Central Serengeti Landscapes

Not too many animals in this post, but I wanted you to see the varied landscapes in the central Serengeti:


More animals in the next post!

Into the Heart of the Serengeti

On Tuesday, May 25th, we took another bush flight to the Seronera Air Strip and went to the One Nature tented camp in the heart of the Serengeti.  These were not tents as we usually think of them…  Each “tent” had sort of a living area, the bedroom area, the copper bathtub area, both indoor and outdoor showers, and a marvelous veranda looking out over the Serengeti.  Hot and cold running water – and a chandelier!  Here’s a map to show you our new home for four days:

The safari vehicles hold four people in comfy captain’s seats and unless the rain comes, they’re open, with beautiful viewing and photography opportunities.  They’re so modern that each seat has USB ports so you can charge your phone/camera!  This is our driver for the four days:

Since we arrived in the afternoon, we had only one game drive the first day, but it was magical.  First came the hippos:

Nearby, we saw a crocodile sunbathing and some storks.

Then came lionesses napping in a tree.  I understand that the Serengeti is the only place in the world where the lions have learned to climb trees, so these photos document an unusual behavior:

We think they must have learned the behavior by watching the leopards climb.  It seems like a good idea because it gets the lions up mostly out of the range of the nuisance flies, and it’s cooler up there where they get a little breeze.

You may have noticed that the terrain is different here than at Klein’s Camp.  I’ll show some landscape photos in the next post.

Highlights from Klein’s Camp

Sorry I’m so behind on my posts! To save time, this post will be mostly photos. We probably took more than a thousand photos of animals, but here are just a few of our favorites:

Egyptian geese

And, of course, there were non-animal highlights, from sunrise to sunset, with a visit to a Masai village:

Tomorrow, we move to the center of the Serengeti, to see the leading edge of the Great Migration! See you in the next post!

From the Rainforest to the Serengeti

Last Friday (May 21, 2021) was a travel day.  From the rainforest in northeast Rwanda, we travelled to the northern Serengeti in Tanzania for a more traditional safari experience.  

The following maps show an overview of Tanzania and a close-up of our first stay at Klein’s camp.

There is quite a difference between the Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge in Northwest Rwanda, and Klein’s Camp in northern Tanzania.  For example, our elevation dropped from 8,600 feet to approximately 5,000 feet (much easier to breathe!) Many of the trees and flowers are different, as are many of the animals.  I expected a much dryer environment, but it was amazingly green because they have had some rain recently.  

We left the Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge in Rwanda and were driven back into the big city of Kigali for an international flight to Arusha, where we caught a bush plane to Lobo Air Strip.

In case you haven’t been on a bush flight, let me tell you it is very small!  We were a group of 12, and these photos show us boarding and then how tight the quarters are inside. But it was a smooth and short flight.

It was a pleasant flight, and we were able to fly over an “active” volcano crater where the most recent center eruption was frozen!  When we landed, our new guides met us with our safari vehicles – but first they fed us a nice bush snack.  

Then we were divided up 6 to a vehicle and started what could probably be an hour drive to Klein’s camp, but we kept running into attractive animals:

When we finally got to camp, the whole staff met us, singing and dancing!

Here’s our home for the next 3 nights plus the view from our wonderful veranda.

We’re having a wonderful time, but a safari vacation is not a piece of cake.  The schedule at this point is a wake-up call at 6 or 6:30 am, breakfast — then on the road by 7 or 7:30.  We bump over rugged dirt roads until about 1 or 2 pm and have lunch as soon as we get back.  This meal takes about 2 hours, so we don’t have much time to clean up or rest before the next game drive starts at 4 pm.  We get “home” in time for dinner about 7:30 and if we’re lucky we get to bed about 11 pm.

Although the Lobo Air Strip is in the Serengeti National Park, our camp is just outside of the Park.  The land is leased from the Masai lords and many of the camp employees are Masai.  Therefore, we don’t have the same restrictions as in the Park:  we can drive off road and we can drive at night, when the animals are most active.

Serious game drives will start in the next blog.  In the meantime, here’s a dwarf mongoose and family who visited just outside our veranda.  

Stay tuned for highlights of our game drives in coming blogs!

Gorillas in the Mist

On Wednesday, we were taken by van from Kigali to the Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge in Northwest Rwanda, just outside the Volcanoes National Park.

These monkeys were our first wildlife sighting.
Typical mode of transportation, although men often used bicycles.

Here are two shots of our arrival at the Lodge:

After independence, the small African nation of Rwanda leaped to fame as the Land of “Gorillas in the Mist”, adopted home of Dian Fossey and the most important refuge for the rare mountain gorilla.

Tonight we had instructions about proper behavior around the gorillas, and we’ll leave for our gorilla trek early in the morning. The mountain Gorillas live in and near the Volcanos National Park which is roughly where I’ve drawn the red oval. It also extends into Uganda and theCongo, but were were only in Rwanda.

I admit, it was a difficult hike, but it was SO worth it.  Our group was split up so that only 4 tourists accompanied each guide and guard.  We were assigned porters to carry our backpacks (GREAT IDEA!) And in some cases porters had to machete a path through the jungle and they often helped pull us out of the mud.  I could not have made it without the porters.  And, of course, this sometimes steeps hike was at about 8,600 feet!  

The gorilla family we got so see was pretty large – probably 22 animals.  It was the “heat” of the day so it was basically naptime for the family.  Here are some of the members we got to see up close and personal:

Even though they were napping, the gorillas were curious about us. Many foraged for food, the youngsters played just like young humans, and the Silverback was mostly aloof. When our time was up with the gorillas, the porters had to hack a new path through the jungle because we kept running into napping gorillas!

By the way, the guide and other personnel were not concerned about us wearing our masks while hiking, which was a good thing for breathing at altitude and exercising so strenuously.  However, when we got close to the gorillas, they were very serious about everyone masking up to protect these rare animals.  

Once we got back to our lodge, some of us had planned to go to the village to shop in the afternoon, but it was pretty late in the afternoon, and we were all pooped! We were called down to the main building for a special surprise at 5:30.  

Jay and I started down the stairs, but it started to rain, so we went back to grab an umbrella.  (We said our thanks that it hadn’t rained during the gorilla trek!)  When we got to the designated meeting place we saw a group of local young musicians and dancers running through the down pour.  This was their first paid gig since Covid, and it had to pour on them.  They were real troupers though and danced and sang their hearts out – in the rain!  Check out the smiles:

These amazing people were all from the local village, and they were proud to show us many of their traditional dances.  What a treat!

The next day begins our journey from Rwanda to Tanzania.  Give me a few days to catch up.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN…RATHER, IN THE AIR AGAIN! (May 16, 17 and 18, 2021)

Well, we’re on our way!

We’re fortunate to have business class seats on Qatar Airlines, and when we’re ready, the crew will  make our seats into beds and we can close the doors and have a private little room.  (No, the “walls” don’t go up to the ceiling, so we still have to be masked.)  This leg of the trip is a 15+ hour flight.  Then we have an 8-hour layover in Doha, Qatar,  where we have a day room in the airport transit hotel.  Next will be a 5-hour flight to Entebbe, Uganda, and a final one-hour flight to our destination:  Kigali, Rwanda.

Our three-week trip will find us in Rwanda, then Tanzania, and finally Kenya.  Here’s map that shows the location of these three countries.

So, while we’re flying, let me go over some background:

First, we’re traveling during a pandemic.  We (and all the other travelers in our tour group) are fully vaccinated.  Even so, we had to show the airline a negative covid test before boarding, and we will be tested again upon arrival in Rwanda, again when we leave Rwanda, again when we arrive in Tanzania, as well as when we arrive in Kenya, and finally before boarding for the flight home.  We’ll all be required to wear masks everywhere, and it feels very safe.  I’ll be glad to see the last of the tests, though!

Second, here’s a close-up of Rwanda.

The dot in the center is Kigali, where we land, get tested and get quarantined in the Hotel Milles des Collines (meaning “thousand hills”) until our test results come back. (We’re expecting a day and one night). This hotel became famous after 1,268 people took refuge inside the building during the Rwandan genocide of 1994.  It is the actual hotel featured in the book and film “Hotel Rwanda.”  However, the story portrayed by the film is fiction and does not describe the real events that occurred back then.

Here are a couple of shots of the hotel once we were cleared and able to walk around.  

Kingali is a city of 3 million people but there is lots of green due to the humid weather.
There’s a memorial to victims of the genocide on the grounds of the hotel.
The first of our group met for dinner tonight. We’ll meet the rest tomorrow.

Next time, we’ll post about the Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge and our Gorilla trek!  Stay tuned for what I hope will be amazing photos!


Wow!  The last travel blog I posted was in October 2019!  Seems like a looong time ago!

In 2021, Jay and I will celebrate our 55th anniversary, and we were planning a really special journey, but then along came Covid!  So first, let me tell you what we are NOT doing!

We made our first down payment on our Fall 2021 cruise (aka Version #1 of the anniversary cruise) in February 2019, and every couple of months, we made payments toward a fantastic voyage from Seattle, to Alaska, through the Aleutian Islands, to the Diomede Islands (on the border of US and Russia), over the northern coast of Russia, to Tromsey, Norway.  From Norway, we were going to wind our way down to London, after which we hoped to be able to connect with our Granddaughter Ylenia, who lives in Florence, Italy.  

This voyage was planned on a brand new expedition style ship which was being built in Germany.  Unfortunately, the shipyard was closed during part of the pandemic, and the ship could not be completed in time to be tested and positioned for the start of the trip. CANCELLED!

Version #2 of the anniversary cruise would have started in Iceland, visited the Faroe Islands, visited Norway, then checked out England, Wales and Scotland, including the Orkney Islands then zipped over to western Europe. We would have visited Amsterdam, Brussels and France, including Guernsey Island and Saint Malo. After a final visit to England, Wales and Ireland’s Dengle Peninsula, we would have crossed the Atlantic and sailed to the Northeast US, probably ending in New York City.  Covid restrictions caused another CANCELLATION!

Version #3 of the anniversary cruise would have been shorter, but we planned to visit Ylenia for a few days in Florence then we would have sailed up and down the Croatian Coast.  Just got word that Covid has caused yet another CANCELLATION!  

Bottom line:  we don’t know what we’re doing for our anniversary! 

BUT if all goes well (fingers crossed) we have an East African tour in mid-May to early June.  The plan includes a gorilla trek in Rwanda, the great migration in Tanzania, and more game drives in Kenya.

If you followed our earlier travel blogs and your e-mail address is unchanged, you’ll receive this post.  If you are no longer interested, you can unfollow us at the bottom of the page, otherwise you will be notified each time we post.

Hope to see you along the way, and we promise some exciting photos!

We’ve Come Full Circle

I forgot to show you last night’s luxurious hotel in Sheboygan:

Today is our last day of touring the Great Lakes, and by the end of the day we will have come full circle.

Great Lakes Image full circle jpeg

We had a morning tour of the Kohler Manufacturing plant in the town of Kohler.

Kohler IMG_1736

No photos were allowed inside, but the Clausens provided photos from the Kohler Design Center taken on a prior tour:

This factory manufactures mainly toilets, bathtubs and sinks.  They  have an interesting artist-in-residence program, but this tour included only a small part of the art Kohler has sponsored over the years.  The majority of the art is back in Sheboygan at the non-profit John Michael Kohler Arts Center.

We had a pleasant afternoon drive, with a few surprises:  a little creek running through a town, murals and sculptures, and a FLAG!

This flag was part of a veterans memorial at the ACUITY insurance company headquarters.  It claims to be the “world’s tallest symbol of freedom” and Wikipedia says it is the tallest flagpole in North America.  The pole is 400 feet high, and you can see it from a LONG ways away, as the Hulstrom’s photo shows:


After lunch we had a quick visit to the Old Wisconsin Sausage  and Smokehouse factory outlet.  Lots of yummy samples!

Finally we completed the full circle of our tour at our original hotel in West Allis (suburb of Dearborn), WI, and a group dinner at Mader’s German Beer Hall where we had our welcome dinner 3 weeks ago! Some of us dressed up, some of us didn’t.  And not only did we have our accordionist, Cyndi Krill, but we also had our own trumpeter, John Hulstrom.  And we had several presentations to Marcus (and Mary in absentia) for the wonderful tour they organized for us.

If you’ve been reading our blogs, you know how much fun this group has had this month.  There were also trying times…  A couple of Model A’s didn’t make the entire tour…  Below are photos of the Biebecks’ break-down which could have been really serious.  Fortunately, it did not occur when they were traveling at speed.

I believe the Dickensons had an issue that caused them to put the car on the trouble trailer, but I have no photos. Oops!  Correction, the Dickinsons were fine — I’ll report the trailered couple when I confirm the correct name! Other cars had relatively minor problems, but the group came together to and multiple mechanics fixed most problems. It’s amazing what a group like this can do.

All in all, it was a very successful tour.  Hope to see you down the road!




Snow and Football

The Great Lakes Model A Tour is approaching it’s end. This is the 20th day of the tour, and we started driving south.  We have had relatively good weather…  At first, we had pretty warm weather, then we had periods of rain, but still not too cold.  Then, suddenly, the temps dropped.  On the first part of our drive today, we had rain and even some snow!  Can you see the snowflakes?

Our main stop of the day was in Green Bay, WI, where we toured Lambeau field, home of the Green Bay Packers.

As we waited for our tour, a retired Packer posed with us.  Sorry, I can’t remember his name, but he sure was BIG!

Toward the end of our tour, we entered the field through the same tunnel the Packers use for home games.

We even got a little cardio in…

Not to mention portraits by the Packers’ goalpost:

Here’s a shot from the Hulstroms:


And several from the Clausens:

From Green Bay, we continued South to our hotel in Sheboygan, WI.  Our friends Michael, Lisa, and Julie live nearby, and we met for dinner.  This night was the night of the Hunter’s Moon, which is the last full moon before the start of the hunting season.  I think it’s also called the “orange” moon, although it wasn’t really orange.


Tomorrow, we complete our drive South to Milwaukee, where we started the tour. We will have come full circle.  Check out our final activities tomorrow.



Ferry Crossing and Unusual Food

This is our 19th day of the Great Lakes Tour (Sat., October 12).  We started the day with an early morning 4-hour car ferry crossing of Lake Michigan.  We departed from Ludington, MI, and landed in Manitowac, WI.

Some passengers didn’t enjoy the motion of the waves at the beginning of the sail, and although it got smoother as we approached Wisconsin, some were VERY happy to step on land again.

Here are shots of the ferry taken by the Krills:

The USS Badger is the last coal fired ship/ferry still sailing the Great lakes and it has been designated a National Historic Landmark. Our crossing was the next to last of the season.

We met a long-time friend, Michael, for lunch across from this courthouse in Manitowac.


From Manitowac, WI, we ambled northward toward Door County and our hotel in Sturgeon Bay, WI. Here are a few pix along the way:

For dinner, we all gathered at Scaturo’s Baking Co. for an authentic Door County “Fish Boil”.  It was cold and windy so we gathered inside in the warmth.

Then we stepped outside to view the actual boil-over.  The Hulstroms got this shot of most of us as the boil was about to happen.


Other shots of the process:

And, the final results: