Around The World ·
67 Days ·
70 Moments ·
21 February 2019
Home sweet home, that's the journey all wrapped up. And what a fantastic time we had, so many new sights and experiences.
Like it says on a T-shirt we saw..
"It's not a holiday....it's an adventure!"
Homeward bound! Qatar Airlines new Q- class cabins are awesome, slept well and with fine food and drinks on demand, great movies on call and even pajamas we arrived rested and ready for a full day.
A pick up time of 9.00 am saw us up nice and early to get clean, fed and packed up ready to roll. Our driver was a nice young man trying to set up a tour and tourist transfer service, quite nice to see ambition in a country with a population of only 2.4 million, of which 41% are unemployed and 67,000 university graduates last year with little hope of gaining work. Currently we are waiting in the Qatar Airlines lounge, where the Wi-Fi is down but the food is hot and the beer cold, so all good 😉. Customs and Border staff were on their phones and eating, not the least interested in doing any work! There are no air-bridges here, so we will be walking to the plane on the hot tarmac shortly. Trouble is...we've had such a good time, we don't really want to go home!
19 February 2019
"Africa is not for sissies"
Just a little wander around Windhoek today as we kill time waiting for our flight. Although it was hot the breeze helps keep you cool. Started with the main street, and we quite like the modern architecture and cool designs. Namibia got its independence from South Africa in 1990 so it's a relatively new country. New buildings are alongside older colonial ones, and a dominant church sits on the high skyline on top of a hill, which took 6 years to construct, then the National liberation museum, then lunch at a pizzeria. That turned out to be fun as the Police set up an operation catching drivers making illegal U-turns. Well it was like catching fish in a barrel, they had so many tied up that others were doing the turn and getting away with it as the Police had their hands full processing offenders. We had so much fun we ordered another round of drinks while we were watching!
18 February 2019
Another beautiful day here in Namibia, sunny and warm. After a full breakfast we drove about 45 minutes to a conservation lodge and animal refuge called "Naankuse". Here they have caracal cats, cheetah, leopards, lions and wild dogs (which are an endangered species). Many people volunteer to assist here in a world-class facility that helps grow the numbers of the endangered dogs, as well as offer refuge to problem animals who leave national parks and start to prey on farmers livestock. The border security was high, with electric fencing keeping me from the 2-layered electrified mesh fencing, then electric fencing on the animals side! This made photography difficulty but I enjoyed the visit, particularly as I've never seen and heard a Caracal before. Also heard from the gang who are climbing the highest dune (Big Daddy) today for sunrise. t would have been a tough climb for us, not sure we would have made it, glad we got to see it from the air!
17 February 2019
Sad to leave the tour today, we really bonded with the group and will miss the team! Oh well, there's still a big world out there waiting to be seen! We had a fairwell party and dinner with them last night, and got to join them for brekkie. Then packed our bags and hopped on the Intercape bus to Windhoek. An uneventful journey, not as comfy as our safari bus!, then a taxi to the hotel. As its off-season the Hilton Hotel was quite reasonable, even got meals included, not drinks though for some reason, must of been our Kiwi passports.
16 February 2019
Busy day today, starts off with a brisk walk up town, discovered this delightful German eatery for breakfast (and Wi-Fi), followed by a supermarket stop, then return for a quick massage in our room, then off with Martin, Carole and Ellen for a scenic flight over the dunes and back up the shipwreck coast!
15 February 2019
Went fishing today in the Atlantic Ocean 👍 Went in a 6.8 Metre catamaran, along with the 2 Aussies and 3 crew. One Aussie, Di, was celebrating her birthday, the other was calling herself "a fishing virgin"!
The boat had 2 x Suzuki 150hp on, and the sea was just gentle swells. We tried south Swakamond first, but no bites, so went north in just 6-10 metres and straight away got bites. Started with the big Cob's then bream. It got quite exciting when a bronze whaler started wanting to eat our catches! The catch will feed our team tomorrow night, time to teach Dan some filetting and cooking lessons!
14 February 2019
Left Spitzkoppe after another stunning sunrise over the desert. The drive out was interesting in that as we got lower the air turned foggy and quite dull. This compared to the crystal -clear air when we left was quite a contrast. It's real desert here, it's a wonder anything can survive. A quick visit to Cape Cod seal colony, the largest in Africa, then lunch at a shipwreck on the Skelton Coast. This ship was being towed when it mysteriously broke loose and beached. It was unfit to even be towed in the first place so was just abandoned. Then a short drive to Swakamond where we visited an activity center to book activities, then on to our accommodations. Sharing a 2-room chalet with Michelle and Martin, who has broken a bone in his heel after jumping off a high rock in Spitzkoffe!
13 February 2019
Travel day today, leaving Etosha National Park to Spitzkoppe. Leaving the park after a stunning sunrise we came across a wounded lion, which we reported to the Rangers, who contacted a vet and headed to try and find him. We passed thru a quaint little town with definate German architecture and I brought some Biltong to try, only 2 types on offer, a dry and a moist. Then into the desert, arrived at 3, then I joined a walking tour to some cave paintings. Then dinner, watch the sunset, fireside drinkies and then bed. It was anticipated to be a chilly evening, and the cold arrived right on sunset! The tent was warm from the heat of the day in the sand and during the night Lesley actually thought she was too warm at times. I was fine and stayed up late just soaking up the clear night sky and the beautiful Milky Way.
12 February 2019
"It's a truck, not a bus"
Up before dawn..had a shower in the dark, no lights working but a nice hot shower! Then a full day game drive thru the Etosha National Park. This is a dry, arid desert, with a massive (4400 Sq km) dry pan. In the wet season parts do retain water but it's so vast it's impressive even as a desert. We've seen Lions. Rhino, Ostrich, Giraffe, Hyena, red antelope, onyx, springbok, secretary birds, Cory bustards, zebra. Had lunch at a govt wildlife camping site that was enormous, could easily sleep a thousand campers although there were chalets, a pool even. In the evening we visited the flood-lit watering hole, for sunset and again later, when and blow me down if there wasn't a great big bull elephant there! Such a lovely sight, and although I didn't photograph it it is still a good memory.
11 February 2019
Left "Roys Place", with its quirky metal work and interesting details (like the metal pan wash basin, and sheet metal signs) and passed through Grootfontein ( a little disappointed..I was expecting much more colonial buildings and heritage atmosphere when it was actually a run-down sort of town), thru to an early lunchstop for supplies for the truck (and for us, where did all the beer go?) before a game drive on route to our overnight stop in Etosha National Park. Although others did an additional night game drive, we decided to just visit the game- viewing floodlit nightviewing area. Although I only saw a couple of birds, the scenery and sunset were stunning.
10 February 2019
Very fortunate to meet the San Bushman today at the "Living museum" where their culture and customs are kept alive. Very tough time for these folk as the Government stopped them hunting in the game parks in 2004, so traditional methods of gathering meat e.g snaring and poison bow and arrow shooting are no longer available. Crops don't work either as rain in the desert is unreliable. I helped them out by purchasing a bow and arrow...hope customs in N.Z will let me keep it!
9 February 2019
Off to Grootfontein. An easy start today, last minute Wi-Fi session then off about 7.30. Bit tired as the tent wasn't flat and I slept with my head too low. Never mind, 7 hour drive to nap 😊💤.
First stop in Rundu for supplies for the truck (and cash, drinks and snacks for us). The interesting thing about Namibia is the use of cheap corrugated iron as building material. It must be SO hot to live with in a desert environment. I guess the price and speed of construction are influencing factors. Lunch at KFC, arrived at camp nice and early at 2.30pm. The camp is awesome, nice showers and loo's, but it is our 50th night away so have decided to upgrade.
8 February 2019
Back on the mikoro's to the truck and heading back to Bagani Namibia to the same camp as Tuesday. Drive back uneventful but I must tell you about the ferry. It has 2 x 150 hp mercury outboards as bow thrusters, but on the Stern. one on each side with a driver for each in a cab, the way they are set up they could turn 360 deg. Quite a neat set up. Border crossing was so easy so we are having a lazy afternoon, most in the pool. No river swimming too full of crocodiles.
7 February 2019
Up with the birds and hippos singing, had breakfast then off for a walk around the island before it gets too hot. Our guide was telling us about termites, the plants used for medicinal for themselves and their animals cows, donkeys and goats. How you can tell the age and sex of an elephant by its droppings. Very enlightening. Back to the camp take down tents and into the mikoro's to go back to the truck for a change of clothes to take to the next island. Back into the boats and off through this beautiful different landscape, so peaceful. The next island well this is what you call glamping full size tents, ours with a double bed, communal hot showers but you only want a cold one, bar, darts, volleyball court, board games, cards, so after shower, and a nice nap on my bed, off to the bar for cards until dinner, a clear starry night watching satellites. A hot night listening, fell asleep listening to hippos grunting and frogs croaking to each other!
6 February 2019
Destination today Okavango Delta Botswana for two nights. No wifi in this bush. Back to another border crossing to leave Namibia and enter Botswana again, first ones there and done and dusted in 1/2 hour. Next to the Okavango river for a ferry crossing taking 1/4 hour Ferry big enough for the truck and one car and passengers. We are doing well no waiting here either so we are really early. The highway changes to a two way corrugated dirt road and the African massage begins. Soon had a broken window. Pulled over to clean up the mess, then got bogged in the sand trying to resume the journey! Dig dig dig, no good. Eventually pulled out by a passing lorry. Finally get to the Delta had lunch then on to the 2 seater dugout canoes called mikoro's pushed by a person with a long pole. made of fibre glass (not tree trunks because of conservation efforts by the government). It's pretty cool floating through the water through all the water lilies listening to the hippos, birds skimming the water.
5 February 2019
Up at 4.15 for an early start to cross the border into Namibia, driving through the park to the border we saw giraffe, warthogs, elephants and baboons on the side of the road but more amazing was a large male lion crossing the road then stops looks straight at us, can see it thinking what is that. So cool! Got to the border just as it was opening, no queues, and best of all no payment. Drove into a shopping centre for food and ATM then had to go to weigh bridge which we have done all the way down with no problems, now all of a sudden we are overweight on the back axle by 1200 kg! We had to adjust the load a few times, still no good, eventually they called the boss who just adjusted the scale! Filled up with diesel, price for Petrol here 91c USD same in Botswana big difference to Zimbabwe. Nice camp on the river in Bagani, of course late arriving, so hot shower, dinner a few drinks then bed.
4 February 2019
6.00 an Morning game drive in Chobe national park for 3 hours, not as exciting as some we have had but still nice. Have a family of wort hogs wondering around our camp site and large monitors (big water lizards)on the river side. In the afternoon we took a river cruise, saw elephants,crocodiles,Buffalo,and got chased by an angry hippo who was protecting her calf!
3 February 2019
Off to a wild game refuge park before heading to Botswana. The border is half an hour away and what a breeze, no visas needed for any of us, so no money paid. Off to a supermarket for supplies and not USD it's Botswana pula and yes everything is heaps cheaper but unfortunately it is Sunday and they do not sell liquor on a Sunday lucky we have a bar that does. Chobe River Resort 5 star accommodation and thought we might upgrade to a room but at $195.00 USD a night we decided our trusty tent was all good. Watched the sun go down over the river.
2 February 2019
10am helicopter flight over the Falls so got nearly 30 minutes and that was well worth upgrading to. Beautiful clear day the Falls were majestic, down the canyons following the Zambezi river then over the park, looking down on hippos in the water, also feeding on the grass, giraffe, elephants and the rest, such a different prospective. Then it was off for a massage for me while Peter travelled over to Zambia for his micro light flight. Immigration visa for Zambia $30 and then returning to Zimbabwe $20.00
We were meeting up at an old hotel of course Victoria Falls Hotel, built 1904. So sitting having a g & t on the verandah, next minute I hear micro light engine look up and yes it is Peter, told the pilot I was waiting there for him so they buzzed the hotel. Definitely not on the flight plan, wrong country. Peter throughly enjoyed the experience even got to have a drive. When he arrived we watched the sun go down while having a lovely meal. Walked back to the camp to have a night cap.
1 February 2019
Day to ourselves so 8.30 to walk down to the Falls before it gets too hot and what a magnificent sight! Spray coming up from 107metres below, slightly wet but lovely and warm, wandering through all the paths to the view points, rainbows everywhere. Niagara Falls have the most volume, Iguacu Falls are the widest and Victoria falls are the highest. Now done 2 out of 3😊 Walked down to the end, then back again 4 hours. As the day heated up the mist decreased so no rainbows, walked back to the cafe for a well earned beer. Next walked a couple of km's to the Zimbabwe/ Zambia border which are joined by a bridge built in 1904 by Cecil Rhodes for vehicles and railway.
Here we go, immigration, get a stamped piece of paper, no fee as we are not staying in Zambia, and proceed onto the bridge to look down the Zambezi river and back to a small portion of the falls. Walked back to town to cafe for lunch and drinks, sweat running off us. 16.2 kilometers. Good effort in 39 C! Met the new team tonight
31 January 2019
Arlo's birthday, Happy Birthday Arlo! Great to get pictures from home of his big day!
Off to Victoria Falls. Up early for a long drive and arrived about 3pm. Stopped at the activity centre to get an introduction and view what was available for a price. No bond used here all USD a total tourist town. Decided as it was so hot 37 Deg we would check out the pool and gave a lazy afternoon before going for diner with whole group as this was the end destination for 8. Went to a restaurant which served game meat not sure how legal it is but most restaurants have it on the menu. Peter had giraffe ribs and they were quite something in size. Others had crocodile and warthog. Nice meal but more expensive than we are use to paying. Good evening with everyone. The only sound during the night was the water running over the Falls.
30 January 2019
Off at 9.00 for a drive into Matobos national park with Kurt. Parked up and climbed this rock mountain with a fantastic view over the Plains, found a mother, her calf and a small male, Another larger male resting under a tree and a smaller one in the distance. So off down the hill and walk upto about 10 metres away from the mother group as they are eating and then lying down in the shade. Stayed about 20 minutes then onto the large male about 3 ton in weight, Wilderbeast and impala all around us it was unreal being on foot and so close to these amazing animals. Carried on to the caves, walking on the track monkeys swinging in the trees above us so natural, got to the granite rock and had to climb up quite vertical, Peter kept going. The paintings are 20,000 years old. Then we watched the sunset over the hills where Cecil Rhodes is buried "on top of the World".
29 January 2019
Drove through to Bulawyo 2nd biggest city in Zimbabwe and what a lovely city with its more colonial styled buildings, given 3 hours to wonder around and have lunch. Spilt up, we went with Michelle, Dominic, and Martin had a guide book and as they like to walk and see the sites, we went with them. Found the fruit and vegetable markets taking up both sides of a back street leaving just enough room for a truck to slowly drive through. What an array of produce, lovely and fresh, except for the caterpillars that they turn inside out and then roast. Next off through the 3 parks on the map. First one just a soccer pitch of dust with guys playing a game in 33deg. Next on just grass leading to a memorial but the third with a rotunda, well kept gardens and walkways. So pleasant and cooler walking through under the trees and purple bougainvilleas. Then back into town to a Cafe recommended from the lonely planet planet guide for lunch.
28 January 2019
Not leaving till 7.00am so set the alarm for 5.30am but just after 2.30 this rooster that was right beside our tent decided it was time to wake-up. It wasn't even day break and continued every half hour. Just wanted to wring it's neck. Peter was twitching in bed then all of a sudden jumps up turns on his head lamp to find we had been invaded by ants on his side, so 4.00am we are out of the tent trying to get rid of them from our sleeping equipment. Luckily they had not got into any back packs with our clothes in. One other tent had been invaded as well. A great start for the day but have learnt to have naps on the truck. Staying at Malvingo at a place called Norma Jean's lodge, lovely place over looking a lake. Went to a UNESCO world heritage site, The Great Zimbabwe Ruins number 5 in the world for size. The fortified village of the kings of the 14th through to 18th century of Central Africa.
27 January 2019
Alarm set for 4.30am but we were both a wake at 4.15am. Off to Harare the capital of Zimbabwe, another border crossing. On the way we saw a fertiliser truck and trailer unit that had rolled over on one corners on a hill, what a mess. Made good time to the border and it was reasonably painless, all done and on the move again in 3/4 hour. These crops are definitely done by machine. Many very large grain silos with the railway going to them along the road. This is also the bumpiest main road we have been on. Many of the rural houses are the traditional circular concrete/ mud body with high coned brush roof. Arrived Harare 3.00pm so stopped for an hour and a half, wondering around the town centre but as it was Sunday not a lot open. Big variety of architecture. Petrol went from under $2.00 USD to $3.31 USD or $4.84 NZ for a litre over night by the government. Now we know why we have enough diesel on board for the drive through this country. Stayed up late playing cards.
26 January 2019
Camp was beside a main road so heard traffic mainly trucks most of the night, really notice the difference to the last two nights with the animals. Just driving most of the day through the countryside, green with mixture of crops and bush. Stopped at Lusaka for a couple of hours in a shopping mall. Dan wanted to get enough food for most of the week ahead. We also went to the supermarket and stocked up on refreshments and snacks, 1lt rum 4 bottles of wine 18 cans beer 4 lite Pepsi nuts corn chips all for under $90.00 a lot cheaper here than in Zimbabwe also after last weeks protests not a lot is in their shops. Also stopped at the service station filled the truck up with diesel and also 10 20 litre containers as that’s also in short supply. Stayed at a public camp just on the out skirts of town, it has zebra, and impala wondering around the grounds. 8.30 to bed.
25 January 2019
Breakfast not till 8.30 Yay! Sleep in!
Well that didn’t happen, rained during the night and at day break the baboons were chatting and jumping around in the trees above us. Drops of water and leaves hitting the tents. They are so naughty and loud, consequently all were up showered and ready for breakfast by 7.00am, only problem was our cook Dan had slept in a room so having missed all the fun and games didn’t get up till after 7.00. As we aren’t leaving till after lunch we were back in the pool by 9.30 for another lesson. Using the rubber ball that was bought in Malawi for flotation, works really well. On the drive down saw goats climbing in the trees just like in Morocco but they weren’t staged, they were actually eating.
Drove 5 hours to Petauke with a stop at Chipata for supplies, nice place but no pool or bar, only a place to stay and break the journey on our way to the Capital Lusaka home for 2 million people
24 January 2019
Up at 5.00 had coffee watching the sunrise over the river in Croc Valley, South Luangwa and yes it is full of crocodiles and hippos. Set our tents up last night allowing at least a metre apart to allow the hippos and elephants to pass through to their feeding ground of grass. Animal calls all night sounding so close ,much better than vehicles noises. Baboons and monkeys everywhere leaving us alone but if you leave the truck door open they are in for any food they can find. Lost some biscuits this morning. Bush bucks feeding on the grass around the camp. Off for a game drive at 6.00 in a 15 seated open sided 4x4 that had no reverse gear, saw a bull elephant who came up close and personal to the vehicle, scary and awesome, saw a leopard with her cub, many different large birds, zebra, gazelle, impala, a couple of giraffes, crocodile and hippos in the water. Back to camp for brunch and a swim in the pool. We had an excellent night game drive, we even saw a pride of lions eating a buffalo!
23 January 2019
On the road by 6.00am heading to the Zambian border. Great to speak with Allan and Dad on messenger this morning! As we get closer to the border the land is flat and crops galore, tobacco and maize. Petrol $1.75 a litre. Lovely people lovely country.
So easy to leave the country only 10 minutes and we all have our exit stamps, walk 100 metres for Zambia customs and with in 25 minutes our passports are stamped and we are all legal. What a difference a border makes, as soon as we drive into the town Chiara Zambia, the houses are so much better built with large sections but surrounded by 6 foot high block walls with barb wire or broken glass on top. Yes there is more money but obviously more crime. Staying in South Luangwa National park for the next two nights.
22 January 2019
Sleep in till 7.30, breakfast at 8.00, yet another beautiful sunny day. No traveling today, had options of scuba diving, snorkeling, or village walk. Peter asked about fishing, so a local volunteered to take us so we opted for the fishing in the afternoon. Spent the morning catching up on the washing, and reading our books on our deck hiding from the sun. In our room there was a list of do' s and don't, one making us aware that some rivers have crocodiles in them, and they sometimes enter the lake at night, also there maybe a parasite in the water, so it is advised that you shower as soon as you finish swimming. Put me off completely. Our afternoon fishing trip was an experience, into an open boat made of teak by a local joiner, takes a month to build, can hold 8, off we set, Peter, Martin and I with 3 local guys paddling out to the island which is 800 metres off the beach. Peter and Martin sitting in the middle having turns with a paddle and I sat behind with one of the locals.
21 January 2019
Allowed to sleep in till 6.30 but as it gets light around 6.00 every one is up before this. Lucky because we just got all the tents packed away and it started to spit. Nice temperature 26 Deg. On the road again crops have changed to maize and their main export crop, tobacco. Rolling country side, with bush on the sides of the hills in the distance. Rubber trees being milked which we stopped at to show those who have not seen them before then out of the bush all these teenagers turn up with rubber balls to sell. Following lake Malawi down to our next stop. The lake covers 1/5th of the country. 85% of the people live in rural areas, farming. Stopped in the city of Mzuzu at shoprite supermarket for snacks and drinks, South Africa wine a bit dearer $ 15.00 but beer $1.00 a bottle. One thing we noticed was how many sky dishes were attached to houses, far more than we saw in the other 3 countries. Arrived Kande Beach in time for lunch. Still drizzling so most decided to upgrade to rooms, $40
20 January 2019
The honeymoon is definitely over it is 4.00am wake-up breakfast and be on the road by 5.30am for a possibly 12 hour journey to cross the border into Malawi. Made the border by 2.00pm. Line up to get leaving stamp from Tanzania back into truck drive 200 metres than into the Malawi offices for our visa. No computers here 5 people on the desk pay $75.00 USD each. Met the money- changer on the bus. Finally arrived Chitmba on the shores of Lake Malawi at 5.30 (Tanzanian time 6.30) a very long travelling day but they have a bar and the drinks are even cheaper, so of course after a nice shower, that was where we all headed before tea. Tenting again to night.
19 January 2019
Nice lazy morning. When pulling our tent down we found that we had erected it on a termite nest, lots of red bugs on the ground cover, shows the tents are good as none inside. Humidity a lot lower but direct sun just makes you start sweating even at 8.00am. Headed off about 12.00 up further into the hills. Crops changing to corn, potatoes, tomatoes, capsicum even carrots, still a lot of bananas. Stayed in Iringa 1900 metres at a what they call a farmhouse, another with great facilities even though the toilets were long drops they were the flashest we have ever seen. Lovely temperature and no humidity.
18 January 2019
Yes the luxury is over, up at 5.00 to catch the 7.00am ferry from Zanzibar to mainland Tanzania. 8 hour drive to Mikumi Udzungzwa National Park to stay in grounds of Tanswiss lodge. About 900 metres above sea level Say bye to the tropical lush vegetation, over the Plains, and up into the hills. Fruit stalls on the side of the roads filled with pineapple, tomatoes, red onions, coconuts, paw paw, mangos so plentiful at the moment. Arrived about 5.30pm and back to our tent. Must say the toilets and showers are the best we have had, fairly new. There were so many frogs there making a noise, quite deafening but cute, bright orange with black stripes. The grass hoppers were a lime green and about 3 inches long. Slept well as not so hot. Organized our bus to Windhoek and 3 nights accommodation while we had good Wi-Fi
17 January 2019
Leaving the beach and back in Stone Town for the night before heading back to our truck and back to tenting. The last few days of luxury have been great. People are friendly food and drinks excellent, weather hot and humid (maybe a little too hot) but who cares, it great.
16 January 2019
Game Fishing! We had the skipper and a deck hand, lunch, snacks of filled buns, fresh watermelon and sodas. Peter had to supply his own beer which we bought the day before. Left at 7.00am, overcast but that made it a bit cooler, had showers for about 2 hours, sea slightly lumpy, but as the day progressed the sea flatten out and the sun came out. Awesome, trolled around the island between Tanzania and Zanzibar back out into the open sea. Saw birds diving, fish jumping out of the water and larger ones trying to catch them but the most spectacular site was the sail fish jumping across the water at the end of one of our lines. Peter was so so happy and managed to reel it in to the boat and photos galore. About 30 kilos and oh so pretty. As it was the only hook up I didn't get to play any fish but I did get to wind in some of the rods. It was so nice to be finally on the water that I didn't care. We were the only boat that could raise our flag as we steamed back to port proudly.
15 January 2019
Leisurely start today. First up a spice tour at 9.00 am. That was fun, with a guide plus a nice man collecting samples and making hats, bags etc. from natural materials. Then off to the beach at the Northern end of Zanzibar. Absolutely stunning white sand, beautiful blue warm water, hotter than our pool, fantastic accommodation, restaurant and bar on the beach, prices really cheap for both. Cocktails while watching the sun go down. Stayed in the shade most of the afternoon as it must be nearly 40deg no wind and still that humidity. Dinner Pete and I shared a seafood platter with lobster calimari octopus king prawns grilled fish and chips with a pizza for starters between 3 of us. Food is so good no diets here. All that for $40.00 and it was the dearest meal on the menu.
14 January 2019
Sweated all night so up before 5 for another cold shower, breakfast then driven to a local ferry to cross the port to our ferry to Zanzibar. Those 11 who were finishing the trip in Zanzibar had to physically carry all their luggage, us 7 who are carrying on only had to pack for 4 days, so only back packs for us to carry. Some travelers need a lesson in economy packing as we had to carry some of theirs! Off the local ferry and then a 2 km hike in this heat to the next ferry. And believe me it was so hot and humid. Lost a few kilos in sweat. On our way to the hotel we pass the home of Freddie Mercury from the band Queen. We did a walking tour and finished off with dinner at Fredies seafood restaurant. Meet up with the six other travellers who will be with us for our journey down to Victoria falls. 2 from England but the husband grew up in Zimbabwe and moved when he was 16, 2 from Germany 1 Aussie and a Kiwi from Wellington.
13 January 2019
Up at 5.15 and traveling south on our way to Dar Es Salaam for the night. Feeling really good after a day of total relaxation and massage. Drove down the hill and onto the Plains and noticed the hot temperature change. Scenery change, we now have sisal (looks like a huge pineapple plant but is used in making twine) and orange trees. Long hot drive but staying at the beach tonight which feels like a 100% humidity with a strong breeze so the surf was up. Went for a cold shower as soon as we arrived so refreshing which lasted all of 5 minutes before the sweat started rolling down again. Oh well, was cool for those few minutes. The Swedish guy Martin has became an uncle, so proud, off to the bar for his shout, back to our tent, all flaps open we thought that would cool us off during the night (forgetting that the sand we were on was also hot) so we roasted all night!
11 January 2019
Big 9 hour drive today so up breakfast and gone by 6.00am. The landscape has changed from the semi fertile land to basic barren scrubbie plains as we finally head up into the hills on a one and half lane road, stopping to let the trucks pass. Been a long hot drive and can feel the difference in temperature as we climb to our two nights stop at the Lawns hotel Lushoto. Built by the Germans in 1914, in fact the road and many of the buildings were built then by them. Lovely place and yes have upgraded again. Funny but only place we have encountered mosquitoes. In fact there are only two tents up tonight as most have upgraded. It's been a long hot and dusty few days. I think we deserved the treat.
Loving the picture of Quinn sent to me today.
10 January 2019
Up at 5.00, really am getting to see all these sunrises and waking before the alarm goes off. Pack up tent, breakfast and on our way by 7.00ish. Game drive as we leave and finally saw our cheetahs. Two males just wandering through the grass. Such magnificent animals, just like a thorough-bred horse, all sleek with hind quarters of muscle, can see the power in them. Saw a family of hyena eating their kill so cute looking until you look through the binoculars and see their faces. Stopped on the way at top of Ngorongoro Crater for a photo as it was a better view than when we passed in the morning two days before, got in to Mto Wa Bu about 3pm, then a village walk and local dinner.
9 January 2019
Up at 4.45am for Peters balloon ride pick up at 5.30. Such a restful holiday. I was on the early morning game drive leaving at 6.30 just as the sun was coming up. Bit cooler in the mornings had to put a cardie on as the pop tops up but at least it was a nice slow drive, stopping often to watch the animals. Also saw Peters balloon take off and pass right over the top of us, saw the burners being used, it was so cool to watch.
Zarnie has brilliant eyesight and she found for us a lion lying in a tree with the rest of the pride with young Cubs on the rocks. What a sight, wouldn't think they can be such killers of young animals. Her partner Chris is great at naming all the birds we are seeing. Not that I remember any of the names. Great time of the day as its cooler and the animals are more active. Picked up Peter and the other two at 10am and as you can imagine they were hyped up with what they saw from above. Massive herd of water buffalo being stalked by a pride of 7 lion's etc. etc.
8 January 2019
Today we transfer from our truck to 4 x 4 for game drives through Ngorongoro Crater on our way to the Serengeti for 2 nights. Tents down and loaded in another 4 x 4 truck with our food and cook. Our vehicle was a Toyota land cruiser long wheel base , six seater in the back was Leanne, Peter, Zarnie, Chris from Australia and us. We all went to Uganda together so we were ready early but because we had our guide Erella with us we had to wait so once again late leaving. One thing about this vehicle was that they had given us all extra cushions to sit on. Found out why later in the day. An hours drive to the Crater gates but one of our vehicles got a puncture so had a 40 minute wait for them. Down into the Crater and the 4 x 4 come into their own. Roads of clay and rock but the Crater is just as beautiful as I remember.
7 January 2019
11 new Travellers with us on this trip to make 18 in total. Same sort of truck but definitely newer with a bit better suspension. Our guide is called Erella and he will be with us all the rest of our trip. He likes to talk a lot but seems quite soft as we left 20 minutes late, not like our last guide who had us ready to leave at least 10 minutes early. Drove down to Kenya Tanzanian border which was better time wise than the Ugandan one but still had to line up and depart Kenya move to next queue arrive Tanzania pay $50 USD each move to next queue for your visa. An hour later we are all done, walk back to truck which is still parked on the Kenyan side then drive straight through to Tanzania. The roads are all tarsealed not dirt. Country side has changed with a lot more fences along the roadside and did not see as many wild animals, also a lot less rubbish. Took most of the day to get to our camp site which was in hotel grounds in the town of Mto Wa Mbu. A new cook, the food was great.
6 January 2019
Final day for this tour
Up at 5.00 for our drive back to Nairobi. As we drive down, the landscape gets dryer and browner. We will have traveled 2400 kilometers in the truck (plus all the other vehicles). Only used my vicks inhaler for two toilets in Uganda, and none so far in Kenya, better than Tibet and 99% have been flush ones, not the hole in the ground, and most even have had toilet paper, though soap is hard to find, and air drying is the norm for your hands. While traveling we have a break every 2 to 3 hours.It has been great.
Tonight we have a 6.00pm briefing for our next tour group. There are 7 of us carrying on from this one to Zanzibar. Yay, hotel room tonight! Catch up on the washing and generally have a restful afternoon.
5 January 2019
6.00am up to have breakfast and make our lunch as we had a full day game driving. Back in our 4x4 at 7.00am, another beautiful stunning day and we are off. By 11am we had seen two cheetahs, one running with its kill (a small impala), a leopard, families of giraffe, elephants, herds of impala, Thompsons gazelle, torpai, water buffalo, wort hogs, zebra all with an average of 3 month old babies. As far as the eye can see it is really green, the grass is quite long with small white and yellow flowers sprinkled through out, very pretty. January is the start of the dry season, February being the hottest months. Think we timed this well. Sat under a tree for lunch with all these animals around us, so cool. After lunch we found the hippopotamus and crocodiles down at the Mara river. Saw one of the crossings the wildebeest use when they migrate from the Serengiti in the rainy season. Could see and hear the voice of David Attenborough from one of his documentaries..."The migration has started"
4 January 2019
Off to the Maasai Mara, stop at a Maasai village for a tour then arriving in time for a 2 hour afternoon game drive. Transfered to four 4x4, 6 of us in our landrover and off we went. Saw gazelle, black rhino in the distance, a python wrapped around its kill (a Steen bok which is like a very small deer), if something that big can hide in the grass I know I am not getting out of the truck! 2 lions sunning themselves, warthogs. Excellent way to end the day.
Camp fire tonight.
3 January 2019
Back in Kenya and stayed the night at a tea plantation owned by Unilever. It is where they pick for their Lipton tea brand. Had an upgrade as we had a 6.00am start next , also was ready for my own hot shower, toilet and a bed. Had a tour of the tea plantation. Guide said the security guards caught the neighbors picking their tea at night and shot one of them dead. The neighbors retaliated by burning a section of tea plants. Well not sure what we expected of Uganda but it was green lush tropical and really pleasant. The Kenyans call it the food basket country and can see why with all the crops that they grow. The paw paw, mangos, watermelon and pineapple were juicy and sweet as. Obviously in the cities you would have the poor, but in the rural areas everyone is well feed. Mainly long horn cattle (males horns can grow up to 2 feet long) goats and chicken, the meats available cheap and plentiful. All people we meet were lovely and inquisitive about our country, education is widespread.
2 January 2019
Sleep in but Peter up at 7.00am to go white water rafting, me catching up on the washing and having a day by the pool reading my book. Haven't read a page since Nairobi. Later we went on a sunset cruise around Lake Victoria which they say is the source of the Nile and second largest in the world. Lots of fishing done on the lake, not sure what they catch, never got close enough to see the species. Very pleasant looking for birds, snakes and saw a large monitor lizard. Watched the sun go down, really nice way to finish the day.
1 January 2019
Long drive to Jinja to camp in hotel grounds. On the same road so nothing new to see. Had rain for 3 hours driving, found out the truck is not completely water proof. In bed by 10 music continued until 12.00.
31 December 2018
New years eve another beautiful sunny day and we drove to Mbarara to either upgrade or tent in hotel grounds. Reaching there about 2.00pm 35 Deg we decided to continue tenting, some upgraded to the hotel and seeing their rooms it is as good as the Langham in Auckland real 5 star! We get swimming pool, beautiful grounds, with a massive marquee set up for a new years eve party. Tea at 7.00pm then most of us went to the bar for another drink. The young ones were on tequila shots but us two went off to bed by 10.00. Fast asleep and then at midnight they had a fireworks display, the band in the marquee finished about 3 but the party on the other side of us was still going when we got up at 5.45. All in all a pretty good sleep for all the noise around us. Only one of the girls not feeling well today. It was just what we all needed after our trek and surprise surprise no sore muscles at all! Got a lovely picture of the grandkids having a picnic at Nic's place sent to me 👍😊
30 December 2018
Up at 5.00 to leave at 6.00 for our Gorilla trek. After a 2 hour drive on a dirt track rough road we made it to the 8.00 briefing. Only allowed groups of eight with a guide and two Rangers one in front and one last who carry guns, but told we will only fire into the air if you are in any danger from animal's in the park eg elephants. Given a nice strong walking stick and then we are asked who would like to have a porter to carry your day pack and help you with the trek for $15.00 USD. Both Peter and I got one each, both were students saving for their schooling. The boys porter one day per month each to share the pay around the village. The gorillas were hard for the trackers to find today, but we eventually met up with a family. It's hard to believe we were about 2 metres from these huge wild animals that tolerate your brief presence. If you got between adult gorillas and their children you better watch out though! Another group got charged by the male 4 times (slow learners I say!).
29 December 2018
Kisoro is 10 km from borders of both the Congo and Rwanda. There are 3 mountains, the highest 5200 metres which can have snow at the top. Takes 8 hours to climb, the second highest is swampy so no one really climbs it and the third, at the top has the 3 borders Uganda, Congo and Rwanda. We are splitting up today, Peter is off to Rwanda at 6.00am with 5 others to the capital Kagasi to the genocide museum, markets and lunch at a hotel. Had to go through the border, visas cost $30.00 USD to get into Rwanda and another $50.00 USD to come back to Uganda. When they cross the border there is an hour time difference and it is national Clean up day, all but the hotel didn't open till 2.00pm. What an excuse to spend 2 hours drink! Was a long day for that group not arriving back till 7.00pm.
He said it was amazingly clean and tidy in Rwanda. The museum was moving and educational.
Was good to catch up on the washing but this lovely Ugandan named Peter said he would do it all for $4.00 USD 👍
28 December 2018
Up at 6.00 breakfast packed up and on the road by 7.30. Another game drive through the park saw a lot of bull elephants and not a lot else.
Back on the highway with more and more banana plantations. Last night for tea we had green bananas cooked and mashed up like potatoes. Tasted okay too. More tea plantations then started to rain for the next 3 hours of driving, and the bus is full of leaks! Still warm, 25deg. The terrain is long valley's and terraced green hills, roads are windy with the highest hill being 2350 metres, the houses are fairly new, brick and tin roofed larger than the older ones which are made from mud bricks. Finally arrived in Kisoro for the next 3 nights.
27 December 2018
Packed up and off to Queen Elizabeth National Park about 2hours away, driving through huge banana and tea plantations. Came to the end of the hills and stretched out as far as you could see is the park with a river running into two lakes (George and Edward). Had a river cruise, saw many groups of hippopotamus wallowing in the water, a crocodile sunning itself right next to one group, wart hogs drinking and most spectacular a family of elephants drinking and washing themselves, one of our boats got too close so we heard the trumpet and saw the ears flapping furiously by the boss, warning them to move away (As elephants can swim, they did!) In the distance the clouds were darkening and next minute we were hit with the wind and then a massive downpour which lasted probably 1/2 hour as we came to the boat ramp. Consequently saturated as we raced back to the truck. Lucky it is warm and dried pretty quickly. We had a game drive to our camp site thru lush landscape, beautiful.
26 December 2018
Boxing day, our wedding anniversary.
Up at 5.00am to depart for a 2 hour drive to the equator where we stopped to have our breakfast of sausages and French toast and photos with the equator sign. Another lovely warm day 35deg. Big drive through to Kampala, the roads are good. Stop off at a supermarket, walked in and a lovely young girl grabs a basket for us and carries it and our shopping for us. Petrol $1.71 diesel $1.55 a litre. Vegetables our cook buys off the locals on the side of the road and as they are so plentiful they are cheap. Stayed in a camp (yes back in the tent) and to be quite honest our duvalays and self inflating mattress are softer than the last two beds we slept in! Basic facilities, cold showers, long drop toilet with baboons all around us in the trees. No lights so the stars are amazingly bright. 9.15 bed time.
25 December 2018
Packed up and on the road by 6.20 after scrambled eggs for breakfast.
Long drive to Ugandan border through sugar cane country. Not like Australia, no little train to take product to the factory, labour is cheap.
Made the border in good time with few people waiting so line up and get exit visit from Kenya walk, a metre across the room for entry visa to Uganda. Six of us had paid our visa on line so had to go to the next window. The computer wouldn't print so the lovely immigration man started to panic. Linda, one of our group who's computer literate, goes behind the counter to help him. Ended up with 3 of our lot behind the counter trying to help. Finally after 2 hours and Linda's help we got our visas. We got the biggest smiles from him when he had achieved each one.
A long drive today reaching Kampala at 5.45pm but yay we stay in hotel tonight, with hot showers, so spoilt again. Uganda is tropical, today's temperature 33deg, once again very fertile, sugar cane etc.
24 December 2018
Packed up and off by 7.45 for another game drive thru the park, so full of animals..stunning, never saw any lions though. No elephants as the park is not big enough for them to roam. Amazing encounter with the white rhino this morning. 3 large males right beside the truck, so close you can see the tremendous muscle mass they're made of and 100 metres away a mother and baby lying side by side, so adorable and Peters favorite a large family of the Rothschild giraffe.
Left the park and started making our way to Eldoret stopped for lunch then we got taken to the supermarket for more nibbles as they won't be open Christmas day. Bought a 5 litre water for $1.80 lot cheaper than New Zealand and an Australian red wine for $8.15 (at home would be $12 to $15.00). Good score for Christmas dinner!
23 December 2018
Lovely 25 Deg fine. Walked from our hotel into town 3 km each way pass the embassies, police station and churches. Safe to walk around during the day but wouldn't after dark. What a difference to last time we were here, so clean, no plastic bags allowed into the country, obviously a lot more money around too. Will be interesting out of the cities.
The traditional meat meal for Christmas lunch is goat cooked whole, not turkey and ham like us.
Petrol and diesel just over $1.50 a litre. Had two lazy days reading books, enjoying the hotel bar and 1 more walk into town on Saturday 22nd. Not so many people or traffic as it's the weekend.
Meet our group of 22 tonight. 2 from Scotland, 2 Singapore, 2 Canada, rest from Australia. Various ages but I think I am the oldest. Early start in the morning to travel to our first camp site. Need my beauty sleep. Nice to see Sean and Alyssa arrived in the USA safe and sound 👍
21 December 2018
A few days in Nairobi, waiting to join our tour. We spent the time walking around the city, very conscious of personal security at first, leaving my phone and camera behind and always home by dark. Just got basic supplies and did a bit of sightseeing and of course checked out the supermarket. Single use plastic bags are banned in Kenya, and I had to remove the plastic l had wrapped around our Duvalay's before they allowed me to exit the airport.
18 December 2018
Welcome to the desert! We start and finish in the sand, so decided to take a day tour around Qatar today. There is a trade embargo on Qatar as they are accused of aiding terrorism so they can't import freely, which doesn't seem to have affected them much. All the labour is done by outsiders who are provided with accommodation, health care and generous time off.
We were picked up from our hotel at 9.00am for a tour of the northern parts of Qatar. The country is a Peninsula of 185 km long and 80 km wide. Oil and gas are the exports. A population of 2.7 million people but only 300,000 native Qatari's (from 9 villages) who own all the land and every business has to have a Qatari as a sponsor consequently the natives are very wealthy indeed. Petrol 50 cents a litre, no taxes here.
As its winter the temperature is lovely and of course fine.
Traveling in style!
18th December 2018
Had a good 17-odd hour flight with Qatar Airlines to Doha, arriving just after one in the morning.
17 December 2018
Had a lovely send-off with a family Christmas lunch with Ross, Pepetia, Alex, Sean, Alyssa, Ma, Pa, David, Russell, Alofa, Lesley and I.
This was followed with a few drinkies (OK, maybe quite a few! 🍻🥃) and a late, late night at Russells house.