The title says it all.
For the past 2 1/2 weeks, I was fortunate enough to go on the trip of a lifetime with my parents, having been reunited for the first time in over a year. We saw one of the world's coolest and most impressive natural wonders. We rode on elephants. We flew in a hot air balloon. We witnessed several thousand wildebeests and zebra cross the Mara River. We saw "the Big 5" and many other animals. We saw lions feast on their wildebeest prey. Twice. It was everything I expected and more.
1. Riding on the 4,500 pound elephant, Sondela.
2. Crossing the crust of Victoria Falls, "the smoke that thunders," by foot, inching within feet of the 300 ft. drop below.
3. Observing a lion-buffalo standoff in the Masai Mara.
4. Witnessing thousands of stampeding wildebeests and zebra cross the Mara River, in the path of hungry crocodiles.
5. Seeing "the Big 5," multiple times, and an abundance of other animals - some that I never knew existed - in the Masai Mara.
6. Flying in a hot air balloon over the Masai Mara.
7. Looking out on and admiring the massiveness of Mt. Kilamanjaro, Africa's tallest point.
1. Spending two incredible weeks with my parents.
1. My "passport is lost" scare and other travel issues at Wilson Airport in Nairobi.
2. A visit to a local village in one of the parks that I (I cannot speak on behalf of my parents) found to be overpriced, uncomfortable, and unauthentic.
3. The dust at Amboseli National Park.
4. Mom and Dad getting sick midway through the trip.
5. Nearly missing my flight from Nairobi back to Entebbe.
TRIP'S 1ST and 2ND INSTANCES OF REVERSE CULTURE SHOCK:
1. Having not been out of the country this past year, I was simply excited just to be in transit. Needless to say, boarding the aircraft at Entebbe Airport heading to Johannesburg, for the first time, was a huge culture shock, and felt "new," different, and unfamiliar.
2. Even more unfamiliar were the endless options presented to me at Johannesburg Airport: all the restaurants at the food court (I ate Subway); all the Duty Free shops, bookstores, newstands, and forex bureaus; and all the amenities (flushing toilets, sufficient supply of toilet paper, hot water) of a modern bathroom.
TRIP'S GRAPHIC NATURE MOMENT:
1. It's one thing to read about or watch on TV lions attack and feast on their prey; it's another thing to watch it live. We weren't fortunate enough (or unfortunate enough, depending on your take) to witness a kill, but twice we watched families of lions graphically eat their dead, wildebeest prey. At first, I was awestruck, simply because I was unprepared for it. Yet I couldn't avert my eyes from watching them feast. It's certainly not something one would see everyday.
Below are some of my pictures of the trip. The rest are posted on facebook.
Victoria Falls and Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, Zambia
The Samburu National Reserve, Kenya
The Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Amboseli National Park, Kenya