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Tag Archives: Africa

Out of Africa: 1
Out of Africa: 2
Out of Africa: 3 – Safari in Lake Manyara
Out of Africa: 4 – Safari in the Serengeti
Out of Africa: 5 – Safari in Ngorongoro Crater
Out of Africa: 6 – Climbing Kilimanjaro
Out of Africa: 7 – Kilimanjaro Summit

After a few weeks out in the wild, we headed to Zanzibar for a week of civilization. We divided our time between Stonetown and a northern beach town called Nungwi.

Strolling the streets of Stonetown was very interesting because the city was full of ancient buildings with architectural inspirations from around the world. We spent some time walking around the city before tucking into an oceanside café where we watched some ferries get loaded.

Ferry loading was quite a production as the ferry pulled up to very deep, soft sand and many of the cars being loaded did not have four-wheel drive. I was surprised how many large items were being hand carried by passengers across the channel to Dar es Salaam. I could have watched this ordeal day after day.

After Stonetown, we headed to the north tip of the island to the town of Nungwi for some sport fishing, snorkeling, and general relaxation.

Ok, let’s be realistic, there wasn’t much relaxation. Chris and I are both just a little too energetic to actually relax.

Back in the day, Chris spent some time in American Samoa where he says that he could shimmy up trees no problem. He made decent progress on this tree but was bummed that he didn’t make it to the top. I, on the other hand, was relieved that he didn’t make it high enough to do much damage to himself if he fell.

Our sport fishing trip didn’t exactly go as planned. For months, Chris had dreamed of catching a marlin or dorado in Zanzibar. For months, I patiently listened to him recounting big fish tales from his trips to Baja. For hours, I patiently sweltered in the tropical heat as we trolled the Pemba Channel catching nothing. Essentially, we ended up with a very expensive and uncomfortable boat ride.

After that experience, our wallets were feeling light and our excitement about Zanzibar marine life was somewhat deflated, so we decided to do self-guided snorkeling rather than hiring a boat for a real snorkeling trip. Twice a day we had watched throngs of local women picking the reefs around the island and we were not convinced that there would be much to see on a snorkel trip.

Most of the kiosks on the beach selling formal snorkeling trips also rented equipment for DIYers like us, but we were still surprised when the proprietor that we rented from pointed directly out in front of our hotel and said “Just go out there.”

Sure buddy.

Fortunately, we were wrong about the reefs being picked bare. They were loaded with fish. It was honestly one of the best snorkeling experiences that I have ever had. What a wonderful surprise!

After a few days in Nungwi, we began backtracking, quite literally (Stonetown –> Dar es Salaam –> Mombasa –> Kilimanjaro Airport –> Nairobi) because of the puddle-jumper plane that we flew on, back to Nairobi and finally back home.

We saved for what seemed like forever to go to Africa thinking that it would be a once in a lifetime experience. Now, several months removed from the experience, I can’t wait to go on safari again. It is just a matter of when.

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Out of Africa: 1
Out of Africa: 2
Out of Africa: 3 – Safari in Lake Manyara
Out of Africa: 4 – Safari in the Serengeti
Out of Africa: 5 – Safari in Ngorongoro Crater
Out of Africa: 6 – Climbing Kilimanjaro
Out of Africa: 8 – Zanzibar

(Climbing route map.)

 

As we hiked, with the summit in sight, from Karanga up to Barafu, we passed some graffiti covered rocks. Normally graffiti makes me angry, but for some reason these messages really spoke to me at that time. I decided to keep walking.

When we arrived at Barafu Camp, we had all afternoon and evening to eat, sleep, and get ready to leave for the summit at midnight. To my surprise, there wasn’t a whole lot of eating going on. Before this hike, I would have sworn that I could eat no matter what, but it turns out that altitude gets the best of my appetite so I just did my best to get some sleep.

Around 11:30, we woke up and began to fill our water bottles, bundle up in layers, and choke down come cookies. Even cookies didn’t seem the least bit appealing.  At midnight, after a round of “Happy New Years”, we were off.

We hiked for about six hours in the dark. In retrospect, it was probably best to hike in the dark because we couldn’t see much except for a snakelike trail of headlamps headed up the mountain. It was surreal.

In spite of my layers, got fairly cold on the way up, but each time I needed to add layers I had to have a serious debate with myself about whether it was worth the effort. I felt like such a robot between the lack of sleep, the altitude, and the little food that I had been able to force myself to eat that it was pretty hard to think clearly.

Excuse the bags (mascara residue?) under my eyes. My top layers, most of which you can see, included a wicking t-shirt, my pink Under Armor Cold Gear long sleeve, a blue fleece, black down jacket, black balaclava, and black hat. On the bottom, I wore long underwear, fleece pants, a pair of hiking pants, gaiters, wool socks, and hiking boots. I also wore down mittens because I’m a big wuss who gets cold easily.

Just as the sun came up, the iconic Kilimanjaro sign came into view. All of our group had made it. We were excited, cold, relieved, and super bummed that we had to hike all the way back down the mountain.

Next up: Zanzibar!

Out of Africa: 1
Out of Africa: 2
Out of Africa: 3 – Safari in Lake Manyara
Out of Africa: 4 – Safari in the Serengeti
Out of Africa: 5 – Safari in Ngorongoro Crater
Out of Africa: 6 – Climbing Kilimanjaro
Out of Africa: 7 – Kilimanjaro Summit
Out of Africa: 8 – Zanzibar

After wrapping up our safari, it was time to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro! We headed back to Moshi, Tanzania to meet up with the guide for our climb and to check if Rayna and Farah’s luggage had arrived yet.

No dice on their bags. They would want a disclaimer here saying that they bought really cute clothes to wear up the mountain and ended up wearing a combination of my stuff and rental gear. Luckily they carried on their backpacks and boots!

We started our hike up the Lemosho Route on Mt. Kilimanjaro at nearly 9000′ (the map below is in meters) and stayed at Shira 1, Shira Hut, Barranco, Karanga, and Barafu Camps on the way up the mountain.

[Source]

Each night our tents and a dining tent were set up at camp and we pretty much just hung out all evening until bedtime. Some of the camps were pretty crowded, which was kind of surreal.

The dining tent left something to be desired, but all in all it was better than eating outside, especially when it rained or when it was cold outside. Chris and I were spoiled with our amazing dining tent on the Inca Trail, this one pales in comparison to that one!

Except for summit day and one day of tromping through the mud, the hiking was actually not very intense. I think Chris was a little bummed about the ease of the hike since he is all into feeling hardcore.

              

On the way up, we met all sorts of interesting people as we passed them back and forth on the trail. I was really struck by the number of Americans going up the mountain, but I guess when you think about how large our population is compared to many other countries that it makes sense.

We saw many interesting sights on the way up including a guy carrying a cello and a couple that was planning to get married at the top. The cello guy had a crazy carbon fiber cello and wanted to do the highest cello performance on record. Pretty cool. Unfortunately, the bride got altitude sickness, so we witnessed their wedding at the bottom of the mountain the evening that we descended.

Summit day coming soon!

Out of Africa: 1
Out of Africa: 2
Out of Africa: 3 – Safari in Lake Manyara
Out of Africa: 4 – Safari in the Serengeti
Out of Africa: 5 – Safari in Ngorongoro Crater
Out of Africa: 6 – Climbing Kilimanjaro
Out of Africa: 7 – Kilimanjaro Summit
Out of Africa: 8 – Zanzibar

Before we talk giraffes and zebras in Ngorongoro Crater, just a few more pictures from the Serengeti.

At our camp in the Serengeti, there were tons of animals, some that we could see, and some, like the hyenas, that made their presence known in other ways. We were warned not to leave things outside of our tents at night and one morning it became very clear why; a hyena stole one of the camper’s shoes. 

Typical dog.

The most prominent animals at our camp were storks, and boy did Chris and I get an earful about the storks.

“So, what are the storks saying? Are they bringing you anything?”

Geez.

 

Now for the zebras and giraffes that I promised. I feel so fortunate that we saw so many animals. With the sighting of our first few zebras, we could not take enough pictures. By the last day of our safari we were only stopping for cute, baby zebras who were nearby.

 I really enjoyed looking at the patterns on the giraffes and zebras because I was fascinated by how unique they were. The same, yet different.

Next up: Kilimanjaro! Finally!

Out of Africa: 1
Out of Africa: 2
Out of Africa: 3 – Safari in Lake Manyara
Out of Africa: 4 – Safari in the Serengeti
Out of Africa: 5 – Safari in Ngorongoro Crater
Out of Africa: 6 – Climbing Kilimanjaro
Out of Africa: 7 – Kilimanjaro Summit
Out of Africa: 8 – Zanzibar

The evening before we headed out to the Serengeti, our two friends Ranya and Farah were finally able to meet up with us.

They had some difficulties with Brussels Airlines. I won’t get into it much here. Let’s just say that I will not be flying Brussels anytime soon.

As I write this, I am fairly sure that they have still not seen their bags since they checked them in Chicago on December 18.

Our two days in the Serengeti were beyond my wildest dreams. We saw more big cats (my favorite!) than I ever imagined that we would, mostly thanks to “Eagle Eyes” Chris. He claims to have better than 20/20 vision and after witnessing his cat spotting prowess, I am starting to believe it.

It is still mind-boggling to me that a huge cat-like this can get up into a tree. Our guide had a good eye, but Chris spotted this guy. I hadn’t even been looking for cats in trees before that point. Don’t let me guide your safari, kids.

Thankfully, not all of the cats were in trees. These lion cubs were frolicking out in the open under the watchful eye of their parents.

Enough cats? We saw other animals as well. The sheer density of animals was just unreal, not only because of the animal diversity, but because the animals went on for as far as I could see.

Zebras, wildebeests, and a hyena. Just incredible!

Next up, zebras and giraffes!

Out of Africa: 1
Out of Africa: 2
Out of Africa: 3 – Safari in Lake Manyara
Out of Africa: 4 – Safari in the Serengeti
Out of Africa: 5 – Safari in Ngorongoro Crater
Out of Africa: 6 – Climbing Kilimanjaro
Out of Africa: 7 – Kilimanjaro Summit
Out of Africa: 8 – Zanzibar

Before our big mountain climbing adventure, we headed out on safari in Tanzania, first in Lake Manyara, then to the Serengeti for two days, then on to Ngorongoro Crater.

(Source)

Almost immediately upon entering Lake Manyara National Park, we began seeing animals. Not sure how many animals we would get to see, we stopped right away to take tons of pictures of this guy.

Before we had gotten our fill of him, our driver shouted “Look up ahead!”

An elephant!

At this point we were still of the mindset that going on safari to see animals would be like going to Yellowstone and hoping to see a bear. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t.

But it soon became clear that there would be no shortage of animals on this safari! In addition to the monkeys and elephants, we saw all kinds of exotic birds, hippos, giraffes, zebras, and more. My favorite picture of all from our first day was this little guy here.

Serengeti pictures coming soon!

Out of Africa: 1
Out of Africa: 2
Out of Africa: 3 – Safari in Lake Manyara
Out of Africa: 4 – Safari in the Serengeti
Out of Africa: 5 – Safari in Ngorongoro Crater
Out of Africa: 6 – Climbing Kilimanjaro
Out of Africa: 7 – Kilimanjaro Summit
Out of Africa: 8 – Zanzibar

Over the past few weeks, Chris and I have probably dedicated 30-40 hours to pouring over our Africa pictures and sorting out the good from the ugly. (Yes, we did manage to keep a few pictures of me.)

This picture sorting process is far from complete as the good pictures number well over 500 so far and our goal is to weed out the top 100. At least we’re making progress. I never expected that it would be such a daunting task.

Our trip to Africa was divided into three distinct parts, a safari, the Kilimanjaro climb, and a trip to the island (archipelago really) of Zanzibar. I would say that we are closest to having the safari pictures organized compared to the other two parts of the trip, but it is hard to say because this picture sorting business is not being done in any particular order although we are taking a very scientific approach for the picture review process it is difficult to gage how long it will take in total.

The pictures are sorted by timestamp, so we set a goal for ourselves to look through one or two days worth of pictures each night. It is kind of similar to picking out which food picture to post with a recipe except that we have over 6000 vacation pictures whereas I can usually limit myself to taking less than 20 pictures of a particular dish. (Maybe that’s why my food pictures are not nearly as good as these animal pictures?)

More pictures coming soon!