If a safari in Tanzania is not on your bucket list, it certainly should be, said Robert Jessup (EB65).
He and his wife, Julia Smith Jessup (C69), were two of six Northwestern Alumni Association travelers on the “Tanzania Safari: During the Great Migration” trip in late January and early February.
The closeness, variety and vast number of animals — as many as 10,000 some days, according to the guide — made the 10-day trip unforgettable. Nothing was more awe-inspiring for the travelers than the never-ending line of wildebeests and zebras that were migrating from one grassland to another. “It was phenomenal,” Julia Jessup said. “There are thousands of animals walking single file. You’d see a dark line of wildebeests from one horizon to the other. Then you’d go over a hill, and there were still more!”
The travelers also got up close with an incredible variety of birds, including the superb starling, a particularly memorable iridescent blue bird with a bright red-orange breast.
“He just glowed,” Julia Jessup said. “God went crazy with the set of crayons he used in Africa.”
Other highlights of the trip included a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti, followed by breakfast on the savannah under the acacia trees, a night at a lodge overlooking the Great Rift Valley and several nights at a lodge perched on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater.
Barbara Hetler Robert (SESP65) said the group’s knowledgeable guide, Elias, added a unique dimension to the experience. A member of the Masai and former Serengeti park superintendent, he not only knew where to find the herds but also offered an inside perspective on Tanzanian life.
“It was not a vacation. It was an adventure,” said Julia Jessup. “If you go, expect to get up early and eat a lot of dust. But it is beautiful from the first moment.”
From the mountaintop cloud forests to the pristine beaches, the Central American nation of Costa Rica is a “paradise all year round,” said Northwestern Alumni Association president Charles Katzenmeyer (WCAS85, KSM89), who hosted the NAA’s 11-day Costa Rica excursion. The travelers visited the capital, San José, and enjoyed the flora and fauna of the Los Angeles Cloud Forest Adventure Park before setting sail on the 148-passenger Wind Star yacht for a tour of Pacific Ocean ports. They also explored the Curu National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth. “It was fascinating to see how the flora and fauna interact in Costa Rica, how the natural environment is part of the human culture,” Katzenmeyer said. “We had lots of opportunities to explore,” he added, “including whale-watching on a small craft and white-water rafting.” After the adventures, there was plenty of time to relax aboard the Wind Star, where the 12 Northwestern travelers enjoyed exceptional service while bonding with new friends. The group even pulled off a surprise anniversary party for Jim Traynham (G50) and his wife, Gresdna, after the NAA welcome reception on the Wind Star.
The Northwestern Alumni Association trip “Rome: An Insider’s Perspective” offered entree to all of the Eternal City’s most famous landmarks — such as the Trevi Fountain, left — as well as stops at some off-the-beaten-path destinations. In Rome, the 18 Northwestern travelers visited Studio Cassio, an artists’ workshop where mosaics have been created and restored for more than a century, and toured the subterranean ruins of a fourth-century church. On a day trip to picturesque Orvieto, noted chef Lorenzo Polegri took the Northwestern travelers to the local food market. Before they ate a meal at his restaurant, Zeppelin, Polegri demonstrated his preparation of tomato sauce and pasta from scratch. The NAA travelers enjoyed a true taste of Rome throughout their nine-day tour.