6 days on safari…. Lions, elephants, and cheetahs

What a classic thing to do in Africa. When I think of safari, I think of Ernest Hemmingway. I think of the men with big mustaches in an old land cruiser going on the hunt. It is nothing like that romantic idea. The classic safari includes Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti, and wildebeest crossing. We really wanted to go on safari before there are so many limitations and changes that will make it feel too commercial. I couldn’t pack any glamorous gear because I had to limit what I was going to bring on the mountain. It gets so dusty, so you need to be practical.

 

What to bring:
– Binoculars
– A good camera with a zoom lens
– Sunglasses
– Clothes you don’t mind getting dusty
– Running shoes
– A coat or fleece

It was really important that we got to see the migration and crossing of the wildebeest. Millions of wildebeest cross the river every day. Unfortunately, some get caught on the bank or get trampled if they aren’t fast enough. We flew from Arusha airport to Grumeti Reserve and Ikorongo. You will have to look up where the wildebeest will be during the time of year you decide to visit. The wildebeest move to different areas of the reserve. We arrived on a dirt runway. It was so cool; it reminded me of the what it was like in the 1920s.

The airport!

We got there climbed into our land cruiser that was waiting for us. Our guide named Freddy greeted us. There are so many different guide services but the one we decided to go with wanted us to fly to the north to see the migration. We finally got in the car and literally 5 minutes later we were at the river watching thousands of wildebeests cross the river. It was dusty and whirl of safari cars surrounding the river.

We hung out by the river and ate lunched and had the most incredible view of giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, and impalas in this lush landscape. It is truly unbelievable. We start driving to our camp. On the way, we saw ostriches, elephants, and giraffes. You have to stay in the park, so we stay at these glamping tents. It is nice to stay in a bed after sleeping on the ground when climbing Kilimanjaro. We stayed at the Olakira camp. It was nice to have a beer and a hot meal after driving around all day. We were covered in dirt from the dust of the roads.

Day 2: 

We woke up early to go look for lions. We drove around all day and we found no lions. It was such a bummer but we were able to see so many giraffe and zebras! I love the patterns of these animals, each one is a little different.

Did you know that the zebras also migrate with the wildebeest because the wildebeest can hear really well, but the zebras can see really well, so together they can avoid predators.

This is how we get hot water. We have to tell them to fill up this bucket and its hooked up to a shower.

After a long day, we headed back to camp and had a beer near the fire pit!

Fell asleep listening to the sounds of the animals in the bush.

Day 3:

We headed to the Seronera, another part of the reserve. This place was famous for lions. It was about a 2-hour drive on a dirt road.  Once we got there, we saw so many lions!!! The Lions got so close to the car!!!

In this area of the park, there were a lot more people. It was nice to be in the north you would only see a car every once in a while.  We wandered near a river, and there was a family of elephants!!!

I love elephants!!!

Day 4:

My brother and I out on plains

We made our way to the Serengeti. It is beautiful! It is probably the most popular areas to visit for safari. We saw so many leopards but it is so hard to see them in the trees. I don’t have a good photo of them to show you. But we got lucky and saw cheetahs!!

After another long day of dust and dirt, we made it back to a new camp. I was teasing my brother cause he picked a fancy place to stay! It was called Ole Safari.

It was so nice to have a nice bed and a great shower!

Day 5: 

We left the Seregenti to drive to the Ngorongoro Crater. It was a 3 hour drive to get to the top of the crater. The crater is known for lots of people and being really cold. We dropped into the crater. We saw ostriches and hippos, lots of zebras and wildebeest. We were looking for the black rhino, that is known for being in the crater. We didn’t get to see him on this trip.

No one can stay in the crater so we stayed on the outside rim at the Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge.

Day 6: 

We only have a half day for our last day. We wanted to quickly make one more stop before we get back on the airplane. We drove down to Lake Manyara.  We saw some amazing capebuffalo and so many birds.

We were about to drive out of the park and my favorite interaction. We saw a little baby elephant with his mom!

  

So cute! The little guy was so shy at first and was hiding, but after a while, he came out by the car and showed off for us. It was so cute!!

I hope you enjoyed reading about my trip this past summer!

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5 days to climb Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro was incredible. I was lucky enough to go on this trip with my brother. He is turning 50!! He always wanted to climb it and so did I! I really love going on adventures, so I jumped at the opportunity to go.

What you need to know:

  • You have to hike during the “dry season” July to October, or January to February.
  • You have to go through a company to climb the mountain. That is a huge income for the locals. They also carry your bags! You have to have a duffel bag. I used this duffel bag from Patagonia. I like it beacuse it is waterproof.
  • Take it seriously, altitude, and the cold!

Things extra things to bring:

We flew from SFO to Dubai (16 hours), then Dubai to Nairobi (7hours) then Nairobi to Kilimanjaro airport. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa; it is in Tanzania on the east coast of Africa. The peak of the mountain is at 19,341 ft (5,895m). It was a volcano! We decided to go on the Machame Route because it is more challenging. It usually takes about 6-7 days.

Day 1:

My brother wanted to condense the trip to only 6-5 days, so we skipped the first day. Usually, hikers get there and sleep, shower and prep for the hike. We skipped that completely. We got off the airplane and changed in the bathrooms at a hotel. We repacked our bags so that we had our day pack and our duffel bag. My brother and I piled into the van, full of guides, chefs, and our porters. It is great that they require them, it makes a great source of employment for the Tanzanians. The van was so heavy with all our gear and all the people it seemed that it might not make it up the hill to the first camp. We stopped at all these places to get chicken, get meat, to get veggies, and even more people. We finally made it up to start gate. It is so beautiful! It was like a rainforest. So many flowers and moss on the trees. There are even monkeys! After 6 miles we made it to Machame Camp. It was starting to get dark and cold. We walked faster than our porters, so we made it before our tent and stuff. We waited in the cold until they got to the camp. The first night we had our dinner in our tent! It was great!

Machame Camp. Our first camp.

Day 2:

We woke up early and started our hike up the mountain! It was straight uphill for 4 miles. It was so cool we climbing over boulders. The trees were getting shorter. Getting to the alpine altitude. It was so crazy watching these porters carry these bags on their heads on the boulders. The Shira camp is at 12,500ft. It was the first time we could see the peak! It is amazing, so many people were there. It was like a tent city! You could see tents all around us. The bathrooms weren’t great. They smelled so badly.

Day 3:

So far our guides were letting hike at our own pace, but on the third day, they wanted us to slow down. The say “poli poli” which is Swahili for “slowly, slowly.” It was like the mantra for the whole climb. We have to acclimate to the altitude, so we headed to Lava tower at 15,100 ft! The guides want you to go slow, so you don’t get altitude sickness. So if you are worried about it, do go slowly. Lava Tower is this giant plug from another volcano. We had lunch on at the camp. There were almost no trees at this altitude. We then headed down to Barranco camp at 13,044 ft.

Day 4:

We woke up, and it was foggy! We couldn’t see anything. We got back on the trail! This first part was really cool cause we had to cross a river and walk up a cliff face. It was relatively easy, but the porters with all the bags on their heads. I was so impressed that they could make it up the route. We then climbed the 6 miles to Barafu camp, also known as “base camp.” We got there on the early side so we could get ready for the next day.

Day 5:

Peak day! I was a little nervous. We had to wake up at midnight to climb to the top! It was pitch black, no lights, except headlamps. It was so neat to look up the hill and see the headlights zigzag up the mountain. It was like walking straight uphill on a treadmill on the highest level, in a walking freezer, with a high-speed fan blowing cold air on you, in the pitch dark. All you can see is your feet and the stars. We are hiking uphill for 6 hours!! We made it to the top head of the sunrise. We had to wait until the sunrise. It was so cold! My hair froze! We finally got a photo at the sign and watched the sun come up. It was unbelievable, I have never seen the sun come up below where I am. Usually, I’m at least eye level with the sun. We also got to see the glacier!

We then started to head down with the sun out. It was beautiful and hot! I was stripping all my layers! It was straight downhill on the sand. It was killing my knees; it was like skiing down the hill. We made it back to Barafu camp around 8 am and went straight to bed. We had to get up at 9 am to have “lunch” and start hiking back down the hill. Our guides wanted to make it home. So we aimed to get down to the main gate, but our legs were starting to hurt. We barely made it to Mweka camp 10,065 ft. But it was only 1 pm, so we decided to keep going to Mweka Gate 5,330 ft. It was so long! We were so tired! And we couldn’t move our legs, but we made to the bottom!

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