For Bushtracks blogger and avid traveler Ellen Ludwig all that glitters is not gold: Africa travel tops her wish list this holiday season. Here's why she's got her eye on the upcoming 2018 Incredible Africa by Private Jet expedition, hosted by anthropologist Donald Johanson.
My husband tells me I read through the Bushtracks brochures like I am looking at jewels in a case at Tiffany’s. It’s probably true, now that he’s mentioned it. When it arrives in my mailbox, I can see it peeking out from the bills and notice letters. I carry it in to the kitchen counter, dump the bills and head to the couch to peruse and dream in comfort. I do kind of audibly ohhh and ahhh as I flip through the pages. And I carry it around with me for a few days, rereading the descriptions of the places the next expedition is going to explore. Then it lives for a few months at my bedside.
These shiny brochures practically explode with adventures and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to travel to unusual places and UNESCO world heritage sites. The good folks at Bushtracks seem to personally know or have connections to every resident expert on the planet, and they invite them along to fill us in on the secrets they themselves have discovered.
It seems as if they have tailor-made each of their trips especially for me, hitting at least three of my Have-To-See-Before-I’m-Dead spots on each excursion. It is hard to resist. Like diamonds.
Have you seen the latest brochure? It’s called Incredible Africa by Private Jet: The World’s Best Wildlife Reserves and Open Air Museums. Come on! How is a travel bug supposed to pass that up? First of all, it’s done by private jet. “I’ve always wanted a private jet!” I yell out to my husband. And as a working artist, the turning of their phrase, “open air museum” has a certain undeniable draw for me. “We can write the trip off as a working, inspirational trip for my paintings!” I’ll have to check with my accountant on that one.
And the expedition host for this latest trip: Donald Johanson? He’s the paleoanthropologist that discovered Lucy in Ethiopia! His name is all over the Internet. I got to speak with him for 20 minutes in early October, after one of his lectures. I kind of expected him to be professorial and scientific-sounding. He was, of course, but he was mostly engaging and quick-witted, and turned several subjects of our conversation into a slice-of-life joke, which delighted us both. We giggled and guffawed like old friends. I was practically a co-conspirator with Donald Johanson. In fact, in my mind we’re now good friends, because I know he speaks fluent Swedish and likes a Japanese restaurant in a Pacific Heights neighborhood where he lives. The stars are all aligning for me to go on this trip. Like diamonds in the sky.
My husband can hear my squeals and exclamations from his office and comes out to investigate. “Seriously! Luxor and the Acropolis and the wildebeest migration and a great white shark hunt? Throw in the mountain gorillas and you have my whole bucket list.” I say to him. “Whaaaat? Honey! They did throw in the mountain gorillas!” And there it is. I can no longer resist the allure of that shiny brochure. I start to dial Jerry Bellotti. He’s my accountant.