This post – quite bluntly – is a promotional one. I continue to opt not to advertise my trips but to rely on word of mouth so that my small groups consist of friends, friends of friends and like-minded travelers. Consequently, not only do my groups explore new cultures and new countries, we make new friends in the process.

I recently returned from an amazing trip to Uzbekistan and am highlighting it as a special place to visit. A brief summary of my experience there follows, as well as a short description of the other trips scheduled for next year. I’m hopeful you might be enticed to join me on one of them. Enjoy your summer. I’m off to Botswana and Namibia in just 3 weeks.

Can’t wait.

The Five M’s: Mosques, Mausoleums, Madrassas, Monuments and More.

Has your imagination conjured up images of what Silk Road cities were like during their heyday If so, they undoubtedly include thoughts of long camel caravans; crowded caravanserais displaying enticing goods;soaring minarets; glorious mosques and impressive madrassas. Maybe even travelers in elegant attire!

Well, the camel caravans are history, but the glorious M’s (that would be mosques, madrassas, mausoleums, and monuments) as well as bustling colorful bazaars loaded with amazing goods crafted by world renowned master craftsmen – these continue to exist and weave a wondrous spell. I experienced it all in Uzbekistan. Three of the greatest Silk Road cities are located there in close proximity to one another – Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand.

 

 

 

 

 

Walking around the narrow labyrinth of alley ways in the walled fortress city of Khiva was to be transported back centuries.Attending a traditional pre-wedding ceremony in Bukhara was to dine, laugh and dance with new friends, and to feel part of a cherished ceremony.

And standing in the middle of Registan Square, Samakand surrounded by the most unbelievably beautiful buildings I had ever seen anywhere, was simply magical.

And there was so much more.

As a lover of history, I was enthralled with the stories of the ruthless conquerors that vanquished and then rebuilt these cities.  Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC came, conquered, destroyed and fell in love with the young Afghan girl who he married.  Genghis Khan (aka Chinggis Khanswooped in with his skilled horsemen in the 12th and 13th centuries, murdering untold millions and razing entire cities – except for the magnificent minaret in Bukhara that even he  had to acknowledge was an architectural masterpiece and worthy of preservation. And, then there was Emir Timur – or as he is called in the west,Tamerlame.  An iconic hero to Uzbeks, Timur founded the Timurid Empire encompassing Persia and Central Asia.  He too destroyed, plundered and murdered but he was also a great patron of the arts and his influence is seen and felt throughout the country.

Interested? Click Uzbekistan 2018 to check out my detailed itinerary and pricing for the April 2018 trip.

If tracking desert elephants, rhinos, cheetahs and leopards, is more to your liking than walking the streets of ancient cities – do consider a trip to Namibia. The trip sold out this year and as the country has been discovered by Americans yearning to visit Africa, prices are rising rapidly and the boutique accommodations book out far in advance. Click Namibia 2018 for detailed itinerary and pricing.

Vietnam is a country that is on the bucket list of many baby-boomers. It’s a country that fascinates on a multitude of levels. A land of contrasts with ethnic groups clinging to traditional lifestyles and young people adapting to everything modern, it is geographically stunning and beguiling in its beauty. And, its history, both ancient and recent, can broaden your perspective, specifically as it pertains to the war we remember all too well. Click Vietnam & Cambodia 2018 or details about my January 2018 trip.

 

 

And then there is Nepal which remains my favorite destination. I can’t really explain what it is that so pulls me back there year after year, but as the testimonials on my website confirm, it has that affect on others as well. Yes, the earthquakes of 2014 wreaked havoc and destroyed century old temples and homes, leaving the country’s poorest homeless and even more destitute. Yet, many impressive temples remain unscathed and smiling faces are everywhere. The mountains deliver mind-boggling beauty and the jungle of Chitwan now has approximately 400 tigers in addition to rhinos, elephants and other wildlife. I will be returning there in October 2018. Dates TBD.

 

 

Last, but not least, I want to mention a 2019 trip to the Galapagos. The islands have been on my bucket list forever so I decided to organize a group tour. Initially thinking it could be in 2018, I quickly learned that these voyages are amongst the most popular in the entire world and travelers reserve their trips well in advance. To accommodate a group on a specific ship, itinerary and time of year, I found it necessary to book 2 years in advance. Accordingly, I have reserved cabins for April 2019. As of this writing 12 people have already signed on. So, if walking amongst blue footed boobies, pre-historic iguanas and giant tortoises is your dream – do get in touch with me at scolony@gmail.com and I will email you the details.