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.

This Post Has Been Delayed

Yesterday was really crazy.  Like tear your hair out, wish you could dramatically throw a lamp across the room crazy.  Hopefully, I’ll have a better blog post later.  For now, here are two photos from the Wild Africa Trek I took on Saturday.  One is of a crocodile under the bridge we had to cross.  The other is of another croc in the same area (but taken from the ground).


The Birds Go Splat

Peileppe_crow_flying_downThe other day, I was walking to my car.  As I approached my vehicle, I heard a splat.  Then another.  I looked around.  It wasn’t raining.  Nothing seemed to be falling that I could see.  Yet, the splatting sounds continued.  Then, I looked up.

Above me was a flock of birds.  Actually, flock is too weak of a word.  There were several HUNDRED crows flying overhead.  They were following each other high in the sky and many of them had obviously decided that the spot I was standing on was a restroom.  I quickly opened my car door and dove inside.  My car had been hit twice, but, luckily, I escaped unharmed.

The next day, I brought my camera in to work to attempt to capture this crow swarm.  And capture it I did (though there seemed to be less crows this time).

Have you ever witnessed a swarm of birds like this?

Reminder: Don’t forget to enter my $25 EdenFantasys giveaway!


Disclaimer: The image above, crow flying down, was obtained from

A Leaf Walking Trip With NHL

The day after Yom Kippur, we were deciding what to do with the boys.  NHL had off from Hebrew School, so this was a rare opportunity to do something fun the whole day.  We started it off by going apple picking.  Perhaps it was the Irene and Lee rains or perhaps it was the freakish 80 degree day (resulting in shorts instead of our usual apple picking pants), but we didn’t have as much fun.  The apples didn’t look as good and we got tired quicker.  After much complaining, we called it a day and headed out.  Of course, being hot and tired didn’t stop us from picking 39 pounds of apples.  Yes, THIRTY NINE POUNDS!  Much slow cooker apple sauce will be made.

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(As usual, click on the photos to enlarge them.)

After apple picking, the boys were tired and thirsty.  We considered going for ice cream, but every place was too crowded.  Besides, the apple orchard had affected B’s breathing.  (Which was already impacted from recovering from being sick.)  We needed a nice spot to relax for a few hours and B’s parents’ house got chosen.

After a short rest, NHL wanted to do something.  B and I considered it and we came up with going on a leaf-photography trip together.  First, we went home and dropped off the apples.  (This is when I weighed them too.)  I got NHL’s camera and off we went.

First stop was back to B’s parents’ house to drop off the car.  Then, we began walking.  As we walked, we talked and occasionally took photos of interesting things that we saw.

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Despite the warm weather, there was no denying fall was in the air.

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Eventually, we reached our destination: A local pond.  As I had guessed, the ducks were spending some time by the shore.

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NHL spotted a small playground nearby and I let him play there for a bit.  Then, we went back to taking photos.

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It was nice spending some quiet time bonding with NHL and he did me proud by spotting some nice shots.

Before long, though, a mistake I made prior to us leaving caught up with us.  I had forgotten to get NHL to go to the bathroom.  We had no car, there was no bathroom at the pond and we had a good 10 minute walk back to B’s parents’ house.  NHL held it in and didn’t complain much as we walked back.

Along the way, we spotted landmarks, like the stairs where we saw a chipmunk hop by as we had walked to the pond.


As we got closer, NHL was definitely slowing down more and getting a bit more cranky (as any tired, potty-emergency-stricken kid might be).  Still, he had moments when he’d ask me to take a photo.  Like of this tree that he thought looked like a monster.


In the end, we made it back.  We had a great time, made some great memories, and have some great photos to boot.  I need to take more of these walking trips with NHL before the snow begins to fall.

A Look Back At Disney: Kilimanjaro Safari

One of my favorite “rides” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is Kilimanjaro Safari.  I use “ride” in quotes because, despite the “chase the poachers” storyline at the end, it feels more like an actual African safari than a ride.

Of course, a big reason why I like it is taking photos of the animals.  This can be a bit frustrating, though.  The car you’re riding in goes over bumps and doesn’t always stop for every animal.  Some animals might be right in the clear, giving you the perfect shot.


“Who says I need a bath?  Want to come closer and say that?” *sharpens nose-horn*

Other animals hang back and make you use your camera’s zoom to the fullest… and then make you wish you had an ultra-super-mega zoom lens you could attach.


I promise there’s an animal in there.  Lying down.  No, really, there is.

Of course, when you go on safari, you never quite know what to expect.  One trip can be a washout for elephant sightings while another one can have the most unexpected cuteness around!

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Yes, that’s Mommy and Baby Elephant walking to the pond.  Isn’t Baby Elephant so cute?!!! Lots of awwww’s were uttered, I assure you.

The big things (like elephants) are great, but it’s the small touches that turn this from a “ride through a glorified zoo” into “African safari moved into Florida.”  Small things like these termite mounds.


Given Disney’s quest for realism, we’re left wondering if that’s a fake termite mound or if they imported actual African termites.  I’m leaning towards fake only because real termites would be tricky to keep confined.  They’d tend to get out and munch on other sources of wood.  Pretty soon you’d have these mounds popping up all over Disney World and that wouldn’t look too good.  As a side note, while impressive, I’d *hate* to see one of these pop up in my yard.  I think I’d just wave a white flag and surrender my house to the wood-munchers at that point.  Those things can clearly out-build me!

If you find yourself in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, whatever you do, don’t miss the Kilimanjaro Safari!  But before you get on, make sure your camera is ready.  You’ll need it!

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