Africa! Wow.


Dec 25th, 2013, 01:55 PM
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Africa! Wow.

In August 2013 we embarked on a trip that took us to nine countries in 6 weeks. It was the kind of trip most Fodorites would advise against. ..lots of places in a little time. But we did it the way we like to travel and we had a fabulous time. What an experience and such fabulous memories.

We started with 6 days in Copenhagen. We explored almost every part of this very walkable town. Our hotel was very close to Nyhavn, a harbor famous for its very old colorful buildings. Nyhavn is fronted by many restaurants and bars and is always hopping. We took a canal boat tour from this harbor and got to see a different view of many sights we had seen.

The Stroget is the famous pedestrian shopping street. We spent several days walking on the Stroget, even if only to get to another location.

Tivoli Gardens is an amusement park with many shows and restaurants as well as many rides, from mild to terrorizing. We didn't go on any rides; not only because we weren't really interested but because it cost about $12 for one ride on top of the entrance fee. We did have a fabulous lunch in one of the many restaurants.

Copenhagen has 3 castles. We visited all of them. The treasures inside were amazing. Even more amazing is how close you can get to the many unprotected historical objects.

Of course you can't leave Copenhagen without seeing the Little Mermaid statue. Unfortunately, the mobs of people arriving by bus after bus and the position of the sun prevented us from getting a good photo, except from behind.

Copenhagen is very expensive. For example, we shared a hamburger and fries and had one beer and a coke and it cost $50 before tip! Yikes! We were glad we stayed at the Clarion Hotel Neptun which included a breakfast and dinner buffet. It really saved on meal costs

Our next stop was Malmo Sweden. We did an overnight trip to Malmo Sweden. The town is cute, but a day will do it. We had dinner at one of the restaurants under the umbrellas with heaters which were needed as it poured rain. We had to have the Swedish Meatballs. They were really good. Now we know what they should taste like.

The plaza is really cute and right outside our hotel which was also very convenient. The castle was very, very old but not as well maintained or adorned as the ones in Copenhagen. That's probably because Malmo is not the capital of Sweden and the king doesn't still live there We were glad we made the short 20 minute trip over the bridge to see this small town. Just 20 minutes away and a different language, a different currency and a different atmosphere

Continuing on our journey, we left Copenhagen on an overnight trip to Johannesburg. We then had a two hour layover before boarding our flight for Cape Town. Cape Town greeted us with heavy winds and rain. We checked into our 2br condo and headed out to the grocery store for provisions. Saturday started out as another rainy day so we decided to stay in and do laundry.

During the 10 days we were in Cape Town, we went to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point. We went to the southernmost point of Africa at Cape Agulhas and whale watching at Hermanus. We went to the oldest winery started in the 1600's. We went to V&A Wharf several times. We saw penguins, baboons and ostriches. We also spent a day in Stellenbosch, the home of a large University and in the heart of the wine area. We stayed at the Peninsula apartments with a fabulous view of the tumultuous winter ocean for the first week and then moved to Mendini Manor, a B&B.

From Cape Town we went to Arathusa Lodge in Sabi Sands. The lodge was beautiful. We had our own rondovel right on the watering hole. It was tough getting to sleep to the sounds of hippos right outside. The game drives were fabulous and we got to see all of the Big 5 including the elusive leopard.

A great start to the Africa leg of our trip.

We continued our journey with one night in Zambia. We flew from Kruger airport in South Africa to Livingstone Zambia. We were supposed to stay near the falls, but a NATO Tourism conference had us relocate to Toka Leya Lodge on the banks of the Mighty Zambezi. It turned out to be a stroke of luck because the lodge was beautiful. We were wowed by the arrival by boat and the 2 bedroom permanent "tent".

We arrived in time to go to Victoria Falls. The first sight of the falls was stunning. Like the Grand Canyon, the immensity and beauty does not translate to photos.

The next morning we went on a private safari by boat. This gave us an opportunity to view the animals from a different perspective. The first sighting of swimming elephants crossing the river was exciting.

Later in the day, we transferred to Botswana. A short stay, but a beautiful stay just long enough to do what we wanted to do. The only thing we missed was the ultralight trip over the falls. We planned to do this in Zimbabwe only to later find that it is only done in Zambia.

In Botswana we stayed 2 nights at the Muchenje Lodge. The lodge was fabulous. It is perched on the edge of the escarpment which provided for excellent views. On the first day we arrived in time to do our first game drive. The following day we did an all-day land/river safari. The morning was dedicated to the land. We saw an amazing array of animals. In the afternoon we boarded a small boat and we were able to get very close to animals lounging on the shore or swimming.

In Zimbabwe we stayed one night at the famous and historic Victoria Falls Hotel. This hotel has such a long history that the stay itself was part of the trip rather than just a place to stay. We celebrated our 17th anniversary there and the hotel gave us a bottle of champagne and a suite. We were there just long enough to see Victoria Falls from the other side which was the reason we went. We had dinner of potjiekos and Lion beer in a local restaurant.

In Tanzania we started with a flight to Kilimanjaro. We were picked up by Jeremiah, our guide for the next several days. Jeremiah drove us to the Moivaro Lodge outside Arusha where we stayed for one night. He picked us up in the morning and we were on our way to Ngorongoro Crater. Along the way we saw Lake Manyara at a distance and we stopped at Jeremiah's home village for a tour. It was a full day's drive to the crater.

When we got to the crater, we checked into the Serena Lodge Ngorongoro on the rim of the crater. There were spectacular views from the lodge and our room. The lodge had evening entertainment. One night we had acrobats and the next we had Masai dancing.

In the morning, Jeremiah took us into the crater. We spent a full day exploring the crater floor and then we visited a Masai village. I was really glad we got to see a huge flock of flamingos because we missed that at Lake Manyara. The flock wasn't in the millions as it is during part of the year, but it was still beautiful. I was also glad that we got to see the Masai people in their homes.

The following day we departed into the Serengeti with a fairly long drive to the Seronera airstrip and our farewell to Jeremiah. As a side-note, on the drive, Gary realized he had left his wedding ring at the hotel. Jeremiah called the hotel and arranged to have the ring delivered to us in 4 days’ time. Sure enough, when we were leaving our next camp, the pilot handed Gary an envelope with his ring. Totally amazing!

We ended our visit to Tanzania with a stay at Olakira Camp. Our highlight of the trip was seeing a wildebeest crossing. They all made it across because the crocodiles were still full from previous meals. From what we heard, we saw one of the best crossings of the month. There must have been a couple of thousand of wildebeest crossing, while others said they saw less than 100 cross at the same time. The crossing was the primary reason we went on this trip at this time of year. We were very fortunate to see it. The sound of them crossing added to the excitement. Too bad we couldn't include the noise here.

Our last country in Africa on this trip was Kenya. We spent 3 nights at the Offbeat Mara camp. We flew from our camp on Tanzania to Tarime, drove across the border and then had another short flight to our camp in the Northern Mara. We got there in time for a game drive. The following day we did an all-day game drive to the Mara River to see if we could catch another wildebeest crossing. Unfortunately we did not. But we did get to see two of the prides of lions featured on Big Cat Diaries. We also had plenty of time to fit in another game drive and a fabulous lunch on the last day.

We ended our 6 week trip in France, our ninth country. We spent 6 days in Paris. We rented an apartment on Rue Saint Andre des Artes. It was a perfect location; very close to the market, restaurants, shops and the metro.

We went to Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle, the Eiffel Tower, the Arch de Triumph, the Champs Elysees, the Palace at Versailles, and the Louvre. We took a boat tour on the Seine. We celebrated Susan's birthday with a great meal and champagne.

Overall we had a wonderful time.. great way to wind up the trip.

Our photos are posted on
sdtravels is offline  
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Dec 25th, 2013, 04:44 PM
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You sure covered a lot of ground! Sounds like a great trip.
Marija is offline  
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Dec 26th, 2013, 12:09 PM
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Admirable to visit so many countries.

Confused though
- there is NO Olakira Camp at Tarangire, but there is an Olakira camp at No. Serengeti/Kogatende?
- from Ngo you went into the Serengeti, but where and as you said good bye to you guide, do I assume you flew? into the Serengeti, but?
- where did you stay in the Serengeti? Central or Northern?
- and then into the Mara for stay at Offbeat Mara (3nts)
--- this is the area where Big Cat Diaries was filmed.
- and then a flight back to Tanzania via Migori/ Tarime?

So from here (Tarime) where did you go? flight back to Kilimanjaro/JRO for flights onto Europe? Seems you were zig=zagging? But then, if I had done 6/countries, would feel somewhat turned-around.
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Dec 26th, 2013, 04:12 PM
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sandi, it's been a while so I may have gotten things mixed. There is a map of our trip on our photo site under summary 2013. Basically, we drove to NGO then drove to Seronera Air strip. From there we flew to Kogatende and Olakira in North Serengeti. We then flew from Kogatende to Tarime and drove across to Migore. At the Offbeat Mara Camp we drove and saw the Big Cat Diary prides. From Offbeat Mara, we flew to Wilson airport and transferred by land to Nairobi International airport. We didn't return to Tanzania. Does that make more sense?
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Dec 27th, 2013, 08:39 AM
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Makes much more sense!
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Dec 27th, 2013, 09:20 AM
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I had just know that going top of MT Kilimanjaro in Africa take 10 to 14 days as I had searched through Internet, as one more thing I asked that Mt Meru is highest pear earlier...
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Dec 28th, 2013, 11:33 PM
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Sounds like an awesome trip and although you started by saying nine countries in six weeks, it still seems like you had enough time to enjoy it (10 days in Cape Town, 4 nights in Serengeti, three in Mara). Thank you for sharing your experiences.
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Dec 29th, 2013, 11:33 AM
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I like your kind of travel! Because of my kid's schedules, I do not get 6 weeks to travel but I do get about 3 weeks in the summer and we pack it in as much as possible. It's a big world and we are trying to see it all. Thanks for sharing! What an awesome experience!
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Dec 29th, 2013, 02:23 PM
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Thanks Tracey_Bell and Lolazahra. Many Fodorites are critical of this kind of travel. I dared not post the itinerary before we went If I had it to do over, I would have added another few days and gone to Namibia as well. We don't plan to be back in this part of Africa ever again. There is just too much of the world left to see!
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