Today we swam, or dived haha, to one of the coral islands. Under the island where several caves, through with we dived and wow that was amazing! The caves were really small and sometimes I felt a little trapped, knowing that we were deep under the water and under the island. But the warriosity of life was worth it! Later we swam up to the surface and crawled ashore on the island in our wet diving suits. After a short rest on the beach there, the island was uninhabited as you probably understand, we swam back to the ship for lunch.
Hiii again! Today we had another great day at the Barrier Reef. We started really early, it was still dark and we dived until afternoon before we had to swim back to the ship to go back to Cairns. To dive in the dark was quite different from diving at daylight, even if it always is a bit dim so deep under the water. All the bright colours were gone and our surroundings were just black and white and a lot of different nuances of grey. The sunrise was more beautiful, as everything came to life and we began to see the colors again.
Okay, I’ll take it short because in just a few minutes we’ll have to board the airplane that will take us back to Sydney and I want to get this post posted before we leave…
Today we swam, or dived haha, to one of the coral islands. Under the island where several caves, through with we dived and wow that was amazing! The caves were really small and sometimes I felt a little trapped, knowing that we were deep under the water and under the island. But the warriosity of life was worth it! Later we swam up to the surface and crawled ashore on the island in our wet diving suits. After a short rest on the beach there, the island was uninhabited as you probably understand, we swam back to the ship for lunch.
After lunch Emma and I got permission to dive alone, without the guide. First we were a bit scared, what if we got lost? But if we did, we could always swim up to the surface to find the right direction back to the ship. But for once we managed not to get lost! Yey, haha ;). It was a new feeling that we could dive wherever we wanted, without having to follow the guide.
Anyway it was an amazing experience to dive in the Great Barrier Reef and I would really want to do it again if I get the chance. //AK
Good evening our dear readers! After a fantastic trip to Ayers Rock yesterday we took the helicopter again, but not back to Sydney. As I said some days ago, we changed our plans. Instead of going back to Sydney we flew to Cairns. Perhaps you wonder what we are going to do there? Diving in the Great Barrier Reef of course! So, in the evening yesterday we landed in Cairns after a, we may say a bit shaky, helicopter tour. We spent the night in a really luxury (and expensive!!!) hotel because it was very difficult to find a place so late in the evening (and no, we hadn’t booked a room in advance). But I shouldn’t complain because it was fantastic!
Early today (but not before an unbelievably fantastic breakfast) we left the hotel and boarded a modern steel ketch named Coral Sea Dreaming. Beautiful name for a ship, isn’t it? We were just eight passengers and it felt very peaceful after all the big tourist crowds in Sydney and at Uluru. We left the dock but if we had thought that we could just jump down in the water straight away, we got dissapointed. At first we had to sit on the ship and just wait until we reached the outer reef, sooo irritating to have to wait…
Finally we reached the outer reef and put on the diving suits, flippers, glasses and oxygen cylinders which were included in the cruise. We had a guide too, who told us not to swim away too far from her because the risk of getting lost. Some of the passengers on the ship, three of them to be more exact, had apparently dived much before and were good at it because they dived alone. That meant that there were just five of us plus our guide who dived in a groupe.
Then we dived! It was amazing! I have never been “like a fish in the water”, but as we swam among the number of colourful fish and beautiful corals I nearly felt like one. I think I have never felt more great under water before. It was like diving down into a new world, where everything was more colorful and with sharper contrast than up in our land living world. Both the corals and the fish were coloured in all possible colours, from bright blue, green and purple to even brighter neon colours such as red, yellow and orange.
We also saw water turtles, whales, dolphins, dugongs and sharks! Wow, that was an adrenalin kicking experience. We just swam through a deep, but narrow, canyon with reefs and fish everywhere around us, as we saw a slim grey animal swim toward us. At first the only thing I could see was the wide jaws with bright white fangs. I think we all panicked a bit because of all the stories we have heard about sharks eating humans. But our guide waved at us to keep calm and stay tight to the reef walls, and the shark just swam past us! We saw more sharks later, but always with some distance between us.
We stayed underwater for nearly the whole day, the only time we came up to the ship was to eat a delicious lunch. But as it began to get late in the afternoon, we all felt really tired and decided to end today's diving tour there. My whole body protested as I tried to walk over the ship and I think I’ll get such a sore, but nothing in comparison with Emma who complained that she wouldn’t be able to dive tomorrow, haha! Anyway it was a fantastic day which ended with a great meal and an interesting presentation about the Great Barrier Reef. As I already have mentioned this was an luxury and expensive cruise, so just for us eight passengers they had paid a scientist for marine biology to talk about the Great Barrier Reef and how today’s climate change is destroying it.
The Great Barrier Reef is about 18 millions years old and it’s the world’s largest coral reef. It consists of more than 2500 different reefs and about 900 coral islands and it’s about 2600 kilometers long! But because of the global warming, the environmental pollution and other disruptions caused by humans, scientist believe that the reef can be extinct in a few decades.
It was really interesting and I learned much. Right now we’re really tired and about to go to our cabin to get some rest. Good night everyone and I hope you have had a day as good as ours has been!//AK
Today we have done something really cool. This morning when we woke up, we took our things and took the bus to a helicopter. We left Sydney and the city life to spend one day in the outback. We and a few other tourists went to Uluru. From the helicopter we had a really nice view out over the landscape and the farther from the city, we got the more desert landscape we saw.
The helicopter dropped us off a bit before Uluru and we took a bus the last bit. On the way there, it was much greener than I had imagined, and a guy explained that it was because of the recent rainy season. When it blooms, different species such as frogs can live there as well. But it dries quickly and it can take years between the rainy periods. After a little while in the bus, we saw the giant mountain. The very last part of the way we had to walk and I thought, when we went against the mountain that it was much bigger in real life than the pictures I had looked at before the visit. We actually walked around the whole stone, about ten kilometers, so it took a while. I think it took 3 hours because we had to take some pauses in order to cope with the hot weather. When we went around the mountain we had a guide that told us a lot of interesting facts about Uluru and I thought you would like if I share some facts with you guys, so of course I’m going to do that.
Uluru also known as Ayers Rock, is the characteristic mountain in the central part of Australia, it’s also one of the country's most famous landmarks. The mountain is known for its shape and the fact that it has been formed over millions of years very slowly. From the beginning it actually belonged to a larger mountain range, but today it’s the only thing left from it. It’s therefore isolated in the flat desert landscape. It’s believed that the rock is 500 million years old, and that major parts were under the water from the beginning. Today it’s almost 3,5 km long and 2 km wide, with a height of about 900 meters above sea level and it continues 2.5 km under the ground. You may not be able to say that there is a mountain, but it consists of sandstone. The interesting thing we noticed with sandstone was that it looked like it changed color during the day while we were there due to the sun.
It’s also a mountain with a long history and the word Uluru comes from the language of the Aborigines living in the area. Uluru is actually the name of the area where they live and not a specific name for the mountain. Aborigines have apparently lived in this area for over 10 000 years, and it’s them who have named many sacred sites and the sacred sites around the mountain were named by them. It’s said that the aboriginal people make contact with their ancestors in these holy places, which in their history created Uluru. Today the local people have ceremonies and rituals at Uluru. This area belonged to the Australian government for many years, but since 1985 the area Uluru became aboriginal ownership again. Today it’s also a part of a large National Park called Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Uluru is the most famous thing to visit in the national park and it was much cooler than I had expected. Something that I really enjoyed was to take part of the aboriginal culture and see the many rock carvings and paintings on the mountain. // Emma
Hiii! We’re sitting in our room in the hostel in Sydney, planning for the next few days in Australia. Yesterday was an eventful day and I can just say help! OMG Emma drove so awfully horrible! I really thought we were going to crash and this was much more of a near death experience than the segway tour. Emma made the car do a gigantic jump up on the sidewalk and crashed right into the fence with a horrible speed! Luckily no police was nearby… When we come back to Sweden I think Emma has to redo her driver's license and I have to do medical education in case she has to be sewn together because of her terrible driving skills. But first I think I need a therapy course so I can cope with her after this terrifying experience, haha. And so much money wasted!!!
Today has been a wonderful day again, maybe a bit calmer than yesterday; we have skydived, met one of the world’s most famous rider and we ourselves have ridden too! Wow, I didn’t know how much I have missed the horses on this past three weeks before now… The horses were fantastic, of course, but to actually meet one of the most famous riders in the world was indescribable, not to talk about the skydiving- what an experience!
After a short breakfast in the hostel we took a bus out to the skydiving center early in the morning. There were only a few other people, which I think was really nice because I don’t like to be in large tourist groups. Anyway Emma and I decide to choose a jump on our own, I mean that we didn’t want to jump together with an instructor. For that we first had to go a course to train and learn how to handle the parachute and also master the techniques of body flight. At first it was really difficult, but after some hours both Emma and I had worked out how to handle the parachute and were ready to jump. We were really nervous and so excited!
This was the movie about how to skydive we got to see before we tried ourselves.
Equipped with helmets, glasses and special clothing we climbed the airplane, together with about four other people who had done the same course as we had. On the way up into the air Emma and I stared out of the window, following our own thoughts. As I looked at Emma I actually thought that she looked a bit frightened, but probably I looked the same. I was so nervous! One of the instructors told us that we were going to jump from about 4 500 meters, and I just thought that that’s really high up. The view from the airplane was fantastic we could see a great bit of the lowland country and the city behind us and in front of us the ocean. I remember that I thought of how blue the water was… Haha I don’t know why, I just did it. But now I’m boring you, the only thing you want to hear about is the actual jump, right? So I’ll get to the point then…
As we had reached the right height the instructors told us to take on the harnesses and check that everything was alright with our parachutes which we had on our backs. As we were ready, two of the instructors went around among us and controlled that everything really was alright and that we hadn’t forgotten some important detail. Then the first ones jumped, one at a time the instructors helped us out of the plane's door and made sure that we knew exactly what to do. Then it was my turn, Emma made a thumb up at me and then I was in the airplane door. Two instructors helped me out and jumped together with me in the first seconds of freefall and helped me then to keep a proper body position until I myself managed to unfold my parachute.
They let me go and unfolded their own parachutes. I slowly drifted down toward the earth. First I was fully concentrated on the parachute but after a moment, when I realized that everything was okay, I looked at the fabulous view beneath me and relaxed a bit. It was a great feeling to sail through the air like a bird. It was over much too fast, via the radio connection to the instructor on the ground I got to know that I should begin to prepare for the landing. I did as he told me and landed safely on the ground. I felt my legs tremble a bit, but it felt fantastic; I had skydived for the first time in my life! As I looked up I saw another parachute coming toward us and realized that it was Emma. As she landed beside me we just looked at each other, speechless from the amazing experience.
Still a bit shaky we took the bus back to Sydney to eat a late lunch. We talked both at the same time about exactly how fantastic it had been and I think that the feeling is indescribable if you haven't skydived yourself. We had planned for a peaceful afternoon with good food and just doing nothing, but then I saw a small woman with brown hair coming through the door to the coffee shop. I pushed discreetly at Emma and whispered something like “isn’t that Edwina Tops-Alexander?”. Emma nodded and we both looked curious at the woman, trying to identify her without staring. We decided that it must be Edwina Tops-Alexander. Wow so cool, we have met one of the greatest riders in the world!
Do you know who Edwina Tops-Alexander is? I hope you do, but in case you don’t I’ll tell you a bit about her… She is one of the best show jumpers in the world and she is ranked as number 18 in the world and number one in Australia. She has competed in the world championship and in the olympic games! So we can just say, she’s really a good rider!
After our lunch we decided that a afternoon at the hotel room was far too boring for us, haha. I managed to persuade Emma to a tour riding in the bush outside Sydney, or probably she just had missed the horses as much as I have.
It was awesome to be around horses again after so many weeks. The tour however was a tour for beginners… We had two guides, or what to call them, with us and about five other tour riders. Even if the horses just walked it was nice to sit on a horse again. But I couldn’t help thinking about how fantastic it would feel to ride in a fast counter over the open landscape…
Altogether it was an amazing day. Right now we’re sitting in our hostel room planning for the next days. As you probably know by now, we had planned for another few days in Sydney, but although it’s really fantastic here we have decided to change our plans. Tomorrow we’re going to take a helicopter to the famous Ayers Rock in the centre of Australia to learn even a bit more about the old culture and maybe some more history of the country. Then we’re going to travel to Cairns and there we’ll have two great days diving in the Great Barrier Reef. I’m so excited for our next adventures!!! :) //AK
This day has been really challenging, and both AK and I are now sitting in the hotel room completely exhausted after the day's events. It has been both an exciting day with amazing animals, but also a day of horror, I begin to wonder if there is any form of theme on our trip considering everything that has happened to us so far;) Okay, now I will tell you about our day, but first I need to say something about “Band of Horses”. The name of the band obviously gets ten points out of ten, but when it comes to the music I can’t say that it was my favourite music, to be honest the music was pretty awful! I don’t think it will be anymore “Band of Horses” for us...
After the delicious breakfast, which consisted of a delicious and nutritious smoothie with banana, spinach and raspberries, we took a bus to a firm where we would rent a car to go outside the city to a forest where we heard that it could be koalas. The car renting went smoothly and we got some tips about driving in Australia. Apparently, it’s left traffic something we didn’t knew before. But naive as we were, we thought it wouldn’t be a major problem, yeah right, lol ;)
To drive during the rush hour in Sydney on a weekday morning was not the best choice we could have done. Firstly, it was very difficult to drive on the left side of the road and although I have been driving for almost 2 years, I felt really insecure. Secondly, the major problem to understand the turn signal. When I was swinging on the turning signal the windscreen wiper went on and it took a while before we realized that they had changed their places if you compare with a car in Sweden. Thirdly, it was annoying cyclists everywhere on the way to work. Since there are quite long queues in the inner city many people take their bikes to work to be in time, but the problem came when instead of showing consideration the bikers were everywhere and didn’t bother to check where they were going, soooo irritating, according to me!! As it wasn’t enough to try to understand the left traffic without running into anyone, no, now we had to keep track of cyclists on both sides of the road too!
If we are to describe the ride through Sydney in one word, I would probably say that it was chaos. Even when we were driving out of the parking lot where we rented the car I drove over to the right side and realized it when the man who rented the car ran after us, screaming like a madman. Then I realized and after that I managed to mostly keep the car on the left side of the road, but it really wasn’t easy. After the drive we experienced today, AK will probably report me to Sweden's worst drivers! No doubts!!
In Sweden I would say that I’m a pretty good driver, but the left traffic here in Australia was just too much and I can imagine that both I and AK screamed and looked like two dizzy chickens when we tried to drive out from Sydney. It would take about two hours to the forest and the first 20 minutes went pretty well, until I came to a roundabout and AK lost the direction so we didn’t know in which direction we were going, so in some mysterious way, we managed to end up in the wrong file and also in the wrong direction, so I drove on the right side of the road. I realized that when an oncoming car came and thought it was strange that he didn’t move, he probably thought the same thing about me. I realized I had to change side of the road when AK screamed next to me that it was left hand traffic and instead of running over on the right side of the road I put the gas in the ground so that the car flew up on the sidewalk and straight into the fence and the mailbox on the other side of the road. Not the best parking I have done ;) Luckily the person who lived in the house didn’t come out and AK and I managed to slip away, mischievous! After that experience we were really scared and drove very slowly, so slow that it was some idiot who crashed into us from behind. Now we had to pay the damages, like it was not enough with the mailbox ;)
After much trouble we arrived at the forest with eucalyptus trees. We saw some wild koalas and it was really something special because it's not so common to see them outside of cities like this. Koalas live in the eastern parts of Australia and they spend most of their time at the top of the eucalyptus trees. You maybe have wondered why it looks like koalas hug the trees, and it’s apparently because it has a chilling effect on them. During the heat wave the trees temperatures are much lower than the air and Koalas presses their stomachs against the cool tree to stay cold. They are very special because they are the only animals in the world that live exclusively on eucalyptus leaves. These leaves contain some kind of poison so other animals can’t eat them.
Koalas are also very picky animals and do not even drink water. The fluid that they must have comes from the eucalyptus leaves. They are also picky when it comes to what kind of leaves they like. Of the hundreds of eucalyptus species in Australia koalas only eat three or four of these. In order to break down the leaves and the poison, it takes a lot of energy and they sleep up to 18 hours per day to conserve energy.
The koalas we saw were sleeping in a tree in a distance, but we could go pretty close and managed to get a clear picture of the animals, it was really something! It was probably even worth the horrible drive.
When we had been there a while, we realized that the time was more than we thought and we had to drive back in order to return the wrecked rental car. We were hoping that he wouldn’t require too much money. On the way back into town, we saw a group of red kangaroos that stood on a field eating some grass. The red kangaroo is the largest marsupial and an average medium red kangaroo is about 1.5 meters high. They can jump over a 3 meter high fence. We actually thought that we wouldn’t see any because they are primarily active at dawn and dusk, but since it was early evening, we probably had the luck on our side.
When the red kangaroos had crossed the road we continued the drive back to Sydney. This time it went a little bit better, but given that we have already wrecked the car, maybe we can’t say that the drive went well, or what do you think? ;) Once back at the rental guy, that wasn’t the most happy person anymore, we tried to explain what had happened with an innocent tone, but he didn’t believe our story about that it wasn’t our fault and we had to pay a few thousand to fix the car, perhaps not the best, but totally worth it because we saw both wild koalas and red kangaroos! // Emma
Hiii my friends! Today we have learned a lot about the indigenous people, the Aborigines. Wow that was so cool and interesting, but also sad because still the Aborigines are discriminated.
We had planned for a trip to one of the exhibitions with aboriginal art in the city. But on our way Emma managed to run straight into a middle aged man as she was looking up at the majestic opera house. I could barely hold back a laugh, it looked so funny. Anyway the guy didn’t take offence and asked us if we were tourists, who were here for the first time. Apparently we were, everyone around us could tell just from how we had looked at the opera house, so embarrassing… We told him the obvious and he asked what we were about to do today. As he heard about our plans to see some of the aboriginal art he told us that he himself is an Aborigine and that if we wanted he could show us his culture. Of course we wanted! We agreed to take a taxi out to his village later in the afternoon, because we didn’t want to take advantage of his hospitality by staying with him the whole day and besides we also wanted to see a little bit more of Sydney.
So we began to walk through the city and managed to get lost twice, haha ;). Sydney is a really big city for those of you who didn’t know that and it wasn’t very difficult to get lost… Our next goal after the opera house was the Harbour Bridge, which we looked at for a long time. Emma took so many pictures that even the other tourists around us looked. We also managed to see some parts of the Sydney Harbour National Park but by an accident, haha, and since we already have written so much about National Parks and fantastic nature I think you’re probably not so interested to read about another one… Anyway after that we were hungry and decided to eat something.
After lunch we took a taxi and drove out to the aboriginal village. There we met our host who showed us around in the village. It remembered me a little bit of the village we had visited in Uganda, the one nearby Entebbe, although it all was quite different. The village wasn’t as primitive as the one in Uganda and the buildings and the people were all different too. As we had seen the whole village, looked at the people and houses, we followed our host to a fireplace where we sat down. We asked a bit about the aboriginal culture but most of the time he talked continuously, anxious to make us understand his culture and life. And he really managed! It was very interesting and we learned much. But now you probably want to know what he told us, right? Haha, or not? Anyway I’m going to tell you as much as I remember…
The aboriginal culture is the world’s oldest now-living culture. The culture is older than the bible, older than the pyramids, and also older than our nordic Viking stories. For example the oldest aboriginal cave paintings are more than two times older than the European ones. The culture varies from clan to clan but their sight on life is common. They consider that all life is a part of the same system and that the earth gives the human her identity. Most parts in the aboriginal culture have a religious meaning and their music is often linked to dance and drama. In the last years their art has increased in popularity and has now international attention.
But as I mentioned earlier the Aborigines still don’t have the same rights as the other inhabitants in Australia. Many of them are unemployed and according to our host nearly 30 % of the Aborigines but only about 10 % of the whole country’s inhabitants are unemployed. Many Aborigines are living from contributions from the state, which some politicians want to reduce. In the politic the aborigines are very few and not until 2010 the first aboriginal politician became a member of the parliament!
It was really interesting to listen but I think that the highlight of our trip to the aboriginal village was the evening around the fire. They had painted their whole bodies with colors and danced and sang while some others were holding the rhythm with clapsticks.
In the evening, as we were back in Sydney, we managed to get tickets to the opera house! There was a concert from a band named "Band of Horses", so of course we had to see it- nerd warning! Oh, I think that we haven’t told you about our greatest interest yet: both Emma and I love horses (other animals too but the horses have a special part in our hearts) very much and are crazy horse-girls, haha… :) So the choice of concert was easy. Right now we’re sitting in the great opera house waiting for the "Band of Horses" to begin to play… //AK
Today we have had a fantastic day at Bondi Beach with plenty of sunshine and beautiful weather. We came to Sydney this morning at 7:30 and went straight to the hostel, Coogee Beach House, where we'll stay these couples of days in Sydney. Maybe it wasn’t the finest hotel so far, but because we only had to pay 1500 crowns for all the nights I think it's worth it. Today after our brekkie we went to Bondi Beach with a bus to check at the well-known beach and surf life. I really don’t like to swim, but when we got into the water it was the perfect temperature. The negative part was that the beach was really crowded, even so early in the morning, but since we had gone directly from the hostel at 8:30, we managed to get some good places.
Bondi Beach is a very popular beach located in the eastern part of Sydney. The beach is shaped like a horseshoe, which was something that both I and AK found very fitting;) The beach is up to 800 meters long! Probably the longest beach I've ever seen in my entire life.
First we participated in a morning course to learn how to surf, something that either I or AK had done before, so it was a story in itself. The lifeguard began to go through the basics how to paddle and get up on the board, then we got to test it for ourselves. I would have liked to practice a little bit more on the beach before jumping into the water, but we did our best. At first we were terribly bad and fell off the damn board a number of times. I really didn’t think it would go, but in a strange way, we managed to catch a few waves and it felt good. We were certainly not the worst in the group, which felt extremely comfortable after the segway experience!
When we had surfed for a while, we decided to sunbathe a little and tried to get some more color. We also swam in the water and it was absolutely wonderful, the water was light blue and we managed to see some fish too! It was a pity we didn’t see the signs of the current as good as the fish because suddenly we became protracted out to the open sea of an underwater current that came from nowhere. We both got very scared and got further and further away from the beach, without being able to swim back. I tried to yell, while AK panicky waved with her arms and it began getting hard to stay at the water surface. We looked panicked at each other and knew that this maybe was the end! I had a hard time breathing because I screamed so much and I started to sink under the water. It was fortunate that AK grabbed my arm otherwise I might have swallowed even more water. Desperately, I tried to cough up the water from my lungs so I could breathe again. After what seemed like an eternity, a lifeguard came with a jet and helped us back to the beach. He explained that it was very important that we read the signs, and after that experience, I can promise that we will read the signs ;)
We completed the amazing day at Bondi, if we disregard our little adventure farther out in the ocean, with food from a cafe before we took the bus back to the hostel. We sat and ate a fantastic meal while the sun went down. // Emma
Hiii everyone!!! As you probably read yesterday we had a fantastic tour through the Kings Park with segways! The tour was fantastic and it was funny to drive with the segway, but also frightening! It was sooo fast! Hahaha, maybe it was my own fault but anyway, it was toooo fast! At one point I really thought that I would drive right into the lake, but luckily I managed to jump of the horrible thing in time! It bolted with me!!! :(
Today we have seen kangaroos for the first time, yay! This morning we took a taxi and drove out to Preston Beach, a small town about an hour from Perth. The town is in the Yalgorup National Park and is known for the great number of Western Grey Kangaroos living there. We spent the morning in the town and after lunch we walked out to the beach. The weather was really good so we decided to spend the afternoon swimming. Haha, more correctly; I was swimming while Emma was lying on the beach, fully dressed, complaining about how cold it was!
In the late afternoon we saw the first Kangaroos, they were at the other end of the beach so we had to walk. There was a great number of them and there were both fully grown individuals as well as smaller ones. We also managed to see two mothers carrying their babies in their punches on the belly. The small ones put up their nose and looked over the edges of the punches. They were soooo sweet!
The Grey Kangaroo is the fastest of all kangaroos and can reach a speed of 70 km/h. They can jump really high and are also good swimmers. In Australia there is a really big number of Grey Kangaroos, both Western and Eastern.
Because our flight to Sydney would go first after midnight we had the whole evening in Perth as well after returning from the kangaroos. So we went on a three hours dinner cruise on the Swan River. Wow, I think I have never eaten anything that delicious (and expensive!) before! And it was so fantastic to see how the whole city lit up the night and how the light reflected in the water beneath us. What an experience! //AK
Hello mates! ;) Today we have spent the second day in the wonderful city Perth. I really think it’s a really nice town and the people are really friendly. Today, we have again risked our lives! We have experienced a Perth Segway Tour. As I assumed, my legs were hurting from yesterday's bicycletrip, so it was nice to be able to drive a segway today! We drove around with a guide and checked out parts of Kings Park. It was very interesting, not least to get that damn segway to go in the right direction. It certainly was not easy! But I will not say anything because AK had much bigger problems than me, of course! Hahah! She succeeded in some strange way to get full speed straight forward and was about to run over several people before she had to jump of in order to not run straight into a little lake. Luckily the segway stopped and AK was alive, but it looked very funny. I saw that there were several in our guided group who could not hold back the laugh and I totally understand them ;) But in the end I think we managed to drive the segway forward, and in a normal speed this time ;)
The tour went through Kings Park. Kings Park is apparently one of the largest inner city parks. We saw many unique flowers because it's part of the botanical garden. The entire botanical garden consists of more than 3000 different species of flowers, and we saw many different varieties. It was really beautiful!
We also went past the State War Memorial that is a celebration of all Western Australian servicemen and women who served in all wars and conflicts that Australia has been involved in. From there we had views of the Swan River.
After the tour with the segway we decided to walk around a bit on the assets that existed and also saw many different birds. Because of the parks size we had to go a lot and in the end my feet were complaining, almost as much as Cruella on the Safari. Of course, we could not see everything in the park, but I think we managed to see a lot. // Emma
Hi again! Today was our first day in Australia and it was fantastic! This morning we arrived at the airport here in Perth, after a whole night in the air. And what a horrible night it was! Our plane managed to get right into a storm, so it wasn’t very comfortable. The plane bounced up and down and in every other direction as well. I managed to ignore it and get some sleep but Emma looked as if she hadn’t slept at all. But although we were tired already in the morning, we filled the day with many fun activities!
After a shorter tour around the city, which is really beautiful, we took a trip to Rottnest Island. We drove first along the Swan River with a quite big ferry and looked at all the fantastic buildings around us. The Swan River flows right through the city and at some places the houses around are really close! As we reached Fremantle the ferry suddenly was on the open sea. It took about half a hour to Rottnest Island and then we had time to do whatever we wanted. Emma and I hired bicycles, against Emma’s wish haha, and pedaled along the coast on a nice sandy road. After maybe an hour, we reached a smaller group of houses and a beautiful beach. We decided to take a break and bought some delicious ice cream. We continued, but stopped now and then to look at the amazing nature and the beautiful sea.
At one point Emma stopped her bike so suddenly that I nearly drove right into her. She pointed and then I saw it too, beside the road sat a small brown animal and looked sleepily at us! We had read a lot about Australian wildlife before the trip, just to be prepared, and could tell that it was a Quokka. They are small macropods and Rottnest Island has gottten its name from them, because long ago the Quokkas were mistaken to be rats - therefore the “nest of the rats”. Quokkas are normally active during the night and I don’t understand what this one were doing up in the middle of the day. Anyway the little Quokka was very sweet and I think it was a really young one.
As we continued we soon came to a larger town where we ate a delicious lunch buffe with many exotic dishes and I have no idea of what to call them. After lunch we came to a bay with dolphins! At first those water living mammals swam far away from the coast and we just saw them jump up from the water now and then. But as we sat down and just looked the dolphins came nearer. They jumped up from the water and it looked like they played with each other. I counted to seven individuals but Emma said that she just saw six, but we both know who’s the better one in math ;) Anyway they were fantastic to look at. And it was the first time I ever have seen wild dolphins!
After the dolphins we took another road and began to pedal back to the ferry. Emma complained a bit about that she would have such a sore tomorrow and I think that I will have it too, haha. But it was definitely worth it!
Right now we’re in our hotel room and planning for the day tomorrow. Good night everybody! :) //AK
Australia is a quite big country and the area is seventeen times bigger than Sweden’s, although there are only three times as many inhabitants as in Sweden. And just about three percent of those are indigenous peoples, called Aborigines. When the european colonizers first arrived, some time in the seventeenth century, the country had been inhabited for thousand of years by people who had moved there from Southeast Asia. The British settlers exposed the Aborigines for brutal and degrading treatment and that continued nearly until the present day. Today, Australia is a modern industrial and service society with the world’s highest level of immigration, mainly from Asia and the Pacific. But still the Aborigines are living in difficult conditions and the attempts to integrate them to the modern society has failed. Politically, the country has a prime minister and a parliament but it’s an federal state where the states have quite much self-employment. And did you know it’s an monarki? The monarch is Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, which is left since Australia was a british colony. The country has also been a close ally of the United States since the Second World War.
Because of it’s size the climate and nature is very different over the country. There are both rainforest and deserts but also temperate climate with quite good agricultural possibilities. Australia is also known for the great number of exotic wildlife, for example I think all of you have heard about koalas and kangaroos, right? And that’s one of my and Emma’s goals; to see wild koalas and kangaroos! Haha, as you probably have figured out by now both Emma and I love animals and are crazy in seeing them in the wild. //AK
The plane landed late last night and we slept at Holiday Inn Express Dubai Airport. Now we are sitting at the airport waiting for the plane to Australia. The clock is around midnight so we have had a full day in Dubai, and OMG what a great city it is!! This morning after a needed sleep without Cruella ;) we ordered a taxi that drove us to the Burj Khalifa. It’s an impressive grand building, something that I think everyone should see if they are in Dubai. It’s the world's highest skyscraper, whole 828 m high.
We went early in the morning because we had heard that it probably would be less people then. We hadn’t booked any tickets, but hoped that the luck would be on our side. When we arrived at the building I almost got a little dizzy when I looked up at it, and really wondered if I would dare to go up. We also noticed, to our surprise, that the line-up was not particularly long, and out of curiosity, we asked a man if there was anything wrong or if it was closed for the day. Luckily he was nice and explained to us that between June 5 to July 6 Ramadan takes place in Dubai. During this holy month, Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset. It was good that he said it because out of respect for the fasting visitors don’t eat or drink in public places. Beacause of Ramadan it was quiet and fewer people at the Burj Khalifa. We went up to the 124th floor and found ourselves 452 meters up. It has been a cloud free day today, so we could see out over the whole Dubai, the desert and the Arabian Gulf.
We also could witness the amazing Dubai Fountain from above. It's very difficult to explain the feeling I felt when I stood up there and looked out over everything. It was such a great view and both I and AK was speechless afterwards.
After a bit of shopping in the shopping centers nearby, against AK's wish, of course, we took a taxi back to the hotel to eat a little. We spent a few hours at the hotel and then checked out to eat at a restaurant before we had to go to the airport. Since the time was late we got to experience the interesting situation when the fast is broken around midnight every night. We got to be there when the locals organized a grand buffet with food, and it felt like everyone ate together in the whole city. It was very cozy, but unfortunately we had to go to the airport otherwise we would miss the flight and it feels like we have stressed enough to airports so far on this trip ;). Now we will soon go on the airplane after an action-packed day in Dubai!.// Emma
Now we are sitting at the airport in Nairobi waiting for the flight to Dubai. In Dubai we will spend a day before departure to the next adventure, Australia and the city Perth. It has always been a dream of mine to go to Australia, and finally it happens, yay !!!!! One thing that I have been thinking of is that it actually feels a bit strange to be among so many people now after we have spent the past three days with animals, I think that I prefer animals ;) Next time you will hear from us we will be in Dubai!!// Emma
HIII EVERYONE!!!! Now we have internet connection again and I can finally tell you about the last few days of safari. There are no words to describe how fantastic it has been, it was just so cool! In my opinion this was the absolute highlight of our journey so far.
Okay we’ll take it all from the beginning...
On the first day of the safari we left really early, as I wrote from the hotel that day. We met our travel group in Mbulu, consisting of two Tanzanian guides and drivers, who drove one jeep each, and ten other adventurers, like us. So in each jeep we were eight persons, including driver and guide, but it was plenty of space for all of us. The other travelers in our jeep were a middle-aged couple, who looked like they had lots of money and never had been outside a city before, a guy in his early thirties, with a pair of binoculars who looked like a nerd, and an older man, who looked like someone’s nice grandfather. We drove out of the city on a small road, our jeep first, and after just a few minutes we were out in the wilderness. We drove across the savannah and soon the city behind us were out of sight.
We drove past a lot of small villages where people worked on the fields, similar to the village we visited in Uganda. The nature was so beautiful! But we didn’t saw any other animals than the big herd of cattle around the villages. Our guide told us that it was because we hadn’t reached the Serengeti national park yet. It took about an hour, then we reached the Lake Eyasi and the guide told us that now we were in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and that we were going to drive through the outlines of the area for about an hour before reaching the Serengeti national park. The noble, middle aged lady in our jeep started immediately to complain, she and her husband had payed for a safari in the Serengeti, not some other park! Emma and I could barely hold back a laugh, what a crazy person! We didn’t have anything against driving through the Ngorongoro because it was a beautiful nature and it looked pretty the same as the photos we had seen from the Serengeti and the guide told us that the Ngorongoro is known for it’s diversity of wildlife.
The first wild animals we saw were a smaller group of giraffes, standing some distance away. Everyone in the jeeps were so excited and talked at the same time, the middle aged lady from the couple started screaming so much that we looked at each other and thought she had never seen an animal before. The guide had to speak very loud to drown the others and tell them to be quite, otherwise a safari would be meaningless because all the animals would run away before we even saw them. Ever since then everyone went quiet as soon we saw anything moving. But the giraffes had already heard our noisy travel group and disappeared.
Just a few minutes before we reached the Serengeti the jeeps stopped again and we could hear a loud thunder in the ground. Then we saw a gigantic herd of animals running at the horizon. The guide told us that they were wildebeests and that they were characteristic for the Ngorongoro and Serengeti. It was a fantastic experience to watch so many, so big, animals running as one unit. And not just to see them, to feel the ground tremble under us! Wow, that was such an amazing feeling. I had thought of this safari since we planned it and had really big expectations on seeing many wild animals and now we hadn’t even come into the Serengeti and had already seen so many of them. As the herd came nearer we saw that there were zebras too, among the wildebeests! The guide told us that wildebeest and zebras often live in the same herds. And he told us about The Great Migration. Each year, those big herds of wildebeests and zebras move through the Serengeti. According to our guide the rain or the lack of rain, causes the migration. Some people call the great migration one of the greatest wonders on earth, and I can understand them so well! I don’t even have words for how gigantic it was!
As the animals had passed by and the ground had stopped trembling we continued. And just some minutes later the guide told us that we now were driving into the Serengeti.
The whole morning our drivers continued to drive the jeeps further into the Serengeti, the road became more bumpy and sometimes it was really uncomfortable to sit in the jeep, and the lady complained with her shrill voice, and we weren’t allowed to leave it so we had to cope with her complaining. And it was so terrible hot too! But we forgot all that when we saw the first herd of animals, impala antelopes, standing right beside the road. There were maybe about fifty of them, standing in the dry grass, staring at us. They were very close to the jeeps and it was so cool! The guide told us, in a low whisper, that their great leaping ability and fast run are characteristic for them. They can jump about three meters high and covering ten meters long distances, using their capacity to jump over bushes and even other impalas when scared. And that although they’re less than one meter high! Some of the impalas had horns, the guide told us that they were the males and that their horns can be up to ninety centimeters long. They were fantastic, so elegant and graceful as the whole herd began to move away from us, first slowly and then faster and faster until they ran with wide leaps. I knew that such a safari would be fantastic, but it was so much more than just fantastic and I can’t describe the feeling with words.
After the impala antelopes we saw a lot of animals, single individuals, small groups and really big herds. We saw zebras, hippos, more giraffes, lots of monkeys, squirrels, hares, jackals and many different kinds of antelopes, for example kudu antelopes and the guide told us that there were two species, greater- and lesser- kudus. The ones we saw were greater kudus, they are the second biggest antelopes in Africa after the eland antelope which can become as high as the size of a big horse, about 1.8 meters! The kudu’s horns are very special, they are formed like a spiral and sometimes used as a music instrument. In some parts of Africa, mainly in the south, there are a sport called kudu dung spitting, but there is even a world championship held each year. The participants are spitting pellets of kudu dung so far they could, the one who could spit the dung pellets farthest is the winner. In my opinion it’s a very strange sport and just the thought of spitting with kudu dung is disgusting, isn’t it?
The first of the big five
And when it was nearly lunch time we saw two lions! The first animal of the big five! Today the big five are the five animals which people mostly want to see on their safari. But a hundred of years ago the big five were the most wanted and the most dangerous animals to hunt, the ones that could hunt the hunter. Those great animals are lions, leopards, buffalos, elephants and rhinoceros. So now we had seen the first of those five! It was a majestic view, three fully grown male lions, with their great manes and golden fur, lying in the grass some distance away. The guide told us that one of them were an older gentleman, as he said, and the other two lions were just a few years old. The color of their mane can indicate that the older lion has darker mane. The lions hold their heads high and looked like they were about to leap at some prey. I really understand why they’re called the “kings of the jungle” and that they have been a symbol for royalty, stateliness, power and bravery during times in several cultures.
The guide told us a lot about lions, much of which we already knew before, but there were some interesting facts I had no idea of. Lions are the most social of the big cats. They live in prides of about 15 individuals and behave like a cooperating family. The females do most of the hunting, but still the males eat first and while the females, lionesses, are hunting the males are watching over the cubs. The males’ task is to defend the pride’s territory from rivals or other dangers, although lions don’t have any natural enemies. When hunting the lionesses hunt in groups, cooperating to catch their prey. The lions are known for their speed and wildness, they can reach speeds up to 80 kilometers per hour and leap over 10 meters, but actually they sleep about 20 hours a day!
The guide pointed at a big bush to the right of the lions and we saw four small cubs, lying in the grass half hidden behind the bush. The guide told us that their mothers probably were out hunting and that the males were watching over them. Everyone in the jeeps was very quite and just watched for a long moment. Even the lady was completely quiet, hoping for the lionesses to return. We forgot the terrible hotness and were just focused on the lions. How the cubs played together, tumbling around and crawling over each other. They were so sweet! I belive you never get tired watching those fantastic small animals. I don’t know how long we waited, but finally our guide said that we couldn’t wait anymore. We were disappointed, but realized that he was right. We had to continue if we wanted to be at our first accommodation before nightfall. We left the lions behind us and drove about half an hour before we stopped for a lunch break. First then I realized how hungry I was!
After lunch we drove faster and stopped less times, but we saw lots of animals! We saw several herds with different kinds of antelopes, zebras, wildebeests, giraffes and oryxes. We saw a lot of birds as well, but mostly they were so far away that we couldn’t make out which kind they were. Later, as we drove behinde a small lake we managed to see African clawless otters. A mother with two small cubs were swimming in the water, but ones we were near enough to get a closer look they dived down under the surface and vanished. The lady was so fascinated by their fur and wondered where she could buy such a nice coat. The guide looked extremely surprised and told her that the clawless otters biggest threat are people like her, he slammed it right in her face, and I thought booyah, right in your face bitch! I don’t understand how she could want to contribute to the clawless otters death!!!
It was nearly dark as we reached the first accommodation. And it wasn’t a tent after all, luckily, otherwise the lady maybe had broken down, haha! It was a nice place with three low buildings standing tight together under a group of trees. One was the main building, with a dining room and living room with an open fire. In the other two buildings were guestrooms and Emma and I got a really nice one. We ate some soup with freshly baked bread and then we went to sleep. If we hadn’t been so tired I would have wanted to take a nearer look at the place, but as it was late we just lay in our beds and fell asleep immediately. //AK
Now to the second day:
We woke up in the cottage, fully rested, and ready for new experiences and adventures, even though we had to get up pretty early. I and AK had to hurry to catch the jeep in time, but still we had to wait 20 minutes. Do you understand how annoying it was! The lady “Cruella” had apparently overslept because the beds were not comfortable enough! And you wonder why we call her Cruella?! Haha ;)
Now I think we need to return to the journey. We took the jeeps and were, as I said, a little bit after the second jeep because we had the luck to end up with Cruella. This day we were in central Serengeti, Seronera and then Maasai Kopjes to end this day at Retima Hippo Pool and stay at Seronera Wildlife Lodge.
The trip to Seronera took about an hour. We were extra excited for this day because Seronera is regarded as one of the park's best areas. Why this area is so popular is because it’s a border zone between the two habitats, the guide explained. If I understood it correctly, it's grass savannahs in the south and trees savannahs in the north. This means that we saw many different animals. On the way we saw some giraffes again and after a little bit, we saw topi antelopes. We also stopped and looked at the waterbuck, which are animals that I never had heard of before, and the guide told us that they can be quite high and we saw some around 120 cm high and about as long. They apparently have pretty long, wiry hair, especially on the neck. The ones we saw were males with long horns, in my opinion, but according to the guide, they can be 51-102 cm long!
We also saw warthogs which unlike the other pigs are active during the day, but during the hottest hours, they can lie in the shade and rest. It was very hot that day so we managed to see some lying under a tree and rest. The only thing I could think of when I saw the pigs was Pumbaa from Timond and Pumbaa from The Lion King ;) We got some interesting facts about the pigs and they're bigger than I thought. They can grow up to 1.5 meters long and have a height of 70 centimeters. They also weigh very much, around 50-150 kg. The most fascinating thing is their extended canines.
Not far from the warthogs, we managed to see a herd of African buffalos. These animals are very difficult to see, but we managed and an interesting fact about them is that they are walking up to 18 hours per day. They are also quite fast and can reach a speed of 57 km/h. It was great to see the buffalo because it belongs to the big five. It was an amazing sight and really cool to see such animals as you would otherwise only see on TV.
After further 15 minutes in the jeep we saw a group of elephants. They were so majestic when they walked after each other in the sun. They are between 2.5 to 4 meters high depending on whether they are male or female and weight between 2000-6000 kg. What I think is cool is that they can become quite old, between 50-70 years old. This elephant is actually the largest living land animal, and they have large ears to cool down, but they also lubricates themselves with mud to protect themselves against the sun. I was very happy when we finally got to see the elephants, and we stood there for a while as they walked past. It was so beautiful and I can’t describe the feeling. It was not just awesome because it belongs to the big five, but because we managed to see a whole herd.
After the elephants both I and AK were really satisfied with the morning's pass and I felt that it couldn’t get any better. Even Cruella looked pleased! We stopped at a rest spot when the elephants had moved on and finally we could leave the jeep. We stayed at the rest area in 20 minutes and took the opportunity to eat a little. They had not much vegetarian food, but we managed to get hold of smoothies with bananas, yumi!!
After the break the bumpy ride continued to see more animals. On the road to Seronera we saw a female cheetah, together with two cubs, with the beautiful spotted black and yellow coat. Apparently it is common to see the cheetah because it’s active during the day to not have to compete with the cats that are active at night. It also has a dark stripe under and around the eye in order to mitigate the impact of sunlight. One particular thing that separates the cheetah from other cats is that they cannot withdraw their claws.
There we even saw servales. It is a medium-sized African cat. It hunts small preys such as rodents, hares and birds. Their need of water makes it impossible for them to live in deserts or semi-deserts. They are really cute animals and I just wanted to get closer and cuddle with them, but we had to continue and ended up on a very bumpy road. It was so bumpy that we had to take another route, but because of that we managed to see jackals and mongooses. Mongooses are small predators that live on the ground or in nests built under the ground. They apparently live mainly on the different kinds of insects. It was lucky that the road was so bumpy otherwise we had not seen those cute little animals!
Luckily the other way only took a little bit longer and we managed to take us to Seronera River which was one of the highlights of the trip. It’s because of this river that there are so many different kinds of animals in the area, because it’s filled with water all year. We could go next to the river and saw hippos, but after a while we managed to see a crocodile lying and sunning in the grass. One interesting thing that the guide told us about the crocodiles is that they only eat about once a week. After we had driven an hour we came to the main rest area in central Seronera, where we stopped for lunch. We received some form of bread, but it felt like a mix between pancakes and bread with vegetables, it was really good. Before we left, we took the opportunity and checked out some souvenirs in the store next to the lunch area. Cruella came out with a whole bag, of course. AK and I actually bought a respective t-shirt.
Maasai Kopjes and Retina Hippo Pool
The journey continued and we came to the Maasai Kopjes. It is an area with rocks and grass. There we could see rock badger. The cool thing was that we managed to see rock eagles, up close, which doesn't always happens according to the guide. In the afternoon we went to the last stop at Retina Hippo Pool. There we could once again see the hippos, but the cool thing this time was that we could leave the jeeps and move by foot and in that way we were able to watch and photograph hippos closer than we had done before, but we had to keep a distance because there could be crocodiles nearby. What I will remember most from Retina Hippo Pool was that Cruella managed to walk right in the hippo poo when she would go out and shoot one. She got extremely mad and stormed back to the jeep and the poor guide had to find out a pair of shoes and a bucket of water for her. Her stinking brand new shoes smelled disgusting in the jeep all the way back to the lodge, luckily we could open the windows ;) On the way to the lodge, where we stayed, we saw Grant's Gazelles that ran beside the jeep.
After an hour we arrived at the Seronera Wildlife Lodge and I looked forward to the food and the sleep for the night. This lodge was very large and had many rooms, but like the hippo poo wasn’t enough, no, we were forced to face an even bigger challenge. Someone had forgotten to book the right number of rooms, so there were only two rooms available, which meant the guys had a room and we had to share a room with Cruella, yay!
Luckily the room was big otherwise we had pushed her out through the window, I think. When we were extremely tired after dinner we just wanted to take a shower and then sleep, but it was only one shower in the room and Cruella didn’t shower for just a little time! She was in there for one hour before she was ready, I nearly got crazy! The rest of the evening, we heard her whining over the bed and that she did not understand how she could be forced to share room with us. We did manage to get some sleep and only woke up by her loud snoring that made the whole room shake. Well, we survived the night and was pretty rested on the next adventures, if we compared with Cruella of course ;) // Emma
The third day of safari…
On the third day of our safari Emma and I began the day with trying to get Cruella up on time. The noble lady overslept again! And as we tried to call her name, her real name haha, she didn’t even move! Her poor husband, who probably has that problem every day… Anyway finally we managed and as we were sure that she was awake we left the room to get some breakfast.
As we sat in the jeep again, driving further north, we heard Cruella complaining to her husband how horrible the night had been. Emma and I smiled at each other and tried to hold back a laugh. This morning was it even hotter than the last few days and it felt like a thunderstorm were gathering. We saw lots of animals, but they all were moving and the guide told us that was the surest sign of an upcoming thunderstorm. The animals were moving to search for a safe place to hide while the storm passes and after some discussions with the drivers our guide told us that we should do the same.
We drove of the main road and followed a smaller one, right through the bushes. I didn’t worry too much about the upcoming thunderstorm because we saw so many animals! Both big herds and smaller groups, all moving in different directions to find protection. There were every kind of herbivores, lots of smaller animals such as jackals, hares and squirrels. Once we saw an African fox, but the guide told us we had no time to stop. I wondered why, because the sky still was bright blue with no clouds in sight, but the guide said that when the storm comes in sight you have barely any time to go somewhere before it’s over you. We accepted that, but still it was too bad that we had no time to stop.
In the thunderstorm
It was still just morning but as hot as it had been during lunchtime the last days, and the air was so thick! Soon we saw thick, black clouds appear on the sky. At first they were far away but after just some minutes, in which we watched a lioness with two cubs running over the dry grass and vanishing behind a big bush, nearly the whole sky were covered with them. Now we didn’t saw any more animals, probably they all had found somewhere to hide. Cruella began to complain again but no one listened to her. We drove around a group of trees and in front of us was a small shed of wood. The first raindrops fell already as we left the jeeps and sought protection in the shed. And then the storm was over us, the rain just poured down and the wind made the whole shed shake.
It was over again as fast as it had begun. But the rain had left big puddles and the air felt cool and fresh. As we continued to drive everywhere around us the animals left their hiding places and came out into the sunshine. Now we had all time we wanted and the drivers stopped the jeeps as soon we saw an animal, and that happened often! What an activity it was! Inwardly I thanked the storm, because otherwise we probably wouldn’t have seen so many animals. First some hours later we met the first problem due to the storm. We drove down into a small valley and as we nearly had reached the bottom and were about to drive upward again the jeep stopped suddenly. At first we thought that there was an animal but then we saw the road in front of us, or more exactly we didn’t saw the road. Because down in the valley a small lake had formed! On the other side of it we could see the road appear again. Both the drivers left the jeeps and went to the water, to see how deep it was. As they came back they didn’t look very pleased but our guide told us that they would try to cross the water anyway. The drivers drove toward the water with high speed. Cruella screamed but no one reacted. There was water everywhere, but we got through!
After that, our safari continued without any more problems. We saw lots of animals and so many birds! As we drove past a smaller lake we saw two fully grown female elephants with their calves, who played in the water. They were so sweet! And later we managed to see the rare and endangered caracals! Our guide told the driver to stop and pointed at something golden brown in the grass some distance away. A catlike animal jumped up from the high grass, where it had been resting, and vanished into a nearby shrubbery with wide leaps. It was beautiful and looked a bit like a lynx but the guide told us that the caracals are only distantly related to the lynxes.
Although we saw lots of different animals, we hadn’t yet seen the rhinoceros, the last of the big five, as we arrived at our last accommodation in the Serengeti. True, we hadn’t seen any leopard either, but since they’re active in the night that, wasn’t strange. We went to bed really early, about nine in the evening, because only a few hours later it was time for night safari! That was one of the absolute top experiences during the safari! We just got a few hours of sleep, before we once again were sitting in the jeep. We drove out of the camp and followed the same road as we had come on. At night it all looked so differently! Before we had just seen the Serengeti in bright sunlight and now it was looking like a familiar, normally colorful, photo in black- and- white. And everything was so quite! It was like traveling through a world where everyone except you are asleep. And in some ways it was just like that, because most of the animals were hidden somewhere to get some rest, as the guide told us.
After about five minutes we drove of the main road and followed a smaller, even bumpier, road instead and the guide told us that we were on the way to some observation place. On the journey there, which lasted about ten minutes, we just stopped once when we saw a group of hyenas eating from some bloody thing on the ground.
The observation place was like a high building with big glass windows. We were there until the early morning hours and saw many animals. We had to be very quite because at the slightest movement the shy animals would vanish again. Even though Cruella apparently didn’t understand that, we managed to see many animals. We saw wild cats, mongooses and genets. Once we saw a honey badger with two, quite big cubs. We saw crested porcupines, aardvarks and bush babies, which are really small monkey-like animals.
The guide came and told us that we should leave soon, but just as he was about to leave us again to inform the others, something moved in the dark outside. First we saw nothing. Then we saw a shadow jumping down from a tree branch. The characteristic spots in the fur told us that it was a leopard. It was soo elegant as it carefully sneaked away in the dark. The guide was back and while we watched the leopard he told us a lot about them. From all the big felids the leopards are the stronges. They can carry really heavy preys while climbing a tree and they are strong swimmers and can run fast and leap wide and high. But they’re not nearly as fast as the gepards are. While a gepard can run up to 120 km/h a leopard can reach speeds of about 60 km/h. Leopards live alone in very big territories and only when mating they tolerate other individuals in their territory. In some manners those big cats are like our normal house cats, when they are angry they growl and when they are satisfied they purr. The guide told us also that leopards are the most difficult to see of the big felids and that we were lucky that saw one. Now we had seen all the animals of the big five except the rhinos and our mode were on top!
The last day and the last animal of the big five
We managed to get some sleep when we were back in our accommodation, before we once again and this time for the last time sat in the jeep. It felt a bit sad to know that our safari ended in just a few hours but then I thought of Australia, our next destination. It was like all the animals wanted to say goodbye to us, because there were animals everywhere. Haha, I think it was because of the rain the day before and not because of us, but it felt good anyway.
The guide had just told us that we would be in Bunda, were the safari would end, in about an hour, as the jeeps stopped. Just a small distance away two full grown rhinos stood and looked at the jeeps! They were really big, actually they are the second largest land mammal after the elephants, and looked dangerous with their characteristic horns on their noses. We just looked at them for a long moment and they looked back at us, before turning around and trotting away. The guide told us that there are five different species of rhinos. Two of them are Black Rhinoceros and White Rhinoceros but despite their names both species are grey in colour. He also told us that horses, zebras and tapirs are the closest living “relatives” to the rhinos, but I really can’t belive that… Anyway I really appreciated to have such a nice guide on the safari because we learned so much! And I hope that you learned something from reading about our adventures, haha… So finally we had managed to see those gigantic rhinoceros and thereby all the big five!!! Yey! :)
The last animals that we saw on our safari were a smaller group of impala antelopes. Then the fantastic safari was over. We said goodbye to our travel group and gave Cruella a big hug who didn’t looked so pleased about it. Then we took a bus-like something from Bunda to Musoma. After a good, but early, lunch we went over Lake Victoria back to Entebbe with some speed-boat. Wow, it was so fast! But again we managed to get really late to the airport, haha :) Anyway right now we’re sitting on Entebbe airport waiting for our flight to Nairobi. This post got veeery long, but during those three days it has happened so much (hope you didn’t get bored)! I already miss to sit in the hot jeep and drive over a bumpy road and most of all I miss the animals. This was really a journey of a lifetime, sooo amazing!!! Next time you’ll hear from us when we’re going to be in Kenya! //AK
Good morning everyone! It’s early, about five o'clock and we have just left the hotel in Arusha where we spent the night. Now we are going to meet our travel group, consisting of two guides and some other adventurers. Then we’ll go with two jeeps to our first accommodation in the national park and hope to see much wildlife on the way. Then we’ll continue like that, go from one, I think, tent to another and watch some animals on the way. Haha, as much as I understand we’ll mainly watch animals and just travel a little bit. That’s all I know about the safari right now, but I hope we’ll have internet connection (not very realistic, but we can hope) so that you can follow our safari every day! //AK
We are really tired after the rainforest adventures, but now we have to pack our things, because in two hours we are going to take the flight over Lake Victoria to Kilimanjaro airport in Tanzania. There we’ll spend the night, before starting the three-days long safari through the Serengeti national park in the early morning hours. So excited!!! We are going on a real safari, and I really hope we’ll see many wild animals and maybe even all of the big five! //AK
Hello my small unicorns!
Today we went and explored the rainforest here in Uganda. We went to an area where there is a tropical rain forest. The journey offered very beautiful views and a landscape of natural beauty and farmland. Once we arrived at Kibale, we saw many small beautiful volcanic lakes. This is apparently described as the "pearl of Africa" and I understand why, because it was so beautiful! This area of the rainforest is the area that has the greatest number of monkeys in Africa and we managed to see the chimpanzees and the rare endangered red colobus monkeys. In the rainforest it was very wet and the trees grew very tight, with high crowns formed as a roof over us. There were many different plants that I didn’t recognize, it was very cool to see such a habitat and it was quite a big difference to the Swedish leaves and pine forest.
During the day we were served food at a rest area and ate chickpea and spinach soup with peanut butter. It may sound a little bit strange, but it was actually really good and it smelled delicious too. To the soup we got a freshly baked bread. After lunch we continued the journey and went up into a mountain area to try see the endangered mountain gorillas.
These gorillas are endangered because of poaching, but also to deforestation. They live in family groups that hold together over a number of years. Each group consists of about 10 individuals. These mountain gorillas are very peaceful, but it’s not always that you manage to see them up close. Males have a so-called silver back, it means that their back has a silver shade. They are very large and one male can weigh about 180 kilograms and be 180 centimeters long according to the guide.
Just when we were about to go home, we managed to see a group of mountain gorillas in the area where they had seen them the night before. We were very quiet and tried to sneak closer by dodging our way through the compact terrain. When we were about 60 meters away, we stopped and could see both females, males, and their kids. It was an amazing experience and I got such an adrenaline rush from the whole experience. It makes me very sad to know that there are idiots out there who can’t leave these animals alone without the need to disrupt and kill these innocent individuals. The man who guided the group told us how they usually watch over the mountain gorillas at night to protect them. It’s very good that it exist such people, because otherwise perhaps no mountain gorillas would exist anymore.
First and foremost we had an interesting trip with a boda-boda something I'll never forget. AK and I sat behind a guy who drove us to the Uganda reptile village and apparently there exists no traffic rules because it felt like he was driving like a maniac. I was actually a little bit scared for a while and we hadn’t even reached the sneaks yet ;) but we did get there alive.
The center was actually quite small but there were a lots of lizards, snakes and other reptiles that we could look at. We hold the turtles and chameleons, but the coolest thing was seeing a cobra at close distance.
We also got to hold some snakes, something I really liked because snakes are some of my favorite animals. Back to the hotel we didn’t dare to go with the boda-boda so we took a bus instead. Now the time is late and we'll go to bed in order to cope with the day tomorrow because we have to get up really early.
Good morning all wonderful people! Today is the fifth day in the fantastic Uganda and time is just rushing. As AK wrote yesterday, we had a fantastic experience in the village outside Entebbe. I personally thought it was extremely interesting to see how people really live down here. Well, you are probably more interested in hearing the continuing part of the nutella problem, or am I wrong?
AKs morning mood is as I expected not the most enjoyable, but I think these two days have been good for her and her teeth! I guess she doesn’t agree with me ;)
But today, after breakfast we went to the little shop next to the hotel in search for nutella. When we stepped into the store, it was very special and the woman in the shop was an older lady who told us many stories about the city. She told us about the tragic event in 1976. Her husband had been part of the plane that was hijacked.
It’s the event that has made the city more known. Operation Entebbe took place the summer of 1976 and was a very big rescue drama in which the Israeli military released prisoners from a hijacked airplane. The aircraft was hijacked by terrorists who demanded that the prisoners in different countries had to be released in order if the passengers on the plane should survive. Why they landed in Entebbe was according to the lady because of President Idi Amin. He sympathized with the terrorists. But the Israelis had a plan and overpowered the terrorists and the Ugandan troops, the rescue plan was successful and the passengers were released. Unfortunately, six hijackers died, 45 Ugandan soldiers and three passengers, but the lady’s husband survived.
The lady was very special and I was very moved by her story. It feels good to know a little bit more about the city’s history. She also showed some photos that her husband had taken on the tragic event.
Now maybe the nutella problem doesn't seem as important, but just because you are so curious we found nutella in the store and AK bought so much that it probably will be enough for the rest of the trip! Now I have to quit because we are taking the boda-boda to the Uganda Reptile Village and I’m so excited!!! // Emma
Hi again! It’s the fourth evening of our journey and it has already been sooo fantastic! Today we visited a small town outside Entebbe and I have already forgotten its name, shit! We took a “matatu” again and together with some other tourist we left the city. But soon all the other passengers had left the “matatu” and Emma and I were the only ones remaining as the “matatu” continued out on the countryside to the small town. At first we thought that the driver had left us in the middle of nowhere, but then we saw a lot of small, primitive houses down a hill.
It was so amazing to see how the people live there, how the women cooked food on easy pots above a open fire, how children went to a open space between the houses were a man teached them how to write and how the men worked on the fields around the town. Hens ran around everywhere in the village, they were very similar to their swedish relatives, but there were some differences. They were a bit smaller and more colorful. It all was very different from our cold Sweden!
Even if Emma and I couldn’t speak with most of the people, there were some who understood our english. And they were all so friendly! They gave us bread done on maize, some beans in a tomato sauce and other vegetables we didn´t recognise.
The women showed us their handcrafts, they had made baskets and bowls, handbags and carpets. All from natural materials and in beautiful colors. A man who could say some words in english told us that the women made all this things to sell them to tourists and the over class people in the cities. So of course I had to buy such a wonderful bag and Emma even bought a carpet for her apartment at home.
A few of the older children, who weren’t as shy as the others, came to us and showed us their school, rows of small woodblocks which they used as desks when writing on their tablets. Then two of them showed us the fields around the village. There were mostly plantages with maize, sweet potatoes and matoke, even called cooking bananas. As we followed the two boys further away from the village we saw small herds of goats and cattles. Herdemen were guarding the herds from wild predators and prevent them from running into the fields. Around the village the landscape was nearly flat, but at the horizon we could see the big rainforests. The whole scenery was so beautiful, the animals, people and nature- you just have to love it! In any case Emma and I love it and I don't want to think about that we are going to leave this amazing country in just a few days. It all seemed to shimmer in the hot air under the burning sun, it’s so hot here and after just these few days both Emma and I have got a dark sunburn. But maby Emma is a bit more red then brown, but still....
Later, when we were back in the village and it was nearly evening, all the people began to move toward an open space in the middle of the houses. Some of the men had lit a fire, which crackled and sparkled and hold all the horrible insects away. That’s something I think we haven’t mentioned yet, all those mosquitoes! They are sooo big and buzzing very loud! Horrible bloodsuckers! Before we got here we had to vaccinate us against a long row of diseases, but still it doesn’t feels safe to be bitten by those gigantic monsters. Anyway the fire held them away and we had an indescribable nice evening.
First the women came with food, it was a simple meal with maize bread, different types of beans and a lot of, for us unknown, vegetables. And of course we even got matoke again, as much as I understood this bananas are something like the national dish of Uganda. The meal was soo delicious and it was fantastic to sit there by the fire and watch all those people, whose lives are so different from ours, talking and laughing in a strange language.
After the meal one of the older men started to talk and everyone else fell silent. It seemed that he told them stories, because at some points everyone around the fire draw in their breath at the same time at other points everyone laughed or looked sad. Even if we didn’t understood the story it was cosily to listen to the old man’s deep voice and the strange words and melody of the language. Now and again we heard some wild animals roar in the distance, remaining us that we were midst among them.
It was very late as we finally left the village. One of the younger men, who owned a jeep, drove us back to Entebbe. We thanked him gratefully, there was no matatu in sight and it would have been so terrible to walk all the way back. What a amazing day it has been, and it got the best possible end…
It was a wonderful evening, the darkness around us felt very comfortable and it was thrilling to sit in the open jeep and drive through the outskirts of the rainforest knowing that there were lions, leopards and hyenas everywhere near around us. We even heard the animals roar. At one point our driver had to slam the brakes when a hyena ran across the road right in front of the jeep.
We already saw Entebbe on the horizon as our driver slowed down and stopped the jeep. He pointed toward a small group of trees some distance away. At first we didn’t saw anything at all through the darkness, but then Emma pointed and whispered that there were some animals on the left side of the threes. As I looked I saw them too. A group of zebras were standing there, tight together and with hanging heads, as if they were asleep. Their white stripes were standing out against the darkness around. Our driver pointed and gesticulated that there were more zebras behind the trees, but they were impossible for us to see. The first wildiving animals we have seen! Yay! But I hope we’ll see many, many more of them on our safari through the Serengeti.
And now I’m soo tired that all I’ll be doing the rest of this night is sleeping… By the way Emma is already in her bed, haha :) Good night and more tomorrow! //AK
Good morning! What a fantastic day we had yesterday at the Botanical Garden, with all the amazing birds and the cool monkeys! Today we are going to visit a small village outside Entebbe, so I hope we’ll learn a bit more about the culture of Uganda.
We have just eaten breakfast, without any nutella, haha. Okay, I admit that I love nutella and that I normally eat it to breakfast, but I don’t think that I get grumpy when I don’t get any… Besides, we are in a fantastic country and have had so much fun, so does it really matter what I get to breakfast? This whole adventure is too exciting and doesn’t deserve any grumpiness because of some nutella (but everything would be even a little bit better with nutella of course…). //AK
Hi again! We are back from Entebbe Botanical Garden and it was truly wonderful. What a beautiful landscape!
At the Botanical Garden we got introduced to Uganda’s magnificent birdlife. We saw lots of different birds and some of my favorites were Orange Weaver, Common Squacco, Pied Kingfishers, Ross’s turacos, Black and White Casqued Hornbill.
The walk ended at Lake Victoria and there around the lake we could see more fantastic birds. We also went to the small part of the rainforest in the garden and there we saw Guereza Colobrus monkeys. They mainly live in the treetops near rivers, but sometimes you can see them on the grassland when they are looking for food. And we were very lucky and past the rainforest part when a group of them were searching for food.
The guide told us that they are white when they are born, but then become black and white later. These monkeys have long, white mane once used to make traditional African head things. They are known for their long tail. We also saw Vervet monkeys which are smaller than Guereza Colobrus, but they have a lighter fur.
As you understand we saw many different kinds of birds and luckily we had a guide who showed us around the park and described the different birds and animals. It was very interesting to hear what the guide had to say about the birds and we learned so much, so here is some information about my favorite birds that we managed to see.
Orange Weavers are very beautiful birds with a strong orange color. They don’t belong to any group of nice singing birds instead they actually shout when they area disturbed. Not a pretty sound, trust me! The guide told us they mostly eat seeds and some small insects.
Yesterday, we had a very nice day in town, but the walk was probably a bit too ambitious, for today I have such a sore. ;) I may need to start training again, or what do you think?
And my goodness what hot it’s down here. We came from ice-cold Sweden to a hot sauna, literally, but I should not complain. This morning we had breakfast, but there was a major problem, a problem so big that it can be a risk for the whole week! A problem that can have a huge impact on me, a problem that will make AK very grumpy and not the funniest person to be around. In the hotel breakfast there is no NUTELLA!!! Do you understand what a problem we are facing, what a high mountain we must climb? I get a little bit worried about how she’ll manage all week without nutella, but I’ll probably be most worried about how I'm going to put up with her terrible temper when she doesn’t get any Nutella in the morning. Luckily there is a small shop next to the hotel and I keep all my fingers and toes crossed that we can buy some there, otherwise I really don't know what to do. The problem regarding nutella will continue…
Today, when we have finished eating our breakfast we are going to take a bus, or “matatu” as it apparently is called here, to the Entebbe Botanical Gardens, yay!!! //Emma
Good morning all sunbeams!!!
We are finally here in Entebbe, Africa, how cool!! We managed to catch the correct flight and the trip went without any major problems.
Earlier this morning we spent a few hours in Ethiopia's capital Addis Abeba. At first we sat at the airport but it was very boring, so we agreed on taking a walk through the city. It´s a really big city and full of people, even this early. Then we went to eat some breakfast, and accidentally ended up in front of a ice cream shop… So we ate ice cream as breakfast, hihi ;) When we sat there on a bench and ate our ice-cream suddenly, a big hairy monkey came from nowhere. It jumped up right next to AK and I have never heard her screaming so much before. The funniest thing was that the little monkey took her ice-cream and ran away. Later we googled the monkey and found out it was a Gelada monkey, they live in the mountains of Ethiopia, but sometimes a group of them get lost and end up in one of the cities.
The flight from Addis Abeba went well and we have just checked into the African Roots Guest House where we'll stay the next 7 days. I think the hotel feels very homey and cozy, and the guy in the reception doesn’t give the first impression any negative points either, because he is a very good-looking guy. The Internet connection seems to work well, yay, now you can expect pro uploading from this week in Entebbe! We have just checked in and will soon head out to discover the city. Central Entebbe is just 15 minutes away from our hotel, so I even think that we can take a walk, but maybe it's something I regret tomorrow. //Emma
Uganda is a country rich in natural resources, but many years of dictatorship have destroyed the former wealth. Today Uganda is a very poor country, but the welfare have increased and since the oil was found the economy has stabilized. Still is the majority of Uganda's inhabitantes farmers and the coffee production is a big export. The countryside life has contributed to keep local cultures and traditions among the people. There are many different ethnic groups and nearly as many different languages. People in the cities mostly talk english, which is the official language since the country was a british colony, but on the countryside everyone speak their own language and many people don't understand english.
Many tourists are coming to Uganda each year, mostly because of the fantastic nature and the big diversity of animal life. There are about ten different national parks in the country and especially the mountain Gorillas are typical.
It'll be so much fun to discover the country, the cultures and especially the wild animal life and see it all with our own eyes! //AK