I was going to talk about Corona Virus a little, but honestly – I don’t think I need to say too much yet. Until there is more information to give, please just wash your hands and if you’re at risk of being compromised by this virus, be extra vigilant. If you have travel booked within the next few weeks have a chat to your doctor and just continue to use common sense and sanitization practices.
And that’s it – that’s all that really needs to be said as this all continues to evolve and develop. So instead of going on about this, I would much rather talk about a joyous adventure and share a bit about my most recent travel experience – a once in a lifetime (I lie... I will definitely be going back in this lifetime) safari in Africa and visit to Zanzibar in Tanzania!
Arriving into Tanzania was surreal – I’ve traveled to a lot of places, but this was going to be a completely new experience for me and one of the longest journey's I've made thus far. I couldn’t believe it was finally happening! “Beach Vacation” isn’t usually what goes through people’s minds when they think of Africa, but it’s a vast and diverse continent where you can combine beach AND adventure – which is exactly what I got to do!
The island of Zanzibar was the first real stop in this adventure, home to Stone Town a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with unique architecture influenced by Swahili, Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements. After a day exploring, we enjoyed the sunset from the famous Rock Restaurant – a restaurant this is quite literally in the middle of the water. During low tide you can walk across the sand to the restaurant but during high tide, they paddle you over in a canoe.
After touring a many hotel properties, visiting Prison Island to see the Aldabra Giant Tortoise sanctuary, quick stop to snorkel, walking tour of Stone Town and visiting the Slave Museum in just a few days - we were off to Nairobi for adventure, safari and the elusive Big 5! We spent a night in Nairobi so we could visit a couple sanctuaries before we headed on safari the next day. Not only did I get to touch the baby elephant I adopted, but I also got to feed a hangry giraffe who thought it would be funny to nibble my finger instead – and with the exception of myself, everyone else there thought it was cute, so turns out he was right. ;)
Driving into Masai Mara National Park, we were all pumped – none of us had ever done anything like this before and there was something indescribable in the air as we headed towards camp. The safari essentially started immediately and we were beyond excited, every second someone was pointing out an elephant, a gazelle, a zebra – in the end our amazing guides had to remind us that were in for so much more and that we needed to stop stopping the car or we’d never make it to camp!
I could bore you with camp details, but I won’t except to say that there are so many different options for camps that you can please nearly anyone. From relatively basic camps to extravagant glamping areas complete with air-conditioning, private decks and swimming pools where you can watch the hippos swim about OR a herd of elephants pass you by during breakfast - this is the kind of trip that can truly be tailored to each visitor.
The next coming days was like something out of a tv show or nature documentary – I could practically hear David Attenborough narrating as we drove across the African plains, warriors with spears by our sides, as we sought out the elusive Big 5. (Lion, Elephant, Leopard, Rhino, Buffalo).
One morning we enjoyed an incredible hot air balloon ride over the plains to see a very different viewpoint of the animals – and I cannot recommend this enough. We saw hippos playing in water as the sun rose, baboons hopping across the river from rock to rock, gazelles leaping across fields from a bird's eye view and giraffes napping. We were low enough to see every detail perfectly!
We also had many breakfasts in the middle of the wilderness, and a sundowner happy hour event where we truly felt connected to nature. On our last night, we toasted to new places, friends, and watched an incredible storm rolling in as we danced and listened to music until the "rains of Africa" started and forced us to head back to camp. Do you hear those lyrics in your head when you read that phrase too?! BTW... I don’t have a future career in African dance, so please continue to support this travel advisor thing I have going on. ;)
As we neared the end of this unforgettable two weeks, it’s impossible to try to explain the feeling of driving under the African sun with a pack of lion cubs and their mums strolling idly around your car, with lions taking naps so close you could almost pat their manes as they lift their head and lazily eye you before deciding that napping is far more appealing than eating you and go back to sleep, and even the warthogs running scared as they heard our truck were so funny to see in person (Pumbaa, from the lion king, as we called them every time we saw them - so ugly they are cute).
The beautiful thing is that there are so many different ways to curate this experience - you could combine it with trekking Mt. Kilimanjaro (even just a little hike if you're not ready for the full trekk), or throw Uganda into the mix and channel your inner Jane Goodall with a gorilla trek. You can select a camp hidden in the brush or stay right on the front lines and watch the great migration crossing the Masai river, observing the crocodiles lying in wait for their prey to saunter across.
This is probably one of the longest posts I’ve ever written, but it’s so hard to encapsulate everything I experienced via one short article - so if you’ve read to this point, I appreciate you taking the time to share a little of my journey with you. I also think that if you’ve read this far then you should give me a call or schedule an appointment so that we can chat about how to make your African dreams come true! I quickly found out this is not something you should wait for as a bucketlist trip - as tomorrow is never promised and you need to see this in person!
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