Zanzibar, the last stop

Zanzibar was a spice trading port in days gone by. It is an interesting destination to spend a few days with the narrow winding streets of the old Stone Town. There are many shops filled with curios and books to while away the time. Sunset was best enjoyed on the terrace of The African restaurant, overlooking the ocean with palm trees swaying in the wind and traditional Dhow boats sailing by.

Every evening the market square is alive with the local food market where you can sample some local cuisine. We opted to have dinner at the Tower Restaurant, overlooking the entire town from its high vantage point. The evening was warm with a lovely sea breeze.

The final 2 days of our adventure in Tanzania with Womens Own Adventure was spent at a lovely small resort on the east coast of the island of Zanzibar. With time to swim, walk along the white sand beaches and snorkel among the coral, brightly coloured fish and giant stafish. Such a treat.
Alas, it is time to return home now, but there will be new adventures on the horizon.

– Marika at Women’s Own Adventure signing off

Location:Zanzibar, Tanzania

In the villages with the locals

After a magnificent safari experience it was time to move onto a cultural experience near Mt Kilimanjaro and beyond.

We met some of the amazing Ubiri women who have formed a co operative and work together in producing and packaging jams and conserves from local produce. The plum jam is delicious, though the banana beer is not for our palate.

From there we enjoyed walklng through the fields, village and markets. Some of our group from Womens Own Adventure accepted an invitation from our local female guide to sit in on a Pentacostal Church service. This was an experience all of its own with plenty of rhythm & soul in the clapping and singing from the colourful congregation of men, women and children.

Some of us tried to dress in style as well.

Then there were the children.

What an insight to a vastly different way of life. We are very privileged indeed to have this first hand experience. To walk amongst the small vegetable gardens and very basic village homes, to see how hard the women work each day, to wander through the bustling maket and learn the art of haggling, then to top it off with a local Kilimanjaro beer in the afternoon sunshine.

Our adventure is not over yet, there is more to come.

– Marika at Women’s Own Adventure signing off


Safari in Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater

Each day of our adventure in Tanzania has indeed kept getting better.
The savanna grasslands of the Serengeti with the lone Acacia tree is such an iconic image of this area, and now it is captured on my camera by the early morning light while on safari.
We have all captured some amazing images of African wildlife in the raw such as the leopard in the tree with his meal dangling from another branch. A meal that he has worked so hard for. Then the Cheeta with her cubs by the river, so close to us.

On our way to the Serengeti, we visited a local Masai village and had the pleasure of witnessing a traditional welcome dance by the village and had the opportunity of sitting inside one of their small huts to see just how these nomadic cow herders live. It is such a basic existence, surrounded by wildlife in the Ngorongoro Conservation region.

Some of the ladies on our trip decided to take an early morning balloon flight over the Serengeti, an experience i am sure they will never forget, witnessing the wildlife from just above tree top height, giving them a true birds eye view.

The last part of our wildlife safari was to descend into the Ngorongoro Crater. This is the most incredible ecosystem that nature has provided. It was once a volcano, which imploded on itself, resulting in a crater that has fresh water, open grassland, small forests and a salt lake. It captures the sun all day and supports a natural envrionment where the animals live and hunt. Being a small area we are able to view the wildlife activity in close proximity.
Yesterday we watched in amazement as a pride of lions arranged themselves, ready to stalk and hunt. They zebras were on watch and the buffalo had almost become a meal for the lions.

The sights we have seen are so amazing. The next part of our adventure takes us to the foot of Mt Kiliminjaro, where we will experience local culture in the villages and enjoy some wallking.

So there is more adventure to come for our Womens Own Adventure group in Tanzania.

– Marika at Women’s Own Adventure signing off


First Impressions of Africa

After a lifetime of desire, my first sighting of Africa was almost surreal. Here I am gazing at a family of wild hippos as they bathe before heaving themselves out of the water to sunbake on the shore. They are massive creatures, certainly a lot larger than I ever imagined.

It is now very late July 2012 and a group of adventurous women, travelling with Women’s Own Adventure, are on safari in Tanzania.

Breathing in the magnificence of our surroudings while looking down upon Lake Manyara National Park, the animals we have sighted on our very first day on safari is almost enough to say, let’s go home, we have seen them all. But going home is the last thing any of us want to do, as we are now addicted to the sights of Africa and just want more.

While driving in our safari vehicles towards the park, we observe dozens of statuesque Masaii men with their own herd of cows as they are taken to market. Dotted along the countryside are small Masaii villages, women
walklng with produce balanced on their heads or babies on their backs, small children in uniform running off to school and young teenage boys dressed in traditional black with the painted faces of boys who are on a journey to manhood. The colours of the people and their dress are stunning as a contrast to the subdued colours of the landscape.

Once inside the National Park, not only have we seen hippos, giraffes, wilderbeasts, zebras, elephants, warthogs, impala and a mirriad of birds but these creatures were all in the wild and very close to us, with the elephants parading in front of our vehicle. To top off the days sightings, we were privileged to sight a tree climbing lion, lazing upon a comfortable branch. This is a very rare sighting indeed and we have seen it on our first day on safari in Tanzania. I am wondering just how much better can it get?

– Marika at Women’s Own Adventure signing off


Always saving the best for last

Each walk on this Bulgarian Adventure was so different, interesting, beautiful and fun. We have progressed with our fitness over the past 2 weeks, culminating in the most exhilarating walk around the 7 Rila Lakes.

Riding a chair lift to the start of the walk we have passed by all 7 lakes, each at a higher level, with the last lake half frozen with glacial ice spilling slowly into it.

One final push to the top peak at over 2,500 metres rewarded us with a picnic lunch at the top and the most amazing 360 degree views over the entire mountain range and the lakes. It was a manificent walk and a great day.

Now back in Sofia on the last day of our adventure, alas, preparing to leave Bulgaria and one of the unknown corners of Europe.
However, on my last day in Sofia after the group have left, I simply could not resist a paraglide over from nearby Mt Visholo and gaining a birds eye view of the city from the air.

Adventure … That is what life is all about!
– Marika at Women’s Own Adventure signing off


Climbing mountains and dancing with Baba

As the girls on our trip say, we are “somewhere in Bulgaria”, and this is why ….

The names of towns and villages are not only hard to understand and difficult to say, but impossible to read!!

So where are we then ?

Ani (our ever optimistic guide) keeps telling us it is only a little up then a little down, so the track is really almost even and is only 1 more hour.

The lovely picnic lunches in green meadows helped sustain us.

Yesterday we climbed to an amazing vantage point of Mt Pirin, well above the tree line with icy cold lakes, patches of snow and views of the rugged mountain range. The climb, as always was worth it once at the top even though there were doubts on the way up.

The last few days had seen us create pottery, swim in a freezing river, enjoy a spa in mineral springs, have our sins forgiven at the magnificent Rila Monastry, walk through beautiful pine forests and dance with Babas (gorgeous grandmothers) in traditional dress.

Tomorrow we will trek high to the seven Rila Lakes.

– Marika at Women’s Own Adventure signing off