Christy and Aaron Tracker

Follow Christy and Aaron on their backpacking trip around the world

Happy Halloween!

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 10 31st, 2010

No pumkins in Malawi? No problem. Christy carved a pineapple-o-lantern! It was actually easier to carve than a pumpkin. Happy Halloween.

Christy with her Pineapple-O-Lantern



“Do You Have WiFi?” “…What is WiFi?”

Posted by Christy in Posts on 10 28th, 2010

Yup, so I am writing this from another Internet cafe because WiFi is pretty much nonexistent in Africa. I really need to update our Website with our Egypt trip with Karen, but I need fast WiFi to upload the pictures and videos we took. We had a fabulous time, and I will post the entry as soon as I can (sorry, Karen!).

Anyway, we are on the 10th day of our 7-week tour, heading out of Zanzibar, a gorgeous island off the coast of Tanzania, and heading back into the mainland to make our way into Malawi. We are traveling with about 24 other people, and I was a bit skeptical at first as Aaron and I enjoyed traveling solo and this was a big change. But I have to say, I am really enjoying the tour so far as the other people are so nice and we are becoming fast friends. I will be tremendously sad once our tour is over and we all head our separate ways.

Again, I apologize that our posts are few and far between, but there isn’t much we can do as we are in Africa and they don’t have quite the Internet speed we were hoping for. Oh, well!

Miss you all!



Welcome to African Trails!

Posted by Christy in Posts on 10 20th, 2010

As you know, we decided to travel with a tour rather than travel on our own throughout Africa. This is going to be quite different from the way we had previously been traveling, obviously. Here are just a few reasons:

1.) No hostels (mostly). We will be camping.
2.) We have our route planned out for us, and we don’t have to spend much time planning for ourselves. (Woo Hoo!)
3.) We will have a tour leader with us the entire way.
4.) We will be traveling by truck.
5.) We will constantly be with the same group of people.

We saved a lot of money on this tour, as we will not have anything catered to us. We set up our tent ourselves, we prepare our own meals, and we even clean the truck. Our tour leader pretty much just drives us where we need to go and makes recommendations on what we should do in the areas we visit.
As for the so-called “jobs,” we were divided up into teams of three, and each day we have a different task:

1.) Security – The team stays on the truck during stops on the road to “guard” our belongings from opportunistic thieves. Africa is full of them, and if we leave the truck unattended, there is a good chance there will be a break-in.
2.) Sweep – Clean out the truck. Apparently it gets pretty messy after eight hours on the road with 20 people.
3.) Clean – Clean up after the cook team.
4.) Cook – Prepare dinner and breakfast for the rest of the group.

Pretty easy. It’s actually kind of nice to be put to work after all this time. Wait, did I just write that?! :-)



Africa Overland

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 10 16th, 2010

Christy and I have started the next phase of our trip. We are taking an overland safari from Nairobi, Kenya to Cape Town, South Africa.

Our overland route through East and South Africa

The internet access is really poor so unfortunately we will not be able to post our progress along the way. Here is our itinerary:

Day 1:
We head south from Nairobi across the Masai plains and cross the border at Namanga and cross into Tanzania, we arrive in Arusha late in the day.

Day 2:
In Arusha you can take a side trip to the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. The trip is camping for two nights in the parks amidst the animals. If you choose not to visit the park you can wander the markets in Arusha town.

Day 3:
Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater

Day 4:
Return to Arusha

Day 5:
We head towards the coast past Moshi town the capital city of the Chugga tribe. Skirting the base of snowy Mount Kilimanjaro we camp on the way.

Day 6:
We arrive in Dar es Salaam on the Indian Ocean coast

Day 7:
Zanzibar Island – From Dar es Salaam you can take the ferry to Zanzibar Island. Here is the old stone capital of the Omani Sultanate, sandy beaches, spice tours, snorkelling, diving and trips to other nearby islands.

Day 8:
Zanzibar is a fascinating place to visit and you can stay for 3 or 4 days to take it all in. Over a thousand years trade between Africa and Arabia has resulted in the blending of Arabs and Africans into a beautiful Swahili coastal culture with; wooden sailing dhows crossing the ocean, coconut plantations and fishing villages with mosques on the beaches.

Day 9:
Most people spend the first day in Zanzibar Town visiting Stone Town a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the old slave market , the spice growing areas, Jozani Forest with Red Colobus Monkeys and in the evening visit the seafood cafes and have dinner on the wharf.

Day 10:
Zanzibar Island – Nungwe beach resort on the north of the island has the most beautiful beaches in the world

Day 11:
Return to Dar es Salaam by ferry

Day 12:
South through Tanzania; our route takes us through Mikumi National Park where we may well see giraffe or elephant grazing beside the road.

Day 13:
The road from Dar es Salaam to Malawi is 850 kilometers long; through the southern highlands passing Baobab Valley, Iringa and Mbeya to the border of Malawi.

Day 14:
Crossing the border into Malawi, we reach the shores of its huge lake. We spend the night at Chitimba Beach Camp. The campsites and small resorts along Lake Malawi offer sandy beaches, swimming and snorkelling, water-skiing, horse riding or walking in the surrounding countryside. Markets sell carved Malawi chairs, tables and wood carvings.

Day 15:
We head south along the beach to Kande Beach resort – very relaxed and just the sort of beach place you need in Africa.

Days 16 + 17:
Kande Beach.

Day 18:
Leaving the beach we go inland to spend the night in the capital Lilongwe.

Day 19:
We cross the border into Zambia and head into the country along the Great North Road – sparsely settled country side with few people or villages for hundreds of miles.

Day 20:
South Luangwa National Park is well worth the visit; recent trips have seen; wild dogs, leopards, lions, and buffalo. We camp beside the park; from where you can game drive into the park. The road up to the park is dirt and the park been part of vast swamp system, so from January up to March as the road can be flooded we can’t get in until the water recedes and the road’s rebuilt and graded.

Day 21:
South Luangwa National Park.

Day 22:
We leave the park and continue to head west.

Day 23:
We reach Lusaka the capital of Zambia.

Day 24:
Victoria Falls – the Zambezi River plunges 100 metres down a mile wide chasm, creating one of the most incredible natural wonders of the world. The local name for the falls is ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ which means ‘the smoke that thunders’ and you’ll soon find out why. When the river is in full flow, the falling water causes a huge roar and sends a cloud of spray up to 500 metres into the air. We stay in Victoria Falls in Livingstone above the falls where there is so much to see and do. Adventure activities abound – you can bungee jump, white water raft, and go game-viewing on horse back. More sedate excursions include canoeing, light aircraft or helicopter flights over the Falls and the sunset cruise on the Zambezi. Though the Falls themselves are the main attraction and you can walk through the rain forest along the cliff opposite for an excellent view. Here you can walk with lion cubs.

Days 25 to 28:
Victoria Falls

Day 29:
An early start and a stunning drive through arid land. We cross the Zambezi River by ferry into Botswana and the country becomes lush and forested as we approach Chobe River; the river cruise with excellent game viewing is a must.

Day 30:
We travel along the edge of the Kalahari Desert to Maun a small town on the edge of the Okavango Delta, the starting point for the Mokoro trip. A Mokoro is a traditional dugout canoe and your transport into the Delta. As you glide through the waterways, you will see a fantastic array of wetland wildlife, birds in particular, and you will come across hippos in the water and elephants drinking from the shore. You can go on a walking safari to look for giraffe, buffalo and rare antelope – the overnight stay is a great wilderness experience.

Days 31 & 32:
In the Delta.

Day 33:
Return from the Delta to Maun.

Day 34:
From the lush Delta we enter Namibia and spend the night on the Kavango River in the northwestern end on the Caprivi Strip at Ngepi.

Day 35:
We head west and camp on route.

Day 36:
Etosha Pan National Park. Thousands of years ago this vast saltpan was a lake, till Kunene River changed course and deprived the lake of water. Now the pan and surrounding bush support large numbers and a wide range of wildlife. We view game from the truck and spend the evenings by the floodlit water holes at the park’s campsites. These water holes provide an excellent opportunity to observe animals that are hard to find during the day, particularly rhino and also smaller animals such as the genet. elephant, lion, giraffe, zebra, oryx, ostrich, springbok, jackals, hyenas and meercats are also likely to be seen here.

Day 37:
We leave Etosha and head to the cheetahs. From wild animals to tame ones, we spend a night at the Kamanjab Cheetah Farm where you can scratch the big cats behind the ears before watching them catch their evening meal.

Day 38:
Namibia is a land of wide open spaces and we pass few inhabited areas as we drive towards the Atlantic We stop at Cape Cross where the first European explorers landed in the 15th century. It is now more famous for the Seal Reserve, a breeding ground for tens of thousands of cape fur seals. They occupy the beaches almost as far as the eye can see and you can watch them suckling their young, resting in the sun and fighting with their neighbours. We visit the White Lady 2,000 year old rock paintings at Brandberg Mountain at 8,000 feet the highest in Namibia.

Day 39:
Swakopmund is an old German colonial seaside resort with plenty of things to do for the energetic and German beer halls for those after a more relaxing time. Horse-riding or sand boarding on the dunes, deep sea fishing in the Atlantic or scenic flights over the coastline – just a few of the things you can do here.

Days 40 to 42:
Swakopmund.

Day 43:
We visit the Namib Naukluft Park in the Namibian Desert, famous for its massive thousand foot high sand dunes. It can be hard work climbing to the top but the view is worth all the effort as the dunes stretch before you into the distance and change colour in the setting sun. Nearby is the kilometer long Sesriem Canyon, which begins as a small deep cleft in the ground then widens till it opens out down on the plains.

Day 44:
After overnighting in the desert we drive south to Fish River Canyon; 160km long and 550m deep; second in size only to the Grand Canyon. You can trek along the rim and from the viewpoints watch the setting sun.

Day 45:
Our last stop in Namibia is the Orange River, which forms the border with South Africa. You can spend the afternoon canoeing on the river.

Day 46:
Crossing the Orange River we arrive in South Africa. We drive through mountain valleys and stony semi-desert and follow the farmland south through the sparsely populated areas of the Western Cape to the Mediterranean climate citrus growing area of Citrusdal.

Day 47:
We arrive in Stellenbosch, the centre of one of the Cape’s many wine routes. A wine tour with plenty of tasting makes for a great day out.

Day 48:
Stellenbosch.

Day 49:
Cape Town on the last day of the trip, it’s a beautiful city, plenty of cafes, pubs, clubs, markets and other sights. Climb Table Mountain or take the cable car to the top for views of the city and Cape Peninsula. City beaches; where you may find yourself whale watching or sharing your towel with jackass penguins. When we arrive in Cape Town on the last day of the tour, we take you to a hostel where you can book a dorm or a room, or you can arrange your own accommodation at one of the many other hostels or hotels. There are several operators who run excursions to the surrounding area and further afield to the Garden Route and beyond. There is an international airport as well as flight, train and bus connections to other South African cities.



Middle East Top Three

Posted by Christy in Posts on 10 15th, 2010

It’s that time again! We have just left the Middle East for Kenya, and as promised in an earlier post, I will give my top three list for the area.

This is a little different, though, as we only visited two countries (Egypt and Israel).

Top three favorite adventures:

1.)    Trek through the Sahara Desert

2.)    Swimming in the Dead Sea

3.)    Boating in Nuweiba

Top three favorite sites:

1.)    Valley of the Kings

2.)    Pyramids

3.)    Old City Jerusalem

Worst three moments:

1.)    Illness in Cairo, Luxor and Aswan

2.)    Taxi Ride from Tabe to Cairo

3.)    Staying in Jerusalem Hostel

Top three favorite places:

1.)    Aqaba Desert

2.)    Nuweiba

3.)    Jerusalem



Midnight at the Oasis

Posted by Christy in Posts on 10 14th, 2010

It was time for our 4-day trek through the Sahara Desert. If there is one thing to know about Karen’s traveling style, she HATES tour groups. She opted for a private tour through the desert for the three of us with a guide, a driver, and a cook. This trek was one of my favorite ventures of the trip. I wasn’t sure that I would enjoy 4 days in the same scenery, but there are many different looks to the Sahara. I think it is best to let the photographs and videos speak for themselves:

Our lunch before heading into the desert Sahara sand dune Our driver Abdul

The only time our car got stuck We drank a lot of tea in the desert Walking along a dune

The White Desert Christy in the White Desert Under a rock arch

Sunrise in the White Desert Waking up to the "so damn bright" sun Camel trip through the desert

We ate really well in the desert Our group in the desert Riding on the truck

Aaron skiing in the Sahara

Christy with a Bedouin child

After the desert we returned to Cairo. Once again our taxi driver was falling asleep. Despite his best efforts (pinching his balls) he kept falling asleep at the wheel. There was no radio in the desert so Christy thankfully sang Lady Gaga out loud to keep him awake.

Karen left us the next morning in Cairo. We were sad to see Karen go, but were ready for our next adventure. Kenya, here we come!



Weight Loss

Posted by Christy in Posts on 10 12th, 2010

There was a scale in the bathroom of our hotel, and we decided to weigh ourselves to see where we were at. WOW, it was pretty shocking!

Before I left, I weighed 138 lbs. I really did not care about my weight before I left, to be honest, because I knew I was going to lose a lot on the trip. I now weigh 120 lbs. Also, I should note that I weighed myself after not eating anything for 5 days due to illness.

Aaron lost about 15 lbs. as well, and when his aunt first came to Cairo she remarked at how skinny he looked.

Here are some before and after shots. Do we look much different? We don’t think so:

Before:

After:



When You’re Sliding into First, and You Feel Something Burst…

Posted by Christy in Posts on 10 10th, 2010

Diarrhea. Diarrhea.

Yup, kids. That has been the theme this past week. Aaron drank the water at our hostel in Jerusalem (BAD idea) and was sick for five days. Karen (Aaron’s aunt is traveling with us throughout Egypt – Fun!) and I got sick three days after she arrived. We think the hotel’s mini burgers at the buffet were the culprit. I have missed the Temple of Karnak, Luxor Temple, and Abu Simbel because of of the illness.

Not one of us has had a solid stool since.

While this may seem like a disgusting post, actually it just downright is, it is a big part of traveling. I have been lucky, as I have only been sick two other times, one time in Athens and another time in Nuweiba. This has been by far the longest bout, however, and I really hope I get over it soon!

I did take my traveler’s diarrhea antibiotic. Hopefully it will take effect soon.

You will be thankful that I have not included pictures. I thought ya’ll would appreciate that.



Abu Simbel

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 10 10th, 2010

Before heading back to Cairo, Karen and I took a quick flight to Abu Simbel from Aswan to see the temples for Ramses and his queen Nefertari. Christy was feeling so sick she did not join us. The temples are really impressive. It is amazing that the temples were moved to its current location in the 1960s to save the sights from Lake Nasser. The Egyptians were building a new dam in Lake Nasser and the new water level was going to cover the temples.

Aaron and Karen at the Ramses temple

Aaron in front of Lake Nasser

There is nothing else to see in Abu Simbel so Karen and I caught an earlier flight back to Aswan to reunite with sick Christy.



Aswan

Posted by Christy in Posts on 10 9th, 2010

In Aswan we took a day to enjoy a private felucca boat ride on the Nile, which was again AMAZING. We really enjoyed our captain Ali, and the day was full of spectacular views.

Aaron steering the felucca boat

Aaron and Christy on the felucca boat

Aaron and Ali eating lunch in a Nubian village

Karen enjoying the peaceful boat ride

Ali our fleucca boat captain

One of the seven sunsets we got on the felucca boat

The felucca boat was a perfect way to relax after the chaos of Cairo and recover from our illnesses. The next day we are scheduled to fly to Abu Simbel.