It is that time of year when we typically look back at the places that we visited, the people that we met, and the new food that we have tried. To be honest, this year was slightly better than 2020, but it certainly wasn’t what would be considered being back to normal. Obviously, the highlight of our year was the seventeen days that we spent exploring Kenya and Tanzania. Other than that, we went to Park City, Utah and went to Louisville, Kentucky as well as Washington DC and Baltimore. Definitely not nearly our normal travel schedule, but we enjoyed every opportunity that we did have. We are definitely hoping that next year is even more memorable, but we still have plenty to be thankful for as this year draws to an end. Here are a few of our top memories of the past year.
Seeing the Big Cats of East Africa – One of the things that most people look forward to when going on safari in Eastern Africa is seeing all of the big cats like lions, leopards, and cheetahs. We certainly weren’t disappointed with our encounters as we had several that were all amazing and different in many ways. Whether watching the lion cubs at play, seeing a leopard climbing up a tree, or having a cheetah jump on the hood of our Land Cruiser, seeing these animals up close was something truly special. We saw lions at almost every park that we visited, but the leopards and cheetahs were more rare to see. We know that we were very fortunate to see the amazing variety of cats, including the caracal cat, which not everyone gets to see.
Getting Locked in at a Historic Cemetery in Washington DC – It might seem odd to visit a cemetery, but they are often very beautiful, historic, and tranquil, which Oak Hill Cemetery certainly is. In fact, more than 200,000 people visit this particular historic cemetery on an annual basis and it is even possible to get a tour. We simply enjoyed walking the paths that led us amongst the tomb stones, mausoleums, and tree lined hills. It was a beautiful day and the autumn foliage made it even more wonderful to see. There was only one issue with our visit, we didn’t notice a sign at the entrance that stated that the cemetery closed at 4:30 pm and we ended up being there until 5:00 pm, so we got locked in the cemetery.
Two Magical Days in the Serengeti National Park – After spending the day in the Ngorongoro Crater, we continued north to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. We would spend two nights in the park where we spend two full days driving around and seeing so many amazing sights. We would see the one missing animal to complete the Big Five as we would have several incredible encounters with leopards, whic was the only animal missing as we’d seen lions, water buffaloes, rhinos, and elephants already. We would see much more than just the big cats and we would have many encounters that were up-close and personal. The Maasai word Serengeti means “land of never ending plains”, which is certainly apt as you can see the endless grasslands in every direction that you look.
Seeing the Autumn Leaves in Park City, Utah – During the summer and autumn months in Park City, there are a few lifts that will take you into the mountains where you can have amazing views. There are less lifts available in the autumn season, but with the leaves changing, it is absolutely stunning. The scenic crescent lift is located at the adventure park with the mountain coaster, alpine slide, and other family activities. The lift is used for transporting mountain bikers and their bikes as well as hikers or those just wanting to enjoy the views to mid-mountain.
Enjoying a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Maasai Mara – One of the things that we had wanted to do during our safari was to take a hot air balloon ride over the amazing scenery of Africa. Three of the parks that we visited had balloon companies that offered balloon rides, Amboseli, Serengeti, and Maasai Mara. We decided to wait until Maasai Mara to do the balloon ride and it certainly turned out to be a magical experience. Watching the sunrise, seeing the animals, and simply gliding above the grasslands made for memories that we will never forget. Following the balloon ride was a champagne breakfast at the base of an acacia tree and then our guide picked us up to view the animals within the park.
Watching a Horse Race at the Famous Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky – During our recent trip to Louisville, Kentucky we had the opportunity to go to Churchill Downs and enjoy a day of thoroughbred racing. Churchill Downs is famous for hosting the Kentucky Derby, which is part of the “triple crown” of thoroughbred racing. The race track opened in 1875 and every race is full of pageantry and tradition. Even though it was autumn, it was a warm and sunny day making the experience even more enjoyable.
All in all, we certainly can’t complain too much about the year that we enjoyed. We don’t have any specific plans for next year as of yet as travel is still uncertain, but we are hoping that we have the opportunity for it to be at least a little bit more like it used to be. What are your plans for the upcoming year? Did you make the most of this year?