A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about lion

SWAKOPMUND, NAMIBIA

A beautiful town with old colonial architecture, flamingos, stunning sunsets, and the Himba tribe.

sunny 23 °C

From Johannesburg, South Africa I flew direct to Swakopmund, Namibia. I was sad to leave South Africa, but very excited to be heading to Namibia ... I love moving around when I travel, cuz when one adventure is ending, a new one is just beginning ;) Arrving in Swakopmund and stepping out of the airport, the first thing you see is sand dunes! It was instant love!!
large_IMG_9495-001.jpg
I had a very short time in Namibia, only 3 nights, which I spent at the Sandcastle Apartments in Swakopmund, located only 2 blocks from the beach! The drive from the airport to Swakopmund is a very scenic 45min ... Atlantic Ocean on the left, endless sand dunes on the right :)
large_IMG_9879_CR2-001.jpg
My patio door opening to a nice terrace
large_IMG_9300-001.jpg
large_IMG_9299-001.jpg
It had a full kitchen with dishes and all appliances. The nice owners kindly showed me to the nearest grocery store.
large_IMG_9303-001.jpg
Living room ... it had a tv, free wifi , and A/C
large_IMG_9302-001.jpg
The town is incredibly clean! I didnt see a piece of trash / litter anywhere! For real! The downtown area had a lighthouse and beautiful colonial buildings.
large_IMG_9322-001.jpg
large_IMG_9813.jpg
large_IMG_9855.jpg
large_IMG_9858.jpg
large_IMG_9859.jpg
The houses were surprisingly modern - sharp edges, angled roofs, loads of windows, and very large! I wasnt expecting that at all! This is not a store, Its a house!!
large_IMG_9850.jpg
large_IMG_9326-001.jpg
large_IMG_9324-001.jpg
There is a paved path that runs parallel to the ocean. It went on forever. Everyday I took the scenic path from my apartment all the way to the lighthouse. I never timed the walk, but its probably a 20-30min leisurely walk. Along the path are public beach areas, public washrooms, beautiful flower gardens, restaurants, etc. Locals & tourists alike were walking / jogging, kids were riding bikes, ppl walking their dogs, etc. I felt 1000% safe here! I forgot to take a photo of the paved path, but here are some photos of a path threw one of the flowered areas to get to it.
large_IMG_9844.jpg
large_IMG_9846.jpg
large_IMG_9842_CR2-001.jpg
large_IMG_9317-001.jpg
large_IMG_9835.jpg
large_IMG_9845.jpg
Near the lighthouse were some women & children dressed like members of the Himba tribes that live in northen Namibia. Whether or not they are actual tribe members, or just in costume, I'm not sure, but I really wanted to visit this tribe and knew I didnt have time to travel north, so I paid a few dollars to buy a souvenir from them and was then allowed to take as many photos of them as I wanted.
large_IMG_9867.jpg
This tribe is known for covering their skin & hair with otjize - a mixture of ochre & butter fat.
large_IMG_9870.jpg
large_IMG_9862_CR2-001.jpg
large_IMG_9861_CR2-001.jpg
large_IMG_9875_CR2-001.jpg
large_IMG_9874.jpg
large_IMG_9871.jpg
large_IMG_9864.jpg
large_IMG_9872-001.jpg
large_IMG_9878_CR2-001.jpg
If you keep walking past the lighthouse, heading south, you will come to a lagoon on the edge of town full of flamingos!! I've always wanted to see flamingos in the wild! (Theres also flamingos at the beach in Walvis Bay).
large_IMG_9286-001.jpg
So beautiful, yet so awkward when taking off, lol!!
large_IMG_0113-001.jpg
large_IMG_0111-001.jpg
Mama flamingo with her babies.
large_IMG_0189-001.jpg
I just love their colors!
large_IMG_0208-001.jpg
large_IMG_0197-001.jpg
large_IMG_0225-001.jpg
large_IMG_0234-001.jpg
large_IMG_0238-001.jpg
Mama Cormorant and all her babies.
large_IMG_0223-001.jpg
Swakopmund faces west, so every evening I walked the few minutes from my apartment to the beach to watch the sunset ... a wonderful place to take everything in, and just be thankful I'm in such a wonderful place!
large_IMG_9342-001.jpg
large_IMG_9388-001.jpg
large_IMG_9321-001.jpg
Sunset view from my apartment window :)
large_IMG_9893.jpg

Posted by ChantelleS 20:25 Archived in Namibia Tagged sea desert ocean trek sand africa namibia lion jeep flamingo chameleon Comments (0)

CHOBE NATIONAL PARK, BOTSWANA

Chobe River boat cruise & Chobe NP camping Safari. April 3rd & 4th, 2013

overcast 27 °C

I was staying in Livingstone, Zambia and had booked a 2 day \ 1 night camping safari in Chobe National Park in Botswana. Livingstone is approx 45-60min from the Zambia \ Botswana border. I booked it online prior to arriving in Africa through Kalahari Tours. It was $234US, and included pickup at my hotel in Livingstone, transportation to the border, an escort to help me through customs \ border crossing & get visas (if you know you will be exiting / re-entering Zambia during your stay, purchase a multi-entry visa for $80, rather than 2 single entry visas for $50 each), I was then introduced to a rep from Kalahari Tours on the Botswanan side and led to a ferry that crossed the Zambezi River, where I then met my Game Ranger who made sure I got on the correct safari vehicle. I'm sure if I'd attempted all that on my own, I would've been lost! Also included was a riverboat cruise on the Chobe River, then lunch at a lodge, and an afternoon game drive, tenting accomodation, all meals, and 2 more game drives on day 2 before being brought back to the border, and back to my hotel.

When taking the ferry from Zambia to Botswana across the Zambezi River, there is a point on the river where 4 countries meet ... Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe & Namibia. So for a brief moment I was in 4 countries at the same time :)

After a quick breakfast at a lodge, myself and others on the camping trip, were led to the river where we boarded a double decker pontoon boat for a cruise along the Chobe River.
large_IMG_6848.jpg
Elephants were absolutely everywhere! Every bend in the river was home to yet another herd of elephants. It was incredible to watch them coming out of the trees \ hills to drink from the river, and play in the water :)
large_IMG_6630.jpg
large_IMG_6611.jpg
large_IMG_6616.jpg
Adorable baby elephant!!
large_IMG_6620-001.jpg
large_IMG_6639.jpg
large_IMG_6641.jpg
large_IMG_6642.jpg
large_IMG_6643.jpg
large_IMG_6664.jpg
large_IMG_6660.jpg
I saw a total of 4 pods of hippos chillin' in the river! I LOVE hippos!
large_IMG_6713.jpg
large_IMG_6695.jpg
large_IMG_6701.jpg
large_IMG_6706.jpg
Mama & adorable baby hippo :)
large_IMG_6930.jpg
large_IMG_6928.jpg
large_IMG_6945.jpg
large_IMG_6968_CR2-001.jpg
More elephants ...
large_IMG_6743-001.jpg
large_IMG_6780.jpg
large_IMG_6784.jpg
Charging elephant
large_IMG_6793-001.jpg
Pooping elephant, lol!
large_IMG_6794.jpg
Cormorant
large_IMG_6800.jpg
Baby croc
large_IMG_6811.jpg
Nile Crocodile
large_IMG_6819.jpg
"Monster" tree
large_IMG_6823.jpg
I wish I had been on a smaller boat like the 1 in this photo ... look how close they got to these impalas!
large_IMG_6839.jpg
large_IMG_6915.jpg
large_IMG_6824.jpg
large_IMG_6852.jpg
large_IMG_6844.jpg
Fighting ellies!
large_IMG_6879.jpg
Sniffing the air for danger
large_IMG_6884.jpg
Another charging elephant
large_IMG_6886.jpg
large_IMG_6887_CR2-001.jpg
After the 3hr riverboat cruise, we stopped for lunch at a lodge. Afterwards we switched to an open-air safari vehicle for a 3hr game drive through Chobe National Park.
large_IMG_6892.jpg
large_IMG_6971.jpg
large_IMG_6894.jpg
large_IMG_6953.jpg
large_IMG_6907.jpg
Giraffe snuggles :)
large_IMG_6920_CR2-001.jpg
large_IMG_6931_CR2-001.jpg
Impala ... "Who's on my bum?"
large_IMG_6960.jpg
THIS is the photo I came to Africa to get!!! More than anything, I wanted to see a giraffe bending down awkwardly ... and I got TWO of them, plus the 2 matching giraffes in the background! I couldnt have choreographed it better :)
large_IMG_6972.jpg
large_IMG_6970.jpg
A herd of giraffes is called a 'journey of giraffes'
large_IMG_6980.jpg
large_IMG_7156.jpg
Adorable baby giraffe :)
large_IMG_7743-001.jpg
large_IMG_7625-001.jpg
large_IMG_7622-001.jpg
large_IMG_7740-001.jpg
large_IMG_7744-001.jpg
We got REALLY close to a herd of elephants! Uncomfortably close!
large_IMG_6978.jpg
large_IMG_6977.jpg
large_IMG_6993.jpg
large_IMG_6996.jpg
Poke ... this little ellie kept bugging the other one to play
large_IMG_7018.jpg
Here he's nudging the other one, lol! He even ended up sitting on top of the other one! He just wanted someone to play with!
large_IMG_7029.jpg
Love this one!
large_IMG_7004.jpg
Peek-a-boo!
large_IMG_7060.jpg
My favorite elephant photo!
large_IMG_7086.jpg
large_IMG_7091.jpg
large_IMG_7092-001.jpg
large_IMG_7090_CR2-001.jpg
large_IMG_7088-001.jpg
Baby elephant trying to suckle
large_IMG_7057.jpg
large_IMG_7058.jpg
Dung Beetle
large_IMG_6982.jpg
large_IMG_7106.jpg
My game ranger, Sinka, holding a Leopard Tortoise
large_IMG_6990.jpg
large_IMG_6991.jpg
Dragonfly on someone's hat
large_IMG_6994.jpg
Puku - a type of antelope I never knew existed! Looks very similar to an impala, but its bigger and furrier.
large_IMG_7081.jpg
One of the hi-lights of the day was finding this lion eating a warthog!!!!!!
large_IMG_7161-001.jpg
large_IMG_7163.jpg
large_IMG_7169.jpg
We were only a few feet away! So close I could hear bones crunching and guts squishing! Totally disgusting, yet totally awesome at the same time!
large_IMG_6911.jpg
large_IMG_7190.jpg
large_IMG_7195.jpg
We later came across a 2nd lion ... this one wasnt all bloodied up
large_IMG_7213.jpg
large_IMG_7221.jpg
large_IMG_7255.jpg
large_IMG_7248.jpg
large_IMG_7258.jpg
Traffic in Chobe
large_IMG_7244.jpg
Impala
large_IMG_7262.jpg
Around 5pm we drove down to the shores of the Chobe River to watch all the animals come for a sundowner. The first animals to show up were a troop of baboons.
large_IMG_7370.jpg
A young baboon playing with elephant poo
large_IMG_7318.jpg
large_IMG_7357.jpg
large_IMG_7358.jpg
large_IMG_7360.jpg
large_IMG_7377.jpg
large_IMG_7380.jpg
Adorable baby baboon! Look at those big ears!
large_IMG_7434.jpg
Baby baboon playing with a rock
large_IMG_7441.jpg
large_IMG_7442.jpg
Mama & youngster drinking from the Chobe River
large_IMG_7444.jpg
Then some giraffes showed up at the river
large_IMG_7324.jpg
large_IMG_7325.jpg
large_IMG_7333.jpg
Fighting giraffes!
large_IMG_7337.jpg
large_IMG_7338.jpg
large_IMG_7344.jpg
large_IMG_7353.jpg
large_IMG_7348.jpg
large_IMG_7414.jpg
Chobe River
large_IMG_6933.jpg
large_IMG_6987.jpg
large_IMG_7408.jpg
Male kudu
large_IMG_7468.jpg
large_IMG_6989__2_.jpg
Egyptian Goose
large_IMG_7476.jpg
Sunset over the Chobe River
large_IMG_7477.jpg
large_IMG_6935.jpg
After the sun set we drove to our camp. There were 8 tents set up in a semi-circle, and 18 camp chairs set in a circle around the campfire. I assumed supper would be hotdogs & hamburgers, but the game rangers-turned-cooks made us beef stroganoff, steamed veggies and dessert.
large_IMG_6944.jpg
Sleeping in a tent alone was scary ... it is NOT quiet at night! Nocturnal birds, animals & insects could be heard all night long!
large_IMG_6949.jpg
At 12:30am I had to pee. But since I was alone, I didnt have anyone to watch my back as I walked to the bush toilet, aka pit latrine. I shone my flashlight all around a few times, looking for any eyes glowing in the dark! When I didnt see any I quickly just peed beside my tent as fast as I could, and then jumped back in! And no joke, no sooner had I climbed back into my sleeping bag, I heard a lion roar!!!! I nearly crapped my pants! I was JUST outside and there was a lion nearby! The camp was not fenced, so anything could wander past my tent! I also heard an elephant trumpet, and something lumbered past my tent! I think I slept 1hr total, lol!
large_IMG_6952.jpg
Bush shower
large_IMG_6951.jpg
Good morning ... I survived the night!
large_IMG_7499.jpg
The morning game drive began at 6:30am. Unfortunately the 1st 3hrs were very quiet. We saw a few impala & warthogs, and lots of birds, but no big game til later in the morning.
Lilac-breasted Roller - Botswana's national bird
large_IMG_7509-001.jpg
Vulture
large_IMG_7513.jpg
large_IMG_7514.jpg
large_IMG_7516.jpg
large_IMG_7492.jpg
Guinea Fowl, aka 'Chobe Chicken'
large_IMG_7518.jpg
large_IMG_7523-001.jpg
Warthog
large_IMG_7526.jpg
Kneeling down to eat
large_IMG_7770-001.jpg
large_IMG_7767-001.jpg
Ox Pecker eating ticks off of an imapala
large_IMG_7579-001.jpg
large_IMG_7736-001.jpg
The excitement began when our ranger got a call about a male lion sighting! He put pedal to the metal and raced across the park to get us to the lion before he disappeared into the bush! We raced 'Dukes of Hazard' style, swerving around corners on the sandy roads, and flying over bumps, lol, it was so much fun ... and we got there in time. There was 1 male and 2 females relaxing by a tree. When we neared, the male went into 'pounce' position. That was a tad nerve racking cuz he was within 8ft of our open-air vehicle!
large_IMG_7538.jpg
large_IMG_7541.jpg
large_IMG_7555.jpg
large_IMG_7543.jpg
There was a buffalo that the lions were following, but nothing ever happened. We were hoping to see some action.
large_IMG_7551.jpg
There was a herd of impala across the road, and every single one of them had their eyes on those lions! They were so focused on those lions that they didnt even pay us any attention! But whichever impala takes its eyes off those lions would probably end up their lunch!
large_IMG_7564.jpg
large_IMG_7569.jpg
large_IMG_7565.jpg
Impala bum
large_IMG_7737-001.jpg
Fish Eagle
large_IMG_7642-001.jpg
Nile Crocodile
large_IMG_7633-001.jpg
large_IMG_7635-001.jpg
large_IMG_7631-001.jpg
Martial Eagle eating a mongoose ... can you see the mongoose's tail hanging down?
large_IMG_7812-001.jpg
Warthog in a mud wallow
large_IMG_7684-001.jpg
He was enjoying rolling around in his very own mud bath
large_IMG_7693-001.jpg
3ft long Monitor Lizard
large_IMG_7755-001.jpg
large_IMG_7759-001.jpg
Cape Buffalo & Cattle Egret
large_IMG_7677-001.jpg
large_IMG_7676-001.jpg
We parked near the Chobe River and watched a herd of 250 Cape Buffalo swim across.
large_IMG_6978__2_.jpg
large_IMG_7697-001.jpg
There were 3 crocs lurking in the water waiting for a straggler! As the last baby buffalo crossed the river, a croc attacked and killed it :( The saddest part was that the momma buffalo stood at the water's edge mooing/calling for her baby long after the rest of the herd had moved on!
large_IMG_7706-001.jpg
Ox Peckers eating ticks off of a buffalo's back
large_IMG_7726-001.jpg
We came across this lone buffalo sleeping beside the river (not the smartest place for a snooze considering all the crocodiles lurking in the river), with a pesky cattle egret & ox pecker bothering him.
large_IMG_7784-001.jpg
large_IMG_7786-001.jpg
large_IMG_7788-001.jpg
Pied Kingfisher
large_IMG_7777-001.jpg
Beautiful Chobe River
large_IMG_7775-001.jpg
Thats all for Botswana! I then headed back into Zambia for a few more nights before flying to South Africa. That will be in the next post.

Posted by ChantelleS 16:00 Archived in Botswana Tagged boat wildlife elephant tree river africa safari animal crocodile camping buffalo lion botswana baboon impala kudu warthog Comments (0)

LIVINGSTONE, ZAMBIA

Livingstone, Victoria Falls, Lion Encounter, Elephant-back Safari, and Mosi-ao-Tunya National Park. April 2nd -7th, 2013

sunny 30 °C

I began my 3 week journey through Africa in Livingstone, Zambia. I stayed at the Chrismar Hotel for 5 nights. The hotel was fantastic. Free breakfast & wifi were included. There was a nice pool area with a swim-up bar.
My zebra-printed room
large_IMG_6561.jpg
The bathroom
large_IMG_6562.jpg
large_IMG_6576.jpg
Outdoor breakfast area
large_IMG_6571.jpg
Pool area
large_IMG_6573.jpg
large_IMG_6572.jpg
My hotel was only about a 10min drive to Africa's largest & most powerful waterfall ... Victoria Falls! It cost $20US for admission. I went alone, and felt completely safe. There were lots of tourists, and well marked paths. You cant get lost.
large_IMG_7818-001.jpg
There were raincoats to rent for $1US
large_IMG_7822-001.jpg
I didnt actually get wet though. There are definitely lookout spots where you can get soaked if thats what you want, but if you are like me and hate water and are carrying an expensive camera, there are ways to stay completey dry as well.
Just dont cross this bridge if you want to stay dry! Theres SO much mist its like being in a shower! It was actually too much mist, and blocked most of the waterfall. I was actually a tad disappointed cuz there really wasnt too much to see, except mist. Beyond this bridge is the falls, but you cant even see them :( The waterfall is 5604ft wide, but you really only see 1/8 of it.
large_IMG_7884-001.jpg
There was another bridge that spanned the gorge. People were bungee jumping from it. The left side is Zambia, and the right side is Zimbabwe.
large_IMG_7824-001.jpg
large_IMG_7869-001.jpg
large_IMG_7881-001.jpg
Even though it was spring time in Canada, it was autumn in Zambia :)
large_IMG_7834-001.jpg
large_IMG_7897-001.jpg
People had told me there would be baboons everywhere, but I didnt see any for the first 2hrs. I remember thinking "I havent seen a single baboon yet!", and then I happened upon this one sleeping right on the path!! No sooner had I thought that, and a troop of baboons came out of the bushes all around me! They can be quite aggressive if you have food, so just keep all your snacks in your bag until you leave the area ... unless you wanna be mugged by a baboon, lol!
large_IMG_7913-001.jpg
large_IMG_7909-001.jpg
large_IMG_7920-001.jpg
Cheeky baboon :)
large_IMG_7930-001.jpg
Baboon chillin' on a bench. He wasnt moving. He owned this bench, lol!
large_IMG_7933-001.jpg
large_IMG_7934-001.jpg
large_IMG_7925-001.jpg
large_IMG_7935-001.jpg
Afterwards I went to the Royal Livingstone Hotel for lunch. The views were beautiful of the Zambezi River, looking across to Zimbabwe. The mist in the background is where the river drops 354ft and becomes Victoria Falls! If you like fancy food & high prices, then its a nice place to stop for lunch. If not, dont bother stopping there as everything is over-priced!
large_IMG_7941-001.jpg
My next adventure was at Lion Encounter ... I walked with lions!! I booked the Lion Walk and an Elephant-back Safari as a pkg through Jollyboys for $263US. Expensive, but worth the experience! The price included pickup & dropoff at my hotel, and juice\coffee\tea & biscuits.
large_IMG_7944-001.jpg
large_IMG_7945-001.jpg
Lion Encounter rehabilitates wounded and orphaned lions and eventually releases them back into the wild. Before the walk we were given a saftey\rules briefing. The lions arent tame, but they arent completely wild either. So everyone was given a stick, which was to be used as an extension of the arm. Not to hit the lions with, but to distract them with if they walk your way ... you just tap it on the ground in front of the lion and they swat at it instead of your face!
large_IMG_8117-001.jpg
The lions are free to roam around Mosi-ao-Tunya National Park. No cages. 5min of walking and we came across 3 lions. Two 1yr old cubs, and a young male not old enough to have a mane yet. The 2 young ones were so adorable to watch play and wrestle! One would bite his brother's tail, so then the brother would bite the other's ear, lol! And then they'd roll around wrestling.
large_IMG_7958-001.jpg
large_IMG_7977-001.jpg
large_IMG_7980-001.jpg
large_IMG_7982-001.jpg
large_IMG_7997-001.jpg
large_IMG_8007-001.jpg
Sluuuurp!!
large_IMG_8019-001.jpg
large_IMG_8021-001.jpg
large_IMG_8017-001.jpg
large_IMG_8003-001.jpg
large_IMG_8054-001.jpg
large_IMG_8068-001.jpg
large_IMG_8069-001.jpg
There were 4 guides accompanying us ... one in front, one behind, and one on each side.
large_IMG_8029-001.jpg
large_IMG_8031-001.jpg
large_IMG_8157-001.jpg
large_IMG_8192-001.jpg
large_IMG_8189-001.jpg
large_IMG_8080-001.jpg
large_IMG_8199-001.jpg
Later the same day I went on the Elephant-back Safari.
large_IMG_8256-001.jpg
large_IMG_8221-001.jpg
large_IMG_8207-001.jpg
large_IMG_8238-001.jpg
large_IMG_8244-001.jpg
large_IMG_8255-001.jpg
large_IMG_8212-001.jpg
large_IMG_8259-001.jpg
large_IMG_8218-001.jpg
Me and my elephant, Mashumbi
large_IMG_8251-001.jpg
It was incredible standing face to face with such a massive animal!
large_IMG_8254-001.jpg
large_IMG_8226-001.jpg
large_IMG_8232-001.jpg
Giving Mashumbi treats
large_IMG_8229-001.jpg
The 'safari' was more just an elephant ride than an actual safari, cuz I only saw 1 giraffe veeeeeeeeeeeery far away. It was also incredibly uncomfortable \ border-line painful. Even though you sit on padding, after 15min your legs hurt from straddling a huge elephant, and your butt hurts, and you get a never-ending wedgie, lol! I wouldnt do it again because of that, but I'm very glad I did do it. How many times do you get to ride an African Elephant?! After the ride Mashumbi knelt down for me to sit on her knee. I was to get my photo taken, and then feed her treats, but she was impatient and wanted her treats right away. Heres a photo of her trying to get her trunk into my treat bag, and me peeking over her trunk for my photo op, lol!
large_IMG_8246-001.jpg
And then ducking under for another photo! This is my fave photo from the day :)
large_IMG_8247-001.jpg
My last day in Zambia I had time for an early morning game drive in Mosi-ao-Tunya National Park before flying to Johannesburg, South Africa.
large_IMG_7017.jpg
The park is very small. The safari was only about 2hrs long. There was quite a wide variety of wildlife, but the animals were all a bit too far away for decent photos. If you only have a few days in Livingstone, I would recommend a day trip, or overnight trip to Chobe National Park in Botswana, which is only 40min away from Livingstone. The quantity & quality of the animal sightings there are phenomenal! But that will be a whole other blog post :)

The park runs along the Zambezi River.
large_IMG_7022.jpg
That 'cloud' is not a cloud. It is the mist from Victoria Falls! The mist could be seen from nearly anywhere in town.
large_IMG_8268-001.jpg
Family of ellies :)
large_IMG_8296-001.jpg
Herd of buffalo on the road
large_IMG_8265-001.jpg
Baby bufflao
large_IMG_8269-001.jpg
Baboon in the morning light.
large_IMG_8263-001.jpg
large_IMG_8270-001.jpg
Zebras, my fave animal :)
large_IMG_8287-001.jpg
large_IMG_8291-001.jpg
large_IMG_8293-002.jpg
Nile Croocdile on the riverbank
large_IMG_8311-001.jpg
My very first rhino sighting ... ever! I was in Kenya 2yrs ago and didnt see any at all! So I was quite excited to see this guy!!
large_IMG_8302-001.jpg
While staying in Zambia I spent 2 days on a camping safari across the border in Botswana, but that will be in the next blog post :)

Posted by ChantelleS 13:59 Archived in Zambia Tagged wildlife elephant waterfall africa zambia lion Comments (0)

MAYAN RIVIERA, MEXICO

Playa del Carmen, Tulum & Isla Mujeres, Mexico Feb 24th - Mar 2nd, 2012

sunny 28 °C

Me & my best friend, Jo, traveled to the Mayan Riviera in Mexico for one week. We stayed at the Hacienda Vista Real hotel in Playacar (a suburb of Playa del Carmen). It was not all-inclusive, but did include a free pool-side breakfast each morning. It was only $85 per night, booked on Expedia. We felt we didnt need an all-inc resort, as we are huge sight-seers, and would never be at the resort to eat the 'free' food / beverages or participate in any of the offered activities. It was a 15min walk to the beach, which is probably the same distance as walking through a fancy schmancy 5 star resort anyways, lol!
large_IMG_0754-1.jpg
large_IMG_0752-1.jpg
Just outside of our hotel were these Mayan ruins. Pretty sure they were fake though.
large_P2240004-1.jpg
large_iphone_2_0_177-1.jpg
The beach!
large_IMGP4793-2.jpg
large_IMGP4799-1.jpg
Not gonna lie, I was pretty excited for my Chunky Monkey!
large_IMGP4810-1.jpg
I have to say, theres not a whole lot to do in Playa del Carmen, unless you love to shop for tacky souvenirs or sit at the beach. There is however, an array of exotic animals you can hold for a photo which they charge you $$ for, even though the photo is taken with your own camera, and is usually blurry & lop-sided. Definately not worth the $20 they were charging, but we couldnt resist the cuteness, and so spent an entire day walking up & down 5th Ave in search of wildlife. The first animal we came across was this adorable, blue-eyed 1.5 month old tiger cub!!
large_IMG_0803-1.jpg
large_IMG_0782-1.jpg
Jo bottle feeding the baby tiger. Look at his big paw!
large_IMG_0767-1.jpg
Snoozing with a milk moustache :)
large_IMG_0796-1.jpg
large_IMG_0799-1.jpg
Next we came across a little Squirrel Monkey. He was smelly, albeit cute.
large_IMGP4827-1.jpg
large_IMGP4823-1.jpg
Me & a parrot
large_IMGP4836-1.jpg
We found a guy with 2 iguanas ... a momma & baby :) Jo has 1 on her head!
large_iphone_554-1.jpg
large_P2240039-1.jpg
Iguana kisses - I was terrified it would lick me, lol!
large_P2240056-1.jpg
large_P2240051-1.jpg
Look what we found next! A 5 month old lion! She was heavy!
large_iphone_560-1.jpg
large_iphone_574-1.jpg
I put my finger in the lion's mouth and she sucked on it like a soother! The guy said 'If you feel her trying to move your finger left or right (aka towards her teeth) pull your finger out!' Well duh! Just look at her eyes!
large_P2240071-1.jpg
Entertainers on 5th Ave
large_P2240036-1.jpg
Here is an odd looking spider we discovered!
large_P2240003-1.jpg
I had the urge to try on the biggest sombrero I could find!
large_P2240013-1.jpg
And the smallest, LOL!
large_P2240017-1.jpg
One morning we took a collectivo to the Mayan ruins of Tulum for only 70 pesos! Significantly cheaper than booking a $100 CAD tour. The collectivo drops u off on the hwy, but just follow everyone else to the ruins ... everyone will be going in the same direction. Its only a 2min walk. There is a train that comes by every few minutes to pick up passengers and take them to the admission gate. The train is only 20 pesos, or u can walk the 1km no problem. At the gate its 57 pesos to get in. There are guides for hire, but we went in without 1 as this was my 4th time there. Guide, or no guide, its still much cheaper than a tour. The grounds are very manicured, and full of tourists. Theres not too much to see other than El Castillo perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the blue Caribbean, a few smaller ruins (none of which you can climb or touch), and a beach for swimming. If your looking for more history, try Chichen Itza. If your looking for pyramids you can still climb, visit Palenque! Theres 8 pyramids there, 7 of which can still be climbed! (This will be in a later post).

When the guards werent looking, I snuck under a rope and climbed behind this small ruin for this photo, mwahaha! (thats my evil laugh)
large_IMG_0817-1.jpg
large_IMG_0819-1.jpg
large_IMG_0953-1.jpg
large_IMG_0879-1.jpg
large_IMG_0958-1.jpg
large_iphone_2_0_111-1.jpg
The beach by the ruins. If you only want to visit the beach, you still have to pay the admission, as the beach is inside the site.
large_IMG_0857-1.jpg
There were iguanas everywhere!
large_IMG_0853-1.jpg
large_IMG_0854-1.jpg
One of the many pathways throughout the ruins.
large_IMG_0865-1.jpg
After exploring the ruins a bit, we relaxed at the beach.
large_IMG_0923-1.jpg
large_IMG_0921-1.jpg
large_P2260003-1.jpg
Huge cliffs & boulders on the beach!
large_IMG_0950-1.jpg
large_P2260014-1.jpg
Another day we took a bus from Playa del Carmen to Cancun (1hr, 30 pesos), and then a collectivo from Cancun to Puerto Juarez where the ferries depart for the tiny island of Isla Mujeres (10min Cancun - Pto J, 6 pesos; ferry Pto J - Isla roundtrip 140 pesos). Once there, we rented a golf cart for the afternoon and toured the island in style (500 pesos for the golf cart til 5pm).
large_IMG_0415-1.jpg
The golf cart rental company provided us with a map of the town. We headed over to the Avalon Reef Club. We wanted to see the King's Pool, which is a natural pool carved into the rocky shore by the waves. Its located on the resort's grounds, but is a public spot ... you will be escorted to it by a guard, who then stands there and watches you like a hawk til you leave. But it was nothing exciting, I didnt even take a photo. The resort sure is nice though! I would definately stay there!
large_IMG_0981-1.jpg
Just look at that water! :)
large_IMG_0982-1.jpg
Welcome to Paradise!!
large_IMG_0987-1.jpg
large_IMG_0997-1.jpg
After a quick dip in the ocean, we hopped back on our golf cart and headed to Punta Sur, the southern-most tip of the island, where El Garrafon Park is located. It cost 200 pesos for a half day admission. Theres a few restaurants within, that are all-inclusive, alcohol is also inc, as well as zip-lining, snorkeling, kayaking, hammocks, infinity pool, etc.
large_IMG_1021-1.jpg
large_IMG_1060-1.jpg
There were some paths along the cliffs / ocean that we followed for some great views!
large_IMG_1019-1.jpg
large_iphone_2_0_206-1.jpg
large_iphone_2_0_207-1.jpg
large_IMG_1055-1.jpg
large_IMG_1052.jpg
large_IMG_0467-1.jpg
large_IMG_0480-1.jpg
After our walk we had lunch at 1 of the restaurants ... nachos & cheese, and quesadillas ... and strawberry daiquiris :)
large_iphone_2_0_200-1.jpg
large_iphone_2_0_311-1.jpg
Then we did some zip-lining. If you've zip-lined before, then dont bother with this one, lol! But if its your first time, then its a good beginner course. I'd zip-lined before, and found it rather lame, but it was Jo's first time and she was terrified!
large_Tirolesa_8_096-1.jpg
The view from the 2nd zip-line platform of El Garrafon
large_zMGJR-_EL_PARQUE_002-1.jpg[img=https://photos.travellerspoint.com/508675/IMG_1055-1.jpg
Well, thats all for the Mayan Riviera part of our trip. Stay tuned for posts on the ruins of Palenque, and Mexico City & the ruins of Teotihuacan :)

Posted by ChantelleS 11:34 Archived in Mexico Tagged wildlife beach ruins monkey mexico iguana del parrot playa tiger carmen mayan lion Comments (0)

NORTH SEYMOUR ISLAND, GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

North Seymour Island | Galapagos Islands | Ecuador January 17th, 2012

overcast 33 °C

There are tour / travel agencies everywhere along the main drag in Puerto Ayora. We stopped at Albatross Tours and booked ourselves 2 yacht excursions. The first one to North Seymour Island, and the next one to Bartolome Island for $570 for both tours for 2 ppl. So today was the North Seymour excursion. A bus picked us up at our hotel and drove us across the island, through the highlands, to the opposite side, where our yacht awaited us (about 1hr of driving). We took a zodiac to our yacht and set sail. The island was approx 1hr away. Its teeny tiny, all black lava rocks, cactus trees and incense trees. This island is a birdwatcher's paradise!
large_IMG_9410-1.jpg
large_IMG_9407-1.jpg
I cant remember what type of frigate bird this is, but the tree its sitting in is an Incense Tree. These are the trees the incense sticks that you burn are made from.
large_IMG_9266-1.jpg
Magnificent Frigate Birds were everywhere! I was hoping to see just 1 with his chest puffed out, but there were tons of them! The best part about these protected islands is how tame the wildlife is. The birds did not fly away. You could walk right up to them and they'd just look at you. They have absolutely no fear of humans! Its quite astounding actually!
large_IMG_9280-1.jpg
large_IMG_9293-1.jpg
Again, not sure what type of frigate bird this is. Sorry :( There were just too many types of birds to keep track of! If you are big into labeling your photos correctly, I recommend bringing a small notepad to write down their names.
large_83BB8C752219AC6817407ECBB1F77F4E.jpg
There were a few Yellow Land Iguanas and little Lava Lizards as well.
large_IMG_9305-1.jpg
We only saw 2 Blue Footed Boobies up close, and a few Masked Boobies too far away to get a photo.
large_IMG_9324-1.jpg
large_IMG_9323-1.jpg
large_IMG_9322-1.jpg
Theres no beach here, just endless amount of black lava rock!
large_IMG_9335-1.jpg
large_IMG_9365-1.jpg
Blue Footed Boobie on the lava rocks
large_IMG_9343-1.jpg
And amongst those lava rocks are sea lions! Baby sea lions! SO CUTE! Also, marine iguanas are camoflauged nicely in the rocks.
large_IMG_9398-3.jpg
large_IMG_9357-1.jpg
large_IMG_9374-1.jpg
large_IMG_9396-1.jpg
Sleepy sea lions :)
large_IMG_9391-1.jpg
large_IMG_9403-1.jpg
large_IMG_9395-1.jpg
Young Sally Light Foot Crabs ... when they are young they are black, as they age they get more colorful.
large_IMG_9402-1.jpg
After about an hour long guided tour, we got back on the yacht. Our next stop was Las Bachas Beach, which is actually on the northern part of Santa Cruz Island. Dont let the clouds fool you, it was HOT! Lunch was served onboard as we sailed to the beach.
large_IMG_9414-1.jpg
large_IMG_9423-1.jpg
A Blue Heron I believe ???
large_IMG_9431-1.jpg
large_IMG_9442-1.jpg
A colorful adult Sally Lightfoot Crab.
large_IMG_9435-1.jpg
large_IMG_9440-1.jpg
large_IMG_9439-1.jpg
After a bit of snorkeling at this beach we headed back to the marina for our bus ride back to our hotel.

Posted by ChantelleS 20:08 Archived in Ecuador Tagged sea wildlife iguana animal lion galapagos ecuador Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 5) Page [1]