Hello everyone...hope you're having a great summer and enjoying Labour Day weekend!
We have just returned from an amazing trip to Zanzibar and the Serengeti in Tanzania. We spent 6 days at an all-inclusive beach resort on the island, then went to the Northwest part of Tanzania just 10km south of the Kenyan border/Masai Mara.
The best part - Anita was there to enjoy the experience with us...here is the update - not much for stories - the pics and videos will tell the story.
Adventures with Anita in Saudi & Bahrain
We were so happy to finally have a guest visit us. We were able to show some of the Saudi culture, including meeting out friends in our compound. Anita definitely got to experience some Bahrain brunches.
We asked Anita to share her thoughts and perspectives on visiting Saudi for the blog...here is her message. Thank you for sharing this Anita!
"After a long travel day, we finally may it to The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Immigration was quick, the officer was extremely friendly and welcoming. After a quick picture and finger prints I was through the same time as Jeff and Lisa.
Right through the doors, Tourism Saudi had a welcome booth, where I was offered cafe and dates. Again a warm welcome!
Most have asked ‘Is it what you expected?’
I find this hard to answer, because I tried coming with an open mind and not too many preconceived ideas. That being said, my first meal was Subway at the airport for our trip to Jeff and Lisa’s. I was surprised at how many familiar businesses are here as well. McDonald’s,KFC, PF Changs, Cheesecake Factory, IKEA and of course Starbucks and Tim Horton’s.
We arrived at the compound around midnight so didn’t go for a tour until the next morning. I would have to say it’s more a gated community than a compound, with amenities ranging from a small store, gym, pool, kids play areas, bowling alley, tennis courts. The best part is it feels like a United Nations community. How cool is it to be able to chat around the pool with people from Indonesia, England, Scotland, Australia, Canada, USA, Wales, South Africa.
If I could describe KSA by what I saw I’d say Saudi is ‘under construction’. There is a lot of development going on and the culture is evolving.
There were a few things I didn’t expect:
All signs are in Arabic and English.
Saudi men and even a woman I had the good fortune to speak with are proud to talk about their country and excited to hear I am enjoying my visit.
My glasses fogging up whenever I go outside. It’s like reverse winter and unless you experience it, you truly cannot imagine what 80% humidity feels like! There are no heat warnings if the temperature goes above 30C and it was well above that every day. I think the hottest I experienced was 48C feels like 68C.
Friends in Zamil Village make an effort to come out when visitors come. I was fortunate to see some friends I had met previously in Dubai and meet new friends. Whether at the pool, in the gym, at someone’s house or the infamous Bahrain brunches I had so much fun and everyone made me feel so welcome.
The other question was ‘Would you come back?’
I understand why Jeff and Lisa took that leap of faith.
They get to experience a new culture.
They are in a great hub for travel on this side of the world.
They have made lifetime friends from all over the world.
The answer is I absolutely would come back in a heartbeat and hope I do have the chance again.
I am forever grateful to Jeff and Lisa for the opportunity to experience their lives and of course to travel with them. I hope to be able to share my memories with many and be an ambassador for Saudi Arabia. If ever you have a chance to see KSA I say embrace it!"
Here are some pics and videos from Anita's visit...
We flew to Dubai and into Zanzibar, getting in around 7AM. This was after a long night of vacation cocktails on the plane.
Zanzibar sunrises, sunsets, and beaches were amazing!
Stone Town & Prison Island
We did an excursion to Stone Town and visited Prison Island. It was designed to be a prison but never was used as one - instead, it housed people for quarantines during the Black Plague. Had fun seeing the massive turtles on then island and then took some time for drinks and seafood in Stone Town, the birthplace of Freddie Mercury from Queen.
The Rock Restaurant
When researching "what to do" in Zanzibar, this restaurant kept showing up - had to visit the Rock...yes, it is a rock in the ocean with a bar & restaurant on it...walked to it during low tide, had to boat back afterwards!
Tanzania Serengeti Safari
After a few beach days, it was time to fly to the Serengeti!
Nikyani Safari Camp
We always love landing in the plains on a dirt road...just like the movies.
We met Godson, our driver for the next few days. He was amazing! After a game drive, it was off to our camp for lunch, drinks, and to settle in.
Sundowners by the fire were incredible!
Our first time in a tent on the ground. Was quite an experience - needed a guide to take you back in the dark and you weren't allowed to leave until the guide got you. Any animal could come through. One night, we were getting walked back in the dark and there was a giraffe grazing on a tree by our tent. The last night, Lisa almost had a heart attack - animals rubbed against the tent near her side of the bed while grazing - we think they were zebras. On the other side, there were hyenas howling and running around.
Yep...the wild plains of the Serengeti!
The Great Migration is one of nature's spectacles...millions of wildebeests cross the Mara River every year and to experience it is unreal.
Watch the videos to get the true experience...many jeeps sit way back from the river so the wildebeests will cross. Then once one goes, they all follow, and jeeps race to the edge to watch this amazing crossing.
We saw many African elephants, including a huge group of 26 crossing the water and walking up next to us. Enjoy the pics and videos.
Enjoy the pics of these gentle giants...they are always amazing to watch.
We saw a few lions trying to keep cool in then hot Serengeti sun. And we saw our first male lion up close. Fascinating animals to watch!
We were lucky enough to see a couple elusive leopards lounging in the trees, again avoiding the hot sun.
There were hippos everywhere....lounging in the sun and then hitting the water to cool off.
We saw many other animals along the way - ostriches, nile monitor lizards, vultures feeding, hyenas, baboons and other monkeys, zebras, Cape buffalos, jackals, crocodiles, and pumbas. There were also carcasses and skulls everywhere. The cats were not starving, that is for sure!
One of our favourite things was the 12:30pm stop under a tree for lunch (after checking the tree for leopards) and then the 3:30pm stop for beer and pretzels to watch the animals.
After a few days tenting and doing safaris, it was nice to get into an actual hotel for a good shower and some drinks.
Arusha is said to be halfway in Africa between CapeTown and Cairo.
Flew out of Mount Kilimanjaro airport the next morning.
We are busy preparing for the next vacation...off to Spain for a month next week...excited for a great road trip along the Mediterranean, combined with some house hunting.
Enjoy September everyone....chat soon!
All posts are updated by Jeff & Lisa