Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

Book: Animal – The Definitive Guide to the World’s Wildlife

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Animal cover imageThis week’s book is from our own Don Wilson, longtime Smithsonian Study Leader and Curator Emeritus of Mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Named Senior Scientist in 2000, Don was also Director of the Smithsonian’s Biodiversity Programs for ten years.

For the last 40 years, his work has taken him around the world conducting field work and research. He has led tours for Smithsonian Journeys to most of the world’s greatest natural history destinations from Antarctica to Africa.

Working with co-editor and zoologist David Burnie, Wilson has created a giant reference to wildlife from every corner of the world. From the smallest insects to the largest mammals, this visual guide helps the reader understand and appreciate the fantastic variety of life our planet with vivid photos and interesting facts.

If you’re interested in traveling with Don Wilson, click here to see where he’ll be next.

Book of the Week: Serengeti: The Eternal Beginning

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Serengeti: The Eternal BeginningOur book partner, Longitude books is always searching for new books to inspire and inform your travels.

This week, take a journey to Africa with award-winning author and photographer Boyd Norton and Serengeti: The Eternal Beginning. Immerse yourself in two-hundred-and-fifty vivid color photographs of the Serengeti National Park, the Masai Mara, and the Ngorongoro Crater. Norton’s memorable stories about encounters with people and wildlife will transport you from your living room to the compelling wilderness of East Africa.

Our African Safari is one of our best-selling adventures. Reserve your place while we still have space available.

Splendors of Morocco – The Fabric of Life

Monday, July 26th, 2010
Moroccan textiles to be sold at a town market.

Moroccan textiles to be sold at a town market.

Strolling through a souk, it’s hard not to notice the intricately woven textiles of Morocco. The Smithsonian found these textiles to be so fascinating, they created an exhibit at the National Museum of African Art called The Fabric of Moroccan Life.

The traditional world of Moroccan textiles was predominantly filled with wealthy women, who learned to sew, embroider, and design as young girls. The women adorned themselves with exotic fabric and jewelry both to show their economic status and create their own style. What makes these particular textiles so unique is that Moroccan style borrows from various other cultures -  the dominant influences are Islamic and Berber, but elements of Jewish, African, and Mediterranean styles are also incorporated.

Once married, women would continue to embroider and might have joined harems where they learned and shared their technical skills and ideas with other women. Because these textiles brought critical income to their communities, women also enjoyed a certain amount of creative freedom.

If you were shopping at a Moroccan souk, what would you buy? Jewelry, blankets, artwork, clothing?

Shop at a medieval maze of souks on our Splendors of Morocco tour.

Into Africa: Who Was Diego Cão?

Monday, July 5th, 2010

Elephants at a watering hole.    Photo: Leo Dos Remedios

Europeans have sought riches in the Congo for centuries. As we planned our Into Africa cruise, part 3 of our 4-part Grand African Voyage exploring this fascinating continent, we wondered which European first explored the famed Congo River. It turns out that the first European exploration dates back to the 15th century, led by a Portuguese explorer named Diego Cão.

Born around 1450 as an illegitimate son in Vila Real, Portugal, Cão was one of the most remarkable explorers from the Age of Discovery, and led two voyages sailing along the west coast of Africa. In the late summer of 1482, Cão reached the mouth and estuary of the Congo River, at what is now Shark Point, Angola, and marked it with a stone pillar known as a padrão – declaring the area sovereign to Portugal.

Today, the pillar still exists but has fallen to pieces. Yet, the people of Angola are very aware of Diego Cão, as he was responsible for Angola’s colonization, and continued close ties to Portugal.

If you had lived in the 15th Century, would you want to be an explorer?

Check out Africa in the 21st century from Namibia to Ghana on our Into Africa tour, as well as our other tours on the Grand African Voyage, departing in 2011!  

Who Was Eliot Elisofon?

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

There are few photographers who can even say they captured Africa quite the way Eliot Elisofon did during his lifetime. His legacy of photography and filmmaking provides ethnologists, photographers, and historians a fantastic visual record of African life from 1947 to 1973. When Eliot passed away in 1973, he bequeathed to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art  his materials from his experiences living on the continent, including 50,000 black-and-white photographs and 30,000 color transparencies.

What is most notable about Elisofon is at a time when outside cultures were viewing Africa through stereotypes and misconceptions, his photography was always grounded in humanity and respect. You can learn more about Eliot Elisofon on the Smithsonian Channel.

Create your own photography portfolio of South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, and Botswana on our Grand Safari  private jet tour.

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