Page 2 of RedPlanetClaire Travel Blog Posts


Africa » Tanzania » North » Lake Manyara September 12th 2018

Today Glyn and I were totally blessed by the Safari Fairy. Although Lake Manyara was famous for lions in the trees, it is extremely rare to actually see them these days. Our ranger, Mhara, has been a ranger in the park for 5 years and only seen this phenomena 4 times, so his disbelief was as strong as mine and I had mentally prepared myself for disappointment. But we saw a lioness in a tree!! Having a nap!! It was amazing!! So anyway, from the beginning: I awoke to the sound of a persistent cockerel that was even earlier than the alarm. It was so good to have the first hot shower of the trip and Glyn even left me some of the hot water. Our driver from yesterday appeared and we saw that the marks ... read more
zebra at  Lake Manyara
vervet monkeys
baboon sex

Africa » Tanzania » North » Arusha » Arusha City September 11th 2018

A huge thunderstorm awoke me at around 5am, the room was intermittently lit by bright lightening and the curtains were blowing in like a horror movie. The window was open but we were protected by a veranda, mosquito net and wrought iron bars. I got up to watch it over the lake. I've never seen so much lightening in one storm, it was sheet lightening that lit up the entire sky turning the palm trees into black silhouettes. It flickered like a faulty light at varying intensities as the wind attacked the trees and the lake was totally mad. The thunder too was intense and frequent, being particularly loud at times. This went on for around 40 minutes and what baffled me further was that Glyn didn't wake up. Afterwards, the sky was a dingy grey ... read more
breakfast
view of Lake Tanganyika from our room.
Kigoma airport

MISSING September 10th 2018

Today has been one of the best of my life, I've been lucky and privileged to have seen around 25 wild chimps in the wild and was with them for 2.5 hours. I walked out of the jungle a hot, sweaty mess with twigs in my hair and covered in dirt, but totally exhilarated. Just amazing.Breakfast was at 7.30 and was a bit odd: some savoury pancakes, bread and fried egg that came after we'd eaten the rest as Duma had forgotten them. Ahadi , our chimp guide met us just after 8am and off we went. He had just the clothes he wore and a small bottle of water in his hand - no backpack, no first aid kit, no namby-pamby tourist health and safety shit, this was the real deal. He had warned us ... read more
Wild chimp in Gombe.
Wild chimp in Gombe
attempt of selfie with chimps

Africa » Tanzania » West » Kigoma September 9th 2018

If a place is only accessible by boat and the people at the town of the port are staring, you know you've managed to get away from most other tourists, which is awesome, but who will my hubby moan about in his blogs? We are at the edge of Lake Tanganyika, in the Gombe Nature Park in East Tanzania and we practically have the place to ourselves, except for a few staff and many potentially thieving baboons. It took some getting to and we started at 4.30am, in Dar Es Salaam. My first thought of the day was no one can helped but be wowed by an all-in-one shower and squat loo, how eco is that?!! AND not only does the loo act as the drain for shower water, you can also take a dump whilst ... read more
Dr Livingstone Glyn presumes
fishing boat on lake Tanganyika
recreating Livingstone moment

Europe » Bulgaria » Sofia Province » Borovets June 23rd 2018

Our last morning in Borovets was drizzly but still warm. We went on a last walk, catching all of the local pokéstops and doing a last minute spot of urban exploration after we spotted a derelict bar/ hotel. The sorry looking calendar on the wall was from 2006 but strangely there were planks of wood piled up as though it was in the middle of being built. There were some disregarded ski boots which is particularly odd because they are expensive items. There were signs that someone could be living rough there, so we didn't stay long. The drive to the car hire depot in Sofia got hotter as we progressed and Sofia was having a very sunny day. We filled the tank and in Bulgaria they still have an attendant who fills the car for ... read more
mini place of worship and also a pokéstop.
Wooden church in Borovets
abandonned building


The original plan today was to go on a narrow gauge railway, but upon further investigation I realised it was a 10 hour round trip and much of it goes through scenery we have already driven through. Plan B was a half hour drive to Sapareva Banyans, where a bunch of women were blocking the road rollerskiing and making it look like hard work. From there we drove up to the Rila Mountains towards Seven Lakes, which are glacial lakes situated between 2,100 and 2,500 metres above sea level. Glyn had though that as we were hiking to lakes, that it would be flat, ha ha, he was wrong! On the way up, Glyn stopped so we could do a Pokémon raid in a woodland walk where naff fairytale character paintings were nailed to trees. They ... read more
roadside well.
Turkish woman in the forest, apparently .
the chair lift up to the hike start point

Europe » Bulgaria » Blagoevgrad Province » Belitsa June 21st 2018

The cruel practice of forcing bears to dance for entertainment was banned in Bulgaria in 1998 and now the rescued bears need somewhere to live. Thus the badly named 'Dancing Bear Park' started in Belitsa. The bears no longer have to dance, but instead have huge enclosures in thick forest where they can please themselves. They can't go back in the wild because they don't know how to look after themselves and would not get on with the 450-600 wild bears still living in the national parks. Because of the mountains, everywhere is a long drive away, so we decided to make it more of a 'photographic, leisurely drive', like a Sunday afternoon drive only on a Thursday morning. The majority of the journey was thick forests of fir trees or snowy mountains in the distance. ... read more
tank at Raduil
Rescue bear park at Belitsa.
Rescued bear at Belitsa.


Mountains generally have a variety of routes up that are labelled for the competency of the climbers. In the Rila Mountains, Glyn and I needed the incompetent route but ended up on the complete and utter numpty path. There's no mountain rescue in the Rila Mountains that I could see. Not even a map or sign telling you how far it is to the top (yes I know we could google it but where's the fun in that?) The weather forecast for today in Borovets was sunny, so Glyn and I decided to take the gondola up to Yastrebets and then take a hike to Mount Musala. Nothing like the gondolas in Venice, these cable cars are for carting skiers and snowboarders up to ski slopes. At 12 lev each return (£6), it wasn't much to ... read more
Cable cars up to Yastrebets
the journey begins to Mount Musala.
Redundant ski lifts on the way to Mount Musala

Europe » Bulgaria » Sofia City » Sofia June 19th 2018

My hubby could have been a Palace Guard in Bulgaria once upon a time. Out of a whole group of tourists from UK, Canada, USA, Chile, South Korea, Russia, Australia and Spain, he was the only one who fitted the criteria to get this once well paid and illustrious job. All he had to do was catch an eagle and pluck a tail feather to wear in his hat and the job would have been his. What is this illusive criteria you ask? You just have to be blonde, blue-eyed and over 185 cms in height. However these days those rules are relaxed as there's not many blue-eyed blonde tall Bulgarians to choose from. Plus there's an eagle at the local zoo that supplies the feathers and the job is less prestigious with less pay. We ... read more
Street art on concrete flats, Sophia
Rotunda of Sveti Georgi surrounded by communist buildings
Ex Royal Palace with yellow brick not fit for purpose riad


As the crow flies, Rila Monastery is really close to us in Borovets. However, those who know me can verify that I'm no crow and so Glyn had to drive us around the mountains, taking around 1.5 hours to get there, but it seemed a lot longer. The sky was dark with storm clouds, but it was very warm. The last bit of road up the mountain was twisty as always, with a huge landslide covering half the road at one bend, that wasn't worrying to see, no not at all! I struggled to stay awake as did Glyn, but we got to the Monastery safely and soon woke up. There were a few tourist coaches, a car park attendant who charged us 5 levs and the obligatory stray dog. Rila Monastery is buried deep in ... read more
Rila Monastery, Bulgaria
Rila mountains.
Cat at Rila Monastery, Bulgaria




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