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Have Stapler, Will Travel

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:-)(remember that show?)

It was a bright, sunny, and unusually warm day in May in the Yukon on our son’s birthday this year. “Hey”, I said to hubby Jim as we were enjoying BBQ chicken and coleslaw in an outside area of a restaurant in a small little town called Carcross, “this is the first time in three years we have not only been on the same continent as Jamie (our son) on his birthday, but actually in the same country!”

As he was living in Hamilton, Ontario, at the time, it wasn’t close, but the closest we had been in years. We called him to wish him a Happy Birthday, and while talking to him a plan suddenly popped into my head – we would give him a gift of a safari to East Africa with us for his birthday next year, and this way he could not refuse! (as we had taught him to always accept gifts graciously). Excitedly I told him that next year the three of us would celebrate his birthday together in Nairobi at the Carnivore, and there was no way he could say no! He graciously accepted the gift.

Over the summer, and the winter, I started forming plans to go, and even decided to take a chance and book the airfare (another whole story in itself!). I didn’t want to post though until I knew for sure – this has been an up and down, yes, no, maybe so trip as the North American “Economic Troubles” gave us a straight downward ride on the roller coaster in the fall and winter, and continues to do so. As the New Year dawned we decided we must take a stand & decide once & for all, so taking a chance, we have just booked it.

Hey, we’ll share our cat’s food when we retire. I want to go back to Africa & watch the lions roll over in their sleep, the cubs play, the elephants take a mud bath, yada, yada, yada… And most of all, I want Jamie to meet all our wonderful friends, and see the wonder of the animal kingdom in East Africa. I really want him to see first hand why we are bent on spending his future inheritance :-)

I’m also secretly hoping that Jamie will fall in love with Africa, and move there to work as a pilot so we can visit him each year…..

And, as if it was meant to be, I recently heard that our old friend Daniel, 24 x 7 safari director from both of our 2006 and 2007 safaris, had moved up to the next level and was starting his own company – DK Grand Safaris . I have been working with Daniel on the pricing, everything is booked, and we are under deposit – I’m packing that tiny stapler and OFF WE GO on May 19th!!!!!.

Here’s the itinerary:

Day 1 – arrive Nairobi via London on evening flight, met by DK Grand Safaris – overnight Norfolk Hotel
Day 2 – day in Nairobi with Kennedy of Waymark Safaris – KWS visit, Langata Giraffe Center and Kiambethu Tea Farm for lunch – overnight Norfolk Hotel
Day 3 – Family day in Nairobi with Kennedy & family (I’m off to church with Val & Kennedy) – Jamie’s birthday supper at the Carnivore with Kennedy & family and Daniel and family – overnight Norfolk Hotel
Day 4 – fly to Samburu – Larsen’s Camp
Day 5 – Samburu – Larsen’s Camp, includes bush breakfast
Day 6 – Drive to Mt Kenya Safari Club, visit to Iris Hunt’s animal orphanage in afternoon – Riverside Suites
Day 7 – visit Sweetwaters, Nanyuki Spinners & Weavers AM and relax in afternoon – overnight MKSC Riverside Suites
Day 8 – Drive to Nanyuki, fly to Maasai Mara, bush cocktails/sundowners – Mara Safari Club
Day 9 – Balloon ride AM – Mara Safari Club
Day 10 – fly to Wilson, KIA and then to Serengeti – Serena Lodge
Day 11 – Serengeti – Serena Lodge
Day 12 – drive to Ngorongoro, stop at Oldupai Gorge, - Sopa Lodge
Day 13 – Early morning crater with picnic breakfast, lunch at Ngorongoro Farm House, drive to Lake Manyara, enjoy afternoon in infinity pool (my request!), bush dinner on escarpment & night game drive – Lake Manyara Serena
Day 14 – fly from lake Manyara to Arusha to Zanzibar, met by Mussa of Zanzibar Exclusive Tours, drive to Matemwe Retreat
Day 15 – Matemwe Retreat – Do Nothing.
Day 16 – Mussa to pick us up, drive us to Stonetown, - Serena Inn where we shall relax on the balcony, do nothing except watch the ocean & eat lobster
Day 17 – AM Stonetown walking tour with Mussa – Serena Inn
Day 18 – in afternoon fly from Zanzibar to Nairobi, met by Daniel of DK Safaris, late evening flight home via London

Daniel will be with us every step of the way on the safari portion, from Samburu to Lake Manyara.

All is booked and set, the only possible change that we may think about is changing the Ngorongoro Sopa to Lemala Camp. Daniel is looking into the price, but if it is WAY out there in price compared to the Sopa, we are more than happy with the Sopa. I just thought at the last minute after reading a few reports, that it might be fun to try a small intimate camp, but price will dictate the answer. And I think I know the answer from the difference in what I see in the rack rates.

I tried to include lots of first-timer ‘must sees’ for Jamie, as well as some of our favorites (Larsen’s, MKSC, Lake Manyara). And, I tried not to make it too busy, but I am really – unabashedly - a tourist at heart and could not help it!!! I know we have a few busy days, but then we have some nice relaxing days in there too.

Matemwe Retreat was my dream/splurge in there – I could see myself relaxing there in every trip report I read on it – it sounds wonderful. I’m not usually a plunge pool/private butler kind of person but it just sounded SO relaxing I couldn’t help myself! It almost didn’t make it on the itinerary because of the price during our planning, but sometimes you just have to say what the heck.

The air is BA Vancouver to London to Nairobi return – all business class for the three of us – and as mentioned previously, WASN”T easy & even though I used points to upgrade to business – WASN’T cheap. I swear I almost ended up in the Looney Bin while booking it. Jamie’s flight is out of Toronto, as goodness knows where he will be living at the time. We will get him to Toronto for the flight on local airlines – I have a feeling he will be living here in Vancouver, which would be too funny!

I have purchased three different coloured Mountain Equipment Co-op ‘large’ (not extra large) duffle bags that weigh 2 lb each & should hold all we need, they do not have wheels as I am DETERMINED to pack within 33 lbs this year. I gave Jamie one of them for Christmas that had a packing list and a Banana Republic Gift Certificate in it (thinking they would sell safari clothes if they have Andy Biggs pictures on the wall!). Well, actually I purchased four bags in hopes that one of Jamie’s friends will come too, but it doesn’t look as though that will be. If not, I will fill it to the brim with lots of stuff to leave at Daniel’s school that he, along with two of our 2006 safari mates, is building in a village outside of Nairobi. Flying business class with BA we can bring three bags each.

And that’s my story!!! And, Economic Troubles and Taxes be darned, I’m sticking to it!

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