Cameroon and Congo: Three Weeks of Cultural Immersion and Up-Close Encounters

December 23, 2013

Our Private Travel department recently developed a three-week custom itinerary of extraordinary proportions throughout Cameroon and Congo for an adventurous solo woman traveler. Beginning with 15 stops in northern and southern Cameroon, the itinerary was centered around cultural touchstones—artwork, architecture, agricultural techniques, royalty, community, family, and colonialism—so she could experience the “total culture” of the destination.

Throughout her custom itinerary, our client was afforded unforgettable opportunities to engage with the people of Cameroon, from Bamileke chiefs and the Tikar people within the western highlands to the Mousgoum people bordering Sudan in the north. She traveled with local guides by train and private car, who were able to translate not only the language, but also the customs and everyday traditions of Cameroon.

Her itinerary also allowed for viewing incredible landscapes: volcanic lakes, west Africa’s highest peak, remote jungle waterfalls, and Rhumsiki—once described by French Nobel Prize winner Andre Gide as “one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.”

Our client concluded her visit to central-western Africa with gorilla trekking in northwestern Congo—an emerging destination for travelers seeking up-close encounters with western lowland mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Over the course of three nights and two full days at Ngaga Camp, our client successfully encountered gorillas, with the help of specialized local trekkers. She also spent time at nearby Lango Camp, encountering wildlife during game drives, night walks, and from behind nature blinds at several bais—naturally-occurring open-air jungle clearings where diverse animals sometimes congregate in large numbers. 

If this sounds like how you want to see the world, start your journey today by contacting our Private Travel department at privatetravel@zegrahm.com.

Bamenda Highlands, Cameroon

Bamenda Highlands, Cameroon

Ekom Falls, Cameroon

Ekom Falls, Cameroon

Beetle

Beetle

Western Highlands, Cameroon

Western Highlands, Cameroon

 

The Art of the Asmat

December 6, 2013 | Tags: art of the asmat, masks, new guinea

The Asmat people are the indigenous coastal dwellers of southwest New Guinea. They were once famous for headhunting, but are now better known for their unique art and culture, particularly their intricately carved masks.

Art has always played a major role in Asmat ceremony, and wood and carving are at the heart of the culture's mythology. The Asmat believe that Fumeripits, the Great Woodcarver, created the Asmat people, first building a men’s ceremonial house, then filling it with wooden figures of men and women. He then carved a drum and, by playing it, brought the figures to life.

The diverse and exotic plant and wildlife forms are an inspiration for the art and material used for adornment; items such as wood from various trees central to their life, leaves, beaten bark, seeds, fruit, shells, birds-of-paradise and other plumage, mammal pelts, insects, human hair, and colored earth and clays, are all used.

Along with ceremonial masks, ancestor poles, and shields, many everyday objects are also elaborately carved, such as oars, bowls, and drums. Below are a few examples of the incredible art of the Asmat. If you’d like to see (or purchase!) these amazing items in person, consider joining New Guinea: Raja Ampat & Asmat Villages, departing March 19, 2014.

 

Agats, Papua; Photo Credit: Mike Moore

Agats, Papua

Agats, Papua; Photo Credit: Mike Moore

Agats, Papua

Sjuru, Asmat Village, Papua; Photo Credit: Natalia Baechtold

Sjuru

Jayapura Museum, Irian Jaya, Papua New Guinea; Photo Credit: Shirley Metz

Jayapura

Owas Village, Papua; Photo Credit: Shirley Metz

Owas Village

Owas Village, Papua; Photo Credit: Shirley Metz

Owas Village

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; Photo Credit: Natalia Baechtold

Port Moresby

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; Photo Credit: Craig Ward

Port Moresby

Last Chance to Explore Western India & Myanmar in 2014

December 3, 2013

Whether seeking out western India’s prolific wildlife or meeting the tribes people who live along the Mekong River, we have two unique ways to begin 2014.
 
Departing January 8, 2014, our Wild Western India overland adventure takes you to several national parks and reserves to search for the region’s incredible wildlife. In Gir National Park you’ll be on the look-out for the rare Asiatic lion and the elusive khur. The grasslands of Velavadar National Park are home to a colorful variety of birds, including the largest known harrier roost in the world, as well as larks and sandgrouse. And the Little Rann of Kutch offers the chance to spot white-footed desert foxes, golden jackals, and wolves.
Asiatic Lion
 
Myanmar & Laos: Land of a Thousand Temples, departing January 31, 2014, is a cultural immersion into these emerging destinations. Visit Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset, Bagan’s whitewashed Mon Temple, and the floating gardens of Inle Lake. Plus, you’ll enjoy an Irrawaddy River cruise to the 11th-century capital of Bagan, and an overnight stay on the banks of the Mekong River in a serene teakwood lodge.
Inle Lake
 
Don’t miss your last chance to visit Western India and Myanmar in 2014—contact us today!

Top 5 Photos from Wild Alaska and the Best of the Russian Far East

October 7, 2013

We recently completed two wildly successful voyages to Alaska and the far eastern corners of Russia. Not only was the wildlife plentiful, our designated photographer onboard the Caledonian Sky, Mike Moore, was able to capture some beautiful images. Here are the top photos from our Wild Alaska and the Bering Sea, and Best of the Russian Far East expeditions.

1) Alaska's Geographic Harbor is set among magnificent volcanic scenery, hidden at the far reaches of Amalik Bay. As our explorers sailed in, they were greeted by marbled and Kittlitz's murrelets and saw their first brown bear of the day!

Brown Bear

2) Due north in the Bering Sea lies the tiny archipelago comprising the five Pribilof Islands discovered in 1786. St. Paul Island is home to a population of only 800 people, but the collection of islands are home to over 600,000 northern fur seals.

Northern Fur Seal

3) July 29, 2013 will go down as a magical day on our Best of the Russian Far East expedition. In Anastasiya Bay, our adventurers came across large groups of walrus, both loafing on shore and curiously checking out our enchanted photographers! 

Walrus

4) Later that same day, a massive herd of over 2,000 reindeer approached and gathered just below our group on a coastal plain. They watched the herders swirl the reindeer in circles, lasso the antlers, and capture a large male.

Reindeer

5) Our trip began to wind down in Petropavlovsk, the administrative center of the Kamchatka region, and home to around 200,000 people. Our explorers enjoyed dinner on deck, while sailing away under a beautiful sunset.

Petropavlovsk

To see this (and much more) for yourself, join us on our 2014 adventures to the same region! Wild Alaska with the Aleutian Islands and Wild Siberia: Kamchatka, Sea of Okhotsk & Sakhalin.

Welcome to Private Travel

October 1, 2013

Did you know that Zegrahm has a Private Travel department? Launched in early 2013, we offer individuals, families, and groups of friends the same horizon-broadening adventures and life-changing experiences as our scheduled expeditions—but on a more flexible, intimate, and personalized scale. We know there are times when you may prefer the camaraderie that comes with a group departure; other times you may want to explore the world independently, at your own pace, on your own schedule, and with very specific activities in mind. That’s what our Private Travel department is here to help you do!

The world is really your oyster and no adventure is too big (or small) for our Private Travel team to craft. Here are a few interesting events to consider planning your travels around:

The King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament | Hua Hin, Thailand
Introduced to Thailand in 2001 by Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, the King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament is one of the biggest charitable events in Thailand dedicated to the lives of the nation’s elephants. Consider timing a private Southeast Asia itinerary to coincide with this one-of-a-kind spectacle and raise some much-needed funds for a great cause while you’re at it! Learn more.

World Orchid Conference | Johannesburg, South Africa
Universally loved—and often the object of a (healthy) obsession or two—orchids not only thrive in some of the most incredible environments on Earth, they do so with refined sensibilities. Imagine building the perfect South Africa custom itinerary around next year’s 21st annual World Orchid Conference in Johannesburg. Learn more.

Wine Harvests | Spain, Northern Italy, Sicily, Argentina
September marks the beginning of wine harvest season. Consider timing a private itinerary that takes in some prime vineyards throughout Spain, Italy, and Argentina. We’ll find the best accommodations, chefs, sommeliers, and wine-centric experiences available, all planned around your tastes and expectations.

North America’s Hop Harvest
Are you a beer drinker? North America produces some of the most sought-after hops in the world, and harvest begins in September. Let us plot a hoppy course for you and your friends which takes you through the lush farmlands of Oregon and Washington, all while sampling the best when it comes to hop-forward ale and the food that so often accompanies it—cheese!

Bahía Bustamante | Argentina’s Secret Galápagos
A spectacular 210,000-acre privately-owned farm on the coast of Argentine Patagonia, Bahía Bustamante lies within one of Argentina’s newest national marine parks. Boasting vast pristine terrain that could pass for the American Southwest, let us plan your journey to this one-of-a-kind destination few have heard of, let alone visited. Learn more.

Planning a year in advance is highly recommended for any private travel excursion. Please call us at 800.454.4149 or email privatetravel@zegrahm.com to start crafting your adventure.