Happy Camper Farewell and Why We Left Chicago

So Kyle and I did a thing – a big thing! We decided to completely change our lives, take what we learned and experienced, and follow our dreams. If you follow us on Instagram, you probably already know what I’m talking about. Kyle and I decided to quit our jobs, leave Chicago, and travel the world! No, we’re not kidding!! But let me back up a bit and share the entire story with you.

 

 

 

Our Story and Why We Left Chicago

 

A couple of years ago, 8.5 years to be exact, Kyle and I met studying abroad in Finland, fell in love, and started travelling around Europe. You can read our full story in the About Us section. That’s when the travel bug bit us. And as they say, there is no cure for it! Fast forward a few years, Kyle started reading a few overland blogs and that’s where he got the idea of travelling through South America in a car and tent. It took him a few years to convince me that this was a great idea but after I spent a few years working on my career in finance, I was also dreaming of exploring the world. Other than the tent thing. I couldn’t envision myself sleeping in a tent for more than 5 days (we tried that in Colorado, read about our scary bear situation), so we decided on a pop-up camper instead, which we call Swifty (it's the Four Wheel Campers Swift Model).

 

 

In September 2019, we sold our apartment in Chicago, bought a pop-up camper for our truck, and set sail to spend some time with Kyle’s family in Vancouver, Canada before we would venture to South America in our camper. If you want to follow along our trip, make sure you follow us on Instagram and sign up for The Next Trip newsletter!

Of course, leaving Chicago was not an easy task. During the 4.5 years we lived there, we met amazing people and made wonderful connections. Saying goodbye to our friends would require an adequate goodbye party!

 

The Farewell Party at Happy Camper

 

I was dreaming of having a party and inviting all the amazing girls I met in Chicago over the years. And no place would be more fitting than having the party at Happy Camper – a really cool restaurant with an airy and super cute decorated rooftop in Wrigleyville! I worked with Brianne from Marquette Avenue Events to put everything together! I don’t know what I would have done without her as I was so busy preparing for our move that I hardly had time to think about planning the Farewell!

 

 

Happy Camper reserved part of their rooftop for us and made sure we got delicious food and drinks all night. I personally am a fan of the Mom pizza, which is a veggie pizza with no cheese but just as good as a regular pizza! If you’re not familiar with Happy Camper and have never been, I can highly recommend a visit to either their Old Town or newly opened Wrigleyville location.

 

 

 

Both locations feature real camper caravans inside the restaurant and the Wrigleyville location is decorated to melt every Instagrammer’s heart.

 

 

From the turquoise chairs (you know they had me then), to the yellow umbrellas, disco ball, and chandeliers, everything is designed with a lot of thought.

 

 

 

 

The outdoor rooftop area is covered in fake grass to give you the perfect summer vibes, even if the Chicago weather doesn’t always comply.

 

Farewell Party Guest Gallery

 

The Farewell party would not have been the same without my incredible guests and wonderful blogger community I have met in Chicago. All of these girls have become a substantial part of my life and I am incredibly grateful for each and everyone of them. Talking to bloggers in different cities, they describe their local industry as very competitive – contrary to Chicago. In Chicago, I truly had the feeling that everyone wanted to support each other and help each other succeed.

 

 

One of the most supportive people I have met in this industry is Marii, the owner and founder of Swirl and Sparkle and Sparkle in the City PR. She started her business by creating her own make-up brush cleansers which are the only thing that got me to clean my brushes (I’m sure you know what I mean when I say washing brushes is a task) and I am sure she will go far in life. As a party favor, she created The Next Trip branded cleansers which are so cute – I wanted to keep them all.

 

 

 

These are the girls that made my night at Happy Camper. I am grateful to have met all of them and will miss them dearly.

Thank you to Happy Camper Wrigleyville and Brianne from Marquette Avenue Events to make this Farewell Party so special!

 

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How to Spend a Weekend in Alaska – the Kenai Peninsula

The Kenai Peninsula is a great place to spend a (long) weekend in Alaska. It is perfect for getting a taste of wild Alaska in a quick trip, as it is relatively close to Anchorage. Prepare to see majestic mountains, beautiful glaciers, historic towns, and a chance at wildlife during your trip to the Kenai Peninsula and make sure you have your camera charged and ready at all times! Unlike Bettina, wildlife doesn't pose and wait for you to be ready. 🙂

 

A weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

We worked with Pursuit Collection to be able to share the full Alaska wildlife experience with you! As always, all our opinions and photos are our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us. 

As you may know, it is our goal to visit all 50 U.S. States and Alaska has been a state neither of us had been to yet! You can check out the progress of our states visits on the U.S. States map, and read about our previous adventures offroading in Colorado, our cultural immersion in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and our weekend in San Antonio, Texas.

 

Laying in the grass in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

We spent the July 4th weekend in Alaska and used the holiday to make it a 4-day trip without missing too much at work. Despite it being the height of summer, temperatures in Anchorage are usually around 65 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius).

Our trip on the fourth of July weekend was unique in that a number of record high temperatures were recorded in Alaska that week, making for a much warmer trip than we expected! For us, summer is definitely the best time to visit Alaska.

To skip ahead to our top 5 tips on how to spend a weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula.

 

Welcome to Alaska's Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

What is the Kenai Peninsula?

 

The Kenai Peninsula extends approximately 150 miles (240km) southwest from Anchorage and includes mountain ranges with glaciers, many lakes and rivers, historic towns, and the famous sounds and fjords of the Gulf of Alaska. The Kenai Peninsula doesn’t include all of the popular sights of Alaska, but it is a great starting off point for your first trip to The Last Frontier.

 

River in the Summer at Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

 

How to Get To The Kenai Peninsula

 

You will almost certainly be flying into Anchorage, which is the largest city in Alaska, and also has the largest airport.  All major US carriers fly here multiple times per day throughout the Summer, though the flight frequencies drop off significantly once the weather gets cold.

 

Plane Landing at Anchorage Airport Alaska - The Next Trip

 

You can also fly seasonally from Canada, Germany, Russia, and Iceland! Due to the distance from Alaska to the lower 48 states, there are a lot of flights that arrive and depart late in the evening (for example we arrived at 1am and then flew a red-eye back to Chicago leaving at 8pm and arriving at 4am!).

 

Once in Anchorage, we highly recommend you rent a car to explore the peninsula as it makes getting around much easier and you can make the most out of your weekend in Alaska. You don’t need to rent an SUV or truck to get around, as a car will easily reach all of the main sights.

 

Where to Stay in the Kenai Peninsula

 

If you are planning to see all of the Kenai Peninsula in a weekend or extended weekend, having a base somewhere near the middle of the peninsula is a great way to go out exploring each day without having to pack up and stay somewhere new each time.  As we arrived so late the first night we spent the night in a hotel near the airport.  For our next night we used Airbnb to rent a cute cabin in the woods! Our cabin was near the small town of Soldotna.

 

AirBnB Cabin in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

There were so many other options available all over the Kenai Peninsula on Airbnb though, whether you wanted a single room, small cabin, or massive house all to yourself, you can pick your favorite. If you haven’t used Airbnb before you can signup using this link to get a $40 discount on your first booking.

 

Our cabin was brand new and had a small kitchen with outdoor barbecue, bathroom with shower, and a loft for sleeping which was super fun!

 

Living Room AirBnB in Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip         Loft at AirBnB in Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

Seward, Alaska as the Perfect Base for Your Weekend in Alaska Exploration

 

The city of Seward was founded in 1903 and is located at the southern terminus of the Alaska Railroad.  That means you can get to Seward by car, train, boat, or by air! Seward is an easy drive 2.5 hours south of Anchorage and so we drove there on our first day.  We were more than excited because it was the base for our Kenai Fjords tour! Seward’s harbor and location makes it one of the best bases to explore the Kenai Fjords National Park.

 

Bettina at Aialik Glacier Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

The city of Seward has a number of restaurants and other places to stock up on groceries or supplies for your visit. One of the major attractions of the Kenai Fjords National Park is just a few minutes outside of Seward and is one of the most accessible glaciers in Alaska, the Exit Glacier.  Unfortunately for us, the heavy forest fires in the area resulted in lots of smoke in the air, so we weren’t able to catch the best view. Also be aware of the mosquitoes here, the hike is not long, but the bugs are all over, be prepared!

 

Exit Glacier in Wildfire Fog Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 
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Kenai Fjords National Park

 

Kenai Fjords National Park Sign Alaska - The Next Trip

 

We partnered with Pursuit Collection to do their Kenai Fjords National Park Tour which was 6 hours out on the open water with the potential to spot whales, dolphins, sea lions, seals, and puffins! Their tours are a great addition to any Alaska getaways.

 

Sea Lions on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

The friendly staff at Kenai Fjords Tours checked us in and as we were a bit early, they were actually able to get us out on an earlier boat. We started off in the thick sea fog surrounding Seward and were wondering if we would see anything at all on this trip!

 

Foggy Harbor at Seaward, Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Lifting Fog at Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

No sooner than five minutes in though we came across a small group of sea otters.  The otters were just bobbing in the water relaxing, without a care in the world!

 

Floating Otter on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Our tour continued onwards to a few small islands where a large number of birds were nesting, including puffins! Right next to them was a group of Steller sea lions sunbathing on the rocks.

 

Puffins on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Sea Lions and Otter on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Sea Lions on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

It was a bit of a longer boat ride, allowing us to dig in to the provided lunch, before we reached the piece de resistance of this tour, the Aialik Glacier.

 

Lunch on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

As we began approaching the Aialik Glacier you could feel a great silence come over the boat and stillness in the air. The size of the glacier is unlike anything we had seen before, and has to truly be seen in person to be fully appreciated.

 

Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Bettina and Kyle at Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

The captain turned off the boat motors and we sat in the bay listening to the cracking of the glacier with the odd bit of ice falling into the water. We were able to witness some fairly significant calving while we were watching.

 

Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Calving is when a glacier suddenly releases a mass of ice. The deep and loud booms of the ice cracking echoed across the bay, followed by the silent mid-air fall of the ice, and the final plunge into the ocean.  The resulting waves rippled across the bay and were clearly noticed by our boat, almost a half mile away.

 

Bettina at Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Kyle at Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

We captured the calving on video for you to get a better impression of how majestic it is. Click to the right to see the video below.

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BzmDASpgB1r/

 

Bettina even managed to snag a picture with some glacier ice!

 

Bettina holding Ice from Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

On the boat ride back to Seward we came across a few separate pods of whales, however none of them decided that they wanted to do a full Free Willy jump out of the water, so we were left trying to snap a few tail photos off in the distance. You might be more lucky though as these are some of the best places to spot whales!

 

Whale Hump on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Whale Tail on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

We returned back to Seward and were very impressed by how much we were able to see during the Kenai Fjords National Park Tour.

 

Exploring Homer Spit, Alaska

 

To be honest we didn’t expect much of Homer, it seemed to be just the end of the road, or the end of the Sterling Highway, on the edge of Kachemak Bay.  Given that we only had an extended weekend in Alaska, we spent all of our time here at the Homer Spit instead, which is one of the main highlights of Homer, and is a gravel bar that sticks out 4.5 miles (7.2km) into the bay.

 

Harbor at Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Once you make it to Homer Spit, you can walk around the harbor, stroll along the colorful houses on the promenade, and most importantly, get a healthy dose of Alaskan fish and chips!

 

Bettina in Harbor at Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Boardwark at Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

The sea fog was still thick, well into the afternoon, and provided for a magical atmosphere on the beach!

 

Fog at the Beach at Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Once the sun pokes through, you should be able to see the surrounding mountains which are worth a trip themselves. Bettina, on the other hand, was most excited when we found a swing underneath the boardwalk.

 

The Swing Location Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

This may look like the perfect shot; however it was the result of hundreds of ill-timed attempts on the swing! If you would like to get the perfect Instagram shot, make sure to check out the swing. It's located at 4350 Homer Spit Rd, underneath the promenade. It's best to access the swing from the beach.

 

Explore the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

 

With your rental car you can explore a large portion of the Kenai Peninsula, with additional side trips to Whittier, Chugach State Park, or wherever your heart desires.

 

Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

When we were there, there were a number of forest fires burning in the middle of the Kenai Peninsula, with smoke all the way to Anchorage, which meant that you couldn’t see the beautiful mountains all around, and sometimes hardly the car in front of you.  Because of that we decided to spend more time on the western edge of the Kenai Peninsula where the sun was shining and the air was much clearer.

 

Laying in grass in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

On our drives we pulled off onto a few side roads and even spotted a few elk out for lunch. Remember to take only pictures and leave only footprints!

 

Wild Elk in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Wild Elk in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Wild Elks in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

If you have time, you can also venture to Captain Cook State Park to take in the late afternoon sun and go for a walk along the beach.

 

View in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

While we knew that the sun would be up early and set late in July in Alaska, we weren’t quite prepared for how much sun there was. The sun rose around 4:45am and set around 11:30pm, but it was never truly ‘dark.’ The benefit of this is that we could easily be out sightseeing and driving to 9pm, and we didn’t have to rush anywhere to see something before the sun set, as there were so many sunny hours in the day! However, falling asleep was somewhat difficult given that it was still broad daylight at 10pm. If you plan your trip to Alaska, make sure to read our 5 top tips below!

 

We loved our weekend in Alaska, exploring the Kenai Peninsula and would absolutely recommend as it is a great beginner’s “taste of Alaska” to start your adventures in the state.

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for a Weekend in Alaska - the Kenai Peninsula

 

1) Rent a car.  There is no better way to see the Kenai Peninsula than by driving the open roads. This gives you the flexibility to stay where you like, and stop at any of the viewpoints along the way, including when you see wildlife! Some tour buses will stop when wildlife are near the road, but you don’t want to be on the one that drives right by!

 

2) Prepare for the sun. While it may not get as hot as the lower 48 states, Alaska can still have long days of sun during the summer months.  Don’t take this to mean that the sun is less intense, it is just as intense in Alaska as it is in other places, and sometimes more so depending on elevation. In addition, as the days are longer you will have more exposure to the sun each day, so be prepared with sunglasses and sunscreen during the day, and don’t forget a good sleeping mask in order to sleep properly when it is still light outside!

 

3) Prepare for the unknown.  Despite the Kenai Peninsula being relatively populated compared to the rest of Alaska, this is still “wild Alaska” and you should always know where you are and where you are going, without relying on having any cell service.  You should also always make sure to have enough gas in the car and water and snacks, in case you end up stranded somewhere.  Even if you don’t end up stranded, it can be a long drive to the next town if you get hungry or thirsty. Furthermore the temperatures can drop drastically. So make sure you pack right for the perfect weekend in Alaska.

 

4) Bring your best camera and a zoom lens. Moose, deer, and bears don’t generally walk up to your car so they can be nicely framed in your phone’s camera.  The animals are generally a bit further away, and if they are close you should probably back away, so be prepared by bringing your best camera with an excellent zoom lens.

 

5) Book a tour. We are staunch believers in doing your own thing when traveling, but sometimes it is not always reasonably possible, and a tour is the best way to go.  For Alaska, you are likely here to see nature and wildlife, and the best way to do that can be to go with someone who knows the area best.  We would highly recommend setting aside time for a whale watching, glacier, or other tour that intrigues you the most.  We toured with Pursuit Collection and the Kenai Fjords National Park Tour which we can highly recommend.

 

Pin this blog post to your U.S. and Alaska destinations boards to save all your ideas about the Kenai Peninsula and a weekend in Alaska!

 

 

A Weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, and how to maximize your short weekend getaway
A Weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, and how to maximize your short weekend getaway
A Weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, and how to maximize your short weekend getaway
A Weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, and how to maximize your short weekend getaway

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A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

It's a well-kept secret that there is a rivalry between Bern (the capital of Switzerland) and Zurich (the largest city in Switzerland). Growing up in the outskirts of Bern, I was always biased towards the city named after bears and never spent much time exploring Zurich. After having spent a day exploring the city with family though, I might have to give it more credit. But first things first...

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

Being right on the Limmat and Lake Zurich, the city is surrounded by water and offers beautiful views.

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

We spent our day in Zurich wandering through the old town, admiring old fountains,...

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

Shop My Look

 

 

 

... explaining old buildings to my niece (she may more likely have been fascinated by the birds) ...

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

... walked past one of the oldest hotels in Switzerland, Hotel Storchen (established in 1357), which has its own ferry terminal ...

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland - Storchen

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

... and found ourselves in front of the Oro De Cacao store.  We couldn't resist the idea of some hot chocolate and had to check it out.

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland - Oro De Cacao

 

Oro De Cacao is a brand new Swiss chocolate producer - and it's so much more than that. I am a firm believer that Swiss chocolate is the best chocolate in the world (I'm also slightly biased, being Swiss and all). However, this store takes the chocolate experience to an entirely new level.

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland - Oro De Cacao

 

Dieter Meier revolutionized the chocolate production process by using cold extractions to break cocoa beans into cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and the parts that give chocolate its bitter taste. In the end, you're left with a very intense and flavourful piece of chocolate which is not bitter at all and is also not overly sweet.

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland - Oro De Cacao

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland - Oro De Cacao

 

Completely in awe with this new technology, I had to get a sample of every variation they offered!

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland - Oro De Cacao

 

And of course, we couldn't leave without trying their home-made hot chocolate which was beautifully rich. I also took some chocolate bars home and love to treat myself after a long day at work. Given the intensity of the chocolate flavor, you only really need a small piece to satisfy your cravings.

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland - Oro De Cacao

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland - Oro De Cacao

 

Thank you Oro De Cacao for having us and providing us with a wonderful chocolate experience!

 

We spent the rest of our day in Zurich raving about the chocolate we just tried, and enjoying the beautiful Christmas decorations everywhere.

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

Although we were only there for a day, Zurich impressed me with its old-town flair and international spirit. Have you been to Zurich? What did you like best about the city? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

 

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Skiing in Switzerland

Growing up in Switzerland, I never understood what everyone's fascination with the Alps was. Being surrounded by mountains was all I knew and I wanted to experience the big city life instead.  Things changed very quickly though, once I moved to Illinois - the flattest state in the U.S. I miss mountains a lot! Every time Kyle and I go back to Switzerland, we like to spend some time in the Alps and go skiing if there is snow and the weather conditions are reasonable.

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

I have been to a few ski resorts in Switzerland but grew up exploring the hills of Crans-Montana, a ski resort in the French part of Switzerland, in the canton Valais. It's a two hour drive to get there from Bern and you can either drive via Lake Geneva and stop in gorgeous Montreux and visit Chillon Castle on the way, or you can drive through the Bernese Alps and take the Lötschberg car train which is a fun experience by itself. If you have never heard of the car train before, check out this video. The first time I took Kyle there, he was stunned.

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Crans-Montana is 1,500m or 4,920ft above sea level and from there you can access the glacier Plaine Morte which is 2,927m or 9,600ft above sea level. Because the ski resort faces south, you often get the sunniest skiing conditions and best views of the Alps and the Valais.

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

You can even see the Matterhorn from Crans-Montana, although you'll only see the backside of it which makes it difficult to recognize.

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

After a bumpy ride up in the cable car, Kyle and I couldn't wait to finally hit the slopes and go skiing in Switzerland for the first time in 4(!) years.

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Shop My Skiing Outfit

 

Many of the items I'm wearing, I've had for years. My jacket is from H&M and I linked similar ones below. My goggles are by Arnette and you can get them on Amazon still.

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

The morning was a bit foggy but it cleared up soon and we were lucky to get the most beautiful views and blue skies!

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

We were happy to notice that skiing is like riding a bike, although our legs were starting to get sore. After a few runs, we even had enough confidence to go down a double black diamond run but regretted our choice as soon as we looked down the hill. Check out my Instagram stories if you're curious to see the run!

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Arguably, the best part about skiing is getting away from the busy city life to enjoy a day in the snow and sun.

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

And while you're out there enjoying your day, make sure you stop by one of the slope bars and restaurants and enjoy a glass of gluhwein and local charcuterie.

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

For all the non-skiers amongst us, I can still highly recommend a visit to Crans-Montana. You can take the cable car to the slopes to enjoy the views or stay in the resort town, to go ice skating ...

 

Crans-Montana by night

 

... go on a walk around the lakes ...

 

Crans-Montana by night

 

Crans-Montana by night

 

Crans-Montana by night

 

Crans-Montana by night

 

... and enjoy the holiday decorations.

 

Crans-Montana by night

 

Crans-Montana by night

 

Have you been skiing in Switzerland or would you like to go? Where is your favourite place to go? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Skiing in Switzerland - My favorite resort and views of the Alps
Skiing in Switzerland - My favorite resort and views of the Alps

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

 


 

Visions of Zanzibar

Just hearing about Zanzibar evokes visions of an exotic bustling city with winding streets packed with houses, spice markets, bazaars, and mosques with a fusion of cultures and people. We were quite unprepared for Zanzibar, having done virtually zero research. We arrived with no cash and no idea how to get to our hotel! The official taxi cab stand had reasonable rates to Stone Town, the main city on Zanzibar, and so once we had exchanged more USD for a couple hundred thousand Tanzanian Shillings (we felt super rich with all those 000’s!) we were on our way.

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Tembo Hotel

 

The Tembo House Hotel is one of the few hotels in Stone Town that offers beach access but also is right in the heart of the city. Wasting no time once we arrived, we were off to explore the city!

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Stone Town is an important historical and artistic city for Eastern Africa due to its diverse mixture of influencing cultures from Arab, Persian, Indian, European, and local Swahili. But don’t just take our word for it. This has led the city to reach UNESCO World Heritage status for it’s ‘outstanding material manifestation of cultural fusion and harmonization.’

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar - St. Joseph Cathedral

 

Visions of Zanzibar - St. Joseph Cathedral

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

The majestic House of Wonders, a former palace of the Sultan of Zanzibar, Bait As-Sahel, another former palace, and the Old Fort, built by the Omani Arabs over 300 years ago when they expelled the Portuguese, stand proudly facing the harbor, though are many decades past their prime, which adds to the unique appeal of the city.

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

After meandering our way through some of the narrow streets we found ourselves back at our hotel, where we cooled off enjoying the luxury of air conditioning compared to our safari tent (read about our safari experience here and here)!

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Feeling luxurious, we walked next door to the beautiful Park Hyatt Zanzibar for drinks and dinner, with another incredible sunset view.

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Park Hyatt Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Sunset at Park Hyatt Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Sunset at Park Hyatt Zanzibar

 

The beach seemed to come to life at sundown and was full with fishermand and tourist boats coming back to shore (and taking the boat motor with them), as well as kids playing and swimming.

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Sunset

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Sunset

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Sunset

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Sunset

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Sunset

 

For our next day we had visions of taking a boat to nearby Prison Island, or complete a spice tour at one of the many spice farms on the island, however, the weather had other stories.

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Tembo Hotel

 

A couple of thunderstorms came rolling through Stone Town during the first half of the day so we instead decided to relax in our hotel room and around the pool – with our trip so far being pretty jam-packed (you can read about our safari here and here) this was our day to sit back and relax, especially through the heat of the afternoon sun.

 

Visions of Zanzibar - View from Tembo Hotel

 

Visions of Zanzibar - View from Tembo Hotel

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Tembo Hotel

 

We still managed to spend a few hours wandering around the hotel and the beach right out front once the storms had passed.

 

Visions of Zanzibar - View from Tembo Hotel

 

Visions of Zanzibar - View from Tembo Hotel

 

Visions of Zanzibar - View from Tembo Hotel

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

Visions of Zanzibar - View from Tembo Hotel

 

Visions of Zanzibar - View from Tembo Hotel

 

Visions of Zanzibar - View from Tembo Hotel

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

In the early evening we ventured back out to explore the streets, finding the Darajani Market which was chaotic...

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Streets of Stone Town

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Streets of Stone Town

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Streets of Stone Town

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Streets of Stone Town

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Streets of Stone Town

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Streets of Stone Town

 

... and full of some the best smells (think local cinnamon, cardamom, and currys) ...

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Market in Stone Town

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Market in Stone Town

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Market in Stone Town

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Market in Stone Town

 

... and worst smells (think of raw fish, raw meat, and rotting vegetables) all combined into one bombardment of the senses.

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Market in Stone Town

 

We spent dinner at Lukmann Restaurant, which we can highly recommend. They have a massive selection of local fare for a reasonable price, and the place was full of both tourists and locals alike, eating like it was their last meal.

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Stone Town at Night

 

Haggling or bartering is not exactly our speciality, but we were getting better throughout the trip. Talking to a Danish couple at our hotel that used to live on Zanzibar, we soon realized we had been duped at the airport two days before! The ‘Official Taxi Prices’ listed, 30,000 Shilling, there were about double what the going rate should be if you can barter appropriately. We are ashamed to admit our mistake and naivety at paying the listed price. We learned our lesson though and drove a hard bargain with a talkative taxi driver, getting him down to half of what we paid from the airport.

Tip: A cab ride from downtown Stone Town to the airport is about 10,000 - 15,000 Shilling. If you arrive in Zanzibar and are being quoted 30,000 Shilling to get to downtown, mention that you got it for 10,000 Shilling last time (or your friend got that price) and the drivers will likely meet you at 15,000 Shilling. 

 

Visions of Zanzibar - View from Tembo Hotel

 

We absolutely loved Stone Town.  There is a very unique blend of Arab, Moorish, English, and African architecture with grand buildings and décor all in various states of disrepair.  The streets are tiny, and crisscross the city in no discernable pattern, but Stone Town is small enough that you can walk until you are lost but can’t really get more than 20 minutes off course. The people are friendly and talkative, and the streets are full of energy.  We can highly recommend spending a few days in Stone Town, and will definitely be doing so again when we return to explore the rest of the island of Zanzibar. Have you been to Zanzibar? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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Exploring African Village Mloka, Tanzania

Ever since I was little, I have been interested in experiencing different cultures and seeing how other people live. To me, seeing how other people live helps me understand their history and their goals better.

Our African Safari didn't 'just' include game drives (check out this post), a boat safari, (see this post) and a walking safari, but we were also given the opportunity to explore a remote African village nearby called Mloka. I, of course, jumped at the chance to see how the locals live.

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

We booked our entire safari with Takims Holidays and loved every aspect of it! Abbas made sure that everything is taken care of, from the accommodation to the flights, airport transport, etc. If you are looking to go on a safari, you can use our exclusive discount code THENEXTTRIP20 to get 20% off your safari with Takims Holidays!

 

After only a few minutes drive, we saw the first signs of civilization and passed by what we assume is the local gas station.

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

Mloka has a school, a small medical clinic, and a few shops, but the grounds it is built on are not very rich. Farmers thus live on the other side of the river, where they can grow their crop. Kids commute across the river by canoe to get to school and their parents make the journey to sell their goods or work.

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

This commute isn't an easy one and it's also quite dangerous. The Rufiji river is a great place for hippos to spend their days (check out this blog post if you want to see some hippo pictures) and they tend to get very territorial. If they see a canoe approaching, they might mistake it for another hippo and start attacking it. While hippos are vegetarian, people can still die from getting bitten, crushed, or getting eaten by crocodiles if the boat is flipped. Hippos are in fact claimed to be one of the most dangerous animals in Africa!

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

The canoe schedule seemed to be quite a simple one. Once the boat was full, they would embark to the other side where people were already waiting to use it to get back.

The Rufiji river also serves as a source of water for the locals. However, transporting water from the river up to Mloka isn't an easy task as the ground is sandy and motorized vehicles are rare.

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

After answering the millions of questions I had (yes, I am that kind of person), our guide took us to the center of the African village. Being away from the river, the temperatures seemed to rise by the minute and being used to chilly weather from living in Chicago, I was struggling to adjust.

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

Mloka was everything I thought an African village would be - simple, hot, and buzzing with life! We stopped at the local markets...

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

... walked around the town square ...

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

... admired one of the few buses in and out of Mloka and other local vehicles ...

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

... and went for a drink at the local pub (where I got yelled at for trying to take pictures so you will just have to believe me!).

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

My main mission though was to find the perfect souvenir to take home - an African wrap skirt! We went to every single shop there was.

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

Shop My Look

 

I was wearing a tank top to stay cool but covered up with a scarf to be respectful. I linked similar items below!

 

Unfortunately, I didn't find one to take home but splurged on some hand-made earrings in the shape of the African continent.

 

Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

We left Mloka to head back to the Selous Game Reserve and I was extremely impressed by how the locals manage to be seemingly happier than our society is when having so much less to work with. Our excursion truly inspired me to be more grateful and content with what we have.

Have you ever visited a remote African village? If so, share your experience with us below!

 

 

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Exploring African Village Mloka - Tanzania

 

 

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African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

If you've been following along on our trip to Tanzania, you might recall that we spent our first day in Dar es Salaam (you can check out our city tour here) and the second day on a river safari at the Selous Game Reserve (you can read about our adventure here). With two additional days for safari, we decided to do an early morning game drive the day after we arrived and a full day game drive on the third day.

 

African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

 

Early-Morning Safari Game Drive

 

Doing an early-morning game drive on the second day of our African safari was definitely a struggle as we were still jetlagged. However, it was immediately worth it when no more than five minutes into the drive we came across two giraffes chowing down on a tree near the road! Our safari guide patiently stopped and let us take some imperfect pictures due to the angle and distance. Little did we know, there would be hundreds more giraffes to come.

 

Giraffe on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Giraffe on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Giraffe on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

The best place to look for animals in the wilderness is, of course, close to food or water sources. In talking to our guide, the Selous Game Reserve near the Rufiji River Camp contains about seven or so watering holes for the animals, which can make it slightly more difficult to find them, given that water is so plentiful. This is not the typical dry, desolate savannah that you might have expected from an African safari, but rather the geography is rolling hills with trees and bushes all over.

 

Scenery on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Scenery on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

View from the Safari Car - African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Each turn around the next corner brought new excitement as we discovered new animals and views along the way. Forewarning – this is a picture heavy post!

 

Water Buffalo on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Marabou Storks - African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Warthog Family on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Giraffe Family on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Impala on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Zebra on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Warthog Family on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Halfway through we stopped to enjoy a bush breakfast, complete with hot coffee, delicious fresh fruit, and homemade pastries. This gave us a chance to stretch our legs and walk around.

 

African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

However, you couldn’t wander too far or too close to the water, in case a crocodile had his eyes on you for breakfast.

 

Crocodile on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Just after breakfast we caught a hippo running out of the water – it may not be slim, but can sure run fast. Seeing a hippo out of water during the day is relatively rare as hippos tend to stay in the water all day to protect their skin from the sun and heat. For pictures of hippos in water, check out this post.

 

Hippo on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Further along that day we came across more giraffes, birds, and impalas than we could count.

 

Tower of Giraffes on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Blue Bird on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Blue Bird on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

The impalas give birth to their young each year in November, so there were hundreds of little calves running around.

 

Herd of Impalas on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Impala on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Impala on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Impala on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Baby Impala on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Last but not least, we came across three lions lounging in the sun. We drove right up to them, within 10-15 feet and turned the motor off of our open top, open door safari vehicle. (The third lion was hiding in the bush.)

 

Pride of Lions - African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

The lions couldn’t have cared less that we were there, and just kept on sleeping in the shade, trying to stay cool and away from the hot African sun.  We stayed here quite a while, and saw them stretch, yawn, and lay around, just like a slightly-oversized housecat.

 

Pride of Lions - African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Lion on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Male Lion on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Male Lion on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Before we knew it we were heading back to the lodge, extremely pleased with all of the animals we had seen that morning.

 

Full-Day Safari Game Drive

 

The next day was our full-day game drive, and we were on the road for almost 7 hours. We saw a lot of the same animals as the day before, but also now spotted an elephant in the wild (and not next to our tent, which you can read about here), ...

 

Lonely Elephant on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

...a small herd of wildebeest,...

 

Herd of Wildebeest on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Herd of Wildebeest on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

...a large heard of zebras,...

 

Zebras on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Herd of Zebras on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

...and a small family of lions and their cubs.

 

Family of Lions on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Lion Cub on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Lion on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Lion on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Two Lion Cubs on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Bettina really wanted to cuddle with the lion cubs, but it was not advised by our safari guide.

 

Lion Mom and Cub on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Lion Cub on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Lion Cub on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Lion Cub on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Lion Cub on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Everyone has heard of the big five game animals – consisting of the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo, of which we saw three on this trip – but did you know that there is also an ugly five? The less glamorous grouping of animals consists of the warthog, hyena, marabou stork, vulture, and the wildebeest.

 

Warthog on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Two Hyenas in Water on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Two Hyenas in Water on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

We were fortunate to catch all five of these animals on our day-long safari drive.

 

Marabou Stork on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Vulture eating on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Wildebeest on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

And here we have another beautiful animal, affectionally known as the toilet-seat, which you can see from the rings around it’s behind.

 

Male Water Buck on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Female Water Buck with Baby on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Baby Water Buck on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Despite the cute lion cubs and the toilet seat babies, Bettina's favourite animal on the safari was by far the giraffe.

 

Young Male Giraffe on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Mostly due to their elegance and perfect posting.

 

Giraffe Mom and Baby on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Giraffe on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

But also because they made her laugh with their indecisiveness when it comes to directions!

 

Tower of Giraffes on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

Our first African safari turned out better than we could have imagined, with our excellent accommodation, sunny weather, and of course all of the animals that we saw.

 

Scenery on African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

If you’d like to book your own African safari in Tanzania, we have partnered with Takims Holidays, who booked our safari, and are offering you a 20% discount (use the code thenexttrip20 with your inquiry). Have you been on a safari before?

 

Make sure to pin this pin to your favourite personal travel board on Pinterest so that our tips are only one click away!

 

African Safari Drive in the Selous Game Reserve

 

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The Start of our First African Safari

Having spent a day in Dar es Salaam, it was finally time to start our first African safari!

 

Getting to Selous Game Reserve

 

We awoke early to head to the airport, though this time we were headed to the smaller, domestic terminal. We had heard that the terminal was small, but we weren’t quite ready for how small. There was a single waiting area of a few benches, a couple passengers sitting around, and an open door out onto the tarmac. Five minutes before our flight was due to take off someone appeared at the door and called for boarding – and off we went with Auricair.

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Flying Auricair

 

Only a few minutes later all 12 passengers were seated and we were taking off towards the Selous Game Reserve. Named after famous British explorer, hunter, and conservationist Frederik Selous, the reserve covers 50,000 square km (19,000 sq miles) and has been protected for over 120 years. Wildlife populations are high, however less dense than some of the more popular parks in Northern Tanzania (the Selous reserve is almost 4 times larger than the Serengeti).

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Flying Auricair

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Flying Auricair

 

We dropped off one group of German tourists at Stiegler’s Gorge at another African safari camp, and then it was just Bettina and I for our private 15 minute flight onto the next airstrip. We flew low over the Rufiji River and even spotted our safari camp from the air! The "airport" closest to the Rufiji River camp was everything we had imagined it would be - rustic and outdoorsy. 🙂

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Selous Game Reserve Airstrip

 

Booking and Accommodation

 

Our dedicated time for our African safari adventure was only 3-4 days. Not knowing where to go with our time and budget constraints, we decided to book with Takims Holidays. Our travel agent Abbas suggested we explore the Selous Game Reserve due to a high possibility of wildlife sighting. He booked our stay at the Rufiji River Camp where we had a private tent nestled in the trees with a view over the river.

If you are thinking about going on your own African safari and don't know where to start, we can highly recommend Takims Holidays. Everything was well taken care of and Abbas made sure we would get the best experience possible given our constraints. Get 20% off your safari with Takims Holidays by using our exclusive discount code: thenexttrip20. 

 

The main area of the camp had a large open dining area, firepit, pool, and a number of places to kickback and relax. Upon arrival, we were escorted to our tent due to known elephants in the area.

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Rufiji River Camp

 

Shop Bettina's Safari Look

 

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Rufiji River Camp

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Rufiji River Camp

 

The tent is definitely towards the glamping end of the spectrum given it had a wooden door, two king-size beds, and a full bathroom.

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Rufiji River Camp

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Rufiji River Camp

 

We were told right at arrival that the cute baboons love to stroll through the guests' camps if you don't keep the door closed and they will make quite a mess looking for food. Sure enough, baboons were walking around our tent at all daytimes, hoping we would leave something for them.

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Baboon

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Baboon

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Baboon

 

No sooner than ten minutes after, we heard some rustling in the bushes along the path and this guy appeared.

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Elephant at Rufiji River Camp

 

This elephant was munching on a tree on the very path we walked to get to our tent only ten minutes earlier!

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Elephant at Rufiji River Camp

 

African River Safari

 

One of the thing’s we didn’t realize about safaris until we got here, was that you could choose your activities each day, so whether you were staying for three days or ten, each night you chose your activity for the next day, which could be a walking tour, river safari, various safari drives, or a trip to the local village. We thought it best to start with an easy river safari.

 

The Start of our First African Safari - River Safari

 

Before we even made it to the boat we could hear a bunch of grunting, splashing, and animal noises coming from the river. These were the hippos, and they are a noisy bunch!

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Hippo

 

Heading out on the water the hippos live in pods of usually a dozen or more, and all had their heads above water in the distance. As we got closer in the boat they would slowly, one by one, drop under the water until we were nearby and they were all gone! It made photography a bit of a challenge, however since they can only hold their breath for about 5 minutes, they frequently resurfaced.

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Hippo

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Hippo

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Hippo

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Hippo

 

Further down the river we spotted our first crocodile! Crocodiles often choose to live near hippos as their droppings attract certain fish crocodiles like to eat. However, hippos and crocodiles definitely do not get along. We witnessed one crocodile getting slightly too close to a hippo near the end of our boat ride.

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Crocodile

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Crocodile

 

While harder to photograph, everywhere we turned we saw new types of birds that we’ve never seen before.

 

The Start of our First African Safari

 

The Start of our First African Safari

 

The Start of our First African Safari

 

The Start of our First African Safari

 

Further down the river, we were near the border of the Selous Game Reserve, where villagers commute back and forth on the Rufiji River in dugout canoes.

 

The Start of our First African Safari - People in Selous Game Reserve

 

The Start of our First African Safari - People in Selous Game Reserve

 

The Start of our First African Safari - People in Selous Game Reserve

 

As we were nearing our camp, there was a bunch of splashing and grunting coming from a nearby pod of hippos. We spotted a crocodile that was getting a little bit too close. See for yourself who won this fight!

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Hippo Fighting a Crocodile

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Hippo Fighting a Crocodile

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Hippo Fighting a Crocodile

 

As this was a slower time of the year, all of our activities were either just the two of us, or with one or two other travelers. No complaints here on our private African safari by boat!

The evening was finished off with a fantastic dinner and African sunset.

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Sunset at Rufiji River Camp

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Sunset at Rufiji River Camp

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Sunset at Rufiji River Camp

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Sunset at Rufiji River Camp

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Sunset at Rufiji River Camp

 

We were just getting started, as we heading out on the early game drive the next morning! Is doing an African safari on your bucket list?

 

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A One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Travelling to a new country for the first time is always exciting, but it is even more exciting when the trip is to a whole new continent (if you look at our travel map, Africa is looking quite empty)! We took the long way to Tanzania (intentionally), including a 23 hour and 50 minute layover in Switzerland, which allowed us to visit Bettina’s family and spend the night in a real bed. This meant that we arrived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, late at night about two days after we left Chicago.

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

We had one day in our itinerary to explore Dar es Salaam and were very fortunate to have a local tour guide, Rumina, show us around. We started at one of the smaller local markets which was full of fresh fruit and vegetables, spices, and an assortment of other household goods.

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

We were less than 20 minutes into our day and Bettina had already purchased a new handbag! According to Rumina, this would be one of the best places to pick one up on the cheap.

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

The heat and humidity (about 33C/92F and 85% humidity) was quickly getting to us – so why not freshen up with a little bit of coconut water?

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

Dar Es Salaam has an estimated population of over 5 million. With a fairly small city center it certainly does not seem to be that large.

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

We enjoyed getting a sense of the city on our driving tour, along with a stop along the coast at Coco Beach to pick up some freshly fried cassava chips.

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

When we stopped the car here we were immediately bombarded by everyone hawking whatever food they had to sell. While everyone was friendly, it can be a bit overwhelming when you have 10 or more people all following you around trying to sell you something! The fact that we very much looked like tourists didn't help.

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

If you’re interested in getting some great African artwork, there is a market near the Slipway which has a huge selection of locally made goods, where we picked up a few more souvenirs!

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

And when you are tired of shopping, right next door is a couple of great oceanside restaurants for food and drinks with amazing views.

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

Her purse is from Aldo and is currently on sale!