Thailand

21 days in Thailand with Ottilie and Maxine.

Began our journey in Bangkok, visiting the major temples and the Thai National Museum. Boarded a bus to Mae Sot and from there, hopped on a songthaew headed to Ban Tha Song Yang for a weeklong visit to Safe Haven Orphanage on the banks of the Moei River. Technically visited Myanmar, but only for a moment. Continued on to Chiang Mai for a week, visiting temples there and the nearby elephant sanctuary, before taking a train back to Bangkok and ultimately ending our travels in Phuket, kayaking around the islets of Phang Nga Bay.

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South Dakota

3 day visit with Michelle in South Dakota’s Black Hills region

Flew Allegiant Airlines from Mesa to Rapid City, then traveled to home base in Spearfish. Spent the weekend visiting Mount Rushmore, historic Deadwood, Black Hills National Park’s many lakes, forests, and prairies, Wyoming’s Devils Tower, and capped the trip off with a tedious winter hike up Black Elk Peak, the highest point in the world east of the Rockies and west of Europe’s Pyrenees

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Serengeti + Ngorongoro + Lake Manyara

5-Day Private Safari operated by Peak Planet

After descending from Kili, spent the next five days traveling from Arusha to Lake Manyara (day 1), Ngorongoro Crater (days 2 + 3), and Serengeti National Park (days 4 + 5). My guide was incredibly experienced and managed to spot all of the Big 5, which is quite astonishing considering how difficult it can be to spot a rhino. Even though much of the time in the truck is spent straining through binoculars in between swatting away those spawn-of-Satan tsetse flies, getting to see – even momentarily – so much unique flora and fauna is well worth it.

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Kilimanjaro

8-Day Group Climb with PeakPlanet.com

Flew KLM from Phoenix to Arusha, Tanzania via Montreal and Amsterdam. Spent two days acclimating in Arusha at 4500′ before my rendezvous with the rest of the group and getting bussed up to the Londorossi Gate at 7800′ to begin the climb.

Spent six days trekking up the Lemosho route to Barafu Camp at 15300′ before beginning the midnight ascent to Uhuru Peak at 19,341′, the summit of Kilimanjaro, reaching the peak an hour after sunrise. Despite starting Day 2 with a 100 degree fever which did not break for 24 hours and despite developing a pulmonary embolism during summiting which necessitated an expedited descent all the way down to Mweka Camp, the climb was quite a fun experience. The climb is worth doing once, and once you forget the negative aspects, something successful climbers think they would want to do again. Highly recommend Peak Planet or Ultimate Kilimanjaro to anyone thinking about doing a Kili climb.

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