Getting Ready for Africa!

June 15th, 2009

In less than 12 hours I’ll be boarding a plane, beginning a journey to Nairobi, Kenya, where I will join up with 6 other unicyclists who will be pedaling their way from Nairobi to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I can’t quite believe it myself!

I didn’t hear about this tour until last year, while unicycling from Hanoi to Saigon in Vietnam. The other riders wanted to know: Was I going on the Africa tour? My first answer was, “yes!”, followed by a more reasoned, “Wait, what Africa tour?”. Details were largely irrelevant; it sounded like an awesome thing to do and I wanted to go. I later learned this is the route we’ll be taking:

Day 1 – Arrive in Nairobi, free day. Airport transfers can be arranged. Alternatively taxis are available outside the airport, approx $USD 20 to the Hotel where we will meet for a pre departure meeting at 5pm. NOTE- please change money on arrival at the airport for at least the first week of your trip.

Day 2We take a short drive out to the surrounding plains. From here we begin riding on undulating tarmac and dirt roads through the African savannah. A fairly gentle day of approx 25kms to ease us into the saddle brings us to an ostrich farm where we camp for the night.

DAY 3 - Heading away from civilisation we ride on dirt roads towards Amboseli National Park, meeting up with Maasai tribesmen and various plains game along the way before spending the night under the clear African sky in the open bush. Approx 82kms riding.

Day 4 – We continue riding on dirt roads and tracks to Amboseli National Park, renown for its huge herds of elephant and stunning views of Mt Kilimanjaro. We finish the day with a short game drive into the park to the campsite. Approx 50kms riding.

Day 5 - With an early start we spend the morning on a game drive through Amboseli. Leaving the park after lunch we ride across the dry bed of Lake Amboseli and around the lower slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro to camp in the shadow of the massive mountain. Approx 25kms riding.

Day 6 – A relaxed morning gives us the chance to visit a Maasai manyatta, (village) and experience their traditional culture and lifestyle. We continue riding around the lower slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro towards the Tanzanian border. Approx 45kms riding.

Day 7 – After crossing through the Kenya/Tanzania border we drive on towards Arusha the safari capital of East Africa. After lunch, back on our unicycles and you choose between the paved road or dirt roads and tracks for approx 25kms to the Meserani Snake Park. Lunch at own cost.

Day 8 - A full day of paved roads to really stretch out the legs as we ride away from Arusha. We again encounter Maasai tribesmen herding their cattle and some plains game. The afternoon brings us to Mto Wa Mbu, a small town at the foot of the Rift Valley escarpment. Explore the town and visit local craft markets. Evening meal at own cost. Approx 89kms riding. (Upgrades to rooms available*).

Day 9 - With an early start we drive into the Ngorongoro Crater, a natural Garden of Eden, and spend the day game viewing the highest concentration of plains game in Africa, Returning to Arusha in the evening.

Day 10 - Departing Arusha we begin heading towards the coast, driving south past Kilimanjaro and the huge wide open spaces of the Maasai Steppe. We finish the day with a 40km ride to a secluded campsite on the banks of a quiet meandering river. Lunch at own cost.

Day 11 - Climbing away from the plains we head up into the Usambara Mountains, driving up for the main climb then riding on towards Lushoto – an old German colonial town nestled high in the mountains. From here we cycle up to a viewpoint overlooking the endless plains below then continue further into the mountains to camp at a rustic colonial lodge. (Upgrades to rooms available*). Approx 45kms riding.

Day 12 – A well earned rest day for those who wish. Or join with a guide from the local village for a day hike into the stunning Usambara Mountains with unspoilt forests and views that go on forever. Here we have a chance to visit a local school. ** (Upgrades to rooms available*).

Day 13 - “The ultimate day” – What goes up must come down; riding further into these beautiful mountains we pass through pristine rainforest and village farmland. This is an area that rarely, if ever gets visited by travellers and the welcome and response we receive from the local population is fantastic. You have the choice of 2 routes back down, and then after lunch a gentle 14kms of scenic winding tarmac to get us back down to the plains below. (Upgrades to rooms available*). Approx 60kms riding.

Day 14 – With the tropical coastline as our goal we ride along a little used dirt road and through sleepy palm lined villages to meet the Indian Ocean at Bagamoyo. This small historic town right on the coast is at the end of what once was the major slave and trading route through East Africa. We camp at a lodge right on the beach. Evening meal at own cost. (Upgrades to rooms available*). Approx 65kms riding.

Day 15 – We ride through old Bagamoyo town then follow the coastal road to Dar es Salaam “Haven of peace”. A quick check of the local fish market to choose our dinner then a last gentle ride along the coast to our campsite – arriving in time to enjoy a swim in the Indian Ocean. Approx 25kms riding.

It’s fairly comarable to the Vietnam tour in total distance, except for:

  • Fewer rest days (there are longer stretches of consecutive riding)
  • And off-road! Vietnam was mostly paved; this will be mostly dirt. This is awesome.

I’ll be covering the trip here on my blog, primarily in photo and video form. I ranted a bit last year, but this year I’ll probably be taking more video/photo footage than anything.

To kick it off, here’s what I’m bringing:

Africa Trip – Packing Walkthrough from Matthew Wegner on Vimeo.

I’m arriving a few days before the tour in order to wander around Nairobi. I expect I’ll have Internet access there, so I should be posting. If access is spotty, or I don’t have a lot of time, I’ll try to at least post photos to my Flickr account and videos to my Vimeo account. Keep an eye on those (and my Twitter account, of course).

Time to finish packing!

I’ve Moved (And Another Update)!

January 14th, 2009

Wow, it’s been awhile since I posted.  A lot has happened since August:

  • Flashbang launched Blurst, which is now our company focus
  • I traveled to Prague with Crystal, followed by Copenhagen for work
    (Pictures coming soon!  They do exist somewhere.)
  • Flashbang launched three iPhone games and Minotaur China Shop, our latest web game
  • I started working out with a local Crossfit affiliate (which rocks!)
  • And Crystal and I decided to stop dating, so I moved into my own place (we were together for three years)

There were some other work-related things in there–things have been awful busy–but you get the idea.  Overall it was a pleasant fall, and I think things will shape up for the better pretty early on into 2009.  In the meantime, I snapped a video of my new place to satisfy curiosity:

This is available at a higher resolution if you watch it directly on the Vimeo site. I guess I’ll take another video when I’ve finished furnishing the place. It’s expensive to move out from a cold start!

Jumping Jasime, the Foster Kitty

August 5th, 2008

Crystal and I are currently fostering a pair of kitties in the house, along with their mother.  It’s generally a fun gig–except for the occasional biological horror, we get to have rambuctious kitties around the house.  We hold on to them until they’re a solid 3lbs, at which point they return to AZ Humane Society from whence they came.

One of the kitties, Mila, came with a nasty case of what was probably a coccidian infection.  She lost a ton of weight, but has since recovered and is doing splendidly.  You can see her in the Flickr set; she’s an odd mix of pot belly and bones right now.  The mom is actually pretty slight herself.  She has a great temperament and should have no problem being adopted after she’s back at AZHS.

The other kitty, Jasmine, really loves to jump.  She’ll randomly jump as high as she can against the wall, or over another cat, but what she really loves to do is jump for toys.  Observe:

Montecito House Photos, Life Update

June 12th, 2008

Front RoomCrystal snapped some long-overdue photos of the house today. View the full Flickr photo set here! The house itself is working out really well–the cats love their new modern cat tree, we love the house, and we’re still using that grill, despite the heat. It’s already up to 105-110F, but it actually feels kind of nice. Ah, Arizona.

In other updates, work is going really well! Flashbang is up to six people full-time and an intern. Jetpack Brontosaurus is still the company’s focus, but we’re also managing two active contract jobs, supporting the recent launch of another, maintaining our affiliate website, preparing the design of our upcoming portal, and pushing paperwork to develop on two new platforms. I’m also writing a Unity tutorial, an article about Unity for a prominent software development magazine, the far-too-occasional review for Fun-Motion, and gearing up for the 11th annual IGF.

I spend my free time working my through The Wire with Crystal, actually playing video games (finished GTA IV!), and hanging out at Dan and Beth’s amazing pool. I’ve unicycled three times since Vietnam, sadly. Must get out and exercise more!

Well, time to sleep. It’s 10:35pm, perilously close to our bedtime.