Thursday, 26 May 2016

Leaving Air Emirates Airline Cabin Crew and other stuff to blog

It has been ages since I blogged. lots of reasons for this:
in mid 2013 I was informed I had breast cancer, the treatment for this illness prevented me from travelling on an aircraft!!! Ow, the injustice of it all!! Following on from the treatment, I didn't have the energy to do anything, let alone blog.
I did do a bit of blogging on here as soon as I was told I could travel, I was off to see the Northern Lights in Sweden, sit on the beach in Phuket and drive The Caprivi Strip in Africa.
Kangos, Sweden. Pine Tree Lodge

Moira in Kangos, Sweden. Pine Tree Lodge. As I have the hat on you cant see my lack of hair!

In Phuket, lack of hair seen.

Getting on to the Emirates flight back to MAN , its great to have a daughter to greet us x

Proud Dad

At Shindi in the Okovango
Happy to be able to Fly again
After that mad 4 months, there was a lack of money;  due to being off sick and spending it all on posh travel. Also, it was time for me to go back to work. Then followed a very busy time of working and a bit of trave giving me lots of ................Subjects to Blog;
A visit to Crete at the end of 2014.
Cape Town and the Garden Route. January 2015.
Dubai April 2015.
A very wet visit to Sorrento in May 2015.
During  2015 in was the Rugby World Cup, and it was held in England, so no touring holiday for this RWC. but I did get involved and will blog it.
A quick trip to Tenerife October 2015.
A Cycle Africa challenge in October 2015.
Sri Lanka and Maldives March 2016.

As for leaving Emirates, My Dolly with the Trolley rang me on New Years Day 2015 telling me she that after 7 years she had  decided she would be leaving; leaving Dubai and her job as Cabin Crew with Emirates. There were many reasons, but from my point of view it was time to leave and move on to new challenges. Flying like that is tiring and trying on the mind, body and sole.
I will blog about the leaving process, and ask her to record the best and worst bits about working for Emirates as now she has left the 'gagging' order we had to stick to is gone. Mind you, it will not be a Dragana style ''Do Not Fly Emirates'' fest
Just as my daughter left she booked a photo session in her Uniform the results are stunning.

Air Emirates Cabin Crew Photo Shoot

Air Emirates Cabin Crew Photo Shoot

Air Emirates Cabin Crew Photo Shoot

Air Emirates Cabin Crew Photo Shoot

So I have lots to blog and hope to get on with it on rainy days, and hope that the information continues to help you plan your independent holidays, you really do not need travel agents you just need confidence,  my Sri Lanka trip will illustrate that. Also, this blog is for me is a travel diary, as it is easy to forget what you have done and when. I often find myself using the blog to remember events from the past, it truly is a diary, one I have been neglecting and I need to get back to it!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Etosha National Park, Self Drive Trip June 2014.

Today we left the Caprivi region behind us and headed towards The Etosha National Park. We drove towards the town of Tsumeb. On the way I saw signs to the Hoba Meteorite
The Hoba Meteorite is on a farm. 'Hoba West' this is where it fell. It has never been moved and is said to be the largest Meteorite in the world. It was a lovely location and very impressive.  
Hoba Meteorite

We made Tsumeb in good time and had pre booked camping at Onguma Game Reserve. We arrived at Onguma a lot sooner than I had thought we would, the roads in Namibia, unlike Botswana are good.
We went to Onguma camp site to tell the owner we had decided camping was not for us! The campsite was really nice, good pitches each with high quality ablutions. The very helpful man running this part of the estate checked and there was a hut free in the Onguma Main Bush Camp.  The accommodation here was top class, viewing over a watering hole, with wifi, so I sat, G&T in hand and skyped home and showed the people in England the Giraffes drinking at the watering hole. It was a magical place. What a contrast the next day when we entered the state run Etosha.
camping at Onguma Game Reserve

camping at Onguma Game Reserve

camping at Onguma Game Reserve

 Onguma Game Reserve

 Onguma Game Reserve
Namutoni Camp site was run down and downright dangerous! The staff surly, rude and lazy. There were loads of them, all milling around doing nothing.  It’s a good job people visit to see the outstanding wildlife and not the experience you get in the Namibian Wildlife Parks rest camps.  
Namutoni Camp

Namutoni Camp

Namutoni Camp

The Book Shop at Namutoni Camp

Namutoni Camp

Namutoni Camp
The wild life in Etosha is outstanding, within minutes of driving into the park we saw this Rhino, one of 10 we saw in 3 days. 8 at the watering hole in Okaukuejo. We also had a puncture! Not a place you want to be changing your flat tyre.

At Okaukuejo we saw both Black and White Rhino and heard them calling to each other.

We stayed at Okaukuejo and were due to stay at Halali, but they had allocated us a small disabled hut, without cooking facilities. I asked if I could move into what I had booked, a hut with cooking facilities, I was advised the camp was full. It was very, very quiet with 2 cars in the car park.
When I said ‘OK! We will cancel the booking then!’ suddenly there was availability! That was it, I had had it with the rude , surly camp staff and scruffy surroundings (Namibian Wildlife charge top prices for Etosha).
We drove out of the Anderson Gate and checked into Etosha Safari Lodge & Camp. This was a fraction of the prices in the Park, it was clean, comfortable and run by professional friendly staff.

Posh Tents.
The next day it was time to drive the straight fast road to Windhoek, via the Biltong Factory at Okahandja and get the Air Namibia flight to JoBurgh where our aircraft was waiting to take us home.
Air Namibia Fleet at Windhoek airport.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Popa Falls, Caprivi Strip Namibia. Self Drive Road Trip, June 2014.

I entered the name 'Popa Falls' into the sat nav, and we followed the directions, although it seemed to be taking us in the wrong direction, as we were going back along the main road towards Kongola. Soon after crossing the bridge at Bagani, the tinny voice told us to turn right. This was onto a barely visible dirt track through the bush. The bumpy track led to a small beach on the banks of the river with this view of the Pops Falls,  more like a series of rapids really. 
The small sandy beach was a great place to sit and enjoy the packed lunch Shindi had prepared for us. Less than 10 minuets into our lunch I was startled when an old man appeared, silently behind me. Once I had recovered from the shock, I realised he was asking asking for money for the 'Car Parking' as this was tribal land. The amount he wanted was extremely low, and it was worth it to stop in this spot.  
Popa Falls, Caprivi, Namibia
Beach & Picnic Spot at Popa Falls
We needed to find accommodation and had see lots of signs to lodges and camping on the stretch of road from Mahango Game Park to Bagani. So we went back that way and followed the signs to Mahangu Safari Lodge. The track was long and dusty and we passed a few Shebeens. but the area was very quiet.
AfriCan Shebeen
Soon we arrived at the gates to Mahangu Safari Lodge. Here we had a choice of camping, or accommodation in bungalows or large safari tents all equipped with en-suite facilities, air-conditioning, mosquito nets and mains electricity.
The lodge is set amongst wild date palms and jackalberry trees and has great views of the Kavango River. Sunset decks near the water provide birders and photographers with a safe haven to sit and relax. The lodge also does game viewing boat trips to observe crocs and hippo, especially in the late afternoon. Organized fishing trips are also available for those who want to catch a Tiger in Africa, the fish! 
Mahangu Safari Lodge
We had a simple but very clean hut near to the river, dinner was served in the communal area and all diners sat together, with the log fire warming the area, that was a nice touch. The food was simple but very good, the wine was also good. It was a pleasant evening.
A Boxer at Mahangu Safari Lodge enjoying an early morning sunbed
After a leisurely breakfast and settling the bill we were on the road again. This time we called into the Namibian Wildlife Resort at Popa Falls. this resort has been renovated and looks very nice, but it was extremely quiet. I have to say the Falls are better seen from the other side of the river.

Popa Falls from the NWR, Namibia

Popa Falls

Sun downer boat at NWR Popa Falls
As we drove towards Rundu, was passed a community shop selling baskets and called in. Here I got some of the best African Basket wear I have ever seen. The quality of the hand weaving is top class, I got as many as I could get into my hand luggage. They have now been made into a wall hanging, and very nice it is to!

The town of Rundu states it is at the gateway to the Caprivi Strip. Well we did it the other way so it was the end of the Caprivi Strip for us. It was a busy, dusty town.
We were heading for Hakusembe River Lodge that according to the Sat Nav was situated on the banks of the Kavango River, about 15km west of the town. From the Tar road it was a 4.5km drive on a dirt track through more Shebeens and lots of Churches, until finally there was a very muddy, flooded track.  You did need a 4X4 type car to get to the lodge.
Again, once through the gates the contrast with the grounds and outside was immense. Here were lush lawns, roses, palms and a wonderful setting.
Set back from the river, is Hakusembe's campsite with eight individual pitches. But again we didn't camp, but had a hut with bathroom, fridge and a small veranda.
Hakusembe River Lodge, Rundu

Hakusembe River Lodge, Rundu

Hakusembe River Lodge, Rundu

Hakusembe River Lodge, Rundu
We did a sundowner cruise on the river, with drinks and snacks, it was very relaxing watching the sun go down and the moon rise, whilst villages ferried back and forth to Angola in small dug outs.
Hakusembe River Lodge, Rundu
Hakusembe River Lodge, Rundu

The meal was served in the temporary restaurant (the new one will be built now). It was a buffet meal and very good, again the wine was good quality, especially if you think where we were. So it was a pleasant end to our drive through the Caprivi Strip and onward tomorrow to Etosha.
I had wanted to visit this region for a very long time, disappointingly my imagined Caprivi was very different from the real Caprivi.
Most of Caprivi’s population is concentrated in Katima Mulilo, along the main road and in small villages spread across the eastern floodplains. Many of the people are at risk from frequent flooding. Many are subsistence farmers who make a living from the rivers. However many villages are apparently reliant on flood relief.  All along the Strip people are begging and children did not appear to have access to schooling, the population was one of the poorest I have ever seen in Southern Africa, unemployment is over 23%.
The Game reserves that are in the area state they have wildlife, but it was not in evidence along the road, I am glad I did not see animals along this road, as the large lorries go at great speed and I think if I had seen any they would have been dead ones. Would I go again? NO! only if I wanted to get from Namibia to Vic Falls in a rush, and that’s what all the guided tours were using it for.