Tag Archives: Unesco

Safari Time Again….

We had a flight from Dar es Salaam to the Island of Comoros (north of Madagascar).  Comoros closed to tourism and our flight was not cancelled!  I tried to change our ticket online and their site was down.  I tried calling using the English option to only have them hang up on me (I was told that was because I did’t speak Swahili).  So our super Dar es Salaam hotel driver/business center manager went to the airport on one of his pick-ups to change our flight (change fees included).  

We had to come up with a plan since Covid and civil fighting were closing off previously planned options.  I said, very much to Bill’s dismay.  “Let’s go on another Safari!  We’re here in Safari Land let’s not go home and wish we had done it.”

Bill’s thought, “We walked the ultimate safari and saw animals in their natural environment why do another???”  

Because the princess wants to……

Tanzanian safaris start in Arusha. So I, in my delirium, asked the driver to change our flight – Dar es Salaam to Arusha.  He was able to do that for us.  Great! We had a plan.

Onward to Zanzibar and now you are caught up.

Zanzibar was just what the doctor ordered.

We hired our same taxi driver to drive us back to Stone Town so we could to take the ferry back to Dar es Salaam, spend the night and fly to Arusha the next day.

The departures screen told us the Arusha flight gate number. However, the gate said Zanzibar.  I inquired and learned the flight went from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar on to Arusha.  Yes, Zanzibar.  We paid for a ferry ride, hotel stay and one extra leg of a flight to only to go back to where we started.  

I did that! I was so proud that hours before we were to take off to a place we couldn’t go I saved the day by changing our non-refundable flight only to find out we wasted all the money we saved changing the flight by picking the wrong departure town.

Check out the casual airport in Arusha.  How about that baggage claim?  Now that’s efficient!

Click photos to enlarge….

I searched the web for private safaris. A gal from Australia blogged about a company called Wild and Me, the company that she used to do a solo safari. She said she spent hours researching to find the one that fit her needs. Luckily, our needs aligned with hers.

For years I wanted to go on a Micato safari. The magazine quality multi page pamphlet they send out had me drooling every time one showed up in the mailbox. The price told me I could buy a car with the money.  This girl has champagne taste and a cheap gene!

I messaged Wild and Me and started a dialog. The owner said all the rights things. I told her we’d let her know but it might be last minute.

Since we were unable to personally verify the safari company we figured the tourist office in Arusha could give us a recommendation and an opinion about Wild and Me.

The tour “rating” booklet listed thousands of licensed safari companies. The good news was Wild and Me got an A.  The worker said they were not allowed to recommend a company but if I reached out to him personally he would connect us with a quality tour.  They ended up being more expensive so Wild and Me it was.

Then you have to choose a budget, mid-range or luxury safari. Our wallet wanted budget. I wanted luxury but not willing to pay for it. So we settled on mid-range.

Many tour companies have their own vehicles as well as lodges and/or campgrounds. Wild and Me has their own guides and modified 4×4 Land Cruisers and then they book hotels, lodges or camps depending on their client’s needs and price range.

We decided on four days and three nights. We go from morning to night. No lounging around like you do at those luxury lodges.

This gave us a couple days to hang in Arusha.

Our driver, Amon, picked us up from the hotel at 8 am. and we drove 3 hours to Another UNESCO site – Lake Manyara.  A shallow, alkaline lake. Known for having masses of flamingos – a photographer’s dream.  

It is so stimulating driving out of the city. The burbs had many rundown moldy concrete “Russian type” housing projects.  Many hosting government workers and teachers who are provided free housing, water and electricity.

The countryside is riddled with Maasai men and boys herding cattle and goats.  More about that later…

It was a hazy day at Lake Manyara.  The lake was overflowing its banks.  Wildlife were plentiful if you’ve never been on a safari before (tee hee).  The flamingos were non-existent.  Waaaa.  It was a lot easier to keep track of what we saw:

Springer antelopes
Baboons
Silver bill Horn bills (big beak)
Elephants are called Tembo
Impalas
Zebras
Ververt monkeys
Egyptian geese
Worthogs
Bush Buck – Antelope
Giraffe
Water Buck

So just a heads up.  I’m sure you don’t need me to explain but my pride makes me.  My camera lens is only 20-70mm.  That means unless the animals are real close they will look like dots on the horizon.  I believe that wildlife photographers (which I am not) use something close a 200-600mm lens.  

Super thankful to be out in the fresh air seeing animals in their natural habitat but it had us wondering…  Was Bill right? Was the walking safari the best? Should have left it at that?

We stayed in one night Karatu. Our hotel was fabulous.  The room was huge.  The grounds were well thought out.  A pool, fireplace area and veggi gardens. The lounge area and dining room were open air, rustic and comfy.  We could have stayed an extra day.

 

 

 

The little country that does ~ San Marino

Also known as Most Serene Republic of San Marino, it’s one of the richest countries in the world, the world’s oldest surviving sovereign state and its oldest republic (since AD 301), the 5th smallest (4.5 miles long by 5 miles wide) and completely surrounded by Italy.

Phew…

The capital, also named San Marino, a UNESCO World Heritage site, sits proudly at the top of Mt. Titano. It’s chock full of castles with breathtaking views that reach from the Adriatic Sea to the snow-covered Apennines.

It was deserted and oh so cold.  The wind was whipping through the narrow streets and rocked my tripod. Our refuge was a cave like restaurant for vino and the first steak we’ve had in a month.

*click on photos to enlarge

 

 

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Incredible India

It started in Chennai – in the south east.  Bill and I explored northern India 4 years ago and wanted to see the South.  Preston and Chloe (eldest son and daughter-in-law) decided to join us.

UNESCO World Heritage sites are always on the radar. On the Coromandel Coast in the Bay of Bengal, Tamil Nadu – the Monuments at Mahabalipuram were a great place to start.  The rock carvings were founded by the Pallava kings in the 7th and 8th centuries.  The terrain consists of larger than life sized boulders right next to the coastline.

Our original plan was to take the train to travel across the country – opting for overnight sleepers when possible. We got to the station at 10 pm for a midnight train. It was already delayed by two hours. We suspected that as the clock approached 2 am it would be further delayed – most trains were. Everyone was very tired. Sleeping on the floor is obviously okay, but when Bill saw the sign that read “please do not defecate on the station floor” we decided to return to the hotel, get some sleep and fly. 

Onward to Kochi in Kerala.  An overnight 2 bedroom houseboat trip through the backwaters in Alleppey. We kicked back on the huge lounge at the front of the boat , drank beers and cruised at a snails pace – watching life on the water.  Fishing, bathing, washing clothes/dishes, taxi boats and children bobbing in the water are part of life on the banks of the waterway. We stopped at a tiny fish market and picked out humongous  jumbo prawns for dinner.  Freshly cooked lunch, dinner and breakfast fit for an army was served to just the four of us.

We strolled along the coastline in Kochi and got a lesson on the workings of the famous  Chinese fishing nets.  It wasn’t fishing season but the Portuguese contraptions make for good stories. Yes, Chinese fishing nets.  Nets from China – the idea from the Portuguese. China won on the name game.

Goa – oh Goa.  You are so clean.  India is known for it’s garage. It’s everywhere!  For some inexplicable reason the beach in Goa is CLEAN! We stayed at Utorda Beach area and did I tell you it was clean?  We strolled the white sandy beach, splashed in the warm clean water and relished the peace.  

Goa is home to a series of UNESCO churches built by the Portuguese in the early 1500’s.  They are stunning and attract lots of visitors.  The Christian population in Goa is around 25%.  High for a country that is mostly Hindu.

We witnessed a Hindu ceremony at the Shanta Durga Temple.  Not sure what it all meant but it was special none the less.

A seaside dinner was off the charts.  Water front dining with nothing but candle light. The menu – a bucket of fresh fish delivered to your table.

Mumbai – large, crowded, dirty and has crazy traffic which all comes to a screeching halt at 2 in the afternoon when the 6 hour traffic jam starts.

We packed a lot into a couple of days. Highlights were the Haji Ali Dargah Mosque, on an inlet and quite the landmark, constructed in 1431. Mani Bhavan – Gandhi’s headquarters for approx.17 years, from 1917 to 1934. My personal fav- Ghobi Ghat, an open air laundromat without machinery, washing the clothes/bedding from Mumbai’s hotels and hospitals. It’s fascinating. Gateway to India, erected to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. Elephanta Caves, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a series of caves dedicated to Shiva dating back to 550 AD. Lunch at Leopolds (read the book Shantaram) (it still has dozens of bullet holes from the 2008 terrorist attack) and lastly shoulder to shoulder bazaar shopping at Linking Road.

Phew…  It was a remarkable trip and wonderful to be able to share it with the kids.

 

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Photo of the Day 309

Town Hall Square in charming Tallinn, Estonia – a UNESCO World Heritage site.

November 4, 2016

#tallinn #estonia #townhallsquare #unesco #visitestonia #winter #snow #landscape #explore #welltraveled #fromwhereistand #tlpicks #doyoutravel #cntraveler #guardiantravelsnaps #lonelyplanet #photofrommyday2016 #photooftheday #sonya7rii