A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: braycullen

Africa ... Oh How I Love You!!!

Feb. 4/12
Got up around 6am today. Had breakfast and then left chitimba campsite for another campsite at Kande beach. Our drive today was pretty long ... about 7 hours. Got to Kande beach and decided to upgrade to a room instead of camping as we were able to get a large room with 3 single beds and 1 double bed so we shared the room with mom and two other guys on our trip (John and John). The beach was beautiful ... the water was so clear and so warm !!! The weather was really hot too. We spent the afternoon laying on the beach, swimming and throwing the Frisbee around. After supper we went to the wood carvings market and bought a small chair. Its so sweet!! Louie and i were so tired that we skipped out on a bar night with the group and just showered and watched a movie. We were asleep by 10pm.
Feb. 5/12
Today we had a free day at Kande beach. The weather was really nice again so we went for a walk down the beach and played with a bunch of local kids. They were so cute!! Then we laid on the beach and swam until lunch time. After lunch, Louie, mom, Elise and I rented canoes and paddled out to lake Malawi island. Mom and Elise were naturals but Louie and I capsized our canoe three times before we even got out to deep water. It was pathetic ... we ended up having to tow it back to shore to empty all the water then we switched places and tried again. This time we managed to make it to the island but it was so hard and the boat sunk just as we got to the island so we had to pull it in and hoist it up onto the rocks. It turns out the hull of the canoe was filled with water ( which explains why we had so much trouble). We dumped all the water out and left the canoe upside down while we explored the island. Louie had rented a snorkelling mask so he could snorkel around the island once we got there but we lost it when we capsized so he couldn't go snorkelling. We did a bit of swimming, exploring and cliff jumping into the water before heading back to shore. Since we had emptied the hull of the canoe, Louie and I didn't have any problems on the way back. Then we laid on the beach for a bit before heading down to Jonathan's shop to buy some elephant bookends. After that it was supper time and we had a roasted pig. We watched the guys gut and prepare the pig in the morning and then they sat their all day roasting it to perfection. I wasn't that hungry so I only had a few ribs but they were good ... nice and salty!! After supper Louie and I did the same thing as last night ... showered and watched a movie.
Feb. 6/12
Today we were up fairly early as we had another decent drive day ahead of us. We spent about 6 hours in the truck on our to Lilongwe (the capital of Malawi). Once we got to our campsite we all decided to upgrade to dorms as they were only $2 per person and that meant we didn't have to set up and take down our tents. So we got settled in our dorms and then the girls went into town to do some shopping. We meant to walk but Mash drove by in a taxi and drove us the rest of the way. The first store we went to was closed because they said there had been riots in the street and people were throwing rocks and fire bombs into stores. We were a little annoyed that nobody told us we shouldn't go to town. We ended up going into Spar (a grocery store) and while we were in there the power went out so we left and went to another supermarket to get some snacks as we had a really long drive day the following day. We stopped at the craft stalls on our way back and got harassed pretty badly to buy stuff so we left quickly ... no one was in the mood to deal with that. We walked back to our campsite and spent a little while on the internet before supper. After supper we entered a pub quiz with Rishay, Pete, Carl and Chris. We did pretty well as a team but Louie and I only knew the answers to a few questions lol. We did know the hockey one tho lol. After that we hung around the bar waiting for our Acer to charge. We couldn't go to bed until 11pm because our dorm room was right next to the bar and it was super noisy.
Feb. 7/12
We were up ridiculously early this morning as we were meant to have a stupidly long driving day of 14 hours with two border crossings. We left our campsite at 4:30am and arrived at the Mozambican border at 6am (when it opened). We were allowed to set up and make breakfast while they processed our visas. It took two hours and we had to pay $82 per person just to drive for 6-7 hours in Mozambique before entering Zimbabwe. We were making pretty good time after the first border and the trip was going by quickly until we hit Tete. We were driving through the city (which is supposed to be the hottest place in Mozambique) when a motorcyclist with a passenger cut right in front of us. Mick (our driver) slammed on the brakes and swerved but still ended up hitting the motorcyclist. We weren't able to see what happened because we were at the back of the truck but mom looked out the window and saw a man sliding on the pavement and said we hit a person. I was up and out of my seat instantly ... I was out the door and running towards the driver. I got to him first and grabbed his head to brace it so he wouldn't move his head or neck. No one spoke English so he kept trying to move his head and he wasn't listening to me because he didn't understand me. Tony (our tour guide) went and got an ambulance and he and I had to ride in the back of the ambulance with the two victims. It was an awful ambulance ride ... they drove so fast and hit so many speed bumps it was ridiculous. They didn't have a back board or a neck collar so i had to crouch beside the one guys and try and brace his head while they were driving like madmen. It was an unreal experience. Once we got to the hospital they got him into a room where they tentatively bandaged his head and shoulder and then sent him for xrays (they made him walk there himself). After xrays he went to see the doctor but he wouldn't see him until they stitched him up properly. When that was happening Tony came back and walked me down to the police station where the rest of our group was waiting. We ended up having to stay in Tete over night because the police hadn't released Mick or Imani (our truck) by the time they closed for the night. We went to a shit hole campsite in Tete and were bombarded by kids. They were really cute but overwhelming after what we had just gone through. We literally set up our tents, had supper and went to bed. It was probably the most uncomfortable sleep of the trip because it was so hot and humid.
Feb. 8/12
We were up at 6am today to pack up our stuff and head back to the police station where Mick was supposed to receive the carnet (truck passport) for Imani. It was meant to take 20 minutes but it ended up taking almost all day because they took Mick to court and he had to face a judge. The judge finally allowed him to leave if he paid a bond because the judge wasn't willing to make a decision on whose fault it was until he had enough time to look at all the facts. So Dragoman had to pay $1700 to get Mick and Imani out of police custody. The best news about the whole thing is that the driver and the passenger of the motorcycle were both going to be OK. The driver didn't have any broken bones or fractures and the hospital was monitoring any brain swelling. Luckily he was wearing a helmet but it fell off after impact. We finally left Tete at 3pm and headed for the border. We made it there just in time before they closed and were expedited fairly quickly but we did have to pay $75 per person for a single entry visa because we are Canadian. First time I've been punished for being Canadian lol. We only had to drive another 30 min to get to our campsite in Nyamapanda. We were supposed to drive all the way to Harare but that clearly wasn't happening. Louie and i upgraded to a room even though it was expensive ... we needed a good night's sleep! We literally had supper and then showered and then to bed.
Feb. 9/12
We were up at 6am this morning to hit the road again. We were a day behind schedule now so we had a lot of ground to cover. We were supposed to arrive in Harare yesterday in time to spend the majority of the day exploring the city but since we only made it to Nyamapanda we only got to spend a couple hours in Harare when we got there ... just enough time for lunch a little shopping. We were back on the truck and heading for Masvingo by 1:30pm. We arrived at our campsite around 6pm ... we set up our tent and then had supper, showered and went to bed. It was quite cool overnight so we actually got a great sleep ... probably the best sleep in the tent we've had so far.
Feb. 10/12
We were up at 6am this morning to head out for a tour of the great Zimbabwe ruins. The ruins were amazing ... so amazing and beautiful!!! Our guide was unreal ... he was so knowledgeable and friendly. We really liked him. After the ruins tour we got back on the truck and drove to Bulawayo. We arrived at around 5pm. The lady that owned the campsite where our group was staying offered to drive us to the train station as we were leaving the group for a few days to head up to Vic falls early. Once we got to the train station and got our tickets the lady took us to the grocery store to buy food so we could have supper and breakfast on the train. We paid $12 each for a first class sleeper ... it was a really old train and the first class sleepers were pretty shitty but they had beds and clean bedding so we were fine. After we left the train station we made sandwiches for supper and then had a few swigs of vodka while we played asshole with mini cards. After asshole we set up our beds and went to sleep around 11pm.
Feb. 11/12
We woke up at at 6:30am today because it was light out and it was starting to get hot on the train. We made peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast and packed up our bags. We arrived in Vic Falls at 10am. We walked the few hundred meters to our hotel. They were all booked up except for permanent tents and lodges ($180), so we took a tent with two single beds. We got set up in our tent and then went swimming in the pool. After our refreshing dip in the pool we changed and went for lunch. We wandered around town looking into all the activities. We had supper with Carl, Elise and john at the restaurant at our hotel. We were in bed pretty early.
Feb. 12/12
This morning we were up at 8am .... got to sleep in a bit! We had breakfast at a little bakery in town and then got picked up at our hotel to do a helicopter tour of the falls. It was amazing ... we can definitely see why they are one of the world's seven natural wonders. We took a ton of pics and video but we are sure they don't do justice. We highly recommend Vic falls to everyone!!! After our flight we had lunch and then hung out by the pool for a couple hours before getting picked up for massages and pedicures (Louie got a haircut instead of a pedi). They were really relaxing and the ladies were so nice. After that we went for supper and then had a drink at our bar while we watched the Africa cup of nations final between Zambia and cote d'ivoire. Zambia won in a shootout and the town went nuts lol!!! It was a good game. We didn't get to bed til 12:30am.
Feb. 13/12
We were up at 6am this morning to do walking with the lions. We got picked up from our hotel at 6:30am and drove for about 20 min to the conservation camp. We had a brief introduction to the program and then got our safety briefing. We were split into two groups. Our group walked with a 20 month old male lion and a 17 month old lioness. It was crazy ... they are so big and powerful!! We got some amazing pics and we bought the DVD of our experiences. We got to pet them and walk behind them through the bush. We then left those two to spend some time with the baby cubs (7 mos). They were so playful and cute!!! We got some great shots of them. After we finished playing with the cubs we were served a nice full English breakfast. We were then taken back to our hotel where we met up with the T-shirt guy to order our shirts. Then we went for lunch and walked down to the falls. It took us just over an hour to walk through the national park. Seeing the falls from the ground was unbelievable. They are so beautiful. The only crappy thing was the amount of mist coming up from the bottom of he falls. We for drenched and our pics don't do justice to the beauty we saw because there were water droplets on the lens of the camera lol. While we were walking it was as if it was pouring rain ... but it came up from the bottom if the falls and then fell on us. At 3pm we got picked up to do our tandem zip lining over the Vic falls gorge. Mom and Elise came to watch us and to take pics. It was actually pretty scary at first because you pretty much drop straight down before it catches and you start moving forward instead of down lol. It was awesome ... the views were amazing!! After this we lounged by the pool for a bit before meeting our group at Mama Africa's for a group supper. After supper we showered and went to bed.
Feb. 14/12
Today was mom's last day with us. We were up around 7am and went for breakfast. Then we went back to our tent to help her pack up. The shuttle arrived at 11am to take her to the airport. We called her a few days later to see how her trip home was. She said it was fine and she's glad to be home but she misses the sunshine and us lol. After mom left, Louie and I went to the clothing market to buy a few things we needed. We spent the rest of the day by the pool before heading out for supper with a few people from our group.
Feb. 15/12
We were up early this morning because we went white water rafting. We were picked up at 6:55am and drove for about 10 min to the adventure zone lodge were we received our orientation and safety briefing. I have to admit I was starting to get nervous when the guides were explaining all the different ways we may need to be rescued WHEN our raft flips (apparently they are designed to flip lol). After our briefing we got back in the van and drove for about 20 min to our 4x4 vehicle that took us to the edge of the gorge. We then got our gear (helmet, paddle and life jacket) and walked 750m down the gorge to our entry point just before rapid 11. We were only able to raft rapids 11-23 because rapid 9 is a class 6 and needs to be walked around but the water level is too high now so there isn't anyway to walk around rapid 9. We had about 10 min to practice following Simon's (our guide) orders before hitting the first rapid. The first few were only class 3 so they were quite mild, then we hit a couple of 4s before coming to our first class 5 rapid. As we were approaching it, it didn't look that intimidating until we got closer and our raft dropped right before hitting a massive wave. Our raft flipped instantly ... there was nothing we could do. I managed to hold on to the Oh Shit rope handle but I lost my paddle. Louie managed to hang on to the rope for awhile but his arm was twisted so he let go and instantly drifted away from the raft. He had to be rescued by the kayaker and brought back to our raft. It didn't take us very long to get most of our crew back to the boat. We then all had to hang onto the rope all on the same side while Simon stood on the bottom of the raft. He hooked a rope to the opposite side of the raft that we were on and stood on the same side as us and pulled the raft towards us. He yelled and we all ducked our heads in the water to avoid having the raft fall on our heads. Then Simon started pulling us in the raft by our life jackets. We were ready to go again in a few seconds. We then hit a few more class 4 rapids before hitting the second class 5. We flipped again ... nothing we could do! This time I managed to hold on but I kept getting thrashed against the raft and couldn't get my breath so I let go of the raft. I floated down the rapids for a bit ... I tried swimming back to our raft but the current was way too strong. I had to be rescued by the kayaker and he tried taking me back to our raft but they were too far away so he took me to another raft. Louie was able to stay close to the raft, along with everyone else so they all got on top of the upside down raft and laid on their stomachs through the rapids. They all flipped our raft back over before I got back to it. The rest of the trip was pretty easy and we goofed around a lot. All in all, it was a great day! I definitely want to come back to Vic falls during the low water season to do devil's pool and rafting rapids 1-23!!!
Feb. 15/12
We were up around 8am today. We got packed up and then went for breakfast. We walked down to the Vic falls bridge (the Zambia/Zimbabwe border) and took some photos there before heading to the grocery store for some snacks. We picked up a pizza for lunch and then met our group at noon. We left Vic falls at 1pm and drove to botswana. We only drove 100 kms to our campsite in kasane. We got our tent set up just in time because it poured about a half hour after we got there. We had supper, showered and went to bed.
Feb. 16/12
We were up early today to do a game drive through chobe np. I woke up with a headache and couldn't get rid of it all day. We drove around the park for 3 hours looking for game. We saw baboons, hippos, birds and impala. We saw lions in the distance too. When we came back to the campsite I slept until lunch time, ate lunch and then slept until 14:45 when we left for a boat trip on the chobe river. It was really nice and we saw lots of hippos but I was feeling like garbage. I slept more when we came back, ate supper and then went to bed for the night. Louie took care of me and then went to watch a movie with the group once I was asleep.
Feb. 17/12
We were up early this morning to pack up our tent. We left kasane at 6:30 and headed for the Namibian border. We drove for quite awhile until we arrived at our campsite somewhere along the Caprivi strip. We showered, called home and had supper before going to bed.
Feb. 18/12
We were up early again today to pack up. We had to pack a small bag and leave our big bags behind because we were spending 2 nights on an island. We drove back into Botswana and took the ferry across the river. We drove 100kms on the worst road ... I started feeling sick again but I felt better once we had lunch and got off the truck for awhile. We got to the edge of the okavango delta and packed our stuff into the makoro canoes. Our poler was G and he manoevered us through the delta to umvuvu camp. We were given the tour of the camp and got our own big tent with a double bed ... it was great!! We had supper, showered and went to bed.
Feb. 19/12
We were up early again today to do a walking safari. We were taken to another island by makoro canoe (2 hours) ... it was peaceful and relaxing and beautiful. We walked around the island for 2 hours looking for game. We saw a couple elephanrs and some impala. Then we took the makoros back to our camp. We had lunch at noon and then got to try poling our own makoro. I tried but wasn't very good. I managed to stay dry but I couldn't keep the boat straight lol. At 3pm we were given a drumming and dancing show by the locals. It was pretty cool. Inevitably I was pulled up to dance with one of the dancers. It was fun! At 6pm we went back out into the delta for a sunset cruise. Louie didn't come so i went with Elise. It was so beautiful out there! We then had supper and visited for a bit before showering and going to bed.
Feb. 20/12
We were up early again to head back to our truck. We took the makoros out one last time before saying goodbye to our guides. We loaded everything into the truck and hit the road again down the worst road, heading for Namibia.
Feb 22/12
We were up at 6:30 today and we were on cook group but Mash gave me the day off cause its my birthday. After breakfast we left Bagani and stopped along the way to fill up the coolers with booze. Louie decorated the truck with ballons and streamers last night.
Feb 23/12
We woke up early today, had breakfast and left Rundu at 7am. Tony and Mic dropped us off at the supermarket while they went to get the truck serviced. We did a little shopping, ate some food, and got coffee. At 10:30, we left the shopping centre and hit the road. We drove for quite a while before stopping for lunch. We arrived at the San bushman tribe at 16:30. We did an 1.5 hour bush walk. They showed us how to start a fire with sticks, pointed out different herbs, roots, and berries they eat and use for meds, and they set a bird trap. We left the bushcamp at 18:45, and arrived at Roy's camp at 20:30, and got a double room to upgrade for 320N$. We were able to shower properly, dry our sleeping bags, charge our electronics, and re-pack our bags. It was nice.
Feb. 24/12
Woke up at 6:30 today. Packed up our bags and made it the the truck just in time to get our bags in the back locker and grab a quick breakfast before it started pouring. We got everything put away in the truck very quickly and left Roy's camp at 7:10. We drove for a couple hours before stopping for groceries.

Posted by braycullen 05:05 Comments (1)

last day at Kande beach

sunny 33 °C

Sunday Feb 5th. (Superbowl Sunday)

We woke up around 8ish, had breakfast. Hung out in the water with Carl, Elise, Susan, Ciara, and i for a couple hours before lunch. The weather and water was beautiful. After lunch we rented a couple canoes to get over to a nearby island, which was only a few hundred meters away. Susan and Elise were in one canoe, Ciara and I were in the other. I wanted to go snorkelling when I got to the island so i rented a mask when we were renting the canoe. Susan and Elise got in there canoe and started off towards the island with no troubles. CI and I on the other hand didn't do so well. We capsized 3 times within 100 feet of shore, luckily the water was only waste deep so we walked the boat back to shore to try again. The second time around I sat in the back and Ciara took the front. We did much better the second time, we only capsized once, and it was only 20 feet from where we were supposed to tie the boat off at the island. After we swam the boat into our destination we emptied all the water out of our canoe, and explored the island. A short time later the lady we rented the canoe from showed up, we explained what happened and she recommended that we empty the water out of the hull. We were pretty ticked off that she gave us a canoe half full of water to take out, so we refused to pay for the snorkel and mask that we lost during one of our capsizing adventures. The island was pretty fun, we did some klooffing (cliff jumping), got some good video, and pics. After that we canoed back to Kande beach, and we didn't capsize once. When we got back to the beach we left the canoe on the shore and put the oars back in the dive shop and left before the divers came back and tried to make us pay for the snorkel and mask. We lounged on the beach for a bit before grabbing a drink from the bar and walking down the beach to Jonathan's shop, where we bought a nice souvenir. We had a pig roast for supper (our first time), Louie really enjoyed it but I wasn't so keen. It had alot of fat on it but it was an interesting experience. After supper we went to the camp's cafe and had chocolate cake... it was delicious! Then we packed up our stuff, watched a movie before bed.

Posted by braycullen 07:55 Archived in Malawi Comments (0)

Nungwi Beach

sunny 33 °C

Jan. 31/12
Got up early this morning to have breakfast on the roof of our hotel. After breakfast our group did a tour of slave market, Louie went along but mom and I opted out to do some shopping. We went to a couple shops and bought a few souvenirs. Then we met our group at the House of Wonders. We took the bus to Nungwi beach where we had a nice hotel room with a/c. The beach was so beautiful ... reminded me of Thailand. The sand was white and as soft as flour, the water was crystal blue and the weather was hot and humid. We loved it there!! We all got a little burned though. We spent the afternoon playing in the ocean and laying on the beach. We had a few drinks at our hotel bar and got a little tipsy and then we went to the bar next door to the hotel. Mom and I left at midnight but Louie and Carl closed the placed down.

We lost the charger for our phone so we might not be able to call anyone anymore. We are going to look for another one but it's not likely that we'll find one. Guess you'll all have to do with the blog until we come home. Love you all! Hope all is well at home. Will update the blog when we can. The internet is very unreliable here. I have spent several times typing up blog entries and lost them due to a bad internet connection.

Posted by braycullen 11:14 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Back to Kenya and Off to Tanzania !!

sunny 33 °C

Jan. 21/12
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.

Jan. 22/12
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.

Jan. 23/12
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.

Jan. 24/12
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.

Jan. 25/12
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!!

Jan. 27/12
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.

Jan. 28/12
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.

Jan. 29/12
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!

Posted by braycullen 09:31 Archived in Tanzania Comments (1)

So Long Rwanda ... It's Been Swell !!

sunny 30 °C

Hello Everyone!

Jan. 20/12
Today we woke up this morning at 6am to eat breakfast at the hotel. The plan was to eat early and then catch the matatu to the bus station, nyabagogo, so we could catch another bus to Butare (130km) south of Kigali. We were up early and ate breakfast but Louie wasn't feeling well so he stayed behind and rested all day while mom and I went to Butare. We were on our way by 8am ... the bus ride was over 2 hours long but it was a good trip up. We met a few local girls and talked to them about home and what we would like to see in Butare. They gave us directions and told us how to get to the museum and the university. At one point a little boy around 3 years old had to sit on my mom's lap because there wasn't any room for him and his mother was holding his older brother. The little boy was scared of my mom but his mom told him it was okay and he seemed to relax a bit. We showed a bunch of people on the bus our videos of the gorillas ... they were all amazed !! When we got there we walked to the museum. It was really good ... had a lot of info. about Rwandan culture and the country itself. We bought a few souvenirs for cheap !! Then we took moto-taxis to the university and found a law student to show us where we could eat some lunch. Then we had to ask an assistant professor to help us order our food because none of the restaurant staff spoke english or french ... only kinyarwanda. We ended up having lunch with the assistant professor and found out he used to be a research assistant for the Dian Fossey Institute ... now he's a biology prof !! After lunch we walked down to the genocide memorial. It was really just a mass grave with a bunch of pictures of the people buried there. We walked to the edge of campus and bought our bus tickets back to Kigali. We almost missed our bus though because we didn't know we had to catch one into town and then switch buses to get back to Kigali. If it wasn't for another kind stranger, Bosco, we might not have made it back lol. We thought we were being smart by taking the front seats of the bus but it turns out those are the most uncomfortable seats in the entire bus. There was no room to move our legs and the engine is right below our feet so we were overheating!! It was the worst lol. We arrived back in Kigali at 4pm. Bosco helped us find the right matatu ... he even rode it with us to our stop to make sure we made it safely. We paid for his ride (200 rwf = 35 cents). Ultimately he saved us $9 because it would have cost us $10 to take a taxi. By the time we made it back to the hotel and checked our emails it was after 5pm. I tried calling the NGO "Speak, I am Listening" to find out their address so we could visit them today and they informed me that they were closed on Saturdays. I told her we were leaving the country tomorrow night but she didn't offer to meet us there. I was so mad that we didn't get to visit it. I should have figured all the information out before we left. It's probably something I'll regret for a long time. Then we went for supper at the hotel restaurant. After supper we just went back to the room and visited until bedtime.

Jan. 21/12
This morning we woke up at 8am and ate breakfast at the hotel before taking the matatu to Gisozi Genocide Memorial. I can't even explain how powerful that experience was. I knew a lot of details about the genocide but it finally hit home when I saw all the pictures, listened to survivors stories, and read the details of how the international community failed Rwanda in 1994. They had the skulls and bones of victims on display, along with the weapons used to kill them and the clothing and personal items they found of the victims. They had stories of child victims that was heartbreaking. For example, there was a little 10 year old boy name David whose last words were "Don't worry mom. The UNAMIR will come for us". There are approx. 250,000 people buried at that one memorial centre. We bought a rose and laid it on one of the mass graves as a sign of respect for the dead.
After the genocide museum we walked back down to the bus stop and took the matatu back to our hotel. We ate lunch at the hotel and then walked up to the Amahoro stadium. On our way back down we stopped at a foreign exchange bureau to exchange our Rwandan francs (mom calls them shanks lol) into American dollars. Now we are waiting at the hotel for our ride to the airport. Our flight back to Nairobi leaves at 18:30.

Hope all is well at home. Love you all! Will update soon.

Posted by braycullen 05:57 Archived in Rwanda Comments (4)

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