Travel Goals Master Checklist: Part III – Africa

Narrowing down the most wondrous places in the world to just 72 was hard enough. Picking which of the numerous incredible sites to be found in Africa to include was even harder. To date, I’ve covered the backstory of the selection and inspiration for the destinations from North America and the Caribbean, and South America and Antarctica in previous articles. Here I will explain the rationale and artistic motivation behind the ten African destinations featured in my new Travel Goals Master Checklist.

Cape Town, South Africa

While my own travels in South Africa were confined to the northeast, and few people come to Africa to experience the cities, Cape Town is by all accounts the exception to the rule. Dominating this pivotal location on the continent is world-famous Table Mountain, which I felt would make the proper backdrop for any artistic representation. The result is a spot on the Travel Goals Master Checklist and a peaceful view of the city’s “skyline”.

Game Parks, South Africa

The aforementioned northeastern corner of South Africa is full of game parks and natural reserves where visitors can get up close with Africa’s signature wildlife. My first safaris in the Klaserie and Timbavati Reserves, where I got to see lions in the wild, were a highlight for me, and therefore a natural subject for the artwork depicting this exciting corner of the world.

Sossusvlei, Namibia

I only visited Namibia by the barest of margins, when our motorized canoe pulled alongside a small island in the Caprivi Strip bordering Chobe National Park, Botswana. But I would love to get back to experience the mighty dunes and desert panoramas such as Sossusvlei and the surrounding area for a unique landscape that draws visitors despite its desolate nature.

Victoria Falls, Zambia

I cannot imagine a more impressive sheet of falling water than what I witnessed at Victoria Falls. And while I recommend seeing it from both the Zimbabwe and Zambia sides, it was from the Zambian side that the pervasive spray caught the sun at just the right angle to provide me the muse for the image I chose to feature. This world wonder was never in doubt to make the top 72 world class travel destinations. In fact, it would make the top 10.

Avenue of the Baobabs, Madagascar

Madagascar is a fascinating place that I’m determined to see one day. The island itself has a wealth of interesting features, but what comes to my mind when I hear the name Madagascar mentioned (Besides a dancing lemur singing “I like to move it, move it”) is the Avenue of the Baobabs – a collection of towering baobab trees that encapsulates the unique nature of this African island.

Masai Mara, Kenya

I’ve yet to get to East Africa, but if I do, the Masai Mara is just the kind of place that safari dreams are made of. In my mind I envision the oft-repeated trope of a lone acacia tree standing above the savannah during sunset, while the silhouette of – insert your favorite wild animal here – grazes beside it. So I went with giraffes, not only because I like them, but because nothing says you’re in Africa more than a giraffe (except maybe a sign saying “Welcome to Africa” but that’s not quite as impressive”).

Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

The idea of a snowcapped mountain that sits on the equator is cool in its own rite. Add to that the surrounding national parks for which it serves as a backdrop, and Mt. Kilimanjaro – straddling the border of Tanzania and Kenya – was certain to land a spot on the top 72 checklist destinations. I may be too old and fat to climb it, but I definitely have it on my radar to visit someday.

Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

As the world’s oldest tourist attraction, how could the pyramids of Giza not make it onto the list? I can still recall the first time I saw them and the sense of wonder and awe they provoked within me. Few world monuments if any are more recognizable than these sentinels of the desert, and I’m proud to have marked this destination off on my own Master Checklist.

Chefchaouen, Morocco

I went back and forth before choosing this quaint town in northern Morocco for the list. It’s only become mainstream in recent years, while more famous destinations like Marrakesh and Tangiers have been well known for centuries. But tiny Chefchaouen, with its blue palette of maze-like alleys just seemed to better encapsulate the North African vibe that I felt deserved to be represented among the world’s best. Plus, I really like blue, so there’s that . . .

La Digue, Seychelles

As the star of calendars and screensavers the world over, tiny La Digue in the upscale Seychelles archipelago hosts Anse Source D’argent – a sandy cove strewn with erosion-worn boulders that typify these tropical islands. This ubiquitous image was a natural choice both for its recognizability, but also because it was one of my favorite spots as well.


So far I’ve covered 34 out of the 72 destinations on the master checklist. How many can you check off? Even if that number is zero, the beauty of the checklist is that it inspires a person to new adventures and specific travel goals. If you’ve enjoyed the artwork and want a Travel Goals Master Checklist to display in your home or office, please visit my Custom Travel Art store, or my Etsy store to order a copy for yourself or the traveler in your life.

Stay tuned for Part IV . . .



Have you been to any of these destinations? Or do you have a favorite in Africa that you feel should have made the list? Share it with your fellow travel lovers by leaving a comment!

Putting the ‘Art’ into the Art of Travel

Travel is known to inspire many things: wanderlust, broader horizons, and sometimes even cases of good-natured envy. Among artistic types, the scenes and experiences had while traveling have often served as a muse – just ask Paul Gauguin, Ansel Adams and the people who’ve created those fascinating travel posters during the last century. Regarding the latter, I’ve always admired the style, artistry and design sense displayed in their productions. So it’s no surprise that when my internal need to create became too loud to ignore, I directed my efforts into a creative outlet that echoed the travelers who have gone before me, and put in visual form my own twist on those posters of the past.

How it started

For me, my inspiration came during a visit from my parents. My mother -artistic and talented in her own right – wanted to stop into a store called Hobby Lobby. Apparently this craft store is well-known beyond my native Long Island, but since moving to Texas I had never once stepped foot inside. For those of you in those same proverbial shoes, think of an enormous, Texas-sized craft store brimming with enough raw materials and finished goods to keep oneself occupied for the next few decades. All of sudden, my latent creative juices began to flow. Some of the many items for sale are framed prints, which also include maps and vintage-style travel posters for various locales. Seeing these, I examined them and thought – as many wannabe artists are wont to do – “I can do that”. With my self-imposed challenge in place, I not only picked up some fresh art supplies in a nearby aisle, but also mused about how exactly I was going to reproduce something in that vintage style.

The first attempt

africaposter My first attempt at a travel poster recreation was a map of southern Africa (see above) that detailed my travels in the region. Not only did I design the title to reflect fonts appropriate to the setting, but came up with the idea of several insets that were entirely based on my own photographs. I was quite pleased with the end result and this 30″x 40″ painting still generates conversation among my house guests.

Keeping it goingsouthamerposter

The problem with opening any creative jar is that once you get going, its hard to stop. There’s an inborn need to improve and expand one’s work. Or at least that’s my own take. It might be my mild case of OCD or eating Mexican food after 9PM, but once inspiration strikes me I find it difficult to tear my mind away from future projects. So, with plenty of wall space still available, I embarked on another project; one that would not only include the same motif of a map with photo-inspired insets, but would now include graphic elements taken from the region. In this case, the toucan, orchids, Inca-syle stone lettering and jungle-like background were all inspired by my travels to the South American continent and are also meaningful to the client (namely, me).

A new line of work?

They say that if you do something you love, you never work a day in your life. I’d tend to agree with that, and I think we’d all agree that the pay is better than actually never working. After consulting with a friend who also happens to be an extremely talented professional artist (click here to see more on him) I decided to try my hand at making paintings on sale to the public. Here’s the first of my generic travel series. For the record, this one’s for sale. If you’re interested in the painting or a print, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you. posterI’m also considering offering  custom paintings in this inset, vintage travel poster motif. Like anything else, I know I’ll have to get it in front of the right audience, but if you or someone you know would be interested in commissioning a custom painting using their family name and photos, I would welcome the chance to talk about a possible collaboration. My direct email is ben@tripaccomplice.com

Either way

Whether or not this custom travel poster recreation thing turns out to be a viable line of work or just another hobby, I can affirmatively vouch for the satisfaction derived from having a creative outlet and satisfying the artistic need to create. And whether its handicrafts, sketches, sculpture or interpretive dance, don’t forget to venture out into the big wide world for some inspiration. Oh, and you might want to pass by Hobby Lobby as well.

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