There were a lot of discussions around where we were going and for how long before finally landing on the closest thing to an itinerary we would ever have. Let me tell you how fun those budget talks were! You know how throughout the 10 seasons of Friends, Ross has the recurring phrase "we were on a break!"...well replace "break" with "budget" and that pretty much sums up 90% of our discussions. I swear...if I had a dollar for every time Brian said the word "budget" maybe we wouldn't be on a budget anymore!
Rant over. On to the Itinerary. (but honestly - if Brian didn't remind me of our budget - our trip would probably only last 3 weeks - so, really what I meant to say is, "Thanks, Babe!").
Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
We had read about gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda, and of course I was ready to sign up. The thought of setting eyes on these majestic animals in their natural habitat was beyond anything I could ever imagine. It only took a little convincing and a couple of pictures like this one to get Brian on board.
We went back and forth between Kenya and Ethiopia and in the end we decided to spend 10 days traveling throughout Northern and Southern Ethiopia. A friend of mine from college (Hi Rachel!) had just posted the most incredible pictures from her recent trip focused on clean water education. Through the powers of Facebook, we sent a couple messages and just like that we had tickets booked and a pretty detailed itinerary with her contact and friend, Milli Yohannes. He has been amazing and we can't wait to visit him and his beautiful family. You can check out his website out here.
Ethiopia is pretty jam packed with travel - slightly more than we prefer but since our next stop will be a week of relaxation in Zanzibar - we felt content with our decision. Milli had told us that with our budget constraints, the hotels we would be staying at wouldn't have warm showers - ouch! I guess that should help with all the early mornings he has planned for us :)
On to Zanzibar!
We will fly from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia into Dar es Salaam and then take a ferry into Stone Town - the Spice Capital. We are planning on spending a couple nights in Stone Town before heading out to our beach front Airbnb in Matemwe, the northern part of the island. We. Can't. Wait. Brian and I became Padi certified divers a couple years ago and while I'm still pretty much a disaster in the water (more on this in a later post) we plan on indulging on a couple of dives. Brian pretty much expects all his drinks to come from a coconut or pineapple when we are on a beach getaway so you can expect a lot of this.
Next we will embark on our first overnight train of the trip - taking the Tazara train from Dar to New Kapiri-Mposhi, Zambia. From there the plan is to take a 2 hour bus ride (which will be more like a 6 hour bus ride I'm sure) to Lusaka. Finally we will take a short flight from Lusaka to Mfuwe and camp overnight in a tent alongside the Luangwa River before settling into our week long Safari! Side note: The Luangwa River is said to be one of the most dangerous rivers due to all the giant crocodiles. Hope we don't have any late night visitors!
Safari in Zambia
Our good friends, Brendan & Brit, also started their trip in Africa and when we told them we wanted to plan a safari they linked us up with a good friend of theirs, Brent of Primal Pathways. Safari is by far our biggest splurge and may have been one of the hardest decisions we made. We are visiting during the Great Migration so our first instinct was duh...we should safari in Tanzania/Kenya. Well apparently everyone else has that same idea and after a quick google search and chat with Brent we realized we would rather watch a herd of elephants vs. feel like we were being herded around the Serengeti. After debating between Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia - we finally decided to go with Zambia. A couple factors went into our decision: 1. Brent would be our guide for half of the Safari; 2. It's very remote and all the camps are limited to less than 12 people so it would feel way less commercial and more about the experience; and 3. Brendan and Brit chose Zambia and well thats pretty much good enough for us!
We will spend the first half of our Safari at Tafika Camp in South Luangwa before heading up north to Mwaleshi Camp in North Luangwa Park. At Tafika we will be focusing on driving safaris since up north driving safaris are not permitted and everything will be on foot - this is also where we will be with Brent. I can't really articulate in words how excited Brian and I are for safari to be a part of nature and face to face with these wild animals in their natural habitat. Additionally, Brian will really get to work on his photography and videography skills. My better half has definitely been getting more and more in touch with his creative side through his camera lens and I couldn't be more grateful! PS. We are coming for your Dax Shephard and Kristen Bell!
South Africa and the Wild Coast
After crushing the Toto Lip Sync Battle, we will make our way down to South Africa. The plan is to spend a week or so in Cape Town, hike a lot of mountains, drive through the South African Wine Country and then start our 2 - 3 week backpacking trip through the Wild Coast - another recommendation from Brendan and Brit! Lets hope all those backpacking trips Brian took me on prepared me for this.
The next stop is a country that I am most excited for, India. It has been a place that I have always dreamed of visiting, resulting in what may become a potentially dangerous fantasy filter. Brian has visited once before on a work trip only spending time in the tech capital - Bangalore, and also happened to get really sick during his three week trip. While I have definitely brought out the excitement for India in him, he has been doing a pretty decent job of bringing me back down to reality. India will be tough. We will definitely get sick. It will be an assault on all of our senses. But you know what? I. Can't. Wait. We are spending around two months in India starting in Mumbai and making are way through Rajasthan, New Delhi, Agra (just to catch a glimpse of the Taj Mahal), and then heading down South. We would love to spend some time on the eastern and western coasts stopping in Pondicherry and Chennai and then over to Kerala and Goa. We will try to squeeze in Hampi too! I have to send a pretty big internet 'Thank you' to Rachel Jones of Hippie in Heels, her blog has given me so much insight on traveling through India and also to Sabrina Andrea Sachs of The Storyteller who was one of the first "travel bloggers" I started following and whose words really inspired us to believe in 'another life is possible."
Brian keeps joking that he is going to use his Steripen in everything - his coffees, teas and even curries. I laugh on the outside...but inside I'm starting to think...maybe thats not such a bad idea? Another highlight of India other than ALL OF IT (see what I mean? I really need to tone it down) is that my cousin is having a big Persian/Indian wedding in December! While I begged them to get married in India, sadly my efforts weren't successful, but now we get to fly home in December for the wedding and consequently will be spending Christmas and my 33rd birthday stateside. Shopping for all of our outfits for the wedding week will be a big highlight - even Brian can get on board with this shopping trip.
Just like our flights to Africa, we booked our flights from Mumbai to LA and then Charlotte to Bangkok all with miles. This is definitely Brian's area of expertise, and he'll dive further into how to take advantage of them, what the best deals are, and which credit cards are our favorites. The next four months of the trip are pretty open - we fly into Bangkok end of December and from there your guess is as good as mine...
The general route is Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia...but really who knows. We have 4 or so months and all of SE Asia. I think we are both really looking forward to no agenda and lots and lots of street food - if we were writing our version of Eat. Pray. Love. it would definitely be titled Eat. India and Asia is where we are really hoping to make up some of our budget since we definitely went over in Africa.
After four months in SE Asia we will actually be flying home one last time (with points!) but this trip is to apply for our year long visa for France! The plan is a couple months in Paris and then a couple months in Southern France. We are hoping to do some sort of home-stay while we are in Southern France either through trustedhousesitters.com or mindmyhouse.com. I hope Brian and I can parlez vous our way through France on a more permanent basis one day, but for now, 6 months will be a dream!
Next, we'll have a series of posts on what and how we packed. Stay tuned!