21.01.2012 - 29.01.2012 33 °C
Well we left Rwanda behind at 18:30 ... we are definitely going to miss it. Rwanda is such a beautiful country ... the people are so nice and it is so easy to get around. In hindsight, wish we had planned more time there but what can you do? We got back to Nairobi, Kenya at 21:00 and got a cab to our hotel. It turned out to be a little bit of an adventure because our cab driver didn't know where our hotel was even though I had a map to and he stopped for directions a few blocks away from our actual destination. He ended up having to call someone to give him the right directions. My mom was worried but I didn't think much of it. When we finally got to our hotel, the gate was locked so we were all a little worried but our cab driver knocked and someone can down to let us in. We had a shared triple room (one double bed and two single beds) ... it was a really nice room.
We got breakfast on the roof of our hotel the next morning ... it was delicious, the weather was great and the view was amazing!!! After breakfast we checked out and got a transfer to our next hotel (Kivi Milimani) where we were to meet up with our safari group at 18:00. We were surprised when they allowed us to check-in at 10:30am ... the hotel also had a pool so we spent the entire day lounging around the pool and laying in the sun. It was so hot that day and we had been so busy so it was a much needed rest day. We met up with our group at 18:00 ... there are 20 of us in total for the first leg of our journey (Nairobi - Vic Falls). Annie (Ireland), Sharde (England), Barry (England), John (Canada), Gen (Canada), Annie & Jay (Canada), Elise & Carl (Australia), Rish (New Zealand), John (Scotland), Kerri & Chris (Australia), Clara (Canada), Pete (England), Hiro (USA) ... I can't remember the others I've missed but there are two more lol. We are second youngest people on our trip and the oldest is Hiro (71) ... there are a lot of older people actually. I assumed most of the people would be our age or a little older or younger but most of them are much older than us. We had a group dinner together at our hotel and then retired to our rooms as we were all quite tired and wanted to get a good night's sleep before our journey the next day.
Left the hotel at 7am and headed for the Tanzanian border. My mom has already managed to lose something important. She lost her yellow fever certificate and all of her passport photos needed for our visas into some of the countries. She was super panicked and frantically emailed Brian to see if he could track down a new certificate for her and scan it and email it to her. Luckily, Seattle is 11 hours behind us because we were able to sort it out before Brian even got up this morning. When we got to the Tanzanian border she was able to pay $15USD for the them to give her a new certificate ... no problems. And she even got some passport photos done before we left Kenya. I have to admit she's lucky!! Since then, Louie and I have been carrying her important documents when they aren't locked in the safe. Once we got through the Tanzanian border we drove for a few more hours and stopped on the side of the road for lunch. We have to help with all of the meals so we are divided into 5 cooking groups. We have a cook with us on our truck and he does most of the cooking ... we just help with chopping the veggies and fruit and do the dishes afterwards. It's a pretty good deal because the food is awesome. Our cook, Mash, is amazing!! The food is typical healthy western food!! I am pretty sure I haven't lost any weight yet but I certainly haven't gained any either lol so that's good. After lunch we continued on our way to our campsite in Mto Wa Mbu. It was a pretty nice campsite ... we had hot water and flushing toilets !!! We had supper, pitched our tents, packed our day bags for the serengeti and showered up before hitting the sack. It had been a long day and we were pretty tired.
We got up this morning at 5:15 to pack up our tents and bags. We ate breakfast and then got into our six person jeeps and headed for the serengeti. We all thought we were only spending one night in the serengeti so we didn't pack any clothes the change into ... we were actually there for two nights so we ended up wearing the same sweaty, dirty clothes for three days!! It was quite gross ... at least we got to shower at the end of every day lol. We stopped at the top of the Ngorongoro crater to take some pictures of the view ... it was so beautiful !! Then we drove down into the crater and did a 3 hour game drive through it. We saw lions right on the road, wildebeest, zebra, water buffalo, Thomson gazelle, rhino, elephant and a bunch of other animals. It was pretty amazing to see them all up close!! After our game drive we headed for the serengeti. It took a long time to get there but we had some pretty good views along the way. We pitched our tents for the night and pretty much went straight to bed after our shower.
Got up at 4:45 this morning for our hot air balloon safari. It was really cold out so Louie and I froze because we didn't have any pants to wear. The balloon ride was pretty cool but we didn't see much wildlife ... mostly hippos and hyenas!! The view was beautiful and the breakfast was delicious but we didn't think it was worth $560 each. Oh well ... it was a good experience. Glad we did it!! After the balloon safari our group picked us up and we went on another 2 hour game drive. Saw a herd of elephants walking just behind our jeeps. They are huge and beautiful creatures. Then we went back to our campsite for lunch and then headed for another game drive in the afternoon. Spent one more night in the serengeti and did a short game drive on our way out of the park. Had lunch in Mto Wa Mbu at a local backcountry
"restaurant" ... they had a bunch of local food that we all got to try. Amazingly I found enough food I enjoyed lol!! It was so hot today that we opted out of the banana plantation tour and headed back to the campsite to shower and pack up before heading to Arusha to our next campsite. We stayed at Snake Park Campground and had another arranged meal for us when we got there. It was sooo good!!
Up early again to pack up our tent and bags. We had breakfast and then checked out all of the snakes and crocodiles behind our campsites before hitting the road again. We drove into Arusha to do a bit of shopping. Mom and I bought a tanzanite stone each that we will put into a setting when we get home. Then we drove to Marangu ... Louie and I upgraded to a hotel room as we knew we had a long driving day the next day and wanted to make sure we got a good night's sleep. We paid $30 for our room and it was really nice. We slept great. Mom went on a waterfall hike with a few other people from our group but Louie and I stayed back to go swimming in the pool. We had supper and then walked to a backwoods "bar" to try some banana beer and wine ... they were both gross!!! But we can now say we tried it !! Mom came back to our room to have a bath in our tub and then Louie and I showered and went to bed.
Up before sunrise today because we had a 12.5 hour drive to Dar Es Salaam .... it was such a long day. The truck was progressively getting hotter as we got closer to the coast as the humidity got higher. Our campsite in Dar was right on the beach ... it was so beautiful there and nice and breezy, although still very muggy. We didn't pitch our tents in the right spot because we didn't get much of a breeze during the night even though the wind was blowing pretty strong. Mom and Louie didn't sleep well at all because they were too hot.
Got up at 6:00 for breakfast and then drove to the passenger ferry port where we were offloaded from our truck and took a short ferry ride to another part of Dar. We took a bus to the next ferry station and waited there for an hour for our guide to get our tickets for the ferry to Zanzibar. We arrived in Zanzibar just before noon and were met by Daniel, our Zanzibarian guide. He took us to our hotel where we dropped off our luggage and then headed out for lunch. We had a pretty neat lunch experience ... inside some local's house, sitting on the floor. The food was good and the people were nice so it was a good experience. Then we went for a spice tour. It was cool to see how the spices grow and all the different parts of the plants they can use. After that we did a bit of shopping and then met our group at the Africa Hotel for drinks and to watch the sunset. After that we headed over to the night market where we bought our own supper from many of the different food vendors. Mom and Louie had seafood galore and I had a beef and cheese pizza (it wasn't a pizza at all but it was good). Then we walked back to our hotel. Our group is going on a slave market tour tomorrow morning but we are going to opt out of it and do a bit of shopping before we head up to the northern part of Zanzibar and all the beaches!!! Can't wait !!
Hope you all are well. Sorry it took so long to get this updated but we haven't had a chance at all until today to use the internet. Will try our best to keep you all informed. Love you!