Sunday June 18, 2017

It seems like four weeks since we left Auckland – not just four days – and I’m sorry that this first blog-’post’ is late. My apologies if you’ve been lying awake at night waiting for news, worried that your friend or loved-one might have been kidnapped by rebels, trampled by elephants or eaten by lions. I’m happy to report that none of the above has occurred … that our Mad Midlife group is intact … that we’ve already enjoyed two marvellous days in Africa … and that we’re having the time of our lives!

WIFI, thus far, has been patchy (to say the least) out here in the African wop-wops … and uploading photos is proving a jumbo-sized frustration. So this ‘post’ will be a quickie – mostly-words, if you don’t mind – and I’ll hold serious pix until we’ve got a stronger signal.

Okay? Okay.


While you slept under warm Wednesday-night blankets, we flew backwards through the time-zones, landing in Dubai early Thursday morning, just as the desert landscape was warming up. After freezing our butts off during the flight (it was cold aboard that Emirates A380), we stepped out onto Dubai’s streets and proceeded to fry our brains in the close-to 50-degree furnace blast.

There’s no place quite like Dubai, with its modern palaces, its soaring glass-&-steel skyscrapers, its 700-plus Muslim minarets, its 12-lane motorways, its jungle of cranes, and its sparkling latest-model cars … all sprawled along the shores of the Persian Gulf. Twenty-five years ago there was little here except boiling-hot sand and a few grumpy camels, but gushing new oil and some visionary sheiks changed all that. Today, this glittering Middle East showpiece is home to some 8 million people – although barely 1.5 million are Emiratis (Arabs); the majority are foreigners, labourers and construction workers from countries like India, Philippines and Bangladesh … and ex-pat professionals from everywhere else.

01 Burj Kalifa - Dubai

We went up-up-up in the world’s fastest elevator to the observation deck (124th floor) of the world’s tallest building: the Burj Khalifa. (The above is not my photo, regrettably.) Back on ground-level, we oohed-and-aahed at the world’s largest aquarium, inhabited by the world’s biggest indoor collection of fish, from the largest (sharks and rays) to the littlest.

We then explored Dubai’s Spice and Gold Souks (markets) – but by now the heat and lack of sleep had turned us all into the Walking Dead, and we were past caring.

A dinner cruise along the city’s lit-up waterfront – aboard a traditional Arab ‘dhow’ – saw us revive temporarily. But we couldn’t wait to crawl back to our hotel and collapse into bed, where we slept like babies until our 5:30am wake-up call.


We were back in the air soon after sunrise (yawn …), en route to Kenya in East Africa. Five hours later, at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta Airport, we were met by the three guys who were to be our driver/guides for the next 10 days: Shem, Peter and Titus. They drove us in purpose-built 4WDs to the Safari Park Hotel outside of Nairobi where we enjoyed a tasty barbecue-under-the-stars (sampling crocodile, ostrich, camel and goat, amongst other meaty delicacies) … followed by a fantastic, energetic performance of modern African song-&-dance.

02 African spectacular - Nairobi


Next morning (bright and early) we hit the road, motoring south through Nairobi’s suburbs and other small towns to our first appointment with wildlife. Our long-awaited Safari was underway at last! But (sorry about this) you’ll have to pace the floor, twiddle your thumbs, and wait another day or so to hear and see the wild details.

03 Thirsty work - Kenya

PEOPLE NEWS: Nominations for our hotly-sought-after Midlife Madness Awards are coming in … and three quacky yellow ducks have already been claimed:

  • Alison won our ‘In A Daze About Days’ Award – for getting herself in a total tangle over whether it was Thursday, Wednesday, Friday, the Other Day, or even Xmas Day. (Okay, I’m lying about Xmas Day …)
  • Jim B received our ‘Flying South’ Award – for busting the zip in his safari pants in full view of the world when removing his belt at the Immigration counter in Dubai.
  • Jim P carried off our ‘Stowaway Award’ Award – for falling asleep down the back of the bus on our way back to the hotel the other night. That’s not so funny – right? But what made it funny is that no one noticed, including his wife! We all got off the coach, blissfully unaware that Jim was still down the back, snoring like a hibernating bear. It was 10 minutes later, in the hotel lobby, that his wife started asking, “Where’s Jim? Has anybody seen Jim?” (Luckily, the driver hadn’t driven off with Jim on board – he might still be there!)
  • Neville took home our ‘Doing A Runner’ Award – for forgetting to settle his drinks bill at dinner the other night, and walking off like an accountant-gone-bad.
  • Lorraine sneaked away with our ‘Dream A Little Dream’ Award – for sleeping right through our wake-up call this morning, sleeping right through breakfast, and arriving just in time for our 4WD game-drive kinda mussed-up and still half asleep.

COMING UP: We spend a night under canvas at a camp overlooking a waterhole … visit a chimpanzee sanctuary … then drive down into the Great Rift Valley in search of animals, animals, animals in and around Lake Nakuru. Stay tuned …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. If you want to receive future Mad Midlife Travel Blogs in your INBOX, just sign-up (top-right) for your free Email Subscription! And if you’d like to leave a message for someone in our group, just click on the little speech bubble at the top of this entry, and add your comments! (Keep it brief – and be sure to say who it’s for and who it’s from.)

This entry was posted in 2017 Africa Safari by John Cooney. Bookmark the permalink.

About John Cooney

John Cooney and his wife Robyn have enjoyed more than their fair share of travel. They hesitate to call themselves ‘experts’ – but they’ve grabbed every chance that’s come their way to explore new countries, cultures and customs. They’ve had the privilege (both on their own and as the leaders of numerous successful group-tours) to sample many stunning destinations: Europe, the UK, Singapore, Vanuatu, the USA, Israel, Egypt, Africa, Dubai, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And their recent (and most pleasant) memories are of the places ancient-and-modern that border the Mediterranean. John and Robyn are at-home in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and the like … and they know how to make the most of a unique travel opportunity. Travel, they reckon, is an all-five-senses experience – a chance to see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world. And they’ve done it often enough to know for sure: sightseeing with a group of laid-back Kiwis is DOUBLE the fun – lots of laughs, great company, and memories that last forever!

9 thoughts on “AFRICA: HERE WE COME!

  1. A message for Granny (Denise) very excited to hear about your adventures so far! Can’t wait to see all your photos when you come visit next month! Love you to the moon and back Oscar

  2. Hahaha – not remotely surprised about the In A Daze About Days award. She hasn’t got her trusty diary with her! Sounds like an amazing start to the trip. Suspect with such an awesome schedule, there will be a few more sleepyhead stories. Lots of love to Alison from all of us. xxx

  3. For Denise OMG Dubai must have been incredible – can’t wait for next blog. Wish you could see coverage of the Americas Cup! Team NZ have won 4 in a row so are 3 up!! The kIiwis are smoking it – go the red boat! xxxm

  4. Jacky and Luke say GO Poppa.. Jimmy P. that snore will get any bus driver a don’t forget me warning. Love from NZ….Jo has a new cast on foot as first one was too tight.-4 frosts here,enjoy the warmth

  5. Greetings to Alison from Nora!! Hope you have the most amazing trip!! Don’t worry about what day it is, you are on holiday ;)!! Sooooo jealous right now :)!!

  6. Hi Coons
    Cannot believe you were cold on your flight to Dubai. That is terrible. Nothing worse.
    Glad you are now on your safari. Envious as but know what a total blast you will be having. Yahoooo
    Take care have loads of fun. Missing you heaps 💞💞💞

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