Hello everyone!!! Instead of trying to remember and review for Cruise Critic, I'm just cutting & pasting the emails I sent to our 3 sons.... Long, but hope you enjoy. Before the review, know that I left some things out because I just couldn't write it all down in the limited free time we had. I do want you to know that this trip was worth EVERY cent it cost. There are LOTS of tips to "pay".. so take lots of US$$$. All the vendors, street vendors even, take US $$$. Safari clothes are NOT required. I just don't do "beige"... so I didn't. You are always in a vehicle and the animals don't see you. We were bothered only by flies and that was in the Serengeti. We saw absolutely every possible animal except a cheetah. We even saw a partial wildebeast migration... Water bottles are supplied. All of the lodges are extremely lovely. Questions?? You can always send an email dinahsue at dinahfuller dot com
We boarded the boat a few hours ago and we have seen tons of elephants and hippos in the water and out of the water and all kinds of antelope and fish Eagles. I just watched a crocodile jump out of the water and get a bird and eat it… It was the coolest.
After breakfast we set out on a jeep safari. We left the Zambezi queen got on the small boats and went to the immigration/passport station to have our passport stamped that we were leaving Namibia. Then we got back on the boat and they took us to Botswana where we had to present our passport at emigration and have them stamp it that we are entering their country. Then we got in the jeeps.
What an absolutely fabulous fantastic magnificent week. We saw everything imaginable including a male and female lion laying down and about 50 feet away two more female lions. We were watching them and I guess it was time to go and we backed up and on our right side way down the river was a lion walking from the grasslands into the dense forest. The male lion got up and made happy time with the female lion. As we turned back around from seeing the one lion crossing the flat grassland, there marched an entire pride of lions the other directions across the grasslands into that dense forest. There were 8-10 lions in that pride. Our driver put it in gear and went so fast over these this road made of sand and we bounced clear off the seats many times. But he got us there in time to see the last few lines in the pride cross into the forest. We stopped and turned to our right and there they all were lying in big groups right inside the forest. Their bellies were fat, and the forest ranger said they had come from the grasslands after killing and eating something early this morning and had come to the forest to rest…. so beautiful. We saw warthogs, giraffes, one black back jackal, lots of birds, including a spoonbill. We had a picnic lunch and I got pooped on by a bird. We saw the carcass of an elephant. It was about half gone. We asked why none of the big cats or hyenas had eaten it and the guide said that elephant had anthrax and the only thing that will eat it are the birds. Now how in the world did those mammals know that elephant is diseased? I guess you call that animal instinct.
We did at least one safari every day... only once in a jeep, the others were "boat safaris" and it was amazing how close we got to the animals. We have seen hundreds of elephants, an entire pride of lions, every animal you can think of and we haven’t even started our Safari week. This has been an incredible experience.
Victoria Falls ...... left Namibia and Botswana and have arrived in Zimbabwe. Tomorrow we will take a helicopter ride over Victoria Falls. The Falls and train ride were fun and we loved the helicopter tour over the falls.
Today is Friday, September 6. We passed through customs areas in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. We had lunch at the hotel and then boarded a vintage steam train and beautiful on the inside. We stopped on the bridge overlooking Victoria Falls. Great drinks and snacks… Like Yorkshire pudding, smashed up chicken livers with crackers… …we didn’t need a lot of that stuff.
The Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania is absolutely magnificent. We left the Manor House where we are staying at 5:40 am in our Safari Jeep and the first thing we saw was four bachelor male lions crossing the road in front of us. We stopped and watched them for a long time. About 30 minutes later we came across another male lion and his female companion lying… And I am not kidding… On the side of the road… We could have reached out and touched them… But of course we did not. One of the males lifted his leg and “marked his territory” on a jeep!!
We loved the African Serval Cat and the Ostrich.. saw two black rhinos.
We had a breakfast picnic on the floor of the crater. The guides set up a table with all kinds of wonderful breakfast food and they sat “saddle stools“around the table for us. There were about 10 of us this morning and as we were filling our plates with food… A huge bachelor male elephant starts “strolling“ toward us… The guides immediately said, “get in the jeeps, NOW, as fast as you can“… And one Guide drove his Jeep between the elephant and our food and us. It was really exciting.
The manor house is extraordinary and we have half a house. When we got back from our Safari this morning our room attendant had a bubble bath prepared for me… I am so spoiled… Now I am sitting outside on one of the three private patios connected to our “house” On this enormous coffee plantation on top of a mountain and my view includes four beautiful horses.
The Serengeti .....
Our first day in the Serengeti began with a flight on a bush plane and a dirt runway. We saw a pride of lions that included eight females and 13-15 cubs ....We saw a female leopard in one tree and across the road was her “kill” hanging from another tree. We saw a momma and baby giraffe and a clan of hyenas. There are rock hyrax on the top of the canvas roof of our “tent” and from our deck we have seen zebra, hippos, momma and baby monkeys, baboons, and a gorgeous hornbill...or Zazu in the Lion King. The stars are so bright under this African sky as we sit on our deck and listen to all the animal sounds. We are well and truly blessed and appreciate being able to be here, see and hear all of this and share it with you!
RWANDA!!! As usual, we were the oldest ones by far on the gorilla trekk.... the next oldest was a lady who would celebrating her 60th birthday soon. There was a girl in her 20’s and 3 others in their 30’s…. so much for matching “physical capability” for each pary. We walked through the jungle, the gorillas kept moving up, and we kept following them, the trackers just hacked their way through the jungle with huge machetes. Doug had two Porters and I had one Porter .....we could not have done it without them. We walked about 3 miles up the mountain through the jungle before we saw a huge family of Gorillas.... The videos and photos you see of people interacting with the gorillas in a great open area did not happen to us. We were deep deep deep in the jungle… through bamboo, over tree roots, through both elephant and gorilla poop. . The elevation was over 8500 feet. We saw two silverbacks, I can only remember one mother with a tiny baby, there may have been other mothers with juveniles. The juveniles were very curious and got so close to us one of them stepped on my foot. There were about 10-12 gorillas in the “family”…. 3 silverbacks who were very cautious. We were the last group back to the lodge because our gorillas kept moving further away. It was totally amazing!! We left the lodge at 6:30 AM and returned at about 2:30 pm
At the lodge, we sat outside on our patio and they brought us beer and Coca-Cola and a lots of beautiful fruit, since we had chosen to skip lunch. We were just too exhausted. I just took a hot hot bath with lots of bath salts and bubble bath. We skipped dinner as well, just can’t bring ourselves to eat… Not to mention it’s about half a mile to the Lodge restaurant. We are having a thunderstorm with lots of lightning and we are sitting in our cabin in front of a wood burning fireplace with a blazing fire to keep us warm. What a great way to wind up an even greater experience.
Exhausted, it was very very difficult, even though we requested the easy trekk, the gorillas kept climbing up the mountain… So we followed behind the trackers who were hacking their way up the mountain to the gorillas. We sat at dinner last night with a couple who had done the trekk the day before… They chose medium instead of easy… And their group of gorillas actually were about 10 minutes from the “wall“… Which is the entry into the park. It was kind of cool, we had to walk through potato fields and past little huts made of mud… Unfortunately our gorillas chose to go up the mountain instead of down the mountain. It was incredible and exciting but absolutely and positively exhausting
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