A Travellerspoint blog

Zanzibar Part 2

Paradise @ Nungwi Beach

sunny 32 °C

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The continuation of this post starts up north in an area called Nungwi, but first let me update you with a map of where we travelled through Tanzania and Kenya:

We arrived in Nungwi tired and in search of some much needed R&R (normally I wouldn't be complaining about our life but under the recent circumstances i.e. "hospital", beach and sunshine was just what we required), and to be honest we didn't have to look far.

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We found ourselves a nice little beachfront hotel for $40 a night. More then what we normally pay I know but we were not about to cheap out in a place like this. Besides everything else was relatively cheap such as food and drink anyways.

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The sunsets each and every night were beautiful and most restaurants moved tables out on the beach in the evening. It reminded us a lot of our time on Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam.

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Lol... yep we found shisha too! Every night the locals would get a big soccer game going and we'd just sit back with a beer and shisha and enjoy our surroundings. After a few beers we very poorly attempted the jumping photo shot....

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Nice jump there Stacey! Good thing I'm the only one who looks completely queer. And why is my shirt see-thru?? At the time in Thailand when it was like 40C in Bangkok it was a good idea.

On the weekend they even had free entertainment.

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During one day of beachin' it we decided we had had enough lazying around so we packed a small bag and went for a walk around the northern tip of Zanzibar. Just on the other side of the island (north-east) is supposed to be where all the great snorkelling and diving is, so that's where we headed. Lots of interesting things to see along the way like Masai on the beach...

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To get north we passed all the resorts on the west coast and also walked past a small fishing village and aquarium.

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A quick stop in the shade to cool down...

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As soon as you peak around that northern tip it's as if the water gets another shade bluer. It looked so perfect but it wasn't the best for swimming since the tide at the time was super low. Heard some buzz about this restaurant... pretty cool location...

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We both couldn't believe how many perfect seashells there were on the beaches. Free souvenirs?? Of course we took a bunch and hopefully there on their way home right now sneaky past customs lol. There were also loads of little hermit crabs so you had to be careful as to which shells you grabbed.

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I got creative and made a sand turtle... look at what I made Mom!

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Off in the distance, around the northern most tip and further south on the east side of the island, we could see what looked like these sand bars off out in the water. So we decided to investigate...

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That's exactly what they were. About 100-200 ft into the ocean were these perfectly bleached white sand bars. The water all around them was pretty shallow and not great for swimming but it presented an excellent photo-op.

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It was a pretty spectacular spot. Just surpasses this small island in Thailand (can't remember the name but it was on our boat trip with Jana and Mike) as the nicest beach I've ever seen. Zanzibar had lived up to the hype!

That night we found ourselves a small internet cafe and got caught up on some correspondence. We also took this time to sample the infamous Tanzanian gin bags that we see everywhere.

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(I didn't actually chug it... I was merely posing and pretending to be awesome)

The next day we left the northern beaches and made our way back to Stone Town where we would have to spend a night before catching the early morning ferry back to Dar. We tried to get in a little bit of shopping but prices in Stone Town are just so high and as it turned out the post office was closed for the weekend (so we couldn't even mail stuff home if we had wanted to).

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I still can't get over what a maze those streets were. Picture no street signs or signs of any kind, streets that never follow one proper direction, no horizon to follow and landmark after landmark that looks the same.

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That evening we ventured back to Africa House and as promised I got some better pics of the sunset and view. Its a huge difference in quality from my iPhone to our Nikon.

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The following morning we took off to catch our ferry. What a nightmare it was getting tickets! Picture me waiting in a queue with two packs on in the +30 heat, and a hundred different people are trying to cut in line or push around me. Well I ended up losing it a little bit especially because since we're foreigners we pay substantially more for the ferry. So I used my huge backpack to my advantage and ploughed my way up to the front, batted away all the idiots trying to cut in line and swatted away hands that were trying to shove money in the cashiers face to cut the queue. By the time I got our tickets I was exhausted and stressed but kept reminding myself that within hours I would be on a plane and off to a more civilized country by nightfall. As it turned out the ferry ride was no picnic either. The seas were incredibly rough that day, which meant that our jammed packed ferry now became the HMS PUKE BUCKET EXPRESS. I'm not exaggerating this at all... there must have been 100+ people puking on our deck alone... that's karma for cutting in line suckers lol... I'm evil.

We had timed it just right so the ferry would arrive in Dar at around noon, giving us enough time to have a good lunch before cabbing it to the airport to catch our 4:30pm flight to Jo'Burg. SO... we make it to the airport, early. We go to a Precision Air check in counter, get our boarding passes, go through security and wait in line for almost a hour to check our bags. When we do finally reach the counter the lady looks at us like were retarded and says 'your flight was changed and left at 10am this morning. All other flights are booked for the next few days' YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!! We spoke with a manager right away and explained the absurdity of the situation (why did they even issue us boarding passes saying the flight was at 4:30pm??) and that we received no notification and even their website was not updated. So long story short, they put us up in a hotel all expenses paid and arranged a flight out the next morning at 5am via Nairobi (NOT BACK TO KENYA!!). At the time though we were pretty unhappy being stuck in the worst airport ever!

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The flight from Nairobi to Jo'Burg was really cool though cause you got to see Kilimanjaro from the plane....

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That's all I got on Tanzania. Overall we had a pretty good time there considering having to halt the trip halfway for my medical drama. Looking back now we were pretty lucky and got to see some amazing sights. It still stings me a little bit that because of our week in Nairobi we were unable to go to Lake Victoria, Lake Tangayika and Jane Goodall's Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Gombe National Park. But what can you do? I'm just thankful that we're both in good health and can continue on this great adventure. I'm also thankful for purchasing fantastic medical insurance lol. On a serious note, if you are ever travelling to Africa subscribe to Flying Doctors. It's a $25 membership fee, but once your a member, if you ever find yourself in a pinch like I was, all you have to do is call them and they'll pick you up and fly you to the nearest international hospital (I believe there are only a few in the whole continent). Your alternative is calling in insurance in the middle of the Congo or wherever and them telling you to fax or email them paperwork to verify the severity of your situation lol. Oh Africa... you beat the piss outta me for a minute there, but I still love you! Stay tuned for the final African country of our journey. Spoiler alert... we swim with sharks!!

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Posted by ttbwarren 23:06 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Zanzibar Part 1

From Arusha to Stone Town

sunny 30 °C

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As usual I feel way behind on this thing, but as always I got plenty of amazing excuses or reasons rather, to be so. We have been having the most unreal time in South Africa and I will preemptively state (for myself anyways) that this will probably wind up as our favourite country. And that's saying a lot considering some of the super places we've already been. It's pretty crazy to look back now at the last 9+ months and where they've gone. For instance, just tonight we caught a little tele and watched this show called "Departures" (I think it's Canadian actually) which is about two guys travelling around the world for a year. The episode we saw was on India... needless to say we empathized with the two guys a lot and really had a good laugh (the driving, the bathrooms, garbage, cows etc etc lol) at their experiences there. The other day I also remarked to Stacey that 'you know you've been backpacking along time when your super stoked about upgrading from living out of a backpack to living out of a car and tent' lol. So true. But in all honesty it is a big improvement! So much more space and freedom. And no bus rides for a month!!!! Now that's something worth celebrating... on that note I'm cracking' a beer.

We left Nairobi via bus and crossed the border back into Tanzania within a few short hours drive. I made sure I informed the bus driver that if I needed to stop we were stopping.... never holding my bladder again! Time to invest in Depends I guess. Shortly after crossing the border we were back in Arusha (the starting point of our safari). We met back up with our safari company, and long story short, were unable to rejoin another safari to pick up where we left off, so instead we struck a deal with our company to refund part of our money and we booked a bus ticket back to Dar Es Salaam. Kind of sad we didn't get to see the Ngorongoro Crater (heard it is fantastic), but oh well... you can't win 'em all.

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That night we enjoyed some Ethiopian food...

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Different from any cuisine we've tried so far. The bread was really interesting cause it felt and kinda tasted like a sponge. The next morning we jumped back on the bus and made way for Dar...

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Unlike anywhere else we've been, in Tanzania, in every town or bus stop there are always men running after the bus pounding on the sides and windows offering up something for sale. Mostly it's snack food or oranges, but they actually chase the buses like bad behaving dogs....

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In Dar we checked back into our old hotel, got a good nights sleep and the following morning hopped on a ferry to Zanzibar.

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In Dar it was raining but things looked bright and sunny the closer we got to Zanzibar...

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(Approaching Stone Town)

It's definitely true that Stone Town has a sort of Middle Eastern vibe to it (which makes sense because it is a Muslim territory and has even been in the news lately as there have been protests in support of separation from Tanzania). The streets are narrow, windy, cobblestoned and filled with all sorts of small shops and restaurants. I can't emphasize enough however what a maze the city is! We must of got lost nearly 5 times everyday just navigating to and from different places and our hotel.

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The second pic above is of the outside of our first hotel. What an utter shithole!! Why we stayed there? Cause we're cheap asses plain and simple. Never again though... we're are done with dives unless it is absolutely necessary (place was filthy from top to bottom). But the town was a cool place and there were a lot of historic old buildings to see.

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That night we headed over to Africa House which is this really cool old hotel/restaurant that over looks the ocean and offers up the most amazing views at sunset.

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(I got much better pics still on the camera that will be featured in Part 2)

At Africa House we indulged in our favourite... shisha... but it was utter shit and we left a little disappointed. We proceeded to walk down to the waterfront and main food market area where all the locals go and here we met up with a father and son (Nasser and Ahmed) from Lebanon who just so happened to be smoking shisha down by the water. They invited us to partake and we became fast friends. They were even kind enough to invite us to their home for the following day for breakfast, which of course we couldn't resist... we miss middle eastern food way too much!!

Nasser fishing the next morning at the harbour...

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After a short fishing session we jumped in Nasser's car and drove off towards Zanzibar Airport and his home.

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We ended up having a fabulous day with them, but we were completely unaware (even after travelling in the Middle East) about the difference in meal times from Canada to Lebanon. For example breakfast for them is 12-2pm and lunch 5-6pm!! So when they told us to stay for lunch we figured lunch... noon lol.

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Nasser you are a master chef and the food was delicious. Stacey and I both always say now that taco night ise going to be replaced by Middle Eastern food night in our home lol. Sometimes a guy just gets a craving for his hummus!!

The following morning we were off again, but this time north of Stone Town towards paradise... plain and simple. The area we chose to vacate was called Nungwi, known for it's stark white sand beaches and crystal clear blue/green waters. Within in a two hours drive we had arrived and were not disappointed in the least! Here's a little teaser....

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Up next... the most beautiful beaches of our trip so far. I gotta a pretty good feeling that they'll be impossible to top... but who knows.... been surprised once or twice before on this trip! Anything is possible when you've got an adventurous spirit and only two and half months left on an early retirement.

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Posted by ttbwarren 11:01 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Kenya

A Very Unexpected Pit-Stop In Nairobi

overcast 10 °C

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Apologies again everyone for taking so long to write. As you probably already guessed we've been having a blast in South Africa and I can already tell it will be a Top Country of our journey. It feels great to be back in a western civilization again and have perks such as a cellphone and our own car (albeit driving on the wrong side of the road took some getting used to). Much more on this later... I have a feeling there will be many South Africa blog posts as there is just an over abundance to great things to see and do here (ex. tomorrow we will be witnessing the great sardine run and potentially diving with reef and tiger sharks - no cage lol).

We last left off in the middle of the Serengeti on our second day there and we had just finished our morning game drive. My health had been fine in the previous days and I had no reason to be concerned for my well being and was actually having the time of my life enjoying the great plethora of wildlife on safari. However that morning I had the frequent urge to urinate, constantly, but I thought this was quite normal considering the amount of coffee I had drank for breakfast. The problem was that each time I went I felt no relief and to be honest it was getting quite uncomfortable (not an enjoyable experience feeling like your constantly going to piss your pants on safari considering it's nearly impossible to leave the vehicle in the middle of the Serengeti as we were routinely surrounded by all sorts of fantastic game). Finally I had reached the point that I knew something was wrong and informed our driver/guide that I needed medial attention. Our driver then proceeded to head to the nearest medical facility (small village inside the Serengeti called Seronera). By the time we reached the small doctors office I was in the most extreme pain of my life and was curled up in the fetal position of the back seat of our Landcruiser clutching my lower abdomen. The doctor did a quick examination of me, asked a few questions and then determined that I was in quite a predicament as he felt that my appendix was about to burst. Really?? Talk about timing. I mean we were literally in the middle of nowhere and hours away from the nearest hospital that could provide me with any type of care. Luckily we were travelling with a guy who had a cell phone, so we immediately contacted the Canadian Embassy Of Tanzania and our insurance company. While Stacey was duking it out with our insurance company and numerous air ambulance companies, I was in absolute agony (I'm not kidding... worst pain of my life!) laying on an examination table getting injected with painkillers from the "doctor" (he didn't seem like much of one, but beggars can't choosers in the middle of the Serengeti). After about two hours of unbearable pain the painkillers finally kicked in and I finally received some relief. By this point Stacey had managed to obtain clearance for an airplane to cross the border from Kenya into Tanzania, but we could not get insurance to sign off on it because they required us to either fax or email the doctors request for one. Ya... cause there's just an abundance of fax machines and internet cafes in the MIDDLE OF THE SERENGETI!! As I mentioned by this point the painkillers had really done their job and I felt quite normal as if the pain had only been a dream (creating the illusion in my mind that I was quite fine). I don't remember all the details but I do remember Stacey begging and pleading with numerous people on the phone to arrange my transportation to Nairobi Hospital. I didn't know quite what to make of the whole situation at this point because on one hand I felt fine and thought that maybe boarding an air ambulance to another country was a bit excessive but on the other hand the doctor could be right and my appendix could burst if we did not take serious action. We were in a really dangerous predicament. As it turned out we were unsuccessful in procuring a plane so we made the decision to start driving several hours east back towards the nearest hospital which was Arusha. The problem with this was that roads on our course were absolutely horrific (picture wash board gravel roads shaking the piss out of you for many hours.... not the best conditions for a guy whose appendix could burst any minute... but what do you do? Sit and wait for plane that will maybe come? Or start getting yourself out of the middle of nowhere?). After a few hours of driving we had managed to make it as far as the Ngorongoro Crater and the painkillers were still doing their job. During the drive however the Canadian Embassy and RBC Insurance managed to somehow get their collective shit together and guarantee us an air ambulance across the Kenyan border which would land at the Ngorongoro small air strip and fly us to Nairobi Hospital. Talk about a fantastical drama. We ended up reaching the airstrip (at this point I still felt fine and was feeling some regret that we might be making a mistake.... what if I turned out to be fine?? Don't forget an air ambulance costs around $7000!)

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I still can't believe a plane came all that way for me... I remember at this time feeling pretty guilty. But it was here and I wasn't about to say I was feeling fine now lol. So I boarded, got strapped in and waited... for the photo shoot to finish lol...

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LOL... well as it turned out a couple of Masai warriors spotted the plane over their grazing herd and came over to check it out. Our pilot and doctors were super cool and laid back guys and I was in NO immediate danger, so Stacey got to partake in some of the best/original photos of the trip... too bad her nerves were completely shot... kind of hard to enjoy a moment like this.

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I've never been in a plane this small before... let alone an air ambulance. Surprisingly a super smooth flight. I was pretty comfortable (painkillers still working), being attended to by the Dr. and our pilot was just enjoying his job. Born and raised in Kenya he has been flying his entire life and didn't hesitate to fly us over all the sights en-route to Nairobi.

Ngorongoro Crater:

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An active volcano (can't remember the name):

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Mount Kilimanjaro above the clouds:

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After only a half hour in the air we had reached Nairobi, secured our emergency medical visas and were taken by ambulance to Nairobi Hospital. In the mean time we were still duking it out somewhat with insurance trying to secure me financing for my inevitable hospital stay. *This is a short summary of events and if you want to learn more you'll just have to ask Stacey about all the insurance/hospital details... all I know is that it was a supreme fight on her part (many thanks baby!) to deal with all the hair pulling frustration of medical bureaucracy.* Eventually I was emitted to emergency upon which I was assessed and given a CT Scan on my lower abdomen. That night all was fine... no pain... only the empty helpless feeling that I wrongfully assessed my situation and that numerous, unnecessary resources were wasted on me due to some abdominal pain (even though it was the worst pain of my life).

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Well I can't remember exactly, but sometime during my second day in the hospital a urologist/surgeon came into my room and explained to me that the pain was in fact very real and that I had developed kidney stones and a very severe infection in both my upper urethera and prostrate and that in the morning I would require surgery to remove the stones and assess the damage. F@#K!! Well that explained the pain. Very quickly the guilty thoughts of my misdiagnosis were replaced with the wonderful realization that I had to get surgery up my DICK! That's always a tough pill to swallow. But what can you do? I was looking on the bright side shortly after and realized that the situation could have been much worse and at least I was now in a western hospital and in the hands of a very competent and friendly surgeon. Stacey arrived that morning thinking that I would be discharged (coffee in hand... but I wasn't allowed to eat or drink), and in a couple hours I was whisked off to the operating room.

Long story short, I chose to get knocked out for the operation (you don't really need to see someone destroying your manhood lol), my first time ever being under. What a weird experience that is... 1, 2, 3.... OUT.... and then you're somewhat awake and the surgeon's talking to you about the surgery. Apparently it was very successful (he couldn't believe how bad my infection was and said that this and the stones were unrelated and it was a complete mystery why I had both at the same time), and he broke up and removed a large stone (a piece of which I was given as a souvenir lol). I was quickly moved back to my room to recover.

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Not gonna lie the pain after the surgery was pretty bad and the catheter didn't really help make matters much better either. Pretty uncomfortable day after surgery.

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The worst part was that after this WHOLE ordeal, either due to the meds or the hospital food, I got severely sick and dehydrated. Imagine having to get up to go to the bathroom 4 times a hour with a catheter in... just thinking about that pain is making me cringe.

So to summarize I wound up being in the hospital for a full week! They ended up keeping me longer because of my dehydration and they wanted to be sure about my test results. Needless to say I was getting quit sick of the hospital, its food and being trapped in a small room all day..... and with no STACEY... first time in 8 months :(

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But I was finally released and we celebrated this glorious moment with a big latte and an even bigger beef burger and fries!

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So while my whole medical saga was unfolding, remember that Stacey was experiencing something entirely different.... being all alone in a completely foreign city and constantly battling with insurance and Nairobi Hospital. Luckily enough there was a hostel only about a block away from the hospital... unfortunately it was a shithole... but the staff were super nice.

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That was Stacey's little fortress for a week (the first night she actually shared my hospital bed with me... wish we had a pic of that!). Through it all she was a total trooper and even ventured to downtown Nairobi on foot to get us a SIM card for our cellphone (on her way a man actually had a seizure on the sidewalk right in front of her... her and another man helped him and eventually learned that he couldn't afford all of his medications). Nairobi is a big place! On our last night we ventured downtown and enjoyed a dinner and movie date night out on the town to celebrate good health.

Well that's my medical drama folks... hopefully the last of its kind ever... one surgery like that is enough for this guy! I do want to say thank you to Flying Doctors for picking me up in the middle of nowhere, paying for our Kenyan VISAS and even to the doctor on board (can't remember his name) for giving us $20 in Kenya Shillings because we had no Kenyan cash at the time. Also a big thanks to Dr. Mugabou, my surgeon and urologist... by far the nicest and best doctor I've ever had. And finally and huge massive thank you to my super wicked fiancé Stacey!! I love you so much baby and thank you for being there by my side through this entire miserable ordeal, battling hospital financiers, insurance companies and shitty nurses. Couldn't have gone through it alone :)

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Posted by ttbwarren 22:26 Archived in Kenya Comments (0)

Serengeti

Safari Day Two & Three

sunny

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Well I should be writing this from the comfort of our hostel in Johannesburg, South Africa (where we planned on spending our Canada Day :( ), BUT due to the complete incompetence of Precision Air (Tanzania) we are still in Dar Es Salaam where we will remain for the evening. YOU SEE... Precision at some point decided to change the time of our flight without updating the NET or calling/emailing us. This meant that we spent our day in quite a rush catching a terrible ferry (seas were very rough and almost the entire boat was puking) from Zanzibar to Dar and then rushing in a cab to the airport... printing off our boarding passes with a Precision Agent (how did they even not know the flight changed... boarding passes said the same time we had thought) and then waited in line for literally a whole hour before the check in girl looks at us like we're retarded for not knowing we missed our flight (cause it left at 10am not 4:30pm). Needless to say we were furious as she told us there were no more flights and that we could be stuck in Dar for several days (we had already booked our hotels in Jo'burg... the joys of travelling lol). After some fighting we managed to get a flight out of Dar for tomorrow with a different airline, but back to Nairobi (at least not back to the hospital lol) and then finally to Jo'burg. A proper pain in the ass but at least it kind of still worked out and they put us up in a nice hotel with all our expenses covered... not all bad I suppose... life goes on...

Back to safari....

After spending the night camping near Lake Manyara, the next morning we jumped back in the Landcruiser bright and early and made our way north west to the Ngorongoro Crater, which we would pass through on our way to the Serengeti.

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Early that morning after an extremely bumpy ride we finally arrived at the park gate.

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The entire way there the road was an utter washboard... probably not the best conditions for a guy with impending kidney stones lol...

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Got our first taste of some of new sights though...

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Quite a few ostrich along the road... still can't believe how big they are... would love to ride one! Maybe in SA lol

Here's one I've never seen before - Kori Bustard (keep in mind I merely google these names and it's also worth mentioning that our guide was really shitty - go easy on me David cause I don't know shit about birds lol)

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Once you pass through the park gate it's about another hour drive or so to the information centre where you pay your fees. Here there is a small picnic area and store, but also this amazing lookout point.

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Serengeti is actually Swahili for "endless plain". To be honest I couldn't get over home much it reminded me of my Canadian prairie home. The land and the smell was spot on.... just a couple animals were out of place lol.

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About a hour or so into our first game drive of the day and we stumbled upon one of the Big 5...

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Our guide took a risk and we left the road to get a closer look and a Mom and her two clubs.

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Mom was pretty untrusting of us and quickly fled the scene as the pics show, but the two clubs were too busy being lazy and trying to still cool in the heat of the day. Judging by there faces they had a good meal not too long ago.

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Such beautiful creatures. I gotta say it was some rush to see them up SO close in the wild. I remember trying to awaken my consciousness and say 'hey, remember this moment'... I mean for me sometimes when I see these amazing sights on our trip I have a hard time believing it's real or that it's happening to me... I've seen this all on TV before but in reality it's just so different and well lol.. real....

Up close and personal with Stacey's favs... I love these pics!!

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Zebras are definitely the punk rockers of the Serengeti! Look at those sweet mohawks...

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At the start of our drive the wildlife was steady but sparse in comparison in what was to come. Don't forget the great Serengeti (and the Masai Mara) is home to thousands upon thousands of wildebeests and zebras during the great migration... and we happened to drive right through the middle of it...

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The fact is that those pictures don't do it justice at all (my video might). They were shattered around as far as you could see. Herds upon herds of them. Eating, fighting, running around, sleeping. I got a real kick out of the wildebeests mainly cause they're so noisy (always "mooing??" lol or talking to each other) and because their super jumpy and even the slightest startle and they start running about and flailing all over. Check out this great Nat Geo sequence:

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It was pretty easy to see that it was the end of the wet season in the Serengeti cause everything was still pretty lush and there seemed to be quite an abundance of water around... which was great for the hippos... and even a croc!

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More time passed and I think we were all a bit in shock at the grand scale of the Serengeti. It sure makes you feel small in this magnificent world. And just when we thought things couldn't get any better, again we're blessed with another member of the elusive Big 5... The Leopard.

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Just chillin' in a tree... with about a dozen Landcruisers watching him lol.

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Elephants off in the distance...

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The trail network inside the park is pretty extensive but it's forbidden for vehicles to leave these trails. It is also forbidden to exit the vehicle unless it's an absolute emergency (like a pee stop lol).

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Some type of crane or herring??

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A blessing from the heavens??

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Just a random giraffe on the way to our camp...

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Our camp for the night...

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Conditions in the camps were pretty good and there were quite a lot of people and researchers staying there (100 total ?). We didn't have the best sleep due to the days excitement and bug bites... and Stacey was even awoken several times that night from Hyena cries! Cool.

We left camp at 6:30am the next morning to start another game drive. No more then 100 m from our camp and we already encountered elephants.

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Good thing they didn't decide to trample our tent lol.

Apparently this cost over $500 per person...

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Kind of a cool way to do a safari. The only problem was that it was only for like 2 hours, and they were just motoring along. Besides how can you stop when you see cool shit like this...

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YEP!! We got to see a pride out in full force trying to get their breakfast. We must have watched them for a good hour trying to corner/separate a wildebeest. They don't even acknowledge the fact that your there. They just go about their daily hunt. It was pretty unreal to hear them calling back and forth to each other.

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Can you spy the hunter?

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This little guy came out of nowhere (jackal)...

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Almost at the wrong place and time little buddy...

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The lions were really talking to each other when we snapped these shots...

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Suck remarkable creatures. Screw a pitbull... I'm getting a lion lol.

Shortly afterwards we spied the biggest elephant we'd seen yet, off in the distance... too bad we couldn't get up any closer.

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Look at the size of those tusks! That's a lot of pianos keys lol.

Can't forget to show you all the vultures... and they are HUGE!

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... and pretty ugly... and a little scary lol.

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The game drive lasted about 4 hours or so and by the end of it I started to feel pretty terrible. I won't elaborate on it all now (next post) but at this point I was pretty uncomfortable and knew that bad things were on the horizon for me...

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Well that's it guys! Our safari was just fantastic! Saw pretty much everything we set out to see and more (still need to see hyenas, rhinos and cheetahs... fingers crossed for South Africa where we plan on doing another safari in Kruger National park). Right now it's 11:30 pm and I gotta get up at 3:00am to catch our flight back to Kenya. Looking at these pics again though make it all worth it. Hope you enjoy them as much as we do. Stay tuned for my amazing medical drama and penile surgery of doom lol.

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Posted by ttbwarren 13:24 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Lake Manyara

Safari Day #1

semi-overcast 24 °C

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Finally we found an internet cafe with a decent enough connection to upload these pictures and get caught up on this thing. Tanzania has been by far the hardest country we visited to find a good connection as WIFI let alone internet cafes are virtually non-existent. We are currently in Zanzibar at the moment and it is just fantastic here!! White sand, turquoise waters, clean hotels and great food... all you can ask for in life I suppose lol. To be honest it feels great to be out of the hospital and also out of Arusha (our safari starting point and also where we returned to after Kenya) which we would both rate as one of the worst cities we've travelled to thus far. Lol, on that note:

Top 5 Worst Cities We've Travelled So Far:

1) Ooty, India - lacked in all amenities and atmosphere and was just a atrocious place to be sick
2) Arusha, Tanzania - dirty, drab, spread out, with no restaurants (literally) and overpriced because it's generally the starting point of any safari
3) Safaga, Egypt - shithole lol... enough said
4) Phuket Town, Thailand - dirty, no beach, no sun, no fun... ask Jana and Mike... they seen our hotel room there lol
5) Xian, China - polluted, crowded and dirty... terracotta warriors are actually outside of Xian

From Moshi we caught a dala-dala with our guide Johnny and within the hour we arrived in the "lovely" town of Arusha. It was nice to arrive somewhere new with a local that spoke swahili because the usual bombardment from the "flycatchers" (touts) was virtually non-existent. The harassment in Arusha was by far NOT the worst we've ever experienced but it still was pretty annoying as there is a lot to sell such as safaris, hiking, Masai Cultural Tours, Spice Tours and Kilimanjaro Climbing packages etc, so at any given time just being foreign and walking the streets exposes you to all sorts of sales pitches. We were well aware that the soul purpose for our guide bringing us to Arusha was to help us arrange a safari in order to obtain a commission, but we also were aware that it wouldn't effect "our" price as we asked around quite a bit and had a pretty good idea of what it should cost. We met with a tour operator in Arusha and ironed out the details for the next few days. Our itinerary was for 4 days and 3 nights (camping inside and outside the parks) including transport, guide, accommodation, and food and the price worked out to be around $140 per day per person (which is not bad considering people book online for thousands of dollars before arriving in Tanzania). First stop on our safari was to Lake Manyara National Park which is about a hour drive from Arusha.

Our sweet ride for the next couple of days...

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Before you even enter the park itself your hit with this very over powering smell of bird shit lol... then you look up and understand why.

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Pelicans.... and literally thousands of them. So many that most of the trees are completely white because of all their shit.

After passing by the mass amount of pelicans we proceeded on into the park. We were all pretty blow away by the beauty of the landscape and just at how lush everything was (after all it was the tail end of the rainy season). Then reality hits you... I'M ON FREAKIN' SAFARI!!!!

Monkeys (not sure which species)...

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Spotted this huge looking type of horn bill in the grass (not sure of the name)...

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One of the fastest herbivores on the planet... the Impala...

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After about a hour drive through the park we approached a hippopotamus watering hole where we were allowed to actually exit the vehicle and take a look around. Of course where there are people there are lots of baboons in the parks but when we arrived a fight broke out and they took off into the underbrush. From the very onset of the drive we were patting ourselves on the back for buying a good zoom lens for our camera... you'll soon all see why.

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I noticed that behind several bushes there appeared to be some movement going on, so I snuck past the barrier to capture a few images. Unreal stuff...

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Totally amazing!! Our guide got a bit mad at me for crossing the barrier but it was well worth it lol. He said that it's actually hippos and not carnivores that cause the most human fatalities in Tanzania's National Parks. You can easily see why. I wouldn't want to go toe to toe with one of those big bastards! That was the only time we seen them doing anything other than staying cool in the mud...

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A Kingfisher...

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Some other type of big bird (I tried to find the name of it on the NET but no luck)

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Got a real kick out of this next sighting.... the Blue Balls Monkey... guess why it's named that??

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Kind of sheds new light on the term "Blue Balls" doesn't it lol. We continued on touring the park for about another half hour or so before our next sighting. The Landcruiser is perfectly set up for wildlife watching as the roof lifts off in three sections (front, middle - where there's 2 bucket seats, and above the back bench which seats 3 people). On our safari there were 5 of us that day so Stacey and I got to occupy the whole back seat and have our own personal sunroof. This made for some amazing views and even more amazing wildlife photography!

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Not the biggest elephant we would see but no less magnificent...

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Continuing on...

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Zebras with thousands of flamingos in the background standing in Lake Manyara...

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Another elephant sighting...

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The view from our lunch picnic area...

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Do not feed the animals... but birds are cool right?

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After quickly being blessed with seeing all sorts of different animals you have to force yourself to just enjoy the scenery of the park, which was fascinating all on its own.

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A Baobab tree which are the elephants favourite because they contain so much water...

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After our lunch stop we headed deeper into the park along the edge of the lake and were immediately impressed by the diversity of all the animals... this safari would not disappoint!! Check these out!!

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Giraffes are the ultimate posers... I still love how they just stand there and stare right at you.

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Aside from noticing his gigantic balls lol the easiest way to tell if a giraffe is male or female is by colour (males are darker), or by the extra horn the males have in the middle of their heads. There are only around nine sub-species of giraffe in the world, and the ones in our pictures are called the Maasai Giraffe (one of the largest) and one of only two types found in Tanzania.

Continuing on... another elephant spotting...

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Look at the little baby!! Our guide said he's at least 3 years old because he has already started to grow tusks...

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Giraffes chilling by the lake...

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Another great bird shot...

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More flamingos off in the distance in the lake. Unfortunately the park roads never got very close to the edge of the lake which had just a tremendous amount of wildlife there... probably the reason for the roads not being there in the first place.

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Cool tiny little deer (I believe called a dik-dik)...

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Up very close and personal to the giraffes again....

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Can you believe that tongue?? Apparently it's so long that they can clean their own ears with it... too bad humans can't do that... gross lol.

A family of warthogs (bush pigs I think is the proper name for them) off in the distance...

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At the end of the day we finally got to encounter a whole troop of baboons on the road.

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Also close by we spotted this guy sunbathing on the rocks...

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Monitor Lizard

And that folks was our day touring around Lake Manyara. We left the park at around 4:30pm and proceeded to Panorama Camp where we would be spending the night camping. Why was it called Panorama Camp? See for yourself....

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I still can't get over that view. And that was literally what we saw when we opened the flap of our tent...

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The next morning we awoke fairly early, ate breakfast in the camp and then jumped back in the Landcruiser to start Day 2, which would include driving around the Ngorongoro Crater and through the Serengeti (including a game drive inside the park). It was quite foggy that morning up on the Crater rim so it wasn't exactly great conditions for pictures but we saw quite a lot of interesting sights leading up to the Serengeti. Here most of the land is occupied by a tribe called the Masai (who are really quite world renowned as famous warriors and are featured in numerous docs and movies) who are nomadic herders and are allowed to use the park land as grazing areas for their sheep, goats and cattle.

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Here's a picture of one of their villages...

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And finally a view of Ngorongoro Crater from up on the south eastern rim...

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That's all your gettin' of Day 2 for now lol. Stay tuned for many more fascinating pictures to come! Looking at them now just blows my mind and I can't wait for you all to see them. Up next is the Serengeti... and maybe, just maybe a few big cats as well. Hakuna Matata!!

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Posted by ttbwarren 11:41 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

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