Fumba Beach

July 23rd, 2015 No comments

Leaving Stone town, we headed toward one of the nature reserves. Would you believe Red Colobus monkeys (Zanzibar) ? Blue Monkeys? How about Mangroves?

How about all of the above with a side of mahogany tree?

As we arrived, there was a blue sykes monkey – so now I have a decent photo…

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found in the forest

the monkey forest

the monkey forest

Red Colubus Monkeys – Zanzibar subspecies

and a mangrove swamp with white, red and black mangroves whose water varies from cms to a meter deep depending on the tides. The water is still and the reflections are amazing…

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Then there was the seaweed farm located on the coast

 

 

which included a wonderful hike out to the beds in the shallow but always covered portion of a particular Indian Ocean beach flanked on both sides by dozens of kite surfers.

 

to make the day complete we arrived in plenty of time for briefings, snacks, dinner and bush babies.

 

Bushbaby

Bushbaby

and yes, they are primates

and yes, they are primates

 

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Stone Town

July 22nd, 2015 No comments

located on the biggest island in the Zanzibar Archipelago, is old. Very old as in evidence of human habitation going back 20,000 years, give or take. So it wasn’t young when the Arabs arrived, nor when the Portuguese identified it as a great shipping point. But what did change with the arrival of all those from Europe and the Mid-East was the name and the construction of the buildings.

Did I forget to mention those from Asia? Sorry about that.

Rather than temporary homes, limestone became the main building material. Zangi (black people) became Zanzibar and the area became known as the Spice Islands. Think pepper, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon. Today it is the home of tourism, some spice, a World Heritage Site and a lot of people. Not so much on the spice although there is plenty for sale, both raw and spice mixes, in the markets.

This morning we walked through the narrow twisted streets of Stone Town where pedestrians, bikes, scooters and hand pushed heavy wooden wheeled carts are the only possible forms of transportation. Looking at old buildings, interesting doorways, and stores tucked behind wooden barred facades,

yes, that is yarn (acrylic) in the bottom of the display case

yes, that is yarn (acrylic) in the bottom of the display case

the calls to prayer were an ongoing reminder that the population is 95% Muslim. That and the women’s dress made it pretty obvious.

The Old Slave Market over which was built an Episcopal Church (which became a guest house after a new church was built.

original church built over 8+ underground slave chambers.

original church built over 8+ underground slave chambers.

the fish market,


vegetables,

spices –

all indicative of that which was was easily bought and sold.

This afternoon’s adventure was headed up by Bonita, the hotel manager on a rare afternoon off. Visiting fabric sources, stores in front of stores on the narrow streets and opportunity to add to my spice collection made for a lovely afternoon. We ended at Livingston’s on the beach where we relaxed, unfortunately a month too early for the Jazz Festival.

Dhow's on the water

Dhow’s on the water

sunset from the roof

sunset from the roof

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And on to Zanzibar

July 21st, 2015 No comments

And today it got complicated since 10 of the group area heading home on KLM via Amsterdam this evening.

Me? I’m off to Zanzibar….

According to the brochure:

After breakfast this morning, we’ll depart for Arusha, where we’ll enjoy lunch and bid farewell to those travel companions who are returning home today. Then, we transfer to Arusha Airport to board our flight to Zanzibar Island, known as Unguja to the locals. Upon arrival, we’ll check into our hotel. This evening dinner will be on our own.

 

Lunch was at a restaurant close to the airport. Not bad at all, but we have had better, especially the food at the Serengeti Camp.  Farewells were said to those heading home then the five of us (plus our tour leader) headed to the airport. For those that have been in Africa, it wasn’t as large as Livingston but had a full share of  shops….  It was also our lucky day – there were enough people wanting to fly to Zanzibar that we took a much bigger plane than originally scheduled (and me with my extremely heavy backpack).

leaving Arusha

leaving Arusha

The distance isn’t large – 16-30 miles from the coast (the nearest most distant point of the largest island)

 

 

Chaos ensued at the arrival airport – but we managed to get our luggage and out of there in a reasonable time. Our Hotel is called the Swahili House. Built in the 1800s, it transitioned from private ownership to public hotel via revolution and political change.  In any case the view from the roof dining area is amazing – and the architecture is amazing ….

and the sunset was pretty impressive from the roof top

looking toward Africa

looking toward Africa

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Ngorongoro Farm House Valley Lodge

July 20th, 2015 No comments

Discover Ngorongoro Highlands

Today we’ll have the opportunity to explore the surrounding village of Karatu and the Ngorongoro Highlands for a day of Learning and Discovery with our Trip Leader. We gather for a Farewell Dinner this evening. Day 12 will include A Day
in the Life experience at an Iraqw village and local school.

My Reality

The setting is peaceful, the greenery lush, and the wifi is free. Did I also mention that the food is excellent along with being way too available. After excellent food, but not much appetite in the Kilimanjaro Highlands I have the feeling that those pounds that vanished are bent on returning. The cuisine is a mix of local African dishes and western style offerings. So there is porridge in the morning, but it is oatmeal here rather than maize. There are eggs to order and meats. But there are wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables.

Today the majority of the group went off on cultural activities. Visiting a family, a market, dropping off food at an orphanage. Perhaps stopped by a school – I wasn’t too clear since it is so not my thing. (all of which is a long discussion related to too much seen in too many countries and not needing to go there anymore).

Instead – I posted the pictures from the last five days, took a few of the lodge.

Found that the Wifi worked well enough to download books from amazon but not to update Apps.

Other wise, checked out the gift shops, bought napkins.

Tomorrow five of us head to Zanzibar and the other ten back to the US so it is farewell dinner time….

Oh – there was a Maribo Stork refusing to leave the vegetable garden

looking for a free lunch

looking for a free lunch

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Ngorongoro Caldera

July 19th, 2015 No comments

Ok, haul that geology out of its resting place. Caldera – that central area of the volcano that collapses with the eruption. So you will see this particular feature (the Ngorongoro Caldera/Crater) listed both ways on maps.

The Blurb provided by OAT –

Early this morning, we drive to Ngorongoro Crater. We descend to the floor of Ngorongoro for some game-viewing. The caldera of Ngorongoro marks the ancient walls of a collapsed volcano, which was probably once the size of Mount Kilimanjaro. The circular crater is some twelve miles across, with steep walls of more than 2,000 feet. The crater’s rim is 7,500 feet above sea level, the highest altitude we reach on our trip. Because of a permanent supply of water and a precise balance of predator and prey, most of the wildlife remains here year-round. The forest areas are home to herds of bull elephant, including some large, old “tuskers.” There are several prides of lion, and many packs of hyena and jackal. If lucky, you may spot a bat-eared fox or a pair of cheetah. These predators stalk the numerous wildebeest, gazelle, and zebra. Here thrives a stable population of rhino, as well as herds of buffalo and groups of hippo. The birdlife is equally diverse, ranging from the scavenging vulture and bustard to the magnificent eagle and crested crane.

Apparently what happens is that animals wander down, the eating is good and they don’t leave. But, since there are few trees, you don’t find young elephants or any giraffes at all. Because of the amount of recreational traffic (read here safari vehicles) most of the animals and birds don’t seem to be bothered. This is a conservation area: no one lives here but Maasai are allowed to graze a small portion on one end. That area is grazed down to practically the soil.

Packing and leaving out of the camp this morning

 

On the way

Vistas
looking into the caldera and across

we saw
and the reason for being able to see all the hyenas and jackels had to do with the lions having lunch

at the end of the day we stayed at Ngorongono Valley Lodge

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Full Day on the Serengeti

July 18th, 2015 No comments
sunrise

sunrise

Game-viewing drives

(and I am sparing you the rhetoric. Hey, we went out, saw a lot of animals, swatted at the flies and had a great time…) Seriously – we headed to the Western side of the park on the rumor that there were a lot of wildebeasts… Incredibly true. Once I am home hopefully I can get Dani to take the video and turn it into something worth watching. Nothing like seeing thousands of animals suddenly appear from across a riverbed, thunder down within a hundred meters of where you are sitting before changing direction, picking up speed and heading across the plain.

Pictures today are in the order taken….

and ignoring flat tire #3 (same vehicle, same tire, third day in a row.) since the guys are pretty speedy, especially with a leopard hunting in the area

tour leader and the other two drivers

tour leader and the other two drivers

But then we came to the Wildebeasts ….

To top off the day – there were lions…
personally I think he is pretty scruffy, but I suppose youth is an excuse.

and then, we saw their potential supper on the way back

Grant's Gazelle

Grant’s Gazelle

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Big Cat Day

July 17th, 2015 No comments

Explore Serengeti National Park

The cabins - front sleeping room and back section with shower and toilet

The cabins – front sleeping room and back section with shower and toilet

You will rejoin the group after breakfast for a morning game-viewing drive. The Serengeti stretches over 5,700 square miles of plains, riverine bush, and acacia woodland, with a dominant environment of acacia grassland. But from the comfort of our bush camp, there is never a rush: We go where the animals are. We can return to a promising area, or range further afield.

As it turned out, this was the day of the cat. Lions, leopards, cheetah were all out and about in spite of the temperature. And more importantly in spite of the tsetse flies. Day biters, these nasty flies are mostly found in brush areas or those with large numbers of herbivores.

I have divided up the pictures, but there are a lot of them…and not all in the order in which we saw/photographed them…

Secretary Bird
Which nest rather messily on top of acacias (one of the 43 species of this tree any way). So the pair – taking off, taking a hike, and crossing the road – after all – there may be snakes on the other side…

Those animals which you expect to see
include wildebeast (gnu), zebras, & elephants

and the antelopes
skipping the Thompson’s, Grants, Impalas, water buck and bush bucks…

More birds
(especially for Linda and Alison)

Cheetah’s


which are incredibly shy, hard to photo. Even in the park they are quite endangered (killed off by leopards, lions, hyenas…) but apparently willing to have a discussion with Gnus..

Mother Leopard
who hangs out in her own tree – stomach full.

sleeping cat

sleeping cat

but makes a couple of trips up and down while we watch. Note that she stores “lunch” up in the tree on both sides. Don’t enlarge the pictures with dangling antelope legs if it will bother you

Leopard Cub
guestimated to be about 4 months old. Mom is hanging out in the larder tree. Way too many vehicles and tourists for the young one who woke up, got bothered and took off….

Two Lion Prides
The first was hanging out in the sun under a tree – or rather – he was while watching his five ladies look for a snack. Before turning an irritated look our way

the second pride was a bit more scattered with one young male feeling lonely, a couple of lionesses at look out and the king off on a seduction walk

Monkeys behaving badly

And days end
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Serengeti National Park

July 16th, 2015 No comments

Explore Serengeti National Park

Today, we explore the vast expanse of the Serengeti, where the wildlife
sightings are typically at their peak in the early mornings and late afternoons, when the temperature cools. Serengeti, in fact, is the Maasai word that means “endless plain.”

Our mobile tented camps are set up based on the animals’ seasonal migration patterns and are in place before you arrive. Each is outfitted with camp beds, complete with linens, blankets, pillows, and en suite facilities (shower and flush toilets) with hot water. You have your own verandah with wash basin and two director’s chairs. There is a dining tent with tables and chairs. Spend the night listening to the sounds of the animals in the distance.

That last one is a misnomer. The sounds are not at a distance; more like right between the cabins and sloshing around in the water reservoir. I don’t hold with elephants being all that bright – but they certainly are cunning. We were also warned about leaving shoes outside to dry – seems like they make good hyena toys.

General sights

And the Leopard ….
She was up in the tree, stocking her larder. Nature is what it is and I refuse to feel sorry for the gazelles who wind up being dinner…

from a distance she is hard to see

from a distance she is hard to see

but there she is

but there she is

dragging another Thompson's up for later

dragging another Thompson’s up for later

then headed back down

then headed back down

to find a nice place to nap

to find a nice place to nap

since a full stomach can make you sleepy

since a full stomach can make you sleepy

"tree of death" three gazelles and one leopard.

“tree of death” three gazelles and one leopard.

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Ngororngoro Conservation Area – Serengeti

July 15th, 2015 No comments

Discover Oldupai Gorge • Travel to Serengeti camp

Morning

Oldupai Gorge where , in 1959, Louis and Mary Leakey discovered fossil fragments, which led to a new understanding of human evolution. Oldupai Gorge was home to Homo habilis, a race of early humans to probably become the ancestors of homo sapien. Visit the small museum, which explains the Leakeys’ methods and findings. After a picnic lunch, we travel to our camp in the Serengeti.
 

Map of the area

Map of the area

The Museum is tiny and reflective of most private (in this case foundation supported) museums in the not wealthy area of the world. There is a replica of the footprints found in the Laetoi area on display, maps of the area, skulls and bones from many of the pre-historic animals and photos from the excavation. I’m not showing it – but there is also a monument to the Japanese scientist who started near Terra del Fuego and hiked what is thought to be the human migration pattern backwards from Argentina all the way to the Oldupai Gorge….

the gorge with all the moving plates

the gorge with all the moving plates

the area known as the Castle where the gorge splits

the area known as the Castle where the gorge splits

side cliff with Maasai Herder

side cliff with Maasai Herder

Looking up toward where the Leahy's worked

Looking up toward where the Leahy’s worked

footprint replica - the originals were preserved in volcanic ash

footprint replica – the originals were preserved in volcanic ash

 

 

Afternoon

Gateway to amazing sights

Gateway to amazing sights

We left the entry area (Kaapi Hill) to drive toward the tented camp where we stayed the next four nights. Following are just a few of our spottings along the way. As always – clicking will make them larger….

and leopards this time….

look closely

look closely

snoozing

snoozing

(I am sparing you the remains of the gazelle....

(I am sparing you the remains of the gazelle….

 

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A real Coffee Table

July 14th, 2015 3 comments

This morning was cultural experience followed by a stop at wood carvers before we arrived at our overnight location about 1300.

Ngorongoro Farm is a working farm, coffee plantation and (in my opinion) a multiple star location.  Obviously we are not the only safari group coming through – this lodge is also highly popular with many of the German travel companies.

The Grounds:

Since coffee is a significant issue (9 acres of coffee and all served is their own)

But what was most surprising were the accommodations since they didn’t look like all that much from the outside.

the front of Mwewe (Eagle/Adler)

the front of Mwewe (Eagle/Adler)

But inside they are huge

And when I was sitting outside looking at the extensive gardens-

I almost forgot about the coffee table

The Coffee Table

The Coffee Table

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Zebra Day – Tarangeri Park

July 13th, 2015 1 comment
the lounge

the lounge

my tent...

my tent…

Today we experience Tarangire’s diversity on a morning game-viewing
drive, during which we’ll pause to enjoy a picnic breakfast in the
bush.
The variety of wildlife here is excellent, from lion, cheetah, and
buffalo to a wealth of birdlife. Elephant are plentiful here, traveling
in large herds that are not often seen elsewhere in Africa. Each of
our driver-guides has extensive knowledge of behavior of these great
animals.
We will return to our lodge in time for a relaxing lunch. In the
afternoon, we’ll have time to take an optional nature walk in the
Lake Burunge area. After, we enjoy dinner together at our camp.

Ok – Reality: (grin) which might even have been better.

We were up and about by 0530 this morning and basically on the road before 0700. The park doesn’t open till 0600 so there is about zero chance of crashing around in the dark. We did the usual mix up people and vehicles again which means new day, new friends, new driver.

Now I will stop the natter and present you with pictures……

all of which we saw within the first hour.

After which there were birds, more birds…..

Other animals and scenery

and finally – the Zebras

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Tarangire National Park

July 12th, 2015 No comments

Day 4 (supposedly – I can’t count, but will use their numbers) – aka 12 July 2015.

We left Moraiva Coffee Lodge this morning split into three groups. All of us made a fast stop at a shopping center (for those who need an ATM) one of the cars was going to quickly run by Shanga while the other two headed to Tarangire Park.

The park lies west of Arusha. As the elevations drops we also shift from Chagga tribe to Massai. Their traditional houses are round

round houses, thatched roofs

round houses, thatched roofs

and we continually passed herds of goats and cattle with the occasional dromedary. Mostly boys doing the herding, traditional dress was more common than jeans.

Arriving at the park – we had lunch and were entertained by monkey thieves and numerous birds.

then headed into the park itself:

Map of the Park

Map of the Park

From here on – it is just pictures.

We left the park 1700 ~for Lake Burunge Tented Camp where we will spend the next two nights. And, we were delighted to find that prior information was wrong – there is wifi at the camp.

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Day 3 (!) Moraiva Coffee Lodge

July 11th, 2015 1 comment

The time count is now going to get confusing. This is 11 July – and really from my count the first day of the tour since it is when we start going and doing. Our group consists of 10 who were on the pre-trip to one of the Kenyan Game preserves, one who flew in from South Africa (she just finished the Safari George and I did in March), three who arrived from the US and me. The Kenya crew didn’t arrive till 0200 in the morning and the three from the US are pretty time zone whacked.

Shanga

Heading out by bus

Our Bus

Our Bus

our first stop was the Shanga Workshop. Started by a Dutch woman, the organization provides training and jobs for those who are deaf/mute and/or physically handicapped.

Our first stop was one of the teaching areas where we were afforded the opportunity to learn a bit of Sign in Swahili. Besides a number of basic words/concepts – there is the alphabet

Seating at Shanga

Seating at Shanga

Swahili Sign Language Chart

Swahili Sign Language Chart

Currently employing 47, the workshop sells in their shop the things that are made with an eye to having everyone being self supporting.

Everything is made from recycled products (well except for the woven fabrics) including glass beads and objects, jewelry, fabric objects, blown glass ….

From there we moved on to River House at Arusha Coffee Plantation where the Chef demonstrated a number of Tanzanian dishes (and gave us a recipe book at the end)

I would have taken pictures of all the food, but frankly I was too busy eating.

Finally we walked out among the coffee plants –
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which are cut back every year and produce up to 70 years. The picking season is May – Oct and all here is picked by hand.

red ripe berries, green berries, raw beans, roasted beans, parchment (after fermentation)

red ripe berries, green berries, raw beans, roasted beans, parchment (after fermentation)

We looked at shops and people along the 40 minute drive back while discussing culture and tribes. Kilimanjaro was faintly visible in the distance – with clouds and a lot of imagination.

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Foothills – Day Last –

July 10th, 2015 No comments
Sunrise at 0520

Sunrise at 0520

Day 5:  Mbahe Village / Departure

Rest, recover, and relax at Mbahe Farm House. Enjoy delicious “homebrew” coffee, grown and roasted on the farm, meals made with fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden, and perhaps take a refreshing swim below the Moonjo River waterfall that sits on the property. It is the perfect spot to relax after your adventure walk on Kilimanjaro! For those returning home you will be transferred to the Kilimanjaro International Airport to catch your flight. Those staying in Tanzania will start your next adventure today.

 

the lounge

the lounge

And then I get dropped off back in Moshi at the Moivaro Coffee Plantation where I will join the OAT group….. 10 of the group has been in Kenya, the other five should be totally and completely time whacked from getting on a plane yesterday in the US and changing planes in Schipol this morning…

Reality:

Tanzanian coffee tasted wonderful at 0600 this morning. I actually got a great nights sleep (amazing how much a few drugs can help) and felt if not refreshed, at least as if I could face the day.  This morning’s porridge turned out to be oatmeal. This is what the visitor’s prefer I was told. But  bu it was balanced out by fresh papaya, avocado and oranges.  As it turns out, Mhabe Farm is on the top of the hill (no surprise) and it was a bit of a slip and slide down to the road where I met my driver.

On normal roads it would not be that far, but it was 2 1/2 hours to Arusha.  It was interesting to see Moshi during the day and pass by the Kilimanjaro Airport when it was actually daylight. Otherwise, I had watched the transition from rural to town to definitely city.  The stores along the road changed from wooden structures to partial block to solid buildings that you could find anywhere in the world. The Boda stations became more frequent but otherwise didn’t change. The bus stations also more frequent, but the fruit and vegetable stands remained unchanged so that you can still easily buy bananas, broiled maize on a stick (corn) and everything else from tomatoes to avocados.

Arriving at the Moivaro Lodge about I dropped my gear, took a shower and washed some clothes as well as my shoes. The last I put out in the sun hopefully to dry.

Meanwhile, roadwork in the area means no Wifi for a while. + my phone has now decided that it will not connect to anything – thank you very much.

I meet the group tomorrow – the rest arrive tonight – some via Amsterdam, the rest from a safari in Kenya..

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Foothills – Day 4

July 9th, 2015 No comments

Leaving the last school camp and ending the walk – 14km

Day 4:  Kidia to Mbahe Village  July 9

This section is the most open of our trek, as we encounter several superb viewpoints down over Moshi, and also up toward the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, which emerges as we approach Mbahe Village and Simon Mtuy’s family farm.  Despite the longer distance walked, the trails are gentler and you have time to savor your last day in your mountain paradise.  The Mtuy farm consists of 15 acres of land on which Simon Mtuy’s ancestors raised cattle and today is used as a small ecologically sustainable farm with eight semi-detached guest rooms.

 

I’m staying here tonight then headed to join the OAT crew tomorrow…. where I should be able to access the world…. or at least the internet via wifi or phone.

And now for Reality:
Out the village, down the road. In my mind I am hearing “over hill, over dale , I have hit the slippery trail “.

mushroom

mushroom

Today my guide says this is an easy walk. What may be easy for 34 is not so for someone several decades older. We increase the altitude as we go. Gradual slopes are not that bad; steep is another matter. But the country side is beautiful as we greet children on their way to school, parents working in the fields and travelers along the road.

Leaving the village road we strike off cross country. He says no worry, only about 4-5 valleys to cross. I count. It is more like 6-7 depending on whether you believe that a full scramble up is required prior to the next slide down. There is either a stream or small river at the base of each valley. All but one can be forded by balancing on the rocks. The other is wade worthy. The water is icy cold as it is glacier run off from Kilimanjaro.

pine covered floor

pine covered floor

one of the many creeks

one of the many creeks

None of the birds came close enough to make it worth taking out the camera. Sunbirds, weavers, and ravens, abounded. But the highlight were the blue monkeys.Since I didn’t have more than a 24-105 lens, it is not like you can see them extremely well….

Arriving at Mhabe Farm about 1500 it was a total of seven hours and ~16 km given that we took a couple of longer but easier routes.

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Looking back, it is actually a much easier day than the first; it is just that I have no quadriceps left and climbing bites.

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White Woman Walking

July 8th, 2015 No comments

Day 3 From one school camp to another – a distance of 12 km

Day 3:  Tema to Kidia

After a night camped at 1900 meters, the trail proceeds through several colorful mountain villages and their coffee and maize farms, as well as rivers where you can refresh in the cool and crystal clear water.  Our destination, Kidia Village, is the site of the first European settlement in the Kilimanjaro region. There are many large Catholic and Lutheran churches on the mountain, each with its own story of missionary work among the Chagga people. Our last camp is at another primary school high up the mountain.

Reality :


If you want to be inconspicuous, I strongly recommend NOT hiking along an African road. Not if you are middle aged (hey, I can’t claim senior stats till this fall) and are a white woman wearing hiking pants. Add in a mid 30s African guide with the backpack and you are starting to get the picture. Neither Dr Livingston nor inconspicuous.

These were some of my thoughts yesterday as we hiked down the “main” road through a number of villages be arriving at a major paved road. And it was raining again, which should come as no surprise. There were typical shops and stands lining the road along with Bodas waiting for their next fare.

It was somewhere around km 16-18 that we met up with our vehicle and faced the next challenge. Remember rain? The ground here is red clay. Slippery. After numerous tries it became obvious that it was going to be roads = 1 car+people = 0. A decision was made that it was smarter just to move on to the next camp than slide off the mountain in the dark. And so it was that we stayed 2 nights at camp three.
This morning we hike about ½ way back along the normal day three route.
We made a second trip out to see one valley and waterfall.

double waterfall

double waterfall

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There is a woodworker and blacksmith in the local village keeping Chagga traditions alive.

I also met the local nurse who runs the government clinic. Unlike in the Western World, her scope of practice includes full OB, well baby, suturing, circs, malaria care, and what ever else her village needs.

till sunset –
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Foothills – Day 2

July 7th, 2015 No comments

It is the second day of the hike – refer back to the map from yesterday. The distance planned is another 10 km with the Tema School Camp as our stopping point for the evening.

Day 2:  Wondo to Tema

We begin by traversing between the Kilimanjaro National Park and the local villages, following the sweet-smelling eucalyptus trees planted to demarcate the border. The trail passes above several homesteads and past an ingenious electrical system that uses the water channel.  Higher up, the hiking increases in intensity as we pass a dramatic landscape of ridges and deep valleys, all covered by tropical rain forest, home to troops of blue monkeys, which we may see.  As you pass through the farms and forests, be sure to ask your SENE guide about his experiences growing up in this mountain environment.  Our campsite at a primary school overlooks Moshi Town and the surrounding plain.

 

Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro

the other peak

the other peak

the model of the peaks

the model of the peaks

Today is a real adventure. For one thing, my brains kicked in on arising. Did I really want to hike another 10 km cross wet and slippery country after a full nights rain? Of course! But realistically it would not be smart.

the farewell sign

the farewell sign

So after breakfast we set off down the “road” rather than over another hill. The soil here is not the iron rich clay of the SE U.S. But it is just as likely to make you slip and slide. Down is not always easier, but up apparently is not easy on vehicles. After spending about 45 minutes being entertained by six guys vs one truck (the truck was still both not starting and stuck) I figure the truck won.

6 guys vs one stuck vehicle

6 guys vs one stuck vehicle

There is a village half way down the mountain. Looking and watching was honestly just as interesting if not more entertaining than not finding any birds yesterday. And I know know the secret to the women’s skirts. They aren’t skirts but rather long fabric rectangles wrapped in alternating directions and tied in place. The young girls need only a single length to wrap several times around themselves while adults use 2-3 in order to insure no gaps.
Stopping at the one shop/garage/vehicle in the village I waited while more guys went back up the mountain on land cruiser rescue. In case you wonder why we care; first is that everyone seems to help whole the second is that it is “our vehicle” and I would like to see my stuff at tonight’s camp. The fun was the young boys insisting I take their picture. They were thrilled to look at their picture especially when I enlarged it and moved it around so each could see his face.


Vehicle won on this attempt to so we continued down the mountain continually passing girls, boys, fields, farms on the side of the roads. The only people not walking were those waiting for the bus or on the back of a Boda-Boda.

The rest of today’s story is mostly in tomorrow’s post but includes –

our vehilce - this one too dealing with mud

our vehilce – this one too dealing with mud

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Kilimanjaro Foothills

July 6th, 2015 No comments
The route

The route

Klick on the map if having it a bit bigger would be a help.

Today I am being picked up around 0830 and heading out on a planned four day hike. It is a point to point ending at the Kilimanjaro View Camp. The distance today isn’t all that long (10 km) and I have separated out what I will need for the four days from everything else. I don’t need all that much (other than my sleeping bag, bug spray and towel thank you very much) and don’t see why anyone would want to haul it along.

The following quote comes directly from NomadicExpeditions  website

Day 1:  Mweka to Wondo

Morning pick-up from your hotel and vehicle transfer to the trailhead.  We begin the walk on a lower trail used by villagers to access their fields, passing through villages and into the forest. We cross many rivers on small wood bridges or on steady rocks to reach the other side. There are a number of marvelous traditional irrigation channels, most in use for more than a century, to irrigate the mountain farm plots. From the Rau River valley and the waterfall at its head we have a final steep ascent to camp.

Reality with pictures:

Me and my jelly legs staggered into camp about 1600.  The scenery was incredible and the rain held off till after we made camp. I’ll deal with photos (and the view from here) once I feel alive again.
I think it is time that I look in the mirror in the morning and acknowledge my age, disposition and the fact that jogging on a treadmill in no way prepares you for scrambling up and down narrow slippery paths. We will not talk about inability to stay on boulders while crossing a stream or the resultant wet feet from soaked shoes and socks.
This 10 km was comparable in fact to the 65 km I did with three friends back in 1983.  Second day of a 200km hike around the Canton of Turgau. It rained all day while we hiked from sea level to 1000 meters six times. But since it was Switzerland there were trails, benches and trash bins.
Here it is pack it in pack it out. No roads, only the occasional foot trail as we wound up and down “hills” and valleys through rain forest. Instead of the predicted 3-4 hours under way it was more like 6 with a lot of rest stops that last uphill climb. Two stops made sense – I now have another porcupine quill. The other in a high meadow was to watch three children run amazing patterns with a hoop and stick. They live one hill away, my guide was informed. Lots of people live up here with small houses and hand managed fields right up to the edge of the national park.
I have my own tent complete with air mattress.  My sleeping bag is calling me.

 

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Moshi, Tanzania

July 5th, 2015 No comments

Its quiet this evening except for the call to prayer drifting across the main high way from the Mosque. Not wanting to take a chance on the power going out again ….

The city/town/area is an interesting blend of rural and modern. According to Wiki, the population is a bit more than 200,000 and the major industry is tourism (can you spell Kilimanjaro? I can’t without the spell checker) followed by agriculture. Coffee and brewing come to mind.

What I really saw as I walked down the road in front of the Guesthouse was power poles and

normal side street

normal side street .

was typical Western houses on both sides of the roads. With the addition of major fencing up to and including cement walls, barbed wire and concertina wire finishing flourishes. There are no open yards and all the gates are chained. Checking to make sure, I had it confirmed that this was not a town in which to walk with bag, purse, pack much less an expensive camera. My long form of explaining why there are no photos of the town.

I walked down the lane, across the main road at the round about and into town in search of snack foods, drinks and an ATM. I found the ATM at a considerable distance. Not an open along the street one but one with an enclosed area and an armed guard outside. For general rounding purposes 10,000 TZS + 4 USD.  Right hand drive cars had me adjusting my walking pattern to what I now think of as the African side of the road to include avoiding the omnipresent ditch on each side. It definitely feels safer to walk facing the traffic.

With rare exception, the men are all western dressed. The women wear dresses and skirts. Only rarely do you see shoulders or upper arms. Not just the Muslim women, but a number of modeled a variety of head coverings. No matter how young, the girls are all in dresses, some of which were long enough to drag on the ground. The adults were all wearing foot gear of one kind or another with flip-flops predominating. Almost 1/2 of the children were barefoot. Obesity is not an issue in this area of Tanzania. Slender to skinny or scrawny is the norm boht in adults and children.

As I looked both north and west I once more had an overwhelming reminder of how easily I get my directions confused in Sub-Saharan Africa. I could see the foothills of Kilimanjaro; it was looking into the sun. Duh, once again I had to remember that mid day shadows go south, not north. Probably along with my common sense.

Categories: Travel Tags:

So far, so good

July 4th, 2015 No comments

After managing some sleep last night I wasn’t quite the zombie this morning. I hadn’t left much to the last minute. Just turning off the computer, packing the cables and tossing my toothbrush in the suitcase. Along with the towel which I had let lying on top last night.

George to be extremely kind to me dropped me off at Mannheim so that I wouldn’t have to deal with a train & platform change while dragging a duffle. When walking a four wheeler it is a cinch, but not a two wheeled duffle (Never mind that it only weighed 12.5 kg fully loaded at check in.). Also part of the deal was that I had planned on taking a duffle full of books since I have lots and lots that need homes. Sanity struck partway to Mannheim. I had trashed my back less than a month ago. I was going hiking with a camera pack in less than 2 days. I want to haul a bag of books which weighs more than the duffle and doesn’t have wheels because?

Nice person maybe? But seriously, I hadn’t thought through the duffle issue. Normally if I have a second bag it is a duffle. Drop it on top of the wheeled Rimowa and there are no issues. But two duffles, one award with wheels and the other needed a shoulder already occupied by my backpack? With age maybe comes wisdom…

Airport, check-in all went smoothly. Security? Frankfurt is installing the new body scanners. I don’t play with those. My immune system is already compromised – I accept the exposure that comes with flying – no choice there. But I completely avoid all other ionizing and non-ionizing exposures…Zapping or cooking – not going to make squat bit of difference to my dead lymphocyte. They aren’t as cheerful about refusals – but pat downs work…

Boarding in 30 minutes – and will actually send this out from Istanbul….

Well – as it turns out – not. I had about an hour in the International Terminal. Leaving from the 300s section, the place was packed. People watching was amazing: college age westerners with baseball caps, scruffy faces, ponytails, backpacks, paperbacks mixed in with Muslim mothers herding flocks of small children barely able to see for burkahs and veils. Business men looking irritated at the minimal air conditioning and level of noise.  There might be a lounge, but it wasn’t in my area.

leaving Attaturk

leaving Attaturk

The flight left pretty much on time with a good view of the Bosphorus as we made the turn after take off toward Africa. After dropping us off at Kilimanjaro Airport, the remaining passengers winged their way on to Mombassa.

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Packing differently

July 3rd, 2015 No comments

Heading on a land tour  in Africa is a lot different than heading for a comfortable cruise on a ship.

In the second instance, you only have to deal with your luggage a few times: house to airport, airport to ship check-in, ship baggage hall to airport; airport to home. Wheels are good – in fact they are essential since there may just be the issue of rolling the bag from one location to another usually involving public transportation. But once you are settled in your cabin, you are done till departure.

Not so with the average land tour. Often it involves moving locations every night to two nights. Laundry can be hit or miss while opportunities to become filthy abound. Add in a requirement for duffle bags for ease of logistical movement and a stringent weight requirement and things start to get challenging.  Having said that – it took me 15 minutes this morning to throw everything into the OAT duffle and drop it near the front door. Then I went back and read the requirements list.

Not one to waste airfare, I scheduled a 4 day hike in the Kilimanjaro Foothills immediately prior to the OAT Safari around the Serengeti.  It hardly seemed smart to come so far and not get close enough to the mountain to take some decent pictures. The only pre-tour offered was 4 days at another game reserve in Kenya. Personally, I don’t want to be in Kenya right about now, even as a tourist and even so close to the Tanzanian border. Besides, hiking the foothills? The only thing that would be cooler would be to actually climb to the summit. Looking at it, I decided I just didn’t have enough time to do it gradually enough to avoid altitude illness. That and climbing in a group means that one always tries to keep up with a group regardless if it is wise or not.

It was around 1700 this afternoon when I read the packing list again and noticed the fine print. For the first four nights I need a sleeping bag. No sweat, we have several. However it just so happens that the light weight ones are in Berkeley and the one here is a heavy weight ex-Army bag. Not hauling that puppy with me. So off we went to the hike/climb store to cash in a store credit. End result is that I am now the owner of a light weight but warm bag that weighs only about a kilo, packs tiny (fitting into the duffle).

I checked bag weights – duffle is limited to 33# for the internal African connections. Mine weights 25 even with the sleeping bag and towel. My extra bag is full of children’s books to donate to a couple of schools….. and all the extra pens and pencils that I can find.

I should have internet tomorrow both in Frankfurt and Istanbul (plane change) and the guest house in Moshi has wifi in the public areas. Figure I am good till morning of the 6th. So I will post the route on Sunday, just to keep you coming back for the next round of insanity.

While I was stuffing the sleeping bag into the duffel I thought about the Bugblatter Beast. And added in a towel. I have enough RCI ones floating around that I can easily leave it behind.  And it just doesn’t pay to leave home without one’s very own towel.

Categories: Travel Tags:

Serenading again

July 2nd, 2015 No comments

(try two  since I didn’t have enough brains in the head to save my first draft which promptly got eaten when I had to re-log in).

It is still almost two months till I get back on a ship. 30 Aug as a matter of fact when I get to board Serenade of the Seas and sail across to Cape Liberty (my least favorite US port of all times) from Copenhagen. It is the northern route with a total of two stops and almost three full days in Iceland.

I don’t have to run a website or roll call this time. Doing both the Legend and Serenade last fall just about wiped me out. I am tracking just the Roll Calls for the Splendor in November and that is just about enough for me. But I decided to go ahead and do the transatlantic souvenir pin.  For just about everyone I have seen, the design is usually the ship on water inside a circle or oval with the ports around the outside. I convinced Maus to volunteer and she designed something different around the route we take.

Serenade on the Northern Route

Serenade on the Northern Route

and the brilliant kid ordered the ports in both the order of visit and physical location.

not bad!

 

Categories: Cruising, Travel Tags:

Condensor dryers

June 29th, 2015 No comments

Unlike the standard US dryer which tumbles clothes around while blowing on them with hot air complete with link trap and an external vent – German dryers use a different technology which involves some hot air, a cooling coil which precipitates out the moisture, a collecting tank  and, of course, a tumbler and lint trap.

All of which lead me to the same conclusion as the fridge. There seems to be a bit of the Y chromosome which doesn’t deal with cleaning the fridge or clearing the lint filter. Those might be possibly excused. But not emptying out the collecting tank leads to some pretty ugly consequences.

You see, if the hot air is cooled and the moisture precipitates out, it has to go somewhere. That some where is the nifty collector in the upper left corner of the dryer. It is removable so that the contents can be emptied after each load. If not, the dryer will run, continuing to dry clothes. But that moisture has to go somewhere.

On the floor of the laundry room doesn’t thrill me at all which long ago lead me to the practice of cleaning out the filter and emptying the container after each and every load. When I took clothing down to the laundry this morning it was obvious that there are alternative ways to do laundry which didn’t include making sure things were ready to go before starting the dryer.

Perhaps I should be just relieved that empty toilet paper rolls get replaced?

Categories: home Tags:

six words

June 28th, 2015 No comments

landed. luggage. lounge. ride home. bed

Categories: home, Travel Tags:

Hot Nuts and Cold Cola

June 27th, 2015 No comments

Getting from Laguardia to JFK is not all that complicated: a common enough transfer that can be solved with time, money or both. I solved it with the 20 minute ride from the Airport Transporter.

Check-in with Lufthansa is slightly higher class than United: a printed, real boarding pass is an actual possibility. Even more impressive is the fact that you don’t have to print your own luggage tag. Applying it to your suitcase only to have the baggage handler half rip it off in order to affix a priority tag. United’s Lounges have actually gone from a 3/10 to a 4/10 with the presence of yogurt, cereal, fresh fruit and scones in the morning. Lunch, OTOH was wieners and beans accompanied by potato salad.

My second flight yesterday offered hot nuts in a cup.

Today, as I mentioned – getting to JFK was fine, check in was great. The lounge was quiet and peaceful until 1400 when the inevitable parents with two active small boys arrived.

Now the lounge is not all that big. At one end are tables and chairs next to the food. At the other are a number of comfortable lounge chairs and a bank with tables up against the wall. Why the mom felt like the quiet end was where the boys needed to is beyond me.

So I am wondering where on the plane they will be sitting and if Lufthansa will be offering hot nuts rather than just those of us hot under the collar….

FYI –

oh – in case you hadn’t guessed – I am headed home to Germany

Categories: Travel Tags:

SFO-ORD-LGA

June 26th, 2015 No comments

Is not a double play but rather today’s airline route from California to New York. Tomorrow afternoon is my Lufthansa return from that FRA-JFK flight in May. It is also a challenge to my ability to smile, most of which stem from my own foolish behavior.

Both Shana and Noah were up to see me off this morning: College Guy to haul my suitcase down all those stairs and the Eldest to drive me to the BART. An 0830 flight means a rather early start from the house (allowing for 45-60 minutes on BART). Transferring at MacArthur Blvd turned out to be a walk across the platform and boarding the connection a minute later.

We will leave aside my challenges in getting out of the BART Station. Seems like the add fare machines only take cash. The change machine deals with $20. Nothing takes cards. I can only be glad for the bank stop yesterday or I would have been totally screwed or begging on the platform.

(Roll drums for foreboding)

See the route in the title? Do you see Newark anywhere? By the time it sunk in that I actually was involved in a triple play of airports, it was too late to fix the reservation. The Hotel Reservations says – can’t do anything we are within 24 hours. The loyalty people said ??? don’t understand why you were transferred here and sent me to customer service who was going to try the local hotel for an exception.

Then I was disconnected.

At least having points to burn in this chain means that I won’t be out of pocket tonight……

Categories: Travel Tags:

Cool Dude

June 25th, 2015 No comments
the space man dude

the space man dude

Remember that I talked about Zoku the other day? Or maybe I didn’t. But in any case, the Eldest made a bunch of pops and I scored the spaceman. See – he even has feet. In chocolate, he was rather tasty. There were also a number of rocket ships in this particular set of six.

Also in the freezer are a couple of other flavors and maybe some interesting critters. Reusable pops seem to the be the way to go. It turns out all the recipes add sugar which I have decided is ludicrous.  Turns out frozen juice, even fresh squeezed lemon is just fine. Tart is good…

Why is my mouth puckered up like a prune?

Categories: Travel Tags:

Puzzle Progress

June 21st, 2015 No comments
starting the transportation modes

starting the transportation modes

which of course I started with the train since that was my most recent traveling method. also frankly the easiest to identify with the pieces… there are the two sea going vessels left in addition to the flags and a globe in the middle.

Now – see the cool whimsy pieces?

Critters!

Critters!

and fish and people and palm trees…..

 

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Speaking of Around the World

June 20th, 2015 No comments

there is this puzzle….

Autour de Monde / Round the World

Wooden of course from Liberty Puzzles (Colorado) and contains 502 pieces. It appears to be an old fashion travel poster complete with sailing vessels, a steam ship, train and flags from many countries.

IMG_2097

My other puzzle has been completed for several days and I had to work my way up to taking it apart; placing the cat girl, the detective and the rest of Mike Resnick’s urban fantasy detective story set in an alternate New York back in the box.

 

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All gone to look for America

June 9th, 2015 No comments

I don’t think that any of us slept all that well last night and I am sure that I rank right down there with mold on my daughter’s list of all time favorites. Did I mention that she doesn’t really like to travel? Being places yet, but not exactly the process of getting there. A plane flight would have suited her just fine. I think I am lucky she is speaking to me.

But the scenery today was incredible. All done with Iowa/Nebraska/Kansas type flatness. This was the canyons and rivers of Colorado and mountain peaks that take your breath away. Rapids too fast and dangerous (Class 5) on the upper portion of the Colorado River meant lower locations and shorter rides for most of the white water rafts. US Park Service isn’t stupid. The last thing they want to do is have to rescue mooners (apparently a long standing traditional way of greeting passenger trains) from drowning, head injury in a narrow canyon. They don’t feel at all responsible for the burnt eye balls of the Amtrak passengers.

Pictures to be downloaded from my camera…..

Categories: Travel Tags:

leaving Chicago

June 8th, 2015 1 comment

on the Amtrak #5

Chicago - Emeryville

Chicago – Emeryville

It will take about two full days to travel across the county. According to Amtrak our sights will include

  • Rocky Mountains
  • Sierra Nevadas
  • Moffat Tunnel
  • Colorado’s Gore, Byers and Glenwood Canyons
  • Winter Park
  • Truckee River
  • Donner Lake
  • San Pablo Bay and the Carquinez Strait

What is more, some of it will actually happen during the day. Please note, there is absolutely no discussion about the fascinating views of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska or Kansas.

Just saying.

I haven’t done this route before. Dani (Daughter #2) is not enthused, she doesn’t like spending time in transit. Alex (SIL) more so – the train journey was his choice rather than flying as it is a much better way introduction to “West of the Mississippi.”

Unlike the Eastern Seaboard runs, the best that I am going to be able to get is occasional phone coverage and wifi in a couple of stations with major stops (Denver?).  This is by way of explaining why you won’t hear much from me till Wed evening.

Categories: family, Travel Tags:
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