2014 Annual Recap

A full year of travel (76 countries/114 flights). 2014 began with the spectacular fireworks on the Sydney harbor, one of the first cities in the world to ring in the New Year. Next followed exploration of the underwater treasures of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the tropical forests of Queensland. Next, three weeks of island hopping in the Pacific through the Solomons, Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, and Tonga with the world’s best beaches, islands, and lava fountains (on Vanuatu). After a three day “layover” in NYC, it was down south again, this time to the frozen world of Antarctica, the Falklands, South Georgia, and South Orkneys. The diversity of wildlife and landscapes galore – millions of penguins, giant albatrosses, sea lions and seals, whales, megaton icebergs, near eternal sunlight, and incredible mountain scenery. Seeing half a million colorful king penguins is a vision of a lifetime – so what better spectacle to follow this up with but with the Rio Carnival with half a million colorful party revelers. Add Buenos Aires in Argentina and Colonia in Uruguay to wrap up the South American chapter. Another week in NYC, and it’s time to methodically explore the Central America – Belize with its Blue Hole, Mayan ruins of Tical and Copan, colonial cities and volcano sand boarding in Nicaragua, and the incredible Easter Celebration in Antigua in Guatemala. After such a cultural overload, it was time to get back to nature the Darwin way on Galapagos Islands with iguanas, sea lions, giant cacti and similarly giant land tortoises. Two weeks of NYC recharge and the next leg started with island hopping through nine Atlantic Ocean islands of Azores, Madeira, and Canarias. Next was a 40-day overland journey from Nice in France along the Mediterranean coast through Monaco, Italy (Cinque Terre, Milan, Venice), Slovenia, beautiful Croatia and Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo. Then up inland into the Central Europe of Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and down into Greece, and the beautiful islands of Mykonos and Santorini. A lot of ferries and driving from Greece to Italy and on to Sicily, Malta, Sardinia, Corsica, finally finishing up in France’s Provence. An unwind (or “rewind”) week in Ibiza at the worlds best clubs and deejays, and a weekend at Tomorrowland in Belgium got the head exploding and adrenaline going before the next big adventure. Flying into Madagascar and thoroughly exploring the giant island from west to east and north to south spotting 4 dozen lemurs species along the way and admiring giant baobabs. Then it was time to tour the Indian Ocean with Mayotte, Reunion, Rodrigues, Mauritius and the four incredible islands of the Seychelles (including the Bird island with nearly a million birds). Too much ocean and water naturally called for land and desert and the journey around the Arabian Peninsula followed in the United Arab Emirates (with world’s tallest building in Dubai), Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the beautiful Oman with its medieval forts, mountains, and endless sand dunes. A little bit of Europe in Paris, Oktoberfest in Munich, Gaudi architecture in Barcelona, and a trip to the Rock of Gibraltar – before finally coming back to NYC. November was the month to visit the three Guianas in South America as well as hop through 12 countries in the Caribbean (Saba and St Eustatius were amazing standouts). Another quick “layover” in NYC and off for another journey of a lifetime, this time to East Africa. Ethiopia had it all – culture of rock churches in Lalibela, wildlife of gelada baboons and walia ibex in the Simien Mountains, and insane desert and volcanic landscapes of the Danakil Depression. Staring into the lava lake of Erta Ale is probably the most incredible thing I have ever done in life. Another week in Djibouti with stunning salt lakes and swimming with whale sharks in the Red Sea. And finally topping this incredible year by watching the sunrise atop the snow-capped Mt Kenya in Kenya! The journey continues….