Well, after a fruitful few hours in a travel agents over the weekend, the following schedule is now taking some shape:
-> 3 days after we get back from our skiing trip at the beginning of February, we're going to fly to Hong Kong
-> after 4 days in HK, we fly to Sydney
-> some 31 days later we fly from Brisbane to Christchurch
-> another 30 days after that, we fly to San Francisco and then back to the UK a few days later.
-> a couple of weeks after our return we fly to Cape Town
-> we then spend 3 weeks travelling overland through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and over into Zambia to check out Victoria Falls. Stopping off along the way at places like Fish River Canyon, the Namib desert, Etosha National Park, the Okavanga Delta, Windhoek and Chobe. You know, animals and all that shizzle.
-> we then fly back home from Livingston via Johannesburg
...and pause for a few weeks in June.
-> a couple of days after we're back from Glastonbury and have washed all our kit, we're off to Vancouver...spending 4 weeks in the Rockies before flying back home from Calgary at the end of July (in time for the Trent Bridge Test Match, obviously)
In theory, I'm not due back at work until September, so at some point we're looking at planning another trip to cover off Egypt and Jordan. Although -- like the other Africa trip -- that will probably be more of an organised tour. We're not especially inclined to be luxury travellers, and when we're in Southern Africa we'll mainly be camping.... not sure I'll be too keen to do that in Egypt, but I certainly don't need a five star hotel or a luxury yacht down the Nile, thanks very much.
None of these trips are actually all that far away now... I go skiing in less than 7 weeks time... and I reckon I need your help. At the moment I'm a little overwhelmed by possibilities, so any recommendations you might have will be really helpful. I'm sure lots of you have been to some of these places, and -- if it's okay with you -- I need some suggestions about things to think about doing whilst I'm away. Southern Africa is mainly stitched up, but any tips about Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, San Francisco and the Canadian Rockies would be most welcome.
What kinds of things must we absolutely not miss? Everyone I speak to seems to have something else that I should add to my list, and I'm keen for that list to be as long as possible.... part of the pleasure, I think, is going to be in working out what we should do with our time.
So fire away, as I'm all ears.
Here's what's on the list of suggestions/ideas we've had so far:
Hong Kong: visiting my friend Des and his lovely family
Australia: Tasmania... and probably the top end (we did Melbourne, Sydney and the centre when we went in 2004). The Whitsundays, Fraser Island, Kakadu National Park, Katherine Gorge.
Erm, and other stuff, most likely....
New Zealand: I've had a few more suggestions here:
-> Bay of Islands (for diving)
-> Waitomo caves
-> Kayaking in Hahei
-> Tongariro Crossing
-> Franz Joseph glacier
-> Mt. Cook / Arthur's Pass
-> Milford Sound
-> Kaikoura to Marlborough (wine country!)
-> Eden Park (for the cricket/rugby!)
San Francisco - um, Golden Gate bridge?
Africa - pretty much covered. Fish River Canyon, Namib Desert, Swakopmund, Etosha National Park, Kalahari, Okavango Delta, Victoria Falls, Cape Town, Windhoek, Chobe National Park, Sossusvlei. Etc. etc.
Canada - Not sure here. We're just really keen to spend some time in the beautiful Canadian Rockies when they're not entirely covered in snow. We're flying into Vancouver and out of Calgary, but the rest is all beautiful opportunity....
As well as a decent camera, I should warn you now that I'm going to try to take a netbook with me, and I will do my level best to journal everything as we go.... so if you don't like travel blogging, then you might want to disappear from these parts until September 2010, at which point I'll likely be moaning like hell about having to work for a living.
Assuming I go back to work....
(MS doesn't have many advantages, but that critical illness insurance payment is at least giving us this opportunity to do something other than just work...)