Simba and the Rest of the Pride in the Serengeti


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This is the tenth of twelve posts on our safari in Tanzania. Check out our other posts here:

After 6 days on safari, we finally reached the Serengeti. Spanning northern Tanzania and southwestern Kenya, the Serengeti is a massive park at roughly 12,000 square meters.

While way too much for us to cover in a week (let alone 2 days), we were in the Serengeti for one thing and one thing only: the Great Migration.

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All sorts of zebras and wildebeests!

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Glamping at Ndutu Under Canvas in the Serengeti


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This is the ninth of twelve posts on our safari in Tanzania. Check out our other posts here:

Mr. Selfish and I stayed at the Ndutu Under Canvas campsite, which is a seasonal campsite in the Serengeti National Park from December until March.

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This campsite was the epitome of glamping (glamorous camping). I’ve never been too much of an outdoorsy kinda girl, so I was a little bit weary of this campsite. I didn’t have anything to worry about. Apparently, “[w]hen you’re glamping, there’s no tent to pitch, no sleeping bag to unroll, no fire to build.”

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Safari-ing in the Ngorongo Park: Day 1


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This is the eighth of twelve posts on our safari in Tanzania. Check out our other posts here:

Mrs. Selfish and I bid the Kitela Lodge a fond farewell, and boarded our Landrover for our tents in the Sergenti. To get there, we passed through the Ngorongo National Park.

Bordering the Serengeti, the Ngorongo Park is 3,202 square miles. While it is not well known outside of Tanzania (except for the Ngorongo Crater, which is stunning), the Ngorongo National Park is well worth a visit.

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The roads in the Ngorongo National Park are limited, and pass many Maasai villages. The Maasai are one of the few tribes in Africa that still keep to the old ways. They are famous for their bright red garb, which are used to scare away lions.

The Maasai are known for their exceptionally high jumping skills, bravery (they are legally allowed to kill lions with their spears), and their many, many wives.

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We saw a number of Maasai on cell phones, which seemed a little odd since the huts didn’t exactly look like they were bursting with electrical outlets. Apparently the government provides them with solar panels, which they use to charge their phones.

And who do they call? Other Maasai of course!

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A Close Encounter with a Lion at the Ngorongoro Crater


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This is the seventh of twelve posts on our safari in Tanzania. Check out our other posts here:

Confession time: I’ve never been into small animals. This has been a reoccurring problem when scuba diving as dive masters seem particularly excited to point out a seahorse, or nudibranch, or other tiny animal.

I get that they’re rare and I can see why people like them, but they just don’t do it for me. Where are the sharks, turtles, manta rays, whales?

Similarly, while I enjoyed seeing antelopes, dik diks, and wild dogs on our safari, what I really wanted to see was a lion. And man did I ever get my wish at Ngorongoro Crater.

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So close you can touch him!

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2 Nights at the Kitela Lodge


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This is the sixth of twelve posts on our safari in Tanzania. Check out our other posts here:

While Mrs. Selfish and I enjoy hiking, scuba diving, snorkeling, and other outdoor activities, we are city people at heart. So while I enjoyed our time at the various campsites we visited during our African safari (especially because of the proximity to wildlife), I was absolutely blown away by our two nights at the Kitela Lodge.

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The Kitela Lodge is the newest offerings from the Tanganyika Wilderness Camps group, the company that owned all of properties we stayed at during our Tanzanian safari.

I’m not entirely sure why it’s called a “lodge” as each guest stays in a private villa. The main building is pretty posh, and comes replete with indoor and outdoor dining, a pool, a spa, and a swanky fireplace area.

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The Start of the Great Migration: Lake Manyara


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This is the fifth of twelve posts on our safari in Tanzania. Check out our other posts here:

After our exciting encounters with elephants in the Tarangire National Park, Mrs. Selfish and I packed our bags and headed for our next location, the Lake Manyara National Park.

Just 1.5 hours away from the Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park is located on the banks of Lake Manyara, and was said by Ernest Hemmingway to be the “loveliest lake in Africa.”

While the lake itself is quite pretty, I was more impressed by the area surrounding the lake, which was absolutely beautiful.

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Simply stunning

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The Elephants at Tarangire National Park


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This is the fourth of twelve posts on our safari in Tanzania. Check out our other posts here:

Mr. Selfish and I spent our first two days in Tanzania exploring Tarangire National Park, which is close to our accommodations at Maramboi Tented Camp.  Tarangire is about 75 miles southwest of Arusha and is approximately 1,100 square miles in size.  Tarangire is famous for its vast amount of elephants.

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Moving in to the Maramboi Tented Camp


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This is the third of twelve posts on our safari in Tanzania. Check out our other posts here:

Mrs. Selfish and I arrived in Tanzania around midnight, on our direct flight from Istanbul. We were greeted, by Francis, our driver for our 7 day-safari, who took us to Arusha for our short overnight stay. The next morning we woke up early and drove to our first real accommodation, the Maramboi Tented Camp.

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Located near the Tarangire National Park, the Maramboi Tented Camp is a group of 3 dozen or so permanent tents, located a short distance from Lake Manyara. As a result, there are tons of animals nearby.

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15 Tips for Better Safari-ing in Tanzania


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This is the second of twelve posts on our safari in Tanzania. Check out our other posts here:

Mrs. Selfish and I spent an epic seven days safari-ing in Tanzania in order to catch the Great Migration, the migratory pattern of millions of wildebeests and zebras as they traverse the Serengeti.

An African safari is usually high up on people’s bucket lists, but for some reason was never on my radar. I guess I thought it would be rather boring, since you’re confined to a car for 10+ hours a day with nothing to do but stare at animals. I figured it would be like a portable zoo where the weather is over 90 degrees and there’s no air conditioning.


The only that separated us from this guy was a 5-inch thick car door.

And while the experience on paper was very much like that, I can say that our safari was definitely one of the most awesome and most memorable things I’ve ever done and will likely ever do. Our experience was nothing short of 5-stars from start to finish, and we managed to see pretty much every African animal imaginable. Simply amazing.

If you’re interested in taking a safari of your own, know that it is definitely not cheap. There are no miles or points options. It can also be quite a feat to find the right safari tour group.

After much searching, and reading other people’s trip reports on flyertalk and tripadvisor we decided to go with Allan Tanzania Safari, which I highly recommend.

Not only were there prices very competitive (at 70% the cost of most places we found), but our guide, Francis, was extremely professional, knowledgeable, and just really darned likeable. Even better, the entire tour was private – meaning Mrs. Selfish and I were able to do everything on our schedule.

There’s also very little planning involved once you’ve found a tour group to your liking. Once you’re booked, all you have to do is show up.

That being said, there are definitely some things you can do to make your experience better. Here’s our top 15 tips for better safari-ing in Tanzania.

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One Week of Glorious Safari-ing in Tanzania


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This is the first of twelve posts on our safari in Tanzania. Check out our other posts here:

Mr. Selfish and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if we wanted to go on a safari at all. After speaking with friends and family, who had been on a safari, we started doing research about safaris we could take in February.

Immediately, I saw that the Great Migration starts in Tanzania in February. Then, I realized that it was the “life” part of the Great Migration, wherein nearly half a million wildebeests are born. This was distinguished from the “death” part of the Great Migration where tens of thousands of wildebeests are killed crossing the Mara River. I started making arrangements to book a week long safari for late February.

I contacted Allen Tanzania Safaris and after going back and forth a little via email, we settled on the following itinerary:

Tanzania Map

Day 1 – after arriving on a evening flight into Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO), we drive to Maramboi Tented Lodge and then explored Tarangire National Park.

Day 2 – we have another safari day at Tarangire National Park.

Day 3 – we have a game drive in Lake Manyara National park and then drive to Kitela Lodge.

Day 4 – we explore Ngorongoro Crater and spend another night at Kitela Lodge.

Day 5 – we drive through Ngorongoro Crater and Seregenti South Ndutu area and spend the night at Lake Masek Tented Lodge.

Day 6 – we have a full day game drive in Serengeti South and spend a second night at Lake Masek Tented Lodge.

Day 7 – we safari in both Ngorongoro Crater and Seregenti South again and spend a night at Ndutu Under Canvas.

Day 8 – we drive to Arusha for lunch and depart from JRO.

It was a lot of driving, but it was entirely worth it. We saw tons of wildebeest babies and even witnessed the birth of two. It was epic (us slowly tracking two momma wildebeests while in a Landrover and then watching them give birth).

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It’s cuddle time little baby wildebeest!

Tomorrow, Mr. Selfish will go over some general tips for safari-ing in Tanzania. Then, we’ll start our trip report in earnest.

Triple the Jetlag to Taiwan and Greece!


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Over the last week we’ve been moving all the crap I never thought I’d see again out of a 16’ x 8’ x 8’ container into a space roughly 3/5 the size of our Orlando house. The amount of stuff we have has been so daunting, that we have to put our Tanzania trip report on a brief hiatus.

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Man, I hoped I’d never see this stuff again.

After living out of a suitcase for the last 20 months, it’s been a pretty draining experience. “Why do we have so much clothes? Why did we buy all of this stuff? Who bought this???”

So I’m really looking forward to our upcoming trip to Taiwan and Greece next week.

Yes, Taiwan & Greece. One trip. 2 continents. 3 bouts of jetlag.

We are literally flying around the world this time.

Triple the Jetlag for 120,000 miles!

Triple the insanity for 120,000 US Airways miles each!

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Lounge Deathmatch: Turkish Airlines vs. Cathay Pacific


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This is the final post out of eleven posts on Istanbul. Check out our other posts here:

Ever since we got into the miles and points game, Mrs. Selfish and I have made it a personal goal to cash in all of our miles and points for experiences we would never pay cash for. Like staying in an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora or flying Lufthansa first class home from Europe.

While these redemptions have been pretty awesome, we usually get the most value for our miles flying international business class. While your average international flight is expensive – international business class is ridiculously expensive.

Like $3000 one way expensive, if you’re doing it right. And while the flights themselves tend to be great, one side benefit of flying business that we rarely talk about here at the Selfish Years is the lounges.

In the States, airline lounges mean free wifi, edible food, a moderately clean bathroom, free(ish) booze, and a room packed to 70% of capacity. Outside of the States, however, it’s a whole other story.

Let me show you by comparing my two favorite business class lounges, the Turkish Airlines flagship lounge in Istanbul and Cathay Pacific’s “The Wing” in Hong Kong.

Decor & Features

Most international business class lounges are pretty similar. They tend to be swankily decorated. There’s free wifi. There’s usually a showering facility filled with amenities like shampoo, lotion, and tooth paste. There are often free magazines, computer stations, and TVs playing movies.

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Crossing the Bosphorous Strait: A Day Trip from Europe to Asia


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This is the tenth of eleven posts on Istanbul. Check out our other posts here:

Istanbul has the distinction of being in two continents. While the old historic part of Istanbul is in Europe, the Asian side is merely across the Bosphorus Strait. Mr. Selfish and I love the idea of being in both Europe and Asia in one day, so we opted to take a day trip from Europe to Asia.

Day Trip

Starting in Europe: Dolmabahçe Palace

Right near our hotel and on the European coastline of the Bosphorus Strait is Dolmabahçe Palace. Construction on the palace finished in 1856 and cost approximately $1.5 billion USD in today’s currency. It was built to replace Topkapı Palace as the Sultan’s residence and is considered to be the Versailles of Turkey. The palace was a significant factor in the decline of the finances of the Ottoman Empire, which eventually slid into bankruptcy. Needless to say, it is quite elaborate and ornate.

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Istanbul’s Other Sights: The Topkapi Palace & Basilica Cistern


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This is the ninth of eleven posts on Istanbul. Check out our other posts here:

Generally speaking, Mrs. Selfish and I are bad tourists. We like to hang out in a foreign city to soak up the ambiance, but we rarely spend much time in museums. Just haven’t built up the endurance, I suppose – I similarly get exhausted shopping for more than an hour or so.

That being said we do like to walk, especially in the old parts of town. There’s just so much to do, see, smell, and eat that you miss out on with faster modes of travel.

And so it was that we decided to stroll on over to the Topkapi Palace and Basilica Cistern, two Istanbul attractions that get a little less love than the big boys.

The Topapki Palace

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The Topkapi Palace was constructed in the mid 1400’s, and was the primary residence of the Ottoman Turks for over 400 years. It’s a large complex with 4 main courtyards and several small buildings. It’s not Versaille big, or Forbidden City big, but it would probably take you a good 15 minutes to walk from one end to the other.

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Shopping at the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar in Istanbul


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This is the eighth of eleven posts on Istanbul. Check out our other posts here:

I love Daniel Craig as James Bond. I mean, he’s no Sean Connery, but in my opinion, he is the next best James Bond. So, while in Istanbul, Mr. Selfish and I rewatched Skyfall, because the opening sequence is set in Istanbul. Although it didn’t seem quite geographically accurate, there is an awesome chase scene near the Grand Bazaar.

James Bond

Unfortunately, I didn’t spot James Bond on a motorcycle at the Grand Bazaar. Nevertheless, it is still quite epic. The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. It is quite large with 61 covered streets and over 3,000 shops. I was pretty surprised as to how large it was.

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