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Trip Report: Rwanda,Uganda,Kenya,Tanzania,Dec 05-Mar 06

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Mar 25th, 2006, 01:57 PM
  #121
dlo
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After our drive in the Crater we drove to Nainokanoka to begin our Highlands trek.I have to preface everything by saying we were exhausted at this point.It had been over 2 weeks since i had even slept past 6:30 and we had been going for 2 months already.The drought in this area was the worst i had seen and you would be covered in dust for the whole day.

With that oou of the way the first day was nice and easy.We set up camp and headed up to Olmoti Crater which took an hour.Our safari guide Wilson would drive our support vehicle and we would be joined by our Masai guide Ole for the next 6 days.Ole was brilliant throughout and seemed to know everybody.He had a very friendly,outgoing personality and his booming laugh could be heard at all times.Our first night was almost as cold as our first on Kili and also served to getting us used to being the centre of attention.We felt like some Lions in the Serengeti as everyone had to come and see the Mzungus.I would not see another tourist until Lake Natron.

Day 2 started our well but would turn into a very long day.A 25km hike,we started off at 7.We passed through some Manyattas and it was nice to have people shake our hands and want to talk without a constant sales pitch.Lots of rolling hills and some grass with a fair amount of wildlife.We passed lots of Gazelle,some Jackals,and plenty of curious Zebra.Some mating Zebras marked the end of the easy part and the beginning of a long uphill section.The day ended at around 3:30 when we got to Empakai Crater.We would be beat up from here on out as i developed 3 blisters on the bottom of my right foot which would not allow me to put any weight on it by the last day of the trek.The wife twisted her knee pretty badly and it just got better a couple of weeks ago.Empakai is very pretty though with loads of flamingos and our campsite was right on the rim.For anyone interested apparently Serena is putting a tented camp here.

The next day was a much more manageable 15km with little uphill sections to it.The dust ankle deep here and it was amazing to me that people survived here.Today was a good day though as we met a lot of Masai on our walk through Nayobi village to our next campsite.We learned a lot here and were humbled by what we saw.We met some women who had to walk forever to get some water and i gained a lot of appreciation for how easily i can just turn on a tap.A cute moment for us when a little Masai boy came up and presented his head to me for me to rub.They do this to the warriors as a show of respect and Ole was quite offended when he presented his head to me and not him. So while we started out complaining about our blisters and knees we were quickly reminded of how good we have it.We got to Accaia camp at 2 and enjoyed some very nice views.I could imagine with a little rain how beautiful this area could be.

The campsite gave us a great view of Ol Donyo Lengai but there was no chance of climbing it as beat as we were.The other standout feature of the camp was the amount of cows and there attendant flies.It was almost impossible to sit outside but it was getting hotter as we got closer to Lake Natron.
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Mar 25th, 2006, 04:50 PM
  #122
 
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Sorry about the knee. But it was cute how you are using the term "the wife" already.

Hope the discomfort did not distract from your highlands trek or subsequent safari activities.

The head patting is an endearing custom.
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Mar 25th, 2006, 05:01 PM
  #123
 
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Thanks for the latest installment.

I was wondering whether you or your wife ever got homesick on this trip.
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Mar 26th, 2006, 06:23 AM
  #124
dlo
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The whole respect issue is quite something.Just another thing i love about Africa.We never got homesick but about this point in the trip and especially in Zanzibar we started thinking of home.I missed my dog and i missed some foods,esp chocolate and pizza.I could go back right now!
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Mar 26th, 2006, 06:49 AM
  #125
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Thanks dlo--that is very interesting that you were such a novelty.
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Mar 26th, 2006, 08:40 AM
  #126
dlo
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Woke up to beautiful sight of acacia trees,rolling hills,and Ol Donto Lengai.Christine(the wife!) promptly followed me out of the tent and tripped and twisted her other knee.I know i should'nt laugh but... It was only a 3 hour walk today but it was all downhill and it was very,very hot.It was hotter here than in Zanzibar and with no ocean breeze it was quite oppresive.As we limped to our next campsite we had to empty the dust from our shoes evry half hour.It was incredibly dry here and the death toll was mounting.It was just sand,dust and dead cows everywhere.After crossing a bone dry riverbed we were met by our vehicle and driven to our campsite.

The campsite was a huge revelation as they diverted a stream and we had the only grass for miles around.We also had our first shower in a few days and it never felt soooooo good.A few cows broke into the campsite and the staff tried to remove them but we felt so sorry for them we told them to let them stay.A cow collapsed by our tent and it took 3 people to get it up.It would then graze a little an dcollapse again.Chris also had to share her laundry bucket with a very thirsty cow and then was quite embarrased as a young boy was not impressed by her laundry and decided to show her how to get it clean! We would not pass the Masai entrance exam.

Sleeping was a near impossibility and we got maybe a couple of hours.The day got off to a good start as our sick cow was still alive and we drove of to see Lake Natron.We were dropped off and our guide would meet us on the other side of the lake.Our guide Ole told us it was not far.Do not believe a Masai when he says not far! The lake had receded far into the distance and we walked through the salt,sand,mud and water to check out the flamingos.It was brutally hot in the sun and my blisters were bleeding profusely so i was pretty thankful to get back to the vehicle and head back for lunch.

In the afternoon Chris went to see the waterfalls while i hung out with some people i met a t the campsite.One guy worked for the Frankfurt Zoological Society and he was a photographer.Getting paid to take picture in the Serengeti,i am sooooo jealous.We also met some computer consultants who assured us my pictures would still be on my ipod,thank god.

The next morning we were gone at 6:30 and headed back to Arusha.There is no road the first couple of hours so you bump along and open and close the windows constantly depending on the dust.We did se a lot of wildlife especially Zebra,Giraffe,and Gazelle.It was very nice to see it outside of the National Parks.After lunch we got onto tarmac and got to Tropical Trails offices midday.We said our goodbyes and went for 1 last night at Karama Lodge.

Well i now believe in miracles as just for the hell of it i try to charge my ipod and IT WORKS yaaaaay.We decide to burn the pics onto a CD at the lodge but the computers are a little old to say the least.After some playing around all of a sudden my music is gone.I can't spend 11 days in Zanzibar without music! The pictures are still there but then they suddenly come and go for no reason.We meet some Brits who direct us to the apple store in London so there goes the British Museum.

We woke up and got ready for our much needed flight to Zanzibar for some rest.We had been going hard for over 3 weeks and we just wanted to sleep in.

Next up Zanzibar.
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Mar 26th, 2006, 08:54 AM
  #127
 
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So that's why The Apple Store in London rocks!
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Mar 26th, 2006, 09:25 AM
  #128
 
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Dlo,
I almost don’t know what an ipod is, but I’m glad it “survived”. I hope the cow survived as well.

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Mar 26th, 2006, 10:12 AM
  #129
bat
 
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dlo:
I really tried to resist this but I just can't--and after you had climbed Kili you decided that you needed yet another long hike, WHY

11 days in Zanzibar--can't wait to hear about them.
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Mar 26th, 2006, 12:29 PM
  #130
 
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dlo,
First you call Christine 'THE' wife, then you laugh at her when she twists herself. You have lots of explaining to do ((&))
Really though, it still sounds like a trip of a lifetime with amazing memories for both of you.

Glad about the ipod and sad about those poor cows.
Still good reading;
Sherry
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Mar 26th, 2006, 05:11 PM
  #131
dlo
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Why another long hike? It seemed like a good idea at the time.The wife has insisted that there be no trekking on our next holiday but little does she know....
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Mar 26th, 2006, 05:16 PM
  #132
 
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dlo,
You are quite the taskmaster. Christine must secretly love trekking. What will the next trip involve?
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Mar 26th, 2006, 05:34 PM
  #133
dlo
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Seriously i have way to many ideas.We will do Namibia in 3 or 4 years.Rocco has me convinced that i must do Zambia though so if i can get a great deal i might do it in 2007 or 2008.If not i want to climb a couple of mountains in South America especially Aconcagua but first maybe Illimani in Bolivia.I would probably do this on my own but then there is also Egypt.I have way to many ideas but the key is a good deal as Namibia is our priority.
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Mar 28th, 2006, 10:38 AM
  #134
 
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What an adventure this has been so far. Sorry to hear of Christine's twisted knee.

Do you have any more information on the proposed tented camp at Empakai? Can you descend into this crater?

Looking forward to more.
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Mar 28th, 2006, 11:57 AM
  #135
dlo
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We didn't ask about the lodge too much but our guide was saying that Serena was going to do one in the future.It is a very beautiful area and would probably be on of the best areas for Flamingos.There are loads of them and they fly in from Lake Natron in the morning and head back after sunset as its to cold for them in the Crater.You can descend into the Crater but we were a little to beat up and skipped this option.
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Mar 28th, 2006, 01:22 PM
  #136
dlo
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The last 3 weeks marked the beginning of our changes forced upon us by our car issues.With our budget in tatters we had to cancel the 19 days we had scheduled in Namibia and the wedding which was going to be in Thornybush was moved to Kenya.We then would end in Mashutu.Sacrifices had to be made and apparently Namibia had heavy rains so it looks like it worked out for the best.

Having already been to Nungwi we decided to spend some extra time in Stonetown and then see the east coast.I also wanted to see a few different places and since we won't be back to Zanzibar we moved around a lot,from the Tembo Hotel,Pongwe,Shooting Star,and finishing at Mbweni Ruins after Emerson and Green was fully booked.

After our flight from Arusha we transfered to the Tembo Hotel.We really enjoyed the Hotel and thought the rooms were quite nice especially the shower.We had not read a paper or seen a tv in a month so we decided to see what was going on in the world.Upon seeing that a cartoon was causing riots it was decided that the world was still crazy and we were not missing anything so it was time to check out Stonetown.We had been to Stonetown before so we decided to skip the tour and explore on our own.Our 2 days here were really good and would contrast completely with our last day in Stonetown.We probably went onto every shop in Stontown and the hassle factor was no to bad.I love the dilapadated buildings and how beat up Stonetown is.It is oozing with history and culture and you can explore for days.The food was good at the Tembo and i loved the Pizza at Mecury's which is a total tourist trap but who cares i had pizza! The strangest sight for me was seeing an arcade of Playstations and x-boxes full of people staring zombie eyed like we do.

After 2 nights here we transferred to Pongwe.We had the very end bungalow overlooking the ocean with a perfect view.The beach was very beautiful here and it was nice to finally do NOTHING.We used the 3 nights here to finally slow down and relax.My most strenuous activity here was turning a page or getting the energy up to go for dinner.

The lodge is very nice,the staff is very friendly,and the food is good.My only complaints would be that i was almost always hungry as breakfast is small and the other meals are average sized,i might just be a fat Canadian though! More serious for me was that the generator cuts out from 2-6am.With no air conditioning i can survive but with no fan it was stifling.We woke up each night and even had to go sleep outside a couple of times.I was quite amused when the Masai askari was scared when he and Chris saw each other at 3 in the morning.

I can highly recommend Pongwe if you can handle the heat and wish to lay on the beach and relax.There are not a lot of activites around though and its a long ways from anywhere.
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Mar 28th, 2006, 03:57 PM
  #137
dlo
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Finally put Zanzibar and Crater Highland pics up.

Will try to finish Zanzibar tonight.
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Mar 28th, 2006, 04:49 PM
  #138
 
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dlo,

I recall the knee problem, but I don't remember your car issues. They must have been substantial to require you to forego 19 days. I must admit to some reading comprehension lapses on my part to not recall this. (But I did catch the Canadian comment which confirms my suspicions on why you believe all Canadian couples are lovely).

Sorry that your plans had to change, but what preceded that change was pretty phenomenal!

Nyamera,

This is my favorite 2-line reply in a long time!

I almost don’t know what an ipod is, but I’m glad it “survived”. I hope the cow survived as well.
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Mar 28th, 2006, 05:16 PM
  #139
 
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I was in dire need of Pizza while in Stone Town, but settled for more beef fillets. Oh well...next time!
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Mar 28th, 2006, 06:17 PM
  #140
dlo
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Lynn we didn't actually lose any days.We just substituted Zan and Foxes for S.A. Foxes and S.A would cost about the same but Zan was much cheaper.In Namibia we were going to stay at Little Kulula,Palmwag Rhino Camp,and Okonjima among other places.It had gotten to expensive.Our car was written off in a flash flood and the insurance did not nearly cover a new car.With the other unexpected financial hits we had to change it.The only disapointing thing is we wanted to go to Zambia next.Now unless i get a great deal it will have to wait as i'm dieing to see Namibia.

I can't live without pizza and chocolate so while it isn't as good as ours its still pizza!
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