Travel Forward Egypt, Petra and Rwanda

Egypt Cruise the Nile. The Middle East. My last Journey, merely weeks before lockdown was to Jordan and Egypt, who could ask for a more perfect ending to travel. I began in Jordan exploring Amman and made my way to the Rose City of Petra. We will help you arrive for a night walk under moonlight. I trekked through the narrow dirt Siq passage of Petra by candlelight, to reach the spectacle of The Treasury illuminated by thousands of candles. It was perfectly quiet except for a haunting flute melody played by a local Bedouin. Explore Petra for at least two days, there is much to discover besides the famed Treasury, stroll the colonnades of the Great Temple complex, climb up more than 800 steps to the top of the impressive Monastery. Add on a day or two for glamping in Wadi Rum.

In sharing once in a lifetime adventures, it’s hard to ignore the allure of Africa and the Middle East, and in particular, Egypt – the pyramids are still magnificently standing, having withstood every imaginable world crisis. The history, the pyramids, the sphinx, and the ancient burial tombs all standing in the midst of a hectic twenty first century life.

We always send a box of books and reading list pre-departure and Agatha Christie is at the top of the list for Egypt. It’s a personal choice whether you gather your finest floppy sun hat and white linen, don’t forget evening clothes.  Plan to begin in Cairo, the boisterous capital of Egypt. Known alternately as “The Mother of the World” or “The City of a Thousand Minarets”— visit the tangled narrow alleys and bustling marketplaces and the larger than life Pyramids of Giza. If you dropped the pyramid in New York City, it would take up a whole city block. The soon to open vast Grand Egyptian Museum, a treasure trove of antiquities, including royal mummies and gilded King Tutankhamun artifacts, is not far from the Giza pyramids. In the shadow of the pyramids, the grand Mena House hotel provides easy access to Giza and the new museum. Arrive early to explore – there’s no better place to initiate your visit, laying out a cultural map of your upcoming days of exploration. Marvel at the majestic Sphinx, buried for most of its life in the sand, an air of mystery has always surrounded the great Sphinx. Then head to the Nile and board a private Felucca or one of our favorites, the intimate 22-cabin Oberoi Philae, we enjoyed an onboard tour. For the ultimate in indulgence and comfort consider a Dahabiya Nile cruise. A Nile cruise has long been one of the classic experiences of travel. Long stretches of river have changed little over the centuries, it’s truly Biblical in nature. Lounging on the sundeck, watching the ancient scenes glide past is a contemplative experience, I moseyed to the upper deck at dawn and couldn’t tear myself away. Home - Nile Dahabiya Boats Absorb archaeological wonders, explore vibrant bazaars and ponder pharaonic temples as you cruise the Nile. Float past lush sugarcane fields, sleepy rural villages, and oases of date palms as your boat glides up the Nile. The Dahabiya is an ancient iconic boat style, a reminder of the romance of the past with modern comfort and convenience. It’s a leisurely way to get between Luxor and Aswan. Sailing the Nile in a private Dahabiya is what inspired the Victorian allure of boat travel. The most serene of river boats, it offers the ultimate in privacy and convenience for stopping at any river bank. Fancy a shore break to bicycle around an oasis of date palms or an impromptu farmers market, this is the only river boat allowing such intimate shore access. Elegant in design, designed for modern comfort with light filled comfy cabins and acres of outdoor lounging space.Dahabiya Nile Cruise • Djed Egypt Travel

When you’re not exploring Luxor, Aswan, or Abu Simbel landmarks, relax on your balcony or lounge at the plunge, camera in hand to record the long-robed farmers moving fresh hay to their cows grazing on the banks of the Nile. Include a few land days to stay at the legendary Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan. Spend a few extra days in Cairo to wander art galleries, ancient mosques, the 12th Century Citadel, and ramble through the Khan el-Khalili for treasured mementos. The Old Cataract Hotel is the historic site where King Fouad once entertained, and Agatha Christie sipped cocktails in the colonial era five-star hotel on the banks of the NIle. The hotel faces out over the Nile to Elephantine Island and the sands of the Sahara beyond. The Aga Khan’s mausoleum faces the hotel, and the waters of the Nile are perpetually dotted with white felucca sails. A majestic testament to elegance and a step back in time to the pharaonic era. Another stop in Luxor, at the Winter Palace, located along the breezy Corniche avenue on the east bank of the River Nile; the Winter Palace is renowned as the spot where Agatha Christie wrote “Death on the Nile” in the late 1930s and the place where the discovery of King Tut’s Tomb was revealed to the world in 1922. The Winter Palace lies within easy walking distance of the Temple of Luxor and the Luxor Museum and offers a great base for visiting the Temple of Karnak and Valley of the Kings. A combination of sailing and hotels adds a few days, but why rush through this enchanting land?

I loved my Egyptian experience and would return for more – it is safe, energetic and the food is delicious – you will never eat flatbread again after savoring the hot from the oven Egyptian bread of Ramses III.

“(Egypt) is a great place for contrasts: splendid things gleam in the dust.”
― Gustave Flaubert, Flaubert in Egypt: A Sensibility on Tour

Africa—If possible, I would be in Africa every month! My eight visits of mostly safaris have been divine, days of roaming the bush with endless vistas interrupted only by wild animal sightings is an extraordinary experience. Our private team has unique exclusives for lodges, locations and experiences. You fly private, mosey from lodge to lodge on your schedule and you aren’t part of a group. This is the ultimate safari adventure, private and personal. In Kenya we have a few favorite lodges Ol Jogi Ranch and Arijiju House. Ol Jogi is a magnificent private ranch-style lodge set against a boulder-strewn hillside, with just seven cottages tucked away in the lush gardens, all with astounding views over nearly 60,000 acres of pristine wilderness – and it’s all yours. Ol Jogi lies within Kenya’s scenically diverse northern Laikipia region, renowned for its abundant wildlife, including all of the Big Five together with several rarities and a staggeringly rich birdlife. The most enchanting aspect is the diversity and amount of wildlife.  Wildlife includes the Big Five as well as African wild dog and rare species such as Grevy’s zebra and reticulated giraffe. Activities including day and night drives, walking safaris and riding safarisOl Jogi Home

Another favorite is Arijiju House which stands on the Borana Conservancy, it operates both as a working cattle ranch, traversed by the nomadic Maasai with their cows and goats, and as a wildlife sanctuary.  Arijiju – the house takes its name from the Maasai word for the hill on which it was built – is owned by a third-generation Kenyan. Originally a cattle ranch, like much of the land around here, it shares a boundary with Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, which has been at the forefront of rhino conservation in Kenya for more than two decades. Borana operates both as a working cattle ranch, traversed by the nomadic Maasai with their cows and goats, and as a wildlife sanctuary. The property is well stocked with plains game – zebra, giraffe, Grant’s gazelle, eland and hartebeest – as well as lion and enormous herds of elephant. It recently became home to 22 black rhinos, translocated from Lake Nakuru National Park and neighboring Lewa – which had reached its own carrying capacity of 70. Our team also has a private tent camp near the Mara area, where the massive yearly migration occurs. These are just a few of the Kenya options, no Journey is ever repeated, each bespoke safari is designed especially for you.

Rwanda. Gorilla trekking should be on the top of every animal lovers list. You will never forget your first breathtaking encounter with a 700-pound Silverback!  Porters bushwhack through dense thickets of bamboo, as you climb up a slope, the thick brush snaps with a crash and in minutes you come face to face with a wild furry black beast, the King Kong of the jungle. Your eyes meet and there is an instinctive bonding, honestly, I was transfixed, and he was impassive, if not bored, sharing 98 % DNA, it is impossible to not stare at their hands and feet, so familiar.  During my three-day trek in Rwanda, we enjoyed the personal guiding of renowned guide Francois Bigirimana.

Wouldn’t you like to cuddle with these precious gorillas?

Travel Looking Forward

Over the next few weeks we will focus on inspiring escapes, four weeks of enticing travel encouragement. One of my most favorite Journeys was to the Maldives and despite the long trek, you will want to stay longer than planned! An overnight or two in Dubai to break up the travel, and off you go to the most gorgeous water in the world!

Four Seasons Kudaa Huraa, Maldives

If 2021 offers anticipation of escape, this is a time to dream, to explore and to savor the richness of international culture. Many of my most beloved Journeys over the last few years beckon me back for more. Life as we know it, slammed shut like an empty suitcase and the world is still far from normal. With the roll out of the Covid19 vaccine and super sanitizing procedures practiced by hotels and planes, it feels travel to distant lands will take off again. Travelers armed with Purell, wipes, masks, passports and packed bags will be ready to explore and create memories. The common cry: I can’t wait to escape, to return to favored hotels, yachts, islands and places I’ve always wanted to visit. Ostensibly, we will lose at least a year of tantalizing travel.

Are you ready to design inspiring Journeys? A few locations come to mind. We have adventure experts on hand as well if you need adrenaline based escapes! Private options may be the answer when you choose to fly, stay or sail next.

Maldives. It may sound exaggerated, but it is true: there aren’t enough superlatives to fully and accurately describe the staggering natural beauty of the Maldives. From the air, nothing prepared me for the extraordinary glimpse of the turquoise seas, the oval halo of atolls and islands, in the middle of the vast Indian Ocean, crystal clear seas in a thousand shades of indigo, accented by white sugar sandy beaches…it is breathtaking! The wonder of the Maldives is awe inspiring; nothing prepares you for the beauty.

The Maldives

Underwater experiences in warm gin clear sapphire waters – dive or snorkel, float with manta rays and swim with curious turtles! The Four Seasons Maldives properties offer the highest level of luxury, it’s time to begin plotting your 2021 summer and fall escapes!  Consisting of two hotel properties, Kuda Huraa and Landaa Giraaavru, I love both for various reasons, and if you need an exclusive Private Island amid the indigo seas, the Four Seasons also has a scrumptious private island home, Voavah. Oh and to top it off, a private yacht to follow the surf and the manta rays! The utmost pinnacle of experiences.

Stand alone bungalows and over water bungalows – mere feet from the sea, I loved both. Bike along palm lined baths to the spa or to your sunrise yoga. I filled my dance card with two weeks of activities and could have stayed longer! SUP, extraordinary surfing, fishing, SUP Yoga, yes I managed to do downward dog on a board and lived to share my experience! The overwater spa experience is lovely at sunset and at Landaa, the focus is on spa healing with the four pillars of Ayurveda, Yoga Therapy, Wellness and Planetary Wellbeing – it includes a multi award-winning team of Ayurvedic Doctors, Naturopaths and Yoga Therapists – discover individual and shared experiences designed to cultivate care for ourselves, others, the oceans and the entire planet. We could all use a week of healing after this dreadful year!

The Four Seasons Maldives

A heavenly hideaway, a sublime sanctuary offering the utmost in privacy and iconic Four Seasons pampering at the world’s first exclusive use UNESCO hideaway, Voavah. A seven-bedroom private island Maldives home, the sojourn includes a 62-foot luxury yacht: Voavah Summer and a marine territory that’s utterly your own! The private island is a welcome addition to the two luxurious Four Seasons Resorts in the Maldives. Idyllic Island experience, the days fly by and I would encourage you to add more time rather than less…paradise is far flung, but worth the Journey! Four Seasons Maldives one of many reports! Our Preferred Partner status benefits our clients.

The Four Seasons Maldives Suite Views

Bhutan. Bhutan has been ranked number one in the world for Gross National Happiness, we could all use a massive dose of Bhutanese infectious energy!  My visit with Aman Resorts to the Kingdom of Happiness was nothing short of extraordinary. Brilliant blue skies at dizzying altitudes in the ancient Kingdom of Bhutan, we explored the Amankora Resorts village by village with the most extraordinary guides. Renew your spirits and cast good wishes across the Himalayan mountain peaks via vibrant fluttering prayer flags. Amankora has five lodges spread through the Kingdom and each lodge is a subtle suggestion of the white walled Dzongs.

The Bhutanese architecture is very colorful and replicated in farmhouses, temples and local shops. Amankora has kept it clean and simple, why try to compete with the majesty of the Himalayas, the bedecked local homes and the elaborately painted Temples? Make a pilgrimage between Bhutan’s Amankora Lodges —it’s not only their unique locations, their distinct architecture and amazing guides, it’s a combination of the authentic inspired lodges, the genuine cultural offerings at each location and the warm Bhutanese people that make a trip to Bhutan so memorable. The Bhutanese people are particularly quick to laugh, share their culture and welcome visitors. Bhutan has been ranked number one in the world for Gross National Happiness. Hiking, cultural and religious ceremonies, ancient paper crafts, my two weeks could have been extended – every day we encountered indigenous dances, performances and traditional ceremonies.  See my exuberant posts on Bhutan. We would make certain our brilliant favorite guide would accompany you everywhere.

Bhutan Buddha Dordenma Statue

Blessings in the New Year!