Three Weeks in Kenya

Several months ago, my daughter caught a real good airfare rate to Africa – $406 round trip JFK to Nairobi.  Who could take a pass on that?   Especially when it’s about $600 just to fly 2.5 hours from PTY to Miami.  Bargain!

We’ve been to Kenya before so I figured that I could plan our entire trip.  The airfare was cheap but it included a short layover in Abu Dhabi and we chose to get a room to relax, take a shower and get some sleep.  Unfortunately, the layover was from late at night to early check-in in the morning so no time for site-seeing.  We only saw enough to make us want to return.

IMG_0078[1]I arranged a 9 day safari.  We went to Samburu, Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha, Masai Mara and Amboseli.  We saw lots of the Big 5, some very close to our vehicle.  We also saw more common animals, jackals, hyenas. crocodiles, gazelles, and warthogs.

The elephants in Samburu are a reddish-brown, unlike the ones further south, which are typical grey.  We wanted to get a picture of elephants wit Mt. Kilimanjaro in the background.  Lucky for us, the elephants cooperated.  Kenya amboseli

Our safari guide, Livingstone,  was great.  He studied animal prints to follow in the vehicle.  Because of this, we saw multiple lions, giraffes and more elephants.  The elephants were outside our patio that overlooked the river.

Kelly had to return to go back to work 😦 after the safari.  We dropped her at NBO and we headed to the domestic terminal for our flight to spend a week in Mombasa.  It was not what I expected.

We were in Kenya about 13 years ago or so.  The improvements to their infrastructure was nothing short of amazing.  On our first visit, there was nothing but dirt roads.  Today, all but the ones in the parks are paved.  Internet is still in its infancy but the city of Nairobi is now modern and much safer.  Gone are the days when it was called NaiRobbery.  I expected Mombasa to have kept up.  wrong.  Mombasa is the 2nd largest port town in all of Africa.  The amount of money that this port is worth is probably close to the net value of a small country.  The poverty we saw is shameful.  Their roads are terrible, the amount of garbage everywhere is disgusting, kids begging instead of in school – certainly not what anyone would expect from one of the oldest ports in the world.

So these mature, yet oblivious, travelers flew to Mombasa for our final week in Africa.  Our 45 minute flight was 3 hours late so the driver took us to the resort in the dark.  The next morning we saw that Mombasa is far from modern. kenya bahari We chose Mombasa so we could go scuba diving and the dive shop was right in the resort.  The shop and crew were great. The shop itself is carved into the coral shelf under the hotel. The dive was very nice.  We went into town the next day.  Not much to see but boy was it hot, humid and dusty.

We returned to Nairobi to see the David Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary.  They take in orphaned baby elephants and raise them until they are about 3 and can be returned to the savanna.  Not too far away is the Giraffe Center which allows you to feed giraffes.  Both are awesome and a highlight of our trip.

The trip back to Florida was long.  Five hours to Abu Dhabi, 13:40 to JFK and another 3 to Fort Lauderdale, along with over seventeen hours of layovers.  We shopped in Fort Lauderdale – Lowe’s, Home Depot and Publix are high on the sites to see) and picked up our Amazon orders and began the trip home.  Finally, now we are home in Boquete.  The dogs and cats were so happy to see us.  Even the neighborhood dogs were anxious to see us and get some loving.  The unpacking is finished and the laundry is done.  No matter how much fun a vacation is, it’s always great to be home.  The next trip is already planned for January!!

On a side note, we flew on Etihad, a Middle Eastern airline based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Eremites.  While watching where the airplane was during the flight, we saw we flew over some war torn countries.  We also noticed when we flew south, we detoured completely around Yemen.  Obviously, there’s danger in this area, even at 37,000 feet.

flight

 

 

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Vacationing in Peru

Yes, our third major trip in 3 months.  Poor scheduling wasn’t intentional.  It’s just that when you’re retired and can travel whenever you want, the good deals are found in Spring and Fall when most of the world is working.  This was a Groupon that landed in my mailbox a few months ago.  I was sitting on the couch and asked David if he wanted to go to Peru for a few weeks at a crazy low price.  We made reservations within the hour.  However, if was also very close to other recent trips also at crazy low prices.

We ended up returning from India the end of March, returned from a cruise the middle of March and then left for Peru on April 24.  Now we need a long vacation from vacations.

Both India and Peru were bucket list places and we loved them both.  India is a much more difficult trip because of the terrible pollution.  We both returned to Panama pretty sick which required multiple doctor visits and several antibiotics.

Our trip to Peru was great and much easier than India.  The Groupon was actually from Miami so we spent a few days visiting family before and after the trip.  And we really got lucky with our travel mates  This was our fourth tour group trip.  We always vacation independently.  We have found that most group travelers are:  !. old, 2.  somewhat immobile, 3. scared of the country they are visiting and, 4. not interested in leaving the tour guide,  This group was very active and fun to be around.  It was, by far, the best tour group we have ever traveled with.cats

Lima is like any modern, clean city.  They have many parks.  We stopped at the Parque de Amor, Park of Love, near the beach.  Our favorite was Kennedy Park that is known for feeding the local cats.  David brought a leftover chicken breast and was the most popular person in the park – at least until the chicken was gone.

 

When we got to Cuszo, we met my daughter and her friend.  Coincidentally, my daughter and her friend had planned a trip to Peru at the same time so we spent the day with them in Cuzco. They were in Cuzco acclimating themselves to the high altitude in preparation for their four day hike along the Inca Trail.  We had lunch near the public square.   After taking both a train and a bus to the site, I have new appreciation for their endeavor.

Kelly

Obviously, the highlight was Machu Picchu.  Nosecuredownload doubt, it’s pretty incredible.  It’s also one of the few wonders of the world that you don’t get glimpses of until you are actually there and see it for the first time in its entirety.

 

As we headed to the eastern border of Peru, we passed miles and miles of pasture landllama for llamas, alpacas, sheep and cows.  Many of our group tried alpaca for dinner.  I just bought some yarn.

cuyOutside of Lima, the big push was to eat guinea pig, cuy.  As a vegetarian, I didn’t try it.  They grill it whole including their little teeth and claws.  There was nothing appetizing about rodent.

As the girls went hiking, we went to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca.  The altitude there is over 13,000 feet, making breathing very difficult.  Hotels give you coco leaves to chew and coco tea to drink to help with altitude sickness.  But both taste so bad, the symptoms cants be worse.  We only got the shortness of breath, which feels like suffocating for a few seconds.  We enjoyed the sites but were very glad for the flight to Lima and sea level.

We stayed in some pretty nice hotels.  Our last one in Lima was amazing.  You need ahotel room Masters Degree in Engineering to figure out all the buttons on the shower.  Music, lights, side misters, rain showerhead – the works.  The shower speaks to you in Japanese.

Our next trip will be discovering Panama and Costa Rica.

 

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