Saturday, May 26, 2007

First week of the tour, Botswana & Zambia

stacey on our canoe in okavango
Chobe Elephants
Chobe Hippos

The first week of the tour was great. The people were a lot of fun and the sites were beautiful. Took a flight over the Okavango delta in a low flying cessna plane and we could see herds of buffalo, elephants, and hippos right from the plane. Next day we canoed through the delta and saw swimming elephants, hippos, and lots of birds. The delta scenery was surreal, it wasn't muddy like I expected, the water was crystal clear with water lillies and high grass everywhere. We canoed straight through the grass and did a nature walk on one of the islands where an elephant started following us around.

After that we went to Chobe in northern Botswana and took a sunset cruise on the Chobe river where we saw over 20 hippos eating in the water from 10ft away (a little scary since they are the most deadly animals to humans), huge herds of elephants drinking at the water...including some really cute babies and a couple elephant fights, and a herd of buffalo that got chased away by elephants.

Just along the highway driving from place to place we saw a rare black Sable, elephants, warthogs, kudu, eagles, and antelope.

Now we are in zambia at Victoria Falls and will be crossing over to Zimbabwe later to get a better view. Tomorrow we meet up with a new group for the rest of the tour (almost everyone on this tour just did 7 days, joburg to Vic Falls). This group has been a lot of fun, several of us up drinking around the campfire every night.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

South Africa - very long post

Between internet being really expensive slow/expensive and not having much time to go online, I haven't been able to update this as much as I'd like the past two weeks here. I'll try to sum up what I've been up to.

South Africa is a very organized place to backpack around if you want to drop a lot of money. The hostels aren't extremely expensive, but they all push their day tours which cost about $50 a day. One hostel I was stuck at for 3 days and i had to eat their very overpriced and mediocre quality food because I had no way of getting to any restaurants or supermarket. Most of these daytours I could easily do myself for a fraction of the cost if there was any decent public transportation. But I've spent over $100 on group tours because I had no other way of getting to the sites. If I come back here, i'll definitely connect up with a couple other people and rent a car, would be much more convenient and cost about the same. Don't want to sound too negative though, I've been having a great time here...

In Cape Town I met a couple people and we toured the Kirstenbosch gardens then hiked up Table Mountain through an area called Skeleton Gorge. It was an awesome hike, went from forest to a rocky gorge, to a great view of the city. Spent about 1.5hrs hiking up then 3 hour hiking across the top and took a cable car down the mountain. Next day I did a tour of Cape Point and spent the day going around the sites in the area...saw baboons, the cape point penguins, and took a picture at the southwesternmost point of africa. Hope to take a picture in the Northeasternmost point of africa in about 2 months.

Next day i flew out to Durban to meet my sister. I met her downtown and while carrying my bags and a wallet full of cash (i'd just been to the ATM in Cape town) three guys cornered me on the street, one of them had a knife and before I even realized i was being robbed they already had my wallet. Luckily they only took my cell phone and my cash ~$150 :-( It was 3pm i the afternoon on a saturday...i was a litle pissed, more so that I was carrying so much cash than anything, but it was an expensive lesson learned. If they would have taken my bags it would have been so much worse, I got off relatively easy for my first African mugging (I tend to expect it won't be the last). Since then I've been stuffing any spare cash in my sock...

Aside from that experience, Durban was great. I stayed with my sister's Zulu family and she cooked some great meals. The family and all the neighbors were extremely friendly. I spent most of the 2 nights hanginig out with their neighbor drinking beer and brandy.

From there i spent a night at a hostel (stacey went on with her program) hit the casino (won about $50 at blackjack) then took a bus to the Drakensburg Mountains. This is where i got stuck in the middle of nowhere for 3 days...the backpacker busses drop you right off at the hostels which is convenient, but it only ran through this area 3 times a week. I did a hike through the hostel and it was some of the most beautiful scenery i've ever seen. Too bad it was the one day I forgot my camera so i don't have any pictures. Some people on the tour promised to send me some, but most people don't follow through. After the hike I just hung around the hostel for a day and a half waiting for the bus, I didn't want to do their Losotho tour or go rock climbing with them (the only activity options).

Friday I took the bus to Jo'burg and met up with a college friend's brother who lives here. He picked me up at the hostel and we hit the casino , I wanted to play poker but they only had table games...I spent a couple hours losing about $25 at craps and blackjack then called it a night. Today i met up with my sister and tomorrow I head out on my overland trip from here to Nairobi.

I don't know how much internet access I'll have over the next month during this overland trip, so there will probably be few if any updates in the next 28 days. The trip ends June 16th, expect a huge update around then.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Perhentian Islands, arrived in Africa

So I didn't update this page in a long time because I was on a remote island for the last week. Perhentian Kecil is the name, off the northeast coast of was beautiful, a little paradise. Met some cool people, and just hung out scuba diving, reading books, and enjoying the amazing weather and crystal clear warm water. all the power on the island is made by each hostel's own diesel generators...there's no dock they just drop you off 10ft off the beach and you walk to shore. The whole island was about 1.5miles long and .25miles wide, with plenty of secluded coves and beaches. Met some good people and we all just hung out doing almost nothing but eating and lounging...It was a great way to end Asia.

I guess I left the island 2 days ago and have been travelling ever since, left on the 6th at 4pm for the ferry, waited 3hours for a night bus, took a 6 hour bus to Penang, waited 6hours at the airport then caught a 2hour flight to Bangkok, had a 7hour wait there, but i went into the city got some delicious thai food and tried to do some shopping for africa (didn't find anything), then had a 2hr flight to hong kong, then a 13 hour flight to johannesburg, 2 hour wait there, and a 2 hour flight to Cape town. Finally made it to a hostel at noon on the 8th after going back in time 5 hours...

click pics for bigger version

Long Beach Sunrise 7:30

Sunrise 7:15

Long Beach Sunrise 6:45

Turtle Beach

Cameron highland tea estate