Posts tagged African children


Mar 31, 2011
@ 10:30 am
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A Warm Welcome from Uganda

Jambo from Kenya, where, sadly, it’s time to say goodbye to yet another group of travel companions. I have been with many of these friends since Cape Town so it’s definitely hard to imagine this last leg of the Africa trip without them. We said our goodbyes hurriedly in the parking lot of their Nairobi hotel so that was kind of strange, but I guess it’s better than a long and lingering goodbye.

Bye, Janet, thank you so much for making our trip so memorable and fun. Your uplifting thoughts of the day and sunny outlook made each day a pleasure…yes, even the seemingly never ending days in the truck. Enjoy your time off in Nairobi and please keep in touch. I have every confidence that our paths will cross again. Take care chief, chief, chief and I’ll see you in the not too distant future…inshallah! 

A few of us made plans to have a final farewell dinner at Carnivore, which is known for it’s tasty game. Gobble, gobble, oink, oink, moooooooooooo sister is ready to eat!!!

When we arrived we were greeted by the mouthwatering aroma of grilled meat.

grilled meat, Carnivore, Nairobi, Africa

I was salivating within seconds of my arrival, but taken aback when I looked at the menu and noticed the glaring lack of game! 

Don’t get me wrong, the options sound delicious, and I fully intend to eat my face off, but where was all of this tasty game I had been hearing about? Where were the warthogs, zebra, kudu, and springbok?  I mean, I like beef and pork as much as anyone, but bring on the game, rafikis! 

As it turns out, Kenya outlawed game somewhere around 2004 so heads up that Carnivore doesn’t include much game on the menu anymore.  We did have some ostrich meat balls that rocked my world and the beef and pork were also tantalizing so all in all I’d call this a win.  Of course we got this meat fest started on the right foot with a proper cocktail.

Whoa, the Dawa isn’t playing around. I think I grew hair on my chest after this drink. I have to say that despite the glaring lack of game, I still managed to shove my face like I was a contestant in an eating contest. Even though I didn’t really save room for dessert, I made made it work to make Tim Gunn proud. Who are we kidding? I practically licked my plate…

Sadly, it’s time for me to say goodbye to my sky diving buddies and dear friends, Rami and Line.

They are headed to India and then Thailand so there’s a chance our paths will cross again in the Land of Smiles. I certainly hope so. Bye, you two, and save travels through India. You are going to love it!

As for me, it’s back to camp and time to meet my final group of travel companions for Kenya and Uganda. I have lucked out with 2 fabulous groups so far and I have every confidence that this next group will be equally as great.

We headed back into Nairobi in the AM to meet our new crew and as luck would have it, only a few new people were actually meeting us in Nairobi so we had the new truck, the best of the entire journey, to ourselves for the first 2-3 days. I’m not going to lie, after traveling with 22 people packed to the gills, it was total luxury to only travel with about 9 companions. We each had our own seats and took great pleasure in draping ourselves over every available surface, especially the 3 of us who started in Cape Town.

I met my new tent mate, Lotta, from Sweden.  She was incredibly sweet and full of energy so I knew I’d be all set there.  Africa, part 3, here we go. 

Our first game drive in Kenya was through Lake Nakuru National Park.

zebra lips

eye of a zebra

Is that a rhino? Oh yes, I believe it is! Score!!!

Do you remember Gargamel from the Smurfs?  I totally get that visual when I look at this bird. 

Marabou Stork, AKA Undertaker Bird

Gargamel’s real name is the marabou stork, but he is also known as the undertaker bird since he is the last to arrive after a kill, picking away any remaining parts.

He’s not really a looker, is he?

marabou stork, undertaker bird

bird that looks like Gargamel from Smurfs, marabou stork

How about some more birds?  

I love the facial expression of the sitting bird.  He definitely looks wigged out. 

pelicans, mid-flight

flying pelican

Awww, it’s another adorable baby zebra. It looks like a doll, doesn’t it? So cute! How could anyone think of this little guy as a weak link? What sick and deranged people….kill, kill, kill

baby zebra

baby zebra

You’re terrible, Muriel…

Here are some more scenes from the park.

All in all, pretty wildlife light…until now!

OK, a rhino…2nd of the day and better than the 1st, and totally awesome since they are heavily endangered, but it’s still kind of hidden under a tree.  Do you happen to have anything a little better than that? 

That’s what I’m talking ‘bout! 

The rhino is extremely endangered and often difficult to see up close. As you can see, we got the major hookup here with 3 right in front of our faces. It was pretty spectacular.

up close rhino shot

rhino profile

rhino in tall grass

all up in this rhino's grill

Can you believe how close we are to these prehistoric animals? Wow!!! This is a major coup.

rhino

rhino mania

rhino eye up close

eye contact with a rhino

Amazing! As you can imagine, we were pretty fired up after these rhino sightings! We totally lucked out and happened to be at the right place at the right time. That’s what it’s all about, really, when it comes to safari. Yay for the rhinos!!! Thank you, Lake Nakuru. This was awesome!

After the game drive it was time to leave Kenya and cross into Uganda, the pearl of Africa, where we’d be meeting up with the rest of our crew. Word on the street is that we’d be at full capacity with 24 people so we took full advantage of our last few hours on the truck to stretch out and relax.

Uganda market

Uganda sunrise

girl selling bananas, Uganda

Uganda street scene

Uganda town

Uganda meat market

Uganda meat market

village, Uganda

Check it out, we’re on the Equator!!!

Equator, Uganda

Kind of awesome! I actually took a bathroom break not far from this very spot. How many times can a girl say that she went to the loo right on the Equator? For me, it’s not that many so you better believe I’m going to say it to the world right here and right now.

OK, back to the game drives. Up next…

That’s right, it’s Queen Elizabeth Park, our first game drive in Uganda. Fingers crossed we see some great stuff.

Really? That’s it? Um…I don’t know what to say except “sawa, sawa,” which means go, we’re finished here, next…” I felt kind of sorry for the new peeps on the truck who had never been on safari before because we really didn’t see much.

Coming off of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater this was pretty weak.

The veterans on the truck really couldn’t do much to hide our lack of enthusiasm, barely craning out necks to look out the window, no cameras in hand. With drool hanging from our mouths, we’d announce sawa, sawa before the truck even came to a stop, as in I know you aren’t stopping the truck for an antelope….

water buck

But it appears that, yes, we are really stopping for a water buck.  I know I must sound like a total snot face, but after 45 days in Africa, most recently in what some may call the Mecca of game drives, I just couldn‘t get fired up for another antelope type animal.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the “game” we encountered, I did my best to be patient for the new peeps who were ecstatic for every animal we saw, including the antelope type animals, remembering that I was that person, excitedly bouncing from window to window to get the best possible shot of whatever was in front of us, not that long ago.

We did cap the drive with this warthog sighting, which was pretty cool. 

After a kind of bust for a game drive, we decided to try our luck on the water with a ride down the Kazinga Channel. Queen Elizabeth National Park, take 2.

standing hippos

Check out the face on the baby hippo.  Insanely adorable! 

baby hippo with funny facial expression

skeptical hippo

buffalo kiss

eagle with its prey

baby hippo

hippo family

row o' buffalo

water buffalo

crikey!  it's a crock

These birds were making this crazy noise with their throats, which were undulating rapidly up and down as they croaked.  It looked pretty cool with thier throats moving in unison.  

I think we made the right choice with the boat ride. This is definitely the closest I have come to hippos.

baby hippo snuggling with its mom

walking hippo

Um, mom, you are getting ready to poop on my head.  Please don’t…

mom hippo pooping on baby's head

Caroline, that shot is for you! 

Aww, have you ever seen cuter buns? 

hippo butts, mom and baby

hippo family portrait

As you can see, there are tons of hippos in the water. That being the case, I don’t think I’d really want to go swimming in the water, but that’s just me.

deep thoughts

swimming children, Uganda, Queen Elizabeth Park

Obviously the locals have way more experience than me because they were whooping it up and having a grand old time in the water even with the hippos nearby. 

Uganda countryside

Like everywhere we’ve traveled in Africa, the locals were very friendly, waving to us with huge smiles and words of welcome.

a boy and his boat

Uganda woman carrying wares on her head

full belly

sitting on my boat

elephant blowing water

baby elephant

Here are some scenes from the Uganda countryside.

waving children, Uganda

Uganda countryside

Tea, glorious tea!!!

tea plantation, Uganda

tea plantation, Uganda

street scenes, Uganda

Uganda village

Could I interest you in a little meat?

slab o' meat

Uganda countryside

waving children, Uganda

Uganda countryside

At long last we have arrived at our next stop, the stunning Lake Bunyonyi.

Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda

Lake Bunyonyi would be our home for the next 3 days. It’s proximity to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest makes it a nice jump off spot for gorilla trekking. Woo Hoo!!! I have wanted to see the gorillas since I was a little girl so you can imagine how thrilled I was to finally be in Uganda, home to 340 of the mere 700 mountain gorillas left in the wild. Wow, what a privilege.

Uganda is very protective of the gorillas and places rigorous restrictions on the treks to see the gorillas, allowing only groups of 8 people to go at one time. As a result, our group was broken into 3 separate groups, traveling on 3 separate days. My group would not be trekking until the final day so I decided to spend my first day visiting a nearby pygmy village.

To get to the village we took to the water and rode in a boat for about an hour. The scenery along the way was stunning.

Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda

village, Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda

Once we reached land, we hiked for about another hour to get to the actual village.

village, Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda

drying seeds, Uganda

village life, Uganda

Uganda countryside, Lake Bunyonyi

at the Uganda/Rwanda border

We just so happened to be on the border between Uganda and Rwanda. Do you want to see Rwanda? OK, here you go.

Rwanda crops

Wow! I wish I had time to visit Rwanda, but, sadly, my days in Africa are numbered. Just one more hill to climb and we’ll be at the village.

Our first guests welcomed us at the base of the hill.

pygmy children, Uganda

pygmy child, Uganda

When we climbed the hill we were welcomed by the chief and one of the elders.

pygmy chief and elder

The pygmies welcomed us with some traditional songs and dance.

get down, get down

dance, pygmies, Uganda

clapping hands, pygmy woman

pygmy woman, Uganda

pygmy dance

pygmy children

pygmy woman, Uganda

The kids were busting some serious moves.  Adorable!  

dancing feet, child

pygmy children dancing

pygmy elder

pygmy child, Uganda

pygmy child, Uganda

pygmy child, Uganda

pygmy woman, Uganda

pygmy woman, Uganda

pygmy child, Uganda

pygmy woman, Uganda

pygmy children, Uganda

pygmy children, Uganda

dancing feet, pygmy children

pygmy child, Uganda

pgymy mother and child

pygmy child, Uganda

kanga wrapped head on pgymy child

pygmy child, Uganda

pygmy child, Uganda

I just couldn’t get enough of this little girl.  She was a dancing machine! 

dancing pygmy girl, Uganda

pygmy child, Uganda

pygmy child, Uganda

pygmy child, Uganda

baby's butt

pygmy child, Uganda

pygmy woman, Uganda

peek a boo, pgymy girl, Uganda

Wow! What an afternoon. We all felt a little conflicted about our visit to the village because it did have a bit of a human circus feeling to it, but the laughter and smiles were genuine and I felt very privileged and lucky to have been able to meet these folks. The pygmies are not allowed to own land and do not attend schools with the other kids.  They are definitely an underprivileged group and I hope that our small contribution made a difference. 

Time to head back to the boats and our camp.

uganda countryside

It appears that we’ll be taking some winged guests with us back to camp.

Our new travel companions didn’t seem very excited about their sea voyage and kicked up quite a stink from the back of the boat. They continued to express their displeasure for a few minutes, but then settled in for the hour journey.

When we returned to camp we were regaled with stories of the gorillas from our fellow travelers. Only 2 days to go until I get to see the gorillas myself. I cannot wait! Stay tuned, folks, because the gorillas are up next.

Until then, big hugs from Lake Bunyonyi and I’ll see you soon. 


Mar 26, 2011
@ 3:40 pm
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Mzungu in the House

Jambo rafikis (hello friends) and karibu (welcome) to Tanzania. Of all the languages I’ve encountered while on the road, I think Swahili may be my favorite because it sounds so joyful when spoken. In fact, I think it’s impossible not to smile when greeting someone with Jambo. Jambo kaka (hello brother) is my personal favorite and since I have 2 brothers I’ll be using this one regularly.

One word that we heard repeatedly while in Africa was mzungu (white person) and everywhere we’d go we were addressed as such. By now, I’m pretty used to people staring at me as the pale foreigner, but it definitely takes it to a new level when the staring is accompanied by pointing and the screaming of “WHITE PERSON!” There’s definitely an element of sideshow freakiness happening, but is that really such a bad thing? I think not.

On that note, let’s go ahead and jump right in to this post. I’m sad to say, but it’s time for me to say goodbye to my super fab tent mate, Birgit. She is teacher and is volunteering at a school in a tiny village in Tanzania. We literally dropped Birgit off on the side of the road where her friend was waiting for her.

Tanzania countryside

Tanzania street scene

Karis, our driver, was on the phone with Birgit’s contact trying to pinpoint her exact location, but it was actually pretty easy to spot the mzungu on the side of the road. Goodbye, Birgit, I’m going to miss you! I wish you the best of luck with your volunteering and hope that it is a great experience. I look forward to hearing all about it when you return to an area with cell or Internet service.

After saying goodbye to Birgit we headed on to a Maasai village located in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

Prior to the grounds being established as a conservation area, the Maasai roamed these lands with their cattle.

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

They are no longer allowed to live within the actual crater, but are permitted to live along the rim. As we were making our way to the village we encountered tons of Maasai herding their cattle, immediately noticeable in the distance by their brightly colored clothing dotting the landscape.

Maasai and their cattle, Tanzania

Maasai village, Tanzania

The warriors were extremely warm and friendly, greeting us with a traditional song and dance.

Maasai dance

Maasai dance

Maasai dance

Maasai warriors

Maasai footwear

Maasai dance

Maasai warriors

After meeting everyone we were invited inside to get a glimpse of life within in their village.

Maasai village, Tanzania

Maasai women & children & their home

Maasai jewelry

Maasai women

Maasai adornment

Maasai village, Tanzania

Maasai village, Tanzania

Maasai village, Tanzania

Maasai mother and child

Maasai village, Tanzania

The men engaged in a jumping contest to demonstrate their prowess. Two men would participate at one time while the semi-circle of men surrounding them would make shrill and high pitched sounds to praise the most impressive jumps.

I can jump higher than you

Maasai jumping

Maasai jumping contest

After watching the men, the women invited us to participate in one of their dances, which involved wearing one of their traditional necklaces and jumping up and down.

Maasai women

Maasai woman

Maasai women

As you can see, the women are adorned with beautiful jewelry, which they make themselves. Body ornamentation denotes one’s position in society so the more blinged out the lady, the higher her status within the village.

bashful Maasai woman

Maasai woman

Maasai elder

Maasai woman

Maasai woman

After jumping our little hearts out it was time to head over to the school to meet the teacher and her students. 

Maasai teacher and students

Maasai school & student

Maasai children's footwear

Maasai child

Maasai child

Maasai children

Maasai child

Maasai teacher

Maasai children

peek a boo

Next we were invited inside a Maasai home. This gentleman invited us inside his house to take a look.

Maasai warrior in front of his house

Maasai kitchen

Maasai bedroom

Everyone was so incredibly warm and friendly, especially the children.

Maasai child

Maasai child

What a privilege to be invited into their homes and get a small glimpse of life in the village. As we were leaving the wind started to kick up and it seemed like rain was imminent. Thankfully everyone had their warm blankets (shuka) to keep warm.

Maasai wrapped up to keep warm

brrr

A huge thank you (asanti sana) to the Maasai for welcoming us into their homes. What a special and unforgettable experience.

As if this day hasn’t been fabulous already it’s going to get even better because we are now entering…

the Serengeti! Needless to say we were all ecstatic for our safaris and had our fingers crossed for the big 5: lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino. Of course our list wasn’t limited to the big 5, but it’s a good place to start.

giraffe watching us watch him

it is on!

from the Serengeti

OK, that’s a nice warm up now how about some big cats?

angry, hissing lioness

And their babies?

lion cub

We had our radio was set to the following station

and put out the leopard vibe by saying it out loud several times. You may think it’s corny, but it appears that the law of attraction worked. Check it out!!!

tree jumping leopard

And now for my most money leopard shot!!!

leopard face shot

Amazing!!! Next on the list of things to see was a kill. I know it sounds gross, but we’ve all seen them on National Geographic and how insane would it be to see one in real life? Like before, we put the vibe out there by chanting kill, kill, kill over and over again in our truck. Yeah, I know how it sounds, but the blood lust just takes over. In fact, we even met this vegan lady at our campsite who claimed that even though she was a vegan and had been for many years, she was also desperate to see a kill. It’s weird and I can’t really explain it, but if you’ve been on safari before I think you know what I mean.  I’m not a psycho…

psycho?

No, really…

face mask chic

OK, let’s take a little break from the kill patrol and take in some spectacular Serengeti scenery.

Serengeti plains

Serengeti

Serengeti

Does anyone know the name of this bird?

secretary bird

It’s called a secretary bird because the black feathers on its head make it appear as though it has quill pens behind its ears.

Since we’re on a trivia roll here, can anyone tell me what the following animal is called in Greek?

roaring hippo

hippo yawning

Answer me!!!

hippo's open mouth

If you said river horse, you are correct! Apparently it means the same thing in German as well.

Now for more of that gorgeous scenery.

rays of sunshine, Serengeti

sun bursting through the clouds, Serengeti

rays of sunshine over the Serengeti

rays of sunshine, Serengeti

Acacia tree

elephants under an acacia tree

The leopard channel definitely hooked it up because we saw another leopard. 2 in one day…not too shabby!

This lil’ guy is posing for the camera.

jackal

Our kill chanting didn’t yield any results today and do you want to know what I think about that?

That’s OK though because we ended the day with some great sightings of my favorite animal

elephant babies

mommy and baby elephant

wise soul

and a beautiful sunset.

sunset Serengeti

Heaven?

Time to head back to camp for some dinner.

The next morning we were up at the crack, but it’s not really a sacrifice when you can see a sunrise like this.

Sunrise over the Serengeti

Within minutes we had our 3rd leopard sighting and it was our best yet.

prowling leopard

Why was it so great, you ask? Can you say babies?

How about we get a look from another angle?

leopard and her cub

mommy leopard and her cub

This mama didn’t like us looking at her baby.

enraged leopard

furious leopard

Correction, make that babies. Aww…

leopard cubs

leopard cub

I have to take a moment to give props to our safari driver, James. He was the bomb, leading the pack and always getting the prime angle for shots. Not only was he a hawk, spotting things that looked like rocks to the rest of us, but turned out to be cheetahs, but he was also courteous, moving our truck from the super mack daddy location to allow other trucks to get a piece of the action as well. Unfortunately not all trucks were so respectful, but ours was so I want to give a huge shout out to James and the rest of my truck buddies: Janet, Line, Rami, Yvonne and Caroline. I loved riding with you guys. Kill, kill, kill…

where's the beef?

Not exactly what I had in mind, but still a good lion sighting.

old, male lion

sleeping lion

It looks like we’re not the only ones eager to get in on the kill…

vultures

birds of prey

How about some more trivia and fun facts? Does anyone know the name of this animal?

Red Hartebeest

It’s the Red Hartebeest and according to legend this social animal was too busy yapping it up with its friends instead of getting a prime place in line when God was handing out attributes so it ended up with ugly fur (I actually think it’s pretty) and unimpressive horns. One thing it does have going for it though is that it’s super fast and in Africa I think I’d rather have speed on my side than good looks.

I’m on a roll now with the fun facts and since I know you love them so much I’ll keep ‘em coming. What is different about these two ostriches aside from the color of their plumage?

If you noticed the reddish color of the male’s legs nice going. Now can you tell me why his legs are red?

ostrich mating dance

If you think it has something to do with attracting the attention of the ladies you are quite the animal expert! It’s a mating ritual and this guy is pulling out all the stops here.

ostrich with red legs, macking it up for the ladies

Janet was telling us that a man in love in South Africa is said to have red legs so keep that in mind, guys, when making your wardrobe selections.

OK, back to the wildlife.

zebra

giraffe's piercing stare

Apparently this isn’t interesting enough for the king of the jungle.

snoozing lion

I know you didn't just wake me up

Maybe we should spice it up a bit with some fetish action?

OK, so I didn’t quite capture it with my camera, but this lion goes on to lick his lady’s urine. Kinky? Actually…no. Apparently the male lion is able to tell if his lady is ripe for mating from the smell and taste of her urine.

It seems like this guy liked what he smelled and tasted.

lovestruck lion

OK, enough of those lions.  James shot us around the rock to check on the rest of the pride. What did I say about James being a hawk?

roaring lion

Awesome!!!

open and say ahhhh

lion with serious gingivitis

smiling lion

OK, so another day without a kill, but we did get a rainbow at camp, which happened to be on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. I’ll take it!

That’s my tent.  Could someone please pinch me…this is so cool!!!

rainbow, Ngorongoro Crater

sunrise over the Ngorongoro Crater

OK, folks, we’re up bright and early again for our game drive through the Ngorongoro Crater so keep your fingers crossed that we see some good stuff.

national bird of Uganda

it's the eye of the zebra, it's the thrill...

Aww, it’s a baby zebra.

baby zebra

Some sickos might call this an easy target or the weakest link…geez, some people.

up in this zebra's grill

Besides a kill, another thing on our list was the extremely endangered rhino. As luck would have it, we happened to spot 3 of them. Sweet!!!

Minutes after seeing the rhino we got word that a kill may be happening so we zoomed over to the supposed kill spot, but it appears we were a bit too late…again.

These hyenas were eager for a piece of the action as well.

And a buffalo makes 5. Big 5…check!

A hippo out of water in the middle of the day…I’ll take it!

Time for a bathroom break. There are a few designated spots where folks are allowed out of their trucks and this just happens to be one of them. Stunning!

Ngorongoro Crater lake

lake, Ngorongoro Crater

It looks like someone is interested in all the commotion.

peek a boo

hippo in water

roaring hippo

OK, bathroom break is over. Time for more game driving and the word on the crater is that 2 lions are getting ready to mate so obviously we were all about it. Apparently mating lions will mate every 20 minutes so even if we missed this round we were guaranteed another show in 20. Boom chicka bow wow.

pensive lion

We took it as a good sign that the lions had zero interest in the zebras.

We waited for about 30 minutes and still no action so I guess these lions weren’t in the mood to get their freak on after all. Oh well. Maybe they wanted some privacy?

Sadly our time in the crater has come to an end. What an amazing experience! Even though this was as close as we came to seeing a kill,

I still had an amazing time. Plus, I still have some game drives in Kenya and Uganda so maybe a kill is still in the cards?  Truth be told, i would probably be quite sad if I saw a kill so I won’t be heartbroken if it doesn’t happen, but we’ll see how it all shakes out. 

Here are a last few glimpses of the crater. Stunning, isn’t it?

We stopped at some shops along the way and had a farewell lunch with our super fabulous drivers.

art for sale

Maasai shukas

Tanzania cuts for men

Time to head back to Arusha and our camp, which happens to be a snake park as well. No, the snakes aren’t slithering around the campsite. If that had been the case I think I would have made my bed on the truck.

Here’s our crew from the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater! You guys were exceptional safari buddies and even though we didn’t see a kill we still saw everything else on our list. All in all, I’d say it was just about perfect.

Our next stop is Kenya and then Uganda for the gorillas!!  Woo hoo!!!  See you soon, rafikis.