IndyJunior © Bryan Boyer

Monday, January 29, 2007

We Petted a Cheetah!

Nairobi National Park was our last chance to see some big cats in the wild. Every Sunday they run a public bus through the park to view the animals so J & I headed out there and waited for the bus to show up.

After being told it would show up at 1:30 pm, and seeing 1:30 pm turn into 2:30 pm we started to think that we may not be going on this tour. It turns out the bus was having mechanical problems and wasn't going to show up. Apparently they have only one bus so that was that. No big cats, and our Africa trip ends on a low note.

Or does it?

After toying with the idea of renting a van with some other people who were waiting for the bus, we decided against it. For me, something was telling me we just weren't meant to see what we had hoped for so I reluctantly decided to save the money on the taxi and just go see the animal orphanage which was nearby.

Our timing couldn't have been better because the first animals we see were Cheetahs. AND it was close to feeding time and for me, I thought that would be cool enough. Seeing them eat big chunks of meat, I could always imagine that we were in the wild and it was a fresh Zebra kill or something....

I was also taking pictures through the fence to make it look like we were in the wild in case anyone asked later. :) This one was a pretty good shot. I could have said they came right up beside our truck and you wouldn't be able to tell.

The next thing I know, I hear J calling my name as she is heading INTO the cage! What the heck was she doing?!??! Apparently, the feeder asked if she wanted to go in and so in they went. She got to pet a couple of the Cheetahs and when she came back out, the guy pulled both of us in. Sure what the heck...they're busy eating right? I'm sure I won't taste as good as that chunk of meat...

How cool was that. We squatted down behind one, I started to pet the hind area and the Cheetah swipes at my hand with her tail! He he he....yeah, nice kitty, don't kill me was all I could think.

Not sure which one was more scary. The Tigers we petted or the Cheetahs. The Tigers were tied down at least....these ones, nothing...if I was fast enough, maybe the feeder would get caught first! ;) A VERY cool time there overall and yup, if the truck hadn't broken down, we would have missed this chance.

We also took a walk on their "Safari" walking tour. And once we got to the Lion area, this male Lion comes over to where we were standing and plops down with some of the Lionesses right in front of us. Great timing again as we had prime photo spots so I grabbed a couple.

I think he was feeling sorry for us! :D

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Equator

Ok, so I've never actually been to the Southern Hemisphere before. Never seen the water turning the other way, never seeing the sun on the north side. Heck, before I was 20 something I'd never left Canada. But enough about me...

We ended up passing the equator 3 times on our tour and the second time on the way back from Rwanda we stopped an had lunch on the side. It was kind of done up for tourists. A nice yellow line ran across the street to show the equator, a small display and a demonstration of how water drains.

After I had finished my cleaning duties, J & I took a walk out to the side of the road and did the usual tourist shots of us at the equator.

I even took my GPS and had a reading right on the line. According to that though, we were 0.00018 degrees north. So the equator was actually about 15 m south of there. But of course, I had 10 meter accuracy so who knows for sure right?

Very cool nonetheless.

Monday, January 22, 2007

On the way to the Masai Mara we thought...

The last big thing we were to do on this tour was the Masai Mara. The last game drive and J & I's hope of seeing some Lions, Cheetah and Leopards up close and personal.

Unfortunately, the Masai was supposedly "closed" (more on this later). Just our luck huh?

So, since we were in a group, it was up to the group to decide where we would go instead. We had 2 days to kill.

Democratically, we all decided to head to some lake northwest of Nairobi. Called something like Lake Borgoria...not exactly sure...

I'll just come out and say that the lake was the most STUPID thing I've seen on this trip so far. We wanted a game drive, and it turned out to be a fricking drive down a service road. The only thing going for it was the hotsprings shooting really hot water out.

Wtf man... W.T.F.!

I can't believe ATC (Africa Travel Co., our tour company) would suggest something so f'ing stupid! A big disappointment to me and probably the others who wanted to see some more animals.

Oh well....

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Hotel Rwanda

It's hard to imagine what this country has gone through just over a decade ago.

We were able to head into the Capital Kigali to visit the Genocide memorial which was a very eye opening experience on what the people went through. It's amazing to realize how much impact the West has on the rest of the world. A bit too much if you ask me.

Rwanda is a beautiful country. Our 2 hour ride into Kigali went through some extrodinary mountains. I swear the entire country is mountainous. There were very few cars on the road. Not sure why but most people walk or ride bikes through these hills.

The people were extremely friendly. I can't imagine what they are going through right now since most of these people have been affected by the 1994 Genocide in some way. They are a very strong people and it's amazing how they have been able to cope with it.

On our way out, we did manage to swing by Hotel Milles Collines, made famous by the movie.

I only wish we had another day to experience Rwanda more. One of the big problems with a tour is it's tight schedule.

Hopefully we will one day be able to come back in for a longer visit.

Trekking the Gorillas

After Hell's Gate we stopped at Lake Nakuru in Kenya for another game drive. We were hoping to see more kitties up close but again it wasn't to be.

Rhinos and Giraffe were the most exciting things we saw....

Next up was the Mountain Gorilla trek. The main point for going on this tour for most people. Originally we were supposed to go to the Congo for this but we found out that ATC hasn't gone to the Congo for at least 6 months due to the unrest there. Don't ask me why we were constantly told that Congo is where we are going then!

The new plan was to go into Rwanda.

It felt like we were being smuggled into Rwanda. We arrived at the border after dark. They kept it open for us 2 hours after they close to everyone else. We had to hike it on foot across the border with our stuff to the other side where we were met with the contact there. We were happy to find out that Canadians didn't need to pay for a visa. I made sure to rub it in to everyone else who did! :)

The next morning we headed in to Volcanoes National Park to find our family of gorillas. Our guide had a sense of humor telling us we were in for a 3 hour hike to the top to find them. I was all psyched up and ready when he said, it's only about 40 minutes. Maybe less because they are coming towards us!

So off we went into the hills. What happened next was definitely not expected.

We caught up with the family and as we were all grouping together, one of the male gorillas comes running up to the last guy in the line and starts to push him around (lightly apparently).

I just heard a "help" and turned around with my camera to catch a quick second before stopping. I'll have to post that later.

We finally get everyone together when the same gorilla decides he wants to carry off one of our group. He comes right up and grabs her, tries to take her away, but the guide somehow wrestles her away from him.

All a bit nervewracking in the first 5 minutes of the trip. Apparently they are a soft fuzzy. Not bristly like an elephant.

The rest of the trek was great. Saw the family and the massive Silverback, who was in a good mood so we just hung around. He showed off his power by breaking some bamboo like toothpicks. Really amazing animals.

Well worth the money if you are in this part of the world.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Hell's Gate national park in Kenya. That's where this geocache is located.

We went in and rented bikes with another Aussie couple and the 4 of us set off to see the park and gorge. Going up a road towards the cache, we spot a family of Giraffe's munching on some Acacia's, with the mother eyeing us from behind. We get off our bikes and take a few pictures and continue up. Gerald's leading up and spots a massive Whart Hog cross the road. It disappears by the time I get there.

We bike up to the picnic site and start our search. It took about 10 minutes to locate it inside a small rock overhang. Inside was a Masai keychain and the usual log book. I sign for the 4 of us, leave a Twoonie and we're back on our way towards the gorge.

Time was short so we didn't get to see all of the gorge, but on the way back we spot about 5 Zebra trotting towards us. I'm thinking it was a bit weird but it was funny to see. One of them comes up fairly close (maybe 20 m away) then all of a sudden they take off. I can just imagine what it was thinking...

"Hmm....wonder what animals those are...maybe I'll go take a look....never seen tho...HOLY SH!T THEY'RE HUMANS......RUN!!!)

What a great to bike, sunshine and another geocache!

What Camel, Ostrich and Crocodile Tastes like...

Nairobi has a popular restaurant called "Carnivore" and for Us$30 you can eat all the meat you want. It wasn't worth it for us so we ended up going to the "Simba Saloon" which allows you to pick 5 meats (3 game meats) for two people.

Camel was like beef with a bit more gamey taste. It was really dry (all the meats were) so I didn't enjoy it all that much.

Ostrich came as ground meatballs, but still were very tasty. It was like a meatball. No poultry taste, more like beef. I can see why it is becoming more popular. I would have liked to taste a steak instead though.

Crocodile was like a shark steak. kinda fishy, kinda chickeny. Go figure.

I still wish we tried the Donkey in China too...

The (Empty) Serengeti...

Was The Lion King wrong? Millions of Zebra and Wildebeast? Maybe our timing was off?

Arusha is the starting point for all Safari's into the Serengeti and Ngorogoro crater and we had high hopes while setting up camp. The next day we were going to see all these animals up close and personal!

Well, we started off well by seeing Giraffe's befre we even got into the Serengeti park. Beautiful animals, and so fluid when they run.

After checking in at the park and going through, it was like the plains of Canada. Flat and EMPTY! Well, maybe not quite, the scenery was amazing but it really was empty.

(I'll put pictures in later once we have a faster connection.)

We held our hopes up for the Crater but when we were descending into it, you can really see there wasn't much there. I'm not sure how it would look at the high times but this was definitely not what we expected. We also didn't expect to be so far away from the animals. You need to stay on the roads and most times the animals are pretty far away. Without binoculars you can't make anything out.

Again the scenery was beautiful and I'm glad we went. I just hope we'll be able to see more animals up close.

New Year's in Dar Es Salaam

A bit late, but here's wishing everyone reading this a Happy New Year! All the best to you, your friends and families!

We spent our new year's eve on Kipepeo campsite on the east coast of Tanzania with our new tour group. Most of who came up from Cape Town, Jo'burg or Vic Falls so 7 of us were new to everything.

The group was pretty good. A good mix of all ages but most falling into our age group. We all sat at the bar and waited to ring in 2007 playing drinking games, chatting and laughing.

All in all a fun time. Except for the early (5:30 am) departure to Arusha. Yikes! We got 3 hours sleep that night. Welcome to the tour huh?

Next stop is Arusha and the Serengeti!