Sunset Over Masai Mara

Masai Mara Sunset

A beautiful sunset over the Masai Mara in Kenya.

Blue Balls With Banana

Monkey With Blue Balls

I call this one Blue Balls With Banana.

He’s a Vervet Monkey and his balls really are that blue. He was a pushy little guy and stole that banana from a couple of other smaller monkeys and then hissed at any monkey that dared to come close.

This little guy waited patiently until he thought no one was looking to steal the coffee mug.
Clepto monke

He drank the last few drops and then abandoned the cup but if you find yourself around Vervet monkeys, watch your stuff as they are sneaky little buggers that like to get into everything.

This one probably wants a cup to go with the tea bag.
Tea packet monkey

This little guy seemed to be contemplating going for a swim.
Pool monkey

There was also a mom and baby that seemed to want to stay out of the shenanigans of all the others.
mom and baby monkey

Hot Air Balloon Over Masai Mara

HotAirBalloon

It was near the end of my trip that I took a hot air balloon ride over the Masai Mara in Kenya.

It was one of my favourite parts of the trip, to see the sunrise over the Masai Mara from the balloon was incredible. It makes one feel like anything is possible.

When I’m having a tiring day and I’m not sure what to do and am frustrated by life I often look at this picture and remember all the possibilities.

Lion In The Sun

Lion In The Sun

He looks like he’s relaxing, remembering to breathe.

Which is what I’ve been doing this week as I do my assignments for the photography course I’m taking. Trying to get the camera to do what I want it to do has been frustrating. With practice though I did manage to get my assignment done and my new camera and I are slowly getting to know each other.

Taking the course is certainly giving me a new appreciation for photographers who are able to get the camera to do what they want and get that amazing shot. Also kinda makes me miss the point and shoot a bit but the photos that I have gotten to work out have made it all worth it.

Fumble with the controls, swear at the camera, try again and after a few tries when the photo actually turns out the way you wanted it to, great sense of accomplishment!

Another class tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it. The frustration of learning I know will be worth it in the end and like the Lion above I need to remember to occasionally take a time out and just breathe.

What A Handsome Boy

Pretty_Boy_Lion

Another lion picture, seems a good week for lions. Of course any week is a good week for lions. I still look at my pictures and am amazed that I took them.

Going to Africa was a trip I didn’t know if I would ever do and now that I’ve done one I can’t wait to go back. I’d like to see more of the continent because it is a continent not a country with so much to offer.

Next time I would like to see Victoria Falls and maybe Namibia and Botswana. There are a lot of choices and so much to explore and see in Africa. The trip through Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya I feel was just the beginning.

Monday, Yawn Day . . . .

Lioness Yawning

Starting the week with a picture of a lioness yawning.

Fitting for a few reasons today, first being it’s Monday and I’m tired. Will be yawning my way through the day as I keep looking for a job. I’ll just keep throwing my resume out until I find one and I am looking forward to getting back to a routine.

On the Saturday I had to get up early for my first class in a photography course I’m taking. I finally bought a dslr camera and then signed up for the Intro to Photography course. After taking several trips and seeing other peoples photos I decided I really want actually learn how to take a good picture.

I’m happy with my photos, don’t get me wrong but I think they could be even better. Also I really enjoy photography and it’s something I’ve wanted to learn more about for a long time. No time like the present and I spent the first class learning all about ISO, shutter speed and aperture.

It all made sense at the time but then putting it to use everything gets muddled. Well it was only the first class so I’m sure things will get clearer as the class goes on. Also as I do the class assignments. There is learning and then there is doing and the doing is really where it all starts to make sense. It will be worth it, I didn’t put the money into the camera to use it as a point and shoot so the frustration I’m feeling now will all be worth it in the end. I hope.

Also a reminder in the class that often a good picture is about timing, like catching a lioness yawning. Patience, waiting and looking for the right photo opportunity. This week I’m also getting out to play with my camera on top of looking for a job. I need the practice and also the understanding that comes with doing.

The writing is on hold for the moment, I’m signed up for another course about telling Life Stories in February which I’m really looking forward to. I’ve always taken creative writing courses but this one about how to tell your own, or someone else’s life story or stories caught my eye. I picked the text book for the class up on Saturday and now I’m pretty excited about it.

How To Pick A Tour

Elephants crossing road

One of the reasons I wanted to go to Africa was to see ELEPHANTS!

We saw elephants quite a few of them, including this Mother and young one, only about a week old and still getting used to walking. Watching him stumble around was everything I had hoped for on the trip.

Elephant mom and baby

How did I pick the trip? I get asked that a lot and there are so many choices when it comes to choosing a tour to go on.

First I figured out where I wanted to go. Africa is HUGE and you can’t see everything, something I have learnt from planning previous trips. So I looked at a lot of tours and also blog and travel stories about the different countries and started to narrow down what I wanted. A safari for sure, a trip to Africa does tend to be all about the animals. While researching and reading I kept coming back to the Gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda and I REALLY wanted to see them. They became my number one priority and with that decision it was narrowed down to East Africa tours.

Second is budget. The costs for tours vary widely from a few thousand dollars to over ten thousand. I would LOVE to to the luxury trip with the private safari and stay in fancy hotels with amazing food but my budget was a lot less than the going rate for such a tour. I didn’t want too young or too budget. I’m okay with the occasional campsite but generally I like a bed and a bathroom. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just clean and comfy. I also wanted to have activities planned so that I didn’t have to bring a bunch of cash for optional activities. Also optional activities can get expensive and it’s just easier if most things are already included. Once I rounded up a number of trips that fit my budget I started to narrow down my choices.

Third step is very important! READ THE ITINERARY!

I’ve been on quite a few tours and often complaints from travellers arise from things that were stated in the itinerary. Basic accommodation means basic. Camping means sleeping outside, in a tent. Figure out what meals are included and what activities. Many budget tours are cheap because the activities aren’t included, if you want to go from place to place and pick what you do GREAT! Just don’t complain when there is a lot of free time for activities that aren’t included. I’d rather pay up front for park admissions and such so that everything is taken care of and I know what I’m doing. Also read the reviews for the tour you are thinking of and for the company in general. By seeing what people liked and what they didn’t it will give you a picture of what the tour experience will be like.

Fourth is one I’ve added in the last few years and that is the age of the participants. I’m happy to be in a group with a wide range of ages but no longer want to be in with a young group. By that I mean early twenties, I don’t want the drinking or the drama. Remember your twenties??? There is always DRAMA. One tour I went on had a couple in their early twenties who had broken up just before the trip, thankfully they went with two other friends so they didn’t have to room together but oh the drama and tears along the way. With a tour that has a wide range of ages the drama tends to be a lot less and I also have a lot more in common with the people.

In the end I found this Exodus tour that seemed to have everything I wanted. It started in Rwanda and a trip to see the Gorillas and carried on through Uganda and into Kenya. As well as the Gorillas there were several safaris and a hot air balloon ride (optional activity). It involved a lot of driving and this was clearly stated in the itinerary but I like sitting on a bus and watching the world go by. Also there was some camping (often places had the ability to upgrade) and all the food was prepared by the cook for the group. Godfrey made the most amazing pancakes and the meals in made from what little equipment he had on the truck was amazing. It was an overland trip, so we were on the truck for at least a part of everyday.

The was really happy with Exodus and many of the people on my tour had done several tours with them. Ages ranged from mid-twenties to over seventy, a really good mix of wonderful people. By all accounts everybody was happy with the tour. A few complaints here and there but nothing major. By the end everybody was hugging so that has to be a good sign.

Giraffe

Giraffe

A giraffe was certainly on my list of things to see when I went to Africa and I saw this beauty in Kenya.

It really was a trip of a lifetime and I hope to go back to see more of Africa, this trip was East Africa. The tour started in Rwanda, went through Uganda and ended in Kenya. It exceeded all of my expectations. There is nothing like seeing animals in the wild.

They don’t seem fussed at all about all the safari vehicles driving around. They just go about their business and like the giraffe occasionally look over but then go on their merry way.

The vehicles do stick to the roads and aren’s suppose to drive off of them. That works out well most of the time and I was surprised at how close we got to many of the animals. It’s an odd experience in that it’s so wild in the Masai Mara yet there are so many vehicles driving tourists around. It’s big business and they drivers are constantly radioing each other to tell each other where the animals are.

We had a good driver, I believe and often we were the only vehicle around. Then driving back towards the gates we would see a line up of vehicles, sometimes over a dozen and I was glad that my experience wasn’t a whole day spent in a line with other cars waiting to take pictures. Early in the day we had a long drive where we saw nothing, the Masai Mara is HUGE and then suddenly we would come over a rise or approach some bushes and there were the animals.

The first time I saw an elephant, I squealed. The first time I saw a lion I was so stunned I almost forgot to take a picture. The giraffe’s made me smile and who could ever tire of zebras?