North America, Asia, Africa · 18 Days · 49 Moments · July 2018

22 July 2018

The hotel and grounds were nice in Entebbe. We were on the shore of Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa. We first thought we were on the ocean as the waves were large and pounded the shoreline. Sally and Gary enjoyed a break in the lounge at the Entebbe airport before our long journey home. We left at 3:00 for a 7 hour flight to Doha, spent 4 hours in the hotel before flying 14 hours to Atlanta, 2 1/2 to Dallas and 1 hour to Tulsa, whew!!! Thanks John for picking us up at midnight! The last shot is me enjoying a glass of champagne as we boarded in Doha on my 68 birthday. This trip is now in the books and we are planning our next Thanks to all of you that followed our journi.

20 July 2018

When we returned to the lodge, Dana had a massage in her room which was next to ours. I watched the lady carry the massage table up all those stairs on her head, try that at home! It was time to pack up and head home. The first stop was Entebbe. We got a tour of a market place on the way to our hotel. Check out the meat hanging in the restaurant window in pic 8
There were more beautiful views as we started our drive down the mountains, we did our hiking at 7,000 ft. Encountered a child standing on the side of the road with a chameleon on a stick. He was laughing and waving, so I had to stop to take a picture and give him a couple bucks. Quickly we encountered more people walking on the dusty road and reminded me of the great diversity of beauty and poverty in Africa.
We pooled some of the best shots to share. In pic #2, a man from Australia got too close and the gorilla ran up to him and hit him on the back. Didn’t hurt him but quite a scene. We watched and followed for an hour more then spent an hour walking out. Probably the most demanding thing I have ever done, but I got my picture looking over the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. On the final steps, straight up out of the jungle, hanging onto my porter’s hand, I looked back at the group following and said...This is the longest I have ever held onto a mans hand and I liked it! I would never have made it without his help
Finally got some better shots. It was brutal trying to walk and crawl to get close enough to get a good picture...but that meant getting within 10 feet. No problem for Marti. We did find the big silverback and Marti got within about 5 feet for her shot
The gorillas were close, but on the move. We were chasing them. Chasing is a relative term when you are on your hands and knees clawing at grass to pull yourself up to your porter because you lost your footing for the 50th time and fell. We finally took a break, Billy is still in good spirits, waving me up. We finally got our first sighting!!! We had heard them, they were within 20 feet, but the brush was so dense we we had been unable to see them. I know you will have trouble seeing them in the brush, but if you look close they are damn close!

19 July 2018

We started our 2 hour drive before dawn to the gorilla camp for our instructions. We drove uphill past tea plantains and dodged many children walking up to 2 hours on their way to school. After instructions on what to do if a gorilla charges, wetting your pants was not one of the choices, we drove another 45 minutes to the Forrest entry point. We were assigned guides and each of us had a porter. Billy started down the steep path into the jungle and in a few steps was out of sight. The terrain was more than I had expected. We started with walking sticks to help, but they shortly took those away because of the dense vegetation and our porters held our hands. At first I was a little reluctant to to take his hand, a little macho in me, but I quickly fell and my ego vanished and I held on to my porter for dear life
We walked to our last stop of the day, the Bwindi Women’s Community Center. This center was started by a local woman who managed to get an education and returned to her home village to teach other women a skill to provide income for their family. They wove material , baskets and repaired donated bicycles to rent to locals and tourists. Notice the charcoal iron they use to iron their material. We came across two women working on baskets and decided to buy one. They made a cloth carry bag for us to carry it home. Finally made it back to our lodge and were welcomed by several monkeys. Just in time for another beautiful sunset
We started our walk out of the Batwa camp, past dense jungle path, coffee plants and beautiful scenery until we approached the edge of Bwindi. Lots of people and more shops selling the daily needs of the locals. Those are smoked fish curled up on the table above the bananas. We did not sample the fish!
They liked having their pictures taken with us and shaking hands. In large part because their fellow Ugandan’s won’t have anything to do with them. We took pictures of their huts and bought a few items they weave to sell to tourists. It is hard to believe they continue to live as they have for hundreds of years. We stayed for an hour and they seemed truly sad to see us leave. But we had more walking to do!!!!
Marti is asking our guide, how much further. “We are close!” We heard that a lot😜. Finally the Batwa camp. They were extremely friendly and welcoming. We were invited into their huts, one room with a fire and mats on the floor for sleeping. They really like tourists, as they are ostracized by the local Uganda population. They are not allowed to attend school and are seldom included in any social activities. Many from the camp turned out to greet us with stories, song and dance. The chief shared stories through our guide then gave us a lesson on how to start a fire with a stick. To show the fire he made, he lit a joint! Marijuana is illegal, but the local police leave the Batwa to their old customs.
We walk deeper and higher into the mountain jungle for our visit to the Batwa Pygmy camp, we pass more small shops and bars. Check out the names. On the dusty narrow roads we passed many locals and children. Everyone was friendly and seemed happy to see us. And we kept walking...
We were taken to a Banana Distillery for a demonstration on how locals make Banana beer and Banana Gin. They harvest green bananas, then roast them to assure consistent ripeness. Put them in a trough and stomp them barefoot, just like stomping grapes for wine. The liquid is distilled and then can make either beer or gin. They passed around a sample, I was first and tried it. I guess the face I made discouraged anyone else from tasting. Mark’s face after smelling, is an idea of how it tasted. Sean tried the manual coffee grinder, Sean was stronger than the older gentlemen giving us the this part of the tour and made short work of his assignment. Walked past grain laid out to dry and walked and walked....
Sally and Jerry were exploring the maze of steps to the rooms at the lodge. I found a push scooter we saw people using to transfer bulky items. If you look close, you see a small wooden lever that releases a wooden rack that holds the cargo you will PUSH around. Couldn’t imagine pushing this through the rough, dusty roads, loaded with bulky items. Our group met for a drink before we started our walking tour of Bwindi. Saw lots of little shops. Locals are using bricks for most new houses. Took a pic of one of the many brick furnaces along our walk. Clothes laid out on the grass to dry.

19 July 2018

We finally made it to our lodge, Buhoma Gorilla Lodge in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. But our trek was not over. There were 76 steps to our cabin!!!!! Beautiful view, but minimal accommodations. Yes, that is our in room safe, a metal box you had to put your own lock on. And there was no in room mini bar. So, off I went back down 76 steps to the bar for a well deserved cold beer!
Had to include a few more pics on our way to camp
It was a 2 hour drive on incredible dusty, bumpy roads to our camp. At times our driver had to slow down to a crawl and turn on the windshield wipers to clear the dust. What I can’t imagine is what it was like for the hundreds of people walking on the edge of the road, dodging our land cruiser and fighting off the dust. The motorcycle with the passenger and 3 goats is a taxi. Other than walking, a motorcycle taxi is the only affordable transportation for locals. But most can’t afford that, so they walk and walk and walk.

18 July 2018

We are off to our last lodge and tour, to see the mountain gorillas in Uganda. As we drive to another dirt runway airfield, we drive along more dusty bumpy roads. We pass numerous tiny shops, had to get a pic of the Mishelle Obama shop and the frequent cow drawn cart. Finally the airport...the runway ended at the start of the Rift Valley, well over a thousand foot drop!!!! The circles you see on the valley floor are Masai camps. They make circles out of thorn bushes and build mud huts inside for protection. The smaller circles inside are where the cattle are kept at night. When the cow dung gets too bad, they move and build a new camp. Last pic is Mount Kilimanjaro

17 July 2018

A few parting shots of the Ngorongoro crater as we headed back on our 2 hour, dusty, bumpy ride back to the Manor and a cold beverage. But what a day
Internet service has been very spotty, so there have been some delays in my posts.. We continued our drive in the Ngorongoro crater to see birds and hippos, this one had been cooling off in the water and had a vine wreath around his neck. We watched a new born Gazelle, our guide said less than 1 hour old, try to walk. He would take a few awkward steps, then fall. Within 10 minutes he was running a few steps as his mother walked around encouraging him to walk. It was amazing to watch this as hyena roam close by and wonder if the baby would see tomorrow. More big Cape buffalo, then a stop for lunch at a lake. Look at all the trucks in the background, I counted over 100. You don’t see those shots on National Geographic
We found a pride of lions that our guide believed was beginning a hunt. We followed one then she joined a few others as the Toyota Land Cruisers started lining up. The lions completely ignored all the trucks as they moved towards the wart hogs in the distance. There were 4 adults and 4 cubs. As the pride moved closer to the wart hogs the cubs stopped and and the adults spread out. We had been watching for about 30 minutes when the lions were spotted and all animals went in different directions. It happened so fast I didn’t get a picture, and the warthogs got away. We finally got to see an actual chase!!!
No one is allowed to stay in the crater. Although the Manor was close, it took us 1 1/2 hours on really, really rough dusty roads. We climbed to almost 8,000 feet before cresting the ridge and were rewarded with spectacular views. We then descended to the crater floor to admire the wildlife. The Ngorongoro Crater is one of the most famous animal preserves because of the number and diversity of animals you can find in a relatively small area. You will see it’s popularity in the next post

16 July 2018

We stayed at The Manor at Ngorongoro. It is a working coffee plantation that added an exclusive resort to the grounds. Had to include a few shots of our room and view. That is an African Tulip tree just outside our sitting area, overlooking part of the coffee plantation. Yep, that’s another hot water bottle in our bed and after a wonderful dinner they started a fire for us in our room. They had a spa, pool, snooker table, horseback riding and a great bar. We could have stayed a week!
As we flew to our next camp, we flew over the Great Rift Valley and the Ngorongoro Crater. We landed near Manyara Game Reserve and enjoyed baboons and elephants on our drive to our new lodgings

15 July 2018

We did a sunrise hot air ballon ride over the Serengeti. It was exciting watching the flames shoot into the balloons and slowly fill with hot air. There were 2 balloons and I caught a few shots of the one beside us. Looking over the great expanse of the Serengeti from 100 feet above was an excellent exciting morning.

13 July 2018

We arrived for our 3 day stay at the Serengeti Migration Lodge. There are 20 cabins with views of the river and beautiful sunsets. A Red Billed Hornbill greeted us on our patio. We enjoyed dinner under the stars, weather was great. We left early the next morning for our game drive and saw thousands of Wildebeest and Zebras. There were huge Cape Buffalo, lions and grass lands as far as you could see
Today we were able to see the wildebeest and zebra cross the river. There were thousands waiting in line. It seemed to stretch forever. You need to enlarge the pictures to really appreciate the scope of the migration. I did not have the appropriate camera or angle to do justice to their crossing, but it was amazing
Then we found the lions. They must have found dinner last night, because they were more than happy to rest under a shade tree. When you get close, they are one of the most beautiful, powerful amazing animals you will ever see in the wild. Then more zebras and a blue jeans antelope. Great afternoon!

12 July 2018

Our guides and a Maasai warrior are preparing for our sundowner. We travel to a picturesque vantage point to have cocktails while the sun goes down No, all those drinks are not just for Sally and me, we are sharing. Our Maasai warrior kept the wild animals away while we enjoyed a most spectacular view. Marti Alexander , our fabulous tour agent, guide and friend is surveying her world! A few more pics and drinks before our return to the lodge. It was an evening we will never forget!
We saw ostrich and zebras. This pose of the Zebra was quite common. They stand head to butt so they can watch for predators in all directions. There were impalas, strange shaped termite mounds more giraffe, baboon, and a secretary bird. Went back to the lodge for a drink in the meeting area before our sundowner. The tree is right in the middle of the common area and is home to hundreds of bats that ALL come out at dusk. That was exciting. Sally loves bats, NOT!!!
We entered Tarangire National Park, Sally is waving from the background. Sally Whalen and Kelly Uzzell posed by the skulls of an elephant and a water buffalo. There were hundreds of elephants. Caught two young bulls play fighting then they stopped and stared right at us. Couldn’t believe how many were in the same area.

11 July 2018

After enjoying the sunset we had dinner under the stars. A troupe of Maasai youth entertained us after dinner. The view from our room at the Treetops Lodge was great in the morning. We started our morning game drive at 8:00 and watched a hawk enjoy his breakfast of dove😫. Lots of giraffe feeding on tree tops. We passed a Maasai warrior guarding his cattle. Hard to believe he is armed with only a spear to ward off lions. He may spend several days outside his camp if he has to take his cattle a long distance for fresh grass. We were told he doesn’t drink water, only milk and blood from the cattle he is caring for.
More pics of candelabra trees, Baobab trees, Wildebeest Impalas and then the Treetop Lodge. Another beautiful sunset!
We landed at Kilimanjaro International Airport to go through customs in Tanzania. We reboarded to fly to Kuro airstrip for our ride to Treetops Lodge. The drive gave us our first sightings of wildlife. Lots of wildlife!!!!

10 July 2018

We had a great dinner at Tamarind Restaurant, rated one of the best in Nairobi. Rather than fortune cookies, they brought deserts on plates with your name and a saying written in chocolate. Quite unusual. Back to the Hemingway hotel for our last night in Nairobi, beautiful at night. The next morning off to the Wilson Airport, past the slums again n. The Wilson was quite different from Doha! The planes were a little different also. Very exciting flying over Africa in a 9 passenger prop !!!
We went to an elephant orphanage. To take the tour, you have to adopt an orphaned elephant. We adopted Ambo. At 5:00 the guests line up on a path and the caretakers bring the baby elephants from the fields to their “rooms” for the night. So our guide says get ready and here come 20 baby elephants at a full trot down the path brushing up against you. It was quite a scene. The orphanage cares for them until they are about 3, then slowly integrate them back into the wild. There were wart hogs wandering around looking for handouts. They were not afraid of us and were fun to watch. There were also several monkeys looking for trouble to get into.
We then went to the Giraffe Center. Everyone fed the giraffes and had a great time. It is an orphanage for young giraffe that lost their mother. Once they are 3, they are returned to the wild. One brave sole , Susan, put a pellet in her mouth and the giraffe took it. Their tongue must be 10 inches long and the were very nimble at picking the pellets from your hand. But once they had enough of us, they all left. So on to the next stop. Elephants!!!
We went to the Karen Blixen Home and museum. She wrote the book Out of Africa. We had local guides and got a detailed of the Home she lived in from 1914 until 1934. Excellent factual background for the movie we watched again before we left. Karen is a celebrity in Africa for the work she did to help the native African people.

9 July 2018

The grounds were fun to explore. Sally and I shared an Ostrich burger for lunch. It was good
We stayed at the Hemingway Lodge. Beautiful grounds and room. We had the Bogart room. Rooms were named after Hollywood actors and explorers. I had to try a local beer, Tusker from our mini bar. Doesn’t take me long to relax. The view from our room was amazing.
We left from the Doha airport this morning. It is ranked as the 5th best airport in the world. It is beautiful and the business class lounge was one of the best we have visited. We enjoyed an adult beverage or two on our flight. Cloud cover kept us from seeing any land until we descended for landing. The countryside in Kenya is flat and green. The airport in Nairobi was quite a contrast from Doha. Very spartan. The drive to our hotel, the Hemingway, took about 30 minutes. We did see giraffe and zebra, but at a distance. We were a little surprised because we were so close to the city. The scenery on the drive was “interesting “. Nairobi’s population is about 3.5 million and unfortunately many live in poverty. We passed a slum with 350,000 people living there. The weather in Nairobi is in the 70’s, we are wearing jackets. Quite a change

8 July 2018

A few more pics of the mosque. We went to a market place for dinner. The market burned down many years ago but was rebuilt to have the same feel it had a hundred years ago. There were 50 plus small shops with locals selling their wares and making lamps, brass lanterns, clothing, wood carvings, just about anything you could imagine. We had a kabob dinner with hummus, it was very good. I had to wash up before dinner and took a picture of the sign above the toilet. Blow up the pic of the sign and pay close attention to the symbol in the middle at the bottom. Don’t try this at home either! We sat on our patio at the hotel and enjoyed one last hot night in Doha. We left with many memories
We then drove to a high end shopping center with all the exclusive shops and a Rolls Royce and Ferrari dealership. It had its own port with magnificent yachts and million dollar apartments. Just window shopping! Then to a mosque that accommodates 20,000 worshippers inside and out. Notice the sign for the women’s entrance. We couldn’t take the women inside, so we just took pictures from outside😜
Our driver took us to the Qatar Fun Zone. Think of a drive in movie park with Food Trucks. You drive into the park, pull up to one of about 20 food trucks, order food and drinks then pull into a parking area to watch a big screen tv with the soccer game playing. You tune your radio to an assigned channel and enjoy the game.
As we approached downtown many buildings had paintings of the ruler of Qatar. The skyline is most impressive. There are construction cranes in every direction. They are preparing for the world soccer games with new roads and subways. Since alcohol is prohibited in most places by Islamic law, it will be interesting to see how the handle the games in 2022
Qatar has a population of 2.6 million and a land mass of 44,000 square miles. That is about 2/3 the size of Oklahoma. There are only 350,000 citizens. Each citizen is given $140,000.00 per year by the government, plus free medical and education. Sorry, citizenship has been closed for about 40 years, you must be born in country to a citizen to get paid. We toured downtown Doha today. The third picture is of 10 year old high rises that are scheduled to be torn down to build new buildings for the world soccer games in 4 years. We toured the Islamic art center, beautiful buildings and objects from around the world. More pics of Doha on next post

7 July 2018

We left our hotel at 3:00 PM for a desert sand dune ride. No, we didn’t take the big yellow dune buggy, nor the camels. No, this is not how our dune buggy ended up. We were in nice, new Toyotas, with air conditioning! Yep, those are our tracks going over a 40 foot drop to the edge of the Arabian Sea. Sally might have taught our driver a new expression, you know how she hates heights! But it all turned out well as we stopped to take pictures, dip our toes in the water and look at Saudi Arabia just a few hundred yards away. We drove to a roadside cafe at dusk and had camel burgers. Both exceeded our expectations. Quite a day

5 July 2018

Sally and I started our Africa trip today. We are allowed only 2 bags each, total of 35 pounds because of our chartered flights in Africa. Tough packing job for Sally! John Alexander took us to the airport, thanks John. His tough duty is picking us up at midnight on the return. We took Qatar Air, business class, nice. Had to take a pic of part of the menu, we could order anything we wanted to be served any time we ask! Good start. When we landed, it was 100 degrees and 80% humidity, everyone’s glasses fogged up instantly. One of the group had a birthday , so started with a party. Nice hotel, a Ritz Carlton property, but still hot!!!!
We start our 2018 Africa adventure July 5. Stay tuned for more pics and stories!