So we are now back in Nairobi after crossing the border from Tanzania, but have spent the last three days on a safari trek to two different parks to see various animals. By far, Tanzania was the most touristy spot we visited with 20-30 safari trucks waiting at entrances to parks and driving around in front of you. We did not see so much of this in Kenya – maybe because the distances are greater. Our first drive was about 2 hours, then another 2 hours to the hotel, then in the morning another 1.5 hours to the Ngorogoro crater. Ngorogoro is like Yellowstone national park – a sunken hole in the earth – miles across – where animals live – none really leave. Mostly wilderbeast, antelope, and zebra. Rumored is rhino’s although we didn’t officially see one up close. On the second day we think Hayden had a stomach bug, so he suffered through a couple of hours of 4×4 (very bumpy) roads – which completely sucks when you’re also feeling motion sick – but he made it through it.
So haven’t been keeping up on the blog post – largely due to non-existent internet. We are now in a nice hotel that has great internet, food, and showers! (Hot). About a week ago we left Nairobi and flew to Rwanda. We stayed at the Mille Collines Hotel (from the movie hotel Rwanda). An unbelievable place, with very nice food, great rooms and lovely staff. We stayed there one night, then the next day went back to “Africa Scout Camp” traveling to the Uganda border then about 20KM into the park for the next day of Gorilla Trekking.
For the past couple of days we have been in the Amboseli National Park in Kenya, which is about a 5 hour drive south from Nairobi. It’s one of the smaller national parks for doing the ‘safari’ which we did and were simply amazed. We spent about 4 hours in the evening, then the following day (all day) on Safari – literally stopping so elephants, zebras, giraffes, etc. could cross the road. Overall a spectacular place, with the backdrop of Mt. Kilimanjaro in the background – which we saw the first afternoon and as we were leaving. We did get lucky on our full day as there was cloud cover, so the animals were out most of the day – usually during the heat of the day they will retreat to shade/cover.
So our story begins yesterday at 4:30 a.m. when we were scheduled to ‘get up’ to meet our car at 6 a.m. for the outing to the Niavasha area. In all actuality, we were still suffering from some jet lag, so 3:30 seemed about right… The night before Cindy explained how this is a pretty easy hike, about 3 km out, and 3 km back, no worries… that’s easy. (More story below). We also went on a great boat ride after the Volcano, and then spent today biking to/from Hell’s Gate National park – all in Kenya. It’s about a 2 hour drive from our hotel to/from this area.
So it’s taken about 2 days to get onto the +9 hour time zone difference, yesterday we were up early (4 a.m.) then by noon everyone was struggling to make meaningful words come out of their mouth, so quick nap and we were better. Basically didn’t do much of anything yesterday, our apartment/hotel is connected to a mall and we went to a Chinese place for food…
Today on the other hand Cindy had setup a drive to take us through the city to explore a women’s facility that makes beads, the Karen Blixen museum (Out of Africa), and the Giraffe center – breeding and education. The traffic was brutal in Nairobi, and I wouldn’t drive here if I had to – wrong side of the road, no signs really and just a game of chicken at about every turn. Even driving in Peru doesn’t compare.
Well I haven’t posted here in a while – almost 4 years… Crazy how time flies. After our entire Africa trip was thrown into the air last week due to Ebola, we are now ready to leave. The best thing is that we (Cindy) scrambled and we have a new itinerary, including better routing to/from Africa via Frankfurt – so instead of 4 legs each way it’s only 2.
We will get to trek to see Gorillas (no fence/wall/barrier), see the Serengeti, hike a volcano, and see another way of life outside of the bubble that we live in.
Seems like a long time ago in a land far far away when we were driving through South America – now one kid is a senior in high school working on college essays, the other starting sophomore year.
Will try to update this blog with our travels, but really not super interested in connecting to wifi for a couple of weeks.
We will be in Nairobi for several Days, then Rwanda, a day/in/out of Uganda for Gorillas, then to Tanzania for a couple of days. We depart back to the USA mid-July. Our initial trip was mostly in Uganda, but with Ebola our guides did not want to go. Ebola has grown significantly in Congo in the last 5 months (doesn’t make CNN at all) with over 1,500 people dying.
It’s a lot easier to leave for 3 weeks than 6 months, but Dogs get a nice kennel with run area, chickens are getting watched by neighbors, cat passed away though 😦
Love trips like this, changes your life perspective.
So on a lot of our trip we needed to lookup from others how they did it – if they really needed certain paperwork, etc. so I figure I’d add one post for the world in case there were others out there needing information. No photos in this post as I find myself sitting back in the home office in Colorado these days, wondering how a year ago we figured out to go drive in South America…
On our trip we did 8 border crossings – many between Chile and Argentina going down and back up along Route 40, etc. The one thing – each border crossing was different. The paperwork was the same, but what people asked for, looked at, etc. were a bit different. Crossing from Chile to Peru, completely different than Argentina-> Chile. When we shipped the car into Chile (Vina Del Mar) and back home from Guayaquil Ecuador we had an agent – they took care of all of the paperwork so that was very easy. But it is the same paperwork that you need to have ready at the border crossing, so you should understand it.
Going Chile to Argentina was fairly straightforward. Getting out of any country was easy – the getting in is the more interesting part. Typically the agent for the country you are leaving is sitting right next to the agent from the country you are entering. They process your passports, then slide them to the next person to input and you’re done. Other places you have this three stage process: Immigration, Customs and Inspection. You must first check-out/in of the country (immigration). For this it’s all about passports, stamps, etc. At each site there is typically a piece of paper to fill out about family information, purpose of your visit, etc. You must have it filled out. At some border crossings there was a person there who spoke some English – but not a lot.
The car & paperwork. So the car was not as hard as you would believe it to be. In each country there is basically a import form that is filled out for the vehicle. Upon coming into a country (customs) you present them with owner passport, title and your registration. They don’t care about insurance. They usually want to see the originals of registration and title. They enter it into the computer, print out a form, you sign it, they stamp it a few times and off you go. One guy coming into Argentina complained that the registration was not stamped with an official office or something – I told him in the USA they don’t do that.
Argentina: you MUST have the paperwork that you have paid your reciprocity tourist fee. This you do online before hand – it’s good for 10 years, but if you are from USA you must have paid it. Each and every border crossing with Argentina that’s what they asked for. There is also special insurance for Argentina that you should probably buy. For our car it was $100 for 90 days. But if you get stopped – and in Argentina you get stopped a lot – there are police in the road every 30km or so sometimes – they want to see your insurance papers. Handing them something in English doesn’t do it. It needs to be official and have stamps on it, etc. The police stops at first are a bit scary – you are expecting the bribe scenario, etc. We never had anything like that. At each stop they would ask for our papers, usually ask if we were American and let us go on our way. Usually they liked the car and would want to ask about it – being friendly helped. No bribes paid in Argentina.
Chile: Chile was a bit more strict on searching the car for stuff. One guy made us take everything out of the car and set it on tables next to the car. He then walked around, and said “ok”. So we then reloaded everything back into the car. At another border crossing you have to have your bags ‘scanned’ so you have to take everything out, wheel it inside a building, scan it and then wait for the car. There was only one border crossing that did this – between Chile->Peru. Going from Pucon to Bariloche was great, but the lines in the summer were very long and it took several hours. Other spots it was 30 minutes. You don’t have the regular police stops/checks in Chile like you do in other spots. No bribes paid in Chile.
Peru: Peru – you must have SOAT insurance. It’s the first thing they ask for. When you cross the border there is usually a place to buy it. I think it was $12 for our car for 60 days. It’s a little piece of paper. I asked the lady to make me a copy and we kept a spare one in the car as well. The police in Peru are similar to Argentina and you have regular police stops. They are simply checking paperwork, etc. But primarily they are checking for SOAT insurance. So have it with your vehicle. While driving though Lima a police car pulled us over for speeding – huh? we were going slower than everyone else. We had a nice time talking then he asked for money. He asked for dollars. I said we don’t have dollars on us. How about some soles? ok. Ended up costing $6.
Ecuador: Ecuador supposedly has SOAT insurance program as well. Since we were driving straight to our hotel and putting the car on a ship I didn’t get it. My guess is that if they have it you should have it. We went through Peru/Ecuador up north near Tumbes (Zarumilla/Huaquillas). Probably the most unorganized border crossing we had. No signs of where to go, what to do, etc. Couldn’t find where to check out/in. Finally we got through it but it was very frustrating. Everyone was nice, but they would tell you to walk to a place – get there and no one is there. Then you walk around back and there’s a dude with a computer – oh yes, that’s your guy… stand in line, get up front – he says – you need to go to the other building first… grrrrr… we got it all done – but it’s a mess.
International Insurance. Ok – so we bought this international car insurance from an underwriter in the USA. Guess what – it’s printed in English and they don’t offer a Spanish version. So while you are protected legally, if you present it to a police officer? It’s worth toilet paper. I would have it in case something happens – but presenting it to an officer it’s pretty useless.
ok, back to work – hopefully this helps someone who’s driving in South America.
Well it’s here, day 179 out of 180. We have been offline for the last several days in the Galapagos – exploring a pretty amazing place. We started on a boat that we chartered with 12 other guests, but ended up getting off the boat after the first night and staying on land. Prior to the Galapagos we had all experienced a 24 hour bug, and I think it hit Gavin on the first day of the Galapagos. Combined with being sea-sick all night didn’t help his condition. To our great benefit we had a children’s physician from Texas on board who helped us look atour boy. After speaking with some local guys the weather forecast was for bigger seas and more pounding, so we decided to get off at Isabella island and fly back over to Baltra two days later.
Well I hate to say it but this is the beginning of the end for our trip. I actually just finished loading the car into the shipping container with our agent and watching a truck take it to the shipping staging area. All went as planned, now I just need to be in Houston on or around July 18-20th to pick it up and drive back to Colorado. Anyway, rewinding a few days…
Well we’ve been skipping some blogging lately – largely due to being on the road and so busy touring ruins. We have done a bunch of ruin tours – seeing many Inca, and Mochi (pre-Inca) relics, tombs, religious sites, vases, more vases, and then some more ceramic vases. To say that they have a lot of ceramic things is an understatement. We did get to see some very interesting sites and learn more about the northern Peruvian history. Some of these places are the oldest sites in South America, so it’s interesting to learn. I think the boys are ruined out…