An African Diary IX: Africat

DSC_0384

Day 20: Tuesday December 8th, 2015

Today we are leaving Ngepi. But oh how I love this place! The hippie vibes, the beautiful scenery, but most of all the work this lodge is doing to be sustainable and help out the local surrounding villages. Ngepi runs completely on solar power, all of their water is pumped from the river, they employ almost all of their staff from the once nomadic surrounding villages, they only serve wild game (no large domesticated animals), and they offer an incentive program to locals to plant trees and maintain them so as to ease the camps ecological footprint. The place is filled with adorable wooden signs reminding you to do your part. And the bathrooms! They were hands down the best I’ve come across in my travels. The walls were made of lanky sticks fashioned together into a six foot high fence, the showers were all fenced in with the same stick work (with no roof of course so you could look up to the heavens as you showered with the river water). Trees and vegetation covered the walls all over the shower section, creeping in from the surrounding vegetation. The shower platform itself was just a cute little dipped cement oval with a hippo carving at one end, and the shower head just floated above your head with the plumbing all hidden from view in a tangle of vegetation. It was like taking a rain shower in nature heaven! In the toilets you only had three stick fence walls – two on your side and one behind you – the front wall being left out so you sat and looked out into the thick tangle of forest while doing your business – as nature intended! Continue reading

An African Diary, Part IV: Stinky Seals And Stone Carvings

IMG_1181

Day 9: Friday, November 27, 2015

The plan was to sleep in, but Rug awoke at 730am and thanks to FOMO I couldn’t stay in bed. So instead of lounging in our gloriously comfortable beds, we had a yummy breakfast, teas, showers and took our laundry in to be done.  I had connected with Leah Von Hagen and she invited us out to lunch that day, so we met at Bojo’s cafe at noon. It was so nice to see the Von Hagen’s, and it was great to touch base as I was going to be staying with them for a week at the end of my Namibia adventure. Kern, Rug and I were all sold on the waitresses suggestion of the waffle with bacon, banana and cheese – and a solid choice it was! We sat talking about life, travel and Yellowknife for hours before Leah had to head back to work. Kern kindly offered to show us around the town and take us out to Walvis Bay as we missed it coming in and Leah suggested ordering Indian food for dinner and invited us over. Once again, the outstanding generosity of people always touches my heart so deeply. They don’t just offer you information on the town, which is what I had originally asked for – they take you for lunch, drive you all over the city and the neighbouring city whilst giving you a full detailed tour – and they invite you over for dinner – giving up their entire Friday evening for two long lost faces from Yellowknife. The generosity and hospitality that I’ve received on the road from beautiful people like the Von Hagen’s is what I will remember the most about this journey. It’s the people- it always is ❤ Continue reading

An African Diary, Part III: Sossuvlei

DSC_0784Day 7: Wednesday, November 25th 2015

I had the most terrible time falling asleep last night. I just couldn’t quiet my mind. I was excited about my sudden change of plans to stay another ten days in Namibia and I was crazy excited for our sunrise adventure in just a few hours. Finally, around 1am I drifted off only to awaken an hour later needing to pee. The moon was so full and bright, I didn’t even need my head lamp as I trudged half asleep across the dirt road to the bathroom. I fell back asleep quickly, but 445am came all too soon. Up we rose and within 20 minutes we had the tent all packed up, were dressed, made bathroom stops and boom – we were on the road! I was impressed with our efficiency – we were getting damn good at packing up camp in a hurry! We were third in line to get to the gate and only had to wait for five minutes before they opened it and let us through.  You could feel the excitement rippling through the line of vehicles waiting, it was like the line to get in to Disney World or something; I didn’t know people could collectively muster that much excitement at 5am! Rug and I blasted Macklemore’s Downtown to get us even more pumped up.

I would have loved to have gone a half hour earlier to get the full effect of sunrise, to be able to enjoy the vast array of colours as the sky shed her sapphire night gown and donned her flushed violet, copper and  periwinkle ensemble. But alas, they don’t open the gates quite early enough so as to limit driving in the dark to protect the wildlife. The drive only took a half hour this time as we were following the other cars who were most definitely not obeying the speed limit! And so by the time we reached dune 45, most of the pre dawn stunning sunrise colours had already played out. But we could still at least catch the sun itself as it crested the dunes if we scrambled up this dune fast enough.  Continue reading

Petra, Jordan

DSC_0661

Feeling completely bagged, I touched down in Amman, Jordan, my first Middle Eastern country, with tired eyes and an excited and open mind. We decided last minute at the Dubai airport to skip spending a night in Amman and instead head straight to our Bedouin camp near Petra and stay there two nights instead. With a tight schedule, we only had about five days in Jordan, so we had to really pick and choose  where to spend our time to maximize it.  The last minute decision cost us a staggering 70 Dinar (that’s about $140 CAD) to get transport to our Petra camp from the airport. It was a 2.5 hours drive in a private taxi, our only option from the airport – surprisingly we weren’t even being scammed, these were set prices by the reputable taxi company at the airport, all prices were posted.  Needless to say, it hurt my backpackers soul to pay that much. Continue reading

Kas, Turkey

IMG_0795

With only a quick overnight stop in Selçuk to see Ephesus, it was back on the road after the ruins tour for a five hour drive down the coast towards Kas. Brenda and Butch had visited this charming little town 13 years prior and had bought a condo by the end of their few day trip – that’s how outstanding this little getaway is! I knew we’d be getting a great experience here since they had lived seasonally here for the last 10 years or so, and knew all the best places to eat and things to see and do. We arrived late in Kas, darkness already blanketing the land around us, so we headed straight to our hotel, which had a beautiful pool over looking the Mediterranean ocean. We got settled in and met for a family dinner to talk about what we’d like to do for our three days on the coast. Our itinerary mostly involved eating far too much delicious Turkish food, renting a boat to hit the sea, and doing a little shopping!  Dinner was fabulous, as always, and far too much food, as always! Before bed, Rug and Leah showed me how to play Wizard and I lost to a level beyond pathetic, but had a great time learning about the game. Continue reading

The Cats Of Ephesus

DSC_0197

It was a brief flight from Istanbul down to Izmir. My illness was holding off thanks to the Pepto, but I was terribly weak and desperately tired. We all piled into the huge family van and our driver safely got us to Ephesus, where we checked into our lovely little bed and breakfast. It was a free afternoon, with suggestions of what to see and do – but I kept thinking all I wanted was a nap. Instead, I powered through the feeling and joined a few others to head down to the beautiful little market and explore the quaint city streets filled with shops and restaurants. But in the end we had an early night because in the morning we had our Ephesus ruins tour lined up. Continue reading

Istanbul, Turkey

DSC_0774

Feeling rejuvenated and ready for adventure, I hopped on a plane and touched down hours later in Istanbul, Turkey (after another lovely airport overnight in Athens). Before I left Yellowknife, my good friend Mike (more commonly known as Rug) and I had made plans to go on an epic six week adventure together. It started with him joining me in Africa. I had settled on the country Namibia and I still to this day cannot recall how it was I chose Namibia out of all of the countries in Africa, but I believe it was one of those ones that the universe seemed to be sending me subliminal messages about, over and over. Experience has taught me it’s best to listen to the universe, and so, without knowing anything about Namibia, I decided this would be my African destination. I was interested in Turkey as well and he told me his mom and step dad owned a really cool cave hotel there, and that maybe we could check out Turkey together as well!  Jordan had of course been on my wish list from the start and after some planning we figured we could spend a week in Turkey, a week in Jordan and then use the rest of our time down in Africa. Continue reading

The Colours of Venice & Burano

DSC_0439

Burano is the most colourful city in the world. I’m sure of it! This place will instantly bring a smile to your face and uplift your soul. Venice is undoubtedly unique, with its lack of ‘roads’ and cars – all travel is by foot or boat through the renowned water canals. These islands will steal your heart (and your camera battery!). Take a look at some of my favourite shots from one of my favourite places! Continue reading

Crete, Greece; A Writer’s Haven (Warning: FoodPorn!)

IMG_0495

Greece was never on my radar when I began this journey, but that’s the beauty of travelling without a set itinerary; you find yourself in places you never expected! After two glorious weeks in Italy, I knew I needed to find somewhere to hunker down for the next couple of weeks before meeting Rug in Turkey to begin our six week adventure together. I wanted somewhere close by, somewhere cheap, and somewhere preferably as warm as possible. That narrowed my options down significantly and so I began looking at flights to Greece. The cheapest I could find was to Crete Island, the southernmost island (known for it’s gastronomy!), which suited me just fine! The weather looked great, so I booked my flights and found a hostel with a near 100% rating, a rarity. I was looking for somewhere to settle down for two weeks so I could catch up on my blog as I was nearly two months behind. I had no plans to travel within Greece, or even Crete island; I simply wanted to hole up, throw my headphones in and glue my fingers to my keyboard for the next two weeks. Continue reading

Venezia, Italia

DSC_0371

After the three days in Tuscany and some wonderful evenings spent at an Italian Carnival, Travis and I were heading to our last stop in Italy. We drove into Florence to park the car at the train station – we were taking the train to Venice! Travis had never been on a train before and I had only been on my first ever train since I arrived in Europe. Cars were useless in Venice anyhow, so a first class train ticket was in order! Travis wanted to get first class return as well, but I suggested we only buy one way first class to get the experience and save the money (for the record, this was a great decision as there wasn’t much difference between first class and coach!). We drove through the madness that is Florence to find the train station, then decided to park at the airport as it would be cheaper and take the bus into the train station. We left a bunch of our stuff in the car and went with lighter bags as we planned to walk all through Venice. It was a high speed train and we neared 300km/hr cruising through the Italian countryside and before we knew it we were in Venice!  Continue reading