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!

Like Playing Chutes & Ladders With A Maharaja

Welcome to the Jantar Mantar
Welcome to the Jantar Mantar

If you’re around my age (39) or older you know the game I’m talking about. You spin the dial and move ahead X number of spaces—all the while hoping you land on one with a ladder to take you further up, and at the same time dreading the prospect of landing on a chute that will take you down (like that ridiculously long one from 87 to 24). This is not a board game one would normally associate with travel. But that’s exactly what came to mind when I visited the Pink City of Jaipur, India and toured the World Heritage Site called Jantar Mantar.

 

Built by the warrior-astronomer Jai Singh, the Jantar Mantar (from a term meaning place of calculations) is essentially an outdoor observatory. Construction of this impressive collection of sundials and other uniquely-designed calculators of the heavens and Zodiac was first begun in 1728. Each structure serves a specific purpose, and are quite accurate even in an age of GPS and atomic clocks. The biggest is a sundial called Brihat Samrat Yantra, meaning ‘King of the Instruments’. At 27 meters high it’s easy to see why.

The 'King of Instruments'
The ‘King of Instruments’

 

I must admit my interest here wasn’t so much in calculating azimuths or predicting the next eclipse. As anyone who has visited India can attest, it isn’t hard to go into architectural overload. Between the forts, palaces, temples and bazaars, my brain could barely comprehend so much ornate design. Strolling peacefully among the structures of the Jantar Mantar—that is until I tried to climb one and was reprimanded loudly by a man with a machine gun—was a pleasant break from the ‘norm’. It was also a fun place to play the shutterbug, as the angles, straight lines and slotted bowl-shaped structures were excellent, if stationary, subjects to shoot.

Busted! Taking teh 'climb down of shame' after the heavily armed guard told me to.
Busted! Taking the ‘climb down of shame’ after the heavily armed guard told me to.

 

There’s a lot more to see in Jaipur, particularly the City Palace, iconic Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) and the enormous Amber Fort just outside of town. But for me, it was this astronomical playground resembling Chutes & Ladders if it were designed by a Maharaja, that made my visit here so pleasurable, as if I landed on 28 and took the ladder up to 84. If you spin the dial and wind up here, I’m sure you’ll feel the same.

 

Have you been to Jaipur? Share your thoughts here!