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Maren & Kirk

Highlights of our Tour

 

Meteora Greece

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The scenery and the location monasteries on massive pinnacles were spectacular.
National Museum of Damascus

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Maren was very impressed with the Roman Glass,  the Doryphoros of Polyklet and the ancient sections of Palmyra. 
Haddad Family (Tripoli Lebanon)

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The Haddad Family run a Pension in Tripoli Lebanon.  They are a very warm hearty family that will make you feel at home. They were also very helpful in providing all the information we need on what to see and how to get around.
Baalbek Lebanon

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The most impressive ancient site we have visited in the Middle East.
Petra Jordan

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Wow this was impressive!  The ruins are one of the seven world Wonders.  Too bad it rained when we were there.  You need at least a whole day to see everything.  One draw back is that it is really expensive (28 $ entrance fee),  but it is definitely a must see.  Be prepared to walk a lot!
Spending 2 nights with the Bedouins in Wadi Rum Jordan

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We had a great staying in a Bedouin Camp and exploring the Desert of Wadi Rum.   It was an great experience eating and dancing with the Bedouins. 
Scuba Diving in Dahab Egypt

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The Red Sea is one of the worlds most scenic diving areas.  We were able to do our Advanced PADI Openwater course there.  It was also very inexpensive!  We also met Wes and Masami another couple who are traveling around the world
Abu Simbel Egypt

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Great Temple of Abu Simbel is an amazing site,  more amazing is that in the 1960's they move the Temple away from the rising waters of lake Nasser caused from the damming up of the Nile with High Dam.  The structure is huge and really well presented. Almost to well presented,  it looks sometimes a little new
Train Ride Djibouti to Dire Dawa Ethiopia

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This is an experience that you will never forget.  A 14 Hour train ride that we could write a book about.  It had it all, from an over crowded train, beautiful scenery,  to friendly people given us advice and buying us soft drinks.  For more information check out our diary on June 10th. 
Truck Ride Mayole Kenya to Isiolo Kenya

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This was the hardest ride of our life through some of the remotest parts of East Africa.  We sat on top of a cattle truck for two days holding on for dear life.  It might not be a highlight,  but it is something we will remember for the rest of our life's.  
Climbing Mt. Kenya

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4 days hiking up and down Mt. Kenya.  The highest peak which is possible to reach for normal hikers is Point Lenana at a height of 4985 meters.  We reached the peak at 6:00 am to watch the sunrise.  We took the Sirimon Route up the mountain and the more scenic Chogoria Route down.    
Gorilla Trekking Bwindi National Park Uganda

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We expected a long hike through the Rain Forest to find the Gorillas, but we found them within 2 hours.  We spent an hour with a the H-Group.  They are beautiful and amazing animals.  One is only allowed to get within 5 meters of them and one must stay in the group.  It is also hard to get really good picutes ofn them because the trees are in the way and also blocking the sunlight.  Make sure you bring 800 or 1600 ASA film with you to take pictures with.  Otherwise you probably will not have any good photos afterwards.  It is quite expensive,  250 US$ just for the permit to see the Gorillas and 15 US$ to get into the park.   If you are on a tight budget it is hard to say if it is worth it, but we are glad that we have done it.  It is a lot of money for just one hour with the gorillas.  
Flatdogs Campsite outside South Luangwa National Park Zambia

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You almost do not need to go into the park to see all the animals. They come right through the campsite.  The elephants visited the campsite everyday,  most days, twice a day. Once in the morning and once in the late afternoon.  You get to see them up close.  At night the hippos feed around your tent,  as hyena parole around.  You feel like you are in the wild Africa you have always dreamed about.  We stayed an extra day just to watch the elephants.  They also cross and bath in the river behind the camp next to the hippos.  This place is highly recommended if you are visiting South Luangwa National Park.  Camping is a a little expensive (5 US $ per person), but well worth it as you wake up to elephants walking by your tent. 
Victoria Falls Zambia / Zimbabwe

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Just to keep it short,  the Victoria Falls are just spectacular. You have to see them from both sides (Zambia and Zimbabwe).  It is hard to explain, but the views are different from each side. The falls from the Zimbabwe side seem much larger than the Zambian side.  But that does not take away the beauty from the Zambian side.  Believe us they are just different and worth seeing.  Only problem is that when one comes from Zambia and want to go to the Zimbabwe side just to look at the falls, one has to pay for a Visa.  30 US$ for USA and German citizens. Other countries you have to look into yourself.
Etosha National Park and Sossusvlei National Park Namibia

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Etosha National Park is just full with animals. Especially this time of year (August)  when the water holes are the only source of water for the animals.  One basically can go to one water hole after another, each time discovering new animals.  We were both impressed. 

Sossusvlei National Park was quiet amazing with its 300 meter sand dunes.  They have a beautiful distinct red like color.  One is also allowed to hike on the dunes.  It was just too bad that we did not have the time to hike around more.  It is a definite must see in Namibia.  

Drakensberg Mountains South Africa

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We did a 2 day hike on the Polela Trail up into the Drakensberg Mountains.  It was a full day hike to about 2 hours below the summit.  There we pitched our tent on the most even ground we found.  The next morning we woke up to a beautiful below, where the clouds where just below the mountain tops.  The next part of the hike was a strenuous steep hike up to the summit.  We then hiked all the way down to a campsite near the entrance to the park.  A cool thing about this hike is that one hikes up into Lesotho to get to the summit.  Also the scenery is spectacular and the only people we saw for 2.5 days were marijuana smugglers using the same path as we were.
Taj Mahal Agra India

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Make sure you visit the Taj Mahal last on your visit to India. Nothing in India compares to it. It is an absolutely magnificent site. It is a must see in India.  For non nationals it is 20 US $ to get in, but it is well worth the cost.  
Annapurna Sanctuary Trek

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The Annapurna Sanctuary Trek is not an easy trek, but it is well worth every effort.  One walks into the heart of the Annapurna mountains and the views are just fantastic.  One has a beautiful view of the Annapurna I, South and Machhapuchhare Mountains, all over 7000 Meters. The trek is up and down through the valleys which makes it tough on the legs.  We both thought it was one of our toughest hikes to date.
Tibet

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The whole of Tibet was great.  The people are really special and the sites great and interesting.  This culture will probably disappear before long, so try and get there. It is worth the money one spends.  Tibet has been until now the most interesting place we have visited and has left the hardest imprints in our mind.  We only spend probably 6 days in Tibet, but could have stayed much longer.  Get there before it changes!
Vietnam

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Visiting Halong Bay and taking a boat tour of the islands, the pinnacles, and visiting Surprise cave.  The islands were beautiful as they rose from the water, even though the weather was overcast the first day and rainy the second.  It is something we would both like to come back to and visit when the sun is shining.  
Cambodia

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The temples of Angkor were by far the most amazing monuments we have seen on our trip.  It is well worth the 20 US$ entrance fee and the 5 US$ per person to rent a motorbike with driver.  One can easily spend two or three days there enjoying Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples.  The temples are in different states of restoration, some are heavily restored  and on some the jungle is still growing all over them.  This is a place where we both want to come back and visit again.  The temples were built between the 9th and 13th centuries by different Khmer kings. It eventually was deserted and became known as the lost city when it was rediscovered by the French in the 1860's. 
Australia

(Western Australia)

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The main reason we have chosen Western Australia is not that the sights are amazing or better than anything else we have seen,  rather that vastness, infiniteness and the emptiness of this part of Australia is what makes it wonderful to travel in.  One can drive the whole day without seeing anyone, visit the some national parks and have them to yourself, or have a huge beautiful beach to oneself.  
Australia

(Ayers Rock, Olgas, Kings Canyon)

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Ayers Rock, The Olgas, and Kings Canyon were all beautiful in their own right.  Ayers Rock was very touristy, but well worth climbing to the top and seeing the sunrise and watching the sunset in the evening.  Kings Canyon was not the most spectacular canyon we have ever seen, but it was a great 7 km hike though it.  The formations and cliffs were really interesting and the fresh water pool was a great refreshment halfway through the walk. 
Tikal Guatemala

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Tikal Ruins in Guatemala are Mayan ruins situated in a beautiful jungle setting.  The Mayan ruins include pyramids, temples and an acropolis.  What makes it special is the spectacular jungle setting with the full of life forest surrounding the structures.  It takes at least 4 or 5 hours to see most of the ruins.  It is well worth the 7.50 US$ entrance fee.
   

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