Kenya and Tanzania, February 2014 Part 4

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Although I love to travel and see new places, I do not like flying in small planes. But their is only 2 options to get to Zanzibar, fly or take a ferry. I opted to fly since it was faster. I flew Precision Air and it was not bad at all. Until I arrived in Zanzibar. There were 3 plane loads of Italians that did not understand the concept of queuing.  So I had to fight my way into something was looked like a line, only be skin to skin with people, because apparently it makes the line go faster? It was like 150 degrees and well it was a test of my travel patience. Being American, I needed to get a multiple entry Visa, which required me to have my picture taken. Well the immigration officer kept pointing to me and the camera, but some nice Italians felt they should not move, so my Visa picture is quite the beauty shot, mainly forward with a nice grimace.

I will not bore you with the details of trying to get my bag from baggage claim. Just imagine those same nice Italians not willing to move and this big  American acting like a linebacker because, well, she’s just about have had enough.

I was staying at the Doubletree Ngunwi, which is about 1 hour north of the airport. I had pre-arranged a driver and a tour of Stone Town before heading up to my hotel. My driver was a no-show, so I just ended up going directly to the hotel. I wish I had done the Stone Town tour, I was just too hot to think straight.

I was oh so happy to arrive at the hotel and just relax…….

 

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The next day was the Annual Turtle Release Day down the beach. It was interesting. There were local dancers. Funny enough I did not last until the release, because it was running on Africa time and after 3 hours I was hungry and hot.

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So something I was told with the Maasi, when they are courting a women they guy jumps for her, the one that jumps the highest gets the women. I am not sure if that is true, but these guys can sure jump.

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My time at the beach was too short. I had originally planned to take the ferry from Zanzibar to Dar Es Salaam, but given how easy the flight over was, I decided a 20 minute flight was better then a 2 hour ferry. Prior to going to the airport I asked the driver to give me a quick tour of Stone Town.  I wish I had more time.

I visited the Anglican Christ Church Cathedral, the site of the former Slave Market Site.

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To see the conditions of the Old Slave Market was interesting. To know that they survived being held in that space for 3 days before being put on ships across the ocean is just amazing. I did not spend as much time as I would have liked, but I hope to go back on day.

My flight back stateside was not until the next day, but I decided to head back to the mainland so I could just relax before heading home. I stayed at the Doubletree Dar Es Salaam. I was heading home the next day, so I figured it finally time to get some serious shopping in. I headed next door to the Slipway.  When I say next door, it was literally right next door, however, it was advised that I not walk over there alone.  I was not about to take a taxi 2 feet, so I took my changes. I ran like my pants were on fire, but I did it alone!

The Slipway was like a modern shopping area you would find just about anywhere in the world. I wondered around for a bit, before breaking down to have an ice cream. I then teased myself by looking at the beautiful tanzanite stones. One must dream right?  I ended up buying  just a few shirts and headed back to the hotel, because the heat was just too much for me.

I decided to go swimming, which was odd because I am pretty sure that water was heated.  But thank goodness I did, because I otherwise would not have met my new friends, Katy and Russell!  Kindred spirits! They were just finishing up a safari trip, and we started talking about all things wonderful, traveling and jewelry.  They had done safari near Arusha, where tanzanite is mined, and Katy was telling me about what she had found. I mentioned that I had been shopping looking at stones, but I could never imagine buying one.  (HA)

I blame the sun and lack of food on what transpired next. I decided to get be “normal” and have dinner in the restaurant. I went to the indoor one and they suggested I go out to the patio for surf and turf.  Well I was still off beef after safari and well I needed to be careful with fish because I was having a situation with shellfish. (Disclaimer: after this trip I finally saw a new allergist and yes I have shellfish allergy and I really should not eat fish). So I probably should have just said no to the surf and turf.  I head to the buffet and help myself to what appeared to be chicken with maybe pineapple. Really? Pineapple? I am not in Hawaii.

Well it was not chicken…….  I spit out whatever it was, but it was too late.

I think the worst part of the whole experience, I still had to pay for dinner!  The best part, it reminded me that life was meant to be lived and I should be thankful for every experience. Oh and that I really wanted some tanzanite!

I really enjoyed my trip to Kenya and Tanzania. I hope to get back one day.

Kenya and Tanzania February 2014, Part 2

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My arrival into Nairobi was uneventful. I had pre-arranged transportation from the Hilton Nairobi, so once I cleared customs, I was on my way to the hotel. It took over an hour, due to the traffic. It was Valentine Day’s and people were about celebrating. Even the lobby of the hotel was decorated.

The next morning it was time for Safari. I had booked with G Adventures for a 3 day 2 night trip to Amboseli in southern Kenya.  My safari guide picked me up and informed me that I was the only one booked for this trip.  And that they get excited to see Americans coming to Africa.

The drive to Amboseli took about 5 hours, on mostly paved roads, but some unpaved. We arrived at the Camp around lunch time. The words camp and tent, don’t mean the same on Safari as it does in the say the camping world. This was my “tent’IMG_0784

complete with electricity and running water.  first drive was that afternoon and upon arrival at the park, my guide had to purchase entry tickets. So I was alone in the safari vehicle. Prime target for the Masaii women selling their wares.

Safari’s are basically driving around parks looking for animals in the their natural habitat. Usually you go on a 2 drives a day, morning and afternoon. This is due to the high heat of afternoons. So basically your average safari day is get up, eat, drive or drive, eat and then back to lodge for lunch, nap, drive, eat, sleep repeat.  Me personally 4 days would be my max.  Some people prefer longer to be able to see everything. To each their own. You’ll get to the point where you won’t even bother with your camera, because if you see another gazelle you might start to go hunting yourself.

I choose Amboseli because it overlooked Mount Kilimanjaro.  Of course as luck would have it, it was cloudy most of the time I was there, so it was not visible.

On my 2nd day, after our afternoon siesta, we headed back to the park. As luck would have it upon entering, we spotted a lioness. It was odd because she was alone and they usually travel in pacts.  She kept looking back so my guide decided to drive towards where she was looking to see if we could spot her family.  We see another group of safari vehicle, cameras clicking away, and nope. They were snapping photos of the gazelle’s. I said they must be on their first drive.  So we drove back towards where we had seen the lion. And then I saw what could only be called nature at work.  A group of Masaii cows had gotten loose in the park. This is not normal. Normally the Masaii will walk with their cows to protect them. Something was off that 20 calves were roaming around. The lioness notices and starts looking around to spot the Masaii.  She does not see them, so off she goes to get herself some dinner.

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If your a beef eater, you may not want to watch these video’s. I am still not over it……

Funny enough while that was happening the clouds cleared and Kilimanjaro became visible.

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Overall safari was great. I liked it so much I am going again next year!

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Stayed tuned for Nairobi, Zanzibar and Dar Es Salaam…..