Around the World in 90 Days

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Monthly Archives: February 2011

Safari Shenanagans

So on our last evening at Tuli Lodge our safari was lackluster.  The animals were hiding and we just didn’t see anything good, so Abraham extended our safari drive a bit.  That’s when things got crazy.  We saw the usual zebra, wildebeest, ostrich, etc.  Then we started seeing the good stuff.  We saw hyenas stalking, jackals, and even a genet (a “cat” that climbs to the top of trees and catches birds when they land).  CRAZY eh?

We were treated to a family of bat eared foxes.  The cubs were playing, rough-housing one might say. Eventually the parents became suspicious of us and called us in.

Afterwards we were driving and ran into the back end (thats what was facing us) of a herd of elephants!  They moved over and we were watching this mom and her adolescent child and baby.  Suddenly she turned her back to us and grunted, the baby and adolescent fell behind, then she whipped around, flared her ears, stepped forward and said “GO AWAY.”

We saw a porcupine, which I have never seen in the wild.

Then as we drove into Tuli, we saw a hyena, very close to the lodges, marking his terrritory (lets just say No. 2).

We left Tuli the next day…we didn’t see the jaguar or any large cats for that matter.  BUT we did achieve one thing.  Tompaul did get a NICE front picture of a warthog.  That my friends is a achievement not easily achieved.

Oh and the babies too!

And they stayed…and played.

Safari

We finally managed to leave the Molema lodge around 13:00.  Unfortunately, thanks to a washed-out road, we had to take the long way around, so it took 90 minutes to go a 25 min ride.  Luckily we arrived just in time for afternoon tea and our evening game drive.  While we have gone on safari before, this was our first game “tour.”

Our lovely rooms above, which we quickly checked in and got ready for tea.  Our tea consisted of delicious cookies, chocolate cake and a veg quiche.  Our drive for the stay was Abraham.

Going safari in the “wet” season (as we saw) has its challenges.  For one it could be muddy, it could rain so much you can’t leave, and the bush is so lush and green it can be hard to see animals.  But when there is a carpet of delicate yellow flowers it takes your breath away.

There were more wild giraffes and closer than I have ever seen in my life.

I always wonder if giraffes and brontosours walked the same way.  Or should I say lumbered?

What is Botswana without a Baobab tree sit under and to discuss life?  This one is about 1200 years old.

Giraffes were everywhere.

Our treat for our first game drive was a mother hyena nursing her pups before she headed out for the night.  We were close, and then we got closer.

One pup ran and hid in the cave. The second was a little more brave, or curious.

Heather and Don right before sundowners.  How many giraffes can you spot?

Dinner was divine.  It was a tasty butter bean soup in mini poiki pot and a veg curry with salad and veg.  The next night was a butternut squash lasagna, mint peas, salad, and bread.

Tiny steenbuck.  Heather calls this the “Disney deer.”

Jackals.  They don’t look as fierce as they are known to be.

Baby learning the ways of the elephant world.  Can’t you see the wisdom being passed?

Giraffes also pass wisdom over.  This message is being passed through the eyes.

Bat-eared fox.  I didn’t even know they existed.  Everyone knows how I feel about bats…but these are adorable.

Rock Hyrax.  Supposedly related to the Elephant.  Can you see it?

Our elusive warthog friends.  They were bathing in a mud hole…then I thought about how people try to catch greased pigs.  What about greased up wart hogs?

Abraham measuring the water level from the previous night’s rain…it was 62cm.

The boys having sundowners. Tompaul wishes his clothes actually matched.

Don, Heather, Abraham, Lisa and Tompaul after our last safari.

Stay tuned for night safari–that’s when it gets CRAAAAZY.

Half Way!

Half way through!  One thing that has surprised me on this trip is the trouble with internet.  Everywhere we go there is working internet before we arrive, and is troublesome once we are there.  We are camping at Uluru and the internet was down until NOW and we have to be at the airport in 1 hour.  Brilliant.

So quick post.  I have been keeping statistics on what we have been up to.  Here it goes:

The Tallies of our Round the World Trip

Postcards sent 28 (but 8 more go out today).

Books Bought: 58  (yes we are biliophiles!)

Books Read: 13 by Lisa and 5 by Tompaul

Movies watched: 10 (most recently True Grit, again brilliant)

Nights camping: 10

Customs Cleared: 8

Countries: 6

Inflight meals eaten: 12 each

Flights: 9

Hours in Jo’burg airport: about 15

Taxies Hired: 10

Cars Rented: 2 (total of 3556 km driven)

Train Rides: 6 each

Mass transit : 30 each (7 London Tube Rides, 6 Melbourne trams, 17 Sydney trains)

Favorite Australian words: Heaps, Yeh?,  How’s the economy in the States?

Today we head to Cairns. Maybe we can get all of the Botswana blogs up by then?

Cheers!

 

It’s Botswana, Baby!

Ever since I read the Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency I have wanted to go to Botswana, the people in the book were just interesting in a way I had never seen.  Tompaul has wanted to go to Botswana ever since he saw a feature about it on the Today show.  As soon as Heather and Don Koons said they were moving there we knew it was a stop on our round the world trip!

After Heather bravely picks us up from the air port (she was super sick that morning including ER visit) we settle into their lovely bush home.  It is gorgeous.  There are a few bugs and reports of monkeys in their yard (which we thought was a lie).

In true Koons hospitality form she takes us to the best Indian Resturant in Gabs (she was still a bit queasy).

This was by far one of the BEST meals we had in a long time.  Actually it is the best Indian food we have had for many a moon.  Note the Naan, people.  NOTE IT!  It was soft yet crispy! It was like I died and went to Nirvana.

Then it was off to bed.  We were going to hit the road bright and early, once Don got off his 24h shift.  Our plan was to go to the Molema Bush camp for two days and then to the Tuli safari lodge.  This is located close to Zimbawe, so it is like 7 hours.  We all agreed to listen to Spud and that helped to speed the drive. The South African accent made the audiobook. We enjoyed the word “dodgy” especially. During this time we were able to get a good view of Botswana countyside.

It is rainy season so everything is super lush and green. The umbrellas everyone carries around are mostly for the sun, however.

Here is a traditional house and a non-traditional house side by side.

There are rest stops along the highway.  We stopped in true Botswana fashion, under a tree.  There we had a discussion about key things and had a delicious lunch.  The only thing was missing was a cup of tea.

As we resumed our journey the weather looked a bit cloudy and then it seemed someone had an accident.  There might have been a third car but only two were on the road.  Don sys the car accidents are truely wretched and deadly here.

The rain was amazingly beautiful.  Little did we know what was to come.  Montana is big sky country, but it has NOTHING on Botswana.  I have never ever seen sky as we saw in Botswana.  The clouds seemed to go on for an eternity, the color was so blue, the clouds so white!

After our prescribed 7 hours of driving we reached the Molema Bush Camp for the first leg of our safari.  We were staying in the chalets for about 40 US dollars a night.  We were roughing it, no electricity, the staff did our dishes and lit our cooking fires and gas lanterns.  Rough, I say.

Our chalets were just overlooking the river.  We were asked not to walk with 15m of the rivers edge cause they didn’t want us attacked by crocs or hippos. After our Kenyan adventure, we had no trouble following that advice.

Here is the inside of of our chalet.  Very cozy.

While in Molema we did our own self drives.  We saw tons of buck and birds.  Nothing too exotic.  Part of the reason was that we came in the rainy season so the bush was grown up and foliage obscured things.  But that also meant there were BABIES everywhere.  We also had frequent warthog sightings.

Warthogs are fun animals in the wild.  They run in a funny way with their tail standing straight up.  They do NOT pose for pictures and are extremely skittish, running away soon as they are spotted.  Our goal was to get ONE nice warthog picture.

Steenbuck.  They are always seen near their mate, and look like babies but are not.

A beautiful vista. Note the sky.

Warthog mommy and baby running away, again….

What is a proper safari without the dung beetle?

We stopped for sundowners and on the way back we saw this beautiful sight. The owl was watching for prey.

 

On our last morning we planned to drive up to the hide, but it was blocked because of the heavy rains.  About 2am we heard deafening rain, for 2 hours.  It rained 61mm overnight.  No hide for us. That also meant no exit for us.  We were blocked in and could not make it to Tuli.  We spent the morning hanging out in one of the cabins, watching Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency (the series).  It rained some more.

This is British Chris and Botswana Chris telling us we were blocked in, but maybe we could get out by 3.  What would we do?

Hungry Hippos and Flocks of Flamingoes: Rift Valley Tour: Part 2

So after leaving the crater we ventured further and further up north.  Then we hit it.  It was like an invisible wall.  What could it be?  The equator of course.  We were forced to stop for photo ops!Tompaul tries to break through but he just can’t!

They have made this globe on the other side of the equator for photo ops.  The goats like to stand on the ramps…and in the bathrooms, and by the car.  Eventually they want to put a motor on the globe (so it actually turns).  They also have a solar cooker where a chicken was getting roasted for dinner.  Gotta love the sun!

That night we camped at Roberts Camp on the shores of Lake Barringo.  They have a lovely campsite and also some nice chalets. On our first night we all sat around just relaxing from the long drive.  Suddenly a guy ran up to us saying if we wanted to see a hippo to come on!  Well there was a mommy and baby hippo grazing about 100 meters from our tent.  How cool!  Unfortunately Tompaul did not get any decent pictures.  Hippos are so amazing, but deadly.

We all went to sleep (after emptying the tent of food).  Then in the night Tompaul awoke to nature calling.  As he came back to the tent what did he see?  A HIPPO RIGHT BY OUR TENT!  He jumps back inside the tent and we both laid there waiting to be chomped to death!  Next time we want to stay in a chalet . . . .

We all awoke early in the morning for a lake birding tour.  It seems everyone we know is into birding…and we can see why.  Lake Barringo is known for its birds.  Maybe because it is a fresh water lake and others are “soda” lakes.

Lari and Alexander, all suited up ready to find birds.

A bird we don’t know the name of, but the shot is cool!

Boy and Girl Weavers (one of my favorite birds).

A large heron.

Part of the boat tour was buying fish from a fisherman to feed to the fisher eagle.  This guy is rowing out on a balsa wood canoe.  He sells us fish for a steep price.   Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) one of the fish was still alive and swam away before the eagle came.

Here is the fisher eagle snatching the fish from the water!  The guide would say 3,2,1 SHOOT.  And like clockwork if you snapped at the “shoot”  you got a fab picture.

Lizard of sorts.

Our nemesis.

Look!  It’s the strongest girl in the WORLD!!! (or the lightest log).

That afternoon we decided a drive around Lake Bogoria was in order.   It’s known for its tens of thousands of flamingoes.

This is just one view of the gargantuan lake filled with flamingoes.  There is a drive around the lake but we had to turn back because of high water levels.

Usually Lake Borgoria has geysers, however the water level was so high we only saw bubbling areas.  The flamingos seemed to enjoy the lake.

I have never been so close to so many flamingoes.  They have incredibly long legs, and when flying seem to walk on water.

During the day Tompaul repeatedly complained of a rock in his shoe but could never find it.  At one point we looked onthe bottom, and there was a giant acacia thorn sticking through.  Can you see it?  It is toward the top…

A quickie post

Even though Tompaul and I are blogging about Kenya, we are actualy on a road trip in Australia. Internet has been super sketchy, one might even say dodgy.

Our most recent adventures were with Heather and Don Koons. Lisa was a neurology resident with Heather at Vanderbilt.  Here is a link to Heather and Don’s blog…with a random picture…more to come!