The #DisneySMMoms Report: A Wild Time Trekking Through Africa, Part 3

As we left the Boma on our Wild Africa Trek, we got back into our special safari vehicle and rejoined the path.

First, we found some rhinos.


Um, some rhinos.


Ok, here is where I get huge photographer-envy for our tour guides.  They have not only the great camera and lens, but the knowledge of where to position themselves to get the great shots.


Next up was the lion.  Usually, when we go on the Kilimanjaro Safari, we see the lion’s rock cropping and no lions.  It doesn’t help that lions sleep over 20 hours every day.  And talk about stereotypical male fantasy.  The female lions do all the hunting while the guys take it easy.  The males will then eat what the females brought them and mate with the females in their pack.  The only thing the male lions need to worry about is a bigger, stronger lion taking over his spot and kicking him out.  That lion would then kill all of the other lion’s kids and claim the females as his own.  I’ll take my day job over a lion’s life any day!

Back to the trek, though.  We drove up to a spot that the normal tours don’t go so we were able to see the two lions – brother and sister – as they lounged on the rocks.  Again, my camera took nice photos, but the guide’s camera got up close and personal.


We drove on and saw some more sights, but all-too-soon, I saw the familiar geysers that signal the end of Kilimanjaro Safari.  Usually, on the safari ride, your tour guide begins driving fast and erratically as you try to catch some poachers who stole a baby elephant.  Instead, we were let in on a little secret.  A new resident is coming to the Kilimanjaro Safari.  Of all of the African animals, one very famous one is missing: Zebras.  They have some that are almost ready to make their debut, though.  (Sure enough, when we went on a Kilimanjaro Safari the next day, the "poacher" elements had already been removed to begin preparing the area for zebras.)

Disembarking from our vehicle, we walked back to our starting point.  Once there, we were given the chance to donate a portion of the proceeds from the trek towards lions, elephants, rhinos, or to the general Disney World conservation fund.  Yes, when you pay a fee to take the trek, you don’t just get an amazing experience, you don’t just get to see fantastic animals up close, but you get to help save them as well.  I put my stone in the lion area since NHL’s favorite animal is the lion.


After this, we got a commemorative pin to signify that we completed the Trek.  Finally, it was time to collect our items from our lockers and it was time to head out.  Before we did that, though, we took one last group photo.


I left the trek feeling a bit sad.  It was so much fun travelling through Africa talking with my trek-mates that I didn’t want it to end.  I would definitely recommend the Wild Africa Trek to anyone who can handle the hike, loves animals, and wants to get a closer look at them.

Disclaimer: We paid for our own trip to Disney World to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. Though we were given an incredible deal from Disney, they never asked us to blog about this event. All opinions expressed above are my own.

Note: To see all of my posts on DisneySMMoms 2012, go here.

The #DisneySMMoms Report: A Wild Time Trekking Through Africa, Part 2

I left my last Wild Africa Trek post on something of a cliffhanger.  Well, not a cliffhanger, but a "bridge hanger."  Yes, we were about to cross this bridge.


Our guides helpfully let us know that they had prepped the bridge for us by jumping on and knocking out any rotten planks.  So we shouldn’t be worried.

First, we climbed a tower and got a quick tutorial on what to do.  Then, as each of us had our turn, we were clipped into the safety line (remember the monkey tails from the last post?), and were given the go ahead.  Then, we carefully made our way along the bridge.

Whenever a safari vehicle passed beneath us, the bridge would rumble a bit.  Luckily, the ropes on the sides helped keep everyone steady.  We were encourage to take our time and take photos, and we all took advantage of the view.


In addition to the photos we were taking, our guide was taking photos of us while we were crossing.


My crossing went smoothly except for one near-incident.  I was taking photos of the crocodiles below me and didn’t look where my foot was going.  As it went down, I realized there was no plank there.  I pulled my foot up and tried frantically to regain my balance.  Luckily, I was able to and continued on.  There would be no techy-snack for the crocs that day.  The whole incident probably took about half a second, but played out much slower for me.  (Yes, I know I was clipped into a safety line, but I really didn’t want to test its strength.)  I’m convinced that the trek photographer captured my near-plunge in this photo.


Once we were safely on the other side, we were unclipped and waited for our trek-mates to catch up.  Then, it was time to re-clip to get a closer look at the crocodiles.  We learned that all of the crocs were males.  Not a single female down there.  For good reason too.  If even one female was there, the guys would start fighting amongst themselves to figure out who got to mate with her.  Without any females to fight over, the male crocs spend most of their days relaxing in the sun.


When we were finished looking at the crocodiles, we were given the chance to refill our water bottles.  Then, it was time to move on.  Luckily, we didn’t have far to go this time.  We quickly reached the next stage of our journey.  After taking off our vests (but keeping our water bottles), we boarded a special safari vehicle, driven by a new (to us) trek cast member – Beverly.

Unlike the normal Kilimanjaro Safari vehicle, which has rows of seats for people to sit on, this one had one sitting area around the edge of the truck.  The inside was completely open so we could walk around.  Not while we were in motion, of course, but when we stopped we were allowed to get up and position ourselves for the best photographs.  And the vehicle stopped a lot more than the usual Kilimanjaro Safari vehicle does.  (Our trek photographer also kept snapping shots.)


Before long, we turned off the usual path and headed up to the Boma where we would have lunch.  As we disembarked, we were greeted with restrooms, Pog juice, and our meals (which I posted photos of here).  We were able to sit and talk amongst ourselves as well as get up, walk around, take more photos, and ask our guides plenty of questions.


All too soon, it was time to take the last part of our journey (which I shall describe in my final Wild Africa Trek post).

Disclaimer: We paid for our own trip to Disney World to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. Though we were given an incredible deal from Disney, they never asked us to blog about this event. All opinions expressed above are my own.

Note: To see all of my posts on DisneySMMoms 2012, go here.

The #DisneySMMoms Report: A Wild Time Trekking Through Africa, Part 1

While at the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, I was given the opportunity to go on the Wild Africa Trek.  Since B did this last year and had such a good time, I couldn’t resist.  I just had to try it.

We arrived at Animal Kingdom and, as we waited for our tour to begin, took in some of the local scenery.


Our tour guide soon arrived and got us all ready to go.  For the first time that day, we were allowed past a gate that usually keeps Disney World guests out.  Then, it was down some stairs, past some boats sitting beside a lake, and into the jungle.


Once we arrived at the Trek "home base", we were welcomed and given lockers to put our stuff (wallets and the like) in until the Trek was over.  You can take your camera with you, provided it has a neck strap or can be clipped onto your harness-vest.  Oh, yeah, we were suited up into harness-vests.


These aren’t just for fashion, but are important to your safety.  There are clips and pockets over it to help keep your gear secure, but most importantly is the monkey tail.  This is a long, tail-like, apparatus that will come in handy later.

We were also fitted with earpieces and receiver units so we could hear our tour guides no matter what the background noise or how far away from them we were.  Very handy if you find yourself in the back of the eleven person tour travelling single file through a forest trail.

After being suited up, it was time to tackle a rope bridge.  This was practice for the big bridges we’d encounter later.  After this, we were given the chance to apply sunscreen and bug repellent.

We were offered some Pog juice – that’s passionfruit, orange, and guava juices mixed together.  It’s insanely good, but we wisely didn’t drink too much.  After all, the next restroom was a 2 hour hike away!  Luckily, though, we didn’t need to rely on that one drink to last us for two hours.  We were also given water bottles to fill up (and keep) so we could take drinks along the way.  This is, of course, vitally important if you plan on hiking in the heat for a couple of hours.


With everyone geared up and ready, we were given some final instructions and then off we went.  You actually begin the Trek along the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail which is accessible to the public at large.  I’m sure quite a few folks wondered who the identically vested people were and where they were headed to.

After seeing some birds and monkeys, it was time to boldly go where no normal Disney vacationer has gone before (well, at least not since the last Trek group).  Yes, we were heading back into the forest and going off-road.  Here, we had to watch our steps.  Although there was a trail to follow, tree roots and uneven ground made walking a little more tricky compared to the flat, even pavement.

After a short hike, it was time to put the monkey tail to the test.  We were shown how to unhook and rehook the clip on the end.  The hook springs shut, so we were told to always hand it to the guides closed.  Trying to help them by opening it up for them might result in an injury on their part.


As we were clipped onto a railing, we walked out onto a ledge.  Ten feet below was a pond.  And in the pond was a hippopotamus.  The hippo didn’t seem to care that we were on the ledge above, but as our guides informed us, entering into his waters would be a deadly move.


You see, hippos might be strict vegetarians, but they are very, *VERY* territorial.  If anyone whom they consider a threat comes into their area, they will attack.  Combine this with their sleeping habits – they sleep underwater with their body naturally surfacing them when they need to breathe – and you can find yourself being suddenly attacked when you stray into a "hippo-less" area that is actually a hippo’s turf.  Even crocs won’t take on a hippo.  At most, they might go after a baby hippo, but that’s only if they are literally starving.  After all, if you think "you’re in my water" hippo is angry, just think of how angry "you’re trying to eat my baby" hippo would be.

The hippo didn’t seem to want to react to our guides.  Though one banged on a bucket filled with delicious greens, the hippo simply opened one eye and then decided to go back to its nap.

Thankfully, the CD we got after the trek had some nice Hippo stock photos like these:


More on the CD in a later post.

Once we left the hippo’s pond, we unclipped and moved on to the next challenge that would await us.  Remember those rope bridges we tackled earlier?  Those were about eight feet off the ground.  These next two were about thirty feet in the air.  Oh and some of the planks had "rotted" away so you had to watch your step.


In my next DisneySMMoms post, I’ll recount how we crossed the bridges and what awaited us on the other side.

Disclaimer: We paid for our own trip to Disney World to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. Though we were given an incredible deal from Disney, they never asked us to blog about this event. All opinions expressed above are my own.

Note: To see all of my posts on DisneySMMoms 2012, go here.

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