A Travellerspoint blog

Bali, Ubud

semi-overcast 27 °C

October 9 day 5

We are sad to pack up and leave this morning but excited to see what new adventure await us.

Our new driver Bandi arrived to pick us up at 11 AM and we set off south through the twist and turns of the mountains. It was a very lush and picturesque drive, but I was sitting in the back seat and after a couple of hours had to switch to the front. The roads are extremely narrow with hairpin curves every few minutes. I don’t get motion sickness often, but this was just too much for me.
I am not sure how any foreigner can drive here, even the motor scooters which are the most popular mode of transportation zipping in and out of traffic look so scary to me. Dogs wandering on the sides of the road all seem to have such great road sense. I cringed a few times thinking we might hit one or two
But we aren’t going that fast, traffic is quite often gridlocked.

I had arranged a couple of stops for our long drive to Ubud and the first one was Handera Gate, which a Hindu temple gate and a very popular instagram photo stop. There was a line up and we watched all this beautiful young women with their lovely gowns posing for the iPhone. We realized we should have dressed up for this photo shoot.


Most of Bali is Hindu and the majority of sights and temples are all Hindu temples, Ganesh seems to be the fan favorite seeing the little elephant everywhere. A lot of Buddha faces and statues as well. Christians and muslims are on the island and all the religions live in harmony they say.

Bandi pulled off to the side of road to give us a view of Beratan lake. There were quite a few people at this rest stop enjoying refreshments from small cafes (warungs) nearby. There were three men, 2 of them very well dressed in Balinese outfits, one black and one white. We were told the one in white was a was a holy man. He really took to Doug and I, wanting lots of photos taken, he kept putting his arm around us and getting very close. He did not speak English but the others did and said he was 70 years old and had travelled to England, Canada, USA and many other places. They were going to a wedding that we had passed in the next town. It was hard to tear away from these guys, they became our new best friends

There was also a couple of guys at this pull off with a python and flying fox (Bats) to have photos taken with. I was convinced by him to hold the bat and have my photo taken which I am surprised that I did.


Our next stop was Ulun Danu Beratan which is a Hindu temple located on Beratan Lake. It was very busy with bus loads of people, many Muslim groups as well as others. It was a beautiful setting and we spent about an hour walking around the gardens, but now we are starving.


Bandi took us to a big restaurant but I didn’t like it, it was a Buffet with tour groups which I hate, so we found a very small Warung on the side of the road overlooking some fields and had a great lunch.

Arrival in Ubud was through a bunch of back roads which was very scenic and avoided a lot of the gridlock. Ubud looks very busy, many shops and cafes everywhere and lots of people. We finally arrived at a small parking lot and there were three people waiting for us with scooters. Our villa is up a a narrow winding path that is not wide enough for cars so we now travel the rest of the way by scooter.
As I got on the bike the skies opened. I said let’s go anyhow, the rest went under cover. Our suitcases were in a wagon at the back of one of the bikes and stayed under cover
The ride up the path was a bit hair raising, the rain got heavier and heavier. When I finally arrived at Satori villas I was dripping wet
Our villas is lovely, overlooking rice paddies and on the path to a famous walk called Kajeng rice field. We have the entire villa to ourselves , living room kitchen and huge outdoor deck with dining area. The second floor has two bedrooms with private bath and another deck overlooking the rice fields where we can watch the ducks and geese take care of the pests for the farmers


We have a private pool and a little casita with another king bedroom and private bath, outdoor shower, but we won’t be needing that
Doug Lana and our luggage arrived when the rain slowed down. Our three staff, Ketut, Wynan and Putu can’t do enough for us but left us to settle in.
The weather went from bad to worse. Thunder and lightning and torrential rain like I have never seen. It was so loud and the sky stayed lit the lighting was so constant.

We had a bit of fruit and chips that we brought with us and that would have to do for dinner because we were not going anywhere
Tried to have an early night but the thunder was so loud it was not possible for a while. When it stopped we had major fireworks happening close by for over half an hour and then very loud electronic music, boom boom boom until around 1AM or so.
One of the Kings children just got married and this is day three of celebrations. I didn’t mind, I kind of liked it remembering when I was younger and loved to dance to disco music
I did finally get to sleep.

October 10 day 6

A lazy morning. I sat on the upstairs patio looking out over all the lush vegetation and flowers around our property. We had a video chat with our son Taylor which was great. The rain stopped and we were hungry after only having fruit to eat, so we made our way down the foot path, dodging scooters on the way, and walking past many little shops and Hindu temples on the path.


This is an entrance to a resteraunt


We passed a ceremony of cremation with a procession that we were allowed to take photos of. Yesterday Bandi said that many people are buried when they die but every five years a lot of villages will have mass cremations and celebrations. We assumed this was one of them.


We met two young women from England who suggested the Lotus Cafe would be a good place to stop and they were right. It was lovely, overlooking a beautiful lotus garden with Saraswati temple in the background. This is known as Ubud water palace. Ubud is actually pronounced Eww booed.
Vegetarian food is on the menus here and so wonderful for me. I enjoyed an amazing Pumpkin spice soup ( happy Canadian Thanksgiving today ) and veg spring rolls with a lemongrass dip. The others had a chicken curry and we all had a ginger honey lemon iced tea. We will be back here for sure, it was fantastic food
After some photo taking we made our way down the very narrow, sometimes disappearing sidewalk passing many restaurants and shops. There are a steady stream of motorcycles and cars and people,noise fumes and very humid hot weather. We are melting.
Lana and I ducked into a jewellery store, ‘ Filthy Gorgeous Accessories’ The air conditioned store was such a welcome relief but the jewellery was divine! Lana ended up buying some earrings and Doug came in and bought me a stunning set of earrings and necklace and chain as a belated birthday present.

A grocery store was needed and after walking the narrow roads trying not to die for a half hour we grabbed a ride from a guy who took us to ‘Bintang’ a large store and he waited while we bought some provisions for the villa.

On the drive back traffic on the Main Street was stopped and a policeman held up,his hand for us all to wait as some kind of ceremonial processions went by. Apparently this happens a number of times a day.

He dropped us off at the parking lot but we were not able to reach our ‘staff’ to pick us up so we slogged the groceries up the hill which seemed to be so much further than it actually was.
The skies opened just as we got in the door, but we all put on our suits and jumped into the pool to cool down. Heavenly
Low key night

October 11. Day 7

A lovely lazy morning included a video chat with our son Mica and grandkids. After breakfast we turned right instead of left leaving our home and walked on the footpath past many beautiful rice paddies, some almost ready for harvest . This is known as Kajeng rice fields walk .


Eventually we came upon a popular warung called ‘Sweet Orange’ and stopped in for a cold drink and appy. Both were so delicious and we know we will be back again. It was hot but not too bad today, a bit of a breeze now and then. It’s the humidity than can take it’s toll.

When we got back home we were melting and the cool water of the pool was a very welcome sight

A nap followed by a light dinner and we set off to the Royal Palace to enjoy some traditional Balinese music and dancing. We got there very early after paying our 100,000 entrance fee ($9 Cdn). Chairs at the side, front row were scored which was great because they were covered and the skies opened to a downpour near the end of the performance. We really enjoyed the music and the dancing. We were glad for the brochure of the story of what we were watching which really helped make it much more enjoyable.



Thankfully we packed our umbrellas as it was a wet and soggy walk home.

As we sit contemplating going to bed we are serenaded by so many critters in the fields nearby. There are these little frogs that sound like lambs bleating, cicada's, geckos , something that sounds like it has the hiccups, confused roosters and so many sounds which are un identified. It is a loud and lovely chorus 24/7.

October 12. Day 7

Putu and Wayan arrived at 7AM to cook us breakfast this morning. Such luxury! The smoothie was dragonfruit banana and ice and was divine. Cost was 150,000 for the groceries and we gave them an extra 100,000. ($22 Cdn total) and enough left over for us for a couple more days too. We will also give a big tip at the end of stay as well of course. We will probably arrange this again one morning.

Doug and I then spent some time on a video chat with our youngest son Reese this morning who is at our house watching or dog Maggie on the first shift. All seem to be doing well.

Lana needed to find a bank or ATM so we set off to find one. It took four tries until we found one that worked, but success at last. Doug went off on his own for a bit, Lana and I went back to the jewelry store and she bought more earrings, and then we explored the Art Walk, a series of vendors down the sides of a car free road. We thought it would be artists selling their wares, but instead it was just more of the same of the road we travel every day, trinkets and clothing that is very low cost. We both bought some earrings and Lana got a couple pairs of pants.
The humidity was very oppressive again today. Doug seems to be staying cool as a cucumber while Lana and I are puddles on the ground.
Traffic on the Main Street is crazy busy.


We met back at The Lotus Cafe again for lunch which was again fantastic

There was another processions on the road, police stopping traffic. This one was mostly men, not sure what it was about.


A stop for a small gelato for the walk home was in order. The woman suggested I try matcha sesame, to which I turned up my nose but tried it anyhow. OMG. Amazing
Hot walk home up the hill so it was straight into the pool and a quiet evening once again.

October 13, Day 8

Located at the bottom of our pedestrian street is a taxi stand where we arranged a driver to take us to Tirta Empul Temple, a Hindu Balinese water temple famous for its holy spring water. This temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, God of water. The drive there was on small roads with lots of twist and turns that took us outside of the city and provided wonderful views of the countryside and small towns. We went though an area where there were so many shops selling art and home decor that looked like they would sell to other stores.

Lana and I were salivating at the shopping opportunity but only bringing a carry on suitcase saves us from ourselves.

We arrived at the temple in around half an hour or more and it is packed, tourists of course but many devotees as well. There was some kind of celebration with many people in their beautiful traditional dress and the woman with large offerings balanced on their head. Tourists could also go into the water for purification but we did not, it is really a spiritual event in my opinion and left for those of the Hindu faith.




It was a very special place for sure. We really enjoyed being here
Everyone had to wear a sarong, and if you didn’t have one they provided it for you


Walking the gauntlet, exit through the gift shop, we each ended up buying some articles of clothing and then met up with our driver, Eka to head for lunch. Eka is a lovely young tourism graduate, 29 years old with a great command of the English language and so enthusiastic. We took him for lunch at a small warung we found at the side of the road overlooking the rice fields of Tegalalang, which we will hike another day.


Arriving back home we had our afternoon swim and then relaxed.
A great day once again.

Posted by debbep 11:00 Archived in Indonesia Tagged ubud Comments (0)


Arrival, Tanah lot and Pemuteran

sunny 32 °C

After two years of planning and many changes along the way we are finally in Bali.

October 1, 2022 . Our journey begins with a flight on a small float plane from Nanaimo to Vancouver airport on one of the most beautiful days of the year. Flying low we were able to see at least half a dozen humpback whales breaching and spouting which was just an added bonus to a short 20 minute but fantastic flight.


We checked into our airport hotel and met up Lana, all of us coming a day early to make sure we were on the right side of the water for our flight tomorrow.

October 2. Our economy class flight on Japan airlines was lovely, smooth and uneventful. After 11 long hours we arrived in Tokyo to connect on JAL to Singapore. We had a 1 1/2 hour connection in Tokyo, which we needed to get to our next gate, it was a long walk
Another 7 1/2 hour flight and even though I took a sleeping pill did not get much of any kind of sleep. But again no complaints about Japan airlines.

We were very happy to arrive in Singapore just after midnight on October 4 th, losing a day in the process
While checking in for the flight in Vancouver the gate agent said we needed to download and fill in the health and Covid info app for Singapore. It was long and cumbersome but we managed to complete it just before boarding the plane so arrival in Singapore was easy. A scan of our passport and the official had all of our information in front of him, Covid vaccines etc, and in no time we were off to collect our bags.

Yotel was a very short walk located in the Jewel terminal and although each of our two rooms were very small, they were clean soundproof and the beds comfy. Money well spent
The Jewel is an area in the Singapore airport much like the blodel conservancy in Queen E park Vancouver. Lots of lush greenery and a waterfall that flows upside down but was not turned on yet. A very calming place


Day 1. October 4. We woke after a wonderful few hours of sleep and made the short walk to terminal one to find Scoot airlines. Checkin was very slick and easy, all done electronically. A bit of a walk and another electronic security and passport check and we were off to our gate , after a short caffeine stop at Starbucks

Our gate was the very last one, quite a long walk but we made sure we had lots of time. Good thing because when we got there I went to use my phone and it was nowhere to be found.
Panic set in. I retraced my steps and ended back at the security checkpoint but naturally could not go to the other side . There was an info desk so I asked the young woman to phone and see if it was found on the other side, which she did and told me to wait ten minutes
No. Nothing fitting that description

I hoofed it back to the gate, dug out my iPad, connected to Internet and signed onto “find my phone’ which I should have done to begin with but had decided to panic instead.

The app took me back to the info desk and showed that it was actually indeed located just a three minute walk on the other side of passport control. I showed the young man, he phoned over and lo and behold it was there. Apparently the first girl was checking at a different check in point. Gotta love technology. Another young man came through security and handed my phone to me, a very relieved and grateful woman I must say
I did my best impression of a fast speed walk back to the gate and arrived just in time to board the plane, a sweaty breathless mess, but a happy one. Thank goodness I allowed an hour to check in. A good lesson there.
Our Scoot flight was on time and uneventful, arriving in Denpasar a bit early.


Photo is of Singapore harbour

I really don’t remember the order of the series of events as they happened, but after deplaning we came to an area where many tourists were gathered around an information board about how to fill in the PenduliLindungi arrival app. We tried for about five minutes with no success, I remembered that trip advisor folks said don’t worry about it, so told my crew to just forget it and we set off and found a woman sitting at a desk with a sign that said ‘ health check’ or something. I showed her the app on my phone, she just shook her head and said to pass her my passport and copies of my vaccine. Bing bang boom, and we are good to go

Another fellow directed us to the lineup for old people and families with children to get the Visa on arrival which was great cos the other lineup was huge

I think we picked up our luggage after that, then the customs form was filled out and after just over an hour and a bit we were outside the terminal. I may have missed a step but it was not too hard to figure out in the end

I have been to many airports in the world where you see folks holding up signs as a meet and greet but nothing like Bali. There were hundreds, eight deep in a long line of smiling faces holding up small signs and the passengers arriving doing the slow walk eagerly searching to recognize their own name

I finally saw mine, “Mrs Debbe” and after a smile and nod from me a lovely young man approached us and took one of our bags and whisked us away to the car park.

I booked this transfer last week with Klook ( again thanks TA) for only 200,000 IDR, ( $18cdn)

The drive to Tanah Lot took over 3 hours, traffic was especially bad he said, but we didn’t mind as we looked out the windows enjoying our first glimpse of Bali and all the buildings and temples along the way. We were finally here!

Arriving at Tanah Lot the car was stopped by an official to have us each pay 60,000 IDR as our hotel was very close to the temple and this was the entrance fee

A lovely young woman greeted us at Natya Tanah Lot hotel with a delicious and welcome glass of cold ginger, mint and lemongrass drink.
Both of our rooms were lovely very clean, spacious and a five minute walk to the temple. It was a great decision to spend the night here.

It is now 5PM, we are starving but decided to head to the beach right away before sunset. There were many people there of course but we were in awe of how beautiful it all was and hiked around to many different vantage points to take a lot of photos and enjoy the different views. We are all just so grateful to be here.
Dinner at the hotel and then an early night


Day 2, October 5
Woke to torrential rain so went for breakfast before heading back to the temple. This turned out to be a great decision because when we were done the rain stopped and we enjoyed the views with a different light with less people.


A car was arranged through our next hotel to pick us up at 11 to head north to Pemuteran. It was a very narrow twisty road through many hills with rain happening on and off throughout the journey. Seeing the many small towns and lush vegetation made the almost three hour drive very enjoyable. A welcome stop was at a small warung ( restaurant) on the way for some tea. It was located high in the hills overlooking a rice field and we took the opportunity to stretch our legs and walk on one of the terraces for a bit taking many photos
It is all so beautiful



A couple more stops at some fruit stands to pick up papaya little bananas and mango and finally some 0 percent beer for me and regular for Lana at a small grocery store before we checked into our home for the next four nights
Amertha Bali Villas.
I had booked this almost two years ago Hard to believe it was only $128 a night




It was just what I thought a villa in Bali should look like. We were so happy to be here
Two large bedrooms facing the private pool and patio area. There is a living room kitchen area between the bedrooms and two outdoor showers. The landscaping is gorgeous.
We were happy to spend the rest of the afternoon in the pool and lounge on our patio. Pure heaven

Dinner was at the hotel. It was okay. Not great but handy. An early night for us again

Day 3 October 6. Swam ate swam and ate again. Lunch consisted of fresh fruit, beer and taco chips. Dinner at the hotel was better tonight
A lovely relaxing day in paradise. Wifi is great. Weather was hot then wind cooled it down. It was sunny and rainy
A wonderful day



October 7, day 3

What a great day. After breakfast we went on a snorkel tour to Menjangan island on a small motor boat with Karang divers who left from our resort There were four staff and the three of us who snorkelled with our own guide and there was also a guide for two divers who were from Germany.

We had two stops for an hour each with a break for lunch in the middle. Lots of coral, although disappointed the colors were not that bright, many colorful fish though. We also saw a few turtles and a couple of smaller sharks.


There was a bat cave in the cliff as well with hundreds of small fruit bats who were flitting about being very vocal.
The dark fringe around the mouth of the cave are the bats hanging upside down


It was around 1 pm when we returned and all had a nap for a couple hours this afternoon. After all that swimming we were tuckered out

Timo, one of the guys from Germany is staying at our resort so we invited him to join us for dinner at ‘Joes’ a small place close by that advertised live music on Friday nights.

The food was wonderful, great conversation and the band was fantastic. Four young Balinese men who had such a huge library of music and the lead singer had an amazing voice with incredible range. Their name was ‘Fly’ and their set was two hours or more.



We enjoyed it so much we would have loved to stay for the second set but it was 10pm. The latest we have been up since arriving so we went home to bed.

October 8 day 4

On the beach next to our place is Biorock coral reef structures. Doug and I walked over and I snorkelled around while he swam. Interesting place. They are trying to build up the coral reef again which has been destroyed both by man but mostly by global warming. They have built a hundred metal structures and domes under the water and have them connected to electricity powered by windmill and solar. The chemical reaction to the metal is a good environment to have the coral grow. There are 16 projects in Indonesia so far and it helps keep the beaches from eroding when you have coral reefs. This is all run as an NGO and by volunteers.
This is me dressed to snorkel so I don’t get fried in the heat










Later a lunch of fruit, ice cold zero beer, peanuts and taco chips on our patio. Yum
Followed by Swimming and relaxing at our pool.

Tonight we went with Timo to D’Buco for dinner and it was fantastic. Down some back alleys, hard to find but worth it. Appy ,main ,dessert and beer or soft drink for around $15. Tomorrow we say goodbye to this amazing villa and head off to Ubud.


Posted by debbep 01:19 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)


Kauai and Maui re visited

sunny 26 °C

My husband and I just spent three wonderful weeks in Hawaii and wanted to share our trip highlights.

Background. I was a sales rep for Aloha Airlines, and also for a short time Hawaiian Airlines out of Vancouver back in the early 80s for 15 years. I would go to the islands five or more times a year on business and holidays and my husband and I also spent our honeymoon on Maui and Kauai 37 years ago. At the end of my time with Aloha I created my dream job of taking travel agents to the islands to go on snorkel tours, helicopter rides and wine and dine them for a week. Unfortunately I got laid off 25 years ago and other than a short stop over on the way back from Tahiti we haven’t been back since. I could not afford to travel here in that style any more if we were paying for it. :). We chose to explore many other parts of the world instead.

Details: We flew WESTJET from Vancouver to Kauai on Feb. 19th and then returned Maui to Vancouver on March 11th. We flew with Hawaiian Air in the middle.

Car was booked with AVIS thorough Costco and I kept going back to check the prices as they kept falling so I would cancel and re book. By the time we left it was half of the original price. We chose a small economy car as there was only the two of us and it was great on gas, parking and negotiating the narrow roads.


The Islander on the beach on the coconut plantation was a great place to stay for our first week in Hawaii. At night we left the patio doors open and could hear the surf breaking on the beach through the patio doors. The sun came up in an explosion of color every morning at around 6:30AM and we shared in its majesty while enjoying a cup of Kona Coffee on the patio.



Our week was spent exploring various beaches and trails at all points on this northern most island. Each area had a different charm, the North, Hanelei and Princeville being very junglelike and green.
Poipu beach was great for a swim a couple of days, and the McBride Gardens were beautiful. We had a volunteer take us on a tour and explain the various plants to us as well as some of the history regarding the first peoples to the islands.


Waimea canyon was just as breathtaking as I remembered from years ago. There are wild roosters and chickens everywhere, more roosters than chickens as I think the later get eaten. The roosters are very colourful and I spent a couple of afternoons trying to paint a picture of one.


A Whale of a time in Maui

Maui was a one bedroom at Kahana Villa and then Paki Maui. They were both fine but next time I want an ocean view.

Food: Because we had kitchens we made most of our own meals. Shopping was done at Safeway Lahaina and the Farmers Market in Honokowai. (which was great). I am really going to miss fresh papaya and pineapple every day :(

We did go to a couple of restaurants and those we really enjoyed were : Fork and Salad in Kihei (twice), The Flatbread Company in Paia. CJ’s Deli in Kaanapali and the Lahaina Fish Company in Lahaina.
I am a vegetarian /mostly vegan and did not have any trouble finding items on most menus.

We also went to Frieda’s in Lahaina, the most expensive and least impressive. Not much flavour or pizzaz in the food to me.

Beaches: I love to snorkel and my husband loves to swim so quite often that is what we would do. Our favourite beach was Kapalua beach and as long as we arrived before 9AM we usually found parking in the free lot or on the street without a problem. Got to swim with turtles, saw lots of colourful fish, octopus and some coral that still had colour.

We stopped at a few between Ka’anapali and Kihei just for a swim and they were good as well as the beach on Kaanapail in front of the Sheraton at Black rock. Again we went early and found parking in the free lot. I was not impressed with the snorkelling there.
But nice swimming and a beautiful beach.

We also stopped for a swim near Wailea and noticed the water felt warmer down south .

Weather: There was a couple of days of high winds and one day that also included a lot of rain but most days we just had a gentle shower here and there. Or a short deluge which seemed to start and stop out of no where.
The temperature was great for us. We don’t like a lot of heat so the 25 C ( 80F) temps were perfect. Lots of clouds rolling in and out but that is pretty normal and it kept it cooler as well.

Tour: We only did one tour a Saturday snorkel tour to Lanai with Sail Maui. The boat held 49 but there were only 8 of us which was nice. We saw a few whales of course and the snorkelling was pretty good, but not amazing for me. The crew and the boat were great however. Next time I would opt for a whale watch with the whale foundation.

In the early 80s I drove the road to Hana and vowed never to do it again, but I wanted to see the rainbow eucalyptus so we went. I bought and downloaded the Shaka Guide which was great. It pointed out things and where to stop and on the return gave a lot of interesting information about the history of Hawaii. Highly recommended . The road has improved immensely since then and we enjoyed the trip. Next time I would like to spend the night in Hana to have a lot of time at the park just past there. I came back to the condo with a beautiful tropical bouquet that I bought on the side of the road for only $5.


We really enjoyed spending time in Paia town and next time want to also visit Makawao as it looks great.

We did quite a bit of driving and exploring which included the beautiful Iao Valley.


One night we attended a slack-key performance at the Napili Kai Beach Hotel . My husband is a musician so this was a must for him and did not disappoint. Very talented and entertaining men and a couple of hula dances from a lovely woman as well.

On our last day we attended a two hour free lecture at the Humpback whale foundation in Kihei and it was fascinating. The woman giving the talk was not only informative but delivered with such humour and personality that it made it that much more enjoyable. I learned so much and have now decided that the humpback is my favourite whale.

My overall impression: It has been 25 years but to me Hawaii has not changed. I still get that feeling of Aloha here. Everyone is so nice and friendly and seem happy. I never heard a cross word or people getting angry. As a tourist I feel very welcomed.

Sitting on the beach I am not constantly saying ‘No thank you’ to beach vendors.
If someone is friendly and comes to chat with me its not because he wants me to visit his uncles carpet shop.
Not that there is anything wrong with either of the above. it just make Hawaii such an easy vacation.

And the beauty of the islands are unlike anywhere else. The many shades of blues in the water, the various kinds of palm trees, the spring flowers coming into full bloom and lets not forget the whales. Sitting on the beach and watching the whales breech and tail flap over and over again is truly magical. I can never get enough of it.


So Maui we shall be back. Maybe even next year. I missed you and love you even more than I did before.

Aloha, Debbe.

Posted by debbep 14:37 Archived in USA Tagged maui hawaii kauai Comments (0)

British Columbia, Broughton Archipelago

Glamping with Whales

overcast 18 °C

As a group of 10 long time friends we decided that we would celebrate our 65th birthday close to home on Swanson Island. Our 60th was spent on a 7 day Alaska cruise so decided to stick with the ocean theme. All of us have been friends for at least 50 years or more.

One of our original crew, Katie, had a bad accident a week prior and couldn't come which made us all very sad. A last minute replacement was found through one of the ladies, and even though she was was a few years younger we let her come anyhow..

We overnighted on Quadra Island and had a 6PM briefing at the local hotel from our tour company, Spirit of the West Adventures

Day 1. We left our cars at the ferry terminal at 8:15 AM and then transported our luggage down the ramp to wait for our boat. I packed more for this four day trip than I did for six weeks in Africa and Europe! As there is no electricity things won't likely dry when they get wet, and the fog and ocean air will make your clothes feel damp quickly. Not to mention the possibility of capsizing your kayak.


Our small boat arrived and we loaded on not only our own luggage and beverages, but also the food and supplies for the camp as well . Our cook Sara was joining us on the trip had a snack prepared for the journey. She was also a 1954 baby which was terrific. The weather was perfect and we enjoyed a wonderful mystical fog resting on the top of the water and islands until noon. Whales, black bears sea lions and seal spotting just added to our excitement on our three hour journey to camp.
Having 10 of us meant that we would have the camp all to ourselves.





In the distance we can see a hot tub on an rock outcropping sheltered by Flower Island in front. Guests on the beach with their belongings are waiting for the boat to take them home after we disembark. After our captain Dave anchors we wait for the small tender to arrive and transport us to shore, taking two separate trips, followed by our luggage and supplies.

Everyone forms a human chain to pass the luggage and totes from the boat to the bottom of the trail up to camp.



Once everything is brought up we have an orientation and then proceed to check in to our tents. Some of us have singles and some doubles. The tents are on platforms and have two twin beds with small tables inside. Solar panels provide us with lights and plug ins for recharging our camera batteries. All are nestled in the forest with ocean glimpses but close enough to hear the whales blowing during the night.


There are two outhouses and two out door showers with hot water on demand. Creek water is used for washing, but fresh water is brought in each trip from Quadra for drinking



Lunch was served in the dining area and then everyone , except me, went for a short kayak lesson and paddle. I had a short sleep in the room before dinner.

Happy hour was enjoyed in the Freshwater Lounge where we were served a beautiful assortment of cheese fruit and nuts with wine. My friend and I brought birthday hats and leis to start off our celebration in style.



An amazing dinner was served, along with a birthday cake and then followed by a hot tub for some. A long but wonderful first day.



Day two.

Morning coffee on the deck was followed by a delicious breakfast in the dining area. We suited up for a day of paddling, with a skirt, rain pants, water shoes and life jackets donned. Some of us chose doubles and others in single kayaks and off we went to explore the area. The different skill and experience levels meant that we travelled at a fairly leisurely pace with one guide in the front and the other in the rear.

The water was flat calm and after a short time the fog lifted and it was a very warm and sunny day. There have been some grizzly bears in the area so our lunch on the beach was canceled and instead we had a short snack visit on a beach and then a late lunch back at camp. Some of us switched from a double to a single kayak or vice versa after the snack. Black bears were seen close to where we had our break but all of us are used to them so were not too worried about it.


A tradition from our 60th birthday, we wore our Fascinators for the paddle today.



A few went out for a kayak again after our late lunch but the rest of us hung out at the hot tub and spent time socializing until dinner.


Day three. An early kayak trip this morning was enjoyed. Once again the weather was great , around 18 C but no rain which was a bonus.


After lunch we were picked up by another boat and a local man, Bishop, took us whale watching for a few hours. And what a trip it was!! Orcas everywhere around us. At one point we were getting sore necks trying to look in every direction at the 35 or more surrounding us. They were mostly resident but we also saw some Biggs (transient) and humpback as well. Even our guide and Bishop were getting so excited to see so many in one place. It was a real blessing for sure and so very exciting.



Lots of babies as well.



The scenery around us was breathtaking with all the mountains as well.


Day four, departure day

A pre breakfast paddle was arranged, but the rain last night was so loud on the roof over the tent that I didn't get much sleep and no one else went either. Our guides boyfriend had arrived the day before so the two of them were able to get out on a romantic early morning paddle. We let her think that it was the plan all along and his idea.


We enjoyed a leisurely morning taking in the last few hours of this island paradise. The rain had stopped and the sun was peeking through the clouds.
When the next group arrived, five couples who were college friends from the 70's, we put our leis around the neck of each of the men to welcome them which they found fun.

Once again the human chain brought all their gear in and ours went back into the boat for our journey home.

What an amazing place we live in! The weather co-operated, great food, friends , paddling and whales. What more could you ask for?

Posted by debbep 19:09 Archived in Canada Tagged whales island vancouver kayaks glamping orcas Comments (0)


Gorillas in the mist

sunny 28 °C

Nairobi. Last day
Day 12

I had arranged for a fellow to pick us up and take us around for the day and Tony arrived a half hour early at 8:00AM. I find that all the drivers are always at least a half hour early. After breakfast we headed to the giraffe centre for the 9AM opening. This is a sanctuary where they breed the endangered Rothschild giraffes and then release the young into the wild when they are old enough. Chloe and I each fed a couple with the provided food pellets . He has a very long blue tongue and the feeding was sometimes slimy
Then we put one of the pellets in our mouth and got a “kiss” from the male. It was funny



From here we went to the elephant sanctuary which opened at 11. There were a number of people there and we all pushed in to get a ringside view of the elephant feeding that was about to happen.

These little guys are rescued because their moms have died or for some reason they have been orphaned. When they are big enough , around 3 years or so, they are re introduced into the wild and watched until they are sure that a family of elephants will accept him or her into the group
We gave Chloe and elephant for Christmas but unfortunately for us Malika has just been released a few days earlier

We watch as the little ones come running down the trail three at a time and there are fed a bottled formula by three of the handlers. They devour it in no time. Then three more come down until all 9 are there. When they have finished their bottles they play in the mud and with each other. Some come close enough where we can pet them, they are very dirty. After some time they are released into the park for the day and a few older ones come down for the same routine. It was very informative and such a great thing these folks are doing. We can only stay an hour so at noon we make our way back to the car.



We went to a shopping place where they have all local hand made items, some very expensive and beautiful works of art. We both bought a couple of small items.
We had lunch and then at 4 we headed back to the elephant sanctuary again. As an adoptive parent you can come back to see them put to bed. There were a lot less people tonight and it was so cute to se these guys come running in from the park to get into their beds for the night.

I complimented a young local woman on her hair braiding and we talked a minute or two
Later on I was sitting on the bench waiting for Chloe and she sat down beside me and we had a great conversation.
I found out she has an Uber business so arranged for her to pick us up at 4:30AM tomorrow morning to go to the airport.

Day 13

“Zippy” was there at 4AM to make sure we were awake for our 4:30 transfer

Our flight from Nairobi to Kigali in Rwanda left at 7:20 so we had lots of time

We arrive in Rwanda at 7:30 as there is a one hour time change. Our driver Gavis from Gorilla Trek Africa was there waiting with a sign with both our names on it.

We climbed into the Land cruiser and were on our way to the Uganda border.
Kigali is a very modern city in the downtown area and beautiful. The president runs a tight ship and seems well liked. The last Saturday of every month everyone has to do street clean up. All the stores and banks etc close until noon and everyone pitches in. It is mandatory. The city is spotless and well manicured.
The landscape outside of Kigali is breathtaking. Terraced hills of tea and trees. Lots of rice paddies, corn, and other produce. It is one of the most beautiful countries I have seen.



We stopped in a small town so Gavis could buy a box of water bottles and left us in the car. All the towns people around stopped what they were doing and just stared at us. Blatantly.
Some even came up to the car to have a better look. I don't think many Mzungu’s , (white people ) have been here.
We arrived at the border and it has changed a lot since I was here two years ago. Much more modern and does not take as long. We have to get out of the car, go to the Rwanda immigration building to get stamped out of the country, walk a block or so, (in the very hot sun) and then get stamped into Uganda. Gavis had paperwork etc to fill out and drove to meet us on the other side

A little ways across the border Gavis stopped for us to have lunch. He left us at the small restaurant called “Manhattan’ with menus on the wall of burgers fries and pizza etc. But I think they were just for decoration. We had to go up the the food area and pick out what we wanted to eat. Rice, beans, mix Vegs and potatoes. Not the best meal we have ever had but we ate it.

We are flying in and out of Rwanda to hike in Uganda because it is a shorter drive than flying into the Uganda airport. The mountains are close to the border and people hike in either Rwanda, Uganda or the Congo to see gorillas. Not many to the Congo however as they are having ongoing problems.

The drive to our lodge was about 4 hours but the scenery was so beautiful. Everyone waved and smiled as we drove by, extremely friendly people. Especially the little kids.

The road deteriorated for the last two hours to a dirt road full of potholes and extremely bumpy and slow going.
Finally we made it to the Haven Lodge. It is a community based lodge where the employees are from the local area and the money stays in the community. It is just beautiful set about the jungle and the hills in the distance. Lana and I had stayed here two years ago as well.


We had a rest in the room for a couple of hours and the skies opened up and boy did it every rain! The tin roof amplified the sound and it was deafening. But in just over an hour it was finished and the sun came back out. It is very humid here.

At dinner we met some other trekkers and had some interesting conversations again and then back to the room to prepare for tomorrow.

Day 14, July 4th.

I woke early and went out on the verandah to listen to the many groups of monkeys calling from the forest around me. There were many beautiful bird and jungle sounds as well.

Breakfast was at 7 and we headed off with our packed lunch at 8AM. I was able to secure two permits for Buhoma which is only a 10 minute drive from the lodge. I had to do this a year ago as it is very popular.

We were entertained by some local women dancers and singers while waiting for everyone to arrive. They were very energetic and wonderful to watch.

This is my third gorilla hike. I did one here in Uganda and one in Rwanda two years ago. Rwanda has now doubled the permit price to $1500 USD making it primarily for the rich and famous which is sad. It has impacted a lot of the local shopkeepers and operators because not as many people come now.

The Ranger came out and thanked us all for being there. Our $650USD permit fee goes partially to the community (25%) and also to the conservation of the gorillas. Many of the rangers, porters and trackers would be poaching if they had not been hired to track them for tourists instead so it has greatly increased the numbers of gorillas

Our names were called and we were divided into four groups, in front of signs with the name of the gorilla family we were going to see. Our group was Rushegura group which has about 19 members. It was the closest group which is what I wanted.

There were nine in our group of tourists (usually only 8 but being high season they sometimes fudge it a bit), four trackers with guns to scare any wild elephants or animals we may come across on the way, a ranger, two guys in training and we each hired a porter to carry our backpack and help us up the mountain. In all there was a total of 23 in our group


We drove to the trail head and then set off. It was soon quite apparent to me that things were not going well with my breathing. My lungs have deteriorated quite a bit in the last two years. Add that to the 100 % humidity and the altitude of 8,000 ft I was gasping for breath after 10 minutes. It was a very steep hike up the mountain and even with my guy holding my hand, my walking stick and a woman porter pushing my ass up the hill I found it very challenging and pretty humiliating too. The others were looking at me with concern. My COPD was rearing it’s ugly head like a cobra ready to strike me down

About a half hour in the ranger said to me “. We have only just begun, are you going to be able to do this?”
“Yes. I will do this. I may be slow but I will do it”
Even though I wasn't sure I could and wanted to give up every 5 minutes I was also worried that Chloe would not go on without me so I persevered.
I went first, with my entourage of porters. The slowest sets the pace, and well that would be me!

Everyone was quite nice saying how well I was doing , don't worry about holding us up etc. But I was still mortified.
We were all sweating profusely, but I was pouring it out.

We were almost at the top of the mountain when the ranger got a call. How we find the gorillas is that there are three or four trackers that go ahead of us a few hours earlier and find and follow them then radio down to the ranger.
They are not far, so basically I need to pick up the pace before they leave again.

At the top of the mountain we start our decent and then go down a path that has just been cleared by machete by the trackers. Lots of vines and tripping hazards along the way but before long they tell us to leave everything we have with our porters except our cameras.

Down the trail a bit further we see them. We are so incredibly lucky. This is called the Bwindi Impenetrable forest, so quite often you will see gorillas behind thick bush and just get a glimpse here and there.

But here they are, three young ones, a Silverback, a black back and three females all lazing in an open area for all of us to get a perfect view.



There were a couple more behind us and a another black back a bit away as he can't get too close to the silverback. The silverback, the guy in charge, thinks of the black backs, adult males, as a threat to wanting to take charge of the group and mate with the females.

The little ones were so cute playing in the trees, wrestling on the ground and tumbling about. One would beat his chest to say that he was the strongest of the three, then a few minutes later another would beat his chest.

There was a lot of farting going on by the adults.

This little guy went up to cuddle with his mom and just looked at her with such love in his eyes.
It is incredible how human like they are.






There were lots of flies but they seemed to just stay with the gorillas and not bother us at all.

In what seemed like such a short time the ranger said our hour was almost up. Then the gorillas started getting up one by one and leaving. They knew the hour was up too.


We were mere feet from them. They would look at us with disinterest really,

“Oh here there are again, those camera clicking humans for an hour”

They are what is called habituatied, which means that they are used to humans being with them for one hour a day. They don't want to stress them out so an hour is all we can have. They are still wild animals, and we must be careful and listen to what the ranger says, but gorillas are really very gentle giants and are usually only aggressive with other male gorillas, or if they feel threatened .

We started our climb back up the hill and then back down. The trail is very narrow, not too muddy which is a bonus, but slippery with loose gravel and rocks. My breathing was fine going down but after an hour and a half my legs got pretty wobbly from the steep descent. Chloe, Mary her porter and a few others slid and fell at least once. I fell once too but my porters were hovering so close to me that I didn’t get the chance to even hit the ground before they pulled me back up again.

Part way down we stopped for our bagged lunch. We gave our hard boiled eggs to our porters and I also gave mine the chocolate bar which he appreciated. Toasted peanut butter and banana sandwiches tasted pretty good, but I was too exhausted to eat much.

Gavis was waiting for us at the bottom and we drove back to the centre to get our gorilla certificates and we tipped all the porters ranger and trackers.

That was the best sighting I have had of the three treks. I was so happy for Chloe to see them in such a clearing and so many together. It was a real gift.

I was exhausted. We stopped at a small shop so Chloe could buy a couple things but then back to the room where we just flaked out for the rest of the afternoon.

Shortly after the rains came again with a vengeance. I was so glad it didn't rain on our hike or that trail would have been very difficult coming down.

My mountain and hill climbing days are over, but what a great last climb to have.

That evening at dinner a woman from Spain was celebrating a birthday so the staff came out with a cake and sang to her. Her husband said to give each of us six guests a piece and the rest was for the staff. It was really good. We chatted for a while talking about our gorilla treks that day, each of us with a different family of gorillas and a different experience.
A young man found out we were Canadian and was so excited, he was around 20 and from Ontario, I think he was homesick. He and his friend went to Princeton but were doing internships in Entebbe Uganda for a while. They took a few days off for this adventure.

Last day in Africa. Day 15

After breakfast we set off on our long drive to Rwanda again. Distracted by the beautiful scenery and people smiling and waving as we passed by it wasn’t that bad of a drive. We saw some small markets in some of the smaller towns


The border crossing was the same in reverse except this time a woman dressed as a nurse put an electronic thermometer in our ear to check our temps. Looking for Ebola I imagine.
We then headed for Kigali and the Genocide museum.

Rwandans were made up of Tutsi and Hutu people and the Hutu were encouraged to believe that they were much better than the Tutsi. In 1994 the genocide, which had started earlier, came to full force and for four months Tutsi men, women and children were brutally murdered, many by thier own Hutu friends and neighbours because of the brainwashing that they were inferior and referred to as cockroaches

In all between 500,000 and a million lost their lives and many were found in mass graves. Mans inhumanity to man once again and so many acts so horrible I cant write them here. A good movie on the subject is ‘Hotel Rwanda’ which I have seen a couple of times

The museum was very sobering and well done

The security to get in however was next level. Gavis said it was usually not like this, many solders with guns, we had to leave the truck, it was searched, we were searched.
Gavis figured a dignitary must be coming

When we left we see a the place is surrounded by men in black suits, earpieces and at the ready. Looks like a Men in Black movie set. Soldiers with dogs, many police. Crazy. Time to leave
I saw a limo with flags on the front that I recognized and later found out that it was the president of Tanzania who had come for a visit.

Airport security was even more insane. We had to get out of the truck when we approached the airport. We went through scanners. The truck was put on a conveyor system like a car wash and scanned.

At the airport we hugged and said our good byes to Gavis

More scanning of us and suitcases when we entered the airport. You are not allowed into the building until a hour and a half before your flight. More scanning. And at the gate once again our bags and we are scanned

Our flight was delayed a half hour which gave me a bit of anxiety as we were connecting in Nairobi but we finally arrived at 8PM and had 3 1/2 hours untill our flight left for London.

A long line for another health check. Temperatures were shown on a screen above as you walked by the nurse and handed in your health questionnaire
Then to immigration
Another health check
Passport control
Luggage scanning as you left the airport

Our next flight was right outside this terminal and we got into a long line for our BA flight to Heathrow. The sign says ‘flight boarding’’ which was nerve wracking but a number of us in this slow moving line were on the same flight

Another luggage scanning and search

At our gate yet another scanning , followed by the last one when the fellow asks me to open my bag

“ what are you looking for and I can tell you where it is?”

Nail clippers

After all those scans the last one detects my little nail clippers. Out they come, confiscated, and we wait for our flight in the lounge with only minutes to spare. 3 1/2 hours in Nairobi is not a lot of connection time it seems

I think Chloe and I and our luggage are all glowing from the amount of radiation in the past few hours, but we arrived in London safe and sound and that is the main thing. They take their security very seriously

I upgraded our seats to premium economy which meant that our seats reclined a bit more, we had foot rests and a bit more room which made it easier to sleep a few hours of the 8 1/2 and didn’t arrive in too bad of shape at 6:30AM

We both loved East Africa. The people were so nice and friendly. We met so many other interesting travellers from all over the world that were wonderful to talk with. And the animals! Every day was better than the last. To be so close to these magnificent animals and see them in their natural habitat was amazing.

I am pretty sure that Chloe will be back again at some point. She said she just loved it. Even though this was my third visit it was just as exciting as the first,
Now we are back to London for a few days at the end of our journey

Posted by debbep 12:09 Archived in Uganda Tagged trek gorilla Comments (0)


Kenya Safari

sunny 26 °C

Day 5.

After breakfast we were picked up by Allen from Gamewatchers in a safari van for our long 4 hour drive to Amboseli national park. I slept on and off the entire way finding it hard to keep my eyes open. The scenery changed from busy city to smaller towns with road side stalls and people selling lots of produce and clothing.




In between the small towns were miles of wide open spaces, lots of baron land with only a sprinkling of trees here and there. And many many speed bumps. It was a bumpy ride but eventually we arrived at the Amboseli Sopa Lodge. We were met by a very tall Masai man in bright red checkered Masai dress and lots of jewelry who welcomed us with hot towels and fresh juice.
Our room is a round hut with three beds , very spacious and mosquito nets that unfold at night for protection.


There are many monkeys on the grounds all hoping for a handout, which is forbidden.


After lunch we had a rest in the room and then Allan came to pick us up to take us to the park for our safari. The top of the van pops up for better viewing. We were there for just over three hours and saw many zebra, giraffe, elephant, hyena, gazelle, wart hogs, wildebeest, a pride of lions and a pair of cheetah with a fresh kill. Not bad for the first day.


Back for a rest again, dinner doesn’t not start until 7:30P and then a low key night to prepare for tomorrow.

Day 6.

After breakfast we headed out to the park at 7:30AM for a day of game viewing. Again we saw lots of elephants, zebra and wildebeest.


We also saw a huge troop of baboon and some with babies. This one looked like it was just born, and really quite un attractive. They are a very social animal and many of the others came up and gave the little guy a poke or a tug to acknowledge him.


The elephants really are the king of the jungle, not the lion according to Allen. We saw a pride of lions lounging about with the male watching over things. The elephant came close and the female lions scattered giving him room. The male held his ground however and eventually the elephant went the other direction.

The weather is not hot, even a bit on the cooler side and very overcast. Unfortunately we were not able to see the beautiful views of Mount Kilimanjaro
The elephants were still spending the day cooling off by spraying dirt on them selves and mud. At some points they could be seen in mud pools enjoying themselves
A herd was trying to cross the road and felt we were too close so started trumpeting and swaying while looking at us until Alan backed up.



There were many young zebra, with brown stripes instead of the black of the adult ones. They travel in big herds when they can and join forces with the wildebeest as there is safety in numbers


A number of marshy areas and small lakes with lots of flamingo and bird life. It is funny to watch them plow under the water looking for fish and algae to eat


Hippos were wallowing neck deep in the mud but too far away to get a good look at them. Here in the park we must stick to the roads unlike the conservancies we are heading to next

A boxed lunch was taken at the top of a hill and a lookout site over the park which was beautiful. Many colourful birds hoping someone would drop a few crumbs for them

We spent the day on a washboard gravel bumpy one lane road through the park and were there for eight hours in total. Unfortunately my fatigue caught up with me today and I could not keep my eyes open. I slept through a lot of it with Chloe kicking me whenever we stopped at an animal sighting. It was very frustrating and amazing considering how bad the road was. I needed to catch up and today was the day.

After a rest and dinner we packed up for our departure tomorrow.

Rhino Camp. Day 7

At 7 AM we drove back to Nairobi arriving around 11 for our 1PM flight to Kamok airport. . Because we were early we stopped at Eka Hotel and instead of taking our box lunches to the airport to eat we had them in the restaurant there.

Wilson Airport is where all the small planes fly to the various camps and east to the beaches. We said our goodbyes to Allen and he left with our main suitcases to hold for us until our return. We are only able to take small soft sided bags on these planes. Our 12 seater left with us and two families all heading to Porini Rhino Camp. It was a non stop 40 minute flight and a bit bumpy but not too bad.


We were met by two open sided land cruisers and taken to our home for the next two nights. It is a small camp with only 8 tents, overlooking a watering hole frequented by many of the animals. A blind is being built, finished next week unfortunately for us, where you will be able to stand very close to the animals as they drink and bathe in the pool.

Our tents have two beds and full bathroom a desk and chair. We tell them when we want our shower and they put hot water in the buckets above. This is a no footprint camp, all solar powered and instead of plastic water bottles you get a metal canteen to fill from the water cooler which is great. If they leave and tear down the camp you would never know it was here.


The two families are from New Hampshire, one has two boys aged 11 and 13 who were in our truck and the other has a girl and three young boys. There are a couple of other guys here that we met later, one from New York who works in IT, and the other lives in Nairobi and is a journalist and Getty photographer who travels the world. He is heading to Khartoum in Sudan tomorrow to cover a big demonstration happening there.
We also have a Porini Camp director and his wife from Nairobi. The latter four are all leaving tomorrow.

David our camp manager went over the itinerary and general info about the camp after a light lunch and then after a short rest we headed out on our first game drive

We saw lots of zebra, a number of warthogs, jackals, water buffalo, and reticulated giraffe which are different from the ones we saw in Ambroselli and only seen here.


We were disappointed not to see any rhino, but tomorrow is another day. After watching the sun set we headed back for a short rest in the tent before dinner. A Masai guide walked us to our tent and waited outside till we were ready for dinner, there is no walking around on your own here after the sun goes down. And we know why as we were sitting in our tents we heard a lion roaring right outside. There are many hippo wandering by as well. We are the last tent right in front of a small muddy creek which would be favoured by the hippos. We were glad he was there to walk us to and from the mess tent.
We sat around the fire for a bit first.
Dinner was great, they catered to our vegetarian needs, and had great conversations with everyone.

It was really hot today, but cools down incredibly at night. Chloe got under the covers and all of a sudden did a small yell
“There is something in my bed!!”
I said it was a hot water bottle and started to laugh. She pulled out this large hot water bottle with a fur cover on it.
They should warn you about these things. You could have a heart attack thinking there is some small animal in your bed. We laughed a long time about that.

As I write this we hear something very big outside our tent munching on grass or something. Maybe a buffalo or hippo perhaps. We were given a whistle to blow if we need help..........

I hope we can sleep tonight. We both have ear plugs.

Rhino Camp Day 8, Friday June 28

I slept soundly until 4AM and then just waited for our wake up call at 6. A young man quietly said hello and then asked if he could come in, unzipped the tent and put some hot chocolate for Chloe and hot water and lemon for me on the table.

We quickly got ready to be in the land cruiser by 6:30A. We had our same group with Tessa and Keith, Cameron and.Sam. The jeep stalled a number of times and then Tessa finally asked if we could please have another jeep as we didn't want to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere waiting for someone. The next jeep was the staff one so not as nice and very cramped but at least it worked.

We drove to the eastern side and saw a couple of baby hyena that were really curious and quite cute. More giraffes, zebra and buffalo of course, elephants with babies, and lots of wart hogs.



Finally we found a rhino. He was on his own, a black rhino, and stood and posed for us. Black and White rhinos have nothing to doug with their color, White really means wide, describing the shape of the mouth.
White Rhinos are vey social and travel in groups while black are solitary and not as nice.


We are in Ol Pejetra Conservancy which has the highest concentration of rhinos in Africa. It is set in 283,000 hectares and patrolled by many rangers willing to shoot any poachers that try to do any harm to the rhinos. The animals are all free to come and go as they please, but the rhinos are in a massive electric fenced area where they put rocks and things that rhinos don't like in the pathway so they never leave and stay safe. The rangers rake the dirt every morning and night to check the footprints to see which animals came in and left during the day.

Next to the Rhino were a bunch of Cape buffalo wallowing in the mud to keep cool and try to keep the flies down as well.


At 9AM we went to the park for our breakfast and then Chloe and I went off to check in for our 10AM 'horseback riding with rhinos' that we had booked. Walking to the barn I was on a big pile of rock in the centre of the road when I just slipped off and landed face first on the road. Chloe and the girl leading both thought I had a a heart attack or something. One minute I was walking and the next I’m on the ground. I stayed there for a minute making sure I was okay. It was very painful on my right side and my neck, I had a big scrape on my arm too. I was quite pissed off that this happened mere meters from the barn and worried I wouldn't be able to ride.
But I went anyhow and although a bit sore didn't fall off the horse at least.

We were able to go into an enclosure where no one else can go and were very close to a mom and baby rhino only a month old. We saw a number of rhinos, the large Eland which look like caribou, so many wart hogs and other gazelles. It was just great. Chloe got to canter a bit but there were so many holes in the field it was not safe to do much.



We had just over an hour and so glad we did this. On the way out we saw Barack, the blind rhino and then back in the jeep with everyone for more game viewing. They had been out and seen many rhinos and a baby giraffe and mom.


We found more rhinos and various other animals and then back to the camp for lunch, a shower and rest until 4PM. We were going to have a walk with the Masai Warriors but the sky opened up and it rained very hard. We climbed into the trucks and went for a game drive, eventually the rain stopped enough to take the top off again.

We came across a very large male lion with a fresh buffalo kill. We discovered that he had two brothers with him as well. It would be hard for one lion to take down a buffalo but three would succeed, and did.


The three were in different areas and were very tired from the kill, the buffalo had not been eaten at all. We sat for a couple off hours and just watched the three of them, all sleeping, looking around and watching in different areas.
Finally the lion furthest away walked over to the buffalo and started tearing it apart, you could hear the flesh being ripped and then the smell hit you. It was gross and fascinating all at the same time. We felt so lucky to have all seen this.

Sitting by the fire for a bit before dinner I then said my goodbyes to people as we leave tomorrow.

All in all this camp was great and we really enjoyed it.

Lion Camp. Day 9

We were able to sleep in until 7:30 this morning and had the camp to ourselves as everyone else was out on a game drive. Breakfast at 8 and off to the air strip at 9 for our 9:15 flight to the Mara.

We were once again on a 12 passenger prop plane and it took just about an hour, with one stop on the way. The scenery was great.

Our drivers Chris and Wilfred met us and we did a slow drive to the camp looking for various game on the way.


The camp has changed since I was here two years ago, more tents and a few other changes. Our drivers from before are at different camps and there is a new manager, Silas.
After our welcome cold towel and juice we had an orientation from Silas and met the kitchen staff. Two of them remembered me from two years ago, most of the others are all new.

James is a waiter and Daniel is the head waiter and remembered so many details of when I was here with Lana, even where I was from. He mentioned the elephant being born outside our tent on our last night and the lions waiting on our veranda roaring all night.
He is such a joker and a lot of fun. It was great to be remembered after all this time with all the guests that have come and gone since then.

We had lunch , did laundry, had a rest and shower


We are off for a game drive and were joined by two other women, sisters from the US who both seem quite nice. Anna and Katherine . There are only four in our truck and these one have much bigger viewing areas.

“What do you want to see? “

Leopards was pretty much the unanimous answer.

We drove for a while and then crossed a small stream. I said I could smell a kill, ( I have a very good sense of smell) and sure enough we found a fresh kill of a Topi, which is from the antelope family. It was at the bottom of a tree almost untouched, so we knew that she wasn't far from here. We could already see jackels and hyena in the distance and it wouldn't be long before they came to have their share.

A couple of other trucks were also looking in the area as they all radio each other, but being in the conservancy the only trucks allowed in here are those from the camps in the area so there were only four or five.
Finally we found her, resting on a branch of a tree, panting as she was tired from all the work of killing that huge Topi.


Fig is the leopard that Lana and I saw last time we were here and I knew she had a daughter in September so anxious to see her as well. Chloe spotted her in the same tree, they camouflage so well. We sat and watched for a while and then the younger one, Farrah, came down and went to the creek. Eventually Fig came down as well and walked over to the Topi, but decided instead to run past and go into different bushes.

Our truck went around and watched the young one for a while and then back to see Fig trying to drag the Topi. Leopards usually put their kill up in the tree to keep it from other predators, but this Topi is way too big and heavy. She gave up and went over to Farrah to think about a plan I imagine.


It was such a gift to see a leopard at all as they can be quite elusive , but this was amazing.

Eventually we headed off , all very happy with the sighting and anything now was just going to be a bonus.

A pride of lions was our next big sighting. One lioness with two really young cubs and a bunch of others of various ages. She would be taking care of all of them while the other lions went out to hunt.

They were so funny. Playing, wresting, curious about us, but much more intent on playing and tumbling about . We had our ‘sundowner’ there in front of the lions which could not have been more perfect.




I even had a glass of red wine, seeing as how the other two women did. We also had some snacks as well. I got quite drunk on one glass seeing as how I rarely drink. Everyone was making fun of me about it. The sun went down and we headed back to camp.

When we got to dinner both of the big tables were full so Daniel said we had to sit at a small table for two. We were joking that we were at the ‘kids table’

Daniel came with our soup and then asked about what we wanted for a main course. He was a bit hard to understand, but we agreed with stir fry. He was making fun of the fact we were vegetarian, even though he remembers that from last time.

Then we were taking about age and he said Chloe looked 12 and I looked 40
I said “ you can alway tell an older women she looks younger, but an younger women want to look older”. He would not agree with Chloe that she was 17 and kept insisting she was 12.
Chloe was just about crying she was laughing so hard. He is such a joker but we noticed he is very serious with everyone else. I guess he figures we can take it, especially because he has Chloe in stitches the entire time.

When it came to dessert I found the only fork I had left on the table was a massive meat carving fork. Chloe was dying with laughter by this time. We called him over and held up the two forks, one big one and the regular one.

He feigned innocence and said “oh that’s a meat fork. Who put that there?”

It made for a very entertaining dinner and I cant wait to see what he will do tomorrow.

We hear the hippos grunting outside our tent

Lion Camp day 10

I woke at 3:30 to hear a hippo just outside my tent eating grass, very loudly. I was still awake at 5:45A when we got our tray of hot chocolate for Chloe, hot water and lemon for me and 4 biscuits delivered by our guy into our tent. I wish I could be woken up like that at home every morning.

At 6:15 we were on our way for our full day to the Masai Mara to witness the wildebeest crossing. It was very cold and windy in the open sided jeep but we bundled up in provided ponchos with flannel linings to keep us warm. On the way to the Mara we saw many animals of course, but a few males lions and lioness who were on their honeymoon, which is where they leave the pride for a week to try and conceive. They will mate as many as 4 times an hour.


Then we came upon a bunch of young lions, two males under 2 and some females. When the males are three they must leave the pride to go off on their own to start their own pride or remain bachelors.

All of a sudden the lions are all looking into the distance , and getting a bit agitated , standing up and looking ready. It’s then we notice there are actually 7 lions, a few more in the distance. They start to approach a lone clueless warthog. Apparently wart hogs have very short memories. He will see the lions and then a few minutes later forget, which is what happened here, and he walked right towards them


We were all at the edge of our seat as we see the lions at the ready, and one of the farthest ones gets into chase to guide the warthog into the others. The wart hog started running, and man could he run fast. I don’t think he even knew he could run that fast. Eventually the lion gave up, the warthog is not that big a meal to feed that many anyhow. A lucky little poomba but he will probably forget the whole thing soon anyhow.

The roads on this side are just terrible. Well they aren’t really roads just tire tracks in the grass that everyone follows. You are not supposed to go off the road here like you can in our Conservancy. There has been a lot of rain, the grass is high and very green, but the roads and grounds and very wet and muddy. We were slipping and sliding quite a few times. The Land cruiser will and does go everywhere. Over rocks, through deep mud and rivers and rocks. It is a very jostling and bumpy ride, you need to hang on and feel like you will be thrown out at times. Chris is a very skilled and careful driver though and a few times will get out of the jeep to assess the road before continuing or finding another route.
Chloe just loved it . It was like a ride at Disneyland and safari all rolled into one.
Through the river we go.

We had to take a different route because of this and went through a small town on the way which was interesting. No women to speak of were seen but lots of young men out and about. On the way back we saw lots of kids and teens walking home from school.

There are so many more trucks over here. If we see a lion or something of interest there will be almost a dozen trucks there vying for the best view. We saw a lone tree that was in an area of less mud and Chris and Wilfred decided this would be a great place to have our breakfast. Another truck also saw it but Christ stepped on the gas and got there first. The other truck pulled up and they all laughed about it. The drivers from all the company’s all work so well together and help each other with sighting information etc. It is great to see.

Our breakfast was wonderful sitting on our little chairs under the tree looking at the the wildebeest in the field.


There was a fly problem however. And it only got worse as the day went on. Millions of flies and they would go in your ears, eyes all over your face. We covered up as much as we could but it was so annoying . With so many wildebeest and zebra and all the mud it is the season for flys. I saw a truck of other tourists in a jeep and the two drivers were talking as we all were waving our hands to keep the flies off our face and I joked.
“It is the Kenyan wave”

Not much further on we came to a small river and saw thousands of wildebeest and zebra on the other side. Waiting. and waiting. So we waited too, a bit out of sight so as not to spook them. Us and a dozen other trucks.
Every Spring the wildebeest travel from Tanzania to Kenya because there is more to eat. In the Fall they go back to Tanzania so there are two crossing times in the year.

Eventually one brave soul made the move to go down the hill into the river and they all followed. We raced down to the edge and watched as around 1500 of them came charging through. It was quite something. We had no idea how many were there until they started.


And then just like that someone decides to stop and they all run in the other direction and the crossing stops.

We waited around for about another hour and then saw that they were going to start again down the river. They like to cross in an area where there are not many trees as that is where the predators lie in wait for them. It is now super hot out and the flys are unbearable But we wait.

There are a half dozen zebra on our side and they go down to the edge of the river, probably for a drink, but they came back up and the zebra on the other side followed and then the wildebeest after them. It was around another 1500 or so. It is an amazing thing to watch, and how lucky for us to have seen two crossings.

We stopped for a picnic lunch on the Mara river which was full of hippos grunting and spouting water. It was just perfect.


Driving away after lunch Wilfred asks “ ok, now what do you want to see?’

I said a baby giraffe. Never really expecting it, but in less than half an hour there it was. A couple of them and a few adults in a field of beautiful long grass. A tower of giraffes.


"What next?" they ask

A cheetah.

In less than half an hour we came across a mom and very young cheetah on the side of the road.


We had an amazingly lucky day, but the guide and driver we had last time was the same. The Porini drivers are able to show us everything that we want to see which is incredible. The animal population is so much higher here than the last two parks, which is why I saved the best for last.


We passed a huge number of vultures devouring a hippo who must have just died. We passed again three hours later and there was almost nothing left


It was a very long but fulfilling day, we arrived back just after 5 so we had 11 hours in total. A rest shower and then back to the mess tent for dinner. We got to sit at the adult table tonight and met some interesting people from Australia and had some great conversations.

One of the guests was having her 30th birthday so all the staff came out and did some Masai Warrior dancing and singing which was wonderful. We all sang happy birthday and shared some cake before retiring for the night.

Day 11, July 01 st

Another 6:15AM departure for a game drive. We saw a few lions hiding in the grass and one in a ditch waiting for an ambush.


A lone cheetah who looked very pregnant


We saw a hippo and I said, “ I haven’t gotten a picture of a hippo yawning yet", and as if on cue he yawned .


Some cute tiny Dik Diks , the smallest of the antelope family


A lion on his way to get out of the heat and sleep in the bush. All the Topi were on alert but he must not have been hungry


We had breakfast overlooking the beautiful scenery and had some great conversations for close to an hour
Then we met with another truck for Anna and Catherine to go to the airport and fly to Rwanda for their gorilla hike.
We slowly drove back to the camp, stopping in to check on the leopards and saw Farrah by herself


A rest, pack up and then lunch with some new arrivals and more great conversations

We said our good byes to the staff and were really sorry to leave. This was our favourite camp and overall a fantastic safari trip.

It was an hour drive to the airstrip and we arrived back in Nairobi at 5PM and back to the Saab hotel.

We have a day here tomorrow and then we fly to Uganda for our gorilla hike.

Posted by debbep 11:51 Archived in Kenya Comments (0)

London and Africa

Travelling with my grand-daughter

sunny 26 °C

After my last trip to Africa my Grand daughter said that one day she would love to do a safari and gorilla trek. I suggested that she get a job, (she was 15), save some money and that if she did I would go with her.
And she did.
We made a plan for next year when she graduates, but moved it up a year for various reasons. She has now just turned 17 and we are heading off on an adventure of a lifetime. We had to break up the trip somewhere and Chloe really wanted to see London, (one of my favourite cities), so that is what we are doing.

Here is our itinerary.

June 20, Fly from Vancouver to London arriving on June 21
June 21,22,23 in London
June 24 fly to Nairobi
Safari June 25-July 1

July 3. Fly to Rwanda to gorilla trek in Uganda
July 5 Fly back to Nairobi from Rwanda to connect to our midnight flight to London

July 6,7,8,9 London
July 10 Fly back to Vancouver

London, Day one. June 20th.

It was a very long day. We stayed overnight in Victoria and left at 7:30AM for the 9 ferry to Vancouver. A bus and then skytrain had us at the airport in plenty of time for our 3PM Air Transat flight to Gatwick.


We were lucky to have the middle seat free on the flight but none the less it was a long 8 1/2 hours with no sleep coming my way. Three movies and some tv watching was all I could do.

Arrival in Gatwick was on time at 8:30AM the next day and after passport control we found the shuttle to the South Terminal for our Gatwick train. Thankfully there was a nice employee at the self serve terminals to help us buy our return tickets and we were on our way.

The train took us to Farringdon where we purchased an Oyster Card and loaded it with 20EP and the 5EP deposit. The max it will charge you is 7 a day for journeys so better than paying point to point

Arrived at Paddington station and then a five minute walk to our hotel, the Royal Cambridge on Sussex Garden. All the hotels on this street are converted town houses, ours taking two to make one hotel. The manager remembered me from calling her about a mixup with Agoda, the booking company I used to book this room a year ago. Agoda sent a message two weeks ago and said my booking was cancelled. The manager rebooked me at the same price which was nice and a huge relief.

It is only 11AM and check in is at 2P. We are so tired, having been up for 20 hours already, but she let us have the room after just a 1/2 hour wait. We were very grateful. The room is really small, but clean and modern and on the main floor. Two twin beds and a bonus of air conditioning with a decent bathroom. I am happy.

At 2PM the alarm went off and , although we didn't want to leave the comfort of our bed, we knew we had to if we were going to get on London time.

Back to the underground where we made our way to the Victoria And Albert Museum. I had bought a membership on line because the exhibit I wanted to see ,’ Christian Dior’ was sold out. The membership allows as many visits as I like and Chloe, my grand daughter can get in for free with me as she is under 18.

The first stop was the cafeteria for some lunch. We are both vegan, but flexible and today we decided to have a sandwich with cheese which was fantastic. A good quality white cheddar was used, and two salads came with lunch. That really hit the spot. We sat outside in the courtyard which had a bunch of chairs and tables around what looked like a pond but children were swimming and playing in it which was fun.


The Dior collection was bigger than I thought it would be. It was fantastic. The presentation was very well done and the clothing was beautiful and very creative. There were quite a number of people but it was not overwhelming.




Later we visited the Mary Quant collection which was also fun to see. We will come another day to visit more of the museum.

Another subway to Hyde Park Corner where we walked through St. James Park with many bird sightings, a few bright green parrots as well. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable short walk to Buckingham Palace which even at this time of day was quite busy. We just sat on the steps of the statue and looked at the palace and people watched for about an hour. We were actually too tired to move I think.


Finally at 5PM I decided to hail a cab, the thought of walking back to the subway and dealing with all that was too much to bear. We had a lovely cab driver and were back in our room in no time to prepare for tomorrow.

London , Day 2
The Royal Ascot

Our included breakfast was a croissant and piece of fruit and then we were on our way to take the underground to Waterloo Train Station. We had dressed up in our finest which got a few looks from others until we arrived at Waterloo where we saw many Ascot goers in their fancy dress and fascinators.

Empty seats were beside two men dressed to the nines , top hats, morning suit and even the canes. I started up a conversation with the fellow beside me but he was from Milan Italy and did not speak much English. His friend spoke a bit more. The fellow beside me had my favourite color on, right down to his shoes which were blue and white. Quite the dashing men. The women in our car had various hats of all sizes and colors, some with large feathers and things coming out the top. Champagne was being enjoyed by some groups already at this early hour of 9AM. Let the party begin.

Arrival had us all walking up a pedestrian walkway lined with British flags overhead. The mood is very festive and everyone is acting rather regal in their finery


Chloe picked up her entrance from the ticket office as those under 18 must buy on the day. Security is very high with police and security personal everywhere. A bag search was quick and painless and then we were through the gates to explore.

Being early there were many tables at the food cart area so we decided to take advantage and sit a while and people watch. We grabbed a lemonade and later had to try the ‘cheese toast’ that has been talked about so much. It was quite good but glad we split one. I met a man while buying the toast who had worked at the Ascot for 29 years, this was his last one and his job was meeting with the Queen when she arrived and made sure all was in order. He has written a couple of books and was quite interesting to talk to.


The band started playing and the people were filling up all the empty tables in the area. A great deal of ‘beautiful people’ hanging about.


We walked around for a bit and then got our spot for the Queens arrival at 2PM. We chose the winners circle as it was a smaller area and looked as though we could get closer. We noticed security up high on the platforms, strapped in, looking at the crowd with binoculars for anything suspicious

The first four days of the ascot saw a lot of rain, but we were lucky today as it was a bright sunny day. Really quite warm. Our spot on the rail was secured an hour early and we did more people watching until the band came out to entertain for a bit. It was getting close to 2 and very busy here now. The big screen showed the carriage coming onto the racetrack, the cheering could be heard from where we were. I had placed a bet on the color she would wear today and chose green or purple. She arrived in a lime green hat and outfit which was a nice surprise.

Eventually they came through the tunnel and passed by our area, mere feet from where we were standing. She was accompanied by her son Prince Andrew and two other horse gentleman. The other two carriages were also with horse people that I did not know about.


It was all quite exciting and then the horses for the first race arrived, being paraded around a couple of times until the jockey climbed on and they went off to the starting post. The horses were very worked up, high spirited and one even bucked the jockey off and dragged. him a bit. It looked like the rider was a bit bruised but not too hurt hopefully.


We tried to get in to see the race but the building out to the track was crammed with people, you could not move let alone get to the track. So we watched it on TV. I did place a bet but my horse did not show in the first four.

The second race we made our way down to the track as a lot were coming in to cash in their winnings . The announcer really gets the crowd going , yelling near the end as the crowd is cheering and shouting as their horse is vying for first place. It’s very exciting to be a part of it all. Again my horse did not make a showing at all, but I really had no idea what I was doing.


We started making our way through the crowds to the wicket where I bought the bet for queens color at, I paid a total of 30GBP for the three bets and got back 17.

Our trip to the ladies washroom gave us a bit of entertainment for the 30 minutes of waiting in the long queue. The men’s was beside the ladies and a couple of security folk with dogs were waiting outside for the fellows to come out. The dogs did point out a few of the young men who were led off somewhere, some of them almost in tears. I know that if they get a criminal record for drug possession they could very likely lose their high paying jobs. A bad decision that they will surely regret for a short term high. Not sure what kind of drugs they were, different kinds I suppose.

Afternoon tea was booked for 4:30P so we made our way to the 1768 Restaurant. It was very lovely, but super hot as the sun was baking down on us. We each ordered tea and then brought a three tiered plate of vegetarian sandwiches, scones with cream and raspberry jam and the top layer crowned with fancy little desserts. It was all delicious, but not enough to fill us up, just tide us over for the train trip back. But a perfect place to have our afternoon tea in my opinion with everyone all dressed to the nines and making it all very special.


We left a couple hours before the races were over to make our way to the theatre before 7:30PM. Everyone had to queue up at the station , it was all very well organized and orderly and despite the pushing and shoving to get a seat we did manage to sit all the way back. My feet were killing me. I can imagine later on however it will be quite a wait for a train and very long lines.

Back at Waterloo station we hurried to catch the subway to Piccadilly and made it to the theatre just as the curtain for “Les Miserables’ was going up.
We had slip seats beside the stage and although the leg room was rather cramped the view was great being so close to the stage and the price was certainly right.

We both loved the show, the singing was fantastic.


I guess all the shows get out at the same time because the underground station was as crammed as the Ascot was earlier. Eventually we did get back to our hotel and were happy to put our feet up after a very full but fantastic day

London day 3.


A lazy morning was in order. We missed breakfast so just went to the convenience store for some fruit and croissants which we ate on the subway to Camden Market. We explored the shops in the ‘Stables’ for a couple of hours poking around. It was quite busy but had a lot of fun things, many retro clothing stores. Chloe bought a cute shirt at one. We found ‘The Dirty Vegan’ restaurant and had fries with vegan cheese over top. It was quite rich and neither of us could finish them but tasty.


I was really tired today, I think I overdid it yesterday so we decided to go on a bus tour and headed off to Hyde Park Corner. The Mega Bus had the best price for just a tour, there was not going to be any hopping on or off going on, so we looked for that, just missing the 2PM departure . The tickets must be booked on line and not having wifi made it a problem, but there was a man there to check passengers in and he figured out a way for me and we purchased two tickets. . It cost 30 GBP for us both, and on line was about 20, but didn't have much of a choice so didn’t argue. The other buses were all around 30 each .

It was a very informative and pleasant trip seeing all the highlights in less than 2 hours as traffic was light being a Sunday. We had planned on doing the London Eye after but we were both running out of camera battery so decided to call it a day.

A stop at a pub near the hotel for a mediocre veggie burger and then back to pack up for our flight to Nairobi tomorrow morning.

Day 4
Flight to Kenya , June 24

Heathrow express tickets were purchased on line three months in advance so the cost was quite reasonable. We were at the airport in 15 minutes from Paddington and through security in record time. I have never been through with such ease before. Now we wait. I always like to be early for flights in case of the ‘what ifs’.

Our British Airways flight left on time at 10:40AM and was packed . Our middle seat was filled by a lovely young man from Germany now living in Nairobi for a couple of years.
We arrived on time at 9:40 PM, bought our East Africa Visa and were met by Moses from the hotel in a nice Landcruiser to take us to our hotel, the Saab Royale.
The reception greeted us with hot towels and fresh passion fruit juice as we checked in. Our twin room is bigger than the one in London and just fine for the night.
Tomorrow we will be picked up at 8AM for the start of our Kenya Safari. It is very exciting.

Posted by debbep 13:41 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london royal ascot Comments (1)

The Red Sea, Egypt

A great way to relax

sunny 27 °C

Days. 19 - 24

Hurghada. The Arabia Azur resort was a bit daunting for us at first, quite a big change from the noise and bustle of Luxor, but after a day we settled in nicely enjoying the sun, sea and endless food.

Our days were pretty much the same:

Claim a beach sun bed with our towels
Breakfast buffet
To the beach to read, turn on the rotisserie every half hour, basting in sunscreen often.
As soon as I arrived my pool guy will bring me a cappuccino
Swim, snorkel
More baking and reading
Is it lunch time yet? Belly up to the buffet
More of the same again until 4PM,
nap time
Dinner buffet

We met lots of people, but conversations were mostly on the surface as many did not speak much english and we did not speak German which is what most of the guest were.


The staff were excellent. 45 days on then one or two weeks off. Many lived in Luxor and came for work. They work very hard, 12 hour days and always have a smile on their face and love to joke. Everyone is made to feel like they are the most important guest there.

A lifeguard would visit me on the beach and practice his english, saying a word and I would give the explanations and then use it in a sentence. When he came to the word ‘stingy’ we used it in a sentence but I suggested he may not want to use that word when talking to tourists
He crossed it off his list.

One day we went on a boat tour to snorkel in a couple different spots. There were 12 of us on a fairly large boat and our first stop was to watch Nile dolphins playing in the water.
Three different stops to snorkel and a stop on a beach for an hour. I was not really impressed with it at all. The snorkelling in front of our hotel was better.


Lots of pink jelly fish, but they didn’t seem to bother anyone thankfully.

We walked to the marina one afternoon, and one day when I was having my afternoon sleep Doug went off on an adventure into the old part of town and came back wth lots of stories to tell .

Days 25-30

We decided to split up the time between two different resorts on two different reefs.
The Serenity Makadi bay was more luxurious with beautiful grounds, two salt water and two fresh water pools, and a beach out front with plenty of sun beds, umbrellas and windscreens. Our room was large and on the ground floor facing one of the salt water pools. Unfortunately the pool was too cold to go in, I know because I tried one day and it took forever to warm up again. The sea was warmer.


Our routine here was very similar as before. I read three books which was great. The food was so much better and my vegetarian needs were met, with the chef meeting me at each meal to point out dishes that did not have meat.

One young waiter would come at each meal and teach Doug and I a new Arabic phrase. He would pronounce it, give the meaning and we would repeat.
He would say it again and we would repeat
Inevitably he would shake his head and walk off frustrated with us as we would mispronounce it terribly.
All in good fun.

We arrived during a big wind storm and the red flag was flying, but the next day we were back to yellow and ventured into the water down a ladder at the end of the pier

It was outstanding. Many tropical fish, and the coral! It looked like beds of purple and green heather growing under the crystal clear water. This is the best place I have ever snorkelled and we went in twice day. The water temperature was on the cooler side so we could only stay in 30-40 minutes at a time. The Red Sea is so salty you can lay on the top and float with ease.


We did go to a couple of shows but mostly we just had a late dinner than went back to our room to read. We met lots of people and conversations were a bit easier here as more people spoke English. Guests came from Germany but also lots from England, Egypt and other parts of Europe. There were people of all ages as well as many young family’s which is always great to be around young children , all who were so well behaved.

One afternoon I was approached by a man on the beach wanting to sell treatments at the attached spa, so I agreed to a needed colouring and haircut.

The outside of the Spa looked very promising but that’s where it ended. Inside was in great need of renovation and a good cleaning. I met my hairdresser in a small room with three chairs. Her english was minimal and I like to have a hairdresser who has a good cut herself, but of course I could not see her hair as she was in a full headscarf. I came armed with photos, haircuts with light color with lowlights.
“Just a trim.”
Ok ok she said

What was I thinking?

Two hours later my hair is very bleached, not sure what happened to the lowlights, and I am scalped.
I had memories of my dog, a Bichon frieze, when he would come home from the groomers with a really bad short haircut. He would hide under the bed in embarrassment for a few days.

I have had a couple of trips too many to the buffet to fit under the bed

My hair grows fast though, and I have a hat.

An ( expensive) lesson learned

This morning we sat with a couple from northern Russia for breakfast. They said that the snorkelling here is no where near as good as Sharm el sheik, north of here on the Sinai peninsula . Hmmmmm. We may make a trip back at some point to check that out



Day 31

Our relaxing vacation came to an end too soon, we were really enjoying the time there so much. Today we flew back to Cairo for the last two nights in Egypt. Our hotel arranged an airport pick up for us and in an hour we were checking into our 2 star hotel. Well maybe 3. Great location though, right across from the museum and near all the expensive hotels on Tahrir square where the uprising (revolution) was a few years ago. We have a balcony over looking the very busy street with non stop honking. Quite a change from our quiet beach retreat.


We went out for a late lunch/ early dinner at a restaurant in a nice hotel across the street and then wandered about for a few hours down back lanes and small streets. I lost my lipstick a couple of weeks ago and could not find any place in hurghada to buy some. I found a small shop here and bought two for under 6$. I feel human again with my short bleached hair and bright pink lips.

Doug wandered around again later on and I just hung out in our room

Day. 32

Our last full day in Egypt. Last night we arranged to have a guide pick us up this morning and take us on a walking tour of Islamic Cairo. He arrived at 8 AM and we drove to two large mosques, Hassan and Mohammed Ali. The later is from the 8th century and the Hassan from the 18th. Very impressive and beautiful with intricate art of marble and cedar inlaid with ebony and ivory.
In the Hassan mosque lies the mausoleum of the Shah of Iran and also king Faruok.


Our next stop was the Islamic museum which was very well laid out with some beautiful pieces. A class room of university art students were scattered about drawing some of the artifacts


A local Egyptian souk was our next stop, through a medieval area, the first walled area of Cairo.



This is Egyptian cotton

We had a stop for some Turkish coffee and then onto the tourist bazaar

Our Egyptologist, Eman was a wealth of information about many subjects regarding old and current Egypt and I felt I could ask him many questions about religion politics and customs without problem. I was not so lucky a previous time here so I have learned to tread lightly now with my overly inquisitive mind and big mouth.

I bought some nice living room pillow cases in red and Doug got a small package of freshly roasted coffee that we will try at home . Oranges and bananas were also purchased as there isn’t any fruit at breakfast


We were dropped off at 2:30PM and we were famished! We found an Egyptian restaurant near our hotel and were delighted to enjoy a delicious meal of falafel, roasted vegetables, tahini, foul ( a local vegetarian bean dish) and Doug also had barbecue chicken. This was all washed down with tasty cold lemon mint drinks


After a sleep and rest in our room we walked the streets of Cairo for a few hours looking for a lamp Doug saw in the market but had decided not to buy.

Cairo has 20 million people. That is more than half the population of Canada living in this one city, so naturally it is very busy. The streets were very crowded with people walking about as we were.

The shopping is divided into areas, I have seen this in other cities as well. Blocks and blocks of shoe stores, nothing but shoes of every description for a mile or more

A block over were windshields and car parts as far as the eye can see.

Next block jewelry and on it goes.

But no lamps. We felt very comfortable walking everywhere, even down alleyways. Police presence is very high.

Muslim’s don’t drink alcohol so they socialize in coffee shops and sheesha shops. Sheesha is tobacco mixed with a flavour like apple or fruits and smoked with a large water pipe. There are many small shops everywhere full of mostly men. There are a number of larger outdoor ones that we found with young women in as well.


We noticed that most Egyptian men also smoke regular cigarettes.

Day 33 and 34

Our transfer to the airport was at 7:30AM for our 10:30 flight to Athens. Being a Friday traffic was light and we arrived at 8. We decided to check both suitcases and then waited until boarding time. Security was different here. At the flight gate you had to go through a very thorough screening and pat down before getting on the plane. Makes sense really

In Hurghada and Cairo they allowed open food through security and water in my metal water bottle, they just asked that you take a drink or eat some of what you are carrying. Brilliant, I wish all airports did this. I had had same experience in Tanzania

We boarded our flight, settled in, taxied down the run way and we were then informed that we needed to return to the gate for a technical issue. We all deplaned and were bussed back to the waiting room where we waited for a couple of hours until we did it all again

I met a lovely woman my age from Santa Barbra California and we had a great conversation about Egypt and our experience here.

We didn’t have any real plans today so the delay was not the end of the world.

So we finally arrived at our hotel on the sea in a small town called Rafina which is around half hour from the Athens airport
Tomorrow we will just walk the sea boardwalk and prepare for our 16 hour flight home on Sunday, March 3 rd.


We had an amazing trip to Egypt and I am so happy we came. We are even talking about a return trip in the near future.
It will be great to be home and sleep in our own beds for now however. Thanks for following along. Until next time.

Posted by debbep 12:44 Archived in Egypt Comments (7)

Nile cruise and Luxor

It just keeps getting better

sunny 27 °C

Day. 11. Friday Feb. 8

At 9 am our transfer arrived at the hotel and we climbed into a van destined for our three day Nile cruise. Nick and Louise from England were already on board, two thirty something professionals, she originally from Sweden. We started chatted right away when we found ourselves in front of the Cataract Hotel where we were joined by Nick and Kara and Nick’s parents Dallas and Ingrid all from Huston. It took a half hour to get to the boat and the talking was non stop.

Our home for the next three nights is the Zekrayaat, a dahabiya or sailing river boat. Most of the Nile cruises are on large river boats that carry between 100 and two hundred passengers. Ours has six rooms and has a capacity for 12 people. Our Egyptologist Salah is around 40ish and very well travelled and educated in various parts of the world . He proves to be an amazing wealth of information, at times making it a lot of fun too.



A cold drink of hibiscus tea is brought as we watch our final four passengers make their way across the field and onto the boat. Aimee and Natalie are two travelling friends in their late thirties I think.Aimee resides in Los Angeles and Natalie in Phoenix.

Daniel a paediatrician and his father Jose from Madrid arrive and make up our final 12 so we set off north on our journey to Luxor.

Our rooms are assigned , ours a double, and all have private bath. It is quite spacious for a boat and the windows open to see the banks of the Nile passing by.

Lunch is served on the deck, an assortment of many Egyptian dishes fragrant with cumin, coriander and spices that i am not yet familiar with.

The 12 of us toast to an amazing group of ship mates and all express how relieved and pleased we are with everyone on board. We all end up being fairly open minded so we’re able to talk about politics, religion and current events over the next thee days without much disagreement.

The Nile, life blood of Egypt, is the only river that flows south to north. For that reason upper Egypt is in the south and Lower egypt in the north which can be a bit confusing fo me a times.

Kom Obo is our first stop, temples with some beautiful color visible on the walls and columns.


The wind is going in the opposite direction so most of the time we are pulled by a tug boat. The Nile is a bit choppy and very windy on the deck, but so smooth that you hardly know you are moving. The shade of the canopy over the upper deck combined with the wind makes it a bit chilly at times. I found a lounge chair that I moved into the sun and read my book, a novel on the life of Hatshepsut, a perfect book to read while cruising on the Nile.

We ate in the dining room downstairs for dinner as it was a bit cold. The boat pulled off to the side of the river for the night, something that the larger boats can’t do.
A very quiet night with almost no movement felt from the boat.

Day 12

Breakfast up top at 8 and then off to explore some tombs and then a rock quarry to see where and how they chiseled away the huge stones and then transported them onto the boats to sail up the Nile to Luxor and various other destinations.

Back on board we are passing so many of the larger ships, there seems to be a convoy of them. I am in the lounge chair enjoying my book and Turkish coffee with a hint of cardamom when i hear Salah, our Egyptologist, get a phone call and run down stairs.

The boat is steered by a huge rudder with large ropes attached. Mohammed is furiously pulling on the ropes and moving the rudder to cross the Nile, dancing between all the other larger boats with great skill. The boat is then attached to the shore with ropes tied onto metal spikes which are driven into the bank. The resident cows and donkeys try to come up the gang plank to have a visit. They are very curious and hilarious to watch.




Salah jumps into he tug boat and they take off. Apparently Natalie and Aimee were left behind at the quarry. Thankfully she had her cell phone and called the office of the boat we were on. We felt bad that we didn't notice, but a lot of us were in our rooms showering or resting for a while so didn't think much of it.

The two hour wait was not a hardship at all. We chatted, read, English Nick went swimming, Daniel went ashore and found some fresh cut sugar cane that we all tried.
We were getting hungry though, but waited until they came back so we could all eat together.


They apologized for making us wait, we apologized for not noticing they were missing. It was great as no one was stressed about the change in plan at all, we were all very relaxed about it.

We got to put the sails up for a bit which was great. It’s so peaceful watching fishermen and life on the Nile.



Rami created another multi course lunch once again and was always very accommodating to my vegan and Louises’ gluten free needs.
There is always far too much food.


Tonight after dinner the crew did a performance with music and singing and then pulled us up one at a time to do some dancing. Salah then did a little play to teach us about the different gods which was a fun way to learn. Doug was Horus. The god of all gods

Day 13

The boat was pulled over to a field at Edfu last night. I could hear the call to prayer at 4:30AM. It was soft and beautiful. At 5AM it got much louder and was completing with a few other mosques. It was an early morning for me.

After a breakfast, that included delicious crepes, yum, we disembarked and took a horse and buggy through the town to the temple of Horus, the god with the falcon head and one of the most important of the gods. This is one of the best preserved temples in Egypt and we found a number of other groups were there, Day trippers from Aswan.





Sailing to our next stop of El Kab tombs cut into the cliffs. A number of children were selling some hand made baskets, which really were not that attractive, but they thought that Doug needed to buy a few. They mobbed him all the way back. This is a photo of him, he is almost hidden from the children surrounding him. We each bought one but ‘forgot ‘them on the boat when we left.


Our last dinner as a group tonight, we exchanged e mails and hope to keep in touch possibly.

Day. 14 Monday February 11.

After breakfast we were all transported to our respective hotels in Luxor, a half hour drive from where we docked.


Ours is the Nefertiti hotel, a bit shabby looking from the outside but has good reviews. As it is only 9 AM our room is not ready so we left our bags and grabbed a cab to Karnak Temple, one of the most important in the Luxor area.

Once again it took some time to buy our Luxor pass. One fellow starts the process, then calls another fellow, who leaves with the documents and our US dollars. He comes back and they do something else, then we are suggested to give him a tip and he disappears again for a while. There was an english couple who were also getting the pass and getting quite upset that they were taking so long and doing ours at the same time, as they arrived first.
Doug tried to quell the situation by chatting about other things. The couple were really quite miserable about how things are done in Egypt.

Karnak was a great site and we explored for a few hours. Our taxi driver Adam was there to take us back to the hotel where we checked into our room on the fourth ( really the fifth ) floor, no elevator, but thankfully two guys hefted our suitcases up for us. There is a large terrace by our room which is where we enjoyed the restaurant for dinner. Our room is quite nice.



Day 15

Breakfast on the terrace allowed a view of a dozen or more hot air balloons floating over the Nile and towards the valley of the kings. Doug and I decided not to do this as we had a fantastic one in turkey and don’t feel we need to do it here.


We arranged to have Adam’s cousin pick us up at 9 , as Adam was busy, and we set off to the West Bank to visit the Valley of the Queens. Queen Nefertari’s tomb was our first stop and it was magnificent. The tomb had been restored using the original methods of making the colors and applying them. Sweden France and USAid all seem to be a huge part in the ongoing restoration and archeology work in Egypt. We see a number of tents and workers at numerous sites. Many universities from around the world also play a huge part.


We did visit a few other tombs as well and then had to ‘exit though the gift shop’ once again. This is not as popular site so there were only about a dozen vendors. At the first stall I told the fellow I would look at everyone’s stalls and then make my decision at the end. He said that was fine and yelled at all the other guys of my intentions. It worked. I couldn't believe it

They of course tried to convince me to buy from them but it was not as bad as other places. I think because it was a small area they all were friends. I made my choice at the end, a wall plaque of Nefertari and we were on our way to see Hatshepsut temple.

I was very excited about this one as the book I had just finished was the story of Hatshepsut and the building of her temple. She wanted it to blend in with the mountains, and it looks like it could have been made in today’s time. It was very crowded and very hot but I was happy to be here.



We ran into Kara, Nick and Dallas again, we saw them at Karnak yesterday too. Crazy seeing as how many people are here that we have met up twice.

We stopped briefly at the valley of the Nobles on the way back but we were templed out by then and very hungry so didn't stay long.


There is no fruit at breakfast so we asked the manager where we could buy some. He suggested he buy it for us as it will be much less expensive.

We came back to our room to find our pillows and towels made into an elephant with a fruit plate on top.


Tonight we walked through the souk to go to dinner. Looks like some nice things in there that I don't need, but may have to come back and take a look later.

Day 16

The manager brought us a beautiful plate of sliced apples and mouth watering sweet strawberries this morning. He is so happy to help in any way

Adam was here at 8:30 AM to drive us to the Valley of the Kings, once again on the West Bank.

The crowds were not bad today and the temperature was perfect. The valleys have small trains that take you about a mile from the visitor centre to the first tomb. I bought an extra ticket to take photos for $24 and glad I did. The guards were on everyone who tried to take photos without the pass. Some would just take backesh but a few confiscated phones and deleted all the photos. One Russian woman was really mad and yelling and being very rude to the guards which they did not take well at all. One fellow got caught taking a photo with his I watch. Can’t pull anything over these guys.

Our first stop was Seti 1, which was outstanding but no photos here at all even with the pass.
Ramses 111, V and V1 were also very impressive . The colours are amazing, and the workmanship incredible.





The workers who built the tombs and the temples were paid in gold and not many were slaves. Some however were killed after working on the tombs of the pharaohs so that they would not be able to tell anyone where the tombs were for fear of looting.

Pictures don’t do it justice, each tomb tells a different story and the restoration work is incredible.

King tuts tomb held only his mummy and one of his sarcophagus. Most of the treasures that were inside are in various museums.

Our last stop was the Medinat Habu temple of Ramses 111 and Hatshepsut . Another impressive temple.



Late lunch, rest and then walking around the streets for a few hours tonight. We were pretty much the only tourists around this area walking at night. All the shops are very small and sell only a few goods . You wonder how they all make a living

We cut through the souk on the way back to the hotel and bought more peanuts and dates and a papyrus, much larger than I intended. These guys are so good, I started out choosing a small one first.
But then saw a larger one and before I knew it we were bargaining for both. I only got the one in the end which is all I wanted and I think we were both happy with the price.


Day. 17 Valentine’s Day

Elementary school starts at 730AM. How do I know that? Because our hotel is beside the school and at 7:35 we hear marching music full blast over the loudspeaker. Someone is playing the organ and for 1/2 hour various marching tunes are played for morning exercise.
Then the teach says ( I imagine)
“ now who is the worst singer in the class, raise your hand “. And that person comes to the mike and sings comments for the next ten minutes

I asked the cook at our rooftop restaurant. “ school exercises?”

“ yes. E v e r y M o r n i n g “. He sighs.

It gets all of us up and moving too.

Our last full day in Luxor was planned to just stick close to the hotel. Outside Doug hired a horse and buggy driver he had been talking to the past few days and he arranged a price to take us to the Luxor museum. It went sideways unfortunately as he wanted us to do more, words were said and it didn’t end well


The museum however was great, beautiful layout and very interesting artifacts




We walked along the waterfront and stoped for lunch at a hotel where we ran into our Spanish boat mate Daniel so we chatted for a bit

Continuing our walk to the Luxor temple a young boy offered to shine Doug’s shoes for 20LE. That went sideways as well I’m afraid and in the end he asked for 200 to which we handed him 40 and words were said again . His shoes look great though


Heading into the Luxor temple we realize we are instead entering the mosque attached. We turn to leave when a man says ,

“ no you are welcome, come in”

This was the only day I did not have my headscarf in my backpack but he leant me one and gave us a bit of a tour. He said that they help out 168 orphans in the area.

Doug said he would like to make a donation to the orphans and pulled out 200 (15$).

We made our way to the Luxor temple and looked around for a bit before returning to the hotel for a nap.



Day 18

To the beach! A taxi to the Go Bus station for our three hour trip to Hurghada, which had many stops and took five hours. The seats very very cramped, like a cheap airline squished too close , but the the cost was only $8 each.

At 1PM we arrived and took a cab to our home for the next six nights, Arabia Azur Resort, an all inclusive on the beach. Our reservation was a bit screwed up but eventually we were given the right room, a sea view on the third floor. It is a huge room with balcony and quite an upgrade from the rooms we have been staying in.

There are no elevators and this is a huge resort where our room is quite far from the pool and food, but climbing the stairs and walking far may counteract all the food available from 6AM till 11PM that I am sure we will eat plenty of.

I am quite surprised that almost everyone is German. Some Russian and Scandinavian but the signs are in German and the staff speak German to us all the time, surprised when we speak English. We went into the library to get a novel to read and out of hundreds of books there was only one English one.

A young Swedish girl heard us talking and asked why we were here. She could not believe we came all this way.

There are no Arabic signs anywhere. We are having a bit of a culture shock, or a no culture shock. It reminded me of being on the cruise ship with everyone at the Buffett, packed to the rafters

There is a nice beach and the water is turquoise blue with a few reefs. We look forward to some swimming and snorkeling the next few days


Posted by debbep 13:14 Archived in Egypt Tagged cruise. nile luxor. Comments (0)

Cairo and Aswan

sunny 28 °C

Day 7

Mohammed was our hired driver again to day . He was the one who picked us up from the airport. We set off at 9 and our first stop was Saqurra, which was a half hour or so drive from Giza. The landscape changed to more green and lush with many large date and palm trees. We drove though prosperous looking farming areas but there were still evidence of those who were struggling financial as well.

Lots of police presence everywhere, especially at and near the tourist sites. In full bullet proof vests and gear, machine guns and the police on the side of the road are standing behind metal shields about 4 feet high with a cut out for the gun to stick though. They are always friendly and approachable however. We ask them directions or for information when we are lost etc.

There are two sides to Saqurra. You really feel like you are in the desert out here, miles of sand with the pyramids and tombs the only thing on the landscape. Mohammed stayed in the car, he is a driver not a guide and his english is minimal. We had the Cairo pass so didn't need to pay again. $100 US gets us into all the sites in the area for five consecutive days.


One of the ‘scams’ I figured out is that a fellow at the beginning of the area will ask to see your ticket again, completely unnecessary. Eventually i just said no, i don't need to show it again. They look at it and ask if you are on a tour. If you say no, they become your self appointed guide. They just walk with you and start telling you things. If you say no guide, they just don’t listen and you just end up having a guide most of the time. No is not an answer they understand. Ahmed did not have a great command of the english language, but he thought he did so i didn't have the heart to tell him I couldn’t understand pretty much anything he was saying. He took us around the site and showed us some tombs with great hieroglyphics with color still visible. It is amazing to think that these are 3,000 yeas old and still in perfect shape.


In the end we gave him 200 Egypt pounds, ($15 CDN). There were very few tourists here, more guides and sales people than tourists. Tough life for them right now.

We then drove to the other side and dodged the “guides” and just looked around on our own. The hieroglyphics on this side were outstanding. A police man came up to us and asked if we were on a tour.
No, just us.
‘Follow me, I will show you some tombs’


He took us to an area a bit way from everyone and unlocked some doors. He showed us four different locked tombs that were outstanding. He also let me take photos which was great. As this was something I had read about beforehand I knew that he expected ‘ backesh’ or a tip which we gave at the end. 40 Egypt pounds ($3) which he seemed to appreciate.

There was also a tomb, we had to climb down a very steep ramp hunched over as it is only 4 or 41/2 feet tall. Not much down there but you can appreciate what they were like.

Next stop Dahshur. I couldn’t remember much about it, but it was three pyramids you could go into. Only a handful of people here unlike the tombs at Giza pyramids.

Walking up 170, yes I counted them, uneven steps with handrails only available half way was daunting . Reaching the top I see that there is a very steep ramp going down into the pyramid 65 meters . It is very dark, we forgot our headlamps in the hotel, and thankfully there were rails on the ramp across the floor to keep you from sliding all the way to the bottom. Like the ones on ramps down to the docks. This entrance tunnel was even lower and by the time I reached the bottom it was hard to straighten up again. You reach a room where you can stand and then continue through another low tunnel to find another room you can stand upright in. What’s that I see ? Four flights of wooden stairs up. Well I’ve come this far, I am sure that there is a prize at the end.

The smell of ammonia is quite strong and there is not much air. At the top we were quite amazed at what was waiting for us
A big pit with large rocks.
I guess it’s a cool experience but in my humble opinion my knees and back could have done without it. Doug was amazed that I did it at al with my claustrophobia


Last stop was Memphis, an open air museum. A couple of large statues of Ramses 2 that we’re very impressive

A very full day for sure. It was a bit windy and quite warm today, hat and sunscreen kind of day. The locals find it cool, they are wearing down jackets and big coats. It is winter after all.

Day 8

I have never used Uber before but decided to try it in Egypt. All the trip reports said how cheap easy and reliable it is. I set it up before leaving home but my paypal did not like that I was in Egypt so couldn’t use it, had to resort to putting in one of my credit card info.

The first guy couldn’t find us for some reason but the second one was there a few minutes later. Traffic in Cairo is insane! Totally insane! Everyone constantly honks, a different kind of honk for what you are thing to convey.

A soft honk. “ I’m here “
Two honks, “ go ahead”
More aggressive honking is if someone’s getting too close

Everyone is constantly merging but there is no road rage or ill tempers at all. Just maybe a little more aggressive honking. They must have street valets because some of the side streets have cars parallel parked inches from each other three deep. It would be like a rubics cube if you wanted to get your car out so I assume you leave your keys with someone . This leaves a very narrow passage to drive down the road.

Even with a GPS the driver missed a lot of turns and got lost. I don’t think he had ever seen the Cairo museum, our destination, because at one point we passed it, I could see it and see it clearly marked on his GPS

“Museum?” I asked and pointed

He asked the car beside us where the museum was and the guy looked at him and pointed like
“Seriously, it’s right there, that huge pink building”

Traffic was stop and go, mostly stop, so we just said we will walk back from here. The trip took close to an hour and cost just over $6 Cdn with a tip

Just like in Bangkok we had two separate guys tell us the museum was closed for an hour, or the king tut exhibit has a one hour wait

“ come to my shop while you wait for the museum to open”

But not only did I look up the hours I could see people going in. Nice try. No thank you

We went through three separate security checks going in and one coming out. I could bring in my water however which was great. Our Cairo pass was scrutinized but he let us in. We were able to use it to see the mummy tomb as well.

The museum is moving to a new location in Giza but won’t be ready for a few years yet. The building is two floors and not well marked in my opinion as to where things were, but eventually we just decided to walk through the entire place. . The exhibits range from poor condition to almost perfect. It was incredible to see all of these sargofocus mummies and jewels from 3000 years ago. The king Tut mask and jewellery were very impressive


We spent four hours there, had a bite to eat, and then called Uber again to pick us up. A bit of a mix up as to where we were and where he was but a lovely security guard called him for us and told us how to find him by cutting through the hotel.

A much faster drive home, about 40 minutes, again for $5 and after a rest in the room for a couple of hours we walked across the road to see the Sound and Light show

A bit cheezy but beautiful to see the pyramids and Sphinx all lit up with a a narration of the history of sorts

We decided to try the restaurant above or hostel and unfortunately it was very expensive and awful food. Not a great combination

Day 9

We are leaving the city that never sleeps, including me. Ironically the dogs stop barking and people stop yelling at 4am and that is when I am completely wide awake up. Go figure
Hopefully our next place will be a little quieter.

About the garbage. It seems that in the morning there is garbage strewn everywhere but shop keepers sweep it up and put into a big pile next to our hotel. Kids, and some older folks then pick through it to see what they can use. I saw a man with two donkeys pulling a cart who was lucky to find some discarded produce for his donkeys, or perhaps himself. Then the garbage pickup truck comes around 8AM and three men sort it out and take it away. Every morning starts off clean, but when we arrived at night it was quite shocking to see so much in the streets. My early morning entertainment watching the city clean up


We hired Mohamed again to pick us up at nine and take us to Cairo for a few hours before our flight at 4.

I needed some money from the ATM beside our hostel and stood behind four women waiting. I am not sure how old they were, I imagine my age or younger, I can’t really gage it when they are covered head to toe in black. They smiled and we waited, and then a few more women came and stood in front of me and a couple other women. I made a polite fuss, but it didn’t seem to matter
They line up the way they drive, they just push in and get to the front, no one seems to mind.

Except me of course. I am used to order. I just couldn't take it after about 10 minutes when I am now 7th in line I left. Mumbling to myself, although they wouldn’t have understood me anyhow. They all just stared after me

“ what’s her problem?” I imagine them asking. Because they didn’t have a problem at all. I guess living with so many people you learn a lot of patience

Once again traffic is pure insanity and in an hour we are dropped off at the Coptic Christian area of Cairo. Security is high, we have to go through airport type scanners many times here as is the same in all of Egypt.

We wandered about and decided to hire a guide who found us and he helped us figure out what we were seeing. It’s a fascinating place with synaogues and churches side by side. This is where Mary and Joseph hid out for three years when Jesus was a baby as well as where Moses was floated down the river Nile. The Coptic museum had some beautiful artwork and items inside

This area is from 4th century and most buildings are still intact as original despite the big earthquake of 1992.

A side walk eatery was visited for a quick lunch and then off to the airport. I am glad we allowed an hour as it took an hour 15 to navigate the complete gridlock

Our Egyptair flight had us in Aswan in less than two hours . It is warmer, quieter and very clean and modern

Our arranged driver dropped us in front of our hotel and we are in awe. Located on the Nile river the hotel has a huge grand lobby with couches everywhere and a lovely garden and swimming pool

Doug and I are like school kids when we see our room.

“Look. Full size bath towels”
“ shampoo and soap in the bathroom”
“ a closet where you can hang up your clothes”

It’s the little things that are so exciting. It doesn’t take much to impress us. After our last hotel this was pure heaven.

We were hungry so we wandered out across the road and found a souk with many little alleyways of shops selling all sorts of clothes and goods. I thought I saw a cart of peanuts but I was wrong. The young man told me to taste one and I’m not sure what it was, some kind of fruit that I didn’t care for. He offered to take us through the souk and found us peanuts, dates and bottled water before leading us to a place to eat. Our self appointed guide was taking us to his uncles shops etc. But that was fine.

I really have let go of a lot of stuff here, like eating in cafes that are less than clean and eating stuff I have no idea what it is. They assure me it is vegetarian so I just go with it. We were the only tourists in this small hole in the wall and got lots of smiles and nods from the others

Egyptians eat huge portions, I can usually get through half if I am lucky. I tried a few new dishes that I quite enjoy.

A little bit of Arabic brings huge smiles to the local people. Many don’t speak any English at all, so we say thank you, no thank you and hello and good bye in Arabic. The big beaming smile we get in return is heartwarming

But now in Aswan there are a lot of Nubians here, people who were some of the earliest people here from Sudan and they have their own language.
So now we have to discern if they are Nubian or Egyptian and remember even more words. I’m sure we will screw up both languages a few times. But the fact that we even try is so appreciated

Day 10

The city has no water today. Something happened and everyone is without water. Must be a nightmare for hotel staff. Thankfully I had my shower last night.

A week ago I arranged a pick up at 5 am to go to Abu Simbel, a three hour drive south almost on the Sudan border. You have to submit copies of your passport and paperwork at least 48 hours in advance so they can clear it with the police. We were checked four times on route. The police always ask the driver where we are from, where are we going, ( in Arabic, but I can figure out what they are saying ). And then pop the trunk, look around and off we go.

Tourists can only be on this road between 5AM and 5 PM. I have heard different reasons why but I think it is for safety reasons to travel in the daylight in a group. The first part of our journey is in the dark but then the light slowly reveals the desert around us

The new two lane highway cuts through miles of sand, pink from the sunrise . We are following hydro wires the entire journey but nothing else is in sight. The road is straight and seems to go forever. You could watch your camel run away for days here it is so flat and straight.


Half way there is a much appreciated bathroom break but the wind has come up suddenly and is whipping sand in our face and eyes. Back in the car on the road again the sand is swirling across the pavement in hypnotic waves of pink.

Finally at 8AM we arrived at Abu Simbel. The temple of Ramses 2 and the temple of Hathor are two of the most famous in Egypt. The parking lot confirmed that with many large tour buses and vans spilling out people into the entrance way to buy the $18 ticket

It’s already getting hot as we walk up the hill overlooking the huge blue lake Nasser.

And then there it is.

What an unforgettable sight, the four massive statues guarding the temple. Beyond is the temple of queen Nefertari which is equally amazing . Hathor was a female god that was more for women’s lives and featured in this one.

But what is even more impressive is that this temple, built in around 1240 BC, was moved in its entirety from its original site in the 70s before they built the high dam due to rising waters. Every ton of rock was moved perfectly to its new higher location . It was a huge undertaking with a few countries helping out.

These are photos of how close the river was before they moved it



At 10:30 Doug and I are still wandering and marvelling at the sights when we notice we are almost alone. All the tour busses have left and we have the place pretty much to ourselves. People want to arrive here early to get the color on the statues from the rising sun, and from taking the same photo at 8:30 and again at 10:30 I do agree that the morning light is better.


The downside of being the last person on the site is that you have to run the gauntlet of vendors on your own without the safety of other tourists to deflect from you. The vendors really do themselves a disservice as I would like to look but they make it so uncomfortable. I try to glance sideways behind my sunglasses, but if they see you look at anything they pounce

“ you like this madam, only 200 pounds, how many you like, I have more colours, how much do you want to pay?” All in one breath

Some were a bit assertive as well. Others use humour
“ you are breaking my heart madam”

And of course the ever present “Canada dry”. I asked one guy if he even knew what Canada Dry was and he had no idea. If they find out you are Canadian that is the response.

Our driver Hani was waiting in the cafe and we sat and enjoyed an ice cold sprite talking about his life in Egypt before making the three hour drive back.

We arrived back to our hotel at 3 to find we still don’t have water. We found a restaurant a few doors down on the Nile and had a late lunch/ early dinner while watching the sailboats, feluccas taking tourists out on the river. ,

It was quite muggy tonight but the temperature is pleasant.

Day 11

Water is back on which is a relief.

What a fantastic day we had today. We started to walk along the river after breakfast when a man approached and pretty much begged us to hire his horse and cart to take us to the museum we were walking to. We finally said yes and this poor horse had such a tough time pulling us up the hill I felt just awful.



The ram is a mummy

The nubian museum was very interesting and we spent a couple hours there before going to the Cataract hotel, which is very famous here. It is the Empress hotel equivalent in Egypt. Many movies have been shot here as well as the setting for Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile. Being non paying guests we were shown to a waiting room with a few other lookie loos until a man came in and explained we had to purchase a ticket to visit the hotel. This keeps the riff raff out I suppose. $300 EP per person, (25$) but you could put that towards drinks or lunch. I thought we might get a coffee and a bowl of peanuts for $50 but we were pleasantly surprised. The food was fantastic, beautifully presented and would have been at least double the price at the Empress. The setting on the water watching all the small sailboats go by was so peaceful and lovely. A family from Cairo were also on a day pass and we had a great conversation with them before we went for our meal.


We walked back to the hotel and a young man we met this morning wanted to arrange a felluca ride for us . This is a small sailboat that you can go around the different islands on. We agreed to meet in an hour, after a much needed rest, and were led down the stairs in front of our hotel to get onto the boat. It takes a lot of skill and hard work to navigate these amongst the many other sail and motor boats on the river. There was a great wind so we were off in no time. It was so lovely, quiet and smooth sailing over to our first stop a small island with a botanical garden. He let us off and promised to come back for us in 40 minutes after we walked through the park. There were many families having picnics and an outing here. School is on a winter break at the moment so we see families everywhere during the day.



Once again we are movie stars. Everyone wants to take our pictures with them so I decided to do the same . Here are some pictures of some of the wonderful ladies I met today. Everyone is so friendly and happy to meet and talk to a foreigner. If I look over and smile and say hi, well that just gives a green light to come over and talk. And then they thank us profusely for taking the time with them. This one picture they handed me the baby to have the photo.

This is the Aga Kahn mausoleum

Our captain did not forget us and we met up again to finish sailing around Elephantine island. We were gone for a total of 2 hours and agreed on a price of 300 for both of us ($25) but also gave the young man a tip of 50 EP, ($4).

Tonight we wandered through the souk again, to buy some spices and meet a lot of interesting people

Tomorrow morning we will be picked up at 9AM to sail on a small sailboat, ( 4 rooms) for the next three nights to Luxor.

I don’t imagine there will be wifi on the boat but I will continue when we arrive in Luxor.

Posted by debbep 11:06 Archived in Egypt Tagged abu cairo. saqurra. simbel. aswan. Comments (0)

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