Trip Report: Middle East and East Africa

By KÜHL Editor on July 06, 2023
4 min read

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Nicole Mautino is a midshipman at the United States Merchant Marine Academy and a member of the Navy Reserves who recently completed her Year at Sea. After traveling to Antarctica as part of Operation Deep Freeze, she sailed as a deck cadet on a container ship operating in the Middle East and East Africa.

NicoleM_Safari_2 Nicole Mautino on safari in Tsavo East National Park, Kenya[/caption]

I started my voyage with 14 hours of flying to Dubai and landed early in the morning. The ship wasn't due to port until the following evening, so I had nearly two full days to explore the city.

Our first stop was the Dubai Mall, the biggest mall in the world. I couldn't believe how huge the mall was: the food court alone covered almost an entire floor, and the main floor boasted the world's largest suspended aquarium.

After spending the afternoon wandering the Dubai Mall, my sea partner and I decided to head to the Mall of the Emirates for some indoor skiing. I was so exhausted from the flight and the time change that I ended up falling asleep in the cab ride to Ski Dubai, but I wasn't going to let that stop me from skiing in the middle of the desert!

I'd been dying to ski in Dubai, so I was very excited to have the opportunity. As I was riding the chairlift to the top of the slope it was hard to believe that not only was I in a mall, but I was also in the middle of the desert, skiing. I've been skiing since I was 2, so it was an incredibly fun experience.

NicoleM_Skiing_Dubai Skiing in Dubai[/caption]

From Dubai, the ship sailed into Salalah, Oman, and then we headed south for Tanzania and Kenya. I had only been to Djibouti in Africa before, so I was very excited to have the opportunity to explore more of the continent. The voyage to East Africa took us through high risk pirate waters off the coast of Somalia, so it was a very different experience than the last ship I had been on.

OasisClub_Oman Oasis Club, Oman[/caption]

Our first stop in East Africa was Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Then we made our way north to Mombasa, Kenya. Cargo operations can be very slow in Africa, so we had 3-5 days in port each time we were in Tanzania and Kenya. Most cargo ships are in port for less than 12 hours, so I was very excited to have so much time to explore.

One of the most memorable parts of Tanzania was taking a small 12 passenger plane to the island of Zanzibar for the day.

NicoleM_Flight_ZanzibarIsland Boarding for Island of Zanzibar[/caption]

When we landed, we asked the cab driver to take us to a restaurant with a view. We ended up at Six Degrees South, a restaurant right on the water with the most beautiful view. Feeling adventurous, I ordered a traditional Zanzibar dish called Vanilla Chicken, which turned out  to be very delicious!

After lunch we wandered around Stone Town, checking out the different shops and attractions. At the suggestion of our waiter, we made our way to Mbweni Ruins to spend some time on the beach. We got there as the sun was beginning to set, so it was nice to sit back, relax, and just watch the sun set.

NicoleM_Beach_Zanzibar Enjoying sunset on Zanzibar Island[/caption]

The beach faced west, so I got a perfect view of the incredible cotton candy skies as the sun dipped below the horizon.

NicoleM_Sunset_Tanzania Cotton candy sunset in Tanzania[/caption]

From Tanzania, the ship headed about 100 miles north and pulled into Mombasa, Kenya. Here, I had the incredible opportunity to go on an African Safari at Tsavo East National Park, one of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya.

We were picked up from the the ship at 5:00 AM and began the 2.5 hour drive to the park. The first order of business upon arriving to Tsavo East was to buy a safari hat, because an African Safari is not complete without a safari hat to match your safari outfit.

NicoleM_Safari It's all about the Safari Hat![/caption]

The tour was in an open top van, so we were able to stand the entire time to get the best view. It was such an incredible experience to drive around all day and see all different types of animals in their natural habitat.

NicoleM_BabyElephant Elephant crossing in Tsavo East National Park[/caption]

We saw hundreds of elephants, dozens of giraffes, zebras, warthogs, buffalo, gazelle, hyena, jackal, baboons, waterbuck, and even a few lions.


The first half of the tour was spent driving around and stopping to watching all of the animals. Around noon we exited the park area and ate lunch at a quaint little restaurant situated on a mountain overlooking the park. It was a truly amazing view from the restaurant, and would could see the park from above.


After lunch, we took to roads less traveled and drove around the park for the rest of the afternoon. I had spent the entire morning taking pictures, so it was nice to sit back and enjoy the sights.


Visiting Tsavo East National Park was one of the most incredible things I've ever experienced.


During my time at sea I've had the opportunity to experience so many once in a lifetime opportunities. I can't wait to see where my adventures take me next!

KÜHL Editor
KÜHL Editor


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