Our Honeymoon: South Africa & Maldives – April 22-May 9, 2017

South Africa



Fri, April 21, 2017
Drive up to LA 1p at the latest
Emirates EK 218
LAX 10:40p —> 1:30a DXB


Duration 15:50


Sat, Apr 22


In the air


Sun, Apr 23


DXB 3:50a —> 11:35a CPT
Duration 9:45


Thrifty Car Rental
Cape Town CPT
Datsun GO


***be careful of speeding tickets on Garden Route***


  • Address: Victoria Road, Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
  • GPS Coordinates: 33º58’59.37” S ,  18º21’31.43” E
19:00 Reservation
Dress code: smart casual
Shop 153 / Victoria Wharf / V&A Waterfront / Cape Town


This was an epically long flight.  First there was the drive from SAN to LAX at 3pm, which means we didn’t get to Ross’ family’s place til about 6p.  After a quick meet and greet and dinner with his fam, they dropped us off at the international terminal.  We boarded the plane for our 11p departure on Emirates to Dubai.  That was 15 hours! Then, once in Dubai, we had a two hour layover where we grabbed a beer and stretched our legs a bit.  It was impressive to see so many people in the Dubai airport at 2am!  We then boarded our flight to Cape Town on Emirates to complete that 9 hour segment.  So in total, it was 34 hours of travel from when we left our home to get to Cape Town.  Emirates is an incredible airline and is worth every penny.  Their service is incredible!  Once we landed in Cape Town, we picked up our lil Datson from Thrifty car rental and got acquainted with our wheels.  First, it’s opposite to the way we normally drive in the US.  The driver is on the right and the passenger sits on the left.  Additionally, the manual stick shift is in the center console… so instead of doing US shifting with the right hand,….. it’s done with the left hand.  My 🐻 did such a fantastic job getting us from the airport to our hotel safely!  Once we checked in at 12 Apostles, they greeted us with some sparkling wine.  The view from the bar/patio area was fantastic.  You can see both Table Mountain and the ocean!  The weather here is perfect — more like a drier windier version of San Diego.  After a quick bite and bevie out on the terrace, we went for a quick dip in the pool that overlooked the ocean.  Dinner reservations at Belthazar were excellent.  South African game meats paired with terrific wines!  We tried ostrich, kudu, and eland!  Ostrich was surprisingly delicious and more beef-like than poultry.  Terrific evening out in the waterfront district.  We finished it off with an ice cream cone and a turn on the Cape Wheel.  And we highly recommend Uber in Cape Town as it’s more affordable than the taxis.


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Mon, Apr 24


Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa
Breakfast Included


8am hike to Lions Head

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Mon 24 April 2017, at 13:00
Silo Top Floor, The Old Biscuit Mill
373-375 Albert Road Woodstock, Cape Town

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La Colombe, Silvermist Wine Estate
Constantia Main Rd, Constantia, Cape Town, 7848

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We woke up at 7:30 am to meet Sial our hotel guide for the hike up to Lion’s Head.  This was a gorgeous peak that sits across Table Mountain with 360 degree views of Cape Town.  We definitely recommend this hike — but it does involve quite a bit of scrambling.  It’s basically 1.5 miles of straight up climbing.  It took us about 2 hours to complete the hike and that’s with 20 minutes at the top to enjoy breakfast and the view.  After the hike, we had lunch at The Pot Luck Club — which is located in a loft on the top level with an open airy and floor-to-ceiling window viewing area of the ocean and mountains.  It’s a fantastic tapas-style Asian fusion restaurant that I’d easily recommend to any foodie!  After that, we searched high and low for a place to rent SUPs and couldn’t find one anywhere.  It’s no longer the season for people to rent SUPs so all the places are gone from the beach.  There were such perfect conditions at Clifton beach for SUPs!  Since we were slightly let down, we opted to wander around the next beach (Maiden’s Beach) that had an ocean pool.  We stayed for a bit to explore then headed back to the hotel to catch the sunset.  Dinner tonight at La Colombo is currently No. 76 on the 2017 World’s Best Restaurants.

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Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa


Hike Table Mountain? India Venster Route – four hours, go if clear weather Hike Table Mtn Tripadvisor
  • Platteklip Gorge 1.5 hours – cable car back down
Cable car option: buy tickets in advance online, go weekday/early, long lines Cable Car Tripadvisor

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12:00 Round House –> The Rumbullion lawn (cancelled ressie as we ran out of time and preferred to explore Table Mountain)
*** Or Lion’s Head (3-4 hours) Lion’s Head Hike Tripadvisor
Emailed Test Kitchen, No. 22 for resie (closed Sun and Mon)
20:00 95 Keerom – Real Italian Quality


We woke up at 7am and headed to our hotel’s breakfast which was a massive spread of eggs, meats, made-to-order omelets, oysters, champagne, fruit, cheeses, cereals, yogurts, coffee.  Anything you could imagine for breakfast was on the menu.  Luckily, we needed to burn off breakfast so we headed to Table Mountain (definitely get your passes online for the cable car ahead of time).  There’s a full 360 degree view of Cape Town and surrounding towns.  After 2.5 hours at Table Mountain, we headed down to Cape Point, the southern most tip of South Africa — also where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean.  The day was perfect for viewing the coastline.  We saw ostrich, eland, dassie, black lizards! Tons of animals out!  I’d recommend getting to the Cape Point around 2 or 3p when the tour buses are leaving.  We checked out Buffels Bay beach within the Cape Point park.  The park closes at 5p in April, so we headed down to Boulder Bay to see the penguins.  It’s a gorgeous drive along the coast as it was such a wonderful sight to see these cute penguins at the beach!  We decided to head back home along a very scenic route back to our hotel and catch the sunset.
We didn’t make it to Keerom bc I was so tired.  But we got room service and enjoyed the eats in the comforts of our home.  Now that’s a honeymoon!!


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Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa
Check-out 11:00 am


Raats Family Wines (Jason recommendation)
Emailed for 10:30 am appointment


Jordan Restaurant 12:30 lunch — There was a delivery truck that broke down on the only dirt road leading to access to Jordan.  So we opted for lunch at Rust en Verde (wine tasting pairing with yummy steak!)


Franschhoek Pass
Franschhoek Wine Tram


Emailed Test Kitchen for resie – pending waitlist


Franschhoek/Le Quartier Francais/Tasting Room for 19:30 and one night stay in Auberge room
Check-in: 14:00
Auberge room


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We headed out to Muizenberg where we heard the surf is good! Well it was.  There was a great beginner sandy beach break for me and some nice chest to shoulder high waves for my bear!  The conditions were just perfect: chilly, rain/thunder/lightning, and they were sailing the black shark flag.  It was the first time we had surfed in a shark warning area.
Shark flag warnings:
  • blue flag = clear visibility, no shark sighting.
  • Black flag = water was cloudy/murky/poor visibility but no shark sightings.
  • Red flag = shark sighting recently, but ok to get back into the water after 2 hours.
  • White flag = shark sighting now; sirens will go off; everyone out of the water
Off to Stellenbosch — wine country!
We were headed to Jordan winery for lunch but a big ol cargo truck was having issues and blocked the road into Jordan.  So, we opted for DeMorgenzon and had a lovely wine tasting there!  We ended up picking up the Reserve chenin blanc as well as their Reserve Syrah.  After that, we felt hungry and opted for a quick bite at Rust En Verde — home of some exquisite reds and food!  Definitely check them out if you love nice medium to full-bodied quality reds.  One thing we’ve noticed is that South Africa has quite tannic reds — but we love that — esp since loving the tannic Barolos in Piedmont, Italy!
Checking into our hotel Le Quartier Francais!  This place is gorgeous!  We were upgraded to the House Suite and it was enormous!  It was located right by the pool with beautiful views all around us with the mountains.  The service was incredible.  Everything in the mini bar was complementary – two bottles of wine, 3 craft beers, gin, sherry, whiskey, and brandy.  We even had our own mini pool off the master bedroom.  There was another upstairs loft that had two beds and a bathroom that was decorated for kids.  Everything about this hotel was incredible!
Dinner at The Tasting Room was so delicious!  It was incredible.  Basically, we took a journey through South African foods and culture.  Each dish was meticulously executed, beautifully plated, and wonderfully described.  On one of our dishes, we even heard some clicks in the description of our dish.  I’m not sure what language or dialect that it was from, but we very much appreciated it!  Our chef was a lady from the Netherlands and she was incredible!  We enjoyed this restaurant so much we felt it should’ve easily been in the Top 50 restaurants in the world.  After dinner, we went back to the kitchen to meet our chef.  She was gracious and had plans for her future after leaving The Tasting Room (I was actually very sad to here that she would no longer be the chef at Tasting Room and that La Colombe would be overtaking her restaurant).  In reality, Ross and I both felt that she rated higher than La Colombe.  So far in our rankings here in South Africa, we loved The Tasting Room, followed by La Colombe, and very close was Pot Luck Club (only bc it didn’t come with wine pairings and it was definitely a more casual atmosphere).

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Le Quartier Francais
Check-out: 11:00


Potential options:
– Franschhoek Wine Tram
– Rust en Vrede (Jason recommendation)
     25 min from 43 on Sandstone
     Tasting room open 9:00 to 17:00
     Winemaker’s lunch, first come first service, 12:00 to 15:00
Perdekop Hike, Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve
– Hermanus
     Hamilton Russell winery – pinot noir (Jason recommendation)
     Tasting Room open Mon-Fri 9 am to 5 pm, Sat 9 am to 1 pm
     Creation wines
– Pringle Bay, Betty’s Bay penguins
Helderberg Nature Reserve


43 on Sandstone Guest House
43 Sandstone Drive, Boskloof Estate, Somerset West, 7130, South Africa – Show directions
Phone: +27827831048
Check-in: 2:00 pm
Breakfast included


After an incredible breakfast at Le Quartier Francais, we hit the road taking the Franchoek Pass through the mountains towards Gordon’s Bay.  It’s a beautiful drive with plenty of hairpin turns and breathtaking scenery.  Once we got to Gordon’s Bay — we headed to a place just west of GB called Strand and hit up Natural Energy surf shop just in time to catch some waves out here. It was such a fun beach break.  After the surf, we headed to our lodging which was a room at Boskloof Eco Reserve — 43 on Sandstone.  Gorgeous room with a view!  Dinner was at Waterkloof.  The food was beautifully presented and very rich.  The food was paired with only the wines from their winery.  It was a nice dining experience, but we still loved The Tasting Room and La Colombe and Pot Luck Club better.

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43 on Sandstone Guest House
Check-out: 11:00 a.m.


Creation Wines – 11:00 a.m., confirmed via email
Tapas and tasting


Hermanus/Hamilton Russell?
Stay in Arniston, Arniston Hotel?
Surf rec for Arniston
Arniston to Mossel Bay (2:40 min drive)


We headed out from our Guest House and skipped breakfast as we were still full from last night’s dining experience.  On the way now to Creation Wines!

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Mossel Bay
Mossel Bay to Plettenberg Bay (1:50 min drive)


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Plettenberg Bay
The Plettenberg Hotel?
Tsitsikamma National Park?
We stayed in Tsala Treetop Lodge which is basically a connection of treehouses overlooking the landscape!

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Plettenberg to Jeffrey’s Bay (1:37 min drive)

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Car Rental Drop Off – Thrifty
9:30 am, Port Elizabeth (PLZ)


Qatar Airways QR6325
10:30aPLZ —> 12:10P JNB
Duration 1:35


Qatar Airways QR1364
2:00P JNB —> 11:30P DOH
Duration 8:20


Qatar Airways QR672
2:15A DOH —> 9:00AMMLE
Duration 4:45

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Maldivian sea plane
11am –> 12pm






18:30p EDGE ressie




20:00 Dining destination – at the villa



Qatar Airways QR675
8:20P MLE —> 11:00P DOH
Duration 4:35


8 hour layover in Doha, Qatar



Qatar Airways QR739
7:30A DOH —> 1:30P LAX
Seats 23A and 23B
Duration 16:00


Fly Emirates or British Airways to Capetown
To Maldives from Port Elizabeth or Durban



Garden Route


The otter trail
Tsitsikama trail
Whale trail
Mother City Hikers: Mother City Hikers Tripadvisor
Sample Itinerary drive from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth:


Recommendations for private driver hire:
Wine tastings around Cape Town:


Wine Country:
Stellenbosch (approx 40 min from Cape Town)
Jordan restaurant there, mentioned by Luke Dale-Roberts
Top ZA wines – Jordan, Creation, Fairview
Top 100 – Mullineux, Demorgenzon


Cape Town Breweries:
Devil’s Peak, The Taproom


Cape Town Restaurants:
Cape Town’s Best by Luke Dale-Roberts: Article by Luke Dale-Roberts Chef at Test Kitchen


Top 100:
No. 22 Test Kitchen, Cape Town
Dale-Roberts has two other ventures within the same Old Biscuit Mill complex in Cape Town: Pot Luck club is the Test Kitchen’s more relaxed sibling, serving global-inflected sharing plates, while the newly opened Naturalis, is focused, Ottolenghi-esque deli-style dining.


Local/African Food:
Mzoli’s grill/bbq/meats – good Tripadvisor reviews
The Diplomatic Bar & Restaurant – good Tripadvisor reviews
Mama Africa – been there long time
Amazink – food and performance/dance show, good reviews


Hermanus – town broken head hotel
Great if whale watching


Cape of good hope
Muizenberg warmer surf spot
Not Betty’s Bay — too windy
Wine country: close to hermanus
Valleys: hemelmenaarde (pinots)
Surf spot Victoria bay
Table mountain (in Cape Town) – restie on top then cable car down. Buy tix online first is easier
Tsitsikama Forrest – can stay in Tree Houses
Hotels: the 12 apostles – base of the mountains (this looks awesome babe!)
Cape View Clifton, some great reviews on Tripadvisor
-Constantia (green and amongst vineyards)
 The cellars (on other side of mt), winery
–  buitenverwachting winery and great restaurant (other side of mtn)
– steenberg hotel and super duper restie
– August cycle tour
Horseriding in J Bay:
J Bay surf school:
Kruger Park
Addo Elephant Park
** TripAdvisor how-to-Maldives**
Which island to stay in Maldives?
Kris’ epic stays in no particular order:
Per Aquum Niyama: Central Atoll @ Dhaalu

Bramwel Safaris Travel Operator #tanzania #kilimanjaro #africa #safari #zanzibar

Bramwel safaris
We came across this group through google as well as tripadvisor for it’s ratings and reviews. When I travel, I rely heavily on word of mouth, Google search, trip advisor, travel sites (lonely planet, Conde Nast, fodor’s, etc). Climbing Kilimanjaro has been on my bucket list for the last 4 years. So, it was important to me that I have a travel crew who is accommodating and flexible and professional. Bramwel Safaris is just that. William helped us create a personalized itinerary with all the things we wanted to accomplish. First of all, we were interested in climbing the Lemosho route for Kilimanjaro. Secondly, I was amazed that we could get a personalized trip for such a reasonable price. William answered all of our questions leading up to the trip itself. We took care of our international flights to and from Tanzania while he handled all other transfers for us. In addition, we were interested in doing a safari after our climb and he was able to set us up with a detailed safari itinerary in the  time we planned. Lastly, after the safari, we wanted some R&R in Zanzibar. And he easily arranged this for us as well. Now, this is all pre-trip. When it came time for the actual trip itself… Weather would prove difficult and we had a full day delay in Amsterdam. Yet, we kept William updated with our updated travel plans and he accommodated the changes to the start of our climb with ease. His professional demeanor is top notch. I can’t say enough about him or his team at Bramwel Safaris. Originally, we were planning on doing an 8 day Lemosho route climb, however, given the travel delay… And our lost bags for another day… We quickly discussed options and his team took us on a waterfall hike (Materuni waterfall — highly recommended) which was stunning to help pass the time while waiting for our bags. Finally our bags arrived and we were ready to start our climb. We met with our climbing team (Mussa-guide, Abu-assist guide and porters) and after they deemed us “fit” we decided on a 6 day Lemosho climb with overnight stay in the Crater. It was incredible. Every step of the way, Mussa and Abu made sure we were feeling well.
After our climb, William stayed in contact with us in starting our safari. We opted for a 3 day safari and we couldn’t be happier. Our driver Elly is incredibly knowledgeable and led us to all the sights for the animals. We located the Big 5 and then some!
Our Zanzibar flights were arranged by William and he took care of all the details. Basically, we’re getting a car to discover the island as well as snorkeling and doing a tour.
Overall, I am extremely satisfied with the flexibility, personalization, and professional demeanor of Bramwel Safaris. Because of this outstanding company, we had an incredible trip that went above and beyond our expectations. Thank you a million times over!!

Africa: Kilimanjaro, Tanzanian safari, Zanzibar #africa #kilimanjaro #tanzania #safari #zanzibar #beach

Mon, Feb 16

9:50a KLM601 AMS → LAX 11:50A = 11H

1525P DL4504 LAX → SAN 16:17P

Highlights from the trip:

  • The 6 day climb up Kilimanjaro and the killer headache at crater camp.  The last day descent was treacherous on the knees!
  • Amazing safari! I’ll never forget the cute lil ecosystem of Ngorogoro crater.
  • Gorgeous beaches and fantastic pier of Nungwi, Zanzibar.

Things I would do differently:

  • Bramwel Safaris tour operator did an amazing job with the trip.  Not sure I would change anything!

Keypoints learned:

  • Climbing Kilimanjaro is tougher than you think (the last day is pretty rough!).
  • The Tanzanian people are incredibly generous and kind.  Wonderful hosts!
  • Don’t be scared to travel outside your comfort zone.
  • Pack minimally but purposefully.
  • Go with your gut.  Travel with people who are good travel companions or meet people who enjoy your company.
  • Regardless of the travel mishaps (delays, baggage issues, travel partner issues, etc.), enjoy the journey.

Here’s another 35 year old gal’s trek up Kilimanjaro

Serengeti to Zanzibar #tanzania #africa #safari #zanzibar #beaches

Wed, Feb 11

11th– Serengeti/Ngorongoro (B, L, D)

Satellite Track My Journey

Wake up very early and move with the breakfast box, lunch and show your final respects to Serengeti (for this time) with a game drive this will be the last moment with your new fried (guide/driver) and he transferred you to Seronera airstrip for your afternoon flight to Zanzibar – Complete.

11th – Stone town (B, L, D -> Nungwi)

Your flight to Zanzibar gives you a great retrospective of the land you have visited. The turquoise bird view of Spice Island will not disappoint you either Meet and greet your Bramwel Safaris staff at the airport who will transfer you The Z – Hotel for dinner and overnight.

Stone Town, Zanzibar

The Z Hotel

The Z Hotel

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Tripadvisor Attractions for Stone town

Tripadvisor Restaurants for Stone town

As you know, there is minimal wifi on the mountain, so this post is posted on the proposed date of the climb (as well as subsequent posts).  I will have an update below for when we return with added tidbits.

Images above are from Google Images

**Update to go below**

Feb 11
Left early (6:30a) to see the animals. The evenings and mornings are cold.
Serengeti center (seronera):
Impala, CHEETAH!, lovebird, hippos,  tiny crocodile on Seronera River, banded mongoose, maribu stork, hammerkop nest (huge 100kg nest), dik dik, catfish, black faced monkey and fight, rock hyrax, Nile crocodile, cheetah and her cubs, cheetah count total: 5 cheetahs and 3 Cubs, leopard in tree,
The big 5: leopard, elephant, lion, water buffalo, black rhino — complete!

Serengeti #tanzania #africa #safari

Tues, Feb 10

10th– Serengeti (B, L, D)

Satellite Track My Journey

Adventure continues with a full day of game drive in order to discover more wonders of the Serengeti. The presence of wildlife is manifested at each glance. Picnic lunch is prepared to maximize game viewing. At the end of the day you will return motivated to your camp for dinner and rest –a m a z e d .

As you know, there is minimal wifi on the mountain, so this post is posted on the proposed date of the climb (as well as subsequent posts).  I will have an update below for when we return with added tidbits.

Images above are from Google Images

**Update to go below**

Feb 10
Woke up today with a cold and just general ick. Below are the places we went and the things we saw.
Ngorogoro crater rim:
Giraffes, black long-tailed monkey, black backed jackal,
Gazelles, wildabeast, ostrich, zebras, lions, lilac crested , grant’s gazelle, red buck, elephant, spotted hyena (largest of hyenas), hartebeest, topi, baboons, sausage tree, black faced monkey, water buffaloes, dik dik. No cheetah or leopard to be found today. Bummer.
Tried Tusker and Serengeti beers. Both light lagers. Tonight we’re staying in tented camp in the Serengeti center.  The place is amazing! A real toilet in the middle of nowhere!

Serengeti National Park: Ndutu #tanzania #africa #safari

Mon, Feb 9

9th– Serengeti (B, L, D)

Satellite Track My Journey

After Breakfast move toward Serengeti National Park passing through Ndutu and southern part of Serengeti. Picnic lunch is served on the way. When you reach Serengeti you will game drive en-route to katikati tented Camp and settle into the wild. Continue with another game drive before you return to your lodge to watch the African sunset until dinner and fall the sounds of nature–w i l d .

Migration Map

Katikati tented camp

As you know, there is minimal wifi on the mountain, so this post is posted on the proposed date of the climb (as well as subsequent posts).  I will have an update below for when we return with added tidbits.

Images above are from Google Images

**Update to go below**

Feb 9
We left Arusha and our very cute Karama lodge & spa and headed for Lake Manyara and Ngorogoro Crater. We saw a giraffe eating from an acacia tree (“cloud tree”) and Baboons at entrance to Lake Manyara
At Ngorogoro conservation area, we saw:
Baboons, Masai kids, eland (largest of all antelopes and gazelles), tawny eagle eating prey, helmeted guineafoul, Thompson gazelle, ostrich, wildabeast, golden jackal, zebras and calves, water buffalo, blue heron, warthog (Pumba), hippos (and mating!), pride of lions, black rhino and baby, kori bustard (largest flying bird), gray crowned crane (national bird of Uganda), blacksmith , sacred ibis, female water buck, and elephant. It was such a lucky viewing day!!
After the drive thru the crater, we checked into the Ngorogoro sopa lodge which was a really nice welcome. We had a view of the terrain from our room!! It was spectacular. Looking forward to what tomorrow will bring.

Day 8: Arusha to Ngorongoro Crater #kilimanjaro #africa #tanzania #lemosho #serengeti

Sun, Feb 8

8th– Arusha ->Serengeti (B, L, D)

Satellite Track My Journey

Wake up very early at 6:00am Leave the city behind and start a long journey towards Ngorongoro Conservation area, it is time for the World Heritage Site – Ngorongoro Crater.  You will descend into the caldera floor that represents 260 km2 of paradise on earth. The game drive aims to satisfy your senses and complete your wildlife safaris for this time After full day of game drive, transferred to Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge for dinner and overnight stay – r o o t e d .

Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater

As you know, there is minimal wifi on the mountain, so this post is posted on the proposed date of the climb (as well as subsequent posts).  I will have an update below for when we return with added tidbits.

Images above are from Google Images

**Update to go below**

Feb 8
Camping in the crater was one of the toughest nights out camping. Staying overnight at 18,000 ft definitely can inflict some altitude sickness upon you. We had moderate headaches all throughout the night. Every movement from taking out our sleeping bags, to rolling overdid dinner, to just getting changed made us out of breath SpO2 was 74%.  After getting thru the night, we made about a one hour fast descent down to Barafu hut. Our appetites didn’t quite recover and neither did our headaches. Still we headed down to the High but where we finally got rid of our headaches and kept going beyond the Mweka hut onto our final destination of the Mweka gate. Our knees were completely shot. The downhill mileage was really a lot for one day. We took pics with our team and headed into Moshi to stop them off. Now we’re headed to Arusha where we will embark on our next journey with a safari tour!