CruiseCompete Sea Tales 2017 Family Cruise Travel Planner

D ear Readers, We are sitting in a very unusual bar, staring—just a few feet from us—at a waterhole in Kenya. Numerous zebra are enjoying a cool drink, and I am enjoying the exotic sights and sounds and the fragrances of warm bread and appetizers being prepared…things that I have never encountered before anywhere else on my travels. The sky is utterly black, allowing me to witness millions of stars. It is truly breathtaking, and calls to mind the song “The Circle of Life” from the movie The Lion King. Where exactly is this magical wilderness paradise? We are in Amboseli Na- tional Park (yes, it’s part of a cruise itinerary), dominated by majestic Mount

Kilimanjaro, which rises to over 19,000 feet—15,000 of which are above Amboseli’s acacia-dotted grasslands. Local people didn’t think that God, or gods, lived on Kilimanjaro. They thought the mountain was God, and casting your eyes on the still, glacier-topped behemoth, you are able to understand why. Kenya’s Amboseli National Park is famous for its big game, including lions, cheetahs, baboons and large elephant herds that traverse the savannahs in search of watering holes or feeding grounds. We are staying in nearby Campi ya Kanzi, one of the premier lodges in Africa. Created by Luca and Antonella Belpietro and their Maasai partners, ya Kanzi is nestled in peaceful isolation at the base of the Chyulu Hills—the very Green Hills of Africa that so captivated Hemingway. The highlight of most Kenyan safaris is the world-famous Maasai Mara National Reserve, widely regarded as the best game-viewing park in Kenya. The “Big Five” (lions, leopards, buffaloes, elephants and rhinos) can be spotted here, and more than a million wildebeests and zebras migrate annually to Maasai Mara from the parched Serengeti plains of neigh- boring Tanzania in the annual “Great Migration.” Our tour also included visits to Maasai villages, where we were able to interact with local villagers. A tribal chief fell in love with the baby wipes I was using on my hands; his wife, who had never seen anything like them, became very dis- turbed and thought they were magic. In Kenya’s semi-arid, rugged northern region lies the Samburu Game Reserve, a small oasis that is home to many rare an- imals, including Grevy’s zebras, long-necked gerenuk antelopes, Somali ostriches, and reticulated giraffes. Many Kenyan safaris also visit Lake Nakuru National Park, a relatively small preserve that has been designated as a rhino sanctuary and is considered to be one of the finest places on earth for bird watching. Our host for this adventure was Micato Safaris, and our hotel stay began at the Nairobi Safari Club, where my room has a hiding place in the ceiling just in case I need a quick escape (from what, I am not sure.) This lovely hotel oozes old world charm, reminiscent of a time when honored guests went to the bar to delight in appe- tizers and cocktails before the grand feast. After our visit to Nairobi, we will eventually meet back up with our ship, the Marco Polo, in Mombasa, where sugar sand beaches abound. Each time I arrive at an airport, no matter what the destination, I wonder and daydream about what type of excitement this latest adventure will bring into my life and the lives of accompanying family and friends. How will it feed my senses, my mind, body, and soul? What will I learn? What treasures will I bring home for my family from somewhere like Africa? Perhaps it will be an African mask, created as to allow the wearer to embody the spirit the mask depicts. That’s what I

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2017 Family-Friendly Cruise Travel Planner

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