West Africa Cruise 2013 travel blog

Today we had our final breakfast & left the ship. So sad! I wasn’t really ready to go home yet & could happily stay on another week or two. We said our goodbyes to other passengers & the outstanding staff.

Mo, Eric, Rastko, Monica, Sean & I have all booked a day tour with Senegal Style to see Bandia nature preserve rather than doing the more standard Dakar city and Goree Island tour. A wildlife safari sounded like a great departure after 2 weeks of city tours. It also sounded right up Sean’s alley.

Our tour guide has turned out to be a bit flaky, but she did have the van & driver all arranged. Traffic was terrible, so that cut into what we had time to do. Everyone had thought we'd get to Bandia by lunch, but when it became clear that wasn't happening we started breaking out the snacks we'd been told to bring for the cruise but hadn't needed until now. There was no way we could wait 2+ hours to eat after the safari if we didn't have something first.

The safari was great fun. We saw loads of eland, giraffes, buffalo, black rhinos, zebras, horse antelope, warthogs, hornbills, guinea fowl, all kinds of birds and a few other things I can't think of at the moment. Ostriches were the highlight in that we saw a mama guarding her eggs. She was none too happy about the guide trying to get her to stand up so we could see the eggs. There was one male ostrich who kept nipping at Rastko's lens hood (luckily not the actual lens). Then he started nipping at me, but I was too chicken to let it even though Sean kept telling me it wouldn't be able to hurt my leg. Sean let him nip at his hands. We got some great photos of all of this. I think Rastko even got some video while it was happening.

After the safari we got to see the very end of the keepers feeding the crocodiles right by the restaurant. While we were waiting on our food we got a chance to taste liqueurs made from local fruits. Hands-down, my two favorites were the passion fruit one & the cacao. Unfortunately I didn't have any extra room in my checked bag to be able to get it home, and don’t really drink much at home anyway. Mo & Eric bought some for their daughter, and I know I'm going to kick myself later for not buying any. C'est la vie.

The restaurant was pretty good. Most of us branched out and tried something exotic. I think Mo & Eric had lamb or something (the ones here look like goats but sound like lambs), while Rastko & Monica tried grilled eland (really tasty!), and Sean & I both had burgers made from kudu, which were great as well.

On the way back from Bandia, we stopped at an art center & got to see amazing paintings, sculptures, & photographs by local artisans. It was really interesting. I think Mo & Eric bought several pieces. Then we stopped at a roadside place to buy snacks before heading to the airport. Eric & I both thought we were buying mango juice, but it turned out to be some kind of puree/gel that you actually had to squeeze out rather than sip. Really interesting texture, but I'm not sure I'd need another one. I needed to be at the airport an hour before the rest of the group, but they decided to go along at the same time. At the airport we took one last photo of our little crew & said goodbye to Sean since he was headed to a nearby hotel to crash before his early morning flight.

Since we'd had to put our luggage out the night before for the ship to prepare to unload it, everyone had to rearrange stuff between our checked & carry-on bags. I was determined to at least change into clean clothes & use some wipes since I couldn't shower before the overnight flight.

When got to the business lounge at the airport, a large portion of the cruise passengers were in there, so I had a chance to hang out a bit more with Gerri & Bruce and some of the others until time for my flight. Sean and I had opted not to tell people during the cruise that I had actually won this trip, but I ended up telling them while we were waiting to fly out. They were really happy for me. Especially since I had lost my job within a couple of weeks of getting it all booked, and that the trip left a few weeks later, it was all an amazing blessing. I’m very glad that Sean was able to join me. He has proven to be an ideal travel companion (fun, funny, interesting, considerate, kind & thoughtful). Hopefully I was at least some of that.

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