Posted here initially: 4-27-09.

I decided to reminisce a little and write up some highlights from trips I've taken over the years to various countries around the world. Some of my travels were on business, but most were for pleasure.

Text and most photos copyrighted by Fred Gielow. Some photos were taken by my brother, Jim. Some are from the Internet.

. . . . . .
Australia .....Botswana .....Brazil ........Ecuador ......France ......Germany

. . . . . .
.......India ...........Italy ..........Japan ..........Kenya .......Morocco .....Namibia ..

. . . . . .
Nepal ....Netherlands......Peru .....South Africa ....Spain .....Switzerland

. . . . . .
Tanzania . .Thailand . . .Uganda . . .United. . . . .Zambia . .Zimbabwe
. . . . . . . . .Kingdom

The way back home.


Arial view of Ayers Rock.  The climbing route to the top is highlighted.  Photo from the Internet.

Although I enjoyed spending several days in Sydney, Melbourne, Darwin, and Brisbane, the highlight of my two visits to Australia was an all-day trip to Ayers Rock, located about 200 miles from Alice Springs in the center of the country. (Photo above: Internet.)

It's easy at the start of the climb.  Photo by FG.ending.  Photo by FG.

The world-renowned sandstone formation is over 1100 feet high and a little less than six miles in circumference. At one spot along the base, a chain railing has been installed where visitors may climb to the top.

It's not a walk in the park. It's a bit of a challenge. The rock is sometimes steep, sometimes slippery, and occasionally a little dangerous, particularly if you have a cumbersome camera you're holding onto with one hand.

This chain is a big help in both ascending and descending.  Photo by FG.

Some sections are pretty steep.  Photo by FG.

My climb was exhilarating and the view from the top: remarkable.

Several people have lost their lives climbing Ayers Rock.  Photo by FG.

I spent maybe 45 minutes at the top before descending.  Photo by FG.

I'm so glad I got a chance to climb Ayers Rock.

Oh, I almost forgot about my camel ride. How could I forget that!

Atop my camel, I'm ready for the trek.  Photo by a guide.
Atop my camel (center), I'm ready for the trek. (Photo by one of our guides.)

It was a several-hour trek across the barron outback. There were maybe a dozen of us gliding along in single file.

Probably most memorable were the flies. They were everywhere. There's nothing for miles in the outback except red dirt, scrub, and rocks. Yet, from out of nowhere they attacked, buzzing around my head (and everyone else's) and causing no end of aggravation.

It was then I understood why Australians wear those hats with corks on little strings along the brim. It's to chase away the flies!

The camel-back experience was great!


Those trunks are heavy!  Photo by Douglas Alan Groves.
Photo by Douglas Alan Groves.

I've been to Botswana a couple of times, stayed at maybe a half-dozen camps, and had numerous thrilling experiences: mokoro rides, amazing lion sightings, and real up-close animal encounters.

But one of the best, if not the best was the "Living with Elephants" morning my brother (Jim) and I spent with Douglas Alan Groves, who calls himself an "elephant guardian."

He has worked for years with three elephants -- Marula, Jabu, and Thembi -- and has trained them to obey perhaps 75 commands.

We had an intimate, up close meeting with these amazing animals. We each touched their skin, tried to put our arms around an elephant's leg, examined closely the tusks, saw inside their mouths, and even even were able to led them around by the nose!

The elephant's trunk is in my hand!  Photo by FG.

A look inside an elephant's mouth.  Photo by FG.

One of the elephants was taught to pluck a hat right off of your head and place it on its own head!  Photo by FG.

One of the elephants was taught to pluck a hat right off of your head and place it on its own head!  Photo by FG.

Groves had trained each of the elephants to rest its trunk on an extended hand and then follow where led. What an absolute delight!

Around mid-day we were taken to a wooded section where a sumptuous feast has been prepared for us, laid out buffet style.

My in-the-bush luncheon companions were my brother, Jim (left), and a very large elephant.  Photo by Douglas Alan Groves.

We filled our plates, sat down, and ate a delicious meal, as the elephants enjoyed their own meals just a few yards away.

After that, the biggest of the pachyderms joined us at our table!

These pictures bring back wonderful memories of our special, special moments with Marula, Jabu, and Thembi!


The Santana III.  Photo by FG.
That's brother Jim in the picture, and the Santana III.

A beautiful sunset over the Amazon.  Photo by brother Jim.

The Amazon is amazing. It's the largest river in the world by volume. It's total river flow is greater than the next eight largest rivers combined, and it accounts for about one fifth of the flow of all the world's rivers. (Jim took the photo above.)

Three highlights come to mind when I think of the trip Jim and I took there in 2001. First was our several-day cruise on the Santana III. It was outstanding. We each had our own "stateroom," but it wasn't much bigger than a closet. But it didn't matter. We were cruising the Amazon on a beautiful, nearly-brand-new yacht! Yippee!

It was magical traveling along some of the streams and tiny waterways feeding the Amazon.  Photo by brother Jim.

Second was our excursions on a small boat into the marshes and tiny waterways along the Amazon. It was like a dreamland. Reflections from the mirror-like water gave the illusion we were floating in mid-air. What we saw above us was identical to what we saw below us. Very eerie, but wonderful! Unforgettable!

Third was the ant encounter. Our guide navigated our little boat directly underneath an enormous black nest of ants, so we could get a good look at all the activity going on. It was fascinating to watch the tiny critters. They were dashing around in every direction.

But as luck would have it, the boat must have nudged the branch supporting the nest, because it came tumbling down on us, hitting me in the head, then landing on the seat next to me, and immediately ants were everywhere. And I do mean everywhere!

The nest was immediately thrown overboard, but several gazillion of its creepy-crawly occupants remained on board. And they weren't happy. And neither were we!

Hurriedly, our boat was driven to a nearby dock, where we jumped out, then did wild and imaginative dances trying to get the pests off us. Ants were crawling all over us: on our arms and legs, our heads, inside our clothing. Our guide shouted to us, "Don't worry, they won't bite."

Nearly instantaneously I yelped. "Ouch! One bit me! Ouch! Another! Ouch! Ouch! OUCH!"

It was hilarious! We were laughing and jumping, and swatting, and shaking. And we continued our little exhibition for maybe 15 minutes. It must have been a riot to watch.

Finally, when the boat and we were pretty much ant free, our party concluded its lively demonstration and headed back to the yacht. I've always wondered how the owner of that dock felt about the incident. All the ants we left behind became his problem. I wonder how long he had to deal with it.


Boats ferried us back and forth between land and the Bucanero.  Photo by FG.

In 1988, my son, Tim, and I took a trip to the Galapagos. We flew to Guayaquil, looked around for a day or two, then flew to the islands, boarded our ship, the "Bucanero," (photo below) and cruised around for several more days, making occasional stops to go ashore and see the sights. It was great!

The 'Bucanero.'  Photo by FG.

The wildlife was very strange: ugly-looking iguannas, lots of unusual birds, and sea lions! One lady got a little too close to a sun-bathing sea lion and it nipped her. It actually drew blood.

Perhaps the highlight was of our trip was a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station to see the giant tortoises. They were assembled together on a specially-constructed rock platform and were being fed lettuce, if I recall correctly. They are amazing animals.

Tim (left) watches the tortoises.   Photo by FG.
Tim (at the left) watches the enormous tortoises.

Watch out for the sea lions.  Photo by FG.

This was an easy landing.  Sometimes the landings weren't so easy.  Photo by FG.

Handsome little devil, isn't he?  Photo by FG.

The Frigatebird displaying.  Photo by FG.
The frigatebird displaying.

One thing I wasn't so crazy about was all the restrictions. Don't step off the narrow path. Everybody keep together. Don't pick up anything. Don't touch the rock platform. Don't get too close to the foliage. And on and on.


Notre Dam.  Photo by FG.
Notre Dam.

I've probably spent more than a month in France, as a result of perhaps a half dozen trips there, with most of that time in Paris. My first visit was part of a Cook's Tour when I was just 20 years old.

Cook's Tour in Paris.
My Cook's Tour in Paris.

That's a long time ago. As fate would have it, I was the only guy (besides the tour guide) in the group. (Guide at right. I'm in the blue suit and tie.)

The Arch de Triumph.  Photo by FG.
The Arch de Triumph.

The Eifle Tower's shadow edges across the Seine.  Photo by FG.
The Eifle Tower's shadow edges across the Seine.

Paris was a thrill. I loved seeing the sights: Notre Dam, book stalls along the Seine, the Eifle Tower, the Arch de Triumph, Sacree Coeur, the Champs-Elysees, the Louvre, the endless parks, impressive fountains, and countless charming streets.

Cars line up for a traffic light on the Champs-Elysées.  Photo by FG.
Cars line up for a traffic light on the Champs-Elysees.

Sacré Coeur.  Photo by FG.
Sacre Coeur.

Mona Lisa at the Louvre.  Photo by FG.
"Mona Lisa" at the Louvre.

The Lycee Sasint Louis, site of the YMCA conference.  Photo by FG.

My first visit was timed so I could attend a YMCA conference at the Lycee Sasint Louis (photo), conducted from August 12th to the 23rd.


On a business trip to Germany in March 1990, I found myself in West Berlin. As I recall, I got there Saturday afternoon and decided to walk around outside the hotel for a little exercise. A few blocks away I came upon a high and imposing wall.

Slowly, I began to realize it was the Berlin Wall, which, after standing for some 28 years and having become the most visible symbol of the Cold War, had fallen just four months before. The wall was still largely intact.

The Berlin Wall.  Photo from the Internet.
The Berlin Wall, at the Brandenburg Gate. (Photo from the Internet.)

Crosses and memorials by the Berlin Wall.  Photo from the Internet.
Crosses and memorials by the Berlin Wall. (Photo from the Internet.)

As I walked along beside it, I thought of the East Berliners who had risked every-thing to get to the West. Their hope of freedom was so great. Many attempted the 110-yard dash through mine fields and rifle fire to escape Soviet tyranny. More than 200 never reached their destination, and I found crosses, flowers, and memorials not too far from the Brandenburg Gate.

The scene was bizarre. Some of the huge concrete wall sections had been toppled over. Yet, many were still in place, and working on them was a small army of mostly kids, chipping and pounding on the wall with a variety of picks and hammers. Many seemed to be souvenir hunters, but others were collecting pieces large and small for sale to tourists who came to see the wall and contemplate its meaning.

I decided to buy a few chips myself, but then decided I, too, needed to pound on the wall. I borrowed a hammer and started whacking away.

The wall was unyielding and I was able to dislodge only sand-sized particles. I beat at it for some time, harder and harder, finally dislodging a few fragments. It was an emotional experience: partaking in the process of removing this insult to freedom.

'Checkpoint Charlie' at the Berlin Wall.  Photo from the Internet.
"Checkpoint Charlie" at the Berlin Wall. (Photo from the Internet.)

The next day, Sunday, I returned to the wall. This time, walking along it, I found Checkpoint Charlie, located at the junction of Friedrichstrase with Zimmerstrabe and Mauerstrabe. A long line of people had formed there. They were waiting to cross over into East Berlin to spend an afternoon there. I decided to join them.

I wasn't in line for more than 15 minutes or so before I spotted two people I recognized: Betty Hauser and Jack Sauer. Both were in Berlin to attend the same meeting I was to attend the following day, and they were a dozen or so people ahead of me in line. We joined forces and spent several amazing hours walking the streets of East Berlin, visiting a museum or two, buying some drinks and a few treats, and discussing the historic transformation Germany was witnessing.

I still have those pieces of the Berlin Wall. I mounted them on a felt-covered board and framed them. They're displayed on a bookcase shelf in my bedroom.


My older son (Bob) and I visited India in May 1988.

Snake charmers were anxious to show off their snakes, but payment was expected if you wanted to take a photo.  Photo by FG.

Snake charmers (photo) in Delhi and some of the other sights we saw were interesting, but probably most memorable was a drive we had returning from the city of Agra and a visit to the Taj Mahal.

Bob poses for a picture in front of the Taj Mahal.  Photo by FG.
Bob at the Taj Mahal.

Built in 1653 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal is stunningly beautiful. I always thought it was a palace, but no, it's just a mausoleum, though an amazingly impressive one. We had plenty of time to walk around, take pictures, and see the entire grounds. Then we visited Agra Fort.

It was mid-afternoon when we concluded our sight-seeing and time for our several-hour drive back to Delhi. The sun had been beating down merciously all day and it was blisteringly hot. Even in the shade it was almost unbearable. Our driver said we had a choice to make. We could drive back with the air conditioning off, or we could pay something like $25 and he'd turn the air conditioning on.

This extortion absolutely enraged me. What a low-handed way to pry some bucks out of a tourist's pocket. I was incensed!

Okay, weasel, I said to myself, if that's the way you want to play the game, no air conditioning it is! You're going to roast all the way back to Delhi, too!

Well, we started out, and it was brutal. Bob and I were sweating like pigs. We stopped a couple of times for drinks, but the drive was excruciating. The windows of the vehicle were wide open and we were traveling at a pretty good rate of speed, but it felt like we were inside a blast furnace. I think the outside temperature was 130 degrees. Something like that. Yes, a very memorable drive, indeed.


Italy has many attractions and it's hard to pick a favorite, but if I had to, I suppose it would be Venice. But Rome comes in a very close second.

A gondola ride is great fun.  Photo by FG.

Everywhere you look, there's a peaceful canal.  Photo by FG.

I thoroughly enjoyed walking the streets of Venice, taking in the scenes, and snapping pictures.

St. Marks Square offers endless photo opportunities. Photo by FG.
St. Marks Square offers endless photo opportunities.

When I was first there (over 50 years ago, by the way), I frequently found an unpleasant aroma in the air (a little like what you'd expect to find in a garbage can), but that did not detract much from the delight of the place. It was charming, picturesque, delightful!

Various bus tours had transported me to all the sights in Rome, but I wasn't satisfied with the tour schedules, the constant on-the-bus-off-the-bus routine, and other constraints tour guides demand, so on a free day, I rented a Vespa motor scooter.

This was really very foolish. I couldn't read the road signs, didn't know traffic customs, didn't have an Italian driver's license, and didn't even have a map of the city. But I started off nevertheless.

The Colleseum.  Photo by FG.

Miraculously, I found the Colosseum (photo above), the Fountain of Trevi (photo below), the Vatican, all the places I had seen the day before.

The Fountain of Trevi.  Photo by FG.

I was able to take my time at each sight, explore as long as I wished, then hop on my little scooter and buzz off to the next. (Photo below: The Vatican.) It was marvelous!

The Vatican Square.  Photo by FG.

In the late afternoon it was time to return to my hotel. I thought I knew the route. I scooted along, turning here and there.

My trusty motor scooter, just before I returned it to the rental company.  Photo by FG.

The sun was beginning to set and I knew I'd be in trouble if I had to find my was in the dark. Sometimes I'd go for quite a distance before coming across a recognizable landmark. Once or twice I had to backtrack until I regained my bearings. I had moments of doubt, but I kept going.

The rental place was adjacent to the hotel and amazingly I got there just a little past dusk (photo above). It was a totally successful day and a truly exciting experience.


On one of my business trips to Tokyo, I took my younger son, Tim, with me. He had the week to himself while I was off at work, but we spent time together on the weekend and then flew down to Hong Kong for a couple of days before heading home (with a stopover of a day or two in Hawaii).

I don't know how he found out, but Tim discovered sumo wrestlers were going to be working out Saturday morning.

We set out to find their gym, or whatever you call a wrestler's workout facility. It turned out to be a rather nondescript building in a rather nondescript neighborhood. I don't know how we ever found the place.

Amazingly, when we got there, we were let inside to observe the goings on! At no charge!

It seemed like there was more standing around than wrestling.  Photo by FG.

The floor was nothing but dirt, so when a wrestler went down, he got filthy.  Photo by FG.

It's a crazy sport.  And the outfit is rather crazy, too.  Photo by FG.

This guy seemed to be the biggest of the bunch.  Photo by FG.

It was a fairly small room, maybe 20 by 25 feet in size, quite hot and humid, and those enormous blobs of men were bouncing into each other and knocking each other around.

We were sitting on a platform -- no formal seats -- right next to the storefront-like window, just inches away from the action.

We watched for more than a half hour, I'd guess. Quite a treat! Quite unique! And what a lot of fun!


I chose Kenya as my first destination in Africa. It was a wise choice. The trip there in 1982 was with my son, Bob, as his college graduation present. But it may have been more of a present for me than for him.

The road seems to go forever.  Photo by FG.
We were driven on many a road like this in Kenya.

Cheetah.  Photo by FG.
The cheetah sounds more like a bird than a cat. That was a surprise.

What an amazing adventure: visiting strange places, seeing all manner of wild animals, experiencing the excitement of being close to lions and elephants and cape buffalo. And to spend this time -- two weeks -- with my son. What a treat!

Every single day was a highlight: the Salt Lick Lodge in Tsavo National Park East, the Kilaguni Lodge in Tsavo National Park West, The Amboseli Serena Lodge in Amboseli National Park, the Mount Kenya Safari Club (fancy, fancy) in Mount Kenya National Park, the Samburu Lodge in the Samburu Game Reserve, Treetops in Aberdare National Park, and Keekorok Lodge in the Masai Mara Game Reserve.

Bob at the left, and the other safari goers in our vehicle.  Photo by FG.
Bob is at the left, along with the other safari goers in our vehicle. The object to the right of Bob is a wood carving they purchased during the trip.

This lizzard couldn't have been more colorful.  Photo by FG.
I had to take a picture of this colorful lizard I found at Samburu Camp.

Memories from that trip are simply priceless. It was such a success, as a matter of fact, in 1990 I returned to Kenya and made the same tour, with the same itinerary, with my younger son, Tim.

A marabou stork pops a scrap of bread in its mouth.  Photo by FG.
A marabou stork pops a scrap of bread in its mouth.

A lion yawns after arising from a late-afternoon nap.  Photo by FG.
A lion yawns after arising from a late-afternoon nap. It's time to look for supper.

That, too, was a grand success!


In December 1991, my older son Bob and his wife, my younger son Tim, and I traveled to Morocco for a week's visit. We flew to Cassablanca, then spent time in Rabat, Meknes, Fez, and Marrakech, before returning to Cassablanca for the flight home. What a trip!

My younger son, Tim, takes a camel ride.  Photo by FG.
Tim and his camel friend.

There were several highlights, but the Marrakech market was probably at the top of the list.

The Marrakech market starts to fill with vendors in the late afternoon.  From sunset to well into the evening it's bedlam.  Photo by FG.
The Marrakech market.

Vendors arrived on the scene in the late afternoon to set out their wares. Food of all immaginable kinds was available for sale, as was every other kind of marketable product or service.

In addition there were performers who did their acts in hopes of gratuities. And water merchants, who wanted to sell you a cup of water. And various animals that would do their tricks. It was loud, smoky, high energy. And great fun! It lasted will into the night.

At one point on our trip, Bob came upon a salesman peddling nifty little replicas of camels. He had just concluded a sale when I spotted the souvenirs.

We had been advised to be aggressive when negotiating prices down, so I started in, offering about half the asking price. Bob quickly interceded, indicating he had already spent a good deal of time getting the price down to a rock-bottom level.

We visited lots of markets.  They were fascinating.  Photo by FG.

Food was displayed in neatly-arranged piles.  These nuts looked delicious.  Photo by FG.

The dinner we had our last night in Marrakech was memorable. Many high-piled platters of food were presented to us and the meal was delicious. Unusually good.

Then came the dancing girls, one of whom seemed to take a liking to Tim. We all enjoyed the experience. So memorable!


Game viewing at Etosha.  Photo from the Internet:
Game viewing in Etosha National Park.

My first visit to Namibia was to Ongava Tented Camp at Etosha National Park in 1998 with brother Jim. It was his first experience with African animals, so he didn't have a particularly restful first night as lions roared nearby and he imagined what would happen if they chose to visit our tent (photo). (He thought my snoring would entice them in.)

The inside of a tent at Ongava Tented Camp.  Photo from the Internet.

The next morning, our guide, Greg, took us on a game ride. As there wasn't a great deal of wildlife to see, he suggested we do some game tracking . . . on foot! Game tracking of . . . lions!

That should be interesting, I thought. We walked along single file, Greg, with loaded rifle, leading us. Although there was no lion encounter, it was a thoroughly exciting adventure.

On the drive back to the camp, we stopped for some refreshments just as the sun was setting, and a short time later, our driver whispered something to Greg. He had spotted some rhinos nearby.

As Greg's rifle was readied with new bullets (more powerful than were necessary for lions), we got in line and cautiously advanced.

Our instructions were to stay hidden behind some trees when we got near the animals. But the trees were nothing but scrawny saplings, probably no more than two or three inches in diameter.

We saw four rhinos drinking at a watering hole. They were maybe 15 yeards in front of us. The sun was over the horizon, so visibility was marginal. Our little group of six or seven tourists squeezed together to "hide" behind the saplings. We had been told these animals are very dangerous. They have good hearing, but poor vision.

Needless to say, the encounter was extremely exciting. Quite an indroctrination for Jim on his first safari trip.

Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp.  Photo by FG.

My second visit in 2006, also with Jim, was to the Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp (pictured above), near the Namib-Naukluft National Park. The remoteness of the camp was startling. It's in the middle of nowhere. In every direction no signs of civilization could be seen.

The sand dunes were enormous.  Some folks climbed to the top.  Photo by FG.

Particularly memorable was my visit (photo above) to the dunes along the coast (Jim wasn't feeling well that day and stayed at camp).

They're immense! At about 1250 feet, they're the highest dunes in Africa. Some say in the entire world.

(If you look closely, you can see people along the ridge of the dune in the photo above.)

Dead Vlei.  Photo by FG.

Also memorable was my trip to Dead Vlei (photo above) in the Sossusvlei dunes It's an old, dried up lake bed, but a setting of considerable, though rather stark, beauty. I could have spent hours climbing the dunes, viewing the scenery, and taking pictures.

Sharing a moment of quiet introspection.  Photo by FG.

Most memorable of all, however, was what happened near dusk of our last day in the country. Our guide, Felix, drove us to the base of a small hill. He turned off the engine and suggested we climb to the summit.

The view was almost surreal: lifeless, harsh, rocky, unforgiving, but strangely alluring, quite magical. We watched as the sun sunk gradually into the mountains and the sky turned first pink, then red, then purple.

The noise and intensity of city life were far away. Everything was still. The cool of the evening embraced us.

We were alone -- just the three of us -- in a special world. It was a rich, powerful experience.

Words can't adequately describe it.


My older son, Bob, and I traveled to Katmandu, Nepal, then flew over to the Royal Chitwan National Park for a two or three-night stay at Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge.

Katmandu is an amazing place. There were so many strange sights, customs, smells. The whole place reeked of incense.

Perhaps a holy man.  Photo by FG.

This strange-looking contraption was pulled along the streets and people seemed to be making offerings to it.  Photo by FG.

There were lots of temples. We ran into a ceremony (photo above) of some sort: a huge wooden platform rolled by and people seemed to be making offerings to it. The whole scene seemed like it was out of some wild movie.

Sunday was to be a free day, but our guide offered to take us to see an animal sacrifice. It involved a ride off into the countryside. How nice, I thought. The price wasn't too expensive, so bright and early Sunday morning, off we went.

After the car was parked, it was a fairly long walk up a dirt road to where the sacrifices were taking place. There was an almost festive atmosphere in the air. But for Bob and me, a little queasiness. A long line had formed, mostly women, some with children. They had chickens, a few goats, and other offerings to give.

There must have been hundreds of people lined up to make an offering or to have their animal sacrefices.  Photo by FG.

We got in line with them, but without any offerings. Slowly, ever so slowly the line edged forward. Bob and I were becoming more and more apprehensive.

Quite a few chickens were sacrificed, some goats, I think maybe one ox.  Photo by FG.

Finally we reached "ground zero" where the animals were dispatched. A young man took each offering and sliced off its head. Blood was splattered all over the place. It was a most unsettling scene.

The animals to be sacrificed are given to this guy, who whacks off their heads.  Photo by FG.

Those who had brought the offerings received the dead animal carcasses back. They were going to be the evening's meal.

The sacrificed animals are butchered.  Photo by FG.

At a creak nearby (photo above), the animals were butchered. Not quite the most sanitary means of processing the meat, so it would seem.

Bob's body language is quite clear.  Photo by FG.

And as this picture of Bob suggests, the entire process was not a very pleasant one to witness. We were both rather quiet on the drive back to our hotel.

If that wasn't exciting enough, our stay at Tiger Tops was also quite a thrill.

Cabins at Tiger Tops.  Photo by FG.

Cabins at the camp (photo) were built up off the ground to protect tourists from tigers. Activities include exciting elephant rides (photo below) around Chitwan National Park.

The elephant grass is just as tall as the elephants.  Photo by FG.

The elephants can take you where no vehicles can go: through the high elephant grass (about ten feet tall), across streams, into the thick forest, up and down steep inclines.

Wooden platforms on the backs of the elephants hold two to four people each.  Photo by FG.

On the rides we were on the lookout for both tigers and rhinos. We didn't see any cats, but there were several rhino sightings. One of the elephants (not ours) was charged, and that sure got the tourists' adrenalin pumping!

Bob joins in with washing the elephants.  Photo by FG.
Bob assists with washing an elephant.

At the end of the day all the elephants marched down to the river for a relaxing bath. The mahouts did all the real scrubbing, but we were able to join in the process with splashing.

Bob poses with a pachyderm.  Photo by FG.

I found our entire stay at Tiger Tops pure delight. The weather was perfect, the elephant rides were wonderfully exciting, the river water was warm, and it was a real treat from start to finish!


Lean Pot and her brother Cornelius in the back yard at home.  Photo by FG.

My mother had a good friend who lived in Holland. Her name, interestingly, was Lean Pot. Her brother, Cornelius Pot, invited me to cruise the Zuider Zee with him for a week or so in his yacht. What an opportunity!

When I got to Slikkerveer, where they lived (about 4 miles east-southeast of Rotterdam), I immediately became the center of attention and was introduced to all sorts or neighbors and friends.

One of the first questions I was asked was what languages I spoke. Well, I took Latin in high school, but I only spoke English.

Everyone seemed agast. Only one language? He only speaks one language? There was a buzz of comments all around, in Dutch, of course.

Everyone there understood English and they were quite conversant with it, but after a few minutes the conversation just naturally reverted to Dutch. I was alone in a sea of foreign words.

Five to ten minutes would pass and someone would say, "Oh, we're not speaking English. We're so sorry." And English would take over. But only briefly. Then I was again an outsider again.

Cornelius cleans his boat.  He named it 'Espero,' meaning 'the hope of man.'  He believed a common world language, Esperonto, would unify all the world's people.  Photo by FG.
Cornelius cleans his boat, which he named "Espero," meaning "the hope of man." He believed a common world language, Esperonto, would unify the world.

The cruise was really great, though I don't remember a whole lot about it now. (It was, after all, over fifty years ago.) I do remember visiting Volendam and some other communities, and walking around the towns. Many people seemed disabled or disfigured. I wondered if it was from inbreeding. I also remember Cornelius liked eating eels, a habit I'm proud to say I never acquired.

Captian Cornelius at the helm.  Photo by FG.

Cornelious was quite a guy. He invented Clavar Scribo (I'm sure I've spelled it incorrectly), a scheme of music notation where the notes are read up to down, rather than left to right. It became somewhat popular in Europe for a bit, then lost its popularity.

And he was head of a large electric motor and generator manufacturing plant in Slikkerveer. During our yacht trip he ran a series of tests to calculate the efficiency of his boat's engine.

Quite a few years later, on a business trip, I had made plans to meet him in Amsterdam at the train station. He said I'd be able to find him in the crowd because he'd be holding up a handkerchief. When I got to the station, there he was. The "handkerchief" was the size of an entire bed sheet!


My introduction to Peru was a little disconcerting. It was a long flight there and I arrived somewhere around two in the morning. A taxi drove me to my hotel, but the streets were dark, dirty, and populated with occasional military personnel carrying what looked to me like machine guns. I hoped that was just the bad section of town.

I only had a few hours of sleep before another taxi picked me up to return to the airport to catch an early-morning flight to Iquitos. From there I got aboard a boat for a several-hour ride on the Amazon to my first camp.

It was pretty rustic. The "lodge" was built in from the water's edge and high above it. During the wet season, the water level rises dozens of feet and the lodge then is at the water's edge. Another advantage: during the dry season there are a lot less snakes around.

I was assigned a room in a cluster which was open to a common roof overhead. When I reported seeing bats hanging from the rafters directly above me, I was moved to another room.

Also definitely memorable were my bug encounters and piranha fishing experiences.

There are bugs everywhere along the Amazon and that's fine, but not when they threaten to join me in bed. I have limits to my hospitality.

The first night at the lodge I was so concerned about uninvited "guests," I tucked in the mosquito netting tightly all around the mattress, then took all my possessions to bed with me: travel bag, camera, accessories, boots, everything. It made for rather crowded sleeping conditions.

One evening at one of the camps, I was walking back to my cabin after dinner. It was dark and I was using my flashlight. I thought I saw something move in the shadows immediately in front of me, right where I was about to step. I jumped, let out a yelp, and quickly shined the flashlight toward it. An enormous tarantula scooted across the path. It must have been six inches across. I just missed stepping on the thing.

On a fishing expedition I was having no luck at all. There would be a nibble, but then nothing there when I pulled up the line. I was advised to jerk on the line quickly when I felt a tug.

A while later I felt a tug, I gave a jerk, and out of the water jumped a beautiful, good-sided, brightly-colored piranha. My tug was a little too enthusiastic, however, and the fish flew up over the boat in a graceful arc and back into the water on the other side, where it quickly detached itself from the line and swam off.

My guide (photo below) was having all sorts of luck.

The afternoon's catch wasn't very respectable.  Photo by FG.

My guide holds up a piranha I caught.  Photo by FG.
My guide holds up a piranha I caught.

I finally did "reel" in a couple of the sharp-teethed critters, but they were rather small. I ate them that evening for supper. How did they taste? Fishy.

The real "highlight" of my Peru trip was a visit to Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Earlier in the trip some tourists were talking about altitude sickness they encountered while visiting Machu Picchu. The cure, they said, was to drink a cup of coca-leaf tea, then get plenty of rest.

I knew I wouldn't have any trouble with high altitudes, but I decided to take their advice anyway. When I got to my hotel at Cuzco I ordered several cups of coca-tea, then went to bed early and got a good night's sleep.

The next morning, however, I wasn't feeling right, and during the tour around town I was feeling worse and worse. I wondered if maybe my headache and upset stomach were just signs of an impending cold. That evening I ordered more cups of tea and went to bed early again.

The following morning I felt rotten: splitting headache, aches all over, and the beginning signs of diarrhea. This was the day to take a train to Machu Picchu.

I climbed aboard, found my seat, and collapsed in it. The ride was several hours long, with a number of stops along the way. I felt like a zombie. I hardly moved the entire trip.

The road from the train up the mountain to Machu Picchu.  Photo by FG.

At my destination I dragged myself off the train and onto the bus for the hairpin-turn (photo) ride to the top of the mountain. And there it was, Machu Piccho.

Machu Picchu.  Photo by FG.

But, first things first. I made a mad dash for the men's room. I think I spent more time there than I did sightseeing. I felt wretched.

I got back on the train and headed south to a tiny town not too far from Lake Titicaca. I checked into my motel and fell into bed.

I was almost asleep when there was a knock on the door. Who could that be? The motel manager had seen I wasn't feeling well, so he had some soup made and brought to my room. That was exactly what I needed. How thoughtful! I'll never forget that kindness.

The next morning when I got up I was feeling a little better. I walked out to the road and waited probably a half hour for a bus to take me to Lake Titicaca and a boat ride on the lake. I was a little worried that motion on the water would exacerbate things, but By the end of the day I was feeling much better. My adventure had concluded and it was time to fly home.

South Africa

Three attractions in South Africa provided me with glorious memories: Kruger National Park, Sun City, and a balloon ride in Pilanesberg National Park.

Kruger is remarkable. I've been there three times. (Or is it four?) Well, actually, I haven't actually visited Kruger. I've been to seven or eight camps that abut the Kruger park. There are no fences or barricades, so the animals are free to roam in the park or on the adjoining properties. Game viewing is outstanding. I've included a bunch of pictures from these experiences in my "Favorite Africa Photos" collection, so I won't repeat them all here.

We are about to board the balloon.  Photo by FG.

I had been on a balloon ride in the Mid-Hudson Valley in New York State, but a balloon ride in Pilanesberg National Park takes the sport to another level. (In the photo, we're about ready to get in the baskets.)

The terrain is more rugged and beautiful, the balloon is much bigger, and there are all sorts of animals to see! And you can see them looking straight down!

The early-morning sun peaks out from behind a mountain.  Photo by FG.

Balloon flights depart in the early morning, when winds are at a minimum, and it was bitter cold when we started out.

Our pilot identified points of interest.  Photo by FG.

But as the sun rose and it warmed, it was euphoric! We glided along so peacefully.

There were so many marvelous sights to see. And the occasional violent hiss of the igniting fuel to keep the balloon aloft was invigorating. (In the photo, the pilot is at the left, Jim on the right.)

Looking down at several rhinos.  Photo by FG.

The pilot took us to great heights for spectacular panorama views, and he let the basket just skim over the treetops for a dramatic down-to-earth perspective. (In the photo above: rhinos.)

From 'our' balloon we watch as the accompanying balloon touches down.  Photo by FG.
Our companion balloon touches down and we are soon to follow.

The balloon has landed and our flight has ended.  Photo by FG.

As our balloon slowly deflates, Jim and I head for the vehicle that had brought us. Oh, what a glorious ride it was!


On my way back from a business trip to Europe once, I stopped off in Madrid for an overnight stay and a quick tour of the town. At the end of the tour we came upon the city's soccer stadium, and the driver said we could get off and see a game if we wished. It was going to be a night game and would start in an hour or two. What a great idea, I thought.

Immediately, however, I knew I had a problem. There were lots of ticket booths all around the stadium, but it appeared some were for different purposes than others. I had assumed I could obtain entrance without any discussion -- I know no Spanish -- but from the looks of things, that wasn't going to be the case. Well, I reasoned, I'll just find someone who can speak English and that will solve my problem

How hard was it to find such a person? Very hard! I asked dozens of peope and got dozens of blank expressions. For more than a half hour I searched. In vain. Then I saw a guy who looked very American and asked him. Success. He escorted me to a ticket window and got me a ticket, in a very good section, right next to where he was seated. Great!

To make a long story short, he was the president of Diners Club (or maybe it was Carte Blanche) and he spent much of his time traveling the world examining company offices and practices. We watched about half the game, then he suggested we go for dinner. Well, yes, of course!

After dinner, he suggested we take in some nightclub action. Well, absolutely!

Watch some flamenco dancing? To be sure!

We saw several flamenco dancers, in several clubs!  Photo from the Internet.
We saw several flamenco dancers, at several clubs. Photo: Internet.

It was quite a remarkable evening! A late-into-the-night evening!

And a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable experience.


Oh my, that amazing trip in Switzerland up Mount Pilatus!

After staying overnight in the town of Lake Lucerne, I got on a boat which glided me across the water to Alpnachstad at the foot of the mountain. It was a cool day and as I looked up, I saw the entire top of Pilatus was enveloped in clouds.

It's a steep climb on the cogwheel railway. As a matter of fact, it's the world's steepest, with a 48% gradient on some sections. In no time our red car was clack-ckack-clacking along in the clouds.

A break in the mist appears, then moments later closes up again.  Photo by FG.

The path is just barely discernable.  Photo by FG.

Though the sun was bright, it couldn't burn off the moisture surrounding us. Cow bells could be heard from every direction. They revealed to Dairy farmers the whereabouts of their cattle.

At the top (altitude 7,000 feet), I got off. Mountain paths led off in several directions away from the visitor center. I started out.

I could only see a few feet in front of me and there were no railings along the narrow trail, so that heightened the excitement. One misstep and I could plunge down hundreds of feet over rough and rocky terrain. And I didn't even have a bell around my neck!

The air was so fresh and the morning so crisp. Paths crossed and criss-crossed each other, up and down the mountainside. What an excellent opportunity to get lost.

As the morning wore on, the sun began to penetrate the foggy mist.

Tiny gaps in the clouds would open, then close. Gradually I could see further along the path and the sights were stunning: rough-hewn rocks jutted out of the mountain, but so much of the scene was a dazzling carpet of rich, green grass. It was a feast for the eyes.

The path was gorgeous.  Photo by FG.

Swiss mountains are spectacular.  Photo by FG.

Hours slipped by in no time and when the clouds had largely dissipated, it was into the afternoon and time to head back for the cogwheel ride down the mountain.

Cars await my trip back down the mountain.  Photo by FG.

It was a breathtaking experience. Excitement, yet peace, tranquility, joy.


The highlights of my two trips to Tanzania were seeing the wildebeest migration on the Serengeti, and visiting Ngorongoro Crater.

The Serengeti is located in the north-western portion of the country and encompasses over 11,000 square miles.

Wildebeest migration.  Photo from the Internet.

As we drove along the dirt road, I could see thousands and thousands of wildebeests in every direction (photo: Internet). Most were grazing, some were making moans and other wildebeest sounds, some were galloping along in small or large groups.

The road seemed to pose a barrier for them. They would move toward it, then stop short, as if they needed time to muster sufficient courage to cross.

Then one of the braver ones would make a dash across and hundreds would follow, all in single file. Witnessing this spectacle was a treat. So many animals. The whole Serengeti, as far as I could see, was a mass of wildebeests, but with a sprinkling of zebra as well.

On my second trip to Tanzania, the migration I witnessed was nowhere near as impressive. Nowhere near the numbers. Nowhere near the excitement or intensity. The timing during the year was different and that made the difference.

The Ngorongoro Crater.  Photo from the Internet.

The Ngorongoro Crater (photo: Internet) is utterly amazing. It's the world's largest unbroken, unflooded volcanic caldera, and its floor covers more than 100 square miles.

Lions in the Ngorongoro Crater.  Photo from the Internet.

The conditions there are perfect for all sorts of animals, so the crater is filled with herds of zebra, gazelle, and wildebeest, and is home to many rhinoceros, lion, leopard, elephant, and buffalo.

Game viewing and picture taking in the crater are extraordinary.  Photo by FG.

An estimated 25,000 animals call the crater home.

Tourists stay in lodges perched on the rim of the volcano and then take game drives to the crater floor. No drives are allowed at night. Ngorongoro is a prize. It's a one-of-a-kind place!

P.S. Also rather memorable on my first trip to Tanzania: food poisoning. I got it on my second day in the country. Apparently a water shortage resulted in poorly-washed dishes, and I had to deal with the consequences for the rest of my trip.


The most memorable part of my weekend trip to Thailand was just being there! I remember getting to my hotel in Bangkok late at night after a long flight from Tokyo. I turned on the TV and there was Brian Lamb interviewing someone on C-SPAN. It was strange: sitting in a hotel room so far from home seeing something so familiar.

The water market was fascinating.  Many merchants and their wares on a myriad of little boats.  Photo by FG.
The water market was interesting. Many merchants have their wares laid out on a myriad of little boats.

I signed up for some tours and saw the sights: Buddhas, temples, the water market, elephants. It seems there's high-intensity activity everywhere in Bancock.

Buddha statues are all over the place.  Photo by FG.

There are over 31,000 Buddhist temples in Thailand.  In Thai they are called wat.  Photo by FG.

It's customary to buy tiny sheets of gold leaf and attach it to statues.  This statue is covered with the stuff.  Photo by FG.
It's customary to buy tiny sheets of gold leaf and attach it to statues. This statue is covered with the stuff.

Elephants still play a large role in Thai life.  Photo by FG.


While the sights along the Nile were thrilling, and a variety of animal encounters likewise, certainly the highlight of Jim's and my trip to Uganda was a visit to the Impenetrable Forest and a hike up the steep trails to see gorillas!

The Impenetrable Forest means what it says, but a trail had been cut into the side of the mountain -- a very steep trail. A group of tourists (including brother Jim and me), some guides, some guards, and some "assistants" began the climb. The assistants proved invaluable when we negotiated washed-out sections of the path, or unusually steep sections. They coaxed, pushed, pulled, and cheered us along.

Our guides were in radio contact with others on the mountain, so they had a pretty good idea where the gorillas were. After a two-and-a-half-hour trek, we were close to the mountain's summit. We were also sweaty and exhausted, so we paused for a break.

Afterward, we had maybe fifty yards further to go to reach our objective: a group of six or eight gorillas.

Gorillas.  Photo by FG.

They were pretty large, at least the adults were, and they snapped twigs and nibbled on them. We were fascinated. Flies and other insects were buzzing around their heads in great abundance, but they didn't seem to bother us.

We watched intently. The only sounds were the snapping of twigs and branches, and camera clicks. We were spellbound.

Gorillas.  Photo by FG.

Jim turned away to change his film and shortly thereafter I had to fumble with my video camera to change a tape. When I looked up, the gorillas were gone. And so was everyone else! Even Jim! They had just disappeared!

I assumed the gorillas had simply moved along and everyone had followed, but I didn't know in which direction. Realizing they couldn't be far off, I cautiously moved forward, and in several minutes (though it seemed like a fairly long time) I found the group and resumed picture-taking.

Jim took a different approach. He, too, didn't know what happened to everyone while he was dealing with his camera, but he simply returned to where we had all taken our break. Some of the guards and guides were waiting there.

Gorilla viewing time was limited to just one hour, which zipped by in no time, and we had to begin our descent. You'd think climbing down the mountain would be easier than climbing up, but that's not necessarily the case. It seems a completely different set of muscles is required.

It was a super experience. It truly was awesome. We had visited the gorillas and had gotten pretty close to them. Wow! Heart-stopping excitement!

United Kingdom

I've made a number of trips to England and have stayed there -- I'm guessing -- a total of 30 days. It's so nice to visit a foreign country where the people speak . . . English! Fluently! On the other hand, I always look the wrong way when I cross a street.

Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.  Photo by FG.

The Tower Bridge over the Thames.  Photo by FG.

I enjoyed very much sightseeing around town: The Houses of Parliment, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Hyde Park, Green Park, St. James Park.

Number 10 Downing Street.  Photo by FG.
Number 10 Downing Street.

On my first visit I was able to walk along Downing Street right to Number 10 (official residence of the British prime minister). Now, of course, it's all blocked off and heavily guarded.

I stayed at the Alexa Hotel during my first trip to London.  See sign at left.  Photo by FG.
During my first trip to London, I stayed at the Alexa Hotel. See sign at the left.

Colorfully attired guards march in front of Buckingham palace.  Photo by FG.

The London Eye.  Photo from the Internet.
In the distance you can see Westminster Abby, Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament.

The London Eye (photo), also known as the Millennium Wheel, is the biggest Ferris wheel in Europe. It slowly revolves, lifting tourists some 440 feet in the air. On my last visit, I took a ride. What a spectacular view!


In 2004, brother Jim and I visited Zambia. There were great game drives and excellent animal sightings, but two experiences there were particularly memorable.

One morning we started out on a game walk. We didn't get very far before our guides became uncomfortable. They spotted three elephants coming towards us on their way to a small river. We were at the edge of the river and caught right in their path. There were no good places where we could protect ourselves should the pachyderms decide to be unfriendly to us. We crouched down on a narrow ledge of dirt. Any misstep and we would fall into the water

We watched as the elephants slowly headed our way. Fortunately, they changed course slightly and crossed the river maybe 75 yards away from us. Exciting!

Our guides watch as the elephants reach the other side of the river.  Photo by FG.
We stayed put until the elephants had reached the other side of the river.

But that was just the beginning of the excitement. Then we got in some canoes to get across the river ourselves. No big deal. Except that we had to paddle between two pods of hippos. Everything would be just fine, as long as the hippos didn't feel threatened. After all, we were invading their territory.

About half way across, our canoe got caught on a sand bar. Wasn't that nice. A guide had to get out and dislodge our craft. Moments later a hihppo let out a yelp, stood up on his feet, and charged. I thought he was going to ram us, but apparently he was just chasing another hippo. That was a thrill!

On the other side of the river, walking through tall grass (sometimes six feet high or more), we wondered if lions were watching us nearby, waiting to pounce. None did, but after our walk we had to re-enter the canoes and paddle back through the pods of hippos. Very exciting indeed.

Also memorable on that trip was an ultra-light ride I took.

I am all strapped in and ready to go.  Photo by Jim.

We're ready for take off.  Photo by Jim.

It was in the cool of the early morning, but when we were in the air it was bitter cold. But it was one hundred percent exhilarating.

Flying up over the terrain and looking down at the scene below. Watching a huge herd of cape buffalo peacefully graze. Banking left and right to get extra-good views. Swooping down just above the river on our approach for a landing.

My ultra-light ride was fantastic!  (Another guest is passenger in this picture.)  Photo by FG.

Oh, my goodness: spectacular!


A great view of Victoria Falls (on the right) and the Zambezi River.  Photo from the Internet.

High on the list of highlights from my two trips to Zimbabwe is seeing Victoria Falls (you can see mist rising from the falls in the photo above: Internet) and riding elephants at Elephant Camp. But probably most memorable is the canoe ride I took down the Zambezi River with my brother Jim.

First the elephant rides.

I thoroughly enjoyed the elephant rides.  They were marvelous, a real treat!  Photo from video by FG.

Elephant Camp did not disappoint. I think Jim and I had at least one ride each day. (The photo above and the ones that follow were taken from a video I made of the trip.)

Jim's elephant rides were not as successful as mine.  He suffered a sore and uncomfortable bottom from bumping around in the elephant saddle.  Photo from video by FG.
Jim, a mahout, and their means of transportation.

But right from the start, Jim was experiencing difficulties. It seems the saddle placement for him was not quite right. An elephant's backbone is not something you would wish to sit on for any significant period of time, but that apparently was Jim's plight. And I'm sure one little incident along the way didn't help matters.

We were on an elephant walk, and at one spot along the river we had just crossed, we encountered a somewhat steep embankment. It was no problem at all for the elephant, but Jim and I (we were both on the same elephant for this walk) found the saddle had not been properly secured, and we slid right off!

This neither enhanced our confidence in our mode of transportation, nor did it give any comfort to Jim's sore bottom!

Because of flight delays in Hwange, our flight was late arriving in Kariba and we missed our drive to a camp on the river, so we were put up for the night in a less-than-ideal Kariba hotel.

A late-evening call informed me we'd be picked up the following morning, but an additional charge was demanded. That was great, except I wasn't paying anything extra to compensate for airline schedule delays. No way!

We had been advised that some dangers might be encountered during the canoe trip, so we needed to repack. Also, canoe space constraints meant we'd have to leave some of our luggage in Kariba.

The next morning a couple of other travelers and Jim and I were picked up in a vehicle. It wasn't clear what our destination was, but off we went. When we turned onto a very narrow dirt road and headed into some less-than-pleasant neighborhoods, I got concerned. Where were we being taken? I think we were all worrying about that.

We were being taken to the river and a dock where a seaplane was awaiting us. Wow!

We got in and the pilot took off, and treated us to a great flight along the Zambezi River gorge.

We jumped off the seaplane into boats for our ride the rest of the way to Ruckomechi Camp.  Photo from video by FG.

After a while he landed on the river and we transferred to some boats that were there to meet us. And the boats took us the Ruckomechi Camp, and arrived there a little before lunch. We were allowed to use one of the cabins to freshen up before the meal.

But we had unexpected visitors. Dozens of elephants wandered into camp and began feasting on seed pods that had fallen off the camp's trees.

We were trapped in the cabin and couldn't get to where lunch was being served.

At Ruckomechi, elephants surrounded our cabin.  I was very busy taking video pictures of them.  Photo from video by FG.

What a wonderful photo opportunity. There were elephants all over the place, some just five or ten feet from the doorway where I was busy taking pictures with my video camera. It was fantastic!

After lunch we drove to the launch site and packed the canoes -- there were four of them -- and started off down the river. In our canoe, I was in the bow, Jim in the stern. We paddled 25 kilometers or more each day.

We paddled as much as 25 kilometers or more each day.  It was wonderful.  Photo from video by FG.

Sometimes it was just a leisurely paddle, since we were going with the current. But sometimes the wind blew in the opposite direction and paddling turned into hard work.

We stayed in tents overnight. The next morning, a crew of staff people took down all the tents and removed everything from the site, then transported all of it to the next overnight location further down the river.

We stopped at one spot for breakfast, and our guides got busy with preparations: fried eggs, bacon, a complete breakfast meal. But before we could begin, a troop of elephants approached. We had to abandon the site and race to the river for safety. A rifle was loaded, just in case.

On foot, we tracked two lions for maybe a quarter mile.  As we got near, they strolled away from us, finally settling in the shade of a big tree.  Photo from video by FG.

We got pretty close to wild elephants.  Photo from video by FG.

Then we had to retreat even further along the river. The elephants marched leisurely into our camp, sniffed around briefly, then moved on. The bacon and eggs were a little over cooked, but other than that, there was no harm done.

During an afternoon paddle, one of the guides spotted some lions a short distance from the edge of the river. We beached the canoes and started off in their direction. Fortunately, they seemed uninterested in us and they wandered off to the south.

Our little band of eight followed them, hiding behind a termite mound to observe them as they flopped down for a rest maybe a hundred yards in front of us.

At one point I wondered if all this was wise, but there were no dangerous, up-lose encounters. Thank goodness! But it's sort of nifty to have tracked lions on foot.

At one spot along the way, one of the other paddlers lost his balance when we saw several elephants by the edge of the water, and he fell into the water, tipping over the canoe in the process. His personal belongings, including an expensive camera and GPS device were drenched. Our guides said they had witnessed only one other tipover in their four years of canoe trips.

Our last day on the river was also exciting. We had almost reached our campsite when we came upon a very large pod of hippos. It wouldn't be possible to paddle by without them charging, because they'd feel threatened. There was clearly concern on the face of each of our two guides.

We stopped some distance away from the pod, then our guides cautiously maneuvered each canoe, one by one, right alone the shore until it was a hundred feet or so past the danger. Very exciting!

On our last evening by the river, we had a delicious dinner, as usual, but as we sat by the river in folding chairs, we were invaded by a swarm of flying insects. We had to retreat to our tents to avoid them.

The prior evenings we had had no insects at all. (Although one night, we saw a hyena prowling along the edge of the camp, looking in our direction. And perhaps licking his chops.)

There are more stories to tell and memories to recall from travels here and there, but I think I should conclude this walk down memory lane. And besides, highlights from trips to Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, the Scandanian countries, and a few others just don't measure up to the marvelous adventures described above.

Filler to set minimum window size.

The way back home.