Extra Helping of Chimpanzee Love at Kibale National Park

chimpanzee trekking

Carefully pushing my way through the trees and bushes, I stepped over the fallen trees, vines and roots that reached out to trip me. It was early morning and my fellow travelers and I were on a chimpanzee trek in the Kibale National Park. Moses, the ranger, led our small group of four through the dense vegetation. We’d been dropped off along the road and led into the forest. It was as if we had left civilization behind. If Moses had taken me 100 yards in, had me close my eyes and spun me around, I would have been totally lost and unable to find my way back out. The sheer variety of shades of green was incredibly beautiful as the sunlight filtered down highlighting leaves here and there. Sometimes, you just have to smile.

Let me backtrack just a little. After I’d left Ngamba Island, Francis, who was our guide for the duration of our Uganda trip, picked me up and delivered me safely to the hotel in Entebbe. I was looking forward to meeting my three fellow travelers. Two of them, Beth and Paul, were from Charlotte, North Carolina and Amy, a fellow solo traveler, was actually from Denver. After a good night’s sleep, Francis drove us from Entebbe to Fort Portal. The driving tours are less expensive than flying from one place to the next. The advantage I’ve found is the opportunity to really experience the country from eye level and to meet people along the way. This was my first experience with squat toilets and a definite workout for my quads and glutes.

As we arrived at our lodging for the next two nights, I was surprised to see all the stairs. There were 100+ steps to get to the main building. I was so grateful that someone else was transporting the luggage. When I arrived at the top and stepped into the lodge, it was clear that the climb was well worth every step. We were on the edge of a caldera and looking down on the most beautiful crater lake. We’d arrived at Kyaninga Lodge. Wow! It was the perfect base for the chimpanzee trek.

Kyaninga Lodge

There was time for a quick walk before dinner and while it was overcast, it had stopped raining and I couldn’t wait to get outside.

Kyaninga Lodge

Up on the hill behind my head is Kyaninga Lodge. I wasn’t the only one on the trail. Beth and Paul had decided to stretch their legs too.

Kyaninga Lodge

Where are they? The little white and black dots in the bottom left of the photo. I decided to just enjoy the view, so I stayed at the top of the hill and was soon joined by a young boy who was watching his family’s cattle while they grazed. He couldn’t speak English and I couldn’t speak the Ugandan language, but we had fun trying to converse. He let me pet one of his cows that didn’t seem as enthusiastic as I was. I think this is the closest I’ve been to a cow since I tried to corral a few in my early days as a patrol officer in northeast Denver. They weren’t very cooperative then either.

I’m not so sure the cow…or maybe a bull…appreciated the view as much as I did.

Now that we are caught up, let’s get back to the chimpanzee trek, which is the main focus of this post.

The tropical forest was beautiful. With all the mosses and huge tree roots, it felt very ancient and undisturbed. It wasn’t too long before we heard things hitting the ground and as we looked up, we saw a chimpanzee eating some kind of fruit and dropping the leftovers. He/she was high up in the trees and not focused at all on us.

chimpanzee in Kabale National Park

chimpanzee trekking in Uganda

As we moved around to get a better angle for photos, Paul ended up getting attacked by red ants. Their bites can be painful and the ants are very large. Moses helped remove them all. It was Paul’s day for added adventure. He also got baptized walking underneath a chimpanzee relieving himself. After that, we all paid closer attention by looking up as well as down.

Not long after, we were joined by several groups of people with other guides. Considering how large the forest is, I was a bit surprised. There was a male chimpanzee in a nest on the ground and before long, he was surrounded by tourist paparazzi.

There were probably between 20-25 people in a circle all the way around him. He didn’t seem to be too bothered and was probably entertained by all the attention. There was a tree he could have easily climbed. Maybe I read too much into one of the messages he sent.

chimpanzee

chimpanzee

People were moving in closer and snapping away. No one was leaving and I finally had enough. It may not have bothered him, but it bothered me and so I told my guide I was moving away. I didn’t want to continue to be part of the paparazzi group. For me, it was one thing to take a photo and move on, and another thing to crowd a habituated, but still wild animal. It bothered me more than I expected and brought tears to my eyes. To me, it was about respect.

My small group left the area and soon it was time for those other groups to move on. Shortly thereafter, we were alone in the forest once again and could observe and learn about the behavior we were watching. I looked into the eyes of several chimpanzees at Ngamba Island and was so touched by what I saw there. To follow up that experience with one where I could see the chimps in their natural home was really special.

 

The only ones that seemed curious about us were the babies.

 

 

 

 

Snares are still an issue and this chimpanzee looks like he may lose his hand if he doesn’t receive medical care soon.

I’m fascinated by their fingers…

…and toes.

We stopped and had lunch while sitting on a log in the forest. It was peaceful and relaxing.

I managed to catch this guy in mid yawn.

And then we were back to the road. We crossed over to follow, but the troop was moving quickly and outdistanced us. We’d spent about six hours with the chimpanzees and decided that we should call it a day…an amazing day for sure.

Special thanks to Moses whose expertise and passion made the experience even better. Let’s do it again sometime soon.

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary Experience

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Travel to Uganda and Rwanda is usually focused on gorillas. Since I was arriving early, my travel agent Ian suggested a visit to Ngamba Island’s chimpanzees. The Chimpanzee Trust is focused on caring for orphaned and/or confiscated chimpanzees that can’t be returned to the wild, educating citizens on conservation and building partnerships with organizations working on chimpanzee conservation. Ngamba Island is located on Lake Victoria about a 45 minute boat ride from Entebbe, Uganda. The island includes approximately 95 acres of forest area for the chimpanzees with an additional 5 acres dedicated to the staff. I signed up for the Caretaker Experience that included assisting keepers with preparing meals and other duties. It was right up my alley. I was looking forward to seeing how that compared to my volunteer duties preparing meals at the Feline Section of the Denver Zoo.

Note: The Caretaker Experience is hands on and does not allow much time for taking pictures. It does, however, offer the opportunity to get closer to the chimpanzees, which was my goal.

My sister, Wendy, asked me a week before I left if I had any specific hopes for my trip. One that came immediately to mind was touching a chimpanzee. I’m not sure why that was important, but I really wanted a more intimate connection and there was a possibility, not guaranteed, it might occur during this portion of the trip.

Lilly Ajarova, the Executive Director of the Trust, provided an overview of all the outreach efforts occurring across Uganda in schools and communities. They are changing the narrative on conservation and how it can help individuals and their families. It was a privilege to meet her. She was the first of many people I met who are passionately dedicated to the mission of the organization. Lilly and I both climbed aboard the boat that would carry me to the next big adventure on my trip.

Ngamba Island boat trip

Enos, the chimpanzee caregiver I was assigned to, met me at the dock. After getting settled in my tent, I met Enos at the kitchen ready to help prepare meals for the chimps.

Ngamba Island Kitchen

In Denver at the zoo, I use a butcher knife similar to those in my kitchen. Here, they use large cleavers. The diet includes fruits and vegetables to supplement what the chimpanzees eat in the forest. I have to admit, I was a little concerned I might chop off a finger. Enos was a pro. When it was my turn, I put one hand behind my back and took the first swing with the other. Once I connected with the fruit, I pushed the blade through with both hands. Before long, I was covered in sticky pulp and the buckets were full.

We headed first to the cages where several male chimpanzees waited for their meals. I looked for direction from Enos and he told me to step right up.

“Do I just hand him his food?”

“Yes.”

I picked up an orange, which is actually green, and held it out. The chimpanzee reached through the bars and gently took it from me. His hands were larger, but not so different from mine. In my first few hours, I’d been touched by a chimpanzee and it made me cry. Looking into his eyes and feeling his fingers on my hand even for a moment helped me understand why people like Jane Goodall and the staff members on the island, love them so much.

Ngamba Island Feeding

As I sniffled, I helped feed a couple other males in the cages. Then it was time to head to the electric fence that separated the forest from the public area. The rest of the chimpanzees knew it was feeding time and were waiting, many holding their hands up in the air hoping to catch our attention. I went from tears to laughing. I got into my throwing stance and heaved the food over the fence. Some of those chimps can catch like pro baseball players. It was astonishing and so much fun.

Ngamba Island Feeding Time

They feed the chimpanzees several times during the day. Those not participating in the caretaker experience watch the feedings but don’t get to help.

Ngamba Island

In the evening, the chimpanzees from the forest come into the compound to sleep in the cages. They can choose whether to stay out or come in, but those who come in are provided warm porridge and cabbage for dinner. Chimpanzees in the wild build nests each night. The limited forest area on the island cannot recover quick enough to support that level of destruction. The chimps who sleep in the cages are provided hammocks and they seem very comfortable. It requires all hands on deck to safely direct the chimpanzees through the chutes and into the right cages.

Ngamba island Night Shelter

Once those that wanted to come in were housed, it was dinner time. The staff was careful to direct me to the chimpanzees that I could help feed. The majority may not be so comfortable with strangers and they wanted to keep both the chimps and I safe. Safety is a high priority on Ngamba Island. I found that out before I even arrived. In order to be in a caretaker role, I needed ten different tests and vaccinations to ensure I wouldn’t be a danger to the chimpanzees.

Just as I was thinking the day couldn’t get any better…

Feeding Eazy

I got to feed 2 1/2 year old Eazy his porridge as he held my hand. That’s his mom beside him. Special thanks to David, from a visiting film crew, who took this photo for me.

The film crew was working on a documentary about chimpanzees and technology. They had iPads with strong plastic cases for the chimps to use. Apparently, the first thing chimps do with something they aren’t familiar with is to bite it. I didn’t get to watch any of the filming, but I did have dinner, laughs and lots of champagne with the filmmakers. I can’t wait to see how the documentary turns out. It may be on Discovery or BBC next year.

After an incredible day, I headed back to my tent, watching thousands of bats heading out for the night from my front porch. Perfect time for me to be inside.

Accommodations at Ngamba Island

Yes. There is a full bathroom and shower in the back area. Life is good.

In the morning, the chimpanzees were released into the forest and cleaning duties commenced.

Cleaning at Ngamba Island

Did I tell you I loved every minute? I did, even cleaning up after the chimpanzees.

And, not to overlook my favorite bird lovers, check out the view from my front porch.

There are lots of beautiful birds on Ngamba Island. I wish I could have spent another day photographing them.

The Caretaker Experience on the island is only for 24 hours, but I was able to make the most of every minute. For people who are interested in a more in-depth experience with the staff and chimpanzees, the Trust offers opportunities to volunteer for weeks at a time.

Special thanks to Enos, Joseph and Lilly who made my 24 hours unforgettable. I highly recommend visiting Ngamba Island for those traveling to Uganda. There is no way I can ever take pictures or put into words what this visit meant to me. I still get teary eyed just thinking about it. What a privilege.

My Uganda Itinerary Comes to Life

Planning was complete. All my work to get in shape for the gorilla trek was done. I’d gone over the itinerary online and in booklet form at least a dozen times and had sought insight from a friend who had done a similar trip several years ago. Still, I know from experience, that there is no way to totally prepare. There’s excitement and, yes, a little fear. It was finally here.

After three flights, I located my bags and officially entered Uganda. It’s always a relief to arrive at an unfamiliar destination, find all your luggage has arrived and know someone is there to provide safe transportation to your lodging. I’d arrived several days before the official tour began so I could get over my jet lag and add some wonderful solo adventures on the front end. The Boma in Entebbe provided lodging for the first few days. My room was elegant and comfortable. I settled in for what I hoped would be some decent sleep.

I was up early and had a wonderful breakfast, with bacon. Yum!

Uganda Breakfast

I studied my map so I’d know where I was going prior to leaving the hotel, hoping I wouldn’t look so touristy. Ha! As if being the only person dressed in safari gear carrying a sling bag didn’t scream tourist. Still, I was confident in my direction and plan. Today’s adventure included a visit to UWEC, the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre. The roadway was very busy with lots of motorbikes and cars. Motorbikes seem to be the primary mode of transportation and function as taxis. After watching all the near misses, I was really glad to be on foot.

I crossed the street to continue on my way and ended up walking near a group of children, one who immediately ran up and took my hand. She was about eight years old with a big smile on her face. We didn’t speak the same language but we laughed and walked together for a block or two. It was one of the special moments of my first day in Uganda. Not long after, a young man named Patrick joined me, hoping to be my tour guide. He was very friendly and knowledgable. Patrick works at the local golf club and is an amateur golfer.

The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre was established to provide a home for animals who have been confiscated from the pet trade or are otherwise unable to go back to the wild. Samuel volunteered to show Patrick and I around the property. He is fascinating and so passionate about the organization and each of the animals who make it home. The Centre received help from the Bronx Zoo in setting up the yards so that they were as animal friendly as possible. Samuel helped with some of the construction and volunteers his time to educate visitors. He knows the animals by name and they respond to him.

Uganda Wildlife Education Centre

Not only did Samuel have a way with the animals, but the children loved him as well.

Samuel at Uganda Wildlife Education Centre

Uganda Wildlife Education Centre

Uganda Wildlife Education Centre

Samuel had thrown this chimpanzee some food and the chimp used a stick to get the food close enough to grab out of the water.

Uganda Wildlife Education Centre

I enjoyed visiting the centre. Samuel was such a great example of how a guide can enhance a visitor’s experience. As a volunteer guide at the Denver Zoo myself, I learned so much from him. Thanks Samuel!

Just as I was getting ready to leave, three small children entered the zoo with their mom. They ran right up to me and held my hand with big smiles on their faces. I was so touched, it brought tears to my eyes. They were beautiful and so happy.

Uganda children

Patrick made sure I made it back to my hotel safely, with more good conversation along the way. If you are interested in a guide to see you around Entebbe, he’s the one.

My first day in Uganda far exceeded expectations. As you all know, I love wildlife and new adventures, but I find that the people make it extra special. From the smiling children to my knowledgable and friendly guides, I had hit the jackpot. And…after 19,000+ steps, I enjoyed my gin and tonic (an African tradition), a steak and a good night’s sleep.

Cruising on Walvis Bay

Swakopmund
We spent the afternoon wandering around Swakopmund and then out for dinner at The Tug which is a former boat. The salmon was fabulous! I enjoyed wandering around the town with the wonderful shops. Keeping in mind that I had no luggage space to speak of, I limited my souvenir shopping.

We stayed at the Hansa Hotel, which was originally built in the very early 1900’s. It was a beautiful place and very comfortable. After another good night’s sleep (it seems as if we are exhausted every day so I was sleeping great) we set off for our Walvis Bay harbor cruise.

Walvis Bay is just a few miles from Swakopmund and one of the main seaports in Africa. About 50,000 people live here, primarily working in harbor related industries. It doesn’t feel like the city is that large. Most people live along the shoreline.

Walvis Bay Cruise

We arrived at the harbor and climbed onto a catamaran style boat. There were probably 20-30 people aboard, but it didn’t feel crowded and we had a great view. Once we were out on the water, the special cruise features began. The birds were amazing. I’ve never been up close and personal with pelicans or seagulls. I’ve seen them before, just not within reach. It was incredible.

seagull walvis bay

Here is where I get carried away with seagull pictures.

seagulls walvis bay

seagull walvis bay

They are huge!

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Crystal was the trained profession. I just watched in awe.

pelicans walvis bay

Gorgeous! I was fascinated by these two birds.

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And then, after having their fishy snacks, they flew off.

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And then, lest we get bored, here came Bronzy the cape fur seal.

seal walvis bay

See the knee in the bottom left corner? That was me. I just wanted to reach out and hug this little guy. He was a bit shy so Crystal asked us to stay quiet and still. Wendy, my sister, would have loved this. She has been fascinated by seals since she was a kid.

cape fur seal Walvis Bay

BlogWalvisBay12

cape fur seal Walvis Bay

He was beautiful!

This was another jaw dropping moment on my trip. I never expected to see birds and seals so close. It was so special.

Then we left the area and made our way around the rest of the harbor.

Cape Fur Seals Walvis Bay

Here the seals were “checking out the chicks”.

Pelican Point lighthouse

This is the Pelican Point Lighthouse and next to it is a lodge where travelers can stay. That might be fun for my next trip to Namibia.

Hey Wendy, want to go see some seals?

Cape Fur Seals

As we made our way around the rest of the bay, we headed inside because the seas were a bit rough and it was windy. That’s when I started to get a little nauseous. So, I spent my time looking at the horizon. I’m sure the tour guides had some very interesting things to say, but I missed all of them.

Despite a few stomach issues, I loved this cruise. The sea life was stunning and I enjoyed every moment of the first half of the trip. I highly recommend adding this to the itinerary if you are heading to this part of the world.

 

Namibia – From the Air

Every line and shadow of Sossusvlei was incredible. But it was time to leave. After a great night’s sleep, we climbed on the plane to experience it from the air as we traveled from Sossusvlei to Swakopmund to visit another part of Namibia.

Air Namibia

Carlos was our pilot and Aravind sat in as co-pilot. I’m not sure Aravind could have assisted if the plane was going down, because he was just as busy taking pictures as I was.

HRAravindinFlight

Here’s the video view. It was an amazing flight and with the patch and Dramamine, no motion sickness for me!

And here is an aerial view of Deadvlei. It’s not the best picture, but I’m really glad I caught it.

Deadvlei Namibia

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Sossusvlei Namibia

We flew over the fairy circles. Scientists still are not positive about what causes them.

Fairy Circles Namibia

It was incredible to see the Atlantic Ocean from the air.

Atlantic Ocean Namibia

And…the shipwrecks caused by the rough seas and possibly inattentive captains.

BlogShipwreck1

I’m so glad we experienced the area from both the air and the ground. It was beautiful both times, but in very different ways.

Skeleton Coast Namibia

Awesome!

If you’ve missed some posts and would like to read about the whole adventure, click here.

Call of Deadvlei Namibia

Single grains of sand
blowing, building,
Nature’s monuments that reach to the sky

Trees outlasting lifetimes
dead, dry
Strokes of dark brown against a vibrant background of color

Travelers climbing
stepping, sinking,
Trying to conquer what nature has created

Languages of the world
appreciating, celebrating
Still failing to capture indescribable beauty

Footprints in the sand
filling, erasing
All evidence we were here

Memories of moments
breathing, thinking
Surrounded by monuments built of single grains of sand.


This was one of the reasons I came to Namibia, to stand in the pan of Deadvlei and see the beauty of the dunes and the trees. 

Deadvlei Namibia

We began by climbing a portion of Big Daddy, one of the largest dunes in the area.

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While I only climbed a short way, it was still an amazing experience. I climbed to the section just above the travelers in the below photo.

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Looking down to the right, it seemed as though the side was straight down.

Toni, our guide, was with me and asked if I was ready to head down. 

“You mean straight down?”

I thought maybe I’d be walking back the way I came.

“Yes, put your camera inside your shirt and grab my hand.”

“Okay…”

I was very hesitant, but trusted Toni. So I grabbed her hand, leaned back and took my first step. My foot slid down and I took another step. It was a hot day but the sand was delightfully cool as my feet sunk down. Then finally I sat down and slid the rest of the way. It was so much fun. I laughed the whole way.

Then we walked over a small hill, and there it was.

BlogDeadvleipano

It’s hard to describe what a beautiful place it is. The pan is made up of cream colored dried clay. The trees died after the dunes blocked the water source hundreds of years ago. They are estimated to be 900+ years old.

Deadvlei Namibia

Here is a photo of people walking across the pan and people coming down the side of Big Daddy. The mirage created by the heat reflecting off the sand is amazing. Yes…this captures some of the vastness of the area.

I had time to sit down beside one of the trees and to take in the beauty and spirit of this unique place on Earth. Seeing, listening, feeling…I will never forget.

There are some grasses and short bushes that have sprung up in a few places- survivors in an area where most things cannot live. It was hot, but the slight breeze helped cool me down a bit.BlogDeadvlei11

Because it is such a large space, it’s easy to find solitude. It was a spiritual experience that touched my heart.

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Once again, the shadows and textures helped set the stage.

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Deadvlei Namibia called and I’m so glad I answered.

Namibia on Safari

One of the best things about an organized safari is stepping off the plane in a country where you’ve never been before, and seeing a friendly person holding a sign with your name on it. Phew!

I was finally in Namibia and Barnabas, from Wilderness Safaris, loaded my luggage into the car and took me to my hotel. I stayed at the Galton House in Windhoek. It was a nice place, but frankly, I was so tired I checked my email and went to bed. I’d had such a busy day, I’d forgotten to keep hydrated and wasn’t feeling up to par. I should know better…

The hotel agreed to store my large suitcase and so I packed my safari clothing into a small duffle bag. I was a bit worried the zipper was going to break, but at least the camera gear was safely stowed in my backpack. There was some good and some bad news. My safari pants? After losing 20 pounds in the months prior to the trip, they were WAY TOO BIG. I looked like the Pillsbury Dough Boy with all the extra fabric. I tightened the belt and did my best to evenly distribute the rest of the waistband.

So, while I made a fashion statement on my trip, it was probably “what not to wear” or worthy of the worst dressed list in safari attire. 

Toni, our guide with lovely bright red hair, picked me up and after adding Aravind, another traveler originally from India, we hit the road. Both of them were very friendly and interesting people. Our first day together included hours on the road, much of it on gravel roads. The main roads are very well kept, although dusty.

It had been a long time since I’d relieved myself behind a bush…but…heck, I was in for the whole adventure. It was a bit of a challenge with my oversized pants. I added the used toilet paper to the trash bag and we were back on our way to Sossusvlei and the Kulala Desert Lodge.

Namibia Road Trip

We had lunch at the Khomas Hochland escarpment. The views were incredible!

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I still wasn’t feeling too great, so I tried to drink as much water as possible and to eat what I could. The drive was long and I’m sure I was very quiet. Still, I enjoyed the company.

We did see ostrich and our first Oryx. The oryx is the national animal of Namibia and is represented on the Namibia Coat of Arms.

Namibia Oryx Antelope

After we were welcomed at camp, I headed to my free standing suite where I unpacked and took a quick nap. The accommodations were fabulous and very comfortable. We ate dinner and I fell back into bed for a good night’s sleep.

BlogKulalaLodge

It’s cool in the evening at this time of year, perfect sleeping weather. And…the hot water bottle at my feet was an added treat.

Plethora of Penguins – Betty’s Bay, South Africa

I left the Mosaic Sanctuary early the next morning so that I could take Marcelino’s advice and visit the penguin colony at Betty’s Bay. It was worth every minute. The last time I visited South Africa ten years ago, I saw the penguins at Boulder’s Beach in Simon’s Town. I do love penguins.

After paying an entrance fee of 10 South African Rand, or about 1 US dollar, I stepped onto the raised wooden path. Penguins always put a smile on my face.

Betty's Bay Penguins

Betty's Bay penguins

Betty's Bay Penguins

Please excuse the rough video skills. I’m still working on it.

This little guy lives in Unit 53. He’s got beachfront property. We should be so lucky…

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Betty’s Bay was beautiful and I’m glad I had a chance to visit.

Betty's Bay

Then it was off to the airport and on my flight to Namibia.

A visit to the penguin colony at Betty’s Bay and/or Boulder’s Beach comes highly recommended.

Three Days in South Africa

Recap: It was time to go to Africa, again, and Namibia was my first choice. My travel agent, Ian, from the Africa Adventure Company helped with the arrangements for the 16 Day Great Namibian Journey. It was originally scheduled for May and I got sick, so I after receiving my refund from Travel Guard Insurance, I was able to reschedule in August of this year.  As a change to the trip, I had the option to include three days in South Africa. After Ian suggested a cage dive with the great white sharks, it was confirmed.

I arrived in Cape Town and picked up my Budget rental car which had been upgraded to an Audi. NICE!

This was my first time driving a vehicle on the other side of the road and I’d been doing my best to think the process through. In other words, I was a nervous. I had spent a long time worrying about something that wasn’t such a big deal. I’m sure the rush of adrenaline that hit after I climbed off the airplane in Cape Town helped. I couldn’t stop smiling as I followed the other cars down Highway N2. I did get a bit lost as I turned off onto the dirt road, but I turned perfectly into the “other” lane.

This milk wood tree graces the entrance of the Mosaic Sanctuary lodge area. It was a welcome and beautiful sight.

Milkwood Tree at Mosaic Sanctuary South Africa

I loved everything about the lodge including my suite, the food and the people who made my stay so special.

Here is how Simone describes the Mosaic Santuary in one of her poems. She and her husband Marcelino are the sanctuary managers who live there.

” At Mosaic the sun rise can set your soul on fire, the mountains witness to a life time past, the Milk wood leaves moving to the rhythm of the wind. At Mosaic the fish eagle will call your heart to listen, your senses coming alive, at Mosaic a smile cross borders, at Mosaic the nightjar sings to the symphony in the sky. MOSAIC is a place of majestic beauty.”

I saw the fish eagles and the incredible beauty. It was a perfect place to begin my travels. I stepped off the deck of my suite to see this view of the Hermanus Lagoon.

Mosaic Sanctuary Panoramic Photo

My biggest disappointment was that the cage dive with the great white sharks had been cancelled due to weather. The wind was blowing and it was raining on and off. Still, I couldn’t have been happier with the location and the activities. Another trip back to South Africa for my appointment with the sharks doesn’t break my heart. I think I’ll probably be back a number of times, God willing.

So, instead I quad-biked with Vitalis. What a blast!

I’d never done it before, so it was a great adventure and I saw more really beautiful sights.

Mosaic Sanctuary, South Africa

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What’s a visit to South Africa without a wine tasting?

Creation Wines

So the next day, I was treated to a tasting at a local vineyard. Creation Wines had some fabulous options and treats to go with each of them. If I could have added a few bottles to my luggage, I’d be sipping on a glass right now. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find it locally.

HRCreationsWine2

Then it was a quick trip to Hermanus. I’ve shared some photos already, but I needed to add one more for good measure.

Hermanus, South Africa

The crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean were magnificent. There was still one final visit to make and that was the beach near the Mosaic Sanctuary. I needed to step into the ocean just like the first time when I visited South Africa in 2004.

Atlantic Ocean

The wind was blowing and it was chilly, but still amazingly beautiful.

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The ocean was C-O-L-D! I was freezing and trying to keep the hair out of my face. Vitalis and I were laughing so hard, it’s amazing that we got a photo. Just looking at it makes me giggle.

While I was looking forward to leaving for the airport the next day and beginning my journey to Namibia, I was still sad at leaving such a magical place and the wonderful people I’d met along the way. I had another great dinner, joined by Marcelino. He’s originally from Namibia, so it was good to talk to him about what to expect.

Marcelino told me that with all the contrasts in Namibia, I couldn’t take a bad picture. I wasn’t sure that was true, especially in my case, but I was still excited to test out his theory.

I headed back to my suite and on my last night at the Mosaic Sanctuary, dreamed about Africa.

Selecting Namibia for My Travel Destination

travel destination deadvlei in Namibia
Thank you for sharing this photo, Aravind.

When I told my friends and family members I was traveling to Namibia, the normal response was, “What?”, then “Where?” They had never heard of the country which is north of South Africa on the Atlantic Ocean side of the African continent. Then, people would ask me to spell it for them. “N-A-M-I-B-I-A”.

If you would have asked me a couple years ago, I would have probably said the exact same thing. So, why did I travel to Namibia?

With so many destinations in the world, how did I narrow down the choices to this special country? That’s easy. I was looking at photos on National Geographic online and did a double-triple-quadruple take on one of them. Yes, I was looking at a photo and no, it was not a painting. I had to look at it so many times because I couldn’t believe this place actually existed. So, one amazing photograph was all it took to entice me to fly 12,000+ miles to visit Deadvlei in Namibia.

Thank you Frans Lanting!

Click here for the original photo by Frans Lanting.

Here are a few of mine inspired by Mr. Lanting.

deadvlei in sossusvlei, Namibia

deadvlei in sossusvlei, namibia

That’s why I traveled to Namibia. Not only did I get to see, experience and photograph Deadvlei, my adventure included a lot more unexpected surprises. 

Why did you choose your last travel destination?