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Journal Entries for 2015-05 TCS Africa
OVERALL SUMMARY (Journals #1-#2): We've talked about going on safari to South Africa for years. We finally found a trip that we really, really liked. We found an outfit called TCS World Travel that really covers Africa. We went on their TCS Africa by Private Jet tour that went to Ethiopia, Seychelles, Tanzania, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Rwanda. There was a lot of flying around, but we sure saw Africa!!

LISBON, PORTUGAL (on our own) (Journals #3-#12): We flew to Lisbon, Portugal three days before we met the TCS group. We wanted to get over jet lag and to see some of Lisbon. The first day we went to the Pena Palace in Sintra, Cabo da Roca (the most westerly point of continental Europe), and the coastal towns of Cascais and Estoril. The second day we went south to Azeitao, Setubal and Evora. The third day we just took it easy and walked around. We realized that we'd been here in Lisbon before, during our Mediterranean Cruise in March & April of 2012. But, we saw a different part of Lisbon this time.

LISBON, PORTUGAL (with TCS) (Journals #13-#14): Our expedition started the day before we flew to our first destination because TCS provided two walking tours around Lisbon. This gave anyone, like us, who came in early something to do while we waited for everyone else to arrive. TCS took us to the Chiado District and St. George's Castle.

TCS: Then we started the exciting part of our expedition. We weren't sure what to expect, but it was first class all the way. We were treated like royalty. We were provided with refreshing towels & drinks at each stop and/or new location. All modes of transportation during the trip, such as planes, boats, vans, buses, and safari vehicles were a private charter. If the plane held 12 people, there were only eight or so of us on the plane. We were never cramped up or jammed in like cattle. Our luggage was picked up and delivered to/from the airport/hotel. All we had to do was pack it and get it out in the hallway. All hotels or other accommodations were five-star or more!! The food was amazing and plenty of it!! There were free drinks on the plane and any restaurant on the itinerary throughout the trip. It's too bad they couldn't go through Immigration, Customs and Health Checks for us!! We've never used our passports more!! Sometimes going through an airport, we had to go through security up to three times, taking our belts, metal objects and shoes, etc. off each time. There were local representatives at each destination. Whenever we were going from one place to another, whether it was in an airport or hotel or tour destination, there were TCS staff or local representatives holding up the "TCS Africa" sign at key locations to guide us along. It was like following breadcrumbs. We had room service for meals many times, free laundry at times, and they even cleaned our shoes (in Rwanda). We received our itineraries, $10USD in local currency, small gift souvenirs, postcards and fact cards at each new location. The itineraries contained information about what we might need to wear or take with us on tours, temperature, exchange rates and any other pertinent information.

ADDIS ABABA & LALIBELA, ETHIOPIA (Journals #15-#18): Our first flight was to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. The next day we flew from Addis Ababa to Lalibela (and back) in a small charter plane. We'd never heard about the rock-hewn churches in Lalibela, so this was a really interesting start to the expedition. There are 11 churches cut out of the basalt rock down to the bedrock. The tops of the churches are at ground level. They are used regularly and each has a resident priest. The next morning, before leaving Ethiopia, we went to the National Museum of Ethiopia and learned about "Lucy" and human evolution.

MAHE, PRASLIN & LA DIGUE, SEYCHELLES (Journals #19-#25): Then we flew to Mahe in the Seychelles, which is a group of 115 islands off the east coast of Africa. These are a group of tropical islands near the equator, just our cup of tea! The first day we went to the Natural History Museum and the Victoria Botanical Gardens where we learned all about the coco de mer palm with its huge nuts and saw huge tortoises (like the Galapagos tortoises)!! In the afternoon, we went snorkeling. The next day I flew in a small charter plane to Praslin (another island) and went to the Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve (more Coco de mer palm trees). Then we went by boat to La Digue (another island) to the famous Grande Anse beach.

SERENGETI PLAINS, TANZANIA (Journals #26-#39): Our third flight was to the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania. We were really excited to go to the Serengeti to see the "Great Migration". The very first thing we saw (on the way from the airport to the lodge) was a Lion Tree. There were at least 13 lions in this tree, with three more in the grass below!! We went on a game drive from the airport to the lodge, a morning and evening game drive the next day and then another game drive on the way to the airport the following day. We saw a part of the Great Migration--thousands and thousands of wildebeests moving. It was awesome. As we were watching the wildebeests, we saw zebras, ostriches and Cape buffaloes, all at the same time. On the game drives, we also saw warthogs, giraffes, hippos, weavers, Egyptian geese, a blue heron, a guinea fowl, a couple leopards, vervet monkeys, many impalas, several baboons, many wildebeests, a crocodile, several hartebeests, several common waterbucks, several klipspringers, several zebras, many elephants, klipspringers, many Grant's gazelles, two rock hyraxes, a maribou stork, several vultures, many Thomson's gazelles, a cheetah, an eagle, a male lion with several females and cubs, a herd of Cape buffalo, a couple elands, a secretary bird, a couple of topi, several topi, lots and lots of hippos, a mongoose, a gray-backed shrike, a dik-dik, a black-backed jackal, a cheetah, baboons on the balcony, and impalas and elephants from our balcony. We saw four of the Big Five (elephant, leopard, Cape buffalo and lion)!!! (The Big Five are so named because they are the most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot.) This was an awesome adventure!! It was "just like Africa"!!

ROVOS RAIL, JOHANNESBURG TO CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA (Journals #40-#48): After Tanzania, we flew to Johannesburg, South Africa. Here we had a great experience riding the luxurious Rovos Rail for two days from Johannesburg (Pretoria) to Cape Town. We stopped to tour the Kimberly Diamond Mine, which was extremely interesting and to stroll through the historic settlement of Matjiesfontein.

0002-Map of TCS Africa trip.JPG

0312-C&N, 25 of April Bridge, Lisbon.JPG

0771-Inside our private jet, Lisbon.JPG

1012-C&N, St. George Church, Lalibela, Ethiopia.JPG

1192-C&N on catamaran, Mahe, Seychelles.JPG

1468-Lion Tree, Serengeti, Tanzania.JPG

1694-Wildebeest migration, Serengeti, Tanzania.JPG

2175-Carl, Rovos Rail, Matjiesfontein, S Africa.JPG
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