Located on the island of Borneo, Bako National Park is the oldest national park in Sarawak, established in 1857. It’s also one of eastern Malaysia’s most popular national parks due to its easy access to the nearby city of Kuching, just 25 miles away. The park covers an area of 10 square miles at the tip of the Muara Tebas peninsula and features a network of 16 marked hiking trails of various lengths and a number of beaches, some of which are only accessible by boat. Hiking the trails of Bako is a terrific day trip from Kuching (which is how I did it on RTW #9) but for the best chance at spotting Borneo’s famed proboscis monkeys and other wildlife it’s best to spend a night in one of the park’s rental cabins.Read More
Established in 1923, the community of Langa is one of the many areas of South Africa that were designated for Black Africans prior to the apartheid era. The oldest of Cape Town’s suburbs, Langa was a center of resistance during apartheid. While in Cape Town on RTW #9, I was fortunate to spend a day visiting several townships with a local guide. One of the most memorable experiences of my time in Langa was the opportunity to visit with real-life medicine man, Ndaba. Township residents seek out Ndaba’s services for a variety of ailments from high blood pressure to infertility. Possible remedies include herbal ointments, steam, fasting and medicinal plants and many residents still turn to him first before availing themselves of western medicine. Visiting Ndaba was a highlight of my day exploring the townships of Cape Town.Read More
Just steps away from the Champs-Elysées, the Hôtel Prince de Galles was built in 1928 and named for its original purpose, to welcome the Prince of Wales (future King Edward VIII, son of the King of England George V) to Paris during his annual stays. Originally designed during the Parisian art deco movement, a meticulous 2-year renovation has brought the hotel into the modern era while still showcasing classic design elements like the spacious patio surrounded by elegant mosaic work. Since re-opening in 2013, the Prince de Galles has reinvigorated its status as one of the most luxurious hotels in the City of Lights.Read More
Bordered by Mozambique to the northeast and South Africa in every other direction, the Kingdom of Swaziland is one of Africa’s smallest nations (roughly the size of New Jersey). Despite its diminutive size, the country is home to a variety of landscapes from mountain ranges to rain forests to savannas. On Round the World #9, I was lucky enough to stay in a lot of luxurious hotels (thanks mostly to my Starwood points) but my accommodations in Swaziland were certainly the most unique! Just a few miles outside the city of Mbabane, the Hawane Resort is framed by the peaks of Malolotja in Swaziland’s tranquil northern highlands and seems a world away from civilization.Read More
Stretching more than 1,200 miles across Angola, Namibia and South Africa, the “Namib” has endured arid conditions for 55-80 million years and is often considered the world’s oldest desert. This coastal desert has dunes reaching nearly 1,000-feet high and 20 miles wide making them the 2nd largest in the world, after those in China’s Badain Jaran Desert. One of my favorite experiences on RTW #9 was the day I spent exploring the Namib by 4WD. After docking in Walvis Bay on the MSC Sinfonia, we climbed into two 4-wheel drive vehicles and set off into the desert for a day of dune bashing, unique desert flora and fauna and even a few rare encounters with the Topnaar indigenous tribesmen. It was unlike anything I’d ever done before in my travels and I can’t wait to go back someday and see more of the Namib and the Skeleton Coast.Read More
And so we come to the end of another globetrotting adventure! Another January (and/or February) spent gallivanting around the globe completely oblivious to general winter nonsense like ice storms and the occasional “snowpocalypse.” Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past 9 years: When summer abandons you…hunt it down.
And that’s just what I did, spending this year’s trip safely below the equator enjoying the sunshine and warmth of southern Africa and Southeast Asia. While the continents were fewer on RTW 9, the experience was no less rewarding.Read More
“Ooohhh, who owns that yacht?” we asked with envy as our high-speed catamaran docked back at Denarau Marina. “My 2nd husband,” joked Ma, as laughter filled the Captain’s Lounge. We’d just returned from a day of sailing through Fiji’s Mamanuca Islands and Makereta (or just “Ma” as she preferred to be called) was our cheerful hostess and Cruise Director for the voyage. It had been a simply spectacular day and the Fijian people like Ma were a big part of the reason why.
People often throw the word “paradise” around with reckless abandon (I myself have likely been guilty of that) but for me, the South Pacific truly defines the word. I’ve been lucky enough to see a lot of this region (Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, New Caledonia, Samoa, Tonga, the Cook Islands, Vanuatu and Easter Island) and for my money, there’s no better overall South Pacific destination than Fiji.Read More