Christmas Ornament Time

I’ve been collecting ornaments from places we’ve traveled since our honeymoon in 2010. Though to be honest, it was an idea I had at the time but got put on the back burner until we actually had a house and a Christmas tree which we didn’t purchase until 2012. So therefore our trips from 2010-2012 are ornaments I bought after the fact either made in the countries we traveled to or pictures of the places we were in the case I couldn’t find an ornament made in the country we visited. Starting in 2013, the ornaments have all been bought while we were traveling. Looking for Christmas ornaments in some places can be hard to find, hence why sometimes we buy something and later make it into an ornament. It can be a challenge sometimes, but it’s something we’ve really enjoyed hunting for since we started buying them in real time in 2013. I have this dream of when we are old and grey setting up our Christmas tree it will be completely full of only travel related ornaments. Right now we fill in the holes with other childhood ornaments.

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Kenya-Tanzania Safari Planning & Wrap Up

Since I didn’t start doing the blog thing until after getting back from Africa, I’m going to do this a little differently than I will in the future. In the future I hope to do a post before we leave on how we planned for the trip and then do an update on what worked/what didn’t upon getting back. Since this is way after the fact now, I will just do a combined (really long, sorry) post on planning/how it went for us.

Planning wise, we always had the Serengeti and Kenya on our must see list sometime. But they shot up to the top after my brother did a semester abroad in Tanzania and my parents got back from a two week trip to Tanzania to visit my brother (and did a 10 day Safari while there) and all of them raved about it. Just listening to them talk about the love they had developed for Africa, just made us dying to go and so when we decided on what we wanted to do in 2015, Tanzania and Kenya were on the list. Originally we had planned on a two week trip, a 10 day safari followed by a few days relaxing in Zanzibar. Then work chaos ensued and my boss said I couldn’t get two weeks off at a time in the current situation (well that maybe I could, but he couldn’t promise and well, we couldn’t wait until the last minute to plan a safari in high season), so we had to settle for being going only 10 days instead of like 16, which meant about 8 days in Africa considering travel time to/from. After a lot of talk with the safari company we had already decided on, we came up with a new safari (dropping Maasai Mara park and Zanzibar).

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Tanzania Day 6: Serengeti & Arusha

We had an early start on our final day in the Serengeti so we could have a couple hour game drive before getting on our flight from the Serengeti to Arusha. It really started to hit me as we packed up our jeep for the last time that this was it, this was the last day of our safari and I started getting really sad. It was a weird feeling for me. I’m usually sad when it’s time to go home after vacation, but a part of me is always looking forward to sleeping in my own bed again and of course seeing my dog again! But this was a different type of sad.

Anyways, we packed up the jeep and set off back into the Serengeti. We only had a couple hours before our flight, so we didn’t have time to go chasing what was called in over the radio really our guide said unless it happened to be close, but that was fine with us. It was kind of nice to just enjoy seeing whatever we stumbled across ourselves. Interestingly our guide said there had been no mention of lions over the radio that morning as we were driving. After the past couple days where we saw an abundance of lions in the central area, it seemed they had moved on to a different area. So good timing on our part I guess?!?

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Tanzania Day 5: Serengeti

We started the day a little later than the previous day (leaving the camp around 8:30am) and driving back into the Serengeti. Our first stop was to be the Hippo Pool but en route as we crossed over a bridge, we saw a lone hippo actually being active! We watched the hippo swim to the shore and climb out of the water! Crazy hippo.

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Tanzania Day 4: Serengeti

We ate and breakfast and left our lodge at the Ngorongoro Crater early in the morning to start our drive towards the Serengeti. We saw a few giraffes and of course antelope as we made the couple hour drive from one place to the next. We entered the Serengeti at the Naabi Hill Gate. It was surreal arriving at the gate. The Serengeti is one of the places you always dream of going to and then all of a sudden, BAM, you are there standing under the gate!

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Tanzania Day 3: Ngorongoro Crater

We left Ganako Lodge around 8:30am with our boxed lunches and made our way to the Ngorongoro Crater. We first had to stop at the entrance gates to pay the park fee. The fee is 24 hours inside the Ngorongoro Area which includes the time you enter the gate until you leave the area (make sure to factor that in when leaving the Crater if driving towards the Serengeti or you could be stuck with an extra day’s fee by forgetting to include the couple hour drive on the other side). While our guide was taking care of that, we wandered around the visitor centre looking at a map of the area and animal information boards. Our next stop was a viewpoint overlooking the Crater. The Ngorongoro Crater is a UNESCO Heritage Site and is definitely an impressive natural wonder. The crater itself is the world’s largest intact and unfilled volcanic crater. Most of the animals within the Crater are permanent residents, though some of the herds do move about. Two animals absent from the crater floor include giraffes (hard for them to walk down the steep crater walls and not many trees to provide cover for them) and impala (though no reason is really known as to why they are absent). We absolutely loved every minute we spent in the Crater!

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Tanzania Day 2: Lake Manyara

We woke up and had an early breakfast at the lodge before heading back to Lake Manyara National Park for a morning game drive until we returned to the lodge for a late lunch. We had another amazing day at the park. There is really only one main entrance to the park, so we entered at the same place passing by a lot of baboons and other monkeys, before heading off to the other sections of the park that we didn’t visit the previous day.

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Tanzania Day 1: Lake Manyara

After spending the morning in Kenya at Amboseli National Park and the chaos of the Kenyan side of the border (read here), we met our Tanzanian guide and crossed over to Tanzania.  The Tanzanian side was the complete opposite. Everything was very proficient and fast with clearly marked instructions and lines on where to go. All in all, we were into Tanzania without a lot of delay or time luckily.

From the border, we drove into Arusha for a quick stop for lunch of fish and chips at the Silver Palm Hotel, which was quite delicious. After our short lunch break, we drove the couple hours to Lake Manyara National Park.

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