4139.3km Roadtrip – Toowoomba Qld to Mansfield Vic

Having only ventured to the capital cities in NSW & Victoria a Christmas road trip was the perfect opportunity to explore. 4139.3km of exploring to be exact. Packing the car we thought we may have underestimated how much is needed for a baby. Between pram, cot, nappies and toys we somehow managed to squeeze in some presents and clothes for ourselves.

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We had 2 days of travel ahead of us Toowoomba – Dubbo & Dubbo to Mansfield. Both were approximately 8 hours without stops however due to lunch breaks, Tilly’s feeds and driver swaps we clocked up around 11 hours each day.

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On the second day we had the pleasure of catching up with Jo a friend we had met in London who had ventured back to Aus just before us. This was a welcome break in Wagga where we enjoyed coffees and a chat before hitting the road again. We were quite lucky that our 4 month old daughter seemed to handle these long days well only becoming upset about 2 hours from our destination on the last day.

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Arriving in Mansfield we discovered it was a lot larger than either of us had thought. The sleepy ski village we expected to see was alive and buzzing in the summer as well. The main street had many boutiques, cafes and sporting stores & there was even an armchair cinema. Mansfield also seemed to be a hub of many sites to see only a short distance apart. In 6 days we took in as many of these sights as we could.

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Mansfield Zoo is located only a short drive from town and is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.  Arriving just after lunch we noticed no other vehicles in the car park, we had the Zoo to ourselves. This gave us lots of opportunities to feed the Alpaca’s, Kangaroos, Peacocks, Ducks & Deer that roamed through the park.  Throughout the afternoon we had some persistent friends who attempted to snatch the whole feed bucket, the animals roaming free are tame and friendly. It was the perfect opportunity to introduce Matilda to “Bambi”. The zoo also hosted a range of monkeys, camels, antelope, ostrich, wombats, emus, and dingos in its open plains. The laid back atmosphere and quiet surroundings made our time at the zoo relaxing and enjoyable.  Later that afternoon we watched the lion feeding show and learned that 2 of the lions had come from Darling Downs Zoo near home. Having previously witnessed a lion feeding in Africa we were not disappointed by the animal instincts on display. The lions paced up and down the fence line as the zoo attendant placed all of the food into the cage before being released to hunt for the food out. This obviously was the main attraction with many more zoo visitors arriving just in time to view the feeding.

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Lake Eildon took our breath away as we arrived. The water seemed so blue, still and clear. Only a few boats attempting water skiing could be seen. The quietness added to the serenity and we enjoyed taking in the scenery.

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Stringybark Creek is infamous for a shoot out between a certain Ned Kelly and accomplices and police officers on October 26th 1878. Three police officers lost their lives as a result of this shoot out and the event marks the creation of the Kelly Gang.  A memorial to the officers is only a few meters away from the start of a short circuit walk which includes the Kelly Tree.  Arriving at the Kelly Tree we were informed that this was in fact the 3rd location of the Kelly Tree. Unfortunately due to logging, decay and a change in the area due to gold prospecting. The current Kelly Tree is standing on the wrong side of the creek and several hundred meters away from the actual site. However there is a still feeling as you walk around this area and imagine how difficult it would have been for police officers to locate the Kelly Gang in these surrounds. A metal plaque that looks similar to Ned Kelly’s armour has been placed in the trunk providing a memorial to the police officers. From the tree you continue past some gold prospecting sites and a old wombat hole. Due to old mine shafts you are limited to where you are able to walk however the designated walk provides you with information about the occurrences in this area.

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Another notorious bushranger in these surrounds is Harry Power & Powers Lookout Reserve boasts some spectacular views. From the lookout you are able to see King River Valley, Mount Buffalo, Mount Feathertop and the Victorian Alps. On a clear day the view overlooking the mountains from the platform was amazing. Looking down it was hard to believe how high up you were.

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It’s probably a wise idea to check if the leaflets in the house are still relevant before making plans to visit a winery. We enjoyed a short drive out to Growlers Gully Winery only to find it had closed 3 years earlier. Ooops! The previous owner found 2 cars of confused tourists and come up to inform us that they had lost their crops due to bush fires & as a result had closed the business. He also generously dug up a couple of bottles of wine.  We went back to plan A, and headed to Delatite Winery where we were able to do some wine tasting from the cellar door. To celebrate Reece’s birthday we enjoyed a glass of our favourite wine and shared some delicious platters of local food. The views from the winery were spectacular, giving you views of the mountains and vineyards, however unfortunately due to windy we could not enjoy our wine in the courtyard.

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Another little gem we came across in the surrounding countryside was Tin Shed Cider. A cellar door lets you learn about production and sample their 100% apple cider. Tin Shed Cider is made from pure apple juice and includes no added sugar or preservatives. After taste testing the ciders it was hard to choose between the dry and sweet cider as both were equally as delicious. To accompany our ciders we shared a massive platter of local produce.  A variety of cheeses, grapes and meats all local to the area went down a treat with the cider.

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Getting lost in a maze is fun even more fun when there is a group of 7 adults and 1 baby in different parts looking for gnomes. The High Country Maze gave us a chance to stretch our legs and have some fun. Informed that there were approx 17 Gnomes hidden we all set off to try and spot them all. Off course it didn’t take long for us to separate with us all choosing to take turns in opposite directions. Troy, Matilda & I quickly found the exit but only 4 gnomes so we re-entered in search of more. Giggling and chatter behind hedges let us know other family members were near as we continued the hunt. I’m not sure who won but it was a lot of fun. Tilly even tried playing peek a boo over the hedges. The gardens surrounding the maze were quite impressive with a range of metal statues and a pond or two. You could easily spend a few hours enjoying a leisurely stroll.

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Summer or Winter, Mount Buller is a tourist attraction. In winter the ski fields are filled with skiers and snowboarders and in summer the mountain is full of hikers and mountain bikers. We caught the scenic chairlift from the car park area approximately 5 km enjoying the view as we went down and up into the mountain. From the chairlift we could see some crazy mountain bikers and their tracks. At the top we began a lovely walk up the mountain to Mount Buller Summit. Carrying Tilly in her harness this seemed easy at first until she fell asleep and became dead weight. However we managed to finish the 4.1km hike and at the top of the summit took in all the mountainous views before heading back through another scenic walk on the way to the chair lift. There didn’t appear to be a lot open during summer in the township however we did enjoy lunch at a local hotel. I guess the mountain bikers dont hang around for food at the top.

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With so many sites to see it was hard to remember the reason we went in the first place… oh that’s right Christmas. The owners of the house we had booked had even left a little Christmas tree for us which was a lovely touch. The house provided the perfect surroundings for a traditional Christmas breakfast and lunch. Christmas day was relaxing and spent with family eating good food, opening presents and catching up. 

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A second Christmas was enjoyed in Melbourne 2 days later. Troy, Tilly and I headed off on a little road trip 2.5 hours to visit my family. Matilda was able to meet her uncle, aunty and cousins for the first time and catch up with grandma and pop who were visiting. Again the day was spent relaxing with family and eating more food.  It was amazing to be able to share Matildas first Christmas with both sets of grandparents, all her aunties and Uncles and her cousins over these two lovely days.

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The 2 days trip home gave us an opportunity to take a few little detours along the way. Junee Liquorice & Chocolate Factory gave not only our legs a little rest but the perfect way to break in the New Year with some taste testing. Unfortunately the liquorice factory was not in operation so we were unable to join a tour however we enjoyed an iced chocolate and scone before reluctantly leaving to continue on the road.


DSC_3506The Parkes radio telescope was the next detour. Having spotted it from the highway on our way I was not expecting to be so surprised at the size. But I was wrong. Built in 1961, weighing 1000 tonnes, being 64 metres in diameter and approximately 58 meters in height this dish was a must see. We enjoyed wandering around the museum and reading about the history and part Australia played in the coverage of men landing on the moon and the inner workings of the telescope.  Wandering outside we could get a close view of the dish and be gobsmacked at its size, and ofcourse take mandatory photos. Day 2 we just wanted to get home only making necessary stops from Dubbo to Toowoomba.

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The trip as a whole not only gave me back my travel bug, but made me realise there is so much more of Australia that we have to see. We only really scratched the surface on a small part of Victoria but I am sure this only one of many road trips ahead.  

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12 Days Cruising the South Pacific

The travel itch was hitting having returned home from our overseas adventure 17 months earlier an overseas trip was well overdue. We had worked abroad, backpacked around Europe, done an overland safari through Africa so it was time to kick our feet up and do that relaxing holiday. What better way then a 12 night cruise of the south pacific.  Our relaxing cruise quickly became more adventurous as we began looking at the optional activities. Throughout the planning process we had a little unexpected problem I would be 2.5 months pregnant whilst cruising. Feeling healthy throughout the first trimester and determined we confirmed our activities as originally planed. Our departure port was Sydney this gave us an opportunity to catch up with Troy’s sister Ren and our friends Jae & Tim prior to our departure. Enjoying delicious chinese and wandering through darling harbour.

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Heading towards the passenger terminal we were in awe of the size of our home away from home, Rhapsody of the Seas. After checking in we were able to begin exploring the ship before a mandatory safety briefing. It felt strange to head to our stateroom and commence unpacking this would be our home for 12 nights unheard of in our previous travel adventures. It wasn’t long until we were departing and everyone crammed on deck to take in the spectacular Sydney landmarks as we headed out to see.

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The first 2 days were spent at sea developing our sea legs. With 3 metre swells a walk down the corridor in a straight line was more challenging than one would think.  Thank god for hand rails. We enjoyed relaxing these days, hanging by the pool, indulging in delicious food & meeting Captain Rick on formal night. Over the next week we either docked or were tendered to a different island each day. Each island provided us with different scenery, sights and activities.

Formal Night

Noumea was our first port. Heading to the dining room it was obvious we were docked, the boat had stopped rocking and the cafe was jam packed with people trying to get a quick breaky in before getting off the ship. The morning was spent segwaying around the botanic gardens. We quickly realised that segwaying was more difficult than we had first thought and it was all about balance. Our tour gave us an opportunity to see lots of local wildlife. The Le Cagou a local bird was a highlight we learnt how a breeding program had increased their population from 250 to 1000 in only a few years.  The afternoon was spent walking through town and some local markets before returning to the ship.

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Lifou was the next island we visited. Unable to dock we were tendered in from the ship for the first time. This was well organised, guests having to get tickets for their tender time and being crammed onto a smaller boat to the island.  The locals had set
up markets selling wood carvings, sarongs and other souvenirs that we were able to browse through.  We purchased some delicious homemade coconut bread wanting to try some non westernised food. With no activities planned the morning was spent hiking to a gorgeous catholic church. We continued our hike towards some local caves.  As we descended via the steps we entered into stunning greenery before reaching the caves. The interior was amazing, containing a swimming hole that some other tourists had chosen to swim in. Returning to the beach for the afternoon we discovered the water was little too rough to snorkel in but the weather was perfect to laze on the beach and sunbake
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Reading through the travel brochures before the Cruise we knew Vila was going to be full on. So many activities and sites to see we really had to pinpoint the must dos. For us this involved getting on a very old boat and being driven across the water to a small anchored boat. We then put on a 35kg helmet as we walked down a ramp into the water. Our helmet dive was an amazing experience were ware able to attract hundreds of fish as we walked 3 metres deep in the water. Too many to name however zebra fish and clown fish were plentiful. We used bread to attract more fish, having them swim into the palm of our hands.  Returning to our docked ship locals had set up a large market near the ship selling souvenirs that we were able to browse through however Troy & I only had limited time with an afternoon tour organised as well.

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 After Lunch we headed on a minibus to abseil down a waterfall. Arriving we were put at ease when a familiar brand Petzl harness and helmets were given to us. We began a steep hike to the top of at waterfall were we were given a quick demo and an 8metre practice site. We continued our hike a little more   towards the waterfall before reaching the edge. It was time to take turns going down two 25 metre drops. Troy & I volunteered to go first. This was an unbelievable experience having water gushing from the waterfall as you proceed down it. Careful care had to be taken were to place your feet and reaching the bottom was such an accomplishment. Being first we got to enjoy the water watching everyone one else coming down before hiking back to the minibus.

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A new day brought a day trip to Champaign Bay. Once more when we arrived on the island we found a local market selling souvenirs and local tours. We took a chance booking a trip on the fly to the blue hole. Our transport was a ute with wooden seats in the tray (not bolted down)

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Regardless of what it looked like the trip was heaps of fun we stopped to have a look at the local area at a school and to learn about coconut drying before heading to the blue hole.  Entering the first thing that takes your breath away is the crystal clear water. The temperature of the water was a little fresh near the edge but we quickly adapted towards the middle was a hot springs. A definite tourist spot over the hour we swam and snorkelled we were the numbers increased dramatically. Once our tour returned us to the beach we discovered Champaign bay was a great location to sunbake and read and go for a swim.

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Luganville was our next island and as soon as we got off the ship we were bombarded with locals who were trying to organise trips. However with overcast weather, and only a few hours of docking we decided to head into the town for a relaxing stroll. We stumbled across a local fruit and vegetable markets that appeared to be run and visited only by locals. This gave us our first chance to take in the culture. In town we also came across remains of a shed from World War II. These Quonset huts were made from corrugated iron. 

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Troy chose to go look at the coconut crabs that were very large but unfortunately nocturnal so not very active throughout the day.

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Having thought of nothing but Scooby Doo since reading we were going to Mystery Island I was excited for our next day trip.

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This island gets its name as it is uninhabited by locals due to their belief that it is haunted. Arriving in the tender we were not swarmed with large local markets it appeared the only people on the island were from the docked cruise ship. As a result the cruise company had set up a drink stand to purchase alcoholic and a few non alcoholic beverages. The island itself was so small we were able to walk around it in around 45 minutes. Ghosts or not that clear blue water with fish swimming below the surface had me dreaming of purchasing the island.  Having clear day weather wise it was perfect for some snorkelling and to test out our go pros while chasing fish.

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We saw schools of fish in so many bright and vibrant colours. Troy spent the majority of the day snorkelling and even saw a shark. I was grateful that I had mixed up my time snorkelling with sunbaking and reading and was out of the water at this time. We both should have reapplied as were realised returning to the ship that we had definite snorkelling burns to the back of our bodies.

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Having not emerged ourselves in a culture as we normally do when travelling we decided that we would do an island discovery tour when visiting our last island Isle of Pines.

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Our tour leader Angel was a local who was proud to tell us about the island.  Isle of pine residents is unique to other New Caledonian Islands as residents hold a French passport and the island also has only one faith Christianity which tends to be unheard of in today’s society.  Taking in all the information of the islands we were able to view the local town centre containing a small bank, post office and medical centre. We stopped at some gorgeous beaches for photo opportunities. At one of our stops we came across many  totem poles  that stand around a monument commemorating the arrival of reverends Gooujon and Chatelut in 1848.

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Each pole had detailed carvings and to our surprise stood taller than Troy. We stopped by the Notre Dame de l’Assomption, a catholic church in the heart of Vao village and the only one on the island. We had an opportunity to walk through this church. Our last stop was by far the most impressive The Queens Cave. Walking through rainforest surrounds with flowing creeks to the opening of the cave was spectacular. We learnt of the history of the queen who had spent 6 months at the cave prior to being crowned queen.

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After 6 islands in 6 days were ready to relax on the ship as we headed back towards Sydney. The trip back was rocky, high swells and a not to pleasant especially for a pregnant woman. However we filled our time reading, hanging on the pool deck and I even joined in a fun walk. Walk a mile raised money for make a wish as we followed Captain Rick and his crew around the deck clocking up a mile.

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The day we departed we were off the  boat by 830 and to our surprise the crew had to turn around and clean the ship  ready for new guests arriving in the afternoon. Not much of a break for them.

Having never been on a cruise I was concerned about what one does on sea days and during the times not at the island. The ship did not disappoint. Throughout our time we were able to watch movies on the deck, participate badly in trivia, and listen to classical music, rock climb… yes rock climb while you’re cruising along rocky water.

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Troy found this to be quite difficult. The gym was awesome as I was preparing for a half marathon I used the treadmills to my advantage doing 18 km runs on some days and dragging troy along to his first ever spin class. Of course you can pretty much eat all you want at the main restaurants. You can also drink all you want if you’re willing to pay for it. I’m sure we racked up one of the smallest drink tabs on the cruise I never did get my cocktail on the deck chair.

The Food was all amazing you had a buffet restaurant opened for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner most days and a sit down restaurant for breaky and dinner where you could get 3 course meals. We couldn’t fault the food and if people went hungry it definitely was their own fault. We also saw one of the biggest apple pies I have ever seen which had me questioning how they managed to make it and fit it in an oven.

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Of course there are specialised restaurants you can visit for a small price. Troy & I enjoyed an Italian 5 course meal. The food was delicious and plentiful I found myself skipping courses just to make sure I saved room for Tiramisu.  

The nightly entertainment on the ship was amazing we attended all but one show. Each was unique but brilliant. We were entertained with comedy both all age and adult only, Ballroom dancing, Acrobatics, Musicians playing electric violins or pianos and by some amazing voices.

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A highlight to us was a game show Love & Marriage that pitted 3 couples the newest newlyweds, couple with longest marriage and in-between marriage against
each other. This provided so many laughs and giggles.

And of course you can always take comfort in the fact that each day you arrive back to your stateroom excited to see what animal the staff have turned your towels into.

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Having knocked two more countries off our list our only disappointment was the limited time on the islands and not being able to immerse ourselves in another culture as we tend to usually do on holidays. But we can now say we have done a relaxing holiday well at least for sea travel days….

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Dubai Our Final Stopover

After 3 months of roughing it, sleeping in a tent and travelling by overlander truck we thought a little luxury may be in order before returning home. For Luxury we looked no further then Dubai.

As our plane arrived at 8am we were told theoutside temperature was 38 degrees. Having had 4 months of temperatures maxing at 25 degrees we knew we were in for a shock. The Ibis at the Mall of Emirates housed us for 3 nights providing us with free wifi, air-conditioning, hot powerful showers and a comfortable bed. One would question why leave the hotel room, but Dubai had lots on offer to tempt us away from our amazing room and into the heat to explore.  Here’s a little blurb on the best of Dubai.

 

Shopping Malls

 

When the heat gets too much or you just want a lazy afternoon Dubai is full of huge shopping centers. We visited the Mall of Emirates & Dubai Mall over our stay. Both housed hundreds of stores including all of your top range clothing shops. The Mall of Emirates has a ski field inside that you can visit or just gander through the huge windows. And in case you’re wondering yes indoor ski lifts do get stuck. Dubai mall has an indoor skate rink inside its mall. Both seem extraordinary at the amount of power to keep them going when temperatures are a scorching 40 degrees outside. Both shopping centers had huge arcades that I am sure any parents wish their child would never find. You could spend a day just exploring the mall but there is lots to do outside.

 Souks

The Gold & Spice souk are great for wandering around and trying to grab a bargain. The amount of extravagance this city offers is shown in the gold souk. Here we stumbled across the Guinness book of world records largest gold ring.

The spice souk soaks up all your senses as you wander through. Pretty much any spice imaginable is for offer including dried lemon for curries as well as old favorites of cinnamon, vanilla, turmeric etc.

 Old Town

A trip over the water had has wandering through the old city housing many magnificent old buildings. One of the most spectacular is an old fort that has been converted into Dubai Museum. The streets through the old town are narrow and present a maze that can make for quite an adventure. Jumeirah Mosque is admired for its beauty and being the largest mosque in Dubai.  Its beauty is seen from that waterfront.

 Boat Cruise

A boat cruise along the waterfront allowed us the opportunity to take in the many skyscrapers of Dubai. For a small price we hired a private boat for an hour and were lead up and down the water past all of the major buildings. Our eyes were fixated on how much glass each building had as the reflection of water and boats could be seen reflected on the windows. We also passed the Sheikh’s home estate which was an enormous complex on the Dubai creek. This consisted of multiple buildings, playgrounds and more.

 Madinat Jumeirah

We spent a lazy morning wandering through the Souk near Madinat Jumeirah. Here stalls provided lots of opportunities to look for gifts and souvenirs. Heading out of the souk we were able to wander along some crystal blue canals and take in the view of the Burj Arab.

The beach is privatised to visitors staying at a local resort however a kind security guard let us go onto the bridge to take some photos and enjoy the view.

 Burj Khalifa

The world’s tallest building is located as part of the Dubai Mall. For a small price we were taken half way up 829 Meter building to Level 124. The trip in the elevator of these 124 floors took only a few minutes before we were able to step out and take in the view. Below us we were able to see the city light up at night and see out to many of the infamous buildings we had spent the previous 2 days admiring.

Looking upwards to the spire allowed you to realise how high the building is and was also a little disappointing as you realised you were not able to go all the way to the top.

 Dune Buggy Fun

To get away from the hassle of the city we choose to spend an afternoon close to the Oman boarder in a dune buggy.  With Troy at the wheel we followed a 4wd over some dunes and slowly began to increase speed.

We went over some pretty impressive hills and down into some dips that had my heart racing. Troy would have preferred an opportunity to increase the speed and to have followed a fellow dune buggy instead of a 4wd.

Troy was given the opportunity to try stand up sand boarding which he seemed to pick up quite easily. After my fabulous tumble at lying down boarding I decided to decline offers to have a go as well.

As we headed back to the start we witnessed another spectacular sunset over the dunes.

Aquadventure

When the weather becomes too hot you head over to the palms. The Atlantis hotel has its own water park that had some incredible slides. The leap of faith is 27.5 meters tall and as you go flying down the almost vertical slide you are catapulted into a tunnel that is surrounded by shark tanks. However at this speed we were unable to take in the views.

Although on tubes and a slower ride (Shark Attack) we were able to slow down and enjoy looking at the fish, sharks and stingrays that surrounded the tunnel.

We also experienced the Shamal which is like a rollercoaster that lands you at the top of the slides ready to start again. It was here we combined The Shamal, Plunge & Rapids to create 15 minutes of slide awesomeness to end our day.

Unfortunately the ground was hot like coals as we ran between slides and with 40 degree heats the water felt more luke warm than cool.

Like any waterpark it is quite expensive charging over 10 dollars to hire a locker and ridiculous food prices but not allowing you to take food in. It made a fun relaxing last day for us.

The Lost Chambers

We chose to upgrade our water park tickets to include the Atlantis aquarium the lost world.  This aquarium houses over 65000 different species of fish. Amongst Nemos, Dories and my favourite sting rays we also observed some pretty spectacular fish from around the world.

Each room brings some of the Atlantean history and is decked out to resemble the lost city. The relaxed aquarium had many cushions and seats in front of tanks that allowed us to sit and watch the fish and relax.

 

Which is just what we had in mind when we planned our trip to Dubai. It was a fabulous end to a very long and adventurous holiday. Wandering the airport at Dubai a sense of uneasiness overcomes me.  After 2 years 2 months and 4 days are we ready to go home and face a quieter paced life.

 Time will tell stay tuned.
 
Luv Amy 
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Africa 2012 South Africa

Entering South Africa we had 3 days left of the original Absolute Safari before bidding farewell to 9 of the group.  First impressions of South Africa are that of a western influence, larger supermarkets, chain take away stores, locals in clothing you would wear yourself and a laid back attitude that we had begun to notice slowly on our trip down.

Highlanders

 Our final camping night on the Absolute Safari was at Highlander campsite. We were excited by grassy camp sites and a beautiful view over the vineyards as the sun began to set. The campsite provided us with one of the best showers in Africa. Hot water with lots of pressure and a view of the crops through the open window allowed a scenic shower.

While the majority of the group would be leaving in a few days our last cook group of Luke, Emma & Katherine prepared the favourite meal throughout the trip Chili Con Carne on Corn Chips followed up by dessert.  Unfortunately I was feeling under the weather and could not join in the festivities.

The next morning Helen, Justin & I whipped up American Bacon, Beans, Sausage and Scrambled egg to prepare us for the last few busy days of the tour.

Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch was a cute university town that reminded me a little of Toowoomba. However the stunning scenery of mountains and vineyards as we drove into the town stand out as a beauty of their own.

The town itself was easy to navigate and we found lots of western shops including the infamous Jay Jays I had not seen since leaving Australia 26 months ago.

The whole group headed onto a mini bus joined with Oasis travelers who we had run into on many occasions for a wine tour. Over the course of 7 hours we stopped at 4 wineries, enjoyed a delicious lunch, sampled 23 wines and had some cheese tasting.

My favourite wine of the day was a white wine at the first winery, I also discovered I am still not a fan of red wine. Troy & Katherine loved the cheese tasting going around twice to sample the cheese again.

The 3rd winery had a beautiful view over the mountains that reminded us that is tour was a great way to view the local scenery whilst tasting some delicious South African Wine.

Cape Town

One trip ended and another began in Cape Town.  We managed to fit in a couple of nights out with the other tour members before numbers dwindled and we hit the road again.

Table Mountain

A clear day in Cape Town is said to be rare this time of year so we utilized our first afternoon by heading up Table Mountain.

The rest of the group chose the easy option of catching a cable car both ways while Troy & I headed up by foot. It took 1.5 hours and was quite steep at times but the view on the way up was one of the most spectacular bush walks I have ever done. The feeling of achievement at the top fuelled by more excitement when you saw the view overlooking Cape Town. To one side clouds covered other mountains and to the other this enormous city was laid before us.

We took the cable car down and enjoyed the floor spinning 360 degrees allowing everyone views of the whole mountain.

Groups Last Dinner

We were introduced to Leanne who would be taking over the Garden route at our last meal. Here we stuffed ourselves with 3 courses including some of the largest desert portions I have ever seen. We ran through everyone’s highlights and funniest moments and reminisced the 73 days that had flown by.

Shark Diving

Troy, Mel, Lauren, Jeremy, Luke, Signe & Helen all headed out on a shark dive. They drove just over 2hrs to another part of the coast. The day was calm and they were lucky to encounter sharks immediately after a 20minute boat ride. There were 4 sharks seen with the largest being between 3.5-4m in length. The views from the boat of the sharks breaching as they attacked the bait were excellent. Being in the cage was a much more up close experience providing a true feeling for the size of the sharks.

Paragliding

Having not taken the opportunity in Swakopmund I decided to do a tandem paraglide here. I was taken up a nearby hill and given a very brief instructional lecture which consisted of ‘Keep your legs straight and keep running’ before being strapped into my harness.

We began a short run and were in the air momentarily. As we slowly descended down from the hill views of the beachfront, city centre, Robin Island could all be seen.  We did some tricks and tested out the video on the instructors go pro as we came into land.

Approximately 15 – 20 minutes of flying time allowed me to feel that weightless feeling I am sure birds feel.

Exploring Cape Town

Emma, Katherine and I enjoyed exploring the shops and having delicious pastries and coffee while the others went shark diving.  We managed to find quite a large shopping district with chain shops, quirky independent shops and market stalls.

I braved a hair cut for the first time in almost 5 months and was delighted when the Montenegro gentleman cutting my hair followed his instinct on what he thought would look good. After being told I know what will suit you trust me my tummy began to turn however the outcome was a great look that most people said suits me.

Troy & I only had the last day to site see together unfortunately this was a foggy, rainy day that reminded us of what we were going back to in Toowoomba.  We headed to the Biscuit Mill Markets. These local food markets have delicious fresh foods to purchase for later or breakfast. We opted for the second option enjoying a delicious warm breaky.

We wandered to the harbor where we saw seals swimming in a canal. And as the weather turned bad opted for a movie instead of the lighthouse and beach.  We also found some local craft markets that housed beautiful handmade crafts.

Cape Town had a lot more to offer but our time was limited there is so much more we could have seen and done. But that would have to go to another time basket as the garden route was about to begin.

THE GARDEN ROUTE

It felt as if we had picked up and lost parts of our group so many times on the trip however 4 of the originals were here to the end. Troy, Myself, Lauren & Mel. When we said goodbye to the group after breakfast in Cape Town and got on the bus it felt weird. A 28 seater truck and 4 people. Not wanting to sit down and fighting off tears from saying goodbye we spent the majority of the morning playing music loudly and Frisbee up and down the truck.  However it didn’t take long to spread our stuff out and find some new seats.

Cape Agulas

Cape Agulas is known for being the most southerly point of Africa. We enjoyed wandering around the rocky shores that boarder the Atlantic and Indian oceans simultaneously. There was a cute red and white light house that I was able to walk up hundreds of stairs to almost reach the top.

A cute sign pointing out the oceans allowed us to stop for those cheesy photos the equator and tropic of Capricorn had provided previously

A wander along the beach allowed us to enjoy the scenery and be on the lookout for whales. Unfortunately we did not spot any. We did however take the very scenic route back missing our turn off and exploring more of the town.

Outshoorn

Ostrich Farm

 We stopped at a local Ostrich farm where we were given a tour, allowed to stand on ostrich eggs and told more about the world’s largest land birds. We were also given the opportunity to sit on the ostrich. It had me squealing most of the ride. Not wanting to hurt its wings as I held them and leaning backwards as the ostrich ran has got to be one of the weirdest experiences of my life.

 

 

Cango Caves

Nearby we also stopped at Cango Caves. Here we did what is known as an adventure caving experience. The beginning of the 1.5 hour tour was in high caves up and down many steps allowing us to take in the spectacular formations of the stalagmites and stalactites.

We continued into some lower and narrower caves before the true adventure began. Our guide also told us of how a larger lady had gotten stuck in the beginning of the circuit route for 11 hours and how over 20 people were stuck waiting for her to be rescued to get out. Not wanting to be that lady we all managed to hold our jiggly bits in as we went through the tunnel of love.  We had to climb upwards and through a 24 cm wide hole to finish the circuit. We all managed to come out alive and all bits intact.

Meerkats

We had not managed to see meerkats in any of the game parks we had been to. However our new tour leader Leanne found a company that would allow us to visit a colony in the wild. Our early start did not seem to bother us as we headed out to some local scrub. Here a family of 10 meerkats had 6 burrow tunnel systems. We sat by one that a meerkat had been seen at before sunset and crossed our fingers.

As the morning sun came up and we began to feel its rays a meerkat popped out and looked around for danger. Before too long a few more meerkates had appeared. Within 10 minutes all 10 were out of their burrow and enjoying the sunlight. We also got to witness the meerkates fight as they tried to sort out the day’s pecking order through submission and urination on each other. Not long after they headed off for the day one always upright observing the environment for danger.

Kynsa

We arrived at Kynsa at lunch time and had the afternoon free to explore this little town. The main streets lead to a waterfront where restaurants and shops could be found. Troy and I found ourselves wandering the streets heading towards local residences.

We had been told at the hostel that this town was very safe so we were surprised that after running into Mel & Lauren only a few minutes later to witness a mugging. A local youth had tried to steal the handbag of a local that’s right not a tourist a local school teacher. She held her ground and he was chased off by locals before 2 police cars arrived and eventually arrested him. Quite an afternoon of excitement.

 We also enjoyed dinner overlooking the water at a cute Italian restaurant. The food was delicious and we enjoyed a laid back chat with the group.

Jeffrey’s Bay

If you have heard of Jeffrey’s bay it’s probably because of the billabong pro championship that is held there. Our hostel had a cute comment on its wall that Jeffrey’s bay was a really cute town until 1960 when someone blabbed to everyone else how good the surf was. Now it is a lot more touristy and the surf brand clothing factory outlets seem as important to the town’s identity as the beach. However we arrived mid week in off peek season so we pretty much had the town to ourselves.

There are lots of discount surf shops that can occupy your time if you wish to look through what sometimes appears to be a rummage sale for a colour or size.  The beach is amazing to walk along as you look towards the sea or watch some trainee surfers.

The hostel we stayed out gave us a room overlooking the ocean and at night you could hear the waves crashing as you went to sleep. Very Relaxing.

We enjoyed eating out at some local restaurants where the group dined on some fresh seafood. The service in Jeffrey’s Bay was immaculate. The staff were friendly, helpful and very efficient.

Mel, Lauren, Troy & I opted to fill an afternoon playing putt putt. The sea themed course had us putting through sand castles, dolphins, penguins and much more. A tight game where we all had our bad rounds left Troy victorious.

Addo

Wild Cats world

Just past Addo national park is wild cat world. Here we were able to visit some Cheetahs unfortunately in captivity. However we did have the opportunity to pat them. The cheetahs are just like house cats wanting pats and to lick our hands. For the record their tongues are rough and feels like sandpaper a great way to exfoliate your skin. I did not realize what the cheetah was after at first when it grabbed my hand, I resisted leaving a few puncture marks and scratches as a memento.

They also had 2 cute lion cubs at 4 months old that were lively and running around excited to see everyone. Amongst the other cats at the park were a brother and sister leopard, servals and caracals. We had not seen a serval or caracal in the wild so were excited to see them so close.

Night Drive

We went on our last game drive of the tour opting for a night drive. We were quite lucky that the weather has begun to warm up slightly as spring is in the air and we managed to stay quite comfortable throughout the drive.

We managed to see a lot of kudo and elephants including an elephant wandering very close to the back of the truck when we were parked. We also saw a spotted eagle owl in the tree and were given a demonstration on how they turn their neck.

The highlight of the night drive was seeing a black rhino. The tour guide had only mentioned 10 minutes earlier how rare this was and that it had been 3 months since he had seen one. We managed to drive onto the plains to get quite close to it however it did keep its distance and disappear.  Overall the night drive was a great way to end the last of our animal sightings.

Tierstop Dam

The beauty of Africa is the little places you stop along the way. The distance between Addo & Johannesburg was too far so we had a night at Tierstop Dam. Arriving in the afternoon we were able to organise our lives before leaving the truck the following day.

That night we lit a fire and cooked real camp food Veggie soup much to Mel & Jb’s disgust. (No meat). In true African style the weather took a turn for the worst and we layered up huddled by the fire until it died down.

It hit zero overnight as we woke to frost on the tents and frozen water left in the bowls overnight. A fitting final camping farewell from Africa’s weather.

Johannesburg

We arrived in Joburg in two frames of mind excited to be exploring another African city but sad that our lives on the truck had come to an end. It took multiple trips to remove all our belongings for the past quarter of a year off the truck and into our rooms.

We enjoyed a meal out with Leanne before she headed off the next morning on a northbound trip. In happier news we reunited with Justin who was full of excitement having done Kruger Park whilst we were on the garden route and we were able to share stories with each other.

Soweto

The final 5 from the group headed to Soweto the SOuth WEst TOwnship of Johannesburg. This is primarily known as the area where the lower class lived. Although this area housed the power plant and heaps of power lines ran over the shacks the people in this community were not given power. The majority of the population in Soweto was and still is black Africans.  The area also includes accommodation for those working on the gold mines the accommodation provided to these hard workers were over crowded shacks which contained no power or toilet facilities.

However this area has now become a city of its own. The diversity of the population can be seen throughout the houses that range from upper class to the remaining shacks. Our passionate driver told us how the people in the remaining shacks are being given newer houses of a better quality however they are choosing to sell these homes and move back to where they have always lived.

In Soweto we also visited a memorial to the uprising that took place in 1976? When school children were protesting against the introduction of half their lessons being taught in Afrikaans. Many children where shot injured and killed and their heroic stories where shared along with the facts of this time in South Africa’s history.

Apartheid Museum

Lauren, Troy & I decided to spend our last day in Africa learning more about the South African history. Arriving at the Apartheid Museum we were separated into white or non white and given different entrances to explore how the different races were treated.

Our first stop was the special exhibition that housed Nelson Mandela’s life. It went from his childhood,  Political career, Jail time, Presidency and much more. There were memorabilia and many videos that brought this Heroic mans story to life.  It opened up my eyes to how much one person’s actions can have on a nation.

We continued to through the Apartheid exhibition learning about South Africa from the beginning of its settlements. Lauren and I were blown away in one part where we could see what was happening around the world such as landing on the moon, Jimi Hendrix becoming a star what was happening at that time in Africa.

I could spend hours talking about this moving museum and how it shared the very negative past and all the trials for the African people to try to unite as one. However I will leave you with this. If you visit Joburg and can only do one activity I recommend this.

 

Johannesburg was also a place for goodbyes as we said a sad goodbye to Mel & Lauren and a see you soon to Justin. As troy and I headed to the airport it seemed surreal that 86 days had gone past from the day we arrived in Nairobi. With our backpacks almost exploding we headed to the airport and waved goodbye to Africa.

Luv Amy 

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Africa 2012 Namibia

Although our trip was coming to an end we were excited as Namibia had been one of the countries we had been dying to see. And over 13 days it did not disappoint.

Grootfontein

If you ask what the coolest campsite over our 83 day adventure the answer is simple Grootfontein. Where else can you say that you have camped beside the world’s largest meteorite.

After arriving at this simple campsite we soon set off to explore the meteorite. Located in the middle of the camp you are able to climb on it, touch it and hope for superpowers.

We spent some time taking silly photos and enjoying a drink by it. Away from a main city at night the sky lit up with thousands of stars. I was witness to not one but two falling stars on this night.

Etosha

This was the last of the many game parks we had visited on our trip we had lots of opportunities with afternoon game drives and early morning game drives to see the local wildlife. We saw the regular animals including wildebeest, giraffe and zebra. However we were introduced into some new antelopes we had not seen including the springbok that springs when they run and the greater kudu.

We also had the opportunity to walk on a salt lake. This went on into the horizon. This gave the boys (Justin & troy) the opportunity to play with their cameras as we participated in a lot of silly photos.

Feeing unfit from sitting on a truck al day everyday Jeremy and Luke had been using an IPhone fitness app to exercise. Lauren and I were recruited doing  3 workouts over the next two days.

By the campsite a watering hole is located , seats have been placed behind a small fence and it is lit in orange light allowing us to see the animals drinking from it. As you walk towards the watering hole you hear an eerie silence unless an obnoxious tourists turns to tell you to shhh. But the quiet is worth it as some rare animal sightings were found within  the spot. We saw 3 rhinos, a spotted hyena, a Hare and a Leopard. After it having taken so long for our first leopard spotting it was amazing to see one just wander up to the watering hole for a drink.

In some of our down time we watched the Olympics from the local restaurant and lazed by the campsites pool. We also enjoyed a cheese and wine night for Justin’s birthday. Dressing up and enjoying a glass of wine over dinner was a fun was to celebrate another birthday on the tour.

 

Otjitatongwe

In the little town of Otjitatongwe lies one of the coolest experiences of the trip, Cheetah Park. The owners of the park have pet cheetahs and decided to allow us tourists in to pet and feed them.

On arrival we were rushed into a 6 food fenced off area to pet 3 of the cheetahs. Like big cats they laze around and like being stroked on their head and neck.  They also appear to find tourists  no threat not only allowing us to touch them  but by showing little interest and often wandering off on their own.

The highlight of the cheetah feeding was being able to pet one of the 9 week cubs. While the remainder of the litter stayed with the mum in a caged of area near our camp one little cub was interacting with the 3 other cheetahs. He was adorable, furry and playful like a kitten. Most of the time we spent in there he was play fighting one of the dogs wrestling him and biting the dogs neck, only to be bitten back.

After setting up camp and getting some glimpses of the 3 other kittens and mum we were loaded up on the back of a pickup van for cheetah feeding. I was devastated to learn that they were being fed what they are always fed Zebra.

We drove into an enclosure where we were soon the centre of every cheetah’s attention. We soon arrived at the feeding zone the truck surrounded by 10 cheetahs. One of the workers got out and proceeded to throw meat to each side of the truck. Of course it was a race between cheetahs who at first grabbed the meat and ran far away to eat. However as the cheetahs all began getting food and numbers of hungry animals decreased they slowly went only a short distance away.

Arriving back to our camp from this we found one of the cheetah cubs had escaped from a small hole in the fence. He was playful running up and down trying to get back in but getting distracted by his siblings and playing on opposite sides of the fence.  It took over an hour to get the cheetah back into the enclosure through lifting up a section and encouraging it to go back in.

Spitzkoppe

This campsite has some of the best scenery we have seen on the trip surrounded by many varying size rock formations. Arriving mid afternoon we had time to go exploring as we climbed up the rocks. Jeremy & Luke set off to do the highest formation and returned just in time for dinner. We decided to keep it simple and explored both sides of the camp from height.

Leaping over cracks in the rocks,  using foot holds and hand holds and simply walking up some provided an afternoon of much appreciated activity. We also spent time taking pictures until returning to camp just before sun set.

Seal Colony

A detour on our drive day led us to a seal colony. At first we had 2 hours to kill in the local resort as the seals were being culled L . When the time finally arrived to explore the seal colony we only had to open the door to smell the unpleasant smell. Venturing on we quickly saw thousands of seals on a small beach area.

While most were lying down and appeared lifeless there were a few active younger seals that were waddling along and sitting up.  A platform allowed us to walk along and view all of these animals taking in the site of many more in the water. However the overbearing smell made this only a short stop as we quickly retreated to the slightly less smelly comfort of the truck.

Swakopmund

Swakopmund is the Victoria Falls of Namibia. Lots of adventure activities are based in this gorgeous town. The town itself has many streets of clothes and souvenirs , lots of restaurants for meals and even a cinema.

Troy and I spoiled ourselves visiting the local fake starbucks 3 times for breakfast. Enjoying a hot beverage and full cooked breaky was a great way to give us energy for the experiences the days had to bring.

We enjoyed a meal out together at a local Mexican restaurant which provided some of the best Mexican I have ever tasted.  Who knew it would come from Africa.

Cinema

When in Africa do as the locals do and for us that meant visiting one of the cheapest Cinemas to see  a film. Having talked up missing the release of the Dark Knight. Me and I were ecstatic to discover it showing at a local cinema. We rounded up Troy, Justin, Helen & Katherine and headed to see it.

Paying 40 Namibian dollars or 5usd we were shocked at how cheap it was. The cinema was small and cute and used an old fashion projector.  We enjoyed an evening of relaxing watching a movie.

Paragliding

Troy tried a new experience as he headed to paraglide off one of the many surrounding sand dunes. After a few instructions and guidance from his teacher he was set free on the air for up to a minute at a time. Gilding off the dunes solo.  He lost count of the number of treks back up the dune but had at least 8 jumps and had a great morning.

Quad Bikes

Troy joined Emma & Lauren and some other tourists for an afternoon of quad biking. He chose to join the fast group and spent 3 hours riding over sand dunes, brining up dust and having a good time.

Sand boarding

Apart from our tour leader the whole group set off on a sand boarding adventure.  6 choose to try their hand at standing up and seemed to do a pretty good job. It looked difficult and there were a few wipeouts along the way.

The remainder of us Troy & I included chose to do lying down. Our first dune was small but gave us the basics of how to slide down, we both ended up with mouths full of sand. The second dune allowed us the opportunity to stop on our own with the threat of gravel rash approaching at the end if unsuccessful.

On the third dune I decided to do the lying down wipeout of the day in front of the video camera – not cool. I began to spin and became unable to control the board. This resulted in my board digging in sideways and me violently continuing down the hill at about 40kph. One pair of sunnies down and a very sore hip and shoulder but luckily no permanent damage.

Sand in my eyes, sore hip and groin left me out of action while Troy did the two faster sand dunes being timed. He clocked up 68kmh.

I did one final run gritting me teeth and trusting Troy to steer us down a tandem run which was successfully navigated.

Sky Diving

After horrible weather the day before and the skydiving being cancelled on me twice I decided to wait and see what our last day brought. Luckily by afternoon it was sunshine and cloud free skies. I joined 4 others from another tour company and was taken to their head quarters. Word from the day before had gotten out that I had done this before so on arrival to the air strip I was quickly suited up and in a plane.

Unlike my experience in Aus this plane did not have a door so the cool breeze could be felt as you explored the scenery. I was in the plane with 2 other solo divers who were experienced trainees  as my guide told me. They went first and to my surprise backwards out of the plane. Very scary to watch 2  people jump out before you.

It was then my turn to wiggle over to the door, bend my knees and tilt my head back. The free fall was amazing overlooking the sand dunes, water and other scenery. Opening my hands to fly like a bird before the parachute was open.

Once it was open my guide decided to have a little fun and played rollercoaster with me a few times. This involved spinning around to one side quickly and then changing to the other. While your heart rate is still racing the parachute is stopped mid air giving a  truly weightless feeling. 

Sossusulei

Around the town of Sossusulei we were surrounded by some natural wonders of the world. First we visited a small canyon where we got to walk into the canyon. Climbing up on the rocks and making out own path on the 100 meter long canyon was quite an adventure.

We also arose early to do sunrise at Dune 45. Still suffering a sore hip and groin from my sand boarding fall most of the group left me for dust as I attempted to climb up the highest dune in the area. However my stubbornness and never quit attitude had me walking up the dune in tears of pain to finally reach the top.

Troy had walked ahead a long time ago and met me there after taking photos of the sunrise.

Other Dunes

15 minutes away from dune 45 are lots of smaller dunes that we were given time to explore on our own. Troy headed out and managed to climb 4 or 5 dunes taking in the scenery which was amazing. He said the feeling of being alone in the dunes was calming and clearing, it was only 15 minutes walk in the right direction to obtain the sense of total isolation.  I stayed in the truck resting my body and enjoying reading a novel.

 

Fish River Canyon

So the USA gets the credit for the biggest canyon in the world but the second biggest is located in Namibia. Fish River Canyon is very impressive. Unfortunately due regulations you are not able to walk in it but for a 5 day trek which you must register for.

However it was still spectacular to view and wander the top looking down on a very giant drop. We walked up to the main view point where we were able to see the sun set.

Orange River

Our last stop in Namibia was Orange River. Disappointingly to many on the truck the river was in fact not orange.  Our shopping experience here reminded me of East Africa as choices were very limited not only for lunch but the cook group of the evening’s dinner.

This river provides only a hop, skip and jump to South Africa that shares its shore.  We were meant to have the opportunity to do a canoeing ride to take on the view of the river however the weather was not being particularly nice and a strong current made the canoeing a no go.

Instead we enjoyed lazing by the campsite, raking in some rays and trying to keep warm from the wind as the weather has begun to significantly drop in temperature.

As you have read Namibia has a lot to offer and we tried to take this stunning country up on as many of these experiences as possible. We now head into South Africa our final country in our tour. What happens over the next 14 days is another story.

Luv Amy

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Africa 2012 Botswana

With 70 per cent of the land  in Botswana being desert, we did not get a great deal of time here. However we did see the one thing that comes to everyones mind when picturing Botswana Okavango Delta.

Maun

Our trip to the Okavango Delta would begin and end here so it was the perfect location to set up camp. We unfortunately had a sad goodbye to say to Nik & Olivia who had been travelling with us for 52 days and also to Grant, Annie, Josh, Claire and Michelle who had joined us at Arusha.

Apart from treating ourselves to Nandos and enjoying some of the western world whilst shopping, our time in Maun was mainly spent at the camp ground. Here we enjoyed lazing by the pool and sun bathing or visiting the bar to watch the Olympics that we all have been missing.

We also were treated to a buffet dinner. While the food was not the greatest and the desert bar was taken away before people had a chance to go there we were entertained by some local females. The dancers did an arrangement of dances and singing after dinner that was great to see.

Okavango Delta

We piled our tents into some empty Mokoros , paired up and found our own boats. Our hour and a half journey in the Mokoros took us through the picturesque landscape passing lily pads and reeds along the way.

We were given the opportunity to do an afternoon game walk and 2 morning game walks. Unfortunately for us we were not in luck and did not see any animals until the last morning game walk when Troy & Katherine saw 2 buffalo. Instead we were shown tracks of the animals, plants that are used by the locals and trees that use to make mokoros before fiberglass was introduced. But above all else we were shown a lot of ummm well lets quote Mel for this one ‘SHIT’ Our enthusiastic guides pointed out every animals poo and told us how fresh it was. A shame that we didn’t get the opportunity to see the animals this had come from.

We also enjoyed a Mokoro sunset cruise that took us through the reeds spotting crocodiles and hippos along the way and returning to land just as the sun was setting having seen the sky light up in spectacular colours.

Our nights were filled with chats around the campfire and entertainment from our guides. They sang and danced in their traditional language and explained to us what the song was about.

Our days were spent swimming in the delta which wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be, sun baking and catching up on good books.

Overall it was downtime which is something that is a rarity on the truck and we take it when we can get it.

Tsodilo Hills

A Unesco World Heritage Site in northern Botswana gave us the opportunity to see more of the bushman’s paintings.  Unlike the vivid paintings we had seen in caves in Zimbabwe these paintings were outdoors. Which unfortunately meant due to weather that they had faded significantly.

However we were taken on a 2 hour walk where we were shown several different spots of paintings existing of the local animals Giraffes, Zebra etc.  We were shown a local game that had been left in a small cave area and Dave tried to give this a go.

Our guide was able to fill us with some more information of the bushman and why the paintings had been placed there.

As you can see our time was limited however we got a feeling for the country and had the opportunity to explore the highlights of Botswana.

Our trip is winding down only Namibia and South Africa to Go.

 

Luv Amy 

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Africa 2012 Zimbabwe

Adrenaline and excitement are still running through my veins as we do one of the fastest border crossings in our time in Africa. Departing Zimbabwe it’s hard to believe only 11 nights were spent here but the memories and experiences this country brought will remain a lifetime.

Lake Kariba

Our 4 nights in this area were split between a local campsite and 2 nights on a houseboat. The campsite located on Lake Kariba had wildlife including Vevert (blue ball) monkeys, crocodiles and hippos within a very short walk.

Located on a windy road up a hill this campsite provided the perfect opportunity for me to test out my 5usd pink running shoes as I attempted to keep fit on the trip. Running laps on a dirt road stopping to stretch by hippos was amazing.

Departing the campsite we excitedly headed to a houseboat that would house us for 2 nights. 21 of us squeezed into 10 rooms with views of the gorgeous lake surrounding us through our tarp windows. The deck provided us with seating areas to lounge and read, a sun deck for sunbathing or relaxing in the Jacuzzi, a bar and some actual tables to enjoy our lunch and dinner at.

 An afternoon game cruise on the lake allowed us to appreciate a magical looking sunset and view some common game such as hippo’s, crocodiles and fish.

Troy enjoyed morning fishing trip with Michelle and guide Stanford, between them catching 18 Tilapia. 5 of which were given to the crew for dinner while we dined on delicious lasagna, potato bake, pork chops, fresh salad and veggies.

Annie’s birthday provided the perfect opportunity to have a houseboat party.  Dancing and drinking the night away until early hours of the morning.

Antelope Park

Antelope park began as a game reserve however with the number of lions decreasing at rapid rates they have introduced a 4 step breading program to hopefully turn captive born cubs into the wild. As a way of raising much needed funds to assist in the program we were able to participate in some once in a lifetime experiences.

Lion walk

An early morning lion walk allowed us to walk with a pair of 18month old lionesses.  This part of the program allows the lions the opportunity to wander free throughout the bush land and hopefully further develop their hunting skills.  We were guided by some of the lion carers and volunteers. The lions are walking free no leashes and often wandered into the grass. We were able to walk beside them stroke their backs and when the lions laid down to rest we were able to sit with them and get photos.

This was one of the highlights of our trip so far and we were given a small fright as Troy and I posed with the two cubs for a photo at the end. Having had enough the cubs stood up turned around to face us and I felt whiskers brush my pants. I slowly backed away. No harm done but a great memory and story to tell.

Night Drive

Troy participated in 2 night drives. This part of the program allows the older lions to be taken out at night towards some game to again allow their hunting skills to develop. In theory the truck stays behind and you are given the opportunity to see a live kill if it so happens. Unfortunately on both nights the lions did not want to play the first night staying beside the enclosures of the breeding program and the second running away from the carers unable to be found.

Elephant Interaction

6 of us joined 4 elephants and trainers on an elephant interaction morning. Here the trainers showed us how they use treats of sugar cubes to train the elephants to perform tricks such as turning, sitting, lifting legs and kicking a soccer ball.

We were then given the opportunity to pet the elephants, feed them through both the trunk and mouth and to sit on the elephant.  Justin and I got the youngest girl elephant and had lots of fun interacting with her. Having ridden an Asian elephant in Thailand I was shocked when my elephant took me from sitting to standing. The sheer size of the elephant was intimidating.

This was my favourite activity at Antelope Park it was great to interact and see the elephants being cared for so well.

Lion Feeding

Being a vegetarian this was not on my list of things to do so Troy joined almost the rest of our group on a lion feeding experience. Here they were placed outside a fence caging lions. Offal from cattle was placed inside the enclosure next to the fence. The spectators were less then 1m from the meat on the other side of the fence. The lions are released from a top enclosure and they run full pelt towards the fence and jump on the meat.

This is used to identify the dominant lions of a group. The weakest lions run grab a mouthful and keep going, the ones vying for dominance stay with the meat lying across their claim growling at each other and occasionally fighting to prove who is boss.

Horse Riding

After a fun afternoon trip in Lake Malawi only a week earlier. Troy decided to join me on a game horse ride. We were sized up for horses before beginning our ride.

We had the opportunity to ride through the grounds of the reserve. Here we could ride past some animals at a very very close distance. Our first game spot was giraffes munching on trees we got within 2 meters of the giraffe riding past taking photos as they continued eating lunch. We then had the opportunity to ride close to antelope and through lots of the vegetation that is a little dry due to it being dry season. My horse liked a wander not a trot and for some reason did not like trotting more than 5 meters close to Troy’s.

However the stand out highlight for me was when we rode next to zebras. Still my favourite African animal and they still excite me even after seeing thousands and thousands of these beautiful creatures.

The ride went for about 1.5 hours before we headed back to the campsite.

The campsite itself was one of the better ones in Africa. A bar and buffet restaurant and some gorgeous cottages. We were enjoying lunch on day when 4 elephants wandered past our table having emerged from the water. At night donkeys, bush babies and other wildlife was heard next to our tent.

Bulawayo

Only a small town in Zimbabwe and not known to me before this trip however one of the stand out highlights due to our opportunities to learn more about the African culture.

7 of us headed off on a day trip to learn more about bushman from our enthusiastic guide Ian. Along the way we were shown plants and told of how they are used in Africa. These included bushman’s tea, lavender tree and local marijuana.

We were also shown the first head quarters of scouts. Having always believed this was an n English organization it was interesting to see that the concept was formed by Baden Powell in Bulawayo and the first camp was held there before the idea was taken to England with him where he and his wife set up scout and girl guides that are now world renown.

But it was the cave paintings that blew our mind. We were able to walk up a small hill and into a cave that is said to be dated back up to 50 000 years. There is a painting of a giraffe dated 26000 years that looks vivid and still full of detail.

Ian told us more about the bushman and their civilization. We learnt how the bushman will only eat once a week or so and have a fat depository area in their buttocks. We learnt that they never take more than they can consume in one sitting, killing an animal only the size that will feed them and their family. We learnt that even when they are in need of something they will never take it all. For example if 4 berries are on the tree they will take on ore 2 as there may be someone who is in more need of those berries.

In a material climate like we live in today it’s amazing to see a tribe that still has these values as Ian put they may be the most civilized race of humans in the world. Unfortunately due to disease and conflict only 43 bushman survive in Zimbabwe and only a handful of people have met them.

We were then taken to meet the local village’s chief who upon eyeing troy’s height nicknamed him giraffe. He excitedly told us stories of his life and a time when he was mauled by a leopard showing us the scars o his torso, arms and legs.

That afternoon we headed into a national park in hunt for rhinos however we were unfortunately not in luck as we were unable to spot any of these amazing creatures not from lack of trying from Tracy who was following their tracks.

Victoria Falls

To burn off some energy and pump our blood full of adrenaline we spent 4 days in Victoria Falls. The town itself was cute with many clothes shops to build up our winter wardrobe (its getting quite cool), fast food restaurants and souvenirs. There is also a casino and night club that have amazing decor. The campsites bar provided fast and cheap internet and best of all coverage of the Olympics that we were able to watch and cheer our countries on.  However whilst our down time was spent wandering the town the highlights were the activities we participated in.

White water Rafting

Troy and 8 others headed to the Zambezi River where they participated in white water rafting. Being still high water they were only able to do from rapid 11 – 23. However this did not deter them from having a fantastic time with almost everyone falling out of the boat at various times.

The rapids were a lot closer than the ones in Jinja and the day was faster paced.

Bridge Activities

Mel and I had made a pact only days into the beginning of our trip to not only do a bungee together on Victoria Falls but the big air combo. At first 50 days away seemed so far but the time snuck up and we headed off.

After being weighed and embarrassingly having our weight written on our arms in permanent marker we headed to our first activity the bridge slide. This is a seated flying fox and gave us an opportunity to swing along the cable taking in the views of the falls.

Full of excitement and a little fear we convinced ourselves and the crew our next activity should be a bungee jump. Going first I took a seat and slowly had towels wrapped around my ankles before the harness and robes were attached. Mel watching on provided some great advice of “don’t die”. Hobbling over to the edge being told not to look down I couldn’t help but sneak a peek at the 110 meters that lay below me. I was counted down 5, 4,3,2,1 Bungee however I shook my head, fear had overcome me. A quick pep talk of its easier to get it over and done with asap I did another countdown 5,4,3 and I was gone not giving myself a chance to back out. The free fall lasted only momentarily however I did notice I was spinning a lot, I rebounded half a dozen or so times before slowly slowing down and laying head first from the rope as a man was lowered down to assist me up. This part of waiting to go back up was the scariest part and I just wanted to shout ok I’m ready to go up now.

After Mel completed her bungee we traded places for the bridge swing. However there was a queue and after an hour it was finally our turn. Attached to another harness the weight of the ropes instantly wanted to pull you towards the edge. With little hesitation I jumped feet first into a free fall. After dropping I swung side to below the bridge taking in the views of the falls. We sat shocked at what we had done and adrenaline would fuel our bodes for a few more hours before crash time

Vic Falls National Park

An afternoon wander through the national park took us to many viewing points of the Victoria Falls. Like the pyramids of Egypt I had heard of their size and seen pictures but was gob smacked when the reality was just as I had imagined. The falls looked spectacular as mist rose up from the valley, many rainbows formed throughout the falls and as you can imagine there was lots of opportunities to take spectacular photos.

We spent a few hours just wandering through the national park also taking in the wildlife of antelope and monkeys and Mel and I climbing some trees. Words cannot describe how spectacular the falls are so you will have to let the pictures on facebook and to come on the site speak for themselves.

Helicopter Ride

130 dollars each for 15 minutes seemed like a lot however we decided to splurge and go on a morning helicopter ride. We were taken just outside of town to a helipad and hopped in a 4 seater copter.  We were given headsets to communicate to our driver and off we went.

The ride took us over the gorge, to the falls. Livingstone Island was pointed out as well as parts of the falls from our driver. Even though there was a height limit of 1005ft we felt very close to the falls. Unlike the national park we were able to see the falls in one row allowing us to take in the size of this natural wonder.

 Before we knew it our ride was over and we were landing back at our starting point.

Restaurants.

Troy and some other carnivores form the tour headed out to a restaurant called Boma’s. Here they were given a buffet consisting of game meat. They were able to sample crocodile, warthog, guinea fowl, Kudu and Eland as well as some other native food. Troy enjoyed the Eland stew the most.

They were also given the opportunity to have their faces painted, participate in interactive drumming and to watch a show of drumming.

 

The following evening Troy and I went to another local restaurant (vegetarian friendly) Mama Africa’s.  A live band performed as we dined on some delicious food and sipped wine. There was an option for game meat however we stuck to other food and enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant.

 

As you can see we barely got time to rest in Zimbabwe however heading into Botswana we are excited by what lays ahead.

 

Luv Amy 

 

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Africa 2012 Zambia

Zambia was more of a transit country to allow us to travel from Malawi to Zimbabwe. We only had 2 nights here and most was spent in the truck travelling between places. It’s unfortunate that we did not see more of this country as it looked like it had a lot to offer.

Upon crossing the border when we entered Zambia we instantly noticed the dryness of the plantation and chance in scenery. Throughout our time here we did not have an opportunity to see many animals as we had in previous countries. We did however see Antelope and Zebras.

LUSAKA

The capital of Zambia is more like a western city. Entering the city we saw a huge chicken in the middle of the intersection, lots of billboards advertising western food, more fast food outlets and heap of gorgeous water ornaments. We stopped at a huge mall (Manda Hill) that reminded us of the home. Amongst the usual Shoprite supermarket was Woolworths, Subway, and KFC & Nandos. We thought we had died and gone to heaven. Troy, Justin & I reacquainted ourselves with some Subway which in Africa was good. We had a few hours to kill where we purchased several days of food and had a look at the shops.

Wandering though clothes shops you begin to realize how expensive it is compared to Europe. A pair of tracksuit pants were 25 dollars and higher (no name) and tights were 15 – 20 dollars. We soon saw why it is easiest to trade with clothes in central and eastern Africa as the price seems astronomical.

Our campsites in Zambia were quite cool stayed in Eureka farm that had antelope and zebras in the nearby area.  We heard the infamous Zebra call in the middle of the night and I was stunned when 2 zebras were glaring at me as I tried to return to the tent. I of course froze what else are you meant to do and waited until they began to graze before sneaking in my tent only meters away from them.

It was also here that we said goodbye to Vicky and Rob. Two amazing people we had started our journey with. It is always hard to say goodbye to people and we are finding with this trip we have had to do it many more times than we had thought.

As we headed to the Zimbabwe side we crossed an enormous dam. The water and the landscape around this was breathtaking. And we were lucky that this is one of the few places we are able to take photos of dams.

As I mentioned in the beginning this was a very short trip but we had Zimbabwe to look forward to with house boats, Antelope Park and Victoria Falls but that’s another blog.

Luv Amy 

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Africa 2012 Malawi

Malawi was just a short visit for us only spending 4 nights in this gorgeous country. However the time we spent in Malawi was enjoyable and allowed us to enjoy its beautiful landscape.

CHITIMBA

Our first night in Malawi was spent in Chitimba and we were camping on the sand only meters away from the beach.  Along the way we took in the scenery of Lake Malawi the third largest lake in Africa.  As we have become accustom to in Africa the water was crystal blue and surrounded by some gorgeous plantations.

We had a few stops to acquire some bad taste costumes for an upcoming costume night. Given a budget of 1000 Malawi Kwacha’s or approximately 4 dollars to get a complete outfit for the person we pulled out of the hat.  We arrived and were quickly approached by locals having clothes for sale showing us what they thought they wanted. The clothes are sent from Oxfam in London when they are not able to be sold. One look at the clothes and you understand why they have not been sold.  I had Olivia and tried to find something not to bad opting for a leopard print zig zag skirt and black and glitter top.

Another stop for us on this day was a trip to a local wood carving market. There were about a dozen stalls selling everything from bowls. Cutlery, tables, chairs, little animal statues and so much more. All hand carved with some stalls offering demonstrations whilst we shopped. Unsure if we would get wood in the country we were unsure at first however we soon discovered a table we could not refuse. The one table leg is made of two giraffes wrapped around eachother and the table top consists of the big 5 animals of Africa. Buffalo, Lion, Leopard, Hippo & Rhino. We managed to barter for half the asking price.

Lake Malawi seemed a drawing card for many other tour companies approximately 6 other trucks were camped out too and we were shocked to discover that there were only 2 showers for all the campers. Crazy times.

 

KANDE BEACH

We had 3 nights in Kande Beach to enjoy views of the lake, play volleyball, lazing on the sand and take part in some fun activities.

The first afternoon we arrived we had amazing weather. Troy opted to join the boys in 3 games of volleyball. The locals joined in on the game and were getting quite serious. The sunset over the water and distant mountains was gorgeous.

I decided to use to opportunity of being on a beach to go for a much awaited run. After 2 months without running I was a little out of practice but really enjoyed running through water and doing a range of lunges, squats, sit ups etc on the sandy beach.

Horse Riding

A group of 9 others and myself headed to the local horse stables to spend an afternoon on horses. I was assigned CHARGE a beautiful white horse that I learnt throughout the course of the ride has gone blind in one eye and as a result is not the fastest and a lot more cautious.

We travelled for 2 hours through the forest areas being shown trotting techniques from our 4 enthusiastic guides. We had a few opportunities to trot on straights which were surprisingly a lot less scary then I thought and heaps of fun.  We then headed onto the beach where only minutes away from the ending place Mel took a slide off the horse landing on her back quite hard after her horse got scared by a dog. Syena who was travelling quite close also fell off the horse. Luckily there were no broken bones just a few bruises and bruised egos.

We then waited while our horses lost their saddles and got boasted up onto the horses to ride them bareback. We headed out to the water the our guides and were led into some of the waves that were a little more vicious due to the wind. After about 15 minutes we were able to let our horses roll in the sand before saying goodbye and heading back.

Bad Taste Party

As I mentioned earlier we had acquired some costumes for a bad taste party. We were also being treated to pig on the spit (Veg burgers for me) and lots of side salads. Anna our tour leader and Grant headed out early in the morning to witness the slaughter of the pig. Not something I would personally do but at least everyone knows its fresh. We had also chipped in 1000 Kwacha’s to make some punch at out cheap local alcohol.

We exchanged costumes by showing what we had and passing it to them and so on. There was one mishap as Laura was written down twice instead of one Laura and on Lauren. However we managed to chance clothes and everyone looked as hideous as each other.

Troy was given some blue trousers complete with a bunny tail and a matching red top whilst I was given a blue dress and a handmade hat from Emma.

We enjoyed our delicious dinner and drinks. We headed to the bar where we entertained the other tour companies by lots of dancing on the bar.

Walking Tour

A small group of us decided to head into town on a walking tour. We were guided through the village having a look in our guide’s personal home and heading to the local hospital. The hospital which is more like a small clinic used for mid wives and emergencies. We had a little about the hospital explained before we were asked for a tip. We of course had not been told this would happen form our tour leader so what preceded was several minutes of awkward silence.

We then headed to a local school being shown the library, principles office and classroom that can hold up to 160 student at a time. The tables they use are not very wide but can hold 4 people. It amazing when you look at what facilities we have and how teachers and students complain when other countries have so much less. We had some books from another girl who had left the tour to donate. 

Local meal & dancing

To celebrate our last day in Malawi and Vicky’s birthday we headed back towards town for a local mealwe sat on a mat squeezing on with legs in front of us and dined on sweet potato soup, rice, beans and spinach.  After dinner we had a large group of children perform lots of songs and dances for us showing us how they wiggle their hips.

We were asked to sing happy birthday to Vicky while they presented her with a banana cake. We then tried to perform the YMCA which was embarrassing as we didn’t know the words. We followed this up performing the chicken dance and hokey pokey. It was a fun night but quite loud as the music went on for over 1 hour.

Like each country on our African trip we have amazing memories and stories to share. We left Malawi for a short transit into Zambia before our adventure filled time in Zimbabwe.

Luv Amy 

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AFRICA 2012 TANZANIA

With so much to see in and do the two weeks in Tanzania flew past. I could write an enormous blog but I will try to keep it brief.

NYAKANAZI

This was our first stop in Tanzania a small town in the middle of nowhere and we are told it is not frequently visited. As a result our trucks arrival in the town had the children coming from everywhere. After excitedly checking into rooms for the night a big change from the tents we have become accustomed to we set off on a town tour. Approximately 50 children joined us along the way holding our hands, chasing us and getting piggy backs.  We were shown the local markets and the school where we were able to watch some children playing a football game. Not only were we given beds but spoilt upon arrival back from the tour with a delicious home cooked meal prepared for us.

MWANZA

We enjoyed our first experience with chips myeye a delicious combination of an omelet and hot chips as we waited to board the ferry across Lake Victoria. The ferry journey was only short but offered amazing views of the lake. Lake Victoria is the biggest lake in Africa and home to many of the local wildlife we have come to love.

Our campsite was the local yacht club on the lake and offered a relaxing afternoon of chilling and enjoying the sun. Unfortunately we were recommended to stay out of the water as it is home to crocodiles. Some of the guys decided to hack coconuts out of the trees to put with their rum which was a lot more difficult than first thought but they managed to have success.

The local pub provides some local drum music that could be heard from the campsite so we enjoyed listening to this while we ate dinner. .

IKOMA BUSH CAMP

This gave us the opportunity for our first night drive of the trip. We were collected by some local guides who used flashlights to search for animals for us. We have seen so many animals yet this opportunity gave us so the opportunity to see even more animals including nocturnal animals. In our short 2 hour trip we saw Steenbok, Wildebeest, Bat Eared Foxes, Rabbits, Dik Dik, Crowned Plover, Common Reed Buck, and Porcupine, White Tail mongoose, Jackal, Bustard, Impala, Aardwolf, Genet, Duicker & my favourite the Springhare. The springhare is a cross between a rabbit and kangaroo. It does not have a pouch but it jumps like a kangaroo.

The morning brought the opportunity to do a bush walk. This allowed us the opportunity to be guided from the campsite through the local area being shown plants that are used for healing and medication. Including the well known aloe vera plant. We were able to sample some of the local fruit which stained both lips and tongues but tasted great.  Due to some kidnapping occurring only a few weeks ago we were accompanied by a guard armed with a bow and arrow. Troy, Simon, Makayla and Sam got lessons on how to use the guards bow and arrow. The guard pointed out the wildabeast but they did not have to worry as Troy was a long way off.

Mt Ngiri

We excitedly headed into the Serengeti a highlight for all of us on the trip. On the way in we did a game drive. We saw the usual suspects but got excited when we approached many vehicles in one spot this usually means there is a lion around. But to our astonishment it was the final of our big five the Leopard.  At first it was hard to find camouflaged in a tree however with the use of super zooms on cameras, and binoculars we soon found it. We continued onto another part of the park where we found a second leopard this time dining on a Thompson Gazelle from the safety of a tree. Of course this is part of the animal way of life however it was a little confronting to see an animal munching away on some fresh flesh.

Our campsite was amazing providing the opportunity to have Zebras grazing the grass only meters away from the campsite. It also offered me the first hot shower of the trip.

A morning game drive allowed us the opportunity to see a lot of Zebras bringing our total up to thousands. We were told the migration that had moved out of Tanzania only days earlier and this was possibly the tail end. We also came across the 3rd Leopard of our trip which had a hyena waiting below for the leftovers.

 

NGORONGORO

After a scary morning trip to the toilet where we had wildabeast standing near the toilets grazing on the grass. All that freaking for no reason as they were only interested in the grass. We swapped our massive truck for a few 4×4’s which allowed us to get a closer look at the crater. Driving in we took the opportunity to stop at a few lookouts allowing us to view this spectacular scenery.  Along the way we saw a rhino which was quite exciting due to them being quite rare. However a 30x Zoom showed the rhinos skin deteriorating and made us aware that it was unfortunately dead.

Lake Magadi had thousands of flamingos around it which provided a pink and white scenic view. We also had to see many more animals including wildebeests, zebra, and ostriches the area provided us with the opportunity to see more Lions bringing our total to 18 which still after all of those lions I am as excited as a kid in a candy store. One Lioness was hunched down looking at her prey of wildabeast however out driver told us she would not hunt as the grass was too low.

ARUSHA

Our every increasing group went from 19 to 29 people as we lost 2 (Luke & Elise) and gained 11 more people. The new group had begun a tour in Kenya a few days before hand and had also visited the Serengeti.

 To celebrate we were treated a two course meal by the company consisting of soup and a bbq. However they mixed up lactose intolerant and offered Josh and myself Macaroni Cheese.

As we do when we all gain new people we partied on with some going to the early hours.  The morning we left Arusha we had to say a sad goodbye to Mafaro our trainee guide who had joined us in Jinja. Having sat across from us and filled us with so much excitement and wisdom of all the places we had visited he was going to be missed. The truck needed to have some repairs done to it so we were given 3 hours free time in Arusha where we enjoyed some delicious coffee and Samosas at one of the local coffee shops .

We didn’t brave the insane markets that had hundreds of people crowded into very small spaces instead went to the local ShopRite for the groceries we required.

KORONGWE

This was merely a stopping point to prevent an enormous truck day.  We did not get to see much of the town only as we drove in. Arriving late in the evening we enjoyed a meal at the local hotel which was a delicious buffet.  This gave us a chance to mingle more with the new group and get excited about the upcoming days. Our departure the next day was very early so we slept as we headed out of town.

 

DAR ES SALAAM

We spent 2 nights here the day before and after our Zanzibar trip. The campsite is set on the beach and we were able to see many locals enjoying a swim or playing football. On the first day my cook group prepared a feast of Fish, Prawns, Stuffed Capsicum, Fried rice, Pasta Salad and Garden Salad. Which did not allow us to enjoy the beach but was a hit with everyone when it came to dinnertime.

Our 2nd day in Dar arriving back from Zanzibar I enjoyed a refreshing swim in warm shallow water. It felt Lauren and I had to walk a fair distance out only to be up to our knees.

We also said a sad goodbye after Zanzibar to 7 of our group Makayla, Sam, Kate, Claire, Simon, Glen & Ben. And we swapped our truck with roll up tarp windows for one with glass windows lot easier than expected.  It was also time to say goodbye to our driver Timba and hello to JB. Lots of changes happening at once but it wasn’t long until we were all settled in.

ZANZIBAR

4 days were spent in Zanzibar as a holiday away from the truck. One night was in Stone town and 3 were on Kendwa Beach.

STONETOWN

Our time In Stonetown was quite rushed as we arrived and headed pretty much straight out on spice tour. This tour was heaps of fun and gave us the opportunity to see plants for cinnamon, vanilla, coconut, lychee and many more local foods. We were given samples an had the opportunity to smell and taste most of the plants. We were also given a demonstration on how to climb a coconut tree using a banana branch. Only for the brave.

Wandering around Stonetown later that evening Mel & I wandered past Freddy Mercury’s house. Freddy lived on Zanzibar Island for the first part of his life. Many places claim to have housed Freddy however we were excited real or not.

The markets in Stonetown were great for souvenirs such as sarongs, dresses, scarf’s etc. There were also amazing food markets where we were able to select food to be cooked on request. Unfortunately it was precooked and therefore cooked twice when we received it so not the greatest African food we have eaten.

PRISON ISLAND

A half hour boat ride away took us to the infamous prison island. Here we were able to walk around the ruins and admire the picturesque views of the crystal blue water and white sandy beaches.  Once used as a prison this island now gets tourists for another reason Tortoises.

We were able to get quite close hugging and petting the tortoises and as you can imagine taking hundreds of photos. The oldest tortoise on the island was over 180 years and can be easily identified from its broken shell L . We got to go to the younger enclosure and  hold a 2 year old tortoise which was a memorable moment. We then visited the nursery in which they aged from one month to 2 years of age.

We also were witness to the making of some new tortoises as a frisky male snuck up on a female.

The island itself is picturesque and we took time enjoying the blue water, palm trees, rocks and boardwalk taking photos.

On the way back from the island we stopped allowing some time to snorkel.  Troy and a few others took this opportunity and were able to see quite a range of fish.

KENDWA BEACH

Our relaxing part of the trip here we enjoyed sunbathing, football and lazing in the sun. Troy chose to do a cruise which had them drinking on a catamaran, snorkeling and watching sunset.

I opted for some beauty treatment having a pedicure, 3 braids put in my hair and a henna tattoo. We visited the local town and enjoyed eating off the truck and something different from salad sandwiches in the local restaurants.

However the highlight for this trip to Zanzibar would be our opportunity to swim with turtles. We travelled only a few km’s up the road to another resort where we were able to feed some of the Sea Turtles seaweed. We were also able to hope into the natural lagoon and swim with them. Troy used snorkels to get close while the turtles seemed to take a liking to Jeremy all hanging around him.

At present they have 10 turtles and they have all been rescued. They are kept in the lagoon for a year before being released the wild. Another amazing experience .

We didn’t want to leave Zanzibar but all good things must come to an end.

INIGRA

This was our final stop in Tanzania and the trip to  Inigra that day was one of our longest travel days 13 hours. (yikes) However we excitedly entered a higher altitude enjoying the cool change in the weather. As we arrived quite late we had a local meal of vegetables, meat and maize. Before we were served a chief of the tour was crowned and our friendly American happily took the position. He of course in true African style needed to acquire some wives Olivia, Syena & myself were chosen. After being dressed in traditional costumes it was time to enjoy our meal.

However the best was yet to come as after the meal when we dined on homemade brownies and Amarillo flavoured hot chocolate. Both of which were delicious.

 

We didn’t have any more time  in this town as it was time to enter another country and head towards Malawi. But that’s another blog….

 

Love Amy

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