African Family Safari to Tanzania Overview

Has an African Safari been on your dream list of vacations to do? Not sure how to go about it? Where to go? What to expect? Should you bring your children? The only thing I can recommend to you is...GO! We chose Tanzania and it was an experience like nothing we could have imagined. Honestly, your senses will be on overdrive the whole time. Imagine a herd of elephants walking right in front of you, a lion hunting down its dinner, walking through lush forests, eating things like banana soup, and meeting local tribe people that you have only read about in books. For us, Tanzania was an experience that we will never forget. Below is our trip broken up by location, Kilimanjaro, The Serengeti, The Ngorongoro Crater, and Tarangire National Park. Click on the location name, have a read and take a look at the photos. I'm sure you are going to be inspired to go yourself. Do it!

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Don't Forget to Pack this Photo App!

What’s a holiday without some good photos? With summer around the corner; it’s a good time to download a good app that will make these cherished moments look even better.

To be honest; we are spoiled for choices. But after numerous downloads; I have to say my favorite would be, queue drumrolls:  Snapseed from Google app.

snapseed photo editing

Not to say that other free apps like Instagram, VSCO or TouchRetouch aren’t great photo editing apps but I guess it just comes down to that personal level of control and user interface that you are most comfortable with.

Aside from having an impressive range of editing options and filters, which I will leave for you to discover; Snapseed stands out for me for these reasons:

1.  The tools are multi-dimensional; every tool has settings that give you control over the level of enhancement you want to apply.

You can use any tool, let’s say the color and light tuning, in a straightforward manner but then you can also adjust the sharpness, brightness or contrast in a specific area of the photo with different intensities. If you want to blur your photo; it will give you control over the blur intensity, center, transition…etc.

This is done through gesture based editing. For some tools like the brightness and contrast; you will swipe horizontally to increase/ decrease intensity; with other like blurring you will need to pinch in and out. This might be annoying for some at first but then becomes real fun. This photo app shows changes in real time and so you get to play around until the photo looks just right.

 If you’re not fussed or tight on time; you can always use quick edits. Use the magic wand that will automatically adjust all the brightness, contrast, saturation ..etc for your photo.

Now think of this when using filters, most photo editing apps like instagram offer great filters but may give your pics that over-stylized look. With Snapseed filters, you control the attributes like the filter strength, saturation , grain , noise..etc depending on the filter type.

I found that this high level of control over your photo editing tools and filter gives you endless possibilities.

2.      User Interface

Within the app, you can select an image already on your phone. At the bottom of the screen, insights will call up a number of tutorials you can watch.

Once the photo is open; the pencil sign bottom-right corner calls up the great Snapseed grid of editing tools and filters. When you pick a tool or filter, there's a control panel at the bottom of the screen where you can adjust the tools and save or discard your edits.

So far so good.  However, unique to Snapseed is the edits feature at the top which allow you to undo, redo, revert the file or apply last edits.

This will actually show you the steps you’ve done once you save the photo, pretty cool.

 If you’re a Photoshop or Adobe family user, you will feel very familiar with these. 

In addition, Snapseed has double exposure and face enhancements tools. With the face enhancement, you can not only play around with the skin smoothness and such but also change smile, pupil size or tilt the head in a different directions. Try it!

In conclusion, I think Snapseed is a great app for all but is best suited for those who like to control the level of polish to their photos. It might come off as overwhelming at first, but I think the time you put in will be worth it

Snapseed is for  (iOS|Android) and is completely free.


To Give or not to Give?

During your travels in Asia you’ll be approached by beggars on more than one occasion. It may seem like an easy way to help, especially when a tiny, dirty hand reaches out, pointing to an empty belly, but it isn’t as straight forward as what meets the eye. Their parents know, the cuter, smaller the child is, the more money he or she will bring home at the end of the day.

“Gimme” or “One dollar” is repeated over and over again as we make our way through the breath taking temples of Angkor Wat. A little boy proceeded towards us and made me jump as he touches my arm with his dirty hand. Startled, I turn away, avoiding eye contact. My heart goes over my chest and a familiar feeling washes over me. It’s difficult to say no to children when they are asking for so little and it’s human nature to see a hungry child and want to help. 

Families demand their children to go out begging to bring home money. In the short term it is a solution for their financial problems, however, it sets the children up for an even more difficult future as the country develops and the poor get further and further behind. 

While the kids are on the street, they aren’t going to school, which takes away any possible opportunity for a brighter future. Every dollar a tourist gives deprives the parent of the incentive to send their children to school and provide them with proper education. Worse, it exposes them to predators: drug dealers, child sex tourists and traffickers. Refusing to feed this system, gives children a better chance and in the long run, breaks the cycle of poverty.

It’s not only tourists parents target but also locals and expats. It’s cross-cultural. For Cambodians, it’s cultural, part of the Buddhist practice. 

Walking through the lush, green country side, my mind is racing. Looking at all these young children on the street, I can’t help but think: what can I do to make a difference? What about books, toys or toothbrushes? Dark eyes look directly into mine. As I skim his little smooth, tanned face, I realize he can’t be more than three or four years old, but his eyes indicate much older, wiser and hardened by this world.  It is important to do some research and plan before you act. Most schools will have a strict giving policy and prefer your donations to be pooled until there is a fair amount for all students so that some students are not made feel more special than others. Call ahead and organize your donation with the head of the school. 

In most of the South-East Asian countries there is no welfare system in place. The family supports them and that is identical with people with disabilities. In fact, a strand of the Buddhist philosophy points to that disability as a punishment for bad deeds in a previous life. In this case, use common sense and maybe it will bring some relief.  

So, what can you do? 

In most South East Asian countries there are established organizations working with the community to provide support in training, education, employment, health care and social support. Local NGO’s supporting sustainable projects who then manage and look after themselves is an excellent way to start. Look them up and support them if you want to help in a meaningful way. Last but not least, use some common sense! You don’t have to be cold hearted and it can feel just like that when refusing a pleading face. Just remember, you are actually helping more by not giving money, in most cases.