Adventure Travel Blog for Adventurous Couples | Four Jandals » Africa Adventure travel blog for couples travel featuring inspiring surf, snow and biking adventures to inspire you to step outside your comfort zone, in comfort. Fri, 16 Jan 2015 01:02:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Rafting the Nile with Nile River Explorers Fri, 26 Jul 2013 05:22:02 +0000 Check out what it's like to experience White Water Rafting the Nile River with Nile River Explorers and a review of Nile River Explorers.

The full article can be read at Rafting the Nile with Nile River Explorers.

It’s an ominous sign when you have to practice flipping the raft and getting back in before you even reach the first rapids on the Nile River. But when you decide that you want an adrenaline rush, white water rafting the Nile with Nile River Explorers, is one you have to be prepared for.

Because with only 8 sections of rapids on the 4 hour, 30 km section of the Nile River that we paddled down, we managed to flip 4 times.

White Water Rafting the Nile River with Nile River Explorers Review

White Water Rafting the Nile River with Nile River Explorers

Rafting the Nile with Nile River Explorers

On my 75 day overland adventure through Africa with Oasis Overland, rafting the Nile River was right at the top of adventure activities I wanted to tick off.

While I was a river rafting guide on the Athabasca Rive in Jasper National Park in Canada, those rapids were only ever Class 2 and 3. I was more often a tour guide than a rafting guide.

The ones we were paddling our little rubber raft into on the Nile River were Class 3, 4 and 5.

White Water Rafting the Nile River with Nile River Explorers Review

After being treated to a scrumptious breakfast we clattered across the pot-holed road for half an hour to the Nile River rafting drop-off zone. Lathered in sunscreen under the hot Ugandan sun we donned our lifejackets, helmets and gripped the rough wooden paddles. Each one hand carved from the local trees.

With a short, but thorough safety briefing, we were loaded into the 4 rafts.

Our guide, Alex, was ripped like an African Terminator and has been rafting the Nile for over 5 years. We were also accompanied by 2 rescue kayaks per raft, one of which was paddled by one of the Ugandan Olympic representatives, Juma.

As we stroked our way into the first section of our rapids the tension began to build. Everyone but myself had never been rafting before and had no idea what to expect. With rapids this large, neither did I.

Spinning at the last minute Alex yelled at us to “get down”. Gripping the safety line and sitting on our haunches we dropped over the first rapid. Luckily this one decided to spit us back out unscathed.

White Water Rafting the Nile River with Nile River Explorers Review

It wasn’t the case with all the rapids.

One of the things that they made me do, which I have never seen before and the guides thought was hilarious, was to get us perched at the front of the raft. This meant that whoever was on front had to take the full force of impact as we dropped into the Class 4 rapids.

White Water Rafting the Nile River with Nile River Explorers Review

White Water Rafting the Nile River with Nile River Explorers Review

White Water Rafting the Nile River with Nile River Explorers Review

White Water Rafting the Nile River with Nile River Explorers Review

White Water Rafting the Nile River with Nile River Explorers Review

White Water Rafting the Nile River with Nile River Explorers Review

I honestly don’t know how I managed to stay in the raft.

While being flipped out can be terrifying, having the life jacket, a little common sense and experienced guides directing you, makes it fun.

Even when on the one occasion I was tossed out of the raft by the raging white water and popped up underneath the raft, which had reached it’s demise and flipped over again, I never panicked. In the gloomy dark I could breath the air created in the rafts natural air pockets before the guide, obviously using supernatural powers had clambered on top of the upside-down raft and directed me out from underneath.

White Water Rafting the Nile River with Nile River Explorers Review

The white water rafting adventure down the Nile River was definitely one of the top experiences while I was in Africa.

Nile River Explorers Review

The crew from Nile River Explorers were some of the best rafting guides and kayakers I have ever seen.

We never felt unsafe, even when we knew that we were pretty much guaranteed to flip. The scariest part was how relaxed we were while knowing what we were getting ourselves into. And that comes down to how professional the guides from Nile River Explorers were.

It also wasn’t all about rafting. With 4 hours in the raft you have to keep entertained.

With the traditional “pool/drop” rapids, where a large rapid “drops” into a “pool” or flat section, we were able to have plenty of rests from paddling. As well as occasional multiple water fights and swims to keep cool. The guides were always quick with the wit, and had plenty to say about the Nile River itself including pointing out various wildlife and historical sites.

All in all I highly recommend you check them out if you want to go rafting on the Nile River.

Cost: Rafting the Nile with Nile River Explorers costs $125 per person. This includes breakfast, a huge lunch and as many beers as you can down in an hour at the end. Photos are an extra $80 per boat, so it is reasonable if everyone wants to purchase them together.

When I compare the prices to choose the cheapest accommodation around the world, I’m looking  through Hotelscan.

The full article can be read at Rafting the Nile with Nile River Explorers.

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Mountain Biking in Hell’s Gate National Park, Kenya Thu, 04 Jul 2013 10:13:44 +0000 Find out what it is like to cycle next to wild animals in Kenya from my recent Mountain Biking in Hell's Gate National Park.

The full article can be read at Mountain Biking in Hell’s Gate National Park, Kenya.

Casting a wary eye across the line-up of assorted bikes on offer, I knew we were in for an interesting morning mountain biking in Hell’s Gate National Park in Kenya. And not just for the wildlife we would be cycling past, including the chance to spot some of the “Big 5” from the saddle.

Looking like a second-hand jumble sale at the local school, the mountain bikes for our expedition into the heart of Hell’s Gate National Park ranged from barely working to scrapheap worthy.

Hells Gate National Park, Kenya

Mountain Biking in Hell’s Gate National Park

Not ones to be easily put off we grinded away up the road.

Sticking to the back of the pack as we set off for the 4km ride to the Game Park entrance it quickly became apparent that my initial assessment of the bikes was spot on. As our “Guide” cycled away into the distance I maintained a steady stream of riders who were stopping to fix slipping gears, lost chains and stuck brake pads. Luckily by the entrance our bikes were somewhat sorted and initial nerves settled.

Cruising under the park gates, the crew from my 75 Day tour through Africa with Oasis Overland continued a steady pedal up the slight incline into Hell’s Gate National Park.

Mt Biking Hells Gate National Park, Kenya

Known for its beautiful landscapes (scenes for the Lion King were inspired here) rather than it’s huge array of wildlife, we were initially struck by the beauty of the cliff formations leading us into “Hell”. The limestone cliffs of various shades of red, yellow, white and black have been shaped by Mother Natures hand over thousands of years with glaciers, wind and rain slowly whittling away tiny particles like a wood carver tuning a piece of ebony.

Eroded limestone towers and fingers strike up out of the earth creating perfect climbing routes for adventure seekers looking for rock climbs to conquer.

Biking in Hells Gate National Park

It wasn’t long before we began to spot out first signs of game either.

Impala, warthogs, zebra and even a lone Giraffe strolled between the valley walls as we pedalled on and on. While we had been closer to the animals while exploring Lake Nakuru National Park, cycling alongside herds of game animals is another experience entirely.

Stopping to snap pictures at regular intervals while trying to keep your distance from these wild animals is something I’m not sure I could ever get used to.

Watching a Water Buffalo stare you down from just 50m’s away while sitting on a mountain bike, and knowing that if you had to run then there was no way that you could outpace it if it was annoyed is enough to get the adrenaline pumping. As well as those tired legs rotating a little bit quicker.

Mountain Biking in Hells Gate National Park, Kenya

After 11kms our guide decided to let our butts rest but keep our legs working.

We began a zig-zagging descent into one of the tightly winding canyons. Carved from rivers and thermal activity, these canyons split the earth in two during periods of heavy rain.

Scalding water pours from cracks in the limestone walls causing steam to rise up out of the canyons which gives Hell’s Gate its name.

Canyon in Hells Gate National Park, Kenya

Leaping from stone to stone and scaling the walls like mountain goats we had to resort to various Parkour manoeuvres to make our way deeper into the canyon. While not for the faint-hearted it wasn’t terribly taxing and there were easier routes we could have taken.

Scrambling back out of Hell’s Gate into the blazing Kenya sunshine after the relative cool shade within the canyon just meant that we would soon have to be back in the saddles to ride back past the wild animals. But not before we were rewarded with a stunning view across the length of Hell’s Gate National Park which we hadn’t yet ventured into.

Viewpoint Hells Gate National Park, Kenya

Since it had been a while since I had a bike seat clenched beneath my thighs, the return ride back was tender to say the least. But with tired legs we were able to travel slower across the rutted trails allowing more time to view the animals in their natural surroundings.

Most of which paid us barely any attention at all.

Information for Mountain Biking in Hell’s Gate National Park


Located 2.5 hours north of Nairobi in Kenya, it is a worthwhile stopping point if you are making your way to Uganda or Rwanda to trek with the Mountain Gorillas.


The entrance fee for Hell’s Gate National Park is $20, while Mountain Bike hire costs range from $15 – $25 per person.

Additional Information:

The mountain biking in Hell’s Gate National Park is endless and it is also one of the only Game Parks in the world where you can cycle through. Our ride took 4 hours and included a lunch at a local restaurant with delicious local cuisine.

While our local guide provided bits and pieces of history, information and pointed us in the right direction, we would have appreciated a bit more of a hand with the bikes. Self-guiding is definitely an option.

The full article can be read at Mountain Biking in Hell’s Gate National Park, Kenya.

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Kissing and feeding Giraffes at the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi, Kenya Thu, 13 Jun 2013 08:00:10 +0000 Getting up close and personal with the local residents at the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi, on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital city, is highly encouraged.

The full article can be read at Kissing and feeding Giraffes at the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.

Getting up close and personal with the local residents at the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi, on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital city, is highly encouraged. And if you are willing to resist the urge to gag on their stinky breath then the African guides even encourage you to give them a big smooch too.

Feeding the Giraffes in Nairobi

Visiting the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi, Kenya

Travelling through Africa on my 75 Day tour from Nairobi to Cape Town with Oasis Overland has gotten me alongside some of the most amazing animals in the world. But nothing has so far compared to how close I got when I visited the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi.

Giraffe Centre Sanctuary in Nairobi

In 1979 by Jock and Betty Leslie-Melville began raising a baby Rothschild Giraffe in their home. They quickly realised that they needed to do more to protect this highly endangered species of Giraffe, of which there were only 120 Giraffes in the world at the time.

With their efforts in establishing the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi, along with other conservationists, there are now over 300 Rothschild Giraffes roaming throughout several of the African Game Parks including Lake Nakuru National Park, Mwea National Park and Ruma National Park.

Giraffe Centre in Nairobi

The Giraffe Centre in Nairobi combines conservation, education as well as a very hands-on experience for visitors. Not only can you observe the Giraffes in their natural habitat (we spotted two Giraffes fighting with their swinging necks and horns) but you can also get up close and personal.

From a raised wooden platform you can observe, hand-feed and pat the Giraffes.

Giraffe Sanctuary in Kenya

Staring into a 4m high Giraffes eyes is a beautiful thing.

Getting covered in juicy Giraffe saliva as they use their gigantic tongues to lick tasty treats from your mouth is another experience altogether.

Cole feeding the Giraffes in Nairobi

Down at ground level the Giraffes stretch their flexible necks across the barriers to wrap their tongues around your fingers to pull the small snacks from outstretched fingers.

Giraffe Sanctuary feeding in Nairobi, KenyaHand feeding Giraffes in Nairobi

While I do prefer seeing them in the wild, watching, feeding, kissing, and interacting with some of the most majestic creatures that walk this earth is a memory that I will hang onto for a long, long, long time.

The full article can be read at Kissing and feeding Giraffes at the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.

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The David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi Fri, 31 May 2013 11:56:41 +0000 Visiting the amazing David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi where we got to hang out with baby Elephants for an hour.

The full article can be read at The David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi.

Within the Nairobi National Game Park, on the outskirts of one of the largest African Capitals, is a small sanctuary where dozens of Orphaned Elephants are brought each year. Because when a baby Elephant is separated from its Mother because of death from natural causes or poaching, then it’s very likely that the baby will die as well.

David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage Mud Pool

Visiting the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi

Often found still nursing their dead Mothers throughout the Game Parks in Kenya, with none of their family in sight, the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya, steps in to help. This gives them a fighting a chance to ensure the African Elephant population continues to thrive.

From one new-born Elephants to 4 years old, each Orphan is cared for and hand-raised within the Elephant Sanctuary until they are able to be reintroduced into the wild two years later.

David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi

David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi

The best part is that the Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi is open to the public every day strictly for one hour from 11am to 12pm. This means that we can get up close and personal with the Elephant Orphans, while still ensuring that they do not become to accustomed to human interaction.

Elephant feeding in Kenya

With about 100 tourists crowding shoulder to shoulder around the roped off area our group from our Oasis Overland tour through Africa were introduced to the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage by the local workers before they began to let in the Elephants.

With a distant trumpet we could hear them coming.

David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Kenya

Running out of their tree covered enclosures they were all jostling for positions at the front. Each one eager to be the first to the line of 2L milk containers.

With mouths opened wide they guzzled down the entire contents within just a couple of minutes before turning their attention to the small tree branches.

David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi (3)

Before long it was playtime.

Under the scorching Kenyan sun they all began to splash around the mud pool. For the littlest Elephant Orphans the carers would splash mud across their backs. While the older and larger Elephants could do it themselves with ease.

Elephant mud pool

They were extremely curious too.

Walking right up to us their trunks would reach out to wrap themselves around our hands. And with some of the Elephants still only waist high you can easily reach out and run your hands across their coarse hair atop their wrinkly skin.

Their long eyelashes also blink in the bright sunlight and you can feel them studying you.

Baby Elephant Orphanage

The trainers say that it is also true that Elephants never forget. The Elephants remember these personal interactions that they have had with them years in the future after being released back into the wild.

Visiting the David Sheldrick Elephant orphanage in Nairobi is a truly wonderful experience. Being able to reach out and touch these magnificent animals was definitely one of the highlights of my time in Kenya.

It’s just a pity that they managed to not only fling mud on my clothes from the mud pool, but also to splash my lens with it too!

David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi

David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi

The full article can be read at The David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi.

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Gorilla Trekking in Uganda – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Sun, 19 May 2013 19:00:51 +0000 While it is one of the most expensive hours you will ever experience, it is still worth it. Find out what it's like to go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda.

The full article can be read at Gorilla Trekking in Uganda – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

A flash of silver surrounded by black is the first glimpse I catch as his gigantic body rises from leaning against the bamboo trunks. His monstrous head swivels atop a pair of broad shoulders.

Male Silverback Mountain Gorilla in Uganda

Male Silverback Gorilla in Uganda


Frozen on the spot our guide imitated the universal Mountain Gorilla sound to let them know we were friends and everything was alright.

As the leading Silverbacks head finished it’s swivel, it locked it’s dark eyes on our group and didn’t even blink before turning back to it’s lunch of bamboo shoots and leaves.

Silverback Gorilla in Uganda

Silverback Gorilla in Uganda

Grinning at us our guide waved us closer.

“Don’t worry, they are happy with our presence.”

I wasn’t completely convinced, but when you are paying $550/hour trekking with Mountain Gorillas in Uganda, you don’t want to waste a minute. Inching closer we all began jostling for position. Elbow to elbow our cameras whirred away as we frantically tried to snap a few pictures under the very poor light conditions.

Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

And today the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest was living up to it’s reputation as the heavy rainforest above our heads blocked out nearly all the available light.

Grasping the thick trunk with a fist that could crush your skull, the solo Silverback swung down the bank. Lumbering downhill towards his family on his knuckles, we followed at a safe distance.

Within minutes we spotted further movement ahead. A young male juvenile clambered up a tree just 10m from our position as his brother chased him. Launching from above he tackled his brother with a fistful of black hair sending them both into the undergrowth.

Gorillas in Bwaise Impenetrable Forest Park

Male Juvenile Gorilla in Bwaise Impenetrable Forest Park

The mother didn’t even react and I couldn’t understand why until movement over her shoulder caught my eye. A baby Mountain Gorilla, only a month old to the day, peered at us with intensely deep brown eyes before disappearing again.

New born Mountain Gorilla in Uganda

New born Mountain Gorilla in Uganda

As the dominant Silverback we had spotted earlier continued away from us, the rest of his 10 strong family followed in his wake.

For the next hour it felt like we were continuously harassing them as we snuck closer for a few minutes before they decided to move on. End even though we were not allowed to approach them closer than 7m, they would saunter closer to us on several occasions.

While they barely paid us any attention, it felt like we were constantly intruding on their territory and within their personal spaces.

Mountain Gorillas in Uganda

Mountain Gorilla trekking in Uganda

The Trekking Experience – Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Only half of the experience is actually watching the Mountain Gorillas in Uganda. One of the best parts of the day is trekking through the Bwindi Impenetrable Rainforest searching for them in the first place.

We were considered lucky as our maximum group of 8, accompanied by our guide and an armed guard to scare off potential poachers and wildlife, had slashed, stumbled and hiked only 45 minutes from our start point to our first sighting of our designated Mountain Gorilla family in Uganda, Bitukura.

In comparison, the other group from Oasis Overland, who I am travelling across Africa with, hiked over 3 hours each way before they spotted their first glimpse of the Mountain Gorillas in Uganda.

Mountain Gorilla in Uganda

Mountain Gorilla in Uganda

Just 10 minutes into our Gorilla trekking in Uganda we were halted in our path as we caught glimpses of brown flanks downwind of us through the dense forest. A herd of Elephants were in a clearing ahead and were known to charge at “muzungus” in their path.

Smaller than their desert dwelling cousins, they use their size to ease their way through the undergrowth in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Park. Their lighter weight also allows them to scale the, at times, near vertical Bwindi Impenetrable Forest valley walls.

Unslinging his AK47, our guard told us to run if they decided to charge us before sending them trumpeting into the bush with a single “CRACK” of the bullet whizzing above their heads. It’s slightly unnerving to see how quickly they can move in a forest that I can barely see through.

Gorillas in the Mist Uganda

Gorillas in the Mist Uganda

Slipping deeper and downhill in to the Ugandan Rainforest we were only given a 2 minute warning before we spotted that first male Silverback.

And bang on 60 minutes our excellent Mountain Gorilla guide slowly started to pull us away from the group. It was a magical experience that I will never forget.

Have you seen been trekking with the Mountain Gorillas in Uganda before? Is it on your Bucket List?

The full article can be read at Gorilla Trekking in Uganda – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

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Bwaise Slum Tours in Kampala, Uganda Sun, 12 May 2013 18:44:24 +0000 Find out what it's like to go on one of the Slum Tours in Kampala, and how it has made a big impact on me.

The full article can be read at Bwaise Slum Tours in Kampala, Uganda.

When our Oasis Overland tour leader offered us a slum tour through Bwaise slums in Uganda, I wasn’t sure how comfortable I felt about it. Not only would we be wandering through the residents private village and homes, but no doubt we would also be snapping away with our cameras at every sign of poverty. It seemed so wrong.

I very nearly decided not to go along.

Uganda Slum Tour

Local relaxing in Bwaise Slum


However, I am so glad that I did decide on visiting the slums in Uganda as it has led to a small change in my life.

Bwaise Slum Tours in Kampala, Uganda

Catching a matatatu (local taxi) through the traffic-choked streets of Kampala, the capital of Uganda, is an experience in itself. Add 12 muzungu’s (white tourists) like myself and you become the main attraction. As we crawled through the streets we were reminded that the residents of the slum we were visiting, Bwaise slum, live well below the poverty line but we had nothing to fear in terms of being robbed as we would be guided with a guard.

AFFCAD Bwaise Slum Tour in Uganda

AFFCAD Bwaise Slum Tours in Uganda

Arriving in Bwaise Slum we met our AFFCAD (Action for Fundamental Change for Development) tour guides who explained where we would be going and who we would meet over the next 2 hours.

AFFCAD is a non profit community based organisation with offices in Bwaise slums in Kampala. It was formed in 2009 by a group of four youths to mitigate the impacts of HIV/AID and Poverty in the slum areas of Kampala, Uganda.  They now run tours and also offer various volunteering options, from 1 day to several months.

As we learnt more about the AFFCAD organisation, children’s faces began to peer through the wooden windows at us. Their faces breaking into shy grins every time they caught our eyes or we offered a wave.

Local school in Bwaise Slum - Uganda

Walking out onto the streets of Bwaise slum I quickly felt a tug at my hand as it dangled at my side. Glancing down I spotted a grubby little hand clasped around my fingers. The ear to ear grin split her face as she looked up at me and my heart melted.

Bwaise Slum Tour - Children

Within seconds everyone had at least one kid grasping both hands as we began our slum tour. And in most cases two or three kids would be hanging off our fingers.

Visiting the local school where 40 kids cram into a shoebox of a room with dirt floors was eye opening. Brightly painted pictures plastered the wooden walls and wooden desks lined the room. Another of the classes was completely flooded with a foot of water sloshing between the walls due to it being rainy season.

Bwaise Slum Tour - Local School

When the floods arrive, several weeks of the year, there is nothing to be done but send the kids back home. It sucks as all they want to do is learn and play.

Continuing the slum tour we were taken through a maze of winding streets of ramshackle homes. Each housing several generations of family members with no electricity or running water.

Bwaise Slum - School

The water they do collect often bubbles up from natural springs that are littered with rubbish.

A queue of tiny kids carry plastic containers waiting to be filled for their once daily (if lucky) meal of plain rice. Education about boiling the water before consuming it is the only way to keep them from getting sick.

Drinking water in Bwaise Slum

Long canals choked with rubbish criss-cross through the slums. The locals stand waist deep in them pulling trash out of the water to see if anything has washed down from neighbouring communities that is worth keeping or selling.

Nearly everything can be reused and each item is meticulously poured over to calculate its value.

Bwaise Slum Tour in Uganda - Canals

Wandering deeper into the slum we are told to switch off our cameras.

The locals here are mostly prostitutes in the slum earning little more than $1 an hour, yet this is more than most. It is a lucrative business for someone with no other options. And while AFFCAD are trying to stamp it out, they know they are fighting a losing battle.

They would rather educate the sex workers about HIV/AIDS and how to protect themselves over the long term.

As we wrap up the tour we are invited into a local restaurant to devour a traditional meal of Ugali (a type of rice and maize mixture) with a stew of tender beef. All costing less than $2.

Waving goodbye to the kids I make the very easy decision that as soon as I return to New Zealand I will be organising the sponsorship of one of the children. For just $40 a month I can make a huge impact in their lives with 3 daily meals, school supplies and medicine to help them out.

Children of Bwaise SlumLaughing children in Bwaise Slum

What is ridiculous and weighs on me heavily is that I can quite easily spend that on one night out drinking. It makes me sick just thinking about it.

Reader Questions: Do you sponsor a child or donate to a worth charity? Do you recommend any for me to research?

To learn more about what AFFCAD are doing in Bwaise slum, or how you might help them, then please check out their website.

The full article can be read at Bwaise Slum Tours in Kampala, Uganda.

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Visiting Lake Nakuru National Park Safari – Photo Essay Mon, 06 May 2013 06:18:53 +0000 Visiting Lake Nakuru National Park for a Game safari is one of the best things you can do in Kenya. Especially if you want to see 4 of the "Big 5".

The full article can be read at Visiting Lake Nakuru National Park Safari – Photo Essay.

The first glimmers of sunlight slowly spread across the sky to the East as our 4WD Safari Van pulled into Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya. Various shades of pink, orange, purple and blue began to break into blue as the sun rose above the reflections of Lake Nakuru.

Lake Nakuru National Park Sunrise

Lake Nakuru National Park Sunrise

On only the second day of my Oasis Overland 75 Day tour from Nairobi to Cape Town the excitement levels were high.

Especially since Lake Nakuru National Park contains some of the best wildlife spotting opportunities in Africa with 4 of the “Big 5” on offer. The only one missing is the almighty Elephant. And within seconds I was ticking them off the list.

Only 100m through the gates entrance we parked next to two gargantuan Water Buffalo 10m away in the grass. Exiled from their herd for becoming too old they were left to roam the Game Park by themselves without companions for their final years.

Water Buffalo in Lake Nakuru Game Park

Water Buffalo Lake Nakuru Game Park

Perhaps the closeness of the entrance provided them with a sense of protection from the predators wandering the grassy plains.

As we continued along the narrow winding road beneath the blanketing Acacia tree forest the chatter of Baboons was the only sound breaking the silence above our vans engine.

Lake Nakuru Game Park Baboons

Lake Nakuru Game Park Baboons

They are quick to realise that Safari vehicles mean food and all the view points over Lake Nakuru National Park are infested with Baboons trying to climb through open windows after a tasty snack. Unsuspecting tourists are jumped upon and pieces of fruit snatched from their hands.

Nasty, nasty animals.

Baboon Lake Nakuru National Park

Baboon in Lake Nakuru National Park

Just as common as the Baboons are the Zebras.

In their distinctive black and white stripes they graze across the grass amongst the other herbivores in herds spread across several hundred meters. We were even lucky enough to see several fights as they nipped and bit each other as they ran.

Zebra Fight Lake Nakuru Game Park Kenya

Zebra Fight Lake Nakuru Game Park Kenya

Plodding along between the Zebra, Impala and Water Buffalo are the fierce looking, but majestic, Black and White Rhino.

The conservation efforts and anti-poaching Rangers patrolling Game Park means that the Rhino has flourished here. And with over 70 of each species in Lake Nakuru National Park, spotting the 2nd of the “Big 5” is very easy to do.

White Rhino Lake Nakuru Game Park Kenya

White Rhino in Lake Nakuru Game Park

You aren’t just limited to Baboons either. Cheeky Vervet monkeys clamber among the branches of Acacia trees with their babies clinging to their backs as they chatter to one another.

Vervet Monkey in Lake Nakuru National Park

Vervet Monkey Lake Nakuru Game Park

One of the animals I was dying to spot was the Giraffe. And with two shy Giraffes hiding in the forest I was getting worried we might not see any clearly.

I am not sure what I was worried about.

As we crested one of the hills the plains dropped away in front of us revealing over 50 strolling across the grass. Straight across our path they walked, stopping to strip the juicy leaves from the high branches. Their tongues wrapping around each leaf before moving on their way.

Giraffe Eating Acacia Tree Lake Nakuru

Giraffe eating from an Acacia tree in Lake Nakuru

It was here that our Guides radio began chirping like mad. With a grin over his shoulder he said he had a surprise for us just up the road.

3 lion cubs around a year old resting under the shade of a tree out of the baking hot Kenyan sun. As we switched off our engine another curious older Male slouched into the open to eye us up.

Young Male Lion Lake Nakuru Kenya

Young Male Lion in Lake Nakuru Kenya

I could have sat and watched them rest just 5 meters from our Safari van for hours, but there was just too much else to see.

Lake Nakuru National Game Park Kenya

Lake Nakuru National Game Park, Kenya

One of the things that Lake Nakuru is most famous for is its Pink Flamingos.

Pink Flamingo Lake Nakuru

The famous Pink Flamingo on Lake Nakuru

It seemed like our luck wasn’t about to run out either.

As we turned towards the main gate our journey was interrupted by the chatter on the radio again. This time a Leopard had been spotted several KMs from our current position.

We didn’t have to be reminded how rare it would be for us to see a Leopard either. I hadn’t even factored in seeing one during my entire Africa adventure and with less than 10 in Lake Nakuru National Park I definitely didn’t think it would be today.

Leopard in Tree Lake Nakuru Game Park Kenya

Leopard in tree at Lake Nakuru Game Park, Kenya

A lone Leopard resting 20 feet off the forest floor on a branch. Its front left paw hung on one side while it rested its head on its right. As we switched off the engine it raised its head and stared directly down my camera lens sending shivers down my spine.

It was the perfect end to a magical day that I will never forget.

Oasis Overland have provided me with a small discount off the price of the trip. However, as always, my thoughts on telling it how it is are never influenced by anyone.

The full article can be read at Visiting Lake Nakuru National Park Safari – Photo Essay.

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Discovering Africa with Oasis Overland Mon, 29 Apr 2013 07:07:12 +0000 Today I embark on an incredible overland journey of discovering Africa with Oasis Overland from Nairobi to Cape Town. Find out how to follow along.

The full article can be read at Discovering Africa with Oasis Overland.

Africa has been on my destination dream wishlist for a long time now, like most travellers. However I didn’t think there was any chance I was going to get there in the next few years until just recently.

Oasis Overland 75 Day Grand Adventurer Tour

Photo Credit: Mariana Matos

Discovering Africa with Oasis Overland

When Adela and I decided to take a break, because of my visa expiring and her not wanting to leave Edinburgh, I knew I needed to travel. But after nearly 4 years of travelling as a couple, solo travel terrified me. The only option in my mind was to join a group trip to alleviate some of those fears.

With a group trip to Africa I knew I could make friends while maintaining some independence, much easier than jumping from Hostel to Hostel through Europe. After a week of research I settled on booking with Oasis Overland, who we were actually meant to travel with through Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Egypt with last year before the Arab Spring uprising pulled the pin on that.

The trip I am booked on starts today and I couldn’t be more excited. For 75 days I will travel overland from Nairobi to Cape Town with approximately 20 other like-minded travellers in an expedition truck that is suited to the raw continent of Africa.

Oasis Overland Africa Truck

My new home away from home – Oasis Overland Africa Truck

On my journey we will pass through the countries of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa. Each one unique with their own amazing experiences to discover including; trekking to see the mountain gorillas, swimming with sharks, walking with lions or just relaxing under the setting sun.

Not to mention a load of extra adventure activities right up my alley like white water rafting, bungee jumping (terrified but will attempt it), quad biking and of course the unforgettable Gameparks such as the Serengeti, Etosha and Ngorongoro Crater.

Oasis Overland 75 Day Grand Adventurer Route Map

Oasis Overland 75 Day Grand Adventurer Route Map

Life On The Road

Travel is unpredictable at the best of times. When that travel is 2.5 months overland across Africa, I really have no idea what to expect.

The Oasis Overland crew also made it quite clear that there are so many circumstances outside of their control. But that is what excites and appeals to me the most about this trip.


I have been told that driving days start around 8am and finish at about 5pm, with stops for lunch and buying food, seeing local sights etc. Luckily we won’t be driving every day, although there are times when we will drive for two, but will then stop for a few days with free time to explore, meet local people, do some of the many optional adventure activities.

Oasis Overland Truck in Africa

In my opinion, the best part is that I am expected to have an active involvement in the day to day running of our overland experience. Whether it’s cooking meals over open fires, pitching tents or keeping the truck clean and tidy, I will be getting my hands dirty.

Once we have stopped at a bushcamp or campsite, we will put up the tents and lend a hand with getting out the tables, stools, firewood and water containers. As some of us sit back and relax, the designated cook group for that day will prepare the evening meal.

This means we only have to demonstrate our prowess in the kitchen, or lack thereof, in a group of two or three people once every ten days or so.

But it is all meant to be fairly basic. For breakfasts, it is kept simple with cereal, toast, hot drinks and on occasion there will be a splurge with a cooked breakfast. While lunch, will be eaten usually on the road. So it’s likely to be eating sandwiches and anything else quick to assemble.

Oasis Overland African Gorillas

There is no doubt that this is probably a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Yet it is one that would not have come about without one negative change in my life which has created this amazing opportunity. And I plan to grab it with both hands, and share it with you.

So make sure you follow along with me on this Oasis Overland Grand Adventurer tour by following the Hashtag #fjAfrica on Twitter and Instagram where I will be updating my journey whenever we have Internet access. Not to mention right here on my travel blog and via Facebook.

Oasis Overland have provided me with a small discount off the price of the trip. However, as always, my thoughts on telling it how it is are never influenced by anyone. The photos in this post are also courtesy of Oasis Overland ;)

The full article can be read at Discovering Africa with Oasis Overland.

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Basic Arabic Words for Travel to Egypt Sun, 27 May 2012 20:02:42 +0000 Use our quick language guide to learn the key basic Arabic words that we used when travelling through Egypt and the Middle East.

The full article can be read at Basic Arabic Words for Travel to Egypt.

We knew very little about the Egyptian language before we visited earlier this year. In fact all we really knew was that they spoke Arabic. And to be honest, to my untrained and ignorant eyes the written Arabic language looks a lot like squiggly lines.

Just to be clear, we are not talking about ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics either which would really make me feel like an idiot if I had to translate them!

Egyptian Hieroglyphics

We always pride ourselves on learning a few basic words and phrases to help us communicate when we are travelling in foreign countries. The locals always seem to appreciate it and it makes us feel as if we are immersing ourselves in the culture which is why we love to travel.

So whether you are just visiting the numerous Red Sea all inclusive vacations or the Great Pyramids of Giza use our list of basic Arabic words and phrases below to help you out on your next travel adventure through Egypt and the Middle East.

Keep in mind that there are of course loads of different ways to greet someone or be polite etc. But by using the basic Arabic words below on a daily basis when strolling through the markets or stopping to eat Egyptian street food we always got by.

Street food in Egypt Falafel

Basic Arabic Words and Phrases

MarHaba = Hello.

Shukran = Thank you (although we usually used “la shukran” which is no “thank you” when being offered another 100 camels for Adela).

Tatakallam ‘inglizi? = Do you speak English?

Ya-llah = Let’s go.

Naam = Yes.

La =No.

Min fadlik = Please.

Kam? = How much?

Afwan = Excuse me.

Ilal-liqa = I’ll see you later.

‘Ayna… = Where is…

…al-Hammaam? = …the rest room?

WaaHid = One

‘Ithnayn = Two

Thalaatha = Three

‘Arbaxa = Four

Khamsa = Five

As always practice makes perfect and there is no easier way to learn a language than trying it out in every day situations so don’t be afraid to have a go. Your pronunciation might be a bit off the first few times but like we said above, most locals will appreciate you trying and correct you.

Reader question: Do you have any tips or additional words that we didn’t include that you think we should?

The full article can be read at Basic Arabic Words for Travel to Egypt.

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Eating Street Food in Egypt Mon, 16 Apr 2012 06:41:07 +0000 The street food in Egypt is some of the best food we have ever eaten. Check out our top five choices to try for your visit.

The full article can be read at Eating Street Food in Egypt.

Lunch in Egypt

Street Food in Egypt

If you are an adventure traveller then hopefully you will be trying the local cuisines when you explore the world. Which means that if you ever end up in Egypt then you will love it. The street food in Egypt is definitely some of the best local cuisine we have ever. And one of the cheapest.

So if you stick to our top five street food options below (which we ate daily) then I promise you that your taste buds will leave Egypt very happy.

Short history lesson

As any fellow foodie will know there is an interesting story behind the Egyptian cuisine. To give you a short history lesson, Egyptian food was originally shaped by its neighbors including the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and Ottomans. Traces of these cultures are still seen in Egyptian cuisine today and this is why the street food in Egypt will really surprise you as the variety is endless.

1) Falafel

Street food in Egypt Falafel

Traditionally the Egyptians relied heavily on bread and veges and this is still the case today. Falafel is extremely popular in Egypt and for good reason! In fact it is not unusual to see it served during any time of the day and we had it at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

One of my favorite foodie moments was stopping at a street food stall in Egypt and watching the fresh falafel get fried to perfection in front of my eyes before being dumped into a pita pocket and handed over.

The combination of the piping hot crunchy outside along with the fresh and moist flavors on the inside made for one of the best lunches we had on our adventure travels in Egypt. And the best thing is that it only cost the equivalent of $1!

2) Koshari

Koshari Street Food in Egypt

We quickly became addicted to another one of Egypt’s most popular dishes; Koshari. Consisting of pasta, rice, lentils, tomatoes and onions, one can be forgiven for thing it sounds like a bland meal with far to many carbs. But do not let this fool you. Served with a tasty chili sauce it will leave your taste buds singing for more.

You can also cook it really easily and since our return we have often cooked it at home.

3) Seafood

Seafood Street Food in Egypt

If you are heading to try out any of the adventure travel activities like diving in the Red Sea then I would definitely recommend trying some of the local seafood. For about the equivalent of $15 you will get the biggest three course seafood meal you have ever seen. Seafood chowder, snapper, prawns, calamari, crayfish, you name it, you get it!

And the fish is straight out of the sea so it is so fresh that it falls apart as you dig in just using your fork. It even rivals New Zealand’s seafood.

4) Shish Kebab

The staple diet of a late night out for most people this can be an enjoyable meal when you are sober too. Although the Egyptian version is so much better.

Usually served with three different skewered kebabs consisting of pork, chicken, beef or falafel and a massive serving of rice and roast vegetables you will be unlikely to finish. And while the meal is huge the part that really makes this meal so memorable is the flavors. The shish kebab has a slight spice to it which tastes amazing with the local sauces (don’t know what they were sorry) and the meat falls right off the skewer. Plus the rice isn’t just plain either as it comes with a lovely combination of cinnamon and raisins.

5) Mint Tea

Okay so technically not street food but this is really more about the “street food experience” than the actual taste. There is nothing better than picking a local café nestled in the heart of the bazaars (markets) on the side of the bustling streets to rest you weary feet.

As the madness continues around you out comes a pair of engraved glasses containing a stem of mint leaves and piping hot pot of water. The first taste is surprisingly refreshing even in the stifling weather and you will feel the tension of the busy streets slowly seep out of your body. Pair this with a cheeky afternoon sheesha and you will be in heaven.

Stick to these five favorites and I guarantee you will have a great time experiencing something new. Just remember to check that if you are eating street food in Egypt then the place you are eating at is clean and hygienic.

What is your favourite street food in Egypt?

The full article can be read at Eating Street Food in Egypt.

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