Friday 22 August 2008
we're now at zanzibar island, having a well deserved chill out after the safari. i have to say that camping and the long bumpy drives has been tough. there is no way I could have done this for 56 days (as initially planned before I started seeing paul). we couldn't even do it for 18 days.
day 11 was when me and paul decided to get a flight to zanzibar, we left that night, stayed overnight in arusha and flew to zanzibar the following day... arriving 2 days earlier than the rest of them.
there was nothing else on the itinerary apart from 2 days of travelling in the truck to zanzibar. we'd rather spend 2 days there. day 12 was the base camp hike of kilimanjaro that we missed. we would have been gutted about this normally... but we're coming back next year to climb the whole thing anyway... after a visit to the orphanage
what we have seen has been stunning... and seen so many animals... but to see it all involves hours upon hours in the truck which we hated. it was so bumpy. my arse was off the seat more than it was on it. paul on many occasions had to grab me in fear that i would fly out the window. i had constant sore heads every day because of it.
one day we were up at 5am and didn't get to the next campsite till about half 7 at night. over 13 hours of bumpy roads and then having to set up camp in the pitch dark.
all of it really wouldn't have been so bad if not for the roads and the endless hours on it. looking back, i think a shorter safari would have been way better. our first national park was probably my favourite for viewing animals... although we didn't see lions, leopards, elephants and cheetahs there. after a while I just lost interest in it all. it was always cool to see a new animal for the first time but we were always itching to just get to camp and chill out. if we weren't so exhausted we probably would have loved it every time.
some days we were spending half a day getting to a national park, spending 3 hours in the truck game viewing, more bumpy roads to camp, setting up camp and then checking the rota to see if we were cleaning the truck, cooking or washing. it was just too much at times. after talking with another couple we realised just how crap our itinerary was compared to others. ours was far too rushed.
the itinerary was completely different to what we signed up for. we started in nairobi and were back in nairobi on the 7th day. instead of continuing north to lake victoria (which we didn't even see!) and then crossing the border to tanzania... we were back on the same road heading to where we started.
then there were days wasted in the likes of nairobi doing hee haw. game viewing is the whole point of the safari and we felt there was not enough time spent in the national parks. it was just constant travel on the truck.
but... if not for the long drives we would never have seen so much of kenya and tanzania I suppose... and soooo many animals out in the wild. I'll never regret doing it... we have so many fond memories... but we definitely went with the wrong company! they didn't even give us any information, facts, history etc about the sites we were visiting. i could moan about this company for ages but i don't want to bore you... even more!
the truck holds 28 people... and luckily for us there were only 12 of us, only 8 on our first week. so we had room to spread about. we often passed a truck from the same company we were with and it looked terrible. jam packed like a tin of sardines and full of party people. if i was doing the 56 day safari i would have been with them... and no doubt lasted 5 days.
we visited national parks such as nakuru, hells gate, masai mara, ngorongo crater and the famous serengeti. we saw so many animals... and saw the big 5 of africa which is lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino. leopard and cheetahs are usually hard to find so we were really lucky to see them.
paul, for my birthday, got me a hot air balloon ride over the serengeti and it was definetly my highlight. seeing the animals from above was brilliant and the views were stunning. once we landed we toasted with some champagne and were then driven for a full english breakfast... with some more champagne. the breakfast was fab... yummy and out in the middle of the serengeti which was way cool.
another one of my favourite days was when me and paul cycled around hells gate national park. the people in our tour prefered a boat ride that day so it was just me, paul and our tour guide simon. and we were practically the only ones in the park. it was so quiet. simon mentioned that the post election violence has had an affect on the tourism in kenya. tis a shame.
we cycled for about 2 hours to hells gate, then simon took us down the canyon, instead of the typical route to the viewing point. it was brilliant. jumping and climbing all over the place and getting soaked by waterfalls... and getting to see the hot thermal springs. then a short climb up to the viewing point... and then the 2 hour cycle back to camp. we both absolutely loved it.
another highlight was on day 7, being back at nairobi and we visited a giraffe centre. pretty boring to be honest but we got to feed giraffes which was fun. me and paul walked round the corner and all i heard was"holy shit"... a voice i recognised. it was ginger, my roomy at the orphanage. we were both so shocked to see each other again. i was close to tears when I saw her. we spent a bit of time catching up and hearing about her last 2 weeks at the orphanage. i sat for most of the time in shock though. couldnt believe it.
we also had a few good nights at camp... especially when there was a bar... or when we had our own booze. most of the group just sat peeing themselves laughing at paul and aldo. some just sitting not having a clue what they were saying because of the accent. or some shocked at what they were saying! it was so funny. a good crowd... a few mentals and weirdos but there's always a few! we're hoping to meet up with one of the guys, ken, in singapore... and wendy in vietnam.
another highlight has to be zanzibar. we've only spent one night in stonetown but so far we are loving it. we've not really had much alone time since meeting in nairobi so it's been great to get away from everyone for a while.
we leave tomorrow for kendwa beach, north of zanaibar, for 4 nights where we'll eventually meet up with folk from our tour.