Turkish Delight!

Friday, August 31, 2012

After a hectic 3 month schedule in Africa, we were looking forward to a few leisurely days in Istanbul!

We treated ourselves to 4 nights in the GREAT boutique hotel - Peradays, located in the modern district of Beyoglu. Our hosts, Murat and Murat were wonderful, down to earth and recommended great local restaurants. 

We spent our days wandering the city, taking in a few local sights but mostly enjoyed strolling through the unique neighbourhoods and sampling the local restaurant fare.

Inside the Blue Mosque
The Spice Market

The Busy Streets of Beyoglu

Shopping in the Grand Bizarre

Typical Meals of Mezze and Turkish Wine/Beer
Beautiful Fresh Fruit and Seafood

We had a great time in Istanbul, it was just what the doctor ordered. Up next - New York City!

Kenya - That's a Wrap Afrique!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Not wanting to believe that our time in Africa was coming to an end, we decided to do one last safari to experience Western Kenya as well as a few lakes in the Rift Valley. We promise these will be the last wildlife photos for awhile - after this it's all about boats and beaches!

Having received a recommendation for a tour company in Nairobi from our safari guide in the Serengeti we were excited for our 5 day adventure, including 3 days in the famed Masaai Mara Game Reserve to watch the annual wildebeest migration, where over 2 million wildebeest and zebras head north from the Serengeti and across the Mara river in search of fresh grazing plains. There was an abundance of wildlife everywhere we looked!

The Mara River is full of crocodiles and hippos so when the wildebeest and zebras make their crossing there are hundreds of fatalities. It's a virtual buffet for the crocodiles!  The crocs then slowly digest their kills - the one below has half a gazelle hanging from its mouth.

Which also means plenty of food for the predators! Although we never saw an actual kill, we were lucky to see a female lioness hunting as well as two males feasting on a kill they had just made.

Which is also great news for hyenas and vultures who feast on the leftovers!

Having done half a dozen different safaris over the past 3 months in a variety of countries, we were really surprised/disappointed with the level of respect the Kenyan safari guides showed for the animals and the overall environment compared with other game parks we'd visited. There was a lot of litter in the park and the guides had no hesitation in driving off the designated roads into the grassland to circle animals which were found. This contributes to soil erosion and adds stress to the animals.

Being the high season there were dozens and dozens of vans and all the drivers use radios, so as soon as something 'special' was found, it was announced over the radio and all the vehicles raced to the site. Although we got some great pictures and up-close encounters we couldn't help asking ourselves - at what cost?

However, our disappointment in the mentalities of the operators didn't diminish our appreciation for the beautiful African sunsets!

We spent our fourth day at Hell's Gate National Park. What's unique about this park is that you're able to freely walk and cycle amongst the animals. We also hiked down into the gorge.

One thing Megan really wanted to see were the famous flamingos in Lake Bogoria. What a sight - over 600,000 greater and lesser flamingos congregating on a small lake and taking flight when we go too close.

We had some fantastic wildlife experiences in Africa - it really was a trip of a lifetime. Next we're off to Istanbul, Turkey for a few days before we fly to the USA to commence the search for our new 'home'.