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Suffering from the Monday doldrums? For everyone out there facing the beginning of another work week, here’s a little jolt of wanderlust to brighten up your morning. Each Monday, we offer a photo of a spectacular place to spark ideas for your future travels.

This week’s shot is Table Mountain, the most famous landmark in Cape Town, South Africa.

table mountain cape town south africa


Planning an African Safari

Send us your best travel shot! E-mail your most beautiful or captivating travel photo to feedback@independenttraveler.com. (Please put Monday Inspiration in the subject line.)

In Your Face: 9 Up-Close Animal Encounters

– written by Sarah Schlichter

Suffering from the Monday doldrums? For everyone out there facing the beginning of another work week, here’s a little jolt of wanderlust to brighten up your morning. Each Monday, we offer a photo of a spectacular place to spark ideas for your future travels.

Today’s shot is of flamingos in Lake Nakuru, Kenya.

northern lights aurora borealis alaska tent camping



Planning an African Safari

Do you have an inspirational photo you want to share with our readers? E-mail it to us at feedback@independenttraveler.com. (Please put Monday Inspiration in the subject line.)

Traveling in a Developing Country: 11 Dos and Don’ts

– written by Sarah Schlichter

sphinx pyramids egyptThe ongoing political unrest in Egypt has governments scrambling to evacuate their citizens, cruise lines rerouting itineraries and travelers wondering what will become of their vacation to see the Pyramids.

Whenever trouble strikes in the travel world, you’ll hear experts touting the many virtues of trip insurance — but civil disturbances and riots are excluded from coverage on most policies. So in a case like the protests in Egypt, will travel insurance actually help you? I caught up with Steve Dasseos, President of TripInsuranceStore.com, to find out.

Dasseos explains that when these sorts of events happen, your tour operator, airline or cruise line is responsible for offering an alternate itinerary. “Let’s say you have a tour company that’s going [to Egypt] at the end of this month,” he says. “The tour company or cruise line has to take care of its passengers somehow. They’ll usually offer an alternate itinerary, bonuses, that sort of thing. You can change your travel dates or itinerary with your insurer and go on a completely different trip. That’s no problem.”

If your trip is canceled altogether, your cruise line or tour operator should give you a refund according to the terms and conditions under which you booked your trip. Contact your travel provider as soon as possible to find out what arrangements are being made.

So what happens if you’ve planned your own trip independently? Are you out of luck? “Not completely,” says Dasseos. “Check with your airline first. It’s likely that the airline has changed or canceled its flights. Most airlines don’t charge people penalties for changing their itinerary [when this sort of incident happens]. You can then change the dates on your insurance to apply to your other trip.” He cautions travelers to be sure to let your insurance company know of itinerary changes as soon as possible — before you actually travel.

As for hotels, Dasseos points out that most properties won’t charge you a penalty unless you cancel your reservation within 48 hours of arrival. And in extraordinary circumstances like the Egyptian riots, “I doubt that hotels are going to hold travelers accountable to those cancellation penalties,” he says. “They don’t want to spoil future business.”

If you’ve got a trip to Egypt booked for a few months from now, you’ll need to sit tight. Odds are that your tour operator will wait to see how the situation in Egypt plays out, so your trip may not be canceled or altered just yet. You may want to call off the trip yourself if you’re nervous about traveling to Egypt or if you’d rather go somewhere else instead. But these reasons are not covered by your travel insurance policy unless you purchase “cancel for any reason” coverage. This type of insurance will cover “being afraid to travel or changing your mind,” says Dasseos, “which aren’t normally covered by other policies.”

For nervous travelers, “cancel for any reason” insurance is a good bet for any trip, no matter where you’re headed. You may also want to check out Travel Warnings and Advisories, which offers useful tips on traveling to potentially unstable countries.

– written by Sarah Schlichter

great migration serengeti tanzania africa safari wildlife wildebeestEvery year, nearly two million wildebeest, zebras and other mammals migrate across the Serengeti plains in Tanzania, drawing thousands of visitors to watch one of the world’s most unique and impressive wildlife displays. But next year, construction is set to begin on a road that will cut through the park — and could irrevocably disrupt the famous Great Migration.

The Tanzanian government is seeking to build the road for economic reasons, NBC’s “Today Show” reports (see below to watch the full video). The proposed 33-mile gravel road would grant easier access to the Lake Victoria region, which is a key source of high-demand earth metals used to make cell phones and hybrid car batteries.

But environmentalists warn that the effects on the park’s wildlife could be disastrous. An increased volume of trucks driving through the park could make poaching easier, cause a spike in animal collisions and introduce invasive substances, such as seeds, that would disturb the existing ecosystem. In addition to ecological concerns, the disruption of the Great Migration could affect tourism — not only in Tanzania but also in neighboring Kenya (the animals migrate to the edge of that country’s Masai Mara reserve).

Opponents have proposed a longer alternate route for the road that would run south of the Serengeti.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Want to speak out against the road? There’s a Facebook page and a petition. And don’t miss our tips for planning an African safari.

–written by Sarah Schlichter