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GET ME TO BALI RIGHT NOW!!

What’s the current situation like in Bali?

Bali has a small population of around 4.2million and as of 12th April there were around 42,000 cases of COVID reported and a recovery rate of 93%, however this could be due to asymptomatic. Cases and a low testing rate

So in essence it is potentially safe for you to travel to Bali as long as proper hygiene and social distancing measures are being adhered to in line with guidance from WHO!

Can I travel into Bali right now?

Travel into Bali has been restricted for international tourists since March 2020 and visas on arrival have been halted for many, with exceptions made for those listed below:

• Indonesian citizens (WNI) from abroad

• Holders of valid Visa or Residence Permits

• Holders of Official Visa, Diplomatic Visa, Visit Visa, Temporary Stay Visa, Official Residence Permit, Diplomatic Residence Permit, Temporary Stay Permit (ITAS) and Permanent Stay Permit (ITAP)

• Transport crew members

• Medical, food, and humanitarian aid workers

• Holders of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and Business Travel Card (ABTC)

• Holders of Traditional Border Crossing card

Howeverrr! It’s not ideal, but if you’re desperate to travel, international travellers wishing to make the trip can do so by applying for a B-211 visa. It’s NOT a tourist visa and requires you to be there in an industrial or business-related capacity. It usually requires sponsorship from a company, but some visa agents can arrange this for you.

The visa is valid for 6 months and can be extended up to 4 times (with each extension allowing a maximum of 30 days before renewal is required).

I’m planning to travel during the “pandemonium”, what do I do?

Bali relies heavily on tourism and their local economy has been hugely impacted by the pandemic.

• First things first – Get a negative PCR-based swab test issued within 2 days prior to departure via land or sea. You can check out http://www.gov.uk for guidance on your local test centres if you’re from the UK and remember NHS tests are no longer valid for use when travelling so it’ll have to be done privately. Some airlines are offering discounts when you book with their affiliated companies. Sorry friends.

• Next up, you’ve got to fill out an electronic-Health Alert Card (e-HAC)

• You’ve got to have your test certificate to hand and this has to be renewed every 14 days.

4B4D229E-2D51-444E-BBBC-D15F218D4434.jpg

When will I be allowed to travel into Bali?

Tourism into Bali was initially slated to return in March 2022, with trial runs (whereby, travellers from countries where the infection rate was low, would be allowed to form travel corridors with Indonesia, but only allowed to visit Ubud, Sanur and Nusa Dua) being held in the Summer of 2021, but a recent video release by the Indonesian president said that Bali could begin reopening to tourists from as early as June 2021 if conditions remain favourable.

 Is anything even open in Bali?

Most popular destinations are still closed off to the public and tourists such as:

Lovina Beach

Besakih Temple

Wisnu Kencana

Some beaches in Bali and Kuta have reopened to residents and domestic tourists, but strict new normal measures are being enforced which means only a limited amount of people at one time will be permitted entry L

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Rome 101

  • Fly into Fiumicino (FCO), slightly more expensive than CIA but better connected.
  • Use your card everywhere, cash for souvenirs
  • Buy a city pass or stay centrally and walk around city instead

Here are our top sites to see in Rome, Rome is such a walkable city – things we love! So it’s easy to do a lot of these in one day.

  • Trevi Fountain – find out more about this amazing fountain here.
  • Pantheon – is a former Roman temple, now a Catholic church. A great spot to sit and people watch or grab a bite to eat at nearby restaurants.
  • The Colosseum – is an oval amphitheatre in the centre of the city and is the largest ancient amphitheatre ever built, and is still the largest standing amphitheater in the world today, despite its age!
  • Roman Forum – also known by its Latin name Forum Romanum, is a rectangular forum surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the centre of the city.
  • Spanish Steps – are a set of steps, climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti church at the top. It’s a lovely sea of people; on their lunch breaks – a welcome break after a long day of walking.
  • Piazza Navona – is a public open space in Rome, Italy. It is built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, built in the 1st century AD, and follows the form of the open space of the stadium.
  • St. Peters Basilica – is a church built in the Renaissance style located in Vatican City.
  • Sistine Chapel – a chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the pope, in Vatican City. You could spend hours, literally in awe of the intricate and beautiful paintings on the ceiling.
  • Palatine Hill – which is the centremost of the Seven Hills of Rome, is one of the most ancient parts of the city and has been called “the first nucleus of the Roman Empire.
  • Vatican / Vatican City – you may get to see the Pope during a processions, it also gave me Twilight vibes – the Volturi and all.
  • Trastevere – is one of Rome’s most colourful neighbourhoods. While it may be less touristy when compared to the ancient town or Vatican City, it has to be said that it does remain firmly on the tourist trail – but that’s not to say it’s not worth a visit! Restaurnats, cinemas – lots of choices. 

Food to try: Pasta, Pizza, Gelato – bye-bye waistline.

Have you been to Rome? What’s your favourite thing to do there? If you found this useful, share and save it for later x

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Baraka Natural Aquarium

Baraka Natural Aquarium is located in the northern part of Nungwi. As with everything these days, I originally saw it on the gram and was very pleased that it matched up to my expectations 😻😻.WE LOVE TO SEE IT 🗣⁣

Baraka is a turtle rehabilitation centre run by local people; the turtles here have been rescued from fishermen capture. They are then nursed back to full health before being released back into the wild. You can wade through the shallow water in the low tide, and swim with fish and other small marine animals.

Price: $10 to get in and the seaweed needed to coax the turtles closer is provided. If you would like to snorkel, you can hire gear in destination.

Here are some tips for making the most of your time:

  • No prebooking – just arrive turn up and you will be directed to the location.
  • Arrive early just as they open to get a shot without other people – I say early rather than later because the sunlight hitting the water is something special.
  • The turtles are just trying to eat, so you can very easily bribe them with the seaweed provided 😂⁣
  • Seaweed is salty; so bring a towel and water to wash your eyes out. (I learnt the hard way 😂)
  • There are showers on site – so you can bring a change of clothes
  • It’s by no means a whole day activity.
  • The turtles will bite! Once they know you have the seaweed they’ll swarm.
  • The turtles have a rubbery texture and they don’t seem to mind you stroking them (follow any instructions given by the guides).
  • Don’t put on too much sunscreen if you plan to go into the water, it will contaminate the water and we don’t want that for the turtles.

Photo op tips:

  • When you walk in, find the cove to your right and coax turtles with seaweed. It’s a good point for a photo with no one else in.
  • If you want a picture on the podium in the middle, you’ll need someone high up to capture it for you.
  • If you’re a confident swimmer, go further out and again use the seaweed to coax the turtles

Most importantly, have fun! It’s an amazing experience.

As always, keep up to date with us on @trippinwithsj // @sarahambitious x

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Nungwi Beach

Nungwi Beach is one of the main areas you will find information about online when planning a visit to Zanzibar, and for good reason. It has powdery white sand, turqouise blue water that simply looks unreal – I remember standing in awe. I never get tired of looking at beautiful water.

Nungwi is all you expect from a tourist beach front; restaurants serving a variety of cuisines, water sports and regular party boats that include food, bottomless drinks and music you can groove to. I even got some beautiful henna done.

Here are 10 reasons you should visit Nungwi if you go to Tanzania:

  1. It’s an island paradise(!) 😍 (hyperbole?, yes but no)
  2. It’s warm all year round. Zanzibar is located near the equator and gets sunny weather most of the time, so tan me up please! (Averaging up to 32°C & 9 hours of sun) 🌞😎
  3. Beautiful sunset views. Again because Zanzibar is on the western coast at the top of the island, its perfect to get your insta moments and have people wishing they were laying up there too. You can enjoy a drink on a rooftop as the sun sets or get on a sunset cruise on a dhow. (Did someone say baecation criteria being ticked?) 🌅
  4. Experience nature up close. Baraka Natural Aquarium is a conservation site run by locals, but that deserves a blogpost all of its own. So keep an eye out 😉
  5. Nightlife! As the sun sets, the beach comes alive. Visit Cholo’s Bar – it’s the oldest in the village. 🥂
  6. Enjoy local flavours. There are countless restaurants that will cater to your tastes, you have everything from French inspired to classic Italian in addition to local flavours. 🥘
  7. Build a dhow. You won’t actually do the back breaking work yourself, but you can get a personal look at how it’s done. Dhows are used to catch fish and other seafood in Zanzibar, and some of the fisherman will give a ‘Dhow building 101’. 🚣🏾‍♀️
  8. Walk, walk, walk. Locals are used to tourists walking around, but please be respectful of the local culture and cover up – shoulders and knees. Try the village market and get the best in local fruits and veg. Try the local faves; date nut bread, fried plantains and octopus! Spice galore again – so much to take back home for friends and family.
  9. Melting pot of cultures. Nungwi beach is in Zanzibar which is an important location for the spice trade, trade always brings people together and as people pass through they leave bits of their culture behind. Asian, European and African cultures, can be seen in the religion, values and cuisine.
  10. Beach boys. The souvenirs will come to you, or maybe it’s a dhow cruise you’re after? Water sports? A picture. The Maasai people will try and sell it all, but they are not overbearing. A firm ‘no’, and they will leave you alone.

There are many beautiful beaches in Zanzibar, but Nungwi stays top 5 no debating. Nungwi has so much hustle and bustle, but you still feel secluded; I don’t know but it’s beautiful. 🧘🏾‍♀️

Best time to travel: All year round; June – October, January and February are the driest months

Places to eat: Le Macis Zanzibar

As always, keep up with us on @sarahambitious // @trippinwithsj x

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Stone Town

I remember being in primary school and singing a song about Zanzibar, something about the ships going down there…whilst I don’t remember the song well (obviously). The impression Zanzibar left it my mind never faded, so being next door in Nairobi – I had to make my way to this place that had lived in my imagination for so long.

My 1st stop was Stone Town, it’s the old part of Zanzibar. The architecture mostly dates back to the 19th century, and reflects the diverse influences of the Swahili culture. There are a unique mixture of Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements and for this reason, the town was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. We love a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Before slavery was abolished in Tanzania black people weren’t allowed to live within the city walls (go figure), but in the 21st century any and everyone is free to live here – in true Hakuna Matata fashion. 

Exploring Stone town you find different doors which other than offering a cheeky photo op; they show a history of the demographic within the city. The gold on the doors is a symbol for protection from elephant attacks (there aren’t elephants native to this part of Tanzania) so it is indeed a nod to the Indian influence that is part of Stone Town blood.

Walking around and exploring the deep depths of  Stone Town, doesn’t require much pre-planning as you can find a guide in the square who has a wealth of knowledge to offer for a small price.

It was awesome to spend time exploring Stone Town. 

Here’s our list of top things to do, places to see and eat in Stone Town:

Forodhani Gardensmuch like Drake, Forodhani comes alive in the nightime! It’s set right on the seafront and whether you are veggie, pesci or a serious meat-eater – there is indeed an option for you. Food is a huge part of any culture, and visiting Forodhani is a must do.

House of Wonders in Stone Town captured by sarahambitious

Visit the ‘House of Wonders’ – it was originally opened in 1883. It is the tallest and largest building in Stone Town.

Make an International Call at Jaws Corner captured by sarahambitious

Make an International Call at Jaws Corner – it works.

stack of fabrics in the market in stone town by sarah ambitious

Buy souvenirs – you’ll find something to take back for someone (any excuse, I know)

seafood platter from swahili house in stone town by sarahambitious

The Swahili Houseprovided awesome rooftop views, delicious food. If you’d like to spend time in Stone Town you can also lodge here. this seafood platter that consisted of a whole lobster, calamari, shrimps, mashed potatoes and a cup of tea ☕️ was a mere £20 🥺🥺

Fish Auction at the Darajani Markets by sarahambitious

Join the Fish Auction at the Darajani Markets. There are a variety of fresh seafood options and you have to get stuck in if you want a chance to win.

Take a Spice Tour – every spice you can think of is available. Freshhh! Take some home for your friends, your flatmate, your colleague. 

a traditional mask in swahili house in stone town, zanzibar, tanzania by sarah ambitious

Buy some coffee – everything is so fresh and pure 🥺 buy it all.

  • Prison Islandanother excursion you don’t have to neccesarily pre-book. See the Giant Tortoise and learn how prison island was built with the intention of housing prisoners; but was repurposed to help contain the bubonic plague epidemic that government officials feared would make its way on ships coming in from Egypt and Mumbai.
  • Visit the Slave Museum – if you fancy it (I opted not to, it’s not everyday relive trauma).
  • Visit Freddy Mercury‘s house! – arguably Tanzania’s most popular export.

Would you add a stop to Stone Town on your trip?

Keep up to date with us on @trippinwithsj, as always x

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Diani Beach

Searching for some winter sun and a tan, (it’s always about the tan!) is what drew me to Diani. My Kenya trip was actually planned with Diani in mind 1st and then every other amazing thing came afterwards.

So in search of the beautiful coastline that I’d heard so much about I made my way down to Diani. To reach Diani from the mainland (Mombasa) you have to use the Likoni ferry, if you fly into the main Mombasa airport this is where you’ll also start your journey.

Diani beach has been rated the best beach destination since 2015 by Lonely Planet. The Indian Ocean goes on further than your eyes can sea 😉 and the white sand is almost blinding. The quieter part of the beach is where the resorts and hotels are; you can easily blag your way in or buy a drink so you can sit in one of the sun chairs and take in the island breeze under some palm trees.⁣

There’s someone selling fresh coconut, necklaces or you may even catch an impromptu performance.⁣

All part of the Diani vibe. ⁣

If you choose to stay in a hotel; the majority of them are right on beachfront. If you get an airbnb, you can easily find one 10 mins walk from beach.

Don’t leave without getting on a dhow; unmatched vibes.

The standout excursion from my time in Diani was without a doubt, the day trip to snorkel Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park and Reserve. We sailed on a traditional dhow sailboat, stopping to explore two vibrant snorkel sites of coral reef. Sailing from the mainland to marine park was serene and I would say it was an eco-friendly way to experience the area. We spotted dolphins, turtles, octopus and countless fish. The cruise also included delicious Swahili seafood and drinks on Wasini Island. The service was amazing and it’s definitely something I’d recommend including on your itinerary.

Places to eat:

  • Tiki Bar – the food was delicious, great cocktails and a lovely vibe.

Places to visit: Kwale, Shimoni, Kisite Marine Park, Wasini Island

Luxe Out: a day trip to Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park (You can even dive if you know how to)

As always stay connected with us on @trippinwithsj x

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Nairobi

Nairobi will most likely be your first stop in Kenya if you’re flying in. Nairobi is amazing as it offers quite a few wildlife activities right in the heart of the city. Nairobi National Park is the only national park in the world to be in a capital city – on its savannah plains you can see rhinos, lions, giraffes with the city skyline as a backdrop.

There are bars and restaurants like you would expect from any capital city and the easiest way I found to get around was uber.

I spent my first night going for dinner at Carnivore, which is an open-air restaurant. Carnivore’s specialty is meat, and features an all-you-can-eat meat buffet – they offer a range of unusual meats; alligator, ostrich etc. The atmosphere was lovely, complete with a live band performance.

Area to stay: Westlands

Places to eat: Carnivore Restaurant, CJ’s 

Places to visit: David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Nairobi National Park, Giraffe Centre

Luxe Out:

  • Fairmont the Norfolk – spa day
  • Carnivore Restaurant – dinner
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Maasai Mara

If you’ve watched Uncle Attenborough’s many animal documentaries, you will have heard of the Maasai Mara. The image of wildebeest and birds alike making the big migration.

Then if you love Lion King, I meannnnnn. I won’t go on too much, but my point is the idea of visiting this natural wonder has been in my mind and heart for a long time.

Now, in my experience of curating tailormade holidays; going on a safari is not cheap. So it was always a bucket list thing and I thought it would be unattainable for a while. However, when the opportunity to visit Kenya arose – I knew I couldn’t let the chance pass me by.

So, here they are – my tips on how to go on a safari in the most cost effective way. Hakuna Matata 😉

When to go: As with most trips, deciding what season you go will determine how much you spend overall.

  • December to February – it’s not dry season but when I went in December the weather was amazing, and we saw all of the Big 5 too. This time period will allow cheaper airfares, hotel stays and possibly discounted activities 🏌🏾‍♀️ (The weather was even good enough for a hot air balloon ride, but I’ll get into that later 😁)
  • June to October – is the ‘best time’ to visit Kenya as its during the Dry season. Late June to October are meant to be the the best wildlife viewing months. The wildebeest migration usually reaches the Masai Mara in August and remains until October when they move back to the Serengeti in Tanzania. 

As Kenya sits close to the equator, its seasons are the opposite of ours. So going in December I was greeted with at 26 degrees Celcius 😍😍

Where to stay: Outside

I would recommend setting aside 3 days minimum to make the most of your time in the Maasai Mara. This way if you miss animals on one day, there’s still more opportunities to see them. 

So, I’ve just told you to spend at least 3 days on the nature reserve. You’ve checked prices for lodges and you’ve come back to tell me I’m crazy 😜 

Relax friends, relax and walk with me 😂

I too, was impressed by the price of lodges on the nature reserve! If you have the funds to splash out, definitely stay on the nature reserve you save some time driving. However, if you want to save some coins – stay on a lodge just outside the gates of the Maasai Mara! They offer all the same services; game drives, glamping etc. but for a lot less. We even booked our hot air balloon tour with our accommodation. 

We were lucky enough to spot nearly all of the Big 5 during our game drive and we only needed to go on one day 🥺. A lot of the game drives will allow you to go again for free if you don’t see them on your first try. 

What to pack: Layersss

So I made a little song and dance about how warm it was in December. But, the temperature really does drop 🥶 as soon as the sun goes down and as it’s rising.

  • Hiking boots/weatherproof boots 
  • Hat 
  • Jumpers, cardigans (anything you can layer) 
  • Mosquito spray 
  • Water bottle
  • Camera
  • Torchlight 

Some people will go as far as hiring their own 4×4 and trying to drive the nature reserve themselves – you can do this and it will cut costs as you’ll only need to buy a ticket for entry. However, I wouldn’t recommend; I saw too many people stuck in the mud – literally. The guides who are local people, know the routes like the back of their hands and know how to navigate the plains. (You may also have the opportunity to visit one of the local Maasai families.)

Top site to see: Great Rift Valley

Other than the Maasai Mara itself, on your way there you will pass the Great Rift Valley.  The Earth moved when Kenya was created and the evidence can be seen with the Great Rift Valley, it cuts across the country’s length. There are lakes, savannahs and volcanoes that stretches from Jordan all the way to Mozambique. The drive from the city to nature reserve is quite long, so it makes a good stop for a photo op and a toilet break. The toilet is not anything fancy, so be prepared!

Stand-out excursion: Hot air balloon ride

Once in a lifetime means there’s no second chance…*clears throat* I’m all for saving your money on certain things so you can luxe out on others! We luxed out on a hot air balloon ride, and oh boy what a dream. 

You have to get up super early and it’ll be freezing, so driving around in a 4×4 with no heating sounds like a terrible idea. The ride you’re blessed with after you see the balloons being blown up tho? So worth it. 10/10 would recommend without a question.

After your flight you get to celebrate the succesful flight with everyone you flew with – there is a buffet breakfast and unlimited champage – (yes, I made myself countless mimosas). You get a certificate and a visual souvenir of the ride itself. Your guide is ready on the otherside to pick you up and take you back to base, or you can tie on a game drive since you’re already out there.

We hope this guide helps you get started on planning your own trip, or serves as a way back to fond memories of a safari trip.

Keep up with us on: @trippinwithsj x

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Covid Friendly Ideas

The English weather took a dramatic turn for wet, cold and windy 🌬 *collective sigh

Howeverrrr, we encourage you to not let the cold weather deter you from catching some fun 🤩. Grab your rain coat, some boots and scroll for some inspiration. 

1️⃣ Visit one of the many monasteries 🏚 Monasteries are up and down the U.K.  These structures were closed down years ago so Henry VIII could start the Church of England and sell them for parts, their former glory consists of them being decorated with precious gems and materials. Work your imagination and try to picture them as they formerly were. 

➡️ To see a full list of locations visit: Monasteries and Abbeys | English Heritage

2️⃣ Seven Sisters ⛰ are a series of chalk cliffs by the English Channel. They are a good location for bird watching, long walks, dog-walking and cycling to name a few things. Due to Covid restrictions their visitor centre is closed and there is also no access to public toilets. So bear this in mind when you plan your visit. 

➡️ To get some more information visit: www.sevensisters.org.uk/things-to-do-at-seven-sisters

3️⃣ National History Museum 🦖  The main attraction here is the free! We’re lucky enough to have a host of museums that cost nothing to visit. There are social distancing measures in place, so grab your friends, family or partner and make a day of it. For a full list of the happenings: www.nhm.ac.uk/

➡️ if you prefer being at one with nature, why not visit the Horniman Museum located in South-East London.

4️⃣ Richmond Park 🌳 We didn’t know you could get so up close and personal with deer so close to the city, one of our instafam @tolasadventures put us on! This will be messy, as it is always raining but just get your wellies on and make a day of it.

➡️ For more information: www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/richmond-park/richmond-park-attractions/wildlife/deer-in-richmond-park

5️⃣ Visit ‘Gods own junkyard’ 🏌🏾‍♀️ The ‘Oldest signmakers in London’, this may prove to be sensory overload but if you are willing this looks like a nice stop and rather off the beaten-track.

➡️ Get some more information on: www.godsownjunkyard.co.uk

6️⃣ A walking 🚶🏾‍♀️ tour. We love a good walk and it’s nice to see your city at a slower pace than you usually would. London in particular has so many hidden nooks and crannies as its so old, follow the grim steps of Jack the Ripper’s sprees. Make your way to the dungeons of days past or follow in Harry’s steps as he made his way to Hogwarts.

➡️ Give it a Googs, so many options pop up!

7️⃣ Visit a Palace 🏰 Hampton Court Palace. Buckingham Palace. Kensington Palace. Windsor Castle. Kew Palace. Blenheim Palace. Do you get where we’re going with this? lol. There are numerous choices; get some photo ops and some fresh air.

➡️ www.touristengland.com/top-10-castles-palaces-england

8️⃣ Have afternoon tea ☕️ Pinkies in the air please! Scones. Clotted Cream. Jam. Tea. Very British and that’s on being multi-faceted. 

➡️ Check Groupon for deals on afternoon tea, grab your crew or go alone, and kick back.

9️⃣ Try a new restaurant 🍽 Luckily for us, just like Chip never running out of bars – London doesn’t run out of food options.  Some places we love and highly recommend are:

  • Chuku’s
  • Fat Crab
  • Enish
  • Banana Tree
  • The Breakfast Club

➡️ The options are actually endless, check OpenTable for honest reviews and get booking!

Please check the current covid guidelines and stay safe friends ❤️🥰