Monday, January 25, 2010

Back home

we are back home in Australia! Everyone is very tired after very little sleep in the last 40 hours but we are all reasonably well (a few sniffles among us) and happy to be home. The house looks like an African bazaar as we all unpacked our goodies. All my Ethiopian pottery survived (yay!) but my shona stone carving of a family of 8 was shattered (boo!)......I will just have to go back to get another one!
I will upload some photos tomorrow onto here and facebook and fill in some more details but I'm a bit sleepy now.
Cheers, Kathie

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Back in Addis Ababa

Well, many things have changed in Ethiopia but internet access is still sporadic and slow! My apologies fot the lack of contact. I do not even know where to start to tell what has happened in the last 3 weeks.
We spent 3 days in Addis catching up with family and friends then headed north to travel around the highlands. I will go into details when I get better internet access but sufficient to say we had an amazing time, visited all the historic sites (including some we hadn't even heard of!) and saw scenery to take your breath away. Our main aim though was to connect with Tamru and Wubi's birth family. 4 Years ago we met members of their birth family on their mothers side and we had a chance to meet them again at Addis Zemen, a small town between Bahir Dar and Gondar. We spent a lovely day with them again, with their aunty, cousins, 2nd cousins twice removed, the next door neighbours, etc. One of their cousins made us a beautiful basket and an embroidered cushion cover, which we will treasure.
We had arranged to meet members of their birth father's family in Debark as the village they were from was way out in the Simien mountains and inaccessable by car. We arrived at lunchtime and a few minutes later the family came around the corner. It is impossible to describe the raw emotion showed by these people. Azanaw, Tamru and Wubi's birth father, had left the village in 1989 and they never saw him alive again. They had heard he had died but didn't know the circumstances or even that he had married and had 2 sons until I contacted them. One brother and one sister of Azanaw were there and they wailed with a mixture of joy at seeing the boys and grief at the loss the their brother. There were also 7 of the boys cousins as well and we spent 2 wonderful days with them. I will fill in details later.
We have 2 days at Addis and then we head of early wednesday morning for 1 night at Jo'burg and 3 nights in Dubai....then home!
Better go now, bye for now,
Love from Kathie

Monday, December 28, 2009

Heading into Ethiopia

Hi all,
I am in Nairobi, having just checked out of the youth hostel and waiting 2 hours till we are picked up for our flight into Ethiopia.
We went in Nakuru national park and spent Christmas day there, starting with a huge breakfast at Nairobi and then driving into Nakuru. After setting up our tents we spent the afternoon doing a game drive around the park. We went to Nakuru 4 years ago and we were shocked at how much lower the lake was and also how few flamingoes there were compared to then. We were not disappointed though by the wildlife. We were lucky enough to see 4 groups of lions over this day and the next as well as buffalo, zebra, gazelles, monkeys and hippo. I had a very close encounter with a baboon who decided, while I was cooking the toast for the groups breakfast, to run across my lap and steal the loaf of bread. It was a large and agressive male and gave me quite a shock. Unfortunately no one was filming or we could have won next years funny home video!
After Nakuru we spent our last night of the tour at Lake Navisha. The camp site was huge but was very full and we couldn't get an upgrade to a room like we hoped. It was surprisingly cold and we spent the afternoon vegging out. That night it poured with rain for 5 hours and our tent leaked, resulting in 2 wet, cold and unhappy campers by the morning (none of the kids tents leaked). It was a relief to head back to Nairobi and the relative comfort of the youth hostel (while basic, it is clean, dry and has good beds). Unfortunately we were not here in time to attend a Church meeting there at our Church but the pastors wife, Tabitha, met us at the end of the tour and spent the next 2 days with us. Pastor Jeremiah is in Liberia helping a new assembly that has started there, so we missed seeing him but got 2 know their 2 gorgeous kids, Osmond (Ossy) and Nicole. Last night we all had dinner at the carnivore restaurant, which was lovely.
We catch the plane to Ethiopia this evening and start the next leg of our journey.
Love to all, Kathie

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas eve

It is the night of Christmas eve and I am sitting in a camp ground in Nairobi, It is quite cold and raining here, not what I expected for Christmas in Africa. We have one night here then off to Nakuru national park in the morning for an afternoon game drive. We spend the night at Nakuru then head into Navisha the next morning for our last night on the tour (finishing back in Nairobi).
We had a fairly yukky day today! We drove from Arusha to Nairobi, a distance of only a couple of hundred kilometres but it took 11 hours due to an unbelievable amount of roadworks! Unlike Australia, where the system is to work on a 10km stretch of road at a time, here you dig up 200kms of road, make a detour dirt track full of potholes you could hide a truck in, then go on Christmas holidays. I doubt we had over 40kms of drivable road today!
In contrast yesterday was magical! We stayed in a lovely guesthouse near Ngorongoro Crater that had big, soft beds (who can tell I'm over camping) and hot showers, all for only $30 extra (the rest stayed there in tents). We left early in the morning and headed for Ngorongoro crater.
First sight of the crater is breathtaking! It is about 20kms across with walls over 600m high (and a very steep drive in and out!). The amount of wildlife was breathtaking and I nearly developed RSI from taking photos and film!! We saw elephant, buffalo, gazelle, ostrich, wildebeest, zebra, baboons, monkeys, hyena, jackals, lions, hippo, cheetah and rhino.
Anyway, I better finish up as there is a queue for the internet here. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas tomorrow and my love to all, Kathie

Saturday, December 19, 2009


I am in a tiny internet cafe in Stone Town, Zanzibar, having just had a very good lunch at the Indian restaurant next door. We have been up on the north coast of Zanzibar for 3 days at a little hotel right on the beach. As is typical in most of Africa, we only had power and water at certain times of the day but it was in a wonderful location and had inbelievable views. We went on a sunset cruise on a dhow, a traditional sailing boat, on thursday. Yesterday we went to the southern tip of the island and went out and swam with dolphins then went to a forest with Colobus monkeys, only found on Zanzibar. They were amazing! The monkeys were very curious and when we stood still they climbed down and started touching us. One reached down and started searching my hair for things to eat but luckily came up empty.....we didnt want to leave them.
We went on a spice tour on wednesday when we first arrived and saw how they grow and harvest many spices and fruits. One of our guides climbed an unbelievably tall coconut palm....which was a bit scary to watch!
I am living on a staple diet of seafood, mangoes and coconut at the moment....very hard to take!
We were a bit sad that we didnt get to see anyone from our Church while in Malawi but loved our time there. Malawi is often called the 'waem heart of Africa' and I can see why.
Tomorrow we catch the ferry back to Dar es Salaam and start our journey to Arusha in northern Tanzania. From there we will travel into Ngorongoro crater, which is a game park, to see more of Africa's amazing wildlife, then on to Kenya a few days later.
My time is nearly up. My love to all, Kathie

Saturday, December 12, 2009

At Lake Malawi

Hi all,
we arrived in Malawi 2 days ago after 3 long days of travel across Zambia.
I phoned Pastor Nelson before arriving at Liliongwe but unfortunately he was unable to meet us and where we are staying, at Kande beach, there is no assembly. We are hoping to meet up with some people at Chitchimba which is where we go tomorrow for 1 day and night.
Kande Beach is on the shores of Lake Malawi. The camp we are staying at here is stunning, right on the beach. We have been swimming a lot as it is very hot and the water is clean, fresh water with a sandy bottom. Last night there was a bit of a storm so this morning there is even surf! Most of our group has gone off on a guided walk around the village this morning. I would have loved to have gone but my knees aren't up to it.
Our tour group is a great bunch of people, many from Australia. We are all getting on very well and having lots of fun. Our tour truck/bus is a bit rough around the edges but the guides have been great. We changed drivers and guide at Victoria falls and were all sad to see Justin (tour guide) and Phillip (driver) go. We now have Judah (guide) and Temba (driver). A few of the tour group finished at Victoria falls as well and we picked up some new people.
After Malawi we have another couple of long driving days, crossing Tanzania to Dar es Salaam. We catch a ferry from there to Zanzibar for 4 days.
I had better go now, love to all, Kathie

Monday, December 7, 2009

Just crossed into Zambia

Back again.

The Okavango Delta was amazing! We were taken into it by traditional dugout canoes called Mukoros to our bush camp under the most awesome old tree on an island in the middle of the delta. Our polers (canoe drivers) were our guides too and stayed with us for the 2 days. We went swimming in the pristine waters, went by canoe to see hippos, went bush walking and saw many different animals (elephants, hippo, zebra, crocodile, antelope, etc). Our trip back by canoe was more relaxed as it was earlier in the day and not as hot. We had a hiccup going back to Maun as the truck broke down resulting in a 5 hour wait under a tree....but such is life!

Our next destination was Chobe national park. The camp ground was lovely and that evening we went on a cruise on the river and saw nearly 100 elephants come down to drink. One group alone had nearly 70 in it. I will never forget the spectacle of seeing such a large group of wild elephants. We went on an early morning game drive the next day and saw other animals including lions.

Next stop was 2 days at Victoria falls on the Zimbabwe side. It is a small town and has a lot of character. The first night we went out for dinner as a group to saw goodbye to those leaving (including our driver and tour guide) to a place called 'Bomas place of eating'. It serves traditional Zimbabwe foods including game meat. I ate warthog, Eland and buffulo.

We went for a helicopter flight over the falls which was breathtaking and then went on a cruise in the evening. In the afternoon we went to a craft market and bought lots of souveniers. They were desperate for sales and very pushy but it was an interesting place.

This morning we went down to the Victoria falls national park to see the falls from ground level. They are truley amazing to see and it is still at a reasonably low level.