Luxury real estate specialist Jon Granston is here to share a bit of wanderlust. Read on to learn about his extensive personal travels, and why he is thankful to always return home to North County San Diego.
Allow Yourself The Luxury Of Exploring The World
Traveling takes you out of your routine, and it allows you to view life through a new lens. I’ve been both fortunate and opportunistic with my personal travels and have realized that there is NEVER a good time to travel. There are a million rational thoughts that tell you why you shouldn’t leave your comfort zone, but once committed—whether in advance or at a moment’s notice—there’s little time for those “rational” thoughts to creep in.
Don’t get me wrong—I log a lot of hours working in the San Diego Real Estate world. But, I also reward myself with exotic, adventurous trips with my wife each year. It doesn’t hurt that my wife works forLuxury Tour Operator Ker & Downey, but we were traveling the globe long before travel and her career became one.
Although I would not trade the many experiences that I’ve had across the world, whenever we return to the U.S. and specifically Coastal San Diego, we always feel fortunate to live in our favorite place on earth. Traveling not only lets us see new places and live in paradise for a few weeks each year, it also reinforces a sense of contentment for where we call home.
It’s not surprising that San Diego is both a vacation destination and has been called the “land of transplants.” People get a taste of San Diego’s laid-back vibe and often want to make it an everyday reality—I speak from experience having relocated from Seattle in 2008.
Living in San Diego and traveling for leisure truly offers the best of both worlds. Here are my top five destinations for those looking to make a short-term escape from the place they call home.
#1 Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana
Africa is the most exhilarating travel destination for my taste. The Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana provides the most untapped, authentic safari experience. There are a handful of safari camps from which to choose, but Jacks Camp is truly special. Situated on the edge of excellent game viewing and a deep, empty abyss, Jacks is a mix of wildlife, culture and isolation featuring.. The Pans, which are roughly the size of Switzerland. They are stark, allowing you to feel like you are on the moon. No city lights, no towns, no hills, no plant life, nothing…
During our visit, we took quad bikes out on to the pans one evening. Our guide stopped the caravan and started pouring each guest their beverage of choice. He asked everyone to walk separately, about 300 to 500 yards in the direction of our choosing. We sat there in space and total silence while the sun set, stars arrived, and the earth’s shadow formed. It was spectacular, and an experience I imagine is similar only to being on the moon or in the middle of the ocean.
Our night wasn’t over there. We proceeded to a campfire bar, followed by a five-star dinner under the shooting stars, then to our “optional” sleeping arrangements. We were given the option to go back to the safari camp, or sleep under the night sky in the middle of the Pans. We opted for the second option, of course, which was an unforgettable experience. The next morning we were greeted by a bushman tribe, who proceeded to take us on a walking safari.
#2 Amazon River, Peru
The country of Peru has a lot to offer. Hiking Maccu Piccu, exploring the Sacred Valley, and surfing Chicama are all amazing adventures. But when we set foot on the MV Aqua to embark on a 5-day safari on the Peruvian Amazon, our trip instantly became unforgettable.
Shaking hands with a local Shaman, fishing for piranha, seeing cayman and pink dolphins, encountering sloths, and adventuring on a skiff boat safari and jungle hike are just a few of the highlights from our visit to Peru. The Amazon River offers a truly unique safari all in the midst of a luxury boutique river-boat experience.
There is something exhilarating about standing face to face with a Silverback in the wild. It may be comforting to know that this powerful primate is a vegetarian, but it’s also terrifying to see its true force and size up close.
Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda to find the mountain gorillas is quite possibly the most interesting thing I have ever done. Depending on the location of the troop you are seeking, the jungle hike could take 10 minutes, or 6 hours—which is the distinct difference between seeing them in the wild and going to the zoo. Tourists are allowed only one hour with the gorillas once first contact is made. Aside from my child being born or my wedding day, this was the best hour of my life.
#4 Kerala, India
While in India, we toured the Taj Mahal, stayed at the lake palace of Udaipur, rode elephants in Jaipur, visited a sikh temple in Delhi, and embarked on a Tiger Safari in Bandhavgarh. But, the most unique experience was floating through the Kerala Backwaters.
This part of India is extremely green and tropical, spacious and peaceful. Aboard a private houseboat tended by a chef, butler and captain, we wound through the undeveloped waterways of the backwaters. It was surreal to watch life drift by in Southern India.
#5 Ol Donyo Lodge, Kenya
Southern and Eastern Africa have a soft spot in my heart. Ol Donyo in the Chyulu Hills is as special as it gets. It’s a perfect blend of culture and wildlife, all in the midst of a land as expansive as Yellowstone. The safari camp is renowned for its horseback safaris, which allow guests to get extremely close to the wildlife.
I’m terrible on a horse, so I quickly became the punchline for Maasai jokes. Giant herds of elephants and giraffes pepper the expansive grassy landscape with Mount Kilimanjaro on the distant horizon. This camp has done a great job of allowing for an authentic interaction with the Maasai. Top notch food, accommodations (including beds under the stars), wildlife, and activities should place Ol Donyo at the top of anyone's bucket list.
Connect With Jon Granston
Whether you are interested in learning more about global or local travels, Jon Granston is happy to help. He is an expert in North County San Diego residential real estate but can also assist you with luxury vacation rentals if your stay is short-term.