In spite of COVID and the various restrictions worldwide throughout 2021, I thought I'd share 15 of my favorite travel memories from this past year. We were so fortunate to get some great travel in throughout the year including a couple of trips to Canada to visit our families, a wonderful Danube River cruise and, of course, our epic trip to 3 different countries in Africa.
Why 15? It was such a struggle narrowing it down to these photos from the hundreds taken, but here goes with them all.
We didn't get anywhere in the first half of 2021, but we were able to get across the border into Canada to see our families in the month of July. Crossing the border from the U.S. into our home country on July 7th was particularly touching as tears welled up in my eyes as we crossed the Peace Bridge from Buffalo to Fort Erie. This was day 2 of the country opening and enabling us to NOT have to quarantine for 14 days although we did have to covid test prior to arriving and then also again upon arrival into Canada. It was absolutely wonderful hugging my parents when I finally saw them in person after not seeing them for 16 months. A very tearful, but blissfully happy experience! Excuse the photo here as we'd just arrived after a long drive from Florida with our 2 dogs in tow.
We were able to spend time with my folks and family for Mom & Dad's birthdays and then move on to New Brunswick to visit Rene's family. Even here, we had to go through a 'checkpoint Charlie' at the border of Quebec and New Brunswick before we were able to gain entry. It was very strange indeed, but a relief to get across that border and into New Brunswick after also being away for 16 months from Rene's sisters and brother-in-laws. This photo is the view from our cottage rental off the coast of Eastern New Brunswick, an absolutely gorgeous location!
After New Brunswick, we returned to Ontario to spend another week with my parents before heading back to our home in Florida. We had a fabulous birthday celebration for both my Mom & Dad in one of our favorite spots in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The first is overlooking the Niagara River just down from the Falls, while the following photo is of the beautiful, historic Prince of Wales Hotel in the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Late summer, we fully expected that our Danube River cruise would be canceled, but alas, it wasn't and we were able to experience a fabulous pre-trip to Prague, the Czech Republic and then on the beautiful Danube River for a fabulous river cruise through 3 additional countries including Germany, Austria and Hungary. It was tough choosing my favorite photo from this trip since there were so many wonderful ports along the way, especially Salzburg and Vienna, Austria. I really could have chosen a few more here, but settled for this one at the end of the trip while we enjoyed dinner with a great view of the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary.
Next up for travel was another trip we were shocked to be able to achieve, particularly since it was to the continent of Africa for our 5th trip there. We were able to travel to and return from 3 different countries within Africa, prior to the highly contagious Omicron variant striking and it had even ultimately been first discovered in South Africa where we passed through to get to our first stop.
This first part of our journey was in the lovely Botswana and the most special experience at Xigera Safari Lodge. Every element of our time at Xigera was absolutely PERFECT! Great staff, incredible food, stunning lodging and phenomenal safari experiences every day. It was magical!
We had the most interesting, repeated encounters with this lovely female leopard here at Xigera. She was so photogenic and seemed to pose for us constantly so that we couldn't stop snapping photos of her and kept coming back to check her out.
Our next stop, still in Botswana, included a couple of wonderful river safari experiences along the Chobe River, well known for its incredible elephant population. We saw them all over the Chobe National Park both on our game drive and our river safari boat cruises. It was wonderful watching them from the river while they went about their business on land. Such a picturesque backdrop!
After Botswana, we were able to witness the lovely Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwean side with some wonderful river safaris on the Mighty Zambezi River! This pic here has the spray of the spectacular Victoria Falls in the background. We absolutely loved the river safari experience since we were able to again see so much wildlife from the river perspective along the banks and in the water of the Zambezi River. Hippos, elephants, Nile crocodiles, and so much birdlife!
Finally, one of my absolute bucket list trips was next in Kenya, the epitome of the ultimate African safari experience, with the same backdrop that was depicted in one of my favorite movies, "Out of Africa" with Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. Here we are in front of Karen Blixen's actual home where she spent part of her life falling in love with Africa, as I have too!
We had 3 great visits in Nairobi including the Giraffe Center, the Karen Blixen Museum and the very special Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary where I was able to adopt a baby elephant - all such wonderful experiences that I'll never forget and recommend to anyone who loves all things African.
Our next stop in Kenya included the most wonderful 'camp' (in glamping style) opportunity in Amboseli National Park at Tortilis Safari Camp with the magnificent backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro. This is the view from the main lodge and dining area of Tortilis with a view of Mount Kilimanjaro in the background and the watering hole at the foot of the camp very near where our tented accommodation was with animals and birdlife surrounding the water.
The sunsets were spectacular in Africa, especially when we could capture animals in the foreground, like this one below, also here in Amboseli National Park.
Last, but certainly not least was the famous Masaii Mara in Kenya and here it was all about the big cats, both lions and cheetah. There were multiple families of these 2 species that we enjoyed spending tons of time with, just watching their antics. So much fun! Of course, there were tons of other animals there and another beautiful, luxury tented lodge called Hemingways Ol Seki, that we thoroughly enjoyed as well.
All in all, we realize how truly fortunate we are to have been able to travel throughout 2021, see our families, experience so many wonderful other parts of this world and help the cause of travel in such a challenging year. Hopefully, 2022 will be much easier for everyone to be able to enjoy traveling freely again without all the added challenges we've faced in the past couple of years.