Day 12: Monday, November 30, 2015
7am saw us up and busy. I prepared a breakfast of eggs and beans while Rug pulled down the tent. We ate, washed up, packed up and were on the road by 830am. We had been looking forward to this day ever since we began our journey: today was the day we entered into Etosha National Park. While we had seen heaps of amazing wildlife already on our journey, this is what we had been waiting for, this is where the big stuff was, and in high concentrations – the lions, the elephants, the giraffe, the rhinos – none of which we had seen yet. We cruised quickly over the dirt roads, stopped too fuel up in Outjo, reloaded the cooler with ice, checked the propane and hit the black top for the next half hour until we reached Galton Gate, the westernmost gate to Etohsa. Continue reading
Day 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
Day 4: Sunday Nov 22, 2015
I awoke at 1:15am -as usual- to the urgent call of my bladder. Damnit. The night before it was lions I had to fear and tonight it was baboons. I ran as fast and alert as I could to relieve myself, hunkered down by a tree, holding my knife brandished in one hand, my head whipping around wildly, imagining a baboon to drop down on my head from above at any second. I scrambled back up the ladder and into the safety of my roof top tent, thankful I had eluded the baboons. But hours later, in the dead of sleep, they got me. I dreamt I woke up to the tent collapsing on top of us because a herd of baboons had jumped on it and were beating on it with their balled fists, howling as the tent began to collapse and suffocate us. I was completely paralyzed (I’ve suffered from sleep paralysis since I was a young child) and felt the impending reach of death gripping me. And then I woke up and saw sunlight on the ground and felt relief wash over me. I had evaded death by baboons this time… Continue reading
Day 1: Thursday November 19th, 2015
Well, it was a blasted long 30 hour journey with another sleepless night in another airport, but I at last have touched down in the Motherland. Africa. Windhoek, Namibia to be exact. Since I was a little girl I can recall feeling the desire to one day visit Africa. I have no idea where it started or what fuelled it, but it’s only grown stronger and stronger as I grew older and older. When I decided to travel around the world, I knew without a doubt that I would find myself in Africa. Ten months into my journey and I am finally here. I don’t know what it is about Africa that has always called to me. But, being a desperate lover of nature, the vast expanse of her epic wilderness no doubt beckoned me more than anything. And the unknown, the mysterious, this land so drastically different in every way from my own. I suppose I’ve always been pulled to that which I do not know, the enigmatic and exciting. To say this is a big one on my bucket list just doesn’t do it justice. It feels like a satiating of my very soul – not just food for my soul, but life for my soul. And now at last, I am finally on those strange and extraordinary soils of Africa. Continue reading
Petra was the main reason I wanted to visit Jordan, but I had met a Jose, a Puerto Rican, on my flight from South America to Europe and he highly recommended checking out Wadi Rum in the south of the country. Only having a few short days, we decided on two days with Petra, two days in Wadi Rum and our last day a stop at the Dead Sea while on our way to the airport. Jose, my friend, I cannot thank you enough for your recommendation because Wadi Rum was the absolute highlight of my short time in Jordan. There are few places in the world as breathtaking as The Valley of the Moon.
We left our Bedouin camp outside Little Petra in the early morning, a taxi arranged for us by the camp. The morning was a little frustrating as I found out later in the taxi that we had been brutally mislead about the cost of our back tour into Petra and what was supposed to be a shared taxi was now a private, much more expensive taxi. We were easily out over $100 each. The only unfortunate thing we discovered about Jordan is that sadly people will rip you off unabashedly left, right and centre. If traveling to Jordan, I can’t urge you enough to rent your own vehicle, especially if tight on time, as taxi rates are exorbitant and bus schedules intermittent and unreliable. And if you’re arranging any sort of tours or deals with local people, ensure you settle the price and pay up front so there is no confusion. It really put a sour note on my time in Jordan and made me feel quite bitter towards how the people were conniving and ripping us off so badly. But our journey into Wadi Rum all but made up for that and let me leave Jordan with warmth in my heart.
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
With some flight delays and missing baggage, our little jaunt across the country wasn’t entirely smooth, but we didn’t let that dampen our moods. Our first day ended up being a freebie because no one had their bags, and thus the warmer clothing needed for our tours, so we instead got the full tour of the Michelle Dream Cave Hotel. When Butch and Brenda first came to Turkey in 2002, they had no idea they would fall in love so quickly with this incredible country and end up buying a condo and spending their winters there. They also happened to make an amazing business contact and now life long friend, Ahmed. Before they knew it, they began making plans of purchasing land and building a cave hotel. If Cappadocia is known for anything, it’s the caves! The hillsides are peppered with caves. From hundreds to thousands of years ago, these caves were carved into the mountain sides as houses, refuges, stables and pigeon houses. Today they are used as storage for lemons (the temperature remains the same in the caves year round even with the changing seasons), but mostly – they are turned into cave hotels. Continue reading
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
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
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