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Chasing Lava in Hawaii: Warning - May Induce Happiness, by PBaruch (2016) Our love for Hawaii Island (commonly known as the Big Island) is well known and some of you may have read my past two trip reports, which can be found here:

Our story began years ago while I was reading a photography magazine containing an article about shooting lava on Hawaii Island.  I was absolutely mesmerized by the photographs and immediately began planning our first trip.  Although DW had been bugging me to go to Hawaii before that time, I had never been interested until reading about the lava.  Since that time, we have visited the Big Island several times and we have been very fortunate to befriend some truly wonderful individuals.

Earlier this summer, we heard reports that the lava was again flowing towards the ocean.  The last time that there was ocean entry was in 2013 and although I had seen ocean entry on two prior visits, DW and the kids had not previously seen ocean entry from land.  Also, my little guy wasn't even born yet when the lava was last flowing into the ocean in 2013.  As soon as the lava flow hit the ocean, DW told me she wanted to go back to the Big Island and I wasn't arguing with her.  Also, since I had recently become self employed, taking time off was not really an issue.  I asked my boss for two weeks off and his response was take all the time that you need.

Flight to Hawaii:

ewr-hnl-koa map by P Bryan, on Flickr

IMG-20160824-WA0007 by P Bryan, on Flickr

On the flight to Hawaii we received Regal kosher meals which weren't bad and they were edible.

For this trip, we decided to stay eleven nights at the Sheraton in Kona and two nights in Volcano.  Although DW and I much prefer Volcano over Kona (the kids prefer Kona due to the swimming pool and nearby beaches), it made more sense for us to stay in Kona rather than Volcano for the bulk of this trip.  DW didn't want to spend Shabbos in Volcano and the cost of staying at the Sheraton was minuscule (using SPG points) compared to Volcano (where I had to pay for the hotel with cash).

We arrived in Kona on Wednesday afternoon, picked up our rental car, stopped by Walmart for some drinks and supplies, and then headed to the Sheraton.  Once again, we were treated well and upgraded to a large ocean front room containing three beds (only such room in the entire hotel).  On the following day, we did some more shopping including buying a jogging stroller for our lava adventure.  We stopped by Target and bought this stroller, which served us very well:

We also stopped by Greenwell Farms, one of our favorite spots in Kona.  We took a farm tour and tasted delicious Kona Coffee.

Taking a tour of the farm:

DSC_7272 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Holding a coffee bean:

DSC_7257 by P Bryan, on Flickr

I love Kona coffee!

DSC_7283 by P Bryan, on Flickr

There is a resident chameleon but we couldn't find it this time.

DSC_7315 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep.  We awoke at about 12:00 a.m. and headed out at about 12:30 a.m. for the drive to Kalapana for our trip to the ocean entry.  At the present time, there are three ways to access the area where lava is flowing into the ocean: (i) walk the approximately 10 miles round trip over the county emergency access road from Kalapana (you can also walk over the road from the National Park side as well); (ii) rent a bicycle from one of several companies and ride to the ocean entry; or (iii) pay for Kalapana Cultural Tours to drive you most of the way and then hike or bike the remaining approximately 1.8 miles each way.  We chose the shuttle tour as it is very important for us to do as much as we can as a family and expose our kids to these wonders.  I was lucky to be introduced to the owner of Kalapana Cultural Tours, who graciously arranged a private tour for my family.  We were shuttled in a 4WD van and we then hiked the remainder of the way to the lava flow.  Unfortunately my buddy, photographer Bruce Omori, was unavailable to join us at that time.  I was able to go out to shoot lava with Bruce later in our trip, more about which is discussed below.

The county emergency access road:

DSC_8005 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Photographs taken at the ocean entry:

DSC_7772 by P Bryan, on Flickr

IMG_3239 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_7454 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_7854 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_7910 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Photographs of the lava from past trips:

Lava ocean entry on the Big Island of Hawaii in 2011. by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lava flowing into the ocean on the Big Island of Hawaii in 2013. by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lava flowing into the ocean on the Big Island of Hawaii in 2013 by P Bryan, on Flickr

After being out most of the night and into the morning hours, we returned back to the hotel for much needed naps.  We relaxed and prepared for Shabbos at the Sheraton.

On Sunday we visited Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Park.  Although we had driven past Punalu'u on prior trips, we had never previously visited this particular park.  Punalu'u is famous for having sea turtles on the beach but none were there during our visit.  I didn't find Punalu'u to be particularly attractive but it is relatively easy to access this park and the black sand beach.

DSC_8020 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lilly pond behind the beach:

DSC_8024 by P Bryan, on Flickr

After Punalu'u, we visited South Point where we watched some local kids jump off the cliff into the ocean below.  Also, I went hunting for the South Point marker, which denominates South Point as the southernmost point in the United States.  After an unsuccessful attempt on my own, I asked one of the locals who was fishing in the area about the marker.  He directed me to an area behind a large rock.  Once again, I went off in search of the marker but found nothing.  I went back to the local and he explained that the marker was nothing more than the remains of a plastic rod cemented in the rock:

DSC_8031 by P Bryan, on Flickr

After speaking to the local for a few minutes, he told me that his cousin owned Kalapana Cultural Tours and he asked me to send his regards.  After South Point, we headed back to the hotel to pick up frozen meat that we had brought from home for a BBQ with friends.  On the way to the BBQ, we stopped off at Walmart to buy a grill and supplies.

We met our friends and their families for a BBQ at a beach near Costco:

DJI_0006 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8070 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8075 by P Bryan, on Flickr

We grilled hotdogs, salami, burgers, and vegetables.  Our friends brought lilikoi (otherwise known as passion fruit) and breadfruit (which we grilled as well).

DSC_8045 by P Bryan, on Flickr

The lilikoi was delicious and we couldn't get enough.  The breadfruit was...something to taste once.  The fruits in Hawaii taste amazing and you can immediately tell the difference between Hawaii grown fruit and the stuff we get back home.

The following day we took a snorkel trip to Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park.  Although we had snorkeled there once before, it was worthwhile to return.  Once again, the kids had an amazing time.  On the way there we saw a school of flying fish and on the way back we saw a pod of dolphins.

DSC_8101 by P Bryan, on Flickr

P1020600 by P Bryan, on Flickr

After the snorkeling trip, we visited the beach by the Lava Lava Club in Waikoloa (near the Hilton), where we stayed for sunset.  We had wanted to photograph sunset from behind the fish pond by 'Anaeho'omalu Beach, but it was closed for construction.  Turtles can often be found on this beach but none were there when we visited.  (Noticed a pattern yet?)

DSC_8244 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8251 by P Bryan, on Flickr

On Tuesday we visited Waimea and the Parker Ranch.

Driveway leading to the Parker Ranch:

DSC_8265 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8274 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Inside the main house:

DSC_8292 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Room inside another house at the ranch:

DSC_8318 by P Bryan, on Flickr

After Parker Ranch we visited Umauma Falls, which is considered by some to be the most beautiful waterfalls on the Big Island.  We received free admission as it was raining when we pulled up.  However, when we arrived at the falls, the rain stopped and we had a perfect view.

DSC_8344 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8376 by P Bryan, on Flickr

My little guy took this picture of me:

IMG_4349 by P Bryan, on Flickr

On Wednesday we visited the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm near the airport in Kona, information about which can be found here:

At the seahorse farm, our kids were able to feed and hold seahorses and it was one of their favorite activities.  We found out about the seahorse farm thanks to my buddy Mitch and his wife, who also happened to be on the Big Island at the same time.

DSC_8384 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8408 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8402 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8436 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Feeding some fish:

DSC_8460 by P Bryan, on Flickr

The touch tank:

DSC_8498 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8510 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8489 by P Bryan, on Flickr

After the seahorse farm, we went to the Hilton at Waikoloa, which has a saltwater lagoon that is open to the ocean but contains grates to prevent anything dangerous from getting in.  At the lagoon, you can rent hydro-bike, kayaks, or paddleboats and see colorful reef fish and green sea turtles.  Due to the expected Hurricane Madeline, boat and equipment rentals were ended early.  Luckily for us, neither of the two expected hurricanes affected us at all.  The weather in Kona and Volcano was perfect for the days that we were in each place.

Information about the lagoon can be found here:

While at the lagoon, the kids fed a sea turtle:

DSC_8665 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8689 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Since we were so close, we went back to the beach by the Lava Lava Club in Waikoloa for sunset.  Once again, there were no sea turtles to be seen.

DSC_8707 by P Bryan, on Flickr

On Thursday we went to Pololu Valley, a short but steep hike to a black sand beach.  Although it was pretty, Waipio is still my favorite valley and black sand beach on the Big Island.

DSC_8758 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8723 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8746 by P Bryan, on Flickr

After Pololu, we visited Kiholo Bay where we stayed until sunset.  Kiholo is another beach know for sea turtles but once again none were to be found.

DSC_8759 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8766 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8773 by P Bryan, on Flickr

On Friday, DW and the girls visited Mauna Loa Observatory while I stayed with the little guy at the Sheraton.  Principally NOAA is based there, with a few other agencies also conducting experiments.  A NOAA technician conducted the tour.

Road to the observatory:

IMG_5045 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Ozone detecting equipment is inside this telescope-like structure.  The technician was happy to rotate the dome and open it for them.

IMG_5071 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Touring the observatory:

IMG_5094 by P Bryan, on Flickr

List of famous astronauts who visited the observatory:

IMG_5135 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DW requests that I give you the following to ponder: is there more carbon dioxide in the air in the summer or winter and why?

After DW and the girls returned to the hotel, we prepared for Shabbos.  I made a fried potato kugel:

DSC_8792 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DW made chicken in a crock pot, which was transferred out right before Shabbos, and replaced with cholent:

12369 by P Bryan, on Flickr

On Sunday, DW and the kids went swimming and used the water slide while I helped pack out for our transfer to Volcano.  Along the way to Volcano we stopped off again at Greenwell Farms for delicious Kona coffee.  One of the employees, Chai, recognized us and came running over asking me if I was Mr. PBaruch.  When I responded that I was, she thanked me warmly for our return visit with an Asian greeting.

After Greenwell Farms we stopped off at two roadside fruit stands on the way to Volcano.

Cooks Bounty Fruit Stand:

DSC_8795 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8798 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Basket of lilikoi (DSC_8799) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Judy's Fruit Stand:

DSC_8818 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8811 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8808 by P Bryan, on Flickr

That evening, Bruce and I arranged to shoot the lava flowing into the ocean.  After we arrived in Volcano I did my best to get some rest but the noise from the kids jumping about coupled with my excitement precluded any sleep.  I was scheduled to meet up with Bruce at 1:30 a.m. at a gas station along the way to Kalapana.  I arrived at the gas station at about 12:40 a.m. and went into the gas station convenience store.  Afterwards, I sat in the car for a bit but became restless.  I then decided to linger outside the car for a while.  Several minutes later, four police cars showed up, which I though was due to the strange lurker hanging around.  Luckily I wasn't tackled or tasered that evening.  Bruce arrived at about 1:40 a.m. and we both went into the convenience store (right past the police officers) to stock up on drinks for the trip.  After we exited the store, the police asked us if we were coming or going.  I responded that it was "lava time" and asked if the police officers wanted to join, to which they all had a good laugh.

Bruce was able to drive his truck to the second gate down the county emergency access road (the farthest that anyone can drive), from which point we rode bicycles the rest of the way.  I rented a bicycle from Kaimu Rentals (808-333-4392), which is owned by my friend Junior (same person who guided me and my friend Alex to the lava in 2011).  I could not rent a bicycle from Kalapana Cultural Tours as they did not have anyone available to provide me with a bicycle in the middle of the night.

I mounted the bicycle wearing my heavy camera backpack and tripod, rode forward for a short distance, and promptly fell over sideways.  I hadn't been on a bicycle in years and was off balance with the backpack and tripod (that was hanging off to one side).  What happened next was quite comical.  I got back on the bicycle but must have looked like a drunk as I weaved back and forth.  Once I did get the hang of it, I realized how uncomfortable it was to sit on a narrow hard seat with a heavy load on my back.  My tuchus ached for quite a while but we managed to arrive at the lava at about 3:30 a.m.

Shooting lava is incredibly challenging and the magic light is only there for a very brief period of time.  Despite not always being able to properly capture the lava during the darkness of the night, Bruce and I both enjoyed the show.  At times the lava flowed like a river into the ocean while at other times it dripped as if from a leaky faucet.  We also saw lava exploding like a firecracker and lava balls rolling in the surf.

Pictures taken of the ocean entry:

DSC_8930 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_8958 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_9272 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_9302 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_9392 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_9686 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Videos taken of the ocean entry:

I returned back to the hotel in Volcano at about 9:00 a.m. and took a much needed nap for a few hours.  We ran a few errands in the afternoon and then visited Volcanoes National Park, where we saw the endangered nene.  We received a free one year family National Park Pass due to the following program for fourth graders:

Pictures of the nene:

DSC_9778 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_9768 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_9730 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_9737 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Flowers at Volcanoes National Park:

DSC_9702 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_9749 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_9748 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Afterwards, we stopped off at Jagger Museum to observe Halemaumau Crater.  The lava level in the crater was quite high and, for the first time, we were able to see lava spattering from the overlook.  I did not, however, take any photographs at that time as I had previously seen better.

The following day we returned home:

ito-hnl-ewr map by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_9781 by P Bryan, on Flickr

On our flight home, we received Regal kosher meals which were absolutely horrible and barely edible.   On our return flight this past February we received kosher meals from Oahu Kosher that were quite delicious.  We were looking forward to receiving meals again from Oahu kosher and were very disappointed with the Regal meals.  I'm not sure of the reason for the change but I hope UA continues to use Oahu Kosher in the future.

In summary, we didn't have the opportunity to do everything we would have liked due to time constraints and the two threatened hurricanes.  Nevertheless, we had an extremely restful two-weeks on the Big Island which is unlike many of our other trips.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this trip report.

September 12, 2016, 08:51:58 PM
Re: So I got my drivers license IME getting to know an agent behind the counter is a lot better then any status you can have..
October 05, 2016, 08:40:44 PM
Re: Lakewood NJ Master Thread
Any reason 107.9 is off air
if you give a reason why the were ever on air then maybe someone will feel a need to explain why they are off air

October 09, 2016, 07:44:46 PM
Re: Making Aliya Mazal Tov! Hatzlacha Rabbah!
October 27, 2016, 04:51:18 PM
Re: Making Aliya
Proud to say that this November 7th I will be making aliya!! Moving a little out of the box to Haifa. Would love to know if anyone is from around there and if there are any must knows abut the area.
Even before we'll know who our next president will be :)

I wish you much Hatzlacha!!!

October 27, 2016, 04:58:07 PM
Re: Making Aliya Hatzlacha Raba!
October 27, 2016, 04:58:15 PM
Re: Making Aliya
Proud to say that this November 7th I will be making aliya!! Moving a little out of the box to Haifa. Would love to know if anyone is from around there and if there are any must knows abut the area.
ur username says it all!  Lots of Luck! :)

October 27, 2016, 05:12:39 PM
Re: The funny/strange/interesting video thread...

September 15, 2017, 02:10:40 PM
Honeymoon: Cape Town, SA - Safari - Mauritius This is my first trip report and it took me around 10 months to finally write it up…
The Honeymoon of a lifetime was actually planned from even before we got engaged. We were deciding between South Africa & Australia and as you can guess, South Africa won! I did a ton of research for this trip, from other friends’ who went to SA on their honeymoon, from DDF and from well, the internet. This is my first trip report but hopefully you will enjoy it.
For Flights we booked the following:

JFK – JNB – Booked on South African Airways with United Points 80,000 roundtrip pp economy
JNB – JFK - Booked on South African Airways with United Points 80,000 roundtrip pp economy

For hotels we booked the following:

6 Nights in Cape Town at the Cape Royale Hotel (4th Night Free – Citi Prestige)
5 Nights in a Safari lodge called Kings Camp in the Timbavati Reserve (4th Night Free – Citi Prestige)(5th Night Free from the safari Resort. Stay 5 Pay 4 Special) (the 4th Night credit from using the prestige card reimbursed me $1,500 for one night!!!!)
1 Night in Johannesburg at the Palazzo at Monte Casino
5 Nights in the Westin Mauritius turtle Bay Resort – 10k SPG per night
2 Night in the St. Regis Mauritius – 20k SPG per Night

Wednesday, December 28th/29th, JFK-JNB with a 2 hour stopover and then JNB – CPT

We got to JFK with plenty of time for our flight which was scheduled to depart at approx. 10:40AM. After check-in I was told from the TSA agent in the Pre-check line that South African Airways doesn’t not patriciate with TSA pre-check, which was kind of disappointing. Although somehow we were able to make our way to a different Pre-check line and did not have to take out my laptop or remove my shoes. After security we proceeded to the Wingtips Lounge in Terminal 4 at JFK. Our flight was delayed about 40 minutes so after doing some emails and getting a bite to eat, we then made our way to the gate and awaited our 15 hour flight to JNB. With about an hour left in the flight I asked a stewardess if I would make my next flight to Cape Town and he assured me that I had nothing to worry about. He said they have flights leaving every hour and if I missed my flight scheduled for 10:10AM local time there was an 11AM one and I would make that one. Sure enough we landed at around 9:30AM but the Customs line much long and by the time we got through was exactly 10AM. We still had to go to the check-in counter and check our bags to Cape Town. So at the Domestic counter in JNB they put us on the 11AM flight and we were at the gate with plenty of time to spare. (We would have made our 10:10AM flight if we were delayed in JFK for 45 minutes). After a 2 hour flight we finally made it to Cape Town and after getting a SIM card in the airport and calling an Uber we finally arrived at our Hotel at around 3PM.
6 Nights in Cape Town
After checking into the hotel and getting freshened up we heading to the V & A Waterfront to walk around. With it being Hanukkah we saw the stage set up for later on that evening they were having a candle lighting ceremony and have complimentary latkes and sufganiyot.
For Dinner we headed straight to Avrons and little did we know we would go back 3 more times after that. Avron’s had a Friday night dinner option in the restaurant and so before even trying the food on Friday we signed up and paid for the Friday night dinner. The total for Friday night dinner was approx. $15 per person, and trust me we did not leave hungry. Below are some pictures from our meal on Thursday night.

The next day, Friday we woke up at 3:30AM (YES, 3:30AM) and we were picked up at our hotel by 4AM on our way to swim in cages with Great White Sharks. This was so surreal. One of the coolest things we ever did in our lives. The weather was beautiful and the drive was gorgeous (although the wife fell asleep for 2 hours so she missed out). The water temperature was pretty cold but with the wet suits and masks and equipment you didn’t feel the cold water too much. After a long day we finally headed back to Cape Town to shower and change and head to Avrons for dinner.
Saturday we walked around the V & A Waterfront again and stayed there pretty much all day. Saturday night we headed straight back to the waterfront as it was New Year ’s Eve. The waterfront was packed and they had so many cute and fun events and it all topped off with a nice fireworks celebration.

Sunday we hired a private driver and vehicle to drive us around the entire cape peninsula. We headed straight to Café Riteve to pick up breakfast and lunch for the road. The food was really good and the staff was pretty nice. I can go into detail about the tour but pretty much these are the main points of interest that were very cool. This was an awesome day, we saw some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and had a chance to take a boat ride to Seal Island, take a swim with Penguins and saw the exact point the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic Ocean.
Clifton & Camps Bay
Hout Bay – Seal Island boat ride
Chapmans Peak Drive
Ostrich viewing drive by
Cape of good hope
Cape point
Simons Town – Penguins Colony
Kirstenbosch botanical gardens (although by this point we wanted to get back to the hotel badly that we saw a few flowers, put a NY Giants hat on Nelson Mandela and left)
Monday we made our way to Table Mountain. We took the cable car up and probably waited about 30 minutes. Once we got up we headed straight for Abseiling. This was insane!!! The pictures do not do justice but this was the highest and longest commercial abseiling company in the world. After repelling down we had to make our way back to the top which took about 35 minutes. This was no easy task for the wife who is in very good shape so thankfully she altered our plans initially which was to climb up the whole mountain from the bottom.
Our afternoon activity got cancelled due to the strong winds which was kind of unfortunate because we were looking forward to paragliding off Lions Head. Instead we headed back to the waterfront and was looking forward to taking a short ferry ride to Robben Island. Unfortunately due to it being a very busy time of the year in Cape Town they were fully booked for the next 8 days so we couldn’t go. Instead we took a sunset cruise around the cape.
Tuesday we had to make some alternative plans as well as we had Skydiving booked for the morning but once again due to the strong winds in Cape Town they cancelled our scheduled dive and being that we were leaving Cape Town the next day we couldn’t do it there. My wife, believe it or not was the one that was most disappointed. We took our time packing up our things in the hotel and went for a nice breakfast and then we got picked up for our next activity, Sandboarding. The sandboarding driver picked us up and drove us to the Atlantic Dunes where we proceed to go sand boarding. The only problem was it was a very windy day (obviously though since skydiving was cancelled) and they did not provide goggles. This activity had a ton of potential but it was absolutely miserable. I had sand in places on my body for the next few days, not to mention my eyes. This could have been easily avoided if our driver told us we should buy goggles because we stopped at a gas station and easily could have purchased a pair. In middle of the activity I went back to the car and just stayed there, my wife finished the hour or hour and a half and then came back to the car. I recommend this activity as it was very cool and a lot of fun, but it was torture for me. So I recommend bringing goggles or buying goggles or making sure the place provides them for you. After the sandboarding we wet Quad Biking (ATVs). This activity was very cool as well. We were supposed to go on the beach but instead went Quad biking on an insane closed course that was very cool. We loved it and had a great time. We both have went ATVing in Israel before but this was a lot cooler as the course was an intense course and not just an open road. We then made our way back to the hotel, finished packing and got an early night sleep.

5 Nights in Kings Camp – Timbavati Reserve – Kruger National Park

We woke up early Wednesday for our 9AM 3 hour flight on SAA from Cape Town direct to Hoedspruit. When speaking to a friend of mine who booked his trip with a travel agent, the travel agent told him there are no commercial flights, and the charter flight could only carry approx. 22 pounds of luggage. He spent over $700 to ship his luggage to JNB because he was not made aware of that and paid over $1,500 per person for this flight. He was in fact, wrong. We flew direct and was to bring onto the plane a luggage that weighed 50 pounds each. With about an hour left on the flight the Pilot got on the loudspeaker and said a flight that took off from JNB and was flying into HDS as well was scheduled to land an hour before us had to get rerouted back to JNB because of the strong winds. For us this would have been terrible. The pilot assured us that they would try and do everything they could to get us in, and so after 30 minutes of flying with our landing gear down and flying in a circle waiting for the clouds and wind to open up, we made our decent down and landed the most terrifying landing I have ever witnessed. Thankfully we landed safely and got off the plane because we ended up finding out that we were the only flight to land that day.


We got our luggage and were met by the managers of the camp, Warren & Lisha Moore. They picked us up from the airport and then drove the 45 minutes to our camp. I am not going to go into detail on the next 5 days but I am going to give you a little idea of what we did.

My wife and I are both strictly kosher so making the decision to come to Kings Camp was a no-brainier. Kings Camp was able to provide us with a Mashgiach from Johannesburg, a totally separate and kosher kitchen, a private chef who prepared three meals for us daily (not to mention the best food we ever had), meats, cheeses, kosher wines and anything else you can think of for our stay. The level of service and the accommodations at Kings Camp was unparalleled to anything I have seen or anywhere I have stayed before. Below are some pictures of our stay and the food and our daily schedule at the camp.

We had a private dinner on our veranda


On every game drive, whether it was in the morning or the afternoon we stopped off and unloaded the food and set up a coffee station in the morning or tea/wine station in the afternoon


We even had breakfast in the middle of the African bush and they were able to bring a portable kitchen and cook fresh breakfast in the middle of god knows where.



My wife was able to light Friday Night candles even, although the clean up from all the wax was a huge hassle and I did feel bad for the housekeeper.


Our Daily Schedule:
5:00AM Wake up
5:30AM – 9:00AM First Drive
9:00AM Breakfast
1:00PM Lunch
3:00PM – 3:30PM Snack time
3:30PM – 7:00PM – Second Drive
8:00PM – Dinner, Sleep and repeat
Here are some pictures of the animals.


Our stay at Kings Camp was something we both could not have imagined. We enjoyed every single minute and couldn’t have asked for a more insane adventure. I am strongly recommending a Safari to everyone, whether you love animals or don’t. In addition, for anyone looking for the kosher experience, or even if you are not requiring the kosher experience I implore you to reach out to Kings Camp in the Timbavati Reserve as your destination. I am now their unofficial spokesman, although they don’t know it yet. I came back ranting and raving and telling everyone from my brother to the stranger sitting next to me on the subway that they have to go on a safari and must stay at Kings Camp.
Monday, January 9th we went on our last drive in the safari and then made our way to the airport for our 12 PM flight to Johannesburg.
1 Night in Johannesburg

 The flight was only an hour long and we landed in Johannesburg airport to a little bit of a surprise.  Our luggage in Hoedspruit (airport in the safari) checked in our luggage directly to our next destination, Mauritius. Only 1 of the 3 luggage’s we had checked in made it to the luggage carousel and even that was a mistake, the luggage tags all said Mauritius, so in fact we were a little lucky. Normally this is not an issue, we are in Johannesburg for only one night and why would we need the other two pieces of luggage. However before we left on our trip we reached out to two different kosher catering companies in Johannesburg and ordered over 70 pounds of food our stay in Mauritius. So now our two luggage’s that were checked in and somewhere in the airport were both half empty and the one luggage we had, and the two carry on suitcases we had were probably ¾ of the way full. Now came the fund stuff.
We went to the hotel where the food was in the freezer waiting for us and had to just wait it out until the next morning to see how we were going to fit the food. To make a really long and unforgettable story short, we fit everything into the one luggage and two carry-ons we had and ended up with two carry ons weighing approx. 50 pounds each and a suitcase which weighed at least 90 pounds.
We got to the airport and tried to play dumb but when the agent at the counter saw over 40 kilograms she started to panic. When smooth talking her didn't really i took out i took out the only currency i had in my pocket, a $50 bill USD and handed it over to her. If i tell you her reaction you would never believe it. She proceeded to tear up and say thank you a million times. she blessed me with all her heart for the next 10 minutes and even came around the counter to hug me and thank me. So while a $20 bill might have done the job the $50 made the experience that much better. we checked the big luggage and a carry on and made our way to Mauritius. 
5 Nights in Mauritius – Westin Turtle Bay Resort
We arrived in Mauritius and got into a car that was waiting for us and that was arranged by the hotel. the drive took about an hour, maybe even a little more. For the first 20 minutes or so of the drive it was pouring rain. my wife was nervous about the rain in Mauritius and the first experience on the island was a bit upsetting. she started to go on about how it's going to rain the whole time and it won't be hot and sunny, and i said let's see what happens.
It turns out it didn't rain one more minute on the island after that first half hour. the weather was sunny and beautiful every single day. the water temperature of the ocean was perfect and the hotel was great. the hotel has a bunch of activities to do for free and a few that can be purchased as well. we stayed at the Westin for 5 nights and the staff was great. They heated up our Lunch and Dinner for us when we asked and only charged us $10 per person per meal. (considering what they could have charged us this was nothing to complain about). the lounge at the westin was great as well and everything about the resort was perfect. after 5 days on the island and the end of the trip coming to a close we ended our trip with 2 nights at the St. Regis resort.



2 Nights in Mauritius – St. Regis Resort 

Our hotel arranged for a taxi to pick us up from the Westin in the morning after breakfast and drove us another hour to the south Western tip of Mauritius, a little area on the island called Le Morne where we checked into the St. Regis. This hotel was insanely gorgeous.


Everything about it was perfect, the staff, the service, the accommodations, everything was perfect. We got upgraded to the Manor house suite which is the nicest room in the hotel. The hotel heated up our lunch and dinner for us as well and didn't charge us anything. it took until the second to last day of our stay in Mauritius to finally come across Americans. I guess with it being close to 21 hours away many Americans don't get the chance to go there. These Americans were traveling for close to 2 months and the stop before Mauritius they were in Seychelles. They confirmed with me that Mauritius was a much better island and resort than Seychelles. I can't vouch for that, just sharing what they said. Mauritius, while really far away was a beautiful island with lovely staff and if you're ever in the area i would certainly recommend it. We checked into the airport with enough time to spare and the agent at the check in counter was able to send our luggage from Mauritius straight to JFK so it was an awesome sigh of relief when we didn't have to get our bags again.

Our flight from Mauritius to Johannesburg was a little delayed but we landed in JNB with about 2 hours to spare before our flight back home was scheduled to take off. we went straight to the International Transfer line and waited close to half an hour without moving three feet. We then called up Nandos Kosher and ordered food for them to deliver to the airport. We got off the line and went back to the regular customs line and after 15 minutes we made it back to the departures terminal where an order of fresh chicken and burger sandwiches from Nandos kosher was waiting for us. We quickly got back onto the security line. got through customs again and went straight to one of the airport lounges. I took a nice hot shower in the lounge while my wife relaxed a little. we then ate our food and proceeded to the gate for check in. we boarded, took off and 16 hours later we landed in JFK.
I probably could have kept this TR going for another 10 pages but i left out a lot of the boring stuff. South Africa and Mauritius were amazing places to visit and my wife and i talk about going back one of these days. Or maybe for our 20th anniversary with our children. If anyone has any recommendations for editing the TR or adding to it. or if anyone has any questions about SA or Mauritius please reach out to me.

November 03, 2017, 01:15:36 PM
MAZEL TOV DAN ON BABY #3! It's A Girl! Mazel Tov @Dan!!!

Very Auspicious day for a baby!

May you raise her to torah chuppah and maasim tovim!


December 07, 2017, 12:53:22 PM