Tag: East Africa

Eastern Africa Wrap-Up

I think you know the drill by now, but let us start by saying that Tanzania is one of our trip superstars so far.  Below are our favorite things, our least favorite things, as well as some good eating memories and animal sitings (Africa exclusive!).  Check out the Best Of East Africa photos to go along with lists.  Here we go:

The Best

  1. Private Plunge Pool on Zanzibar

    Private plunge pools – A perfectly symbolic representation of being spoiled totally rotten on Zanzibar; we stayed in several spots with private plunge pools alongside our rooms.  This was totally ridiculous and we loved it.

  2. Wind-surfing in the Indian Ocean – This was a Ted-only activity but it was fun to watch him and I know he dug his first ocean wind-surfing experience.
  3. Exploring Stone Town alleyways – Fascinating and fun.
  4. Welcome to camp song and dance – Upon reaching camp on Kili some days, the porters would gather together to sing us a congratulatory tune.  Not everyone’s porters did this so Ted and I couldn’t help but appreciate the sentiment.
  5. Views from Baranco Camp on Kili – We arrived when it was cloudy but it proceeded to clear up and the views were stunning.
  6. Summiting Kilimanjaro at sunrise – The coolest thing I’ll never do again.
  7. Visit to a Masaai Village – Talk about a unique experience, we got to spend an afternoon learning about the indigenous and nomadic Masaai people who still live as traditionally as modern society allows.

    Masaai Village Visit

    Yes, some folks now have cell phones and venture into the city, however, polygamy is still practiced, cow blood is a staple in the diet and cow herding is the primary occupation.

  8. Safari sunset – Watching the sunset from the swimming pool on the first night of our Tanzania safari was perfect.  I knew we were in a for a good time.
  9. Getting off the tourist grid – Camping with the Browns at Lake Chala was something we never would have heard about or come up with ourselves.  What a treat.
  10. Another (relatively) incident free continent – After all the warning and precautions, we are happy to report that we had no illnesses, no transport hiccups, no car accidents, and only one minor theft (for which we were reimbursed).  Africa wasn’t so scary after all!

The Worst

  1. Budget accommodation – When we weren’t living the high life, the budget options in Tanzania left much to be desired. And the were stupidly expensive for what you got.
  2. Missing out on Kenya – What can we say?  We’ll have to go back.
  3. Too many jeeps

    Visa fee – A hundred bucks per person is a lot and when they wouldn’t take one of our bills because it was dated before 2006 (wtf?), it led to a stressful search for more money upon arrival.

  4. Food on Kili – It started off fine enough, but on day 4 after eating a different version of the same thing, it was rough.
  5. Safari jeep overload – When there was a good animal siting, you could be sharing the view with literally two dozen other vehicles.  A little intense and unfortunate for us and, more importantly, the animals.

The Delicious

  1. Zanzibar’s unique and flavorful food – Banana curries, avocado-orange juice, cinnamon, cardamom and clove coffee, jackfruit, coconut coleslaw, and dozens of different sauces made from the local spices for which the island is famous made for lots of incredible eating.
  2. Seafood market in Stone Town

    Seafood dinner market and Zanzibari pizzas – A memorable night perhaps more for the experience than the quality of the food, but still a favorite.

  3. Kilimanjaro beer – Our first beer post-Kili summit with our new Australian friends.  The drink was appropriately named and rightfully enjoyed.
  4. Indian food in Moshi – Post-Kili hike we dined at an AMAZING Indian restaurant in Moshi with our Australian mates.  We felt a little guilty filling up on Indian food as we knew we had a lot in our future, but that didn’t stop us from going back a second time.
  5. Fancy camping food – When Ted and I go camping, dinner usually involves adding water to a pre-mixed pack.  When we camped with the Browns, we had vegetable pasta, chicken curry, wine and gin and tonics.  That’s pretty impressive.

The Animals

  1. Lions in a tree!

    Overall quantity – We realize that this isn’t a specific animal, but the sheer quantity of animals we saw in Tanzania on safari was over the top.

  2. Momma Lion and her cubs – Pretty much the cutest thing ever.
  3. Lion stalking zebras – We saw a bunch of zebras hanging in a watering hole and upon closer look, we saw a lion watching them intently.  Though it didn’t go for the kill, it was exciting thinking it might.
  4. Zebras and wildebeest on migration – Tens of thousands at one time.
  5. Tree-climbing lions – Lions apparently don’t hang out in trees very much, but we saw a group that appeared to like it up there.
  6. Thousands of Flamingos – Every day they fly miles to hang out in Ngorongoro Crater and at the end of the day, they fly somewhere else to sleep.
  7. Packs of male lions – Adult male lions don’t usually hang out together but we saw a large group in the Ngorongoro Crater that proved it happens.
  8. Cheetahs!

    Lotsa cheetahs – Big cats are always a thrill to see and cheetahs had been very rare on our previous safaris.

  9. Black and white colobus monkey – We didn’t see a lot of wildlife on Kili but we saw some unique monkeys on our hike the last day.
  10. Ostriches – What a trip!  I challenge you to watch a group of ostriches running and not giggle.

Don’t forget to check out the Best Of East Africa photos here.

East Side

After an amazingly fast couple months in Southern Africa, our trip is taking us north to East Africa. Tanzania has a reputation of being a rockstar destination on the continent and we are looking forward to seeing what all the fuss is about.

After a quick night in the busy, hot and humid, dirty, traffic-filled, over-crowded capital of Dar es Salaam, we took a ferry boat over to the island of Zanzibar. Zanzibar has always been one of those magical, exotic, far-away places that I wasn’t sure really existed. I can now confirm that it is indeed real, and we indeed loved it.

Dar Es Salaam from the ferry to Zanzibar

Arrival to Zanzibar's coastline - we're gonna like this place...

In connection with Adventures Within Reach (AWR), Ted and I headed over to the east side of Zanzibar Island to do some site research on the various hotels that they send guests to, which resulted in extravagant (and deeply discounted) stays for us! The east side is known for its quiet pace of life, nearly empty white-sand beaches, and high-end resorts. We got to stay a total of 3 nights at three different neighboring properties and have never felt so spoiled and pampered in our lives. Going from a cement block of a room in Dar to gorgeous sea-side bungalows, with manicured grounds, sapphire blue swimming pools, freshly prepared seafood, and the Indian Ocean at our doorstep was quite a treat. Two of the three places we stayed even had private plunge pools adjoining our rooms, and one had complimentary everything – ‘Why yes, we’d love the cocktail-of-the-day served to us while relaxing in our plunge pool overlooking the property gardens and a massage tomorrow by the Thai masseurs.’ :) Ted did some windsurfing, I did some oceanside reading and we both took runs on the beach (last minute training for Kili!)

Enjoying the coastal breeze

Best seafood of the trip (so far)

Private plunge pool, complete with complimentary champagne!

Ted's first ocean windsurfing

Unbelievable. I’m not sure what we did to deserve this good fortune, but Zanzibar is forever etched in our minds as a little slice of heaven.  Thanks AWR!!

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