[In Focus with Michele Burgess]


 

***EXOTIC TRAVEL DESTINATIONS***

TOUR WITH A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER

TO EXTRAORDINARY WORLD PLACES

Exotic destinations and grand adventures worldwide
with Michele Burgess, professional travel and wildlife photographer

 

 

Enjoyed the emphasis on photo ops under all conditions, and the group we were

with. Couldn’t ask for better pre-trip communications and planning. Great to get to

know you. Wonderful sense of humor and a very nice way of taking over ‘when

circumstances warrant.’ Your organization and flexibility are to be commended.”

Why go on a group tour with me? Because I put together and escort terrific trips! Since I believe that good preparation makes for a better travel experience, I supply a wealth of material on our destination in the weeks prior to departure. Special extras include a group T-shirt, group photo, and celebrations for holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries on tour.

I also try very hard to give good value for your money. My tours are usually priced much lower than comparable offerings from the big-name companies since I don’t spend a lot on expensive advertising and glossy brochures, and I don’t sell through travel agents, thus no commission needs to be built into the tour price. Compare and you’ll see.

UPCOMING TOURS

Click titles below for detailed itineraries

 

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2020

 

Ultimate Kenya Safari. Always my absolute favorite, especially in early summer, after the long rains, when it’s cool and green. We spend a couple days in Nairobi (Sheldrick elephant orphanage, Rothschild giraffes, Karen Blixen Museum), visit a primary school in Karatina, and stay several days in each of the best reserves for wildlife-viewing (Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Samburu, and Maasai Mara), which means less moving from place to place, thus more game drives (21!) — which is, after all, why you’re booking an African safari. Three luxurious permanent tented camps and only three people per car. Excellent wildlife sightings guaranteed! (June 7-23)  7 signed up already

 

Best of Namibia. Namibia is a dream safari destination, a photographer’s delight, and so much more! Visit the old German towns of Windhoek and Keetmanshoop. See stunning quivertree forests, a superb collection of San rock art at Twyfelfontein, and the abandoned diamond mining town of Kolmanskop, gradually being engulfed by the relentlessly shifting desert sands. Explore the Welwitschia Plains and moon landscape near Swakopmund. Photograph the epic dunes at Sossusvlei, and drive along the Skeleton Coast with its seal colonies and shipwrecks. Visit Himba people who still live and dress according to ancient traditions, rubbing their bodies with red ochre and fat, the women’s sculptural beauty enhanced by intricate hairstyles and traditional adornments. At Etosha National Park, photograph abundant wildlife drinking at waterholes along a salt pan covering nearly 2,000 square miles. (July 20-August 9)  Sorry, sold out, waitlist only

 

Silk Road ’Stans: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan. Uzbekistan is home to an incredible number of photogenic mosques, mausoleums, and madrasas in every shade of blue. Its centuries-long history under Persian rule and as a key stop on the Silk Road left a rich cultural and architectural legacy, made all the more fascinating by the country’s time as an enclave of the Soviet Union. Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, and Tashkent never fail to impress. Hospitality remains an essential element of daily life and you'll be made to feel genuinely welcome by the people you meet. Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city and the country’s capital during Soviet times, is surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Here we photograph local people in colorful traditional dress, Kazakh men on horses, elderly ladies spinning wool, and enjoy lunch in a yurt. On the scenic Assy Plateau, we drive through breathtaking views and see nomads herding their animals and living in yurts. Kyrgyzstan is a nation defined by its natural beauty. Joyously unspoiled mountainscapes, stark craggy ridges, and rolling summer pastures are brought to life by semi-nomadic, yurt-dwelling shepherds. We will again be accompanied by Turkish photographer Mehmet Ozbalci, whose itineraries are designed specifically for photographers to help them create iconic images. (August 30-September 20)  8 signed up already 

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2021

 

Sicily & Malta — Crossroads of the Mediterranean. Seductively beautiful and perfectly placed in the heart of the Mediterranean, Sicily has been luring passersby with its dazzling diversity of landscapes and cultural treasures since the time of legends. Reminders of bygone civilizations are everywhere. As if its classical heritage and juxtaposition of turquoise sea, the smoking hulk of Etna volcano, and mountain scenery aren’t formidable enough, Sicily is bursting at the seams with later artistic and architectural gems. In a short walk around Palermo you see Arab domes and arches, Byzantine mosaics, and Norman palace walls. Circle around to southeast Sicily and you find a stunning array of baroque architectural masterpieces, from the golden-hued domes and palaces of Noto to the multi-tiered cathedral facades of Ragusa and Modica. In almost every town there are photogenic cobbled alleyways to discover, and colorful open-air markets overflowing with a cornucopia of fresh fruits and vegetables.

 

The geographical location of the Malta archipelago in the center of the Mediterranean made it an alluring and much-fought-over prize, and its three islands (Malta, Gozo, and Comino) are full of majestic above- and below-ground defenses. The capital, Valletta, built by the Knights of St. John, is a harmonious grid. Mdina and Victoria are fortress-like hilltop towns, and watchtowers dot the coast. Even Malta’s fishing boats resonate with the past, their prows painted with eyes, just like the boats of their Phoenician predecessors. Malta and Gozo’s astounding prehistoric sites were constructed by sophisticated temple builders. Out in the open, gigantic temples and towers from many different eras stand proud, continuing their endless watch over the sea. But the most extraordinary site of all lies underground: Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, a 5,000-year-old necropolis carved from the living rock.

 

These two Mediterranean destinations, with an amazing 16 UNESCO World Heritage Sites between them, and just 50 miles from one another, promise to be a photographer’s delight and an enlightening journey into the past. (April/May)

 

Ultimate Kenya Safari. When you think of Africa, you’re probably thinking of Kenya. It’s the lone acacia silhouetted on the savannah against a horizon stretching into eternity. Kenya is the land of the Maasai Mara, of wildebeests and zebras migrating in their millions with the great predators of Africa following in their wake, of endangered species like black rhinos somehow managing to maintain a precarious foothold. Africa is the last great wilderness where these creatures survive. And Kenya is the perfect place to answer Africa’s call of the wild. Filling the country's landscape, adding depth and resonance to Kenya’s age-old story, are some of Africa’s best-known peoples: the Maasai, the Samburu, the Turkana, the Kikuyu.

 

A Kenya photo safari is the only tour I do every year, in early summer, after the long rains, when it’s cool and green. A full day in Nairobi includes the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to get up close and personal with orphaned baby elephants; the AFEW Giraffe Center, where you can feed Rothschild giraffes from the palm of your hand; the Karen Blixen Museum, former home of Isak Dinesen, author of Out of Africa; and Matbronze for a look at some amazing wildlife art in bronze. Leaving Nairobi, we visit our sponsored primary school in Karatina and enjoy lunch at Trout Tree, a restaurant built around an enormous fig tree that hosts a troop of black and white colobus monkeys. And then we spend the rest of our safari in three of the best reserves for wildlife viewing: Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Samburu Game Reserve, and the Maasai Mara. This means less moving from place to place, thus more game drives (21) to see, learn about, and photograph Kenya’s magnificent birds and animals. Our lodging while on safari is at three luxurious permanent tented camps, and we usually have only three people per safari vehicle. Excellent wildlife sightings guaranteed! (June)

 

Bhutan — Land of the Thunder Dragon. Largely untouched by the modern world, Bhutan is an enigmatic mountain kingdom of green valleys crowned with majestic fortress-like dzongs, monasteries, and chortens (shrines). This is a country where the rice is red and where chilies aren’t just a seasoning but the main ingredient. It’s also a deeply Buddhist land, where monks check their smart phones after performing a divination, and where giant protective penises are painted at the entrance to many houses. Yet while it proudly prioritizes its Buddhist traditions, Bhutan is not a land frozen in time. The Bhutanese are well educated, fun loving, and very well informed about the world around them. It’s this blend of the ancient and modern that makes Bhutan endlessly fascinating.

 

There is the pristine eastern Himalayan landscape, where snow-capped peaks rise above primeval forests and beautiful traditional villages. In this picture-book setting, many of the dzongs and monasteries act as a stage for spectacular tsechus (dance festivals) attended by an almost medieval-looking audience. Then there are the textiles and handicrafts, outrageous archery competitions, and stunning flora and fauna. Environmental protection here goes hand in hand with cultural preservation. By law, at least 60% of the country must remain forested for all future generations; it currently stands above 70%.

 

You will find the Bhutanese welcoming in showing you their deeply Buddhist and traditional way of life, where Gross National Happiness (the national motto) is more important than gross domestic product. If this isn’t “Shangri-La,” it’s about as close as it gets. (October)

 

 

 



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