Adventure and experiencing the world are both themes focused and discussed througout my blogs, and themes that play a big part in my life.
A couple weeks ago, Sophie, Adam, Navid – “team naseba” climbed and summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Europe, Middle East and Africa – one of the 7 summits.
The team trained for 9 months to make their summit goal happen.
Later this week, I will post a “guest blog” from Sophie and team naseba highlighting their adventure which will include photos and commentary.
To celebrate Sophie’s summit, Marie, Giovanna and I met her in Arusha, Tanzania the day after their summit.
Several months before, we had planned to meet Sophie after her climb, and then go on a family safari to celebrate her summit and Marie’s (my step daughter) 18th birthday.
There are many things I like about living in Dubai, and the easy access to major places in the world has to be the thing I like the most about living here. Most places are just an easy direct flight away.
After a quick 5-6 hour flight from Dubai… we arrived in Arusha, Tanzania. Although I have been on safari’s in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, it is a completely different, enjoyably experience with my wife and kids.
After an hour drive, We met Sophie and team naseba at Onsea (a superb 5 star bed breakfast in Arusha).
Sophie and the guys didn’t seem tired at all … incredible to think they had summited the highest mountain in EMEA, and then rushed down to the bottom …. With almost no rest between the summit and the return – and they were less tired than I was ….
The day before I left for the trip, Fabien Faure had given me a box of Monte Cristo “A” cigars (arguably, one of the best … So I enjoyed one the cigars sitting on my balcony overlooking Arusha … (thanks Fabien)
Our safari was booked to leave at 6am the next morning.
We were going to Ngorongoro, one of the best, most fertile safari land in the world – a volcano crater in Tanzania.
I was happy for my 9 year old (Giovanna) to experience east Africa … and see first-hand kids her age herding animals, and tending to farms all by themselves.
The drive from Arusha to the Ngorongoro crater took about 5 hours. The girls enjoyed the long, rough ride, and watching all the people on the side of the road.
Our first night in Arusha was at a superb bed and breakfast called, “Onsea” … I cannot recommend this guest house enough. The guest house was 5 star — exceptional, but what made the evening and our stay so great was the food and wine. It was wine from a proper, well stocked wine cellar. The French Chef, Axel took great care of us. The food and wine … was perfect.
… in the morning, after a big breakfast of french toast, we started the next leg of our adventure.
Our schedule was to drive to the crater rim, do a short safari … stay in tents on the crater rim … and then spend two days on a safari.
I am spoiled. I once went on a safari with my friend, Jason Gorud in Kenya, and we pulled up right next to a den of 10+ lions which were all sleeping…. And we witnessed less than a foot from our safari jeep the male lion, wake up … and then walk over and absolutely hammer the female lion …like a dog in heat, a freak without warning…. (right next to us) nothing can beat that safari memory … or so I thought…
After a quick 4-5 hour drive, we arrived to the Ngorongoro crater rim …. Amazing beauty.
The memory of the day was when we stopped at the entrance to the crater/safari park. The guide got out of the jeep to register us to enter the safari park … and within a minute, a massive baboon jumped into the front seat of the jeep … then another one and another one jumped in too. Within seconds, Sophie, Marie, Giovanna and I (all sat in the back of the safari jeep) had 3 large/massive baboons jumping and screaming about in the front of the jeep…. We all screamed and kicked at the baboons/monkeys.
The attack of the hyper aggressive monkeys…
The guide came running back to the jeep and said “be careful ….because they bite…”
No shit … be careful.
We were in a state of shock for a good 20 minutes or so.
The drive onto the crater rim was superb. All of us were mesmerized by the incredible beauty.
We drove through Masai land …
Sophie organized for us to camp in “luxury tents” along the crater rim. I had no idea what a “luxury tent” is like …. But to be honest, I never expected to actually stay in a tent in the middle of the jungle. I figured it was just clever marketing ….
But I would soon find out … we would stay in 5 star tents.
As we drove towards our camp, less than 3 minutes from our camp, we drove by a bunch of zebra … so when we arrived to the camp, the guide told us to look out for zebra in our camp that night…
As we unpacked the car, baboons/monkeys made funny noises and seemed to be all over the trees in our camp. Magical.
We were the only guests at the camp for the time we stayed there … we had the entire camp site to ourselves.
Because of the altitude, there are no flies, mosquito or flying insects … it was an ideal/dream like camp – camping without bugs or mosquitoes.
Sophie and I stayed in the larger of the two tents which had a great king size bed…with Marie and Giovanna staying in a tent next to us, but “next to us” was about 25-50 meters from us. I was impressed the girls were not scared to be so far from us.
The tents were very nice, with showers …. The way the shower worked was when you wanted to shower, you informed the guide, they heated water and then poured it into buckets outside your tent, pulled a rope which raised the bucket into the air … and then the person in the tent could take a hot shower.
A bit too much culture for me … but Sophie, Marie and Gio enjoyed showers. I (instead) enjoyed a wash cloth bath which served its purpose.
Both nights, we all sat by the fire … the girls enjoyed roasted marsh mellow and I enjoyed a couple cigars Robin had given to me … magical.
As I don’t eat meat, I didn’t enjoy the grotesque looking “buffalo” that was served for dinner … but apparently, it was good. My vegetarian meal was excellent.
I think it was the first time I have ever slept in a “luxurious tent” before … and I slept straight, until 5:30 when the guides woke us up to inform us our morning shower was prepared, and so was breakfast. It was nice and cold during the night so sleeping in the large bed was a real pleasure. The workers, and guides took great care of us. A superb experience.
We left the camp around 6:15 am to arrive on the crater at the latest 7am. A funny memory for me, but not so funny for Sophie … I forgot Sophie’s boots at the Onsea hotel … so Sophie got to enjoy the safari and the camping adventure in her flip flops…
The drive onto the Ngorongoro crater rim at 7am was surreal … and we witnessed an elephant walk right in front of our car
…. Loads of giraffe — one giraffe came so close to our jeep that I could nearly touch/pet it.
and we saw hippo out of the water.
Previous Safari, I didn’t see a single hippo … but this time, we saw 6 out of the water, and at least 8 more in the water …. right in front of us.
We came across a den of lions, with a large male lion sleeping … I jokingly said out loud “come on Giovanni … wake up the lion” and no joke — within seconds of saying that, the lion woke up, and stood up and walked directly in front of us. (Giovanni is my guardian angel — thanks Gio)
We spent a couple days doing a safari … and we saw so many zebra that we got bored of them. We saw everything, including 3 black Rhino and hundreds and hundreds of buffalo … our guide told us that in Africa buffalo kill more humans than all other animals because the hunters often let their guards down around them … and ultimately get charged.
On our second morning, a Hyena which our guide told us kills more animals in the jungle than even the lions … came up to our safari jeep. The hyena had blood on its back …. And it came right up to the door of the jeep, looked up and growled, and then started to bite the rear tire cover.
It was a great couple days of safari …
Our last night was back at the “Onsea” in Arusha … seriously, I cannot praise this hotel enough.
Our rooms were large and comfortable, but what made the experience perfect was the great French food and wine … the chef is French. We had a great dinner with Navid from “team naseba” who gave me a great “gift…A gift…” (thanks Navid!)
The dinner was served on a terrace with a great view …
I am doing business in west Africa (Angola, Nigeria and South Africa) and this year, we are also including 3 projects in east Africa …
I like Africa very much — and its worth mentioning that the Chinese are buying Africa up like crazy — and America and Europe are missing out big time … and the west (all of us) will surely suffer massive consequences in the future … but this a blog topic for another day.
Africa is the continent of the 21st century.