June 13, 2016 – Today we flew from Zambia to Antananarivo. The second we got out of the airport we ran into about five different men who wanted to help us with our luggage. We had no idea how poor Madagascar was we had a 30-minute drive to the hotel, and our driver only spoke French which was very annoying. While driving to our hotel John and I were both blown away at how dirty and overly populated Antananarivo was. We saw many people walking and running with no shoes. We felt sorry for them. We saw people washing their clothes in a dirty river, and then they put their clothes on the grass to dry. Once we arrived at the hotel, we were relieved that it was nice so we decided to stay there and settle in. After unpacking, we decided to go to the shops in the lobby and buy a few souvenirs, and after that, we went to the bar for a few drinks.
After having a few drinks at the bar, we decided to have dinner in the hotel since we felt unsafe to walk in the streets while we are having dinner we were lucky enough to see a whole bunch of ROTC kids and an active Colonel.
We had a great time speaking to the Colonel and some of the young kids it was pretty exciting they explained that they were there because of a program that the US has where they help the military in Madagascar with training. One of the great things the Colonel gave us was pointers on where to go shopping and what to see while there.
June 14, 2016 – The next day our tour guide took us on a tour of the city we saw the Kings home its kind of interesting to find out how people lived back in the 1800’s. After seeing the city, we decided to go back to the hotel and relax before going to dinner. The Colonel recommended a nice place, and we took a taxi had dinner and took a taxi right back to the hotel. We had to get back and pack to leave in the morning for Andasibe.
June 16, 2016 – This morning we decided to leave Vakona Forest Lodge instead of tomorrow which was our original plan because the drive back to Antananarivo was three hours long and the road is pretty much one lane all the way there and back. We had a flight to catch in the morning to go to Seychelles, and we didn’t want to risk missing the flight in case there was a problem on the way to the airport. Either way, we had a great time hanging out with the Colonel and his associate. We ended up meeting up with the Colonel and had dinner at the best restaurant in Madagascar called La Varangue. We had great food, great atmosphere, a lot of laughs and most of all they knew the Colonel, so we got the best treatment. After dinner, we hung out in the lobby and talked to the Colonel for about 2 hours and headed upstairs to finish packing and get ready to leave in the morning.
June 17, 2016 – This morning we woke up and met with the Colonel and had breakfast with him. After that, we had our tour guide take us to the airport. John and I were very excited to go to our next destination.
We started our journey from Florida to Zambia. After an 18 hour flight, we finally arrived in Johannesburg for one night our flight to Zambia is tomorrow morning. The Hilton Standton Hotel in Johannesburg (Joburg) was very nice we only spent one night there.
June 8, 2016
Today we woke up and got a taxi ride to the airport to officially start our Zambia Zambezi River adventure. We arrived in Zambia and took an unbelievable helicopter ride to my friend Tina’s river lodge. We flew into the gorge which was incredible it was an experience you couldn’t have had anywhere else. We flew over Victoria falls the view was breathtaking about twenty minutes later we arrived at Royal Chundu River Lodge. Upon our arrival to our river lodge we were greeted by Aggie & Hessah after a brief orientation we then boarded a boat for a short trip to our island lodge where Tina had set up our five days four-night stay and our chalet number four. We had lunch upon arrival and about two hours later we had a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River. After the cruise, we went back to our room to freshen up before going to dinner. When we got to our room we had a wonderful surprise at our room the tub on the deck was full of warm water waiting for us it was an unbelievable experience to be in the jungle and while bathing you hear the grunts of hippos is something city folk aren’t used to. After our amazing and relaxing soak in the tub we headed to the main area for our dinner we were very tired from jet lag.
June 9, 2016
The next morning we had a rough time with waking up at 5 AM to go on our first adventure, but we managed. We took the boat back to the River Lodge to meet up with our driver for the day. It was so cold on the boat that we nearly froze to death. It’s cold in the morning and by the afternoon it heats up and it’s much warmer. We drove about an hour away tomorrow to Mukuni Big 5. The first part was an elephant ride for 45 minutes which was fun. We saw what they normally do when they are in their natural habitat. Almost every step they took they would eat from the trees in the pathway.
After the elephant ride, we were introduced to two seven-year-old female cheetahs. Suzanne and Lulu were their names. At first, John and I were both nervous because even though they were raised from babies with humans, they are animals who belong in the wild and have natural instincts to hunt and kill for survival. One cool thing is that cheetahs are the only large cat that purrs so hearing the cat purr made us comfortable because you knew they were ok with you around them. After about half an hour we took them for a stroll in the bush.
After we were done walking the cheetah, it was time for them to get exercise. There was a lure attached to a pulley that the cheetahs chased while being timed and afterwards they got a chunk of meat as a treat.
The next adventure was the king of the jungle a 22-month-old female and male lion siblings. The lion’s name was Milo, and the lioness’ name was Dina. This experience was very different than the cheetahs because they don’t purr they are very quiet. The way we knew they were ok with us was by their body language. After about 40 minutes petting and walking with the two lions we were taken to meet two seven week old cubs
They were so cute and playful. We even got to feed the cubs milk from a baby bottle. Overall we had an unbelievable, once-in-a-lifetime experience at Mikuni Big 5.
Our next stop on today’s day of harrowing adventure was to see one of the seven wonders of the world Victoria Falls. The first part was an incredibly wet walk around the falls which was pretty amazing. The sheer force of the water flowing down and shooting back up was like a monsoon rainstorm even though we had ponchos on our bathing suits were soaked.
John decided to be daring and swim in part of the falls which is called Angel’s pool. It’s pretty close to the edge which is crazy. After swimming in the falls, we took a picture while sitting on a rock right at the edge. One false move and we were going over. Luckily the guide told us they hadn’t lost anybody.
We then started our one hour journey back to Royal Chundu, and once we arrived, we had a lovely early dinner and then went to our chalet for our nightly soak tub and right to bed.
June 10, 2016
We woke up at 5:30 AM and took the same cold boat ride to the River Lodge to meet up with our driver for our safari guide to walk with the white rhino. The beginning of the excursion was cold but as the day went on the sun warmed us up while walking through Mosi-Oa-Tunya Park looking for the Rhino. We finally found the rhino and her baby.
This was the only thing we were doing today, so we drove back to Royal Chundu on the way there we saw a herd of elephants crossing the street. They were the biggest elephants we ever saw and there was a baby with them as well. We arrived at the lodge just in time for the daily sunset cruise which we looked forward to every day. After the cruise, we went back to our chalet to soak in the tub and get ready for dinner.
One thing I found comforting about the lodge was every night after dinner we had a guard walk us back to our chalet with a flashlight and a taser because in the evening hippos come out of the water and onto the island to eat. They are known to kill more people than any other animal in Africa.
June 11, 2016
Today we decided to relax and hang out at the lodge after travelling so far and doing the excursions the past two days we needed to relax and unwind. After lunch we decided to participate in a four-hour private river safari it was quiet and very peaceful.
Unfortunately, we didn’t see much we saw some birds, a lot of baboons, two crocodiles and a family of hippos. After the River Safari, we relaxed on the deck of our chalet once again and read our books. We took some time out of our relaxation to take part in the sunset cruise luckily we enjoyed a private cruise, and after that, we decided to have dinner and then went back to our chalet and enjoy our warm bathe before going to bed.
June 12, 2016
We had such a great time on the river safari yesterday that we decided to participate in one early this morning.
The only thing that was an issue if you were doing anything early in the morning it was freezing for the first two hours, but as the sun came up, it became warmer which is pleasant. We followed our river safari with lunch and the sunset cruise, soak in the tub and dinner.
June 13, 2016
Today we woke up completely relaxed and ready to travel to the airport to catch a flight to Madagascar after a final drive down the unpaved road as the driver called it a free African massage we boarded our plane for our flight.
Today we had a tour scheduled, Orca whale watching. I’m not a big fan of these types of tours because when there is a sighting everybody ends up running to one side of the ship and you never get good pictures. Either way, when you are in this area it’s the thing to do. We did get a chance to see the Orcas but pictures are difficult to capture because of how quick they move in the water.
After about 2 hours our tour was over and we decided to walk around town and take in the beauty of this city. We also had a chance to have a drink at Fairmont Empress Hotel which is a beautiful place. There was a really cool concert going on while we were there. The stage was on a floating barge.
I am excited to be heading home tomorrow we sail to Seattle and head back home. There’s no place like home
We took a brief 20-minute walk on the Glacier and got a short lesson about glaciers. It was the first time I ever walked on a Glacier and John’s second time. He said it was just as exciting as the first time.
When we arrived back on land we had plenty of time before we had to board the ship, so we decided to take a walk through the town and get a bite to eat. There is one thing you have while in Alaska you guessed it King Crab Legs. Every chance we had we ate them.
Today we took were supposed to take a ride on a helicopter but due to the bad weather, they canceled our flight. We decided to just walk around town and grab a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants.
Our tour today was another Bear adventure hopefully today we get the chance to see some.
We disembarked the ship at the pier and met up with a covered, heated boat and took a twenty-five-mile ride to Anan, traveling via Eastern Passage.
Upon arrival at the Anan, we were greeted at the trailhead by U.S. Forest Service personnel, who gave us a brief orientation of what we were going to do and see. Beginning this month pink salmon arrives at Anan Creek to spawn which attracts brown and black bears, bald eagles and harbor seals.
The walk to the observatory was 20 minutes long and about a 1/2 mile in length, we had one guy in the front with a shotgun and one guy in the back with a rifle. When we got to the observatory, we had 90 minutes of bear watching. We even saw a bear catch a salmon and eat it in the creek. The current was so strong in the creek, it didn’t even faze the bears which was wild to see how powerful they are.
Today we flew on a floatplane first time I’ve ever been on one which was cool. The flight was twenty-five minutes of breathtaking views of homesteads, mountains with dense forest, pristine lakes and a great view of inside passage shaped by massive glaciers.
When we landed, we were met by this Alaskan Naturalist who lives in the forest. After a short drive to the trail w got out of the jeep and began our half mile hike to a viewing platform that overlooks a stream brimming with salmon. Although they don’t guarantee we see Bears, this is a good place to try and see them since they know that’s where they can get salmon. We ended up only seeing a small black bear sitting in our path, but once he saw us, he ran into the forest.