This is the second in a two-part series from Journeys traveler Tom Boytim, who visited Tanzania to first climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, then go on a safari.

After we climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, we were glad to go back to the Mt. Meru Game Lodge, where we cleaned up and reorganized before embarking on the safari part of our trip.

We spent the first day of the adventure in Tarangire National Park. With its spring fed river, it is home to hundreds of elephants as well as most other wildlife I had hoped to see on safari. That first night, less than an hour after we arrived at the Rift Valley Lodge, we left on a drive through Lake Manyara National Park that lasted until 11:30pm. We knew little about how much activity goes on at night until our driver and his spotlight wielding assistant pointed out the many animals who were busy feeding, hunting or being hunted.

The Serengeti was fabulous! We saw every animal we had imagined except the rhinoceros. The migration camp was a delightfully comfortable surprise, with spacious, cool tents with triple roofs, warm showers and an elegant dining facility. The three days in the southern and central parts of the Serengeti flew by. Our guide seemed to be able to find animals in places where we looked and saw nothing. The magnificent leopard that he found sleeping in a tree is one of my best memories. She was absolutely beautiful and photogenic, as were the prides of lions.

We were able to stay at the Olduvai Lodge while on safari. This is a wonderful facility built around a Skopje rock formation. The stars were an awe-inspiring end to a delightful evening of food and drinks in this remote yet civilized location, close to the Leakeys’ anthropological research site. The Olduvai area affected me as profoundly as any place I have been in the world. In essence, it holds answers to the origins of man.

The final leg of our safari was Ngornogorno Crater, with its 25,000 plus animals living deep within the 2,000 foot walled caldera of an ancient volcano. It’s like a miniature of the Serengeti. And there we finally saw black rhinos: four adults and one baby. We even had one charge our vehicle, only to back off at the last moment when the Land Cruiser didn’t react to his aggression. Animals seemed to magically appear at times in great numbers, only to vanish a few hours later. This place is truly unique and was one of the high points of the trip.

Interested in visiting Tanzania? Check out the many trips Journeys has to offer. 

This is the first in a two-part series from Journeys traveler Tom Boytim, who visited Tanzania to first climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, then go on a safari.

Recently, my wife and I decided to head to Tanzania and reach the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. There are many routes up the mountain—we chose the Shira Route, which gave us an appreciation for the immensity of the mountain, as well as time to acclimate to the altitude.

Our first camps were in the crater of the ancient Shira volcano. From there we went to the Moir Hut Camp and climbed the Lent Hills to reach 14,500 feet. The following two days were spent at Lava Tower.

When we left for our next camp, we passed the Barranco Wall, a very steep rock wall about 2,000 feet in height. It is quite a rock scramble! We spent the afternoon traversing the mountain through two deep valleys to Karanga, our last camp with water. The next day was our climb to the final camp at Barafu, where we prepared for our attempt to summit Kilimanjaro.

Summit day actually starts at night. Around midnight, we bundled up in six layers on the top and four layers on the bottom, as well as thick gloves and socks and warmers. We followed the guide by headlamp up the 5,000 feet of steep trail. Cold does not adequately describe the temperature during the ascent of Kilimanjaro. With the brisk windchill and the high altitude, the temperatures are very low. At one point, as some younger climbers passed us, I looked over and realized that my light was sparkling off ice crystals in one of the climbers’ hydration unit hose!

If all goes well, one can reach the summit before sunrise. For us, it didn’t. I developed acute mountain sickness less than 1,000 feet from the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Our guides truly earned my respect because our safety and well being were their paramount concern. They knew that after all we had done to get that far up the mountain, we wanted to go to the top. But they advised me to start down, while I still could.

My wife could have summited with one of our two guides. They gave her the choice, but she declined because she was concerned about my condition and wanted to accompany me on my descent.

That morning, we rested briefly at Barafu Camp before we continued much farther down the mountain to Millenium Camp. The final morning we said goodbye to our porters and our cook at a special ceremony before we made our way through tropical forest to the Mweka Gate and our first shower and restaurant food in nine days. This was one of the hardest trekking climbs we had ever done.

Learn more about the Top of Africa—Kili Climb: Shira Route trip on the Journeys International website.


Sally Grimes-Chesak, Director of Marketing and Family Programs at Journeys, spent 15 days in Chile in October to attend an adventure travel conference. She went into it looking for knowledge to help her in her job, and came out of it with a new love—Chile.

In October, I embarked on my first visit to South America, to attend the Adventure Travel World Summit in Puerto Varas, Chile. Having worked at Journeys for just over a year now, and being fairly new to the industry as a whole, I went into the trip with expectations of soaking in everything I could about the country, its highlights, new lodges and hidden-away gems that we could recommend to our clients, as well as to meet many of our global partners and attend seminars to learn more about how to develop and run the best adventure travel trips possible.

What I didn’t expect, though, was just how much I would fall in love with Chile.

Atacama Desert

The first half of my trip was in the amazing Atacama Desert, towards the northern point of Chile. From our home base in San Pedro de Atacama, my traveling companions and I:

  • Hiked through Moon Valley, where we were overwhelmed by some of the most spectacular and other-wordly landscapes I could ever imagine
  • Witnessed a blessing ceremony performed by indigenous people who were asking for blessings for their crops.
  • Tasted delicious wine from one of the highest wineries in the world
  • Strolled through the adorable and welcoming small town of San Pedro, buying souvenirs and enjoying sweet potato sopapillas
  • Mountain biked through the sandy landscape of Devil’s Throat
  • Hiked through Cuchabrache, a canyon with petroglyphs that are thousands of years old
  • Got up close and personal with Tatio Geysers, and soaked in a hot spring
  • Witnessed the most amazing stars while our guide explained the beautiful Chilean belief that when a person dies, their soul becomes a new star
  • And a trip to the desert wouldn’t be complete without a massage and oxygen therapy treatment from our hotel’s spa

Lake District

We said goodbye to the desert and headed south to explore the Lake District and Puerto Varas, home of the conference. Puerto Varas is a welcoming and walkable town on the shore of the second largest lake in Chile, Lianguihue Lake, with views of mountains, forests and national parks. Its most stunning feature, though, is the beautiful backdrop of Osorno Volcano, which frequently pulled us away from the conference, begging to be gazed upon.

Our first outing in the Lake District was sea kayaking in Reloncavi’s Fjord, which offered unbelievable views of the lush forests surrounding us. We even spied two dolphins swimming in front of us! Partway through, our guides directed us to a quaint farmhouse off the shore, where we met a local family and enjoyed a warm and comforting lunch.

Next was a road bike ride to Ensenada and the Petrohué Falls, stopping for an unexpectedly glamorous lunch on the beach with an amazing view of the volcano. After spending the night near the Falls, we set forth through small towns, hopped on a ferry, went over dirt roads, loaded all our luggage on pack horses, hiked on a muddy trail, climbed aboard a small boat, and headed in the direction of the most remote island I’ve even been to, surrounded by the calmest waters I’ve ever seen.

And last but definitely not least was my favorite pastime, horseback riding. We spent an entire day roaming through the mountains of this beautiful area on horseback, getting to see the sights and hear the sounds from a taller, more intimate perspective.

I came on this trip thinking I would gain new knowledge that would help me in my job. And while I definitely did that, I also left with an overwhelming sense of love, admiration, and respect for the people and places that are Chile—and wondering how many more places out there will have the same affect on me in the future.

Fall in love with Chile on a Journeys International trip!