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The David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi

Visiting the amazing David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi where we got to hang out with baby Elephants for an hour.

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Visiting the amazing 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

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Johan Horak

    June 1, 2013 at 8:32 AM

    Hi You guys get to travel the world. I have seen many elephants as I grew up close to South Africa’s Kruger. But to I am in Cape Town and there’s not a lot of large animals in local reserves.

    Really cool work these guys are doing. Thanks for sharing. And I love the photos. These animals are huge. 😉

  2. tyrhone

    June 3, 2013 at 4:57 AM

    I grew up around the big 5 (on and off), but it was always the elephants which take you back with their size and they way they seem to see you. Great pics and post.

  3. bronwen burmester

    June 4, 2013 at 12:04 AM

    Amazing photos Cole, their skin sooo wrinkly and hairy. I could almost smell them and feel them too by your photos and script. Thanks! x

  4. Adam Ross

    June 8, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    This is looking so fun. I remember feeding a baby elephant when i visited Thailand last year, it was a few months old and yet i was so tiny standing infront it feeding some kind of leaves. I wonder how huge he is now. Great blog by the way and keep sharing the same interesting post.

  5. Kristy of Family Visa

    June 10, 2013 at 6:14 AM

    What an awesome pictures you got it there. Hopefully I can visit the orphanage too someday since here in our country we have no elephants.

  6. Global Nomads

    June 11, 2013 at 12:48 AM

    We got very bad impression of wildlife activities in Kenya and did not participate in any of them. Everyone was interested in making money and exploiting animals was one of the ways. Selling safaris, all kinds of charities, volunteering etc. Still we managed to see many of them from a bus window while travelling around. That was an awesome experience.

  7. Salika Jay

    June 11, 2013 at 9:51 AM

    I’ve been to an elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka and it was awesome. These photos remind me of that. It’s a great thing they look after the deserted baby elephants.

  8. Shalu Sharma

    June 11, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    Great photos of these elephants particularly the baby elephants, they are so adorable. Love the way the baby elephant is drinking out of the bottle.

  9. Jarmo

    June 12, 2013 at 12:41 AM

    Great photos Cole! And they really are doing great work with the elephants from the sound of it.

  10. Marian

    June 24, 2013 at 7:31 AM

    Baby elephants are so cute..To see them in real life must be a wonderful experience.. Really love your pictures.. thanks..

  11. Michael

    July 26, 2013 at 8:32 PM

    wow – amazing photos! I took elephant ride in northern Thailand, in Chang Mai and I have to say I didn’t like the way the elephants are treated there…

    • Cole Burmester

      July 27, 2013 at 8:33 AM

      It’s why I wouldn’t ever ride Elephants either. I have heard some horror stories about elephants in Chiang Mai so it’s very sad.

  12. Adam - Tropical Nomad

    August 19, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    Really good photos! I did an elephant ride once and wouldn’t do it again as I felt the elephants were mistreated in Bali where I done it. Sanctuaries and orphanages are the only places I would go to see them now..

    • Cole Burmester

      August 20, 2013 at 6:34 AM

      Definitely agree Adam. It is a personal opinion but I wish everyone felt the same way as us.

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Adventure Travel

Review: 10 Day Egypt Explorer Tour with Expat Explore

A comprehensive review of Expat Explores 10 Day Explorer Tour through the stunning country of Egypt.

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Expat Explore Group in Egypt

We have been wanting to visit Egypt for a while now so when the opportunity to get away over the Christmas and New Year period arose we knew we needed to head there for a break. We joined Expat Explore on their 10 Day Explorer Tour through Egypt taking in the sights of Cairo, Aswan, Luxor and Hurghada.

Expat Explore Group Photo

The reason we chose Expat Explore was that they were the cheapest in price with all the same sights and in the end we were happy with our choice.

Pre-departure they emailed us our itinerary with the optional excursions and additional costs for entry fees included so that we could budget properly. As well as following up with our pre-trip questions regarding flights, insurance and uhealth and safety advice.

From the start they were very professional. Landing in Cairo we were personally greeted the day before our tour and transported to our City centre hotel. That drive was an eye-opener to Egypt with crazy lane changes, honking, swerving, flashing lights with animals, people and vehicles everywhere.

El Tonsy Hotel is your base for your arrival and last night. Luckily we didn’t expect much as our door didn’t lock which was a bit dodgy and the rooms were freezing cold with a broken heater and only one blanket. You wouldn’t think you would need heat in Egypt but it was the middle of winter and it was chilly at night. No complaints with the location though as we could see the Pyramids in the distance and were only 5 minutes walk from the Nile and 15 minutes to Tahir Square (perfectly safe by the way). Plus they have a little bar/restaurant with cheap food and free Wi-Fi. Just buy your snacks and water from the supermarket across the road and you will get on fine.

El Tonsy Hotel View of Pyramids

It’s quite hard to break down a whole trip into one post but here goes:

Day One

Your tour starts with the best in my opinion by touring some sights of Cairo. The steeply angled Step Pyramid, mind-blowing Pyramids of Giza and the smaller than expected Sphinx. This day was definitely the highlight.

That night is spent aboard the train for 10-12 hours to Aswan. I highly recommend the Sleeper train for an extra £50 per person. Others that caught the standard train froze their butts off while we had a toasty sleep with a served dinner and breakfast. Unfortunately Expat Explore never told us about the provided food so we ate before we got on-board but what we could fit in was delicious.

Day Two

The tour splits in Aswan as one group embarks on a River Cruise aboard a 5 star ship while the others spend time in hotels and on a Felucca. No surprise that we went with the cheaper option aboard the Felucca so the next few days are from that point of view.

The afternoon is yours at Sara Hotel on the banks above the Nile. We lapped up the beautiful rays of the sun and managed to turn our pasty white bodies a more fitting slightly white shade. The Hotel was great until the toilet next-door erupted sending a river of smelly waste across our bedroom floor (throw your toilet paper in the bin not the loo)! Luckily we woke in time to rescue our bags from the watery mess! Not the fault of Expat Explore and we didn’t blame the Hotel either as shit happens.

Day Three

Your day begins by visiting the monstrous High Dam for 10 minutes (fairly boring) and a drive past the Unfinished Obelisk. While the highlight is definitely the Philae Temple. When the sunsets across the Nile reflecting off the stonework it really is quite magical.

Philae Temple Sunset

The evening ended with an optional dinner in a traditional Nubian families house. The food was scrumptious and you better bring your singing and dancing shoes.

Day Four

The following day and night is spent relaxing aboard the Felucca for a sail up the Nile for several hours. Sleeping no more than 8 people you will be snug if you bring your own sleeping bag like us. The rest of our crew were jealous as it did get quite chilly in the evening however blankets were provided.

With delicious pita bread and falafel cooked on the boat you will not be disappointed with the food either.

The day ends with a bonfire on the Nile shoreline as you sing and dance with the crazy fun Nubian crews. This was definitely one of the highlights of the entire trip for us.

Travel Tip: Don’t be put off by doing your “business” amongst the reeds of the Nile. Just enjoy the view and remember to bring your own toilet paper (which you need everywhere in Egypt anyway).

Felucca on the Nile

By all accounts, from the other tour members, the River Cruise is just as great with 3 nights on-board in comfortable accommodation, a pool and  buffets morning, noon and night.

Day Five

Waking to a sunrise breaking the morning chill is a glorious way to start a new day. Unfortunately there is little time for relaxation before you are off the Felucca and on a bus to Kom Ombu and Edfu Temples. I must say, all of the transportation was more than adequate with toilets on the buses and room enough for everyone. It’s lucky because you do spend the majority of the time being driven around.

The Lotus Hotel in Luxor was probably the pick of them all. Situated on the Nile bank with a swimming pool and tasty buffet breakfast.

Day Six

One more day, one more busy schedule. Rushing to beat the crowds at the Valley of the Kings it’s another 8am start. You are only allowed to visit three tombs and we recommend the guides picks which were Ramses II, IV and IX.

Travel Tip: You are NOT allowed to take your camera with you off the bus. Please don’t ruin it for everyone by taking photos as you will be charged by security when caught.

We also squeezed in the crowded rock carved Hatshepsut Temple but only drove past Luxor Temple as we ran out of time as you need to drive 6 hours to reach Hurghada that night.

Day Seven and Eight

The next two days at the Red Sea are yours to do whatever you like so use them wisely. We joined most of our group for a spot of snorkelling and diving. The dive and the staff were great but the whole day seemed a little rushed which was a shame. Keep an eye out for our post on our diving experience in Hurghada.

Diving in Hurghada on the Red Sea

So nice being able to relax on a beach and read a book after such a hectic schedule. It’s hard to leave and the 6 – 8 hour bus ride back to Cairo is tough.

Travel Tip: If you plan to do the tour over New Years Eve then you will have to depart Hurghada half a day early which sucked as it meant celebrating the New Year at the Hotel in Cairo. Bit of a let down but when hasn’t New Years Eve been!

Day Nine

Your final day of sightseeing is spent around Cairo. Our favourite part of the day was definitely the Cairo Museum with an excellent tour guide. It fits perfectly at the end by seeing all the history close-up after having learned about it over the last 8 days.

By the time we hit the old area of Cairo and the Coptic Hanging Church we were spent on history but our guide made a good effort at keeping us entertained.

The last group activity is free time for an hour or so at the Khan El Khalili souk markets where the touts try to prise your cash from you for the last time from every nook and cranny.

Day Ten

With the tour over it’s time to head home. Our flight was late the following night so we walked around the city and Souks on our own for the day. Expat Explore provides transport back to the airport which was great.

The Negatives

The trip was awesome but we think it’s important to note the little things that could make a huge difference to the overall experience:

  • It felt like we were always hungry. Maybe it is just Kiwi’s and Aussies that eat all the time but it seriously felt like we were constantly starving with lunches being served usually after 4pm and dinner at 9pm onwards. It might be the Egyptian way to eat at those times but not for us. Travel Tip: Buy lots of snacks for the road which are very cheap at supermarkets.
  • There was sometimes a lack of direction in what seemed to be happening. Everything is done on Egyptian time so be patient.
  • We were often delayed or behind schedule with little to no guidance as to how long it would take to get from place to place. A little knowledge goes a long was as then we can plan ahead.
  • More free time would be great to explore places on your own rather than have our hands held everywhere.

The Positives:

As we said above, the trip was amazing and the little positive things far outweighed the negatives which helped make it a memorable trip.

  • Pre-departure information and care was extremely good.
  • The tour was exceptional value for money and it was the cheapest tour we could find even though we still saw all the same sights the other groups did.
  • The guides were extremely knowledgeable and never failed to answer any questions we had. The insights into the daily lives of the people around us was a nice break from all the history. They also ensured you never felt unsafe or uncomfortable.
  • The Felucca trip was better than expected and overall so was the accommodation and transport options.

All in all we highly recommend you book with Expat Explore if you are considering a trip through Egypt.

Make sure you subscribe now and come back soon so you can enjoy reading our new posts which will cover everything else in more detail.

Disclaimer: Expat Explore provided us with a discount for our 10 day tour of Egypt however as always our thoughts are always our own.

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Africa

Let’s Go Visit The Home of Ramses, Egypt

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When is the last time you’ve heard about Egypt? It was probably the Arab Spring was taking place, and it went through a change of government. Well, things are much more stable now and everything has returned back to normal, the people of Egypt are essentially back to business.

Since everything is calm again and since there is relative peace within the general region itself, a trip to the scene would certainly be in order. If you’ve been waiting a while to go to someplace exotic and want to experience different cultures and sights, well Egypt tour packages are definitely in order.

It is one of the most ancient civilizations, it has a lot of history, a varied type of people’s and many things to do.

You must take a trip out to Egypt today, it will be worth your while and the while of those that you are traveling with as well, whether it be your family members or your friends and acquaintances.

Let’s find out what there is to do in the great land of Egypt.

Cairo

Make it a point to visit Cairo, this city is the capital of Egypt and is quite a bustling town as well. You might be able to run into the egyptian equivalent of food trucks and try a staple of the Egyptian diet, ful. This food is their equivalent of fast food except this one is actually healthy for you.

That’s right, you will be able to be able to gain nutrients and energy by enjoying this dish comprised of fava beans, veggie oil, spices, and some herbs as well.

You will want to take a trip out to Tahrir Square, a place that is as iconic as Times Square in New York except maybe even more iconic due to more prominent events that took place in that space (not just consumerism and branding).

Cairo also has the Egyptian Museum for those who are history buffs and for those that appreciate the things of the past, it is comprised of items and narratives of many experiences from quite a few centuries ago, more than 4000 years of history are encased within that museum. Make sure to take a visit and take some time to really learn and enjoy the museum, don’t take too much time though, there is still a lot more activities left to do!

Cairo is a hub, you can visit the places within and then go visit places that everyone wants to go to, such as Giza and the great pyramids of Egypt.

People are still astounded by the level of work that it would have taken to build the pyramids, especially way back in that timeframe, the intellect, labor and engineering needed to see it through is a testament to the capacity of humans to do what they put their minds to.

Don’t think of the pyramids as something that everyone does, no, its something special, it is meant to be viewed and admired by all.

Cairo Citadel

If you are a fan of war, defense, strategy, and history, you’ll want to visit this Citadel, it’s culture runs way into the past and is a sight to see.

While in Cairo, make sure to check out the Khan-el-Khalili, it’s a place to go shop, but be about your wits, negotiate, and have a great time.

Cairo and Egypt have a lot to offer, make sure to plan accordingly so you are able to immerse yourself in all that it has to give you.

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Africa

Packing and Route Tips for Climbing Kilimanjaro

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East Africa is renowned for boasting many breath-taking attractions, from the beauty of the Serengeti to stunning Tanzania beaches like Kendwa and Nungwi. However, there’s one thing that undoubtedly attracts adventure lovers more than most, Mount Kilimanjaro.

Mounting climbing can be a daunting experience, especially when you’re stood at the foot of Africa’s highest peak. However, there are a series of routes available to anyone who takes on the challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro.

Naturally, some routes are more treacherous than others, and are approached from different points, so this article offer some insight what you can expect from each one and what you’ll need to take with you.

The Marangu Route

Departing from the Moshi Hotel and into the Kilimanjaro National Park via the Marangu Gate, this stunning route allows you to experience The Saddle – a high altitude desert which can be found part way up the mountain.

This route is said to be the most straightforward in terms of its physical demands, however it has a notoriously steep incline which climbers must overcome in order to reach the summit.

The Machame Route

This route also passes through the Marangu Gate, and leads through picturesque ice fields as you reach the Shira Plateau.

This route takes a day longer than the Marangu Route to complete, although this can be advantageous to climbers as it allows for better acclimatisation.

The Rongai Route

This route enters the national park via the northern entrance of Rongai Gate, and is considered to be the second easiest route to the summit of Kilimanjaro.

The route begins at a fairly high altitude and involves a relatively gradual incline to the summit.

The Lemosha Route

Entering via the Londorossi Park Gate, the Lemosha Route is the toughest and most remote route to the summit of Kilimanjaro, and crosses the Shira Plateau where its paths meet the Machame Route.

Despite its challenges, the route has a high success rate, and involves spending a couple of nights at various altitudes.

What to pack?

Packing for a mountain climb in Africa can often be a difficult thing to get right. Pack too lightly and you run the risk of running out of essentials – but pack too much and you’ll end up wasting your energy lugging around stuff you don’t need.

Your clothing should include the following items for travel:

  • Sunglasses (polarized)
  • Gloves (thick waterproof for trekking + thick pair for evenings)
  • Balaclava
  • Shorts
  • Pants (for hiking and relaxing in the evenings)
  • Short-sleeved and long-sleeved shirts or t-shirts (for hiking and relaxing in evenings)
  • Underwear (sports bras for ladies)
  • Thermal underwear
  • Fleece jacket
  • Down jacket or ski parka (for temperatures below freezing plus wind-chill)
  • Rain jacket + pants (for the humid rainforest and cold snow)
  • Travel towel
  • Swimwear (for first and last day swimming – can be left at your hotel during your trek)
  • Ski or trekking poles
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Hiking boots
  • Gaiters
  • Socks – hiking socks + wool socks

Other essential kit includes:

  • Water bottles and Camelback (2-3)
  • Sleeping bag (rated -25 degrees)
  • Get 3 litres of bottled water before the trip (available at your Moshi Hotel)
  • Camera + tripod
  • Video camera + tapes
  • Batteries
  • Notebook + pencil / pen
  • Pocket knife
  • Energy bars
  • Alarm clock
  • Sewing kit

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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