Friday, June 25, 2010

From the wetlands of Kenya!

After crossing the border in to Kenya, we lunched at a dilapidated golf course and then arrived in Kakamega in the rain, thankfully we stayed in a hotel :) On the journey, i noticed a few interesting things
  • the inhabitants love to burn things, anything...this creates a disgusting smell and wafts through the window as you pass the towns
  • it is seriously populated ...i discovered this when I was desperate for a wee, very hard to find a deserted spot in these parts!
  • A new light was shed onto car your car into a shallow dam and start washing! This method can also be applied to bicycles and motorbikes!
  • most people wear these cheap,brightly coloured slip slops, it reminds me of the Malibu advert! They definitly live the island life...well at that pace anyway!

After a good rest, we drove into the Kakmega Forest, WOW, so beautiful and instatnly calming. I was desperate for the loo again and was pointed in the direction of the toilet...a long was so bad, i called Jen to keep guard and went on the outskirts of the forest! hee hee

We went for a very interesting walk in the forest witha guide, Caroline. Jen and i had a 'bush manicure' - there is a 'sandpaper tree' that we used to buff and file our nails, when Caroline offered some nail polish (bright orange sap from a tree), we drew the line! Delicious dinner cooked by the master chef and his apprentice followed by smores :) (marshies and marie biscuits)

We are outside Eldoret now, thankfully in a chalet (it rained last night and all can say is that i am not that much of a water baby!) looks like we are expecting some rain ...

Awaiting the arrival of our final team mate...5 more sleeps and counting! Until next time.... kwaheri!

fun in the sun

Well it has certainly been a while! Internet connections are few and far between and when we do have them, none of us have any inclination to do any writing!

we camped next to Lake Victoria – still in Tanzania. Didn’t get much sleep – between the noisy pub next door and the howling wind, we were quite unsettled! It was very beautiful . There is a hillside overlooking the lake and it is covered with houses, it looks a bit like Greece covered in dust!

So a bit of insight into our journey since I last wrote…

After 3 relaxing nights at Kapishya Hot Springs (and some very entertaining evenings) we headed for the border. We spent over 2 hours there, being sent back and forwards until Jen and I had the best idea yet and went and sat in the car, with the aircon on, while the boys braved Tundoma border post and all the insanity that comes with it! Jen and I were bothered in the car for all of 2 minutes, Jen had had enough and put her window shield up to block out the irritating vendors. This resulted in a very dumbfounded look from one guy and a fit of laughter from one that was watching this. We headed for Utengule coffee farm – really pretty. The next morning we had a fruit platter for breakfast, Gav and I were trying to figure out what to do with a lemon looking orange, after about 5 minutes of prodding and tasting we ate it, upon asking Jen what she did, we discovered she had squeezed it all over her fruit! Just a little bit of confusion ;)The girls hit the craft shop in Iringa – I got myself some crazy pants (Jen’s influence) and some kikois. We then had to contend with a traffic jam, Gav radioed us in awe of the taxi drivers here…”Al, I was 2 inches from your back bumper and the next thing I knew, 2 taxis had got in!” It seems as though we cannot escape road construction, Dad’s new motto “adapt or die” came into play when he started to bully the buses and overtake the trucks in between the 100m beacons.We were both dehydrated and starving after that drive – I wasn’t prepared to let go of the door handle or unfasten my seatbelt to get refreshments! Scary stuff! Gav and Jen adopted a different mantra and took the drive at a leisurely pace, frequently stopping for wee breaks and to buy paw paws and bananas. 

We camped at the Old Farmhouse that night. After dinner we went to the bar, the boys had whiskey out of packets and I think it gave them a new meaning to ABF because we left the bar pretty soon after! The next night we spent at The new Acropol, Still trying to figure out what was new about it!

For a change of scenery, we stayed at Peponi beach camp. There I was, sitting on the loo and a scorpion surfaced from the shower curtain. I ran to tell dad (who ws watching the soccer) and who promptly told me, while sipping his Jameson, “I don’t do scorpions”. I had to persuade the barman to come kill it for me! On the road to Moshi, dad received a fine, Gav saved the day when he threw a soccer ball to the guard! We ate a delicious curry lunch in Moshi and then drove through to Arusha where we camped at the Masaai Camp. This is around the time where I lost faith in our guide book, it stated that this ws the best campsite in Tanzania…no comment.

Huge relief on the 18th when I received my marks!  We did some stocking up and then drove to Karatu where Jen negotiated a good rate for us to stay at the Octagon Lodge! Next day we drove through Ngorogoro Park, saw a glimpse of the crater –bad mist and then headed into the Serengeti national Park. After driving around in the dark, we finally arrived at Mbalageti Lodge (I think that’s it’s name) and stayed the night. We were supposed to camp at Dik Dik but got a little waylaid!

And that is how we got to Mwanza.  until the next internet connection!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 24 Alan's Perspective

The last time I wrote was from Morogoro - fixing toilet etc.

When u do use the rooftop tent and u get to stay in a hotel or lodge u
cannot believe the sort of beds u get to sleep in, sheets with holes in
them, beds that creek everytime u move, comfortable and yes uncomfortable
ones. New Acropol takes the prize for the worst bed ever!!

We set off after breakfast at our normal slow pace (consideration for The
Beast's fuel consumption!!) But before long we adapt to the new game - race
the buses!! U have never seen buses drive as fast as these local people do,
they overtake on solid lines, on corners and up hills - our taxi drivers in
SA could learn from these chaps!!

The road rules are very different here, if u r travelling behind another
vehicle and there is a solid line in the road but he puts his left
indicator on, u can overtake regardless of what u think might be travelling
towards u. If he puts his right indicator on u cannot overtake as either
there is a oncoming car or obstacle in the road or they r turning right.

It did not take Gavin and I long to adjust to this new way of driving. (Not
sure how the ladies feel about our driving-in fact Jen does not enjoy it -
not that I blame her after what she went through).

Just before Tanga Gavin got a $20 speeding fine (his second but the first
one he got off with a bit of help from a soccer ball).

We had lunch at the yacht club in Tanga and then set off for Peponi camp
site alongside the coast line for a one night stay.

The next day we were setting off for Arusha which is the gateway to the
Ngorogoro Crater and the Serengeti!! On the way we would also get to see
Kilimanjaro. How awesome is all that?

The road towards Arusha has spectacular scenery, some of the best I have
ever seen!!! Look the roads (or lack there of) do tend to take ur eyes off
the beauty of ur surroundings but u have to get to see this countryside.

I was stopped for a very "serious offence" - speeding! With the help of
lots of smiles and a soccer ball we were soon on our way!

Jess and I could not wait to get our first glimpse of the famous mountain.

As we approached Moshi, the starting point for the ascent up Kili, we only
got to see the mountain covered in clouds. What a anticlimax for us!!!

After lunch in Moshi we headed off for the camp site in Arusha (Masai Camp

The camp site was nicely grassed (ground cover variety), but situated on a
pretty noisy road and had pretty dismal shower facilities to boot. One
thing u do get used to on this trip, is cold showers. To have a hot shower
u had to go through the common bar, through the gents and into the so
called showers. Well at least the water was hot there, ur other option was
the ablution block in the camp site with cold water.

Interesting they have a armed guard looking after the camp (felt like

After our delightful lunch we settled for smoked oysters on crackers
accompanied by a few Makers Mark's.

We all wondered off to the pub to watch a bit of soccer and sit around the
fire as it was pretty cold. Jen and Jess were engaged talking to a couple
of local ladies whilst Gavin and I had a few beers.
You do eventually get tired of all the chatter around u so we wondered off
to the tents.

Friday morning we woke up to the din of traffic and people (not to
mentioned dogs barking), packed up and headed out to look for the shops to
replenish some of the provisions. We found Shoprite and Jess and I bought
what was required to eat for the next few days. Once we had packed all the
goodies away I wondered off to the bookshop to see if I could find a map on
the Serengeti whilst Gavin strolled off to a Internet shop to try and
establish where the migration of wildebeest was at this stage.

I got chatting to two of the ladies that worked in the bookstore and asked
them where we should stay in the park. The advice was to stay in Karatu the
first night and then enter the park early the next morning.

We found a stunning place called The Octogon, run by a delightful lady
called Pamela. Initially we were not going to stay here but Jen chirped how
nice it would be if we were to spend the night. Let's face it the gardens
were to die for and the whole atmosphere was relaxing. A reasonable rate
was negotiated with Pamela. The comment that clinched the deal was her
saying " come on guys if I reduce the price any more I will have to decide
whether I cook with butter or margarine!". Enough said as she could
certainly cook! Pamela epitomises Tanzanian people for me, friendly, kind
and a sense of humour.

The next morning we set out for Ngorogoro Crater, arrived at the gate and
paid our $140 per vehicle!! This is just to travel through the reserve and
onto the Serengeti and not even to go to the crater itself.

The park was covered in a layer of mist that gave us a earie feeling.
Scenery to die for!

After driving through to the Serengeti gate and paying $240 per vehicle for
24 hours we set off for our hunt of the wildebeest. In the distance I saw
what looked like dust plumes. Wildebeest were near!!! The excitement levels
rose. As we got closer to the dust it became apparent that all I had seen
was in fact smoke from a bush fire. Not to be put off we drove towards the
camp site we had been allocated. If ever anyone goes to the Serengeti and
they put u in a camp called Dik Dik, rather turnaround. It is worst than
worst. Field mice all over the place, shabby. Ugh!!! It was decided that we
would come back when it was dark so that we could not see the place.

We ended up seeing massive herds of wildebeest and zebra on the plains. An
incredible sight! At some stage a few landrovers came flying past us and
Gavin and I decided that there had to be a kill up ahead so off we sped in
pursuit. Before we knew it we were miles away from our designated camp site
(shame) and had no chance of getting back there in time. But as luck would
have it there was a camp not far away. To cut a long story short it was a 5
star camp and thankfully it was full (at those prices) so we had to head
off once again in the dark to the next place which was 28km away (hour and
half). The trip was long and at some point we stopped for a Jamesons
(fisherman's drink) in the dark. We even contemplated just setting up a
bush camp but the thought of being caught by the officials was not
appealing. Eventually in the distance we saw lights!! Managed to organise
rooms for us. After our day Gavin and I headed straight off to the pub for
a Ardberg or two.

Good stay.

The following morning we saw great a sighting of crocodiles.

I cannot begin to explain the roads in the park, but they are the pits, you
would think that the officials would put some money back into their road
structures. Besides the dust and potholes the roads do not appear to be
looked after at all.

Once out if the park we headed for Mwanza which is situated next to Lake

We camped at the local yacht club for two days. The first night I cooked a
lamb casserole for dinner accompanied by Jess's great toasted sandwiches
and the second night I went on strike so we had dinner at a Indian place.

Monday 21st we washed (attempted) our cars and chilled the rest of the day.
Points to remember, cold showers, mozzies and a noisy singer in the early
hours of the morning.

Tuesday we packed up and after the ladies had been to a local market with a
expat we headed out for Musoma (we have travelled about 6600km now).

We stayed at the Temba Beach Hotel (do not be fooled by the name). It is a
place to avoid (cold showers).

Headed out for Kakamega Forest but did not quite make it do to bad roads
(really) and a heavy downpour....

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 21 Jen

We have decided to make lake victoria our base for a few days and
couldn't have had a better view of this part of the lake. It's been A
fairly .. Gentle experience winding down after some rough driving over
very corrugated bumpy roads in serengeti which in a wAy took it out of
us and that doesn't mean to say we never found it incredible to
literally see hundreds of thousands of collecting wildebeest and zebra
getting ready for the fabulous migration spectacle which we still
might see. Again we should have camped but after seeing lots of
collecting rats running riot over the camp site called dickdik ...
Don't go there ever! We strayed too far from the camp site to return.
We nearly got lucky by needing to book into an ' and beyond ' camp.
Only three grand for the night each! Lucky for gavins wallet there
was no room at that inn so had to downgrade to another first class
inn ... Shame ! Wonderful accomodation wonderful location. Called
bellamgete. The days viewing was not disapointing but we had a
helleva rush to exit the park by one o'clock. Should that time be
exceeded huge charges are applied which we didn't want . So off to
lake victoria. And here we Are! Lots of bird life here to keep
us entertained keeping your eyes on the still waters allows you to to
take deep breaths and relax. Which is what a holiday is all about.

Sent from my iPhone

Gavin Dunlop

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