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Up, Up and Away!


My sister anI took our first hot air balloon ride in Serengeti, Tanzania. We paid a premium for the one hour air safari but the experience itself was priceless. Our little adventure began early on our second day of camping in the heart of the national park.

We set out before dawn to the launch site, picked up by a driver from the balloon company. We got a chance to see a few nocturnal animals and arrived in time for a safety briefing and to see the balloon get prepped.


After the briefing, we slid into the compartments of the balloon and prepared for takeoff. It was a super cold morning but once we were inside the gondola, we got warmed up pretty quickly as we were close to the fire. Our pilot got in and got the basket to an upright position, then we began our flight. Take off was so smooth, I didn't realize we were already floating until I looked below to see we were above the ground.

Like a beautiful painting, the sun began to rise as we drifted off with the wind. It was such a wonderful sight to behold. I'm usually afraid of flying but this was so soothing, I felt nothing but absolute calm. We floated off, enjoying the feeling of the wind against our faces, soaking in the vast views of the endless plains.


From up above, we pointed out hippos, lions, hyenas, a leopard and many more animals.





And when it was time to land, our pilot got a little cheeky. Earlier that morning during the brief, he had hinted that he'd give us a fun landing but he made no promises. Spoiler alert: we got one. We hit the ground thrice, bump - bump - bump and then he tilted the gondola multiple times before the basket finally came to rest on its side. We were back on the ground, laughing our hearts out!


We had a celebratory toast, lead by Peter, our pilot as soon as we got out. There is apparently a rich story behind the act of champagne popping after a balloon flight.


Then we got back into the safari vehicles and headed to the place where breakfast was set. On our way, we saw this lion enjoying his own breakfast. I think it the unfortunate little fellow was a wildebeest. Poor guy...


Anyway, we had a lovely breakfast and got our certificates handed over to us. The tour was over and we were returned to our various guides.



I flew over the Serengeti and I have a certificate to prove it!
The ride was such a beautiful start to a wonderful day on safari. Later that day, we would go on to spot a leopard, a cheetah with her cubs and a pride of lions. And at night, while we slept in our tent, we would hear lions roaring just outside.

A hot air balloon safari is truly an amazing way to experience the Serengeti and I think it is worthy of a spot on anyone's bucket list. Do you think it's something you'd like to try? (If you haven't done so already)

Safari and Zanzibar Tour Diaries - Second Week Recap


Our Tanzanian holiday has come to an end and we are very happy to be back home. We spent the entire second week in Zanzibar. After days of roughing it up on safari, waking up super early and dealing with cold mornings, it was nice to relax and enjoy the sunny beach weather in Zanzibar.

Here's an overview of week 2

Day One: Arusha - Zanzibar

We flew out of Arusha (with Precision Air) and arrived Zanzibar pretty early. It took us about an hour and some minutes to get to our hotel in Jambiani. The rest of the day was spent around the resort.

Day Two: Eat, Sleep, Repeat


We spent the entire day lazying around. We had breakfast, walked around the resort a little. By morning, the water level had been pushed back, so we were able to walk further into the sea. We had lunch later and got free mocktails from the bar. Wasn't a bad day at all...

Day Three: Spice Tour, Prison Island & Stone Town



This day was spent day-tripping from Jambaini to Stone Town. We also did a Spice Tour of Zanzibar and took a boat to Prison Island. We left the hotel at exactly 8:30 am and rode for about an hour to a farm for the spice tour.

A guide took us around the farm showing us different spices and fruits locals use in their foods and cosmetics. Can I just say that I like the way tourism is packaged here? For me, it felt like I was walking through my grandmother's farm back home, yet, I paid to do this.

After the tour, we had a Zanzibar-style lunch that managed to involve most of the spices we had just seen. The entire thing was quite interesting, a bit tiring in some parts but I would definitely recommend it.

Our next stop was Stone Town.


There, we hopped on a boat to Changuu Island (aka. Prison Island). Before getting on, I was pretty confident but once I was inside the boat, fear crept in. There were life jackets inside but we weren't offered them. I'm usually extremely safety conscious but I didn't ask for one either.

We rode on this boat for about 30mins before getting to the Island. We were riding against the waves on our return leg and that was a bit terrifying for me. To be honest, I'd have been very happy to pass this part of the tour up. I didn't quite enjoy visiting this Island. I know a lot of people do though and they have good things to say about the turquoise waters and nice beach.

Anyway, we did a brief tour of the Island, spent some time viewing and feeding the giant tortoises before heading back to the mainland for a walking tour of Stone Town.


Day Four: Butty Chronicles

I had to go to the clinic today because my sister's reacting to something. We don't know what but it probably has to do with something she touched or ate during the spice tour yesterday. We got her some meds and she's fine now. All is well that ends well. 

Day Five: Lobsters & Homeward Bound


Last night in Zanzibar and we treated ourselves to a lobster dinner. The four-course dinner was served on our bungalow balcony, romantic setting and all. It was certainly a pleasant end to a remarkable holiday in Tanzania.

I'll be writing in details about the different places we visited (and what we missed) and will also be breaking down costs to help you plan your own trip. If you have never considered Tanzania as a holiday destination option, you totally should!

I hope you enjoyed reading. If you did, please leave a comment below and don't forget to share!

Safari and Zanzibar Tour Diaries - First Week Recap



Our first week on tour has been wonderful. We visited a total of four national parks. Starting out in Tarangire, then on to Serengeti via Ngorongoro Crater, down the crater and ending in Lake Manayara National park. We also got to visit a Masai village close to Ngorongoro Crater - we almost passed this up but I'm so glad we went on with it as it was such an wonderful experience.

We've been without constant internet connection for most part of the tour so I've decided to do a recap post each week, rather than a daily post as I usually do - (I think I like this better). Anyway, I'll be writing more about all the places we've been to and how you can plan your own trip here soon but for now, here's an overview of week 1.

Day One: Arusha - Tarangire National Park


We started off with a three-hour drive from Arusha to Tarangire National Park and this was after getting only 4 hours of sleep in two days! Because of multiple delays in our flights, we arrived our hotel in Arusha by 4am (2am Nigerian time) and we were to set out at 8:30am. Rather than starting off later, we dragged ourselves out of bed and hit the road with Patrick (our driver and guide).

He got us to Tarangire and we began our first game drive. We saw lots of zebras and wildebeests - they were almost at every turn! There were also lots of elephants, impalas, giraffes, baboons and monkeys...


Just as we were heading out, we saw a lioness scouting a giraffe in the distance. We left the park and headed to our lodge for the night in Karatu, arriving to cold welcome drinks, hot towels and a very nice three-course dinner.


Day Two: Karatu - Serengeti National Park


After breakfast, we headed towards Serengeti, passing by Ngorogoro Crater - that road is not for the faint-hearted! It's a snaky road riddled with lots of sharp corners and steep views of the forest and crater floor. Thankfully, we were in very good hands.

As I mentioned earlier, we made a quick stop at a Masai village and had a brief tour there. We were welcomed by the men and women below and later taken into their village to see their homes and school. We also got a chance to dance with them. It was really lovely to experience a part of their culture.



We arrived Serengeti later in the day and began our game drive after lunch. Again, there were several impalas and gazelles. I was really hoping to see more predators and all of the Big 5. To be honest, I was expecting a lot from Serengeti. It's safe to say that the park did not disappoint one bit!

Our first lion sighting was a pair of honeymooners in the distance. We continued to see so many lions throughout the trip (at very close range) and a large pride on day three. We also saw one of the most elusive of the Big 5 - the leopard and we saw this four times! Three from a distance and one walked right in front of our SUV.


We spent the two nights in a tented Eco-friendly camp in the middle of the park - my mum must never hear of this! It was safe though - as long as our tents were properly closed and as long as we didn't walk outside at night on our own. We were always escorted to and from our tents at dinner and early in the morning.

Day Three: Full day in Serengeti + Hot Air Balloon Ride


We began day 3 as early as 4:30am, got picked up at 5:00am by a guide from the hot air balloon company and set off just as the sun was rising. This was such an amazing experience. A ride on a hot air balloon is worthy of a spot on anyone's bucket list. The view was beautiful and our pilot made the ride so interesting.

The safari lasted about an hour; from up above, we saw lions, a leopard, so many hippos, impalas, hyenas and much more. We ended the ride with a celebratory glass of champagne and a mini game drive to where breakfast was served. (We saw a lion feasting on its prey during the drive).

After breakfast, we continued with a game drive viewing more animals and birds. We returned to the camp after a successful expedition and prepared to head back to Karatu the next day.


Day Four: Serengeti - Ngorongoro - Karatu


We headed back to Karatu passing through Ngorongoro Crater again. This time we descended the conservation area in search for rhinos - the only member of the Big 5 we hadn't seen yet. We saw more zebras, lions and elephants but no rhino. It wasn't a bad drive though but serengeti was better - obviously.


Day Five: Lake Manyara National Park - Arusha

 

We got off to a very late start to Lake Manyara National Park. Did a game drive within the park. It was 'same same but different'. More elephants, buffaloes, a lot of baboons -eeek! and a lot of pelicans. There was really no pressure to see anything different although I was hoping to see some flamingos. We headed back to Arusha after the safari and ended our tour there. 

I have been on two other safaris in the past - one in Ranthambore, India and another in Kruger, South Africa. They keep on getting better. I am also happy that I got to share this experience with my younger sister and I think it's safe to say that she's had an amazing time so far.

Our next week will be spent in Zanzibar. We're looking forward to having a great time there as well.

 Have you ever been on any wildlife safari trips? Would you consider one? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below :)

Jambo Tanzania!


Touch down Tanzania. Finally. My sister and I have had a pretty interesting journey getting here. First, our flight from Lagos left an hour late, so we missed our connecting flight to Kilimanjaro. We flew with Kenya Airways and they rescheduled us to another flight three hours later.

That was also delayed by another two hours but for the most part, the trip was alright until it was time to land in Kilimanjaro International Airport. The runway lights weren't working, so we had to circle for more than ten minutes!


We ended up getting to Tanzania by 2am and had a bit of confusion with immigrations. We were mistaken for Nigeriens and asked for a referral visa. It didn't take long to clear that up though, so we got through quickly. (Visa is on arrival and costs $50 for Nigerians at the time of this post).

Our trip is in two parts; we will be going on several game drives for the next few days with a company called 'Safari Big 5'. We were met at the airport by our driver, Patrick. I like him already. The next phase is in Zanzibar - that, I've had to plan by myself to reduce our overall costs.

Unfortunately, we won't be  meeting the annual wildebeest migration. I was really looking forward to that but we're keeping our fingers crossed for a wonderful stay here!

Read about our first week and second week. And look out for our costs breakdown, travel itinerary and guides.

10 Ways to Deal with Motion Sickness


I sometimes have severe motion sickness when I travel in a car. This happens, as I have come to know, because of mixed signals sent to the brain by the eyes, inner ears and sensory nerves. When one of these senses motion that the others don't, it can lead to a conflict 'upstairs' and this conflict can lead to nausea.

Motion sickness can ruin an entire trip and it is the last thing anyone needs while trying to have a wonderful time. Some people get sick on board airplanes or ships, thankfully, I don't but I have had a few nasty experiences while traveling in a car.

I really began to look for ways to deal with this during my trip to India as I was going to be chauffeur driven most of the time. My first day on that tour wasn't that great, even though I tried to manage it. By the second day, I made a few changes and saw big improvements. Here are some tips I would recommend.

1. Ride shotgun


If you can, take the front seat of the car. 'Experts' advise people prone to car sickness to sit facing the road ahead. I have to say here though that this does not guarantee you wouldn't get sick at all but based on my experience, it reduces the chances that you will. When I sit at the back, I try to avoid looking out of the window as the car moves or I take the middle seat where I have a line of vision to the road. 

2. Take Ginger or ginger based products - I usually just have a piece of ginger and I munch this along the way. I also take a lot of mints too. (Side note: I really miss Trebbor)

3. Use Medication -Talk to a doctor or pharmacist, they would be able to recommend something for you.

4. Allow in some fresh air - This does wonders!


5. Avoid eating or drinking too much - While you definitely want to eat something before your trip, you should allow enough time for it to 'settle' before you get into the car.

6. Avoid reading while the car is moving

7. If you're in a position to, drive instead - I never get sick when I drive.

8. Take regular breaks - Typically, you will stop feeling sick when the motion stops.


9. Use an eye mask or dark glasses

10. Take a nap.

Happy road tripping!

The JJC's Guide to an Awesome Road trip


I love road trips! At least, I love them more than taking a plane. The only turn off for me when traveling in a car or bus is that I sometimes get sick - really sick. I have since found ways to mitigate and sometimes prevent it all together. I'll share that in the next post but for now, here are a few tips to take note of if you plan to take a road trip soon.

Plan your trip


This seems obvious, right? But when I say 'Plan your trip', I mean, really plan it. Plan your routes and stops before your leave. Have contingency plans just in case you run into unexpected circumstances.

If you're traveling in your own car, take time out to conduct pre-trip checks on your vehicle and as per any trip you take, make sure someone is aware of your movements and have an emergency contact handy.

Travel Light, pack the essentials


It's always a good idea to travel light, especially if you won't be traveling in your own car and if that's the case, there are a few essentials to take with you in order to make your bus ride more comfortable. For example, the ultimate combo of a neck pillow, an eye mask and ear plugs can make the perfect three-some for a road trip. Eye masks are especially useful to combat motion sickness.

It's alright to have something to nibble on while you travel. Again, if you suffer from car sickness, you want to be careful with this one. Try sticking with foods with ginger (I actually just travel with ginger and I munch this at intervals). 

I generally avoid liquids but if you have no problem (with regards to motion sickness), then it's okay to hydrate regularly but you don't want to take too much water, except you're sure of regular bathroom breaks

Have the right electronics or books


Sometimes, having the right electronics in place can make a big difference to your entire trip. You would be responsible for your own entertainment so, stock up on movies, musics or audio books if you can afford to.

I can't most times cos I don't currently own a power bank, music player or a spare battery, so I just tend to 'regulate' the usage of my phone. I'm usually in airplane mode for 90% of my trip and I would alternate between talking to other passengers and listening to music. For safety reasons, I never have my laptop out.

I also always pack a book too but I tend not to read if I am in a car (as opposed to being in a bus); I get sick from reading in a moving car. If you don't, that's a good way to pass the time while enriching yourself and never forget to 'Travel with a Pen' always. 

Make Friends


Don't be a stranger; make friends with other passengers. You never can tell, you might need a shoulder to lean on - literally!

Exercise


Staying put for a long period of time can take its toll on you. Most buses will make 2-3 stops along the way, so be sure to get off and stretch out a bit. Also take scheduled breaks if you're driving. While seated, try some foot, neck, and hand exercises as you progress in your trip.

Safety is Key

Maintain a good speed limit and patronize bus companies who enforce that. Make use of seat belts, they actually save lives. It's amazing how much we underrate this. Accidents are preventable but they can happen at any time - that's why they are called accidents. Apply all other road safety principles as a driver or a passenger...

And lastly, don't forget to have some fun along the way! Feel free to share your tips below :)
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