I just returned from an amazing trip to South Africa, Zambia and Botswana. I loved the diversity of this trip. We visited beautiful cities, countryside, the falls and the bush. Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities that I have ever seen. It is on the Waterfront and has views of the Mountains in the background. We drove down to Cape Point and the scenery was so beautiful on the way. The white and sandy beaches were on one side, while the majestic mountain range was on the other side. As we traveled up the mountain the view of the beach was spectacular. We saw baboons on the side of the road and we visited a colony of penguins at Boulders Beach. Cape Point is the southwesternmost point of Africa; just beautiful. We stayed at the Cape Grace hotel which is in the best location in Capetown. Right on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. The waterfront has lots of shops and restaurants and activity going on. Because of the location this is one of the best hotels in Cape Town. From here we visited the wine country which is also beautiful country with Mountains and such greenery. Stellenbosch is South Africa's second oldest town. This is a University town today and also has galleries shops and wine. They have red and white and their own version of Champagne. We stayed in Franschhoek which is a lovely small town with cute shops and hotels. Our hotel was Le Quartier Francais Auberge, which is a Relais and Chateaux. I loved this property. It is small and very European. Our room was very large and we had our own butler here as well. The restaurant is one of the top 50 restaurants in the world. We enjoyed small plates and shared everything. The food and wine was amazing!! After enjoying the city of Cape Town the wine and food of Franschhoek we flew to Kruger National Park to see what Africa is known for- the animals. Our first night on Safari we stayed at Mala Mala. This is one of the original Camps and needs to be refurbished. However, this was one of the most exciting days we had on Safari. Our guide Matt was fantastic and we saw so many amazing animals in their natural habitat here. We followed a pack of wild dogs as they hunted an impala. We flew threw the bush in our land rover and thought we were going to see a kill. At the last minute the dogs changed their mind and let the impala escape!! We saw a herd of Elephant and Giraffe here; hippos and Rhinos as well. From here we moved to Lion Sands River Lodge. This was a really beautiful property that I would highly recommend. We saw our first sightings of Lions here and a Hippo that was standing in the water but was dead. There were crocodiles coming out of its mouth. I can't believe that I thought this was really cool! From Mala Mala we flew to Zambia to see Victoria Falls. Victoria Falls is one of the 7 Natural wonders of the world. It is the only waterfall that instead of the water flowing away it goes in an opposite direction. The force of the falls is so great that you can see smoke coming from the falls. The African name Mosi-Oa-Tunya means "the Smoke that Thunders." This describes the huge spirals of spray that can be seen for many miles. I loved the beautiful rainbow that can be seen at the falls, it really reminded me that this is an amazing wonder of our world!!
Peru ranks amongst the world’s great centers of ancient civilization with remains which fascinate travelers and archaeologists alike. Peru is one of the most diverse countries due to the climatic, natural and cultural variation of its regions, which include coast, sierra and jungles. Peru’s people (all 23 million of them) are largely descendants of Spanish settlers and native Inca and pre-Inca cultures. Today there are three national languages: Spanish, and the native Quechua and Aymara, reflecting the native Indian and Spanish roots that cultivate modern Peruvian society.
Top Peru Attractions
There is no shortage of things to see in Peru. Certainly, you could spend weeks or months exploring this diverse country, but most tours are slightly less intensive. With limited time, the following sites should most definitely be included on your “must see” list.
Machu Picchu was built by the Incas over 500 years ago and is Peru’s most visited tourist attraction with over 500,000 people each year, and a U.N. Heritage site. The city is a wondrous man-made city tucked in the middle of a tropical mountain forest. Machu Piccu is above the cloudline at 7,000 feet above sea level and is remarkable intact with the stone walls, temples and lush green terraces. Views from Machu Picchu are spectacular as the ancient city overlooks a canyon on the Urubamba river and the Andes mountains, as well as lots of greenery from the Amazon basin.
Cuzco is a quaint town that sits about 75 miles above Machu Picchu and is usually the starting point for the train that leads down to Machu Picchu. For all intents and purposes, the only way to get there is by plane. This small city has a decided mystical feeling and transports you back to Incan times. The town is small and easily accessible. Two of the highlights of the town are the Temple of San Blas and the Church of LaMerced—a stunning cathedral. Surprisingly, shopping is a great experience and allows you to pick up some fleece sweaters, jackets, and blankets at bargain prices—provided your bartering skills are up to speed. Occasionally, if you are lucky, you will witness the Peruvian military marching at the Plaza de Armas.
Lima is the capitol of Peru and has a large city feel; yet still maintains its connection with the distant past. The city sits high atop the Pacific Ocean and during the winter, dense fog and chilly air are common. However in the summer months (winter in the US), the city sparkles in the sun and hundreds of thousands will flood the beaches. Being the capitol, many, if not most, of the buildings are governmental, yet there are still plenty of museums and historical sites throughout the city. The city is a true study in opposites. Paved highways and quaint cobblestone streets. Large modern buildings and ancient Catholic churches. Modern businessmen in three piece suits and modest merchants in traditional Incan garb. Lima is a city which will not disappoint.
I love every destination that I have traveled to. I love to meet the people, experience the culture, eat the food, see the sights, and of course, my favorite thing to do is shop! One of my all time favorite destinations is Italy. Every city is so different, each boasting their unique crafts. Venice is known for their distinct Venetian glass, Florence for the wonderful butter soft leather and gold, Milan for the high fashion, Pompeii for the cameos.
If I had to choose one favorite Italian city? Positano. A small city nestled on the Amalfi Coast, it is a summer haven for the locals and travelers. The picturesque town is built in the mountains and overlooks the sea, and olives, lemons and bougainvillea can be found growing. We stayed at Il San Pietro Di Positano, a Relais & Chateaux hotel. All Relais & Chateaux hotels and Inns were once castles or historic landmarks, and most are well known for their wonderful restaurants and wine cellars.
Starting out as a private villa, San Pietro now has 57 rooms, is surrounded by lemon groves, and offers breathtaking views up and down the coast. From panoramic bathrooms to hand crafted local tiles, private terraces with stunning views of the water or the mountains, each room is special. The hotel sits atop a huge cliff close to 800 steps down to the beach, to a sun deck that you have to see to believe (of course you can take the elevator if you want). If you are not planning to stay here, you must come for lunch or dinner in their outdoor restaurant!
Have fun getting lost through the windy streets of Positano as you visit the local shops, antique stores and art galleries. From Positano you can visit Capri and Anacapri by hovercraft, visit the amazing Pompeii and stop in Sorrento on the way; they have an inlaid wood factory that you can actually watch them make the furniture there.
Be sure to bring your camera, a big appetite, and lots of money to spend!