Hell’s Gate National Park

Hell’s Gate National Park got its name from the underground hot springs seeping through the park’s 40-kilometer-long gorge. The picturesque park served as inspiration for Disney’s The Lion King—think Pride Rock—and is very different from most of the parks we’ve visited so far. We were lucky to spend the day cycling through the park, enjoying the beautiful scenery, getting up close and personal with the wildlife, and even partaking in a little bit of rock climbing!

A dramatic late afternoon in Hell's Gate National Park.

The moon lingers over the cliffs in the morning.

Hell's Gate National Park used to be a drainage for Lake Naivasha, which carved deep canyons through the park's sedimentary bedrock.

A vervet monkey playing in a tree overlooking the gorge.

A trickling stream now runs through the gorge, but during heavy rains there's a constant risk of flash flooding.

Ants burrow into these umbrella acacia tree's thorns, causing them to whistle when the wind blows and giving the trees the nickname 'whistling acacias.'

Josh rock climbing in the park.

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Roadside Fruit Market

The produce in Uganda and Rwanda is bright, beautiful and delicious due to the region’s  luscious rain-forrest climate. We stopped one morning at a road-side market to stock up on all the essentials—pineapple, mangos, passion fruit, bananas and oranges!

Amazingly fresh fruit.

This girl was glad to strike a pose.

There are more than 20 varieties of bananas in Africa. We're working on trying them all!

A young boy working the stand.

Mud, Mud, Mud and a Safari

After six weeks of desert-like climate in northern Africa, we nearly forgot about this little thing called “rain.” We were, however, reminded the moment we crossed into Kenya, where it rained for days on end (Locals were saying it was the most rain they’d seen in five generations!) The primitive Kenya roads simply couldn’t handle all the water and we were stuck in the mud in the middle-of-nowhere, Kenya for three days. Although Josh had the pleasure of spending his 23rd birthday helping to push our bogged truck out the muck, we had a proper celebration when we finally made it to the town of Nakuru for a game drive in Lake Nakuru National Park.

Lioness in her natural habitat.

Zebras grazing.

This water buffalo isn't messing around.

Pelicans and pink flamingos flanked Lake Nakuru.

A leopard sighting makes for one lucky game drive—we saw two!

This beautiful lioness is one of the fifteen lions we saw (the morning of the game drive, our guide informed us that there are only fourteen in the park...). Check out her leg muscles!

A baby baboon hitches a piggy-back ride from its mother.

You would think that their zany stripes would make zebras highly conspicuous, but it was pretty amazing how they are camouflaged in the tall, dry grass.

The endangered Rothschild giraffe munches on its favorite treat—yellow-bark acacia.

Lion scanning the horizon.

White rhinos look massive in photos, in person they're even more astounding. Most of the rhinos we spotted were in herds of eight to ten—this solitary rhino was a rare sighting.

A lion and its cub lounge about lazily during the hot Kenyan afternoon. We were so lucky as to see four different lion families throughout the day!

Beautiful People

We’ve been awed by the magical scenery of Ethiopia, but its people are just as lovely. Here are a few portraits of the country’s beautiful inhabitants.

Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee and the crop remains an integral part of the country's cultural identity. Here a young woman administers a traditional 'coffee ceremony,' in which a sample of beans is roasted then filtered three times for three unique brews. Each brew has a unique taste—each being slightly more mild than the last.

This young girl was helping her mother make injera, the traditional Ethiopian grain in their house-restaurant where we stopped for lunch. Most Christian Ethiopians abstain from animal products on Wednesday and Friday, which makes finding veggie food quite easy! Yum!

Get, our nature guide in the Simien Mountains, knew the area like the back of his hand, having led tours for over twenty years. His knowledge really paid off on the final day of our trek when he pointed out some of the elusive ibex just across the gorge!

A man attends a ceremony in one of the stone churches of Lalibela. He dons traditional white, religious attire. Ethiopian Christianity has a unique flavor from European Christianity, especially in its brightly-colored, animated-looking religious art. The majority of Ethiopians are Christian at 62%.

Basket weaving is a common handicraft in rural areas. These mountain children make and sell baskets made from dried grasses and straw that has been coiled into varying-sized bowls with tight-fitting lids. The larger versions are used to store grains and fruits.

A woman carries her child at a religious ceremony in one of the stone churches of Lalibela. I spy a cute little hand reaching for mama!

Ferry Crossing into Sudan

When gearing up for our ferry crossing from the southern tip of Egypt into northern Sudan, we were instructed to bring our senses of humor. The 18+ hour crossing is the only way to enter Sudan from Egypt and we happened to be traveling the weekend before the large Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, meaning that the ferry was full to the brim with Sudanese returning to their home towns from Egypt. Things were a little bit cozy.

We secured a nook on the top deck of the ferry for the overnight voyage. During the middle of the day when the heat was unbearable, we made a make-shift shelter from whatever we had handy.

Chilling underneath the "shelter of shade" with our friend Meg.

The family next to us had thirteen energetic children, eight of whom were on the boat. Josh and I soon became the honorary daycare.

With 570 passengers, there was a lot of luggage!

Getting off the boat in Wadi Halfa was ... slightly disorganized.

Land rovers from the colonial period are still one of the major modes of transport around northern Sudan.

Our "hotel."

Our accommodations in Wadi Halfa were pretty basic. We thought our best bet was to forgo the mattresses and pitch camp on the floor.

On the Road…

After meeting our group of fellow travelers, we’re finally on our way—leaving Cairo and heading to the coastal town of Dahab on the Red Sea.

More photos of the truck—our home for the next 4 months—to come. But for now, snorkels up!

Blue skies, yellow truck

Coptic Cairo in the Old City…

Church of Saint George

Steeples with desert backdrop

Restoring the Church of St. George

Despite what you see in the news, Coptic Cairo seems calm, evidenced by these playful children on their way to school nearby.

Courtyard of the Hanging Church

Cats, revered by ancient Egyptian culture, now make their living as strays on the streets of Cairo.