etna. What an incredible day!

Siracusa Gastronomic Walking Tour

We started our evening with gastronomic and cultural discoveries as our guide walked us through the secrets of ancient Siracusa. We visited authentic family Tavernas hidden in little streets of Ortigia. This perfectly combined wine and food as we walked through the most breath-taking monuments of old city. Piazza San Rocco, Piazza Duomo, Santa Lucia church, Piazza San Giuseppe, Jewish district, Piazza Archimede and many more. We stopped for dishes from traditionally cooked fresh fish and typical Sicilian appetizers to unrepeatable homemade Sicilian pastries accompanied by fragrant Siracusa wine and liquors!

Cefalù

The streets of this ancient city are so narrow I can hold up the walls on both sides. This made it easier to defend the city as tanks were too large to drive in. The cathedral is the main gathering point and markets, restaurants and shops surround it. We stopped at one of these restaurants for Andrew’s daily treat!

We’ve been swimming in the Mediterranean, making new friends and enjoying great wine and cuisine, can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.