Well, our second month has passed, and I am desperately behind on blog posts. Although we stayed in the same place for two weeks out of this month, it was in Tanzania where the internet is painfully slow. Even at internet cafés, the internet is just cellular data like you use on your cell phone, and when it’s being shared among lots of people it is far too slow to draft a blog post without making you want to beat your head against a wall.
The good news is that on Monday we arrived in Thailand where the internet is exponentially better. We’re in Bangkok right now, but on Thursday we head to Chiang Mai where we have rented an apartment for 3 weeks. That should give me plenty of free time to get caught up on the blog, so look for more frequent posting here in the next couple of weeks. I have a couple of posts to finish off our time in Europe and then I can’t wait to tell you all about East Africa!
Until then, though, here is a summary and some numbers from Month #2:
Month 2 began with the tail end of our Italian road trip. In the first two days of Month 2, we finished seeing the Amalfi Coast and then headed back to Rome to do last minute shopping and preparations before our journey to Africa.
We said goodbye to the family members who had been traveling with us for the previous 2 weeks, except for my sister Lilly. (She is a teacher, and she’s spending her summer traveling with us, so we have her with us until late July.)
In the very last hours of June 11, we hopped on a plane bound for Uganda (via Doha, Qatar). We spent the rest of the month in East Africa.
We stayed in Uganda for one week. Our time there was centered around a three-day safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park, book-ended by two night stays in the capital city of Kampala.
Far and away, the highlight of our time there was seeing chimpanzees in the wild.
Next, we flew to Arusha, Tanzania, where we stayed for two weeks. Our time in Arusha was very chill and was more about experiencing life in East Africa then doing a bunch of touristy things. We enjoyed it, although it was certainly challenging at times.
For our final week of Month 2, we went on a three-day safari, spent two days recuperating in the town of Moshi, and then flew out to beautiful Zanzibar for some relaxation by the sea.
- Serengeti safari. Oh my. This was everything I dreamed of and more. The landscape is beautiful, and we saw so many amazing animals, including dozens of elephants, over 20 lions, a cheetah and a leopard! My favorite part was waking up before dawn and watching the sun rise over the savanna. That moment literally took my breath away.
- Home-cooked Tanzanian meal. Lilly spent a summer in Arusha, Tanzania back in 2013, and she stayed with a local family. So of course we had to go back to the house for a visit while we were in Arusha! Her house mom, Mama Liz, was so kind and welcoming, and she invited us to come back a few days later for a meal. The food was amazing! We also loved having the opportunity to chat with Mama Liz for a few hours about all kinds of things from the Tanzanian education system to Donald Trump.
- Zanzibar. Our hotel in Stone Town had air conditioning and hot water! And they both kind of worked! It felt so luxurious compared to the other places we stayed in Africa. We went out to dinner at a rooftop bar and we were all practically giddy as we drank our cocktails and watched the sun set over the ocean. The next day we went to stay at a beach resort in Pongwe where we spent our time reading, relaxing, and enjoying the extraordinary views of the ocean.
- Breaking my camera. This was pretty upsetting. I’ll tell the full story later, but the short version is that my camera fell to the ground on our last day of safari in Tanzania and stopped working. I was camera-less for our last week in Tanzania, which was quite disappointing for me, especially because Zanaibar is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I was holding out hope that I would be able to get it repaired in Bangkok (where we are now). Unfortunately, a four-hour effort, ultimately resulted in me purchasing a brand new camera. It was not cheap.
- Being sick. A week after we arrived in Arusha, I came down with a cold. For a few days I felt sick enough that I mostly just stayed in bed. After that my general feeling of crappiness improved, but the cold morphed into a cough that is still with me over 2 weeks later. I think I’m about to finally shake it, but for the longest time I could barely sleep at night thanks to all the coughing.
- Rustic accommodations in Arusha. Tanzania is obviously less developed than the United States, so we expected to go without many of the comforts of home. We quickly learned that we could pretty much handle any place for just a few days. But we stayed in Arusha for two weeks, so when our Airbnb rental turned out to be a disappointment, it was discouraging for all of us. The biggest problem was that a section of what should have been walls in our little one-room house was just mesh screens instead. Arusha was surprisingly cold and rainy the whole time we were there, so our house was constantly chilly and damp. In addition, the toilet didn’t flush well, the hot water heater on the shower didn’t really work, and the constant sounds of crowing roosters, chanting church-goers, and dance club music (literally all day and night) threatened to make us lose our minds. Overall, we coped pretty well, but we all struggled with crummy moods at times.
Most Popular Instagram Photo:
This picture of the view from our beach bungalow in Zanzibar snuck in on the last day of Month 2 to become my most liked Instagram photo.
By the Numbers:
- Dates: June 10-July 9, 2016
- Continents: 2 – Europe, Africa
- Countries: 3 – Italy, Uganda, Tanzania
- Cities/Places: 14 – Italy: Salerno, Amalfi, Ravello, Pompeii, Fiumicino, and Rome; Uganda: Kampala and Queen Elizabeth National Park; Tanzania: Arusha, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Serengeti National Park, Moshi, Stone Town, and Pongwe
- Currencies: 3 – Euros, Ugandan Schillings, and Tanzanian Schillings
- Languages: 4 – Italian, English, Luganda, and Swahili
- Distance Traveled: 10,374 miles
- # of Flights: 5 (totaling 9,141 miles)
- # of Buses: 2 (47 miles)
- # of Rental Cars: 1 (211 miles)
- # of Safari Jeeps: 2 (975 miles)
- # of Places Slept In: 11 (including 1 plane, 2 Airbnb apartments, 3 guesthouses, 1 hostel, 2 tents, 1 cabin, and 1 beach bungalow)
- # of UNESCO World Heritage Sites Visited: 4 (Ngorongoro Conservation Area; Serengeti National Park; Kilimanjaro National Park; Stone Town of Zanzibar)
- # of Wild Animal Species Seen on Safari: 54+ – We saw 3 reptile species (favorite = a bright purple lizard called the rock agama), 29 mammal species (favorites = chimpanzee, lion, cheetah, elephant), and 22+ bird species (favorites = ostrich, secretary bird, hornbill). (There are way too many bird species to keep up with, so I only wrote down the highlights.)
- # of Domestic Animals Seen in the Streets: 8 – cows, chickens, goats, donkeys, sheep, cats, dogs, and camels
- # of Different Cuisines Eaten: 8 – Italian, Uganda, Tanzania, Zanzibari, Chinese, Indian, Ethiopian, American
- # of Swahili words learned: 35