Barbara & Stu's Excellent Vacations Great trips we have taken

Tanzania – Africa is such a revelation that no matter what you’ve read or seen or heard, you will be unprepared for the magnitude of its beauty.  The wildlife is so profuse and marvelous that you almost fail to notice the incredible scenery, though you will not overlook the strikingly handsome people.  While the big game is everything that you’d expect (and more), the birds will make you take notice even if you’ve never cared much for birds before.  We are partial to Tanzania vs. Kenya since it has about 10 times the parkland and about 1/10 the number of tourists.   To see our Africa trip notes click here.  To see our Africa photos click here.

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador – Where else can you see so many unique species, in such numbers, this close?  The Galapagos have been well protected for so long that the animals allow you to draw surprisingly near.   Some even seek you out, such as the gregarious sea lions who like to play on land and in the water.  Since many species only inhabit specific islands in the archipelago, the key is to visit as many islands as possible to see the widest variety.  We recommend selecting a small boat with small group size.  Diving is supposed to be spectacular here, especially near the northern islands of Darwin and Wolf, but the water is a bit cold for us wimp divers.  However, we were thrilled to snorkel with sea lions, Galapagos penguins, rays, turtles and more.  To see our Galapagos trip notes click here.  To see our Galapagos photos click here.

Manu Rainforest , Peru – Manu is a wild tributary of the Amazon, teeming with all manner of new world life.  Among the creatures we saw were seven species of monkey, tapir, snakes, turtles, giant river otters, butterflies, and birds too numerous to catalog here, including huge flocks of parrots and macaws.  To see our Peru trip notes click here.  To see our Peru photos click here.

Australia – Oz is a large continent with a wide range of climates, so to do it justice you need to either visit a few times at different times of year, or stay several months during overlapping seasons.  If you tally up all of our trips, we spent almost 3 months exploring the land down under.  The animals are astounding and unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere, being predominantly marsupials – kangaroos, koalas, wombats, quokkas, echidnas, Tasmanian Devils, platypus, just to name a few.  Cockatoos and parakeets are as common as pigeons in European squares.  Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory has a deep concentration of wildlife, as well as lovely scenery and striking Aboriginal rock art. Try the green ants if you take a bush tucker tour, they’re delicious.  We also highly recommend Kangaroo Island, Tasmania and Western Australia.  Go to the Trip Notes and Photo Galleries to select notes and photos from our 2nd & 3rd trips to mainland Australia and our latest trip to Tasmania.

Madagascar.  Like the Galapagos, Australia and New Zealand, Madagascar is geographically isolated from other land masses by many miles of open ocean.   Consequently, a large number of unique species have evolved to adapt to the isolated environment.  In this wonderland, you will find about 32 species of lemurs (small, delightful primates), bizarre-looking chameleons, intriguing insects and dramatic flora that you’ll find no place else on earth.  Thanks to Madagascar’s current president, this poor country has been taking steps to preserve their natural bounty, but slash and burn agriculture still continues to threaten the environment.  To see photos of Madagascar click here.

Botswana is largely green and filled with animals due to the Okavango river delta, and other wetter lands.  To give you an idea of the wildlife, just the few minutes drive from the airstrip we got very close to a resting leopard, and saw baby elephants playing in the mud.  And it got better – much better – from there.  Have a look at the pictures to see what we mean.   To see photos click here.

Uganda & Rwanda .  We went specifically for the mountain gorilla trekking but Barbara's research showed that there was much more.  We eventually saw nearly a dozen species of primates in the wild, some very rare, as well as the tradtional wildlife that one thinks of in Africa, and an island where orphaned chimps live.  There were other wonderful things, too, but this section is about the wildlife.   To see photos click here, and to read the trip notes click here.