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Just Back: Exploring South Africa with World's Best Winner Micato Safaris

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We here at T+L know that our readers are the savviest around. So when I decided to go to South Africa essentially on a whim with three weeks’ notice, I decided it would be prudent to leave the trip planning to the experts. And if Micato Safaris’ impressive showing in our annual World’s Best Awards is anything to go by—they were voted Top Safari Outfitter for the ninth year running in the 2012 survey, out in the August issue—they must be the best.

The Micato experience begins before you’ve even boarded your flight, with the delivery of a mammoth safari bag filled with a bound itinerary, helpful packing list, and some gifts (a handy flashlight and a stylish passport holder), all wrapped in animal-print tissue paper to get you in the safari spirit. But even for someone like me, who likes to plot out every detail on my trips, it was nice to surrender myself to someone else’s expertise for a week and let them handle the logistics.

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La Dolce Vita: Gelato Tours in Rome

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Come June, author, blogger, and all-around sweet tooth David Lebovitz is heading to Rome to hunt down the best gelato in town—if not the world. For anyone interested in joining him, the author of the ice cream bible The Perfect Scoop will lead an Out of Context three-hour guided tour to the eternal city’s best gelato and granita ($86/person).

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L.A.'s Dirty Secrets Found on Bus

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When I was a little kid in Los Angeles, my dad would take our family of 7 on long Sunday drives. Once he drove us over a desert pass to a ranch Hollywood had used for old Westerns and where he'd heard there were pony rides. When we pulled off onto the dusty road, it became clear that the decrepit ranch was no longer open for tours.

Dad blithely drove into the movie-set town, wooden sidewalks and Western building facades attached to the fronts of battered house trailers. He made a U-turn and drove back through.  "John," my mother hissed, "Hippies!" A few very scruffy men had ventured out onto the sidewalks and more faces appeared in windows, watching our Ford wagon hightail it back to the highway.  Months later, from news coverage of the Sharon Tate murder trial, my parents realized that those hippies out at the Spahn Movie Ranch had been the Manson Family. Thus, my first (and only, to date) true-crime road trip adventure.

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New Google App Tackles Travel…Sort-Of

It only launched in testing stages on June 25th, but Google’s new “City Tours” application—in which your Google Map offers multi-day itineraries in destinations around the globe—has the potential to become something great. But right now it’s mostly useless.

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The Best Damn Tour Guide in South Africa

Fifteen years after South Africa ushered in democracy, nothing embodies the promise, excitement, and contradictions of the country quite like Johannesburg. Most travelers, however, barely scratch the surface of the city. Passing through on their way to safari lodges and game reserves elsewhere in the country, they find time for a trip to the Apartheid Museum, a tour of Soweto, dinner in one of the lovely northern suburbs, and then they’re back at the airport to catch a flight out.

I’ll spare you the proselytizing that I’ve been delivering to friends ever since returning from a four-day trip there in March (“You must stay longer than just one night!”), and cut to the chase: if you want a deeper understanding of this complicated, fascinating city, you must call Robin Binckes, tour guide extraordinaire.

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