New Zealand: South Island

Well, to start this one off I have to say that New Zealand was great! In fact if any of my friends or famly are planning to go let me know and I will invite myself to tag along. The entire country was beautiful, especially the South Island. The kiwis themselves were friendly, hospitable, adventurous (They've invented several activities for adrenalin junkies), and fun. The only downside was occasionally the weather but we were warned about that and should have expected it. It was just a fantastic place to visit.

We flew into Christchurch (South Island) on September 18th and rented a campervan, which is a popular way to explore the country. For those who don't know, a campervan is basically an RV. We had a Mercedes Sprinter that was entirely self-contained with shower, bathroom and kitchen.

Here is our Sprinter. The bench seats in the back turned into a bed.

Arpita wasn't really a fan for the first 2 nights, even less so when we ran out LP (and thus heat) during a 30 some-odd degree night, but she warmed up to it as we went and eventually found it fun.


Our plan for New Zealand was essentially the same as for Australia; we had no plans and decided to take it day by day. The nice thing about the campervan is that we didn't need to worry about any reservations. We could pull off on the side of the road if necessary, or in most towns, there was a holiday park that had RV sites, dump stations, and facitities. We spent a total of 16 days on the south Island before crossing the cook strait to the North Island.

Here are some of the places we visited. We basically made figure 8 around the island, starting in Christ Church and ending up in Picton. We covered a lot of ground, 3,633 km on the South Island alone!

Here are some of our favorite pictures/places:

This is Lake Tekapo in Central New Zealand. It is a glacial lake near Mount Cook National Park.

Lake Tekapo in the morning


Lake Pukaki, one of the other glacial lakes. Mount Cook would be in the center of the photo but it is hidden in the clouds where it remained for our entire trip.

We drove into Mount Cook National park anyway and did a couple of short hikes to the Tasman Glacier and Tasman Lake. The rock flour is very evident here in the milky white color of the water at Tasman Lake.

The Tasman glacier is the largest glacier in New Zealand. It is visible on the far side of the lake.

We left the mountains for a bit and drove around the southern portion of the island through Dunedin and Invercargill. The weather was kind of rainy and foggy which made the so-called “southern scenic route” not so scenic. The highlight along this portion was the Yellow-eyed penguin, or Hoiho. This is one of the rarest penguins in the world with only around 4000 left in the world. We were able to see a few coming out of the water near nugget point between Dunedin and Invercargill!

One of our favorite spots in New Zealand was in Fjordland National Park on the South West Portion of the Island. This is one of the more remote parts of the Island. We had heard good things about both Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound so we decided to do both. We first took an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound followed by a 2 hour cruise on Milford Sound. Neither Doubtful or Milford are true sounds. Both are technically fjords as they were carved by glaciers. This region also gets A LOT of rain, somewhere around 7 meters/year! It was one of the few places where we got lucky with the weather.

Doubtful sound is the more remote of the 2 being accessible only by a boat across a lake followed by a bus ride over a mountain pass to the fjord. It was named by Captain Cook who thought that if he sailed in, it was doubtful that he'd be able to sail out.

Doubtful Sound from Wilmot's Pass


Our Ship


We did a little kayaking off of the boat. It was a very nice kayak trip with the exception of the large number of sandflys!

New Zealand Fur Seals

Another rare penguin, the fiordland crested. It is also one of the rarest penguins with 5000-6000 penguins left in the wild. You can see the yellow crest above the eyes.

Early morning in doubtful sound is beautiful. We were the only boat on the water and there were only 15 of us on the boat (usually 60-70 take the trip).

We even had some dolphins escort us back to the docks.

Milford sound is also very beautiful. It is also located in a remote location at the end of Milford road which is a destination in and of itself. Milford is shorter and, although remote, it is not as remote as doubtful sound. As a result it is a little busier and more amenable to a short 2 hour cruise.

Mitre peak is on the left and is supposedly the most photographed mountain in the country.

Mitre peak from the shore.

The drive to and from Milford sound

Another of our favorite spots was Queenstown. Queenstown is a great little city on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. It is the adventure capital of New Zealand if not the world. There are a ton of activities for adrenalin junkies including bungy jumping, skydiving, jet boating, and many others. We will get to those in another blog. Queenstown also has a lot of natural beauty with Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkable Mountain range, and one most beautiful drives in the world on the way to Glenorchy.

This is Lake Wakatipu on the way to Glenorchy.

Downtown Queenstown with the Remarkables in the background.

Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu from the top of the skyline gondola.

We did a little zip lining from the top of the gondola. Arpita got a little fancy. Show-off!

We ended up spending a couple of days in Queenstown and met some interesting and fun people. It is definitely a place we would go back.

Have to give a shout out to Kurt and Adrian. Thanks for a great night and lively discussion! Your knowledge of American history and politics is impressive (for a couple of kiwis ;)).

Rain coming in on Lake Hawea. This was right before we crossed over to the west coast via Haast Pass and it was the beginning of several days of wet cold weather. The evening after we crossed the pass the heavy rain washed it out and forced its closure.

Sheep grazing on the shore of Lake Hawea

Thunder Creek Falls near Haast Pass. One of the few things we could actually see as we drove over Haast pass.

One of the draws of the west coast is the glaciers. The Fox and Franz-Joseph glaciers extend to less than 1000 feet above sea level and exist amongst a temperate rain forest. Unfortunately some of the same weather patterns that feed the glaciers also kept us from exploring them, precipitation. This area gets approximately 5 meters of rain a year. The Franz Joseph glacier is only accessible by helicopter and, with the exception of a 30-45 minute window, there were none running on either of the days we were in the area. This is also one of the other areas with views of Mount Cook.

We did see a nice rainbow near the base of the Fox Glacier.

This was near the base of Franz Joseph.

A rainy view of the Franz Joseph glacier.

The view minus the rain.

One of the things I forgot to mention is that New Zealand has a lot of one lane bridges. Even on major roads you come across these things. Some are more treacherous than others. This was one of my favorites. This bridge is shared not only by 2 lanes of traffic but also by a train! And there are no signals to indicate if a train is coming!

For our anniversary (September 29) we drove to Kaikoura via Arthur's pass. Once again a bit of cloudy weather but it was still a pretty drive.

Lots of playful lambs

We did actually go out to eat at a nice restaurant in Kaikoura called the Green Dolphin. We had eaten mostly in the campervan prior to this.

We went on another whale watch in Kaikoura. We saw several Royal Albatrosses…

A sperm whale (the largest toothed mammal)….

Another colony of fur seals, and some Hector's dolphins (smallest species of dolphins)

Unfortunately the weather was not good again and what should have looked like this (this was taken from the internet)…

Looked like this

We started October near Nelson which has numerous wineries and is also the craft beer capital of New Zealand. This is the view over the vineyard of Woolaston winery.

Farewell spit, the northern most point of the South Island.

A popular activity on the north part of the South Island is kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park. This is what we did for Arpitas birthday! We saw some amazing wildlife and met a really fun newlywed couple from the states, Conner and Sarah. It was a blast.

Here is a New Zealand Fur Seal. A few swam around our kayaks.

We also saw our fourth species of penguin (3rd in NZ), the Little Blue Penguin. This little guy swam right through our kayaks. Pretty cool.

We finished the trip off with some great beer and new friends at a local brew pub in Motueka.

As you can probably tell we loved the South Island! It is a wonderful and beautiful place. Stay tuned for the North Island!

 

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Australia III: Kangaroo Island and the Great Ocean Road

Next on our itinerary was Kangaroo Island. We flew to Adelaide and drove to the ferry to make the crossing over to the island. It was the first ferry I had been on where some vehicles had to back on and it was impressive how tight they packed it.

It was a very rainy night but we stayed close to the ferry. The next morning brought better weather and we spent the day (it just happened to be my birthday) exploring the island. We started off in seal bay where there is a large breeding colony of Australian sea lions. We took a guided tour and were able to get down on the beach which brought us very close to the action!

Sea lions got their name from the golden mane adult males develop. When sailors saw them in the ocean they thought they were lions of the sea and thus they were called sea lions. This is a large adult male walking along the beach.

This is a one day old pup next to his/her mother. There is a large male behind them. The male is waiting for the female to be able to mate again which usually takes around a week or so. In the meantime he will chase off any other potential suitors.

Very cute!

We then made our way down to the far western part of the island to Flinders Chase National Park. There are 2 pretty cool rock formations here called admirals arch and remarkable rocks.

At the visitors center we spotted our first koala and a koala Joey (all marsupial babies are called joeys) high in a tree. The Joey was very playful and climbing all over the tree.

This is admirals arch.

Remarkable rocks. These are large granite boulders sitting on a dome of lava. They are covered with an orange lichen that obviously gives them an orange tinge. The remarkable shapes are a result of millions of years erosion. We had a little fun with pictures around here 🙂

Yes, they are real Arpita!

Next we drove a short ways to Koala Alley. There are around 25 koalas in the area. We saw about 15. Most of the ones we saw were sleeping or just lounging around as they apparently do most of the day.

We also saw an echidna strolling through the nearby field. These are also known as spiny anteaters. They and the platypus are the only 2 mammals to lay eggs.

A kangaroo and Joey grazing.

And what's better than a kangaroo steak on kangaroo island for a birthday dinner?!

The next day we left kangaroo island and made our way to Portland and the start of the great ocean road. The great ocean road is one of Australia's most famous drives, stretching from Portland in the west to Geelong in the east. It passes rugged coastline with sheer cliffs, travels through temperate rainforest, and then passes through some of the most famous surfing beaches in the world. It is approximately 243 kilometers long and was built after the 1st world war.

As mentioned we started in Portland. From what we had read this was the start of the route however the first few hours of driving were spent in rolling hills and farm land. One of the first places we stopped for a look was at Logan's beach in Warrnambool. This area is known for surfing and southern right whales. We did see a southern right whale and calve sitting less than 100 meters from shore but they were not doing anything exciting. A couple of hundreds meters up from them, however, were a couple of dolphins playing in the surf.

There is one to the right of this surfer. I think he made this guy fall off his board.

As we continued east we came to some steep limestone coastline. There were several named bays, grottos, and various other formations.

The grotto

This is known as London bridge. The bridge fell down in the 90's stranding 2 tourists on the island. They were later rescued by helicopter.

Perhaps the most famous part of the Great Ocean Road is the 12 apostles. This an area in Port Campbell national park with several large limestone towers that have become detached from the coast. There are no longer 12 towers (and maybe there never were exactly 12) but it is a catchy name and probably attracts more tourists. Regardless it is an awesome sight. You can see where one has collapsed.

As there was a helicopter company in the car park we decided to view it from the air as well! It was well worth it!!

The next morning was day 50. We made our way to Cape Otoway to see the lighthouse and hopefully some more Koalas.

The lighthouse was OK…

But the drive to and from the lighthouse was much better!

Another Joey. Very cute.

This one crossed the street in front of us then climbed up on this short tree trunk and posed for us. They are rather awkward when they walk.

One more for good measure.

The rest of the day was essentially a wash. It was raining hard. We did stop at bells beach and torquay both of which are famous surf spots with Torquay being the “capital” of surfing Australia. Bells Beach is the place where the finale of the movie Point Break was set although it was not actually shot there.

As I said it was really raining. And there were virtually no waves!!

We did have a slight break in the weather but it did not last long. We saw another lighthouse but will spare you another picture…

We spent the next couple of nights in Melbourne. We stayed near Victorias market and wandered around there before heading to the river for some food and drinks. Melbourne is a fun city. There are many small alleyways lined with shops and restaurants. They supposedly have a coffee culture although we didn't really drink any coffee there.

Queen Victoria market.

We watched the sunset over this bridge on the river.

I had never seen a sushi place like this. It was a conveyor belt that came around and you just picked what you wanted to eat and at the end they counted the number of plates you ate. Different colors were different prices. It was really good. It was also really hard to find as it located down one of those alleys I mentioned earlier.

After a fun day and night out we woke up the next morning and went to the airport to catch a flight to New Zealand. We had a lot of fun in Australia. We saw some wonderful sights and did some amazing trips. The Aussies were all really pleasant and gracious. We did notice that they like to add a -y or -ie to the end of shortened words. For example; Beakfast = breakky (or breakkie, we saw it both ways). Other examples are stubbies (bottles of beer) mozzies (Mosquitos), sunnies (sunglasses), esky (a cooler), Barbie (barbecue), and probably many others! We also did a lot of driving, approximately 5262 km (3,269 miles), but we had a blast and would gladly return!!

Here is one more picture!! Stay tuned for New Zealand!

 

Australia II: Sunshine Coast to Sydney

Fraser Island marks the southern most point of the Great Barrier Reef. South of the reef the shores are no longer sheltered and in many spots there can be huge waves. This marks the beginning of Australia's surf culture. We started on the Sunshine Coast in southern Queensland making stops at Noosa and Mooloolaba.

Noosa was a cool town on the northern end of the Sunshine Coast. It had a very nice town center and also the biggest waves we saw during our trip. It was quite fun watching some of these guys.

We also saw a humpback whale just off shore.

Mooloolaba was also a nice beach town. We explored the town and beaches a bit and then made our way to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary just south of Brisbane. At this point in our trip our wildlife spotting had consisted almost entirely of dead kangaroos and wallabies on the side of the road. We had not seen a single living roo or wallaby. I mentioned that to a Guide on Fraser Island and he joked we saw the cousins of the kangaroo and wallaby, the wazzaroo and the usedtobe. Anyway we decided to see some living wildlife.

This was the halfway point of our trip.

One of the main reasons we went was to hold a koala. Arpita wasn't sure about the claws so I did the holding. I think she got the better deal because the only part of the koala I touched was its bum.

We also got to feed some kangaroos, wallabies, and emus.

Some had joeys in their pouches.

We also saw some Tasmanian devils being feed. It was not at all like the cartoon.

After leaving the sanctuary we made our way to surfers paradise and the Gold Coast of northern New South Wales. Many Australians turn their noses up at the Gold Coast because it is overly developed and is very touristy. It is very built up but was fun for a night.

I decided to take a surf lesson just down the road from surfers paradise. I fared much better here than in Bali.

Our next stop was at Byron Bay. This was a great surf town with a great beach and lighthouse. It is also the eastern most point of mainland Australia.

As it is the furthest point east, migrating humpback whales tend to come closer to land here. We again saw several.

We also had a gorgeous sunset.

From bryon bay we drove to Sydney stopping overnight in coffs harbor.

Another lighthouse

We spent 3 nights and 2 days in Sydney. We stayed in a holiday inn with great views both from our room…

And from our rooftop pool…

On our first day the forecasted temperature was in the 80s so we decided to go to manly beach via the ferry. The ferry drives right through sydney harbor with excellent views of both the harbor bridge and the opera house.

Sunrise from our hotel room.

Opera house from the ferry.

Opera house and bridge from the ferry.

We both took surf lessons on manly beach then explored the corso and had a beer at a brew pub overlooking the harbor.

Manly beach

We took the ferry back to Sydney at sunset which made for some great views.

The next day was considerably cooler. We wandered around the opera house and the botanical gardens as well as taking a stroll through downtown sydney and darling harbor.

Bees and flowers at the botanical gardens

Mrs. Macquarie's chair in the botanical gardens.

That night we decided to do the harbor bridge climb. This is basically where you put on a jump suit, hook yourself to to a wire and climb to the top of the sydney harbor bridge. We chose to climb at dusk which was a great decision. Unfortunately we don't have any pictures because you are not allowed to bring anything with you. We do have some photos but they are on a CD. I do have before and after of Arpita though…

She looks pretty happy for someone who doesn't like heights and wasn't originally going to participate. Looking back on it it seems hard to believe she was nervous but we will have more on that in a later blog!

The next morning we caught a flight to Adelaide and will post on that part of the trip soon!

 

Australia I: Cairns to Fraser Island

Once again we are way behind but hopefully we will catch up soon. We are currently in New Zealand and having a blast. This is the 1st blog on our Australian travels….

We arrived in Australia on 8/26 after leaving Bali. We flew to Cairns which is in Northern Queensland on Australia's East coast. Cairns (pronounced cans) is known for its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and this seemed a good spot to start the trip. We arrived with no plans other than a flight to New Zealand 9/18 out of melbourne so we decided to rent a car and figure it out as we went.

After staying overnight in Cairns we spent the next day exploring the Daintree National Park, driving as far north as Cape Tribulation. This is the furthest point you can drive in far North Queensland without a 4WD vehicle (we had rented a Camry hatch back) and it is the only place in the world where 2 world heritage sites meet, the Daintree rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef is to the right but not at all visible.

Marine stingers are a real problem I guess. Good thing they weren't in season.

Crocs can also be a problem…

Cassowarys are an endangered bird found only in Australia. The are big birds and can weigh up to 60 Kgs. There are many signs on the roads in the Daintree warning of potential cassowary crossings.

Literally 2 Kilometers after stopping to take a picture of this sign we spotted a cassowary and 2 chicks. Unfortunately by the time I got my camera ready this was all I managed to get. You can see a chick on the far left.

The next day we decided that since we were so close to the Great Barrier Reef we might as well go explore it. We took a day trip to the outer reef for a little snorkeling and Scuba Diving. The boat we were on was the calypso.

For insurance purposes I must say that I was not planning this dive when I had my phone interview. It was totally a last minute decision!

A school of barracuda

Christmastree worms

The coral was very colorful

We did see a white-tip reef shark but unfortunately I just have a video of that. It was only later that I was informed that these sharks are the “pansies” of the ocean because the have no teeth. Interestingly they are one of the few sharks that are able to stop swimming because they have developed a way to pull water through their gills while staying still.

Before leaving the far north we stopped at mossman gorge which is in the Daintree park. We went for a short hike through the forest and nearly stepped on a 10 foot python laying across the trail. Arpita was leading the way and nearly knocked me over when she saw what she had almost stepped on!

We also stopped at the Millaa Millaa waterfalls. This is supposedly the most photographed waterfall on the continent.

There were several waterfalls in the area including zillie and ellinjaa. This is a pic of Ellinjaa

From there we made our way down to Airlie beach, the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. Now there is no such thing as the Whitsunday Islands (although that is what the national park is called). There is a Whitsunday Island, and a Whitsunday passage but collectively the group of Islands is known as the Cumberland Islands. Anyway, we booked a 2-night tour on a Catamaran named the Whitsunday Adventurer. We set sail around noon of our 34th day with 5 other couples and 2 crew members. The 1st afternoon was pretty much spent sailing before we anchored and spent the night in a place called tongue bay.

The next morning we took a raft to the shores of Whitsunday island and another one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Whitehaven Beach

What makes this beach unique is that the sand is 98.67% silica. No other beach in the world has more than 70% silica. The high percentage makes the sand very fine and very soft. It also does not get hot, squeaks when you walk on it, can polish jewelry, and easily damages electronic equipment.

The pictures don't really do it justice.

After the beach we made our way to a a couple of snorkeling sites near another island before anchoring for the night. We did have a hot-tub on board and after snorkeling Arpita and a couple of the other girls decided to use it to warm up.

What's better than a hot tub, and cold beverage? Bubbles!

The next morning we awoke to 2 humpback whales swimming nearby.

One even breached but I wasn't quite quick enough

After a morning snorkel we sailed back to airlie beach. We had a great time and it was definitely one of the many highlights of our trip so far.

Here is the whole group

For our next stop we decided on Fraser Island. This is the largest island in the world made entirely of sand. It is akso known for having a large population of dingos. There are many ways to explore the island but we choose an organized tour. Here are some highlights from the 2 day tour.

These were what nearly all the roads looked liked. The only access to the island is a ferry and vehicles must be 4WD.

It may just look like sand but there is a stream there that is around 2 feet deep.

Lake Wabby. This is a barrage lake formed when sand is blown across a creek or river creating a blockage of water and thus a lake. The sand will eventually cover the whole lake.

Nothing to do with Fraser Island but I thought it was interesting that I saw this flavor for the 1st time there!

We took a plane ride on our second day. You can see how the sand has blown over and into the forest. Again, ALL of the island is sand!

This is a Dingo. He had just stolen a fish from some fisherman. This was one of 2 we saw on the island.

The beach was the main “highway.”

Champagne pools. Water from the ocean breaks over the rocks and forms these pools. They were not very warm this day but we got in them anyway!

The wreck of the Maheno. This was a luxury cruise liner that was sold to a Japanese company for scrap. The engines had been removed so the ship was being towed to Japan in 1935 when it got caught in a cyclone, broke the tow line, and ended up on the beach. Multiple attempts to remove the ship failed and now it is a permanent resident on Fraser Island.

Stay tuned for our next update!!

 

Bali: Spirituality, Pampering, and Surfing!

Bali is my kind of place. It has so much going on besides beautiful beaches. We arrived in the evening, and took a taxi to Ubud ( a once quiet town made well known from “eat, pray, love”). During the hour drive to Ubud my eyes were glued to what was going on outside. Just 10 minutes after leaving the airport we passed a statue in the middle of a roundabout depicting an epic Hindu tale, which apparently is totally normal. The rest of the ride was filled with motorcycles zipping by, impressive temples, and local art and carvings.

The place we stayed was amidst rice paddys and evoked serenity.

After a restful night, we decided to have breakfast and check out the town.

 

The next day we went to Seminyak and Kuta, known for surfing, shopping, and partying. We hired a car and driver for the whole day for just $45, and he took us wherever we wanted on the island. That was the other fun thing about Bali, super affordable!

Beer (at least Bintang) is cheaper than water!

McDonald's delivers?

After eating and drinking well, getting $10 pedicures and massages (for Arpita), and beach time we decided we needed a little more exercise :). Day 27 we did a bike tour up to one of the volcanoes and Lake Batur, and through the villages of “real Bali.” It wasn't as much exercise as you might think a 25 km bike ride would be as the whole entire route was downhill!

One of the stops on the downhill bike ride was a coffee plantation. Kristin and Pat may know what Luwak coffee is, but for those of you who don't let me explain… They have an animal known as a Kopi Luwak, who eats the ripe coffee beans and the coffee bean passes through the digestive system whole. The coffee comes out shelled and by the chemical reaction tasting better (supposedly).

A Luwak

Brewing Luwak coffee

Drinking Luwak coffee; I took a sip of Alex's

Tasting sample of a variety of Balinese coffee and teas

Our route took us through rural villages and rice paddys.

Women making daily prayer offering

After the bike tour we spent the rest of the afternoon/evening in Ubud

 

Even Alex had to wear a sarong

Later that evening we went to Ubud Palace to watch a traditional dance. Awesome!

Our last day in Bali. This is the Infiniti pool overlooking the rice paddies at our hotel.

 

Monkey forest. It is a sacred spot and there are mischievous monkeys everywhere. They are known for stealing hats and sunglasses and running off into the forest.

This is what happens when you have a banana….

One of the famous sea temples, Tanah Lot

Being blessed with holy water.

After watching the sunset we stopped in kuta for an interesting dinner in a pool.

We then made our way to the airport for a 1220 am flight to Australia. Our time in Bali was way too short, but feel lucky to have had a taste of it.

 

Seychelles

We are a little behind in our updates but will try to catch up as we can. We are currently in Sydney, Australia and will have updates on that once we have caught up with the rest. We will pick up where we left off back in mid-August……

After leaving Tanzania we made our way to the Seychelles islands via Nairobi. I think I mentioned in one of our last blogs that the Nairobi airport burned down around 36 hours after we flew through there on our way to Tanzania. We were worried about potential delays or even cancellations but everything worked out fine. They replaced the normal terminals with tents. They had metal detectors, food stands and even duty free shops on the tarmac.

This is a before shot of the terminal. It may have needed an upgrade.

Here is the after….

Anyway, the Seychelles are a group of 150 islands in the Indian Ocean north east of Madagascar. There are 3 main islands that have approximately 90% of the population. The most populous, Mahe, is located 4 degrees south of the equator.

Mahe is represented by the red pin in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

The islands are known for azure waters, beautiful white sand beaches, and the world's largest seed, the coco de mer. They are also strict on yellow fever vaccinations which our travel physician (based on WHO guidelines) did not think we needed. Unfortunately the health department of the Seychelles disagreed and I was forced to waste a few hours to find the Victoria hospital for a nurse to ask if I had symptoms of yellow fever. It ended up being a complete waste of time! I don't know if the moral of that story is to get the vaccination or to just skip the “mandatory” symptom check if you don't get it.

This is the hospital

On our 2nd day we took a trip to two of the neighboring islands, praslin (pronounced like it doesn't have an s), and la digue.

On la digue we were greeted with a nice coconut drink.

We then went to one of the “most beautiful beaches in the world,” Anse Source D'argent. This is apparently a popular beach for filming commercials such as those for Bacardi rum.

The beach was very nice with small stretches of sand surrounded by granite boulders

We then made our way to praslin. This is home of the Valee de Mai and the coco de mer. This is the only island were the coco de mer is native. The seeds are huge!

We then went to one of the other “most beautiful beaches in the world,” Anse Lazio. Also pretty nice…

The next day we drove a bit around the island and ended up at the largest beach on the island, Beau Vallon. It was a bit busier but fun. We did some swimming and had a nice wood fired pizza on the beach.

We finally decided to get some exercise on the 22nd day of the trip. We hiked Morne Blanc to get a nice view of the Indian Ocean and the west side of the island.
 
 

A little rickety but it worked..

Nice views.

Just to add a little more exercise we hiked 1 hour to a slightly less accessible beach, Anse Major.

We had made arrangements to do a snorkeling trip on our last day but the guy that was supposed to take us didn't show up. We finally tracked him down in the bar (at 10 am) and he offered to take us out in what was basically a row boat. We declined and tried to scramble onto another boat. We were unable to find anything so…. More beaches!

Port Launay. It rained while we were there for around an hour or so. It was almost the only rain we saw for the 1st 40 days of the trip.

We hit a couple of others but they start to look the same so we will spare you the pictures….

One thing we did notice was that things in the Seychelles were expensive. Food was a mixture of Indian and creole. There were lots of curries including octopus and prawn and they were usually good. The local beer was called Sey Brew which was OK if you like to pay 12 bucks for a 6 pack of bud-lite. Overall it was fun and relaxing!

Later that night we left and made our way to Bali via Abu Dhabi and Kuala Lumpur. We will have more on that soon.

 

The Serengeti

After Tarangire we stopped for the day in Ngorongoro Crater. This is a much different experience as all the game are concentrated in a much smaller area (100 square miles). The crater floor is 5900 feet above sea level. Unfortunately for us we had a little car trouble and our tour was cut a little shorter as we had a long commute to the central Serengeti.

Kori bustard in Ngorongoro crater. This is the heaviest flying bird.

Hyena den with pups.

Male and female lion in close proximity. Again, I'd show what happened next but we want this to be g-rated. Male lions in the crater have much fuller manes due to the higher elevation and cooler climate.

Sign needs work as do the roads. 3 cars were had broken axels!

These next several pictures are all from our 1st day in the central Serengeti. We saw the big five on our morning and afternoon game drives. The big 5 are rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion, and leopard.

Pride of around 12 lionesses and cubs. Males are above but weren't with the rest.

A mother a 2 young cheetahs

Black rhino

Dwarf mongoose.

90 % of the worlds pink flamingos are in the Serengeti.

Hyena

Cape buffalo

Young leopard in a tree at sunset. Our last spotting on our 1st day in the central serengeti.

Now our 1st day in the northern Serengeti. This is where the great wildebeest migration is located at this time of year. There had already been several crossings of the Mara river and predators were well feed, especially the crocs and the cats on the south side of the river. We did get to see 2 small and and one large crossing. The large crossing lasted 90 minutes or so.

Sparring hippos

Vultures feeding on a wildebeest carcass

Gathering to cross the Mara

Leaping into the river

We did get lucky to watch a hunt. 3 cheetah brothers woke up from a nap on the north side of the Mara and started to hunt some wildebeest. We saw one cheetah jump on a wildebeest but was unable to bring him down. Unfortunately the sun was setting and we had to leave before the end of the hunt.

We went back the next morning and found a couple of fresh kills but no cheetahs.

Same kill 4 hours later….

This one was nearly killed. He has quite a chunk taken out of his back.

One of the better sunsets we saw.

Asante sana Tanzania!!!