Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tuesday, November 25th, Santa Rosa


We're making lists, gathering and washing clothes, and finishing travel books.   We have one large National Geographic book on Antarctica which we will take (boy is it heavy) and donate to the boat. With all the warm weather clothes, we may be a bit over the weight limits.

Here's a link that will show you our itinerary, the ship, and our cabin.  When the cabin page appears, click on the Menu, and choose Suite F2.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to upload photos and daily commentary until we return.  If possible, I'll post some info on the way to the ship, or on the way back.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Saturday, November 8th, Preparing for Antartica


Ever since we got back from Southern Africa, our joys of that trip have been competing with our anticipation of gong to Antartica next month.  Dave Forde, an incredibly talented and enthusiastic traveler who we enjoyed while in Africa, shared his photos and stories of Norway's Hurtigruten MV Fram expeditions.  Learning they were going for 21 days in December, we booked passage.

Here's a link to the expedition which left a short time ago:  Antartica.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Africa Trip 2nd Tour July Aug 2014

A photo-chronicle of a great second half of our Africa Safari Tour with Kiboko Adventures and Africa's Child Safaris. Pat and I hope you enjoy it, and that you'll join us again in December as we head for Antarctica.   

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday, August 8th, A'Zambezi River Lodge, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe


Neil Sedaka told us that "Breaking up is hard to do".  Tonight, at the farewell dinner, we all told Kembo how very much his work meant to us in this wonderful adventure.  Every day, there were many times when his excellent skills and charming personality got us through the curves thrown at us.  He put up with all of our individual quirks, and provided us with the information and direction we needed.  As Cookie toasted him for us, we all also began the task of saying goodbye to each other.  The friendships we make on these trips are rich ones, and it is hard to say goodbye.

Tomorrow, Pat and I leave for the airport mid-morning, and our flight leaves for Johannesburg at 2pm.  After a 5-hour layover, we fly to London, and then to San Francisco.  Don't expect any posts until we're home and rested on Monday.

I did finish a "Best of the First Tour" video, which can be accessed by clicking on the link.  I'll work on choosing the best of the second tour on the flight home.

The last set of photos, capturing our flight by helicopter over Victoria Falls, can be seen by clicking on Friday, August 8th, A'Zambezi River Lodge, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.


ps.  There were some great giraffe shots that were accidentally left out of the end of the album on August 2nd, which have been added now.  Also, I love what Google did to animate the photos of the lions at the waterhole.  Check them out.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thursday, August 7th, Zambezi River Lodge, Zimbabwe


The good news when we arrived at the Zimbabwe border was that they had lowered the visa cost from $65 to $30 per person.  The bad news was that it took them about an hour and a half to process about 40 visas. There were two groups ahead of us, and they made us all stand in the sun outside a small office for an hour until one of the officials decided to process us in groups, allowing us to sit in our busses while they stamped our passports, deposited our money, and made us receipts.

But the wait was worth it.  A short time later, we checked into the A'Zambezi RiverLodge.   After lunch, Kembo drove us on a tour of the town.  Some are staying on here after this tour ends, and most have optional “adreneline activities” scheduled for tomorrow (river- rafting, lion-walking, helicopter rides over the Falls, gorge swinging, etc.).  Once we were acquainted with the locations of the craft stores, banks, casino, and post office, we headed off to the Falls.

What a wet wonder!  I’m told that in the heavy flow months you get drenched from the parking lots.  But you have a hard time actually seeing the falls.  It’s three months later, and we rent rain parkas for $2 each, and need them as we walk the edge of the gorge across from the falls.  My camera is wrapped in a plastic bag, and Pat and I look like wet hobbits.

To the question of how big is this.  Of the comparison of Niagara, Iguazu, and Victoria: big is measured by height, width, and volume.  Victoria is higher (107 meters), Iguazu is wider (2,400 feet), and Niagara has more water volume (4-6 million cubic feet/minute).

But Niagara freezes.  And Iguazu has boats that take you out near the waterfalls, and has trails at water level.  So what does this have?  Wart hogs, trumpeter hornbills, and bush bucks on the trails.  So there.

To see all the photos taken today, click on Thursday, August 7th, Zambezi River Lodge, Zimbabwe.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wednesday, August 6th, Chobe Safari Lodge, Botswana


Today was our last day in an African Game Park.  And it could not have been better.

Tour guides pray for a day like today.  Game drivers seldom have days like today.  Travelers think today is normal, and tell stories about the day forever.  Let's just say we got very lucky, after lots of people working for Kiboko performed at the highest level.

Let's set the stage.  At 5:45am, we showed up at the front food of the Chobe Safari Lodge.  Kiboko Tours was just one of a number of tour operators who had booked guests at the Lodge.  It's got 120 rooms, and most of those in them were going on a morning game ride for the next three hours.   In the dark, we were assigned our land rovers, and it was lucky that all but one of our friends got into our rover.  We were also lucky that we got the driver who had arranged all of the rover assignments, and was in charge of the drive.

Where the luck paid off at 6pm was in his ability to go beyond the normal racing to key spots where animals were usually found, and his jockeying for position when we spotted something.  Game isn't easy to find, especially in the early morning when part of them is coming to the water holes, and others of them are trying to interrupt those who are coming to get a drink.  It's dusty, and cold, and windy, and he's not driving slowly, and the roads are deep dirt.  

Within the first 30 minutes we had found a leopard and her enthusiastic cub, and once again had to move on not because she evaded us, but because we wanted to find some more animals.  She was perfectly content to let us watch her keeping a close eye on him.
In the next three hours, we found a mother cheetah and two youngsters, fish eagles, sable antelope, giraffes, kudus, buffalo, elephants, a dozens of unique birds.

Back at the lodge by 9:30am, we had the rest of the morning and early afternoon to relax and enjoy the lodge and our gorgeous rooms.  Another great restaurant lunch, a better experience with wifi, and a short mid-day game hunt around the lodge (a Monitor Lizard was the the one thing new).
At 3:00pm, we all boarded a river cruiser to ply the Chobe River and islands in search of everything which found safety in, near, and above its cool waters.  That's just about everything on land, and even more in water.

Finishing the day with a scrumptious meal, and a birthday celebration for our friend Jill, we're all headed for bed.  Tomorrow, we head for Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.  Thankfully, we get to sleep in, and don't leave until 9am.

To see all of the many photos taken today, click on Wednesday, August 6th, Chobe Safari Lodge, Botswana.

Tuesday, August 5th, Chobe Safari Lodge, Botswana


Chobe Safari Lodge is located "on the doorstep" of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.  Yea, like most of you, I had little idea there was a door, let alone a doorstep.  People move around quite a bit in this area.  Mostly from traditional rural to urban (meaning mining holes, parks, shopping centers, schools, and hospitals).
At least half of the two-million people who live in either Namibia or Botswana live in clusters of one-family villages.  Compounds are what we've decided to call them, as they really are an extended family set of huts, surrounded by a fence built from branches, that facilitates the family social dynamics.  Polygomy is practiced, and it's not unusual for marriage to await the birth of several children.  Women do seem to be much more in control of their lives recently, with many pursuing small businesses in the crafts and service industries.  The birth rate is dropping, and both countries are serious about stopping HIV/AIDS.  I saw a huge poster for a campaign to achieve no new cases in one town featuring the Mayor saying that wearing condoms was the right thing to do, because he did it.

We drove on a long morning and early afternoon on Tuesday across the Namibian border and into Botswana (shoes cleaned, thank you).  Almost before we knew it, we were being handed the traditional lodge sweet drink, and handed our room keys.  Then came the frustrating four hours trying to get the wifi to do anything except download a few emails.   Baths, swims in the pool, a long dinner and native dance show later, I finally got the wifi to help me upload a few photographs.

To see the few more photos taken today, click on Tuesday, August 5th, Chobe Safari Lodge, Botswana