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SUNDAY JANUARY 30, 2005

This is the life!  Got 3 hours sleep thanks to business class.  Poor Damon, now he will have to work even more overtime so I can travel like this all the time!

Canít wait until we get to London so we can start seeing the world!  We are about to land in about 20 minutes (11:30 am) but check in at the hotel isnít until 2:00 pm so we will head to the arrivals lounge and have a shower.  Donít really need to eat as they fed us really well on the airplane.  It was good too.  Weíre almost there, canít wait!

MONDAY JANUARY 31, 2005

Saw a few things in London while we were here for our very brief stay.  Managed to have a look at Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and tried Harrods but they are closed on Sundays.  Oh well, not like we could afford anything here anyway.  A paperback book will set you back $20.00 CDN.

The people here are not very friendly (worse than Vancouver) except if you are a customer and then they are VERY nice.

 Had a curry for dinner (near Piccadilly circus) and Jason was right, it was very good although it set us back $50.00 CDN and we only got one pop to share.

 We took the tube around town and also the subway (an underground walkway) but were very exhausted on the way back to the hotel so didnít enjoy the ride as much as on the way over.

 I guess I will have to come again although Iíd like to see the cities surrounding London as I am not too sure about the big city.  Itís almost as if you are invisible walking down the street.

 We are now just boarding the plane on our way to Cairo!  We are very excited!!

 

WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 2, 2005

            It has been go-go-go since we got here and with only 2 days to sight-see thatís how it had to be done.

            I will start off by saying that there is so much pollution here.  My eyes were burning and nose was running from the airport to our hotel, and I thought London was bad.

            The scams are abundant here and we fell for a couple but not that big of a deal.  I think we did pretty good thanks to our guide book.

            Yesterday we went to see the pyramids.  It really was quite amazing.  It would have been more aweing if I wasnít so annoyed about all the locals harassing us about camel rides etc.  I have to say my favourite part of the trip to Egypt was the fact that I was a little bit of a celebrity with the local children visiting the pyramids too.  They would wave and say hello to us and when I would wave back they would come running up to me wanting to practice their English.  They would tell me how beautiful and nice I was and that they loved me.  A few of the older girls wanted to talk to me for awhile so we sat and chatted and they gave me a gift to welcome me to Egypt.  Their English was very good and they laughed at me when I attempted a couple words in Egyptian.  They wanted me to take so many pictures and even some of the mothers would jump in too.  As much as I loved all the attention, we had to go see the pyramids.  I think Damon started to get a little anxious as so many people would stop me ha ha!

            The weather has been quite nice while we were here.  I pretty much wore a sweater the whole time due to the wind and am very glad it was not too hot.

             We climbed inside the great pyramid, went to the Ancient Egyptian Art museum, had dinner and then off to bed as we need the sleep for another day of travel.  Off to Dubai!

 

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 4, 2005

            We arrived in Dubai February 2 later in the evening.  Phil (worked with Damon at the center) came to pick us up at the airport and then we drove around town to see a couple of the sights.  We went to see the 7 star hotel and drove around looking at the buildings.  We thought we had better stop and have a drink so we had 2, caught up on all the gossip, headed home to finish our laundry and off to bed.

             Set the alarm for 9:00 am as there were a few more things to see, plus we needed breakfast.  I was starving!

            The beaches in Dubai are beautiful!  The sand is so soft and the water an aqua colour.  Yes, I think I could live there.

            Not a lot of time to do anything else so we headed to the airport headed to Narobi.

            The flight attendants on Emirates were not friendly at all.  I do not recommend this airline.  In fact, I hope we have time to write a letter (I sound like Tante Jeanette)

            Mahad (our friend who moved there) was waiting at the hotel for us to arrive.  It was very nice to see him and after dinner he took us to a pub for a couple drinks.  It was a little intimidating being the only white people in there. 

            We got up this morning at 7:15am so we could set off on our safari.  Our driver/guideís name is Isaac.  Damon and I are the only ones on the tour which is great for us but not so much for our guide as he wonít get as many tips. 

            So far we have seen lots of baboons (even a couple in our confine), zebras, buffalo, impalas, waterbucks, rhinos, a stork and a vulture.  We saw a flock of Flamingos from afar but this afternoon we are going to get closer to the flamingos and rhinos.  We are so excited!  Had a quick swim in the pool and are now going to change into our safari gear.

            Letís see if I can name all the animals we saw this afternoon-white rhinos, warthogs, black-backed jackal, Thompson gazelle (black stripe on side), impala, waterbucks, eland, buffalo, burchelle zebra (stripes are thicker and go underneath the belly) and saw many birds like ostrich, egret, long tailed fiscal, lilac-breasted roller, hadada isis, fish eagle, greater flamingo (light pink), and the lesser flamingo (darker pink).  We also saw pelicans, 2 different kinds of vultures and a stork who was chowing down on a dead flamingo.  Storks can fly very high because they have a pouch on their necks to carry extra oxygen.  They are in fact quite ugly actually.  Allison would be so jealous as we saw millions of flamingos feasting on algae.  A lot of the animals will let you get quite close although they are wary of us and donít act very naturally. Two male zebras fighting over a herd stopped as we approached but continued on when we past and had to watch them through our binoculars. What an amazing day watching all these beautiful creatures graze.  I am not sure what is in store for us tomorrow but I canít wait.  For now I am watching a lizard on my patio search for food.  He has already eaten a moth and I am definitely rooting for him.  We are up at 6:00 am tomorrow so we can leave at 7:00 am so I am headed to bed to catch some zzzís.  We have not seen any mosquitoís here as there has not been any rain but there will be more in Tanzania.  These malaria pills are hard on the tummy but I suppose it is worth it.  The weather is beautiful and I hope it continues tomorrow.

 SATURDAY FEBRUARY 5, 2005

            Today was an amazing day.  The first part of our day was taken up by the 6 Ĺ hours of driving to the Masai Mara but when we did finally get here it was totally worth it.  Our tented camp is fantastic.  I am in bed, under the mosquito netting with a hot water bottle that they put in the bed for you.  It actually scared me and I screamed a little but wouldnít you if you were sleeping in the Masai Mara?

            We saw our first giraffes at close range today.  They were feasting on some leaves.  Right behind the giraffes were some elephants so we went to have a quick look at them too.  What amazing animals and for us to get so close to them is a once and a lifetime thing.

            After a little more driving we stumbled upon a lion and lionesse.  They were a little disturbed by us at first but relaxed a little, came out of the bushes and put on a 10 second show.  It is mating season for them right now so they mate about every 10 minutes for 5-6 days.  That is all they do during that time.

            We also had the rare pleasure of seeing a leopard.  She was hiding in the grass so we didnít get a good look at her but were quite content that we saw her at all.  I guess we had horse shoes because we ran into another one down the road lounging in a tree!  Our guide says we are very lucky as usually people leave without ever seeing one.

            It is amazing that we have been here for such a short amount of time and have already seen the big 5 Ė buffalo, rhino, lion, elephant, and leopard.  We are going to try and see more elephants and hopefully some hippos!

            Damon and I have been getting up at 6:00 am every morning so early to bed for us!

 SUNDAY FEBRUARY 6, 2005

            This mornings safari was pretty quiet as it was a hot day and the animals were all hiding out of the sun.  We did manage to find a couple of lions laying under a tree and found a couple elephants doing the same.  I learned today that as a warning to other animals, elephants 5th leg grows quite big.

            We also ran into some warthogs, a huge herd of buffalo and a few giraffes with their babies.

            All in all, a pretty quiet morning but the scenery here is breathtaking. 

            We made up for our quiet morning this afternoon.  We had to drive further into the Masai Mara in order to have a look at some different things.  The first amazing experience we had this afternoon was seeing all the week old lion cubs.  Their mom was probably out hunting for food so they were nestled in a small cave hidden in the bushes.  They were so tiny and they are blind until about a month old.

            We then found a couple elephants who had 2 children each.  One of the babies was only about a month old and barely left moms side.

            Isaac kept telling Damon and I that we are very, very, very lucky as the next couple of things that happened to us are very rare. 

            Apparently the cheetahs are almost never seen and there sat 2 of them right as we drove by.  We had to stop of course and take 100 pictures and even Isaac asked us to send him a picture of the cheetahs.  He was in awe of our luck I think.

            Just as we thought our day had ended and we were on our way back to the tent, we ran into a lion pride consisting of at least 7 adults and 2 one month old cubs.  The females were getting ready for a big kill tonight.  They wait until dark to make their kill (tonight it will be impala) as they can see at night and their prey canít.  Unfortunately the park closes at 7:00 pm when everyone is supposed to be gone and we were not going to make the deadline.  Oh well, totally worth it!

            What an amazing day!  I wish I could put every detail down but I would never be able to put this book down.

            Tomorrow we are leaving this tented camp and going to the Serengeti.  Canít wait to see what is in store for us tomorrow.  Possibly hippos!?

MONDAY FEBRUARY 7, 2005

           It was a very long drive to the Serengeti.  It took us about 9 hours although we had to stop and see the hippos and crocs.  The crocs werenít doing too much as it was a very hot day but the hippos were quite fun to watch.  The males would snap at each other every once and a while, 2 were mating, and a mother was enjoying her month old baby.  The male hippos are huge!  Did you know hippos spend so much time in the water because they have sensitive skin and can burn?  I had no idea.

             The scenery in Tanzania is quite different from Kenya.  Tanzanians depend on agriculture for making money while Kenyans depend more on cattle, goats etc.

            We had to say goodbye to our guide Isaac at the Tanzania border but met our new guide Seth.  I hope he is as wonderful as Isaac.  He seems very nice anyway.

            Our accommodations have been wonderful so far but this particular lodge is my favourite so far.  It is a loft style room and the patio overlooks Lake Victoria.  I must say that the tent is the way to go because you can hear the animals at night and that is really wonderful.

            There are a lot more mosquitoes here than there were in Kenya so we will have to be a lot more careful.

            My favourite part of the day today was seeing all the children outside as we drove by.  They would wave at me and run after the van because they wanted to touch me.  They want to see what my skin feels like.  How would they know it feels the same as theirs?  Some of the kids would just stare and werenít sure if they were scared or more curious.  Isaac and I would laugh at their mixed reactions.  I will miss him but I know he has to get back to his 3 children at home.  His eldest is in the States going to school.

            It is almost 9:00 pm and I feel pretty exhausted.  It is hard to believe you can feel so tired after doing nothing all day.  All we do is drive, eat, and sleep.  I even had a nap yesterday!

            I am looking forward to our drive tomorrow and we even get to sleep in until 7:15 am tomorrow!

 

TUESDAY FEBRUARY 8, 2005

            Today was our first full day in the Serengeti.  We saw lots of giraffes (15 all together in single file) and even a baby who was about 2 weeks old and could not walk properly.  We also saw quite a few wildebeests and it is just the starting point for them to be having babies so we saw a 2 week old wildebeest nursing.  We also caught a 1 month old zebra nursing.  Did you know a wildebeest can put off birth for about a month?  They try and wait for the rain (more food for calf) but can only hold the baby in for so long.

            We stopped at a swamp to see the crocs but found only 3.  They are scary looking things and you really have to search before you can spot them.

            It was a very long drive today as we took our lunch with us.  We couldnít get our of the jeep because we were in the middle of the Serengeti and didnít want to get attacked by any threatened animals.  Besides, the horse flies in this part of the park are awful and it was so hot we would die if we closed the windows so luckily Damon stocked up on bug spray so we sprayed ourselves and the jeep.  It worked and we ate in peace.

            Tomorrow we have another very long drive through the Serengeti to Olduvai Gorge in the morning and Ngorongoro in the afternoon.  I am not looking forward to driving such a long way as it is very hot and quite dusty.  Damon has been sneezing this whole trip.

            I got a mosquito bite this morning so I am not happy about that but Damon sprayed the bathroom, our room and the mosquito netting around our bed.  I think I got bit when going to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  Oh well, what can you do?

            Canít wait to see more amazing things tomorrow and hopefully the drive wonít be so bad (I think I have blisters on my butt!).

 WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 9, 2005

            Damon and I woke up at about 2:00 am this morning to a massive storm.  At first I thought I could hear the wind blowing but Damon informed me it was thunder.  The storm was right above us and it was loud.  I was very scared because the lightning and thunder was constant plus we were in this cone shaped hut.  I think the hut next to us was hit by the lightning but a tree was definitely hit.  There was a bit of damage done to the lodges and the owner was walking around crying after seeing what the storm had done.

            Damon says he was ďconcernedĒ but I was freaked right out.  I wasnít sure what was going to happen as I have never experienced anything like it.  I am just glad nobody was hurt and only material things that can be fixed.

            As far as our drive today, we saw a lot of interesting things.  We found some hyenas feasting on a baby zebra.  They probably got together as a group and ganged up on the weak.  That is what they do if they canít find something that is already dead.  They have very strong stomach acid so they will even eat the bones.

            About 15 minutes later we found more hyenas accompanied by some vultures and a jackal gorging on a buffalo that we guess died from disease.  The hyena made a slit in the belly and almost climbed right inside the buffalo!  One of the vultures found his entry through the eye sockets.  It was kind of gross seeing the intestines being pulled out and eaten but quite fascinating as it is a fact of life and very natural.

            We saw lots of babies again today.  We saw a baby zebra nursing, a week old gazelle and 2 baboons about 2 weeks old.  It was very fun to watch them try and walk along a curb as they are not very good at it yet and need a little more practice.

            I canít believe we drove across the Serengeti and the drive wasnít as bad as I thought it would be.  There was a lot to see so it didnít seem that long.

            Damon and I are both exhausted from the long drive and being scared half to death in the middle of the night.  Besides, I got bit by mosquitoes and now have about 6 bites.  I am a little concerned about getting malaria but I have put bug spray on religiously and donít know what else I am supposed to do.  The point being-they are very itchy and I am hoping sleep will take the itch away.

 

THURSDAY FEBRUARY 10, 2005

            I was so tired yesterday I forgot to mention we went to visit the Masai Tribal village.  The tribe lives on the land with the wild animals and will only kill them if being attacked.  They have a very unique style of dress but the most shocking thing is they stretch their earring holes to the size of quarters (some are larger).  They live in small huts made of sticks and cow shit.  They did a traditional song and dance for us, we saw where they live and where the children go to school and then we were off.  It was a bit of a scam if you ask me (or Damon) but curiosity got the better of us.

            Today we spent our whole game drive in the crater.  We spotted the endangered and rarely seen black rhino a couple of times and even saw a baby one!  In fact we saw lots of babies.  The wildebeest are all having their babies right now (only 1 per year) and we missed the birth of 2 of them by only minutes.  Oh well, it was fun watching them learn to walk.  It only takes the 15 minutes.  We also saw lots of baby zebras and lots of pregnant ones too.  Did you know that young zebras have hair on their backs until they grow out of it?

            We stopped to see the Flamingos today but we werenít as close this time as we were in Kenya so we didnít stay long.

            The ďlodgeĒ we are staying in is more like a fancy hotel.  We are 7800 feet above sea level which is very nice as the view is beautiful but an added bonus that there are not as many mosquitoes this high.  I am very happy for the break because I donít think my ankles can handle any more.  On the down side of being so high up, you run out of breath a lot faster when going up the stairs.  I am sure the lack of exercise these days doesnít help either.  It also makes me want to sleep more.  8 hours just doesnít cu it these days.  On that note, I am outta here!

 SATURDAY FEBRUARY 12, 2005

            Yesterday we had our game drive at Lake Manyara which is famous for itís climbing lions.  It is so hot there that they dangle on a branch so the breeze can reach more of their body.  We unfortunately did not see a ďclimbing lionĒ but we saw one a different day and place.

            The best part of our day was hanging out with the elephants.  There was a baby with them who looked to be about 6 months.  She was so fun to watch because she was learning how her trunk worked.  She would try and pick up a trunk full of grass but would end up with only a blade or two.  She finally gave up and tried something a little bigger and easier, a stick.  We watched her struggle with that for a while and then it was time to move on.  I could have stayed there all day.

            It was quite hot yesterday so many of the animals were hiding in the shade but we saw the usuals, zebra, gazelles, wildebeest although we did see some blue monkeys which we hadnít seen before.

            Today was a bit of a drive because we left Tanzania and headed back to Kenya to finish off our last day.  I was so happy when we got to Kenya and our first guide Isaac was there waiting to drive us and guide us on our last day.  I was so happy because he was my favourite, donít tell Seth.

            Our last night of our safari we are staying at a place called Oltukai Lodge and it is the best place ever!  Our room is only feet away from the animals (and an electric fence) and a beautiful view of Mount Kilimanjaro.

            Damon and I were sitting on our patio when we decided to walk to the fence to get a better look at the elephants.  Damon spotted a hyena headed towards the elephants but the elephants spotted him having a look at their baby and shooed him away.  It was quite a sight as one of the elephants had to run over to help.  They are extremely protective of their babies.

            Tonight our lodge was playing a movie called Echo the elephant so we went to the TV room to watch it.  What a great movie that takes place in the location we were at for our afternoon game drive just down the road from here.  It is a documentary about a family of elephants and how they cope in different struggles.  Great flick!

            Damon has fallen asleep beside me and it is time for me to do the same as we have to be up at 6:00 am for our 6:30 am game drive.  Isaac says it will be too hot later and the animals will be hiding.  I guess I will get up then.

 

SUNDAY FEBRUARY 13, 2005

            This morning was our last game drive before we go home.  We sat and watched a cheetah scope out some zebras but they easily spotted him and stayed away.  Cheetahs wait until their prey is close because they only run for about 3 minutes before they get tired although they run at 70 miles per hour.

            We also saw tons of elephants.  This is the area where you will see the most elephants at a time.  I love watching the baby elephants most.  They are so curious and playful and so want to learn how to use their trunk.  I could watch them forever!

            After our morning game drive we ate breakfast, showered and now we are sitting by the pool watching the elephants, gazelles, wildebeest, ostrich and of course the zebras.  We donít leave the lodge until 3:00 pm but were kicked out of our room at 10:00 am.  I guess all we have left to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the view.

           Had dinner at Carnivores before going on to the airport.  I have never seen so much meat in my life!  They come around with a chunk of meat and carve it right onto your plate until you say stop.  I was so stuffed I could barely move.  We had camel, pork, ribs, pork sausage, chicken, alligator, ostrich (yum, tastes like beef), lamb roast beef.


 
     

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