Wow! Do I have some news for you!! Remember this blog post? I know so many of you have been waiting to hear news of our wedding and to see photos… well, Mr and Mrs Carstens have returned home, and there is plenty to share with you all!
What an incredibly, amazing trip we had! We were so lucky with our sightings, the highlights being a large pack of wild dogs basking in the late afternoon light, tracking a big male leopard and having him charge our vehicle, eating our lunch right next to a cheetah family snacking on theirs, listening in the darkness to a huge heard of buffalo pass through camp followed by a pride of very hungry lions, spending the whole day with a family of lions with young cubs and watching seven of them (adults and cubs!) jump up into a small fig tree for an afternoon snooze! There is more, much more… and I promise you another must-read travel journal! But first, so many of you are wanting to hear of our wedding day in the African wilderness…
Our morning started very early with a game drive in the surrounding Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Because of the rainy season we were able to drive off road in this area and go wherever the wildlife was, since if it rained, our tracks would disappear. We didn’t see any of the cats on this particular morning, but we certainly found the wildebeest migration, a couple of leopard tortoise and we laughed at the dung beetles we saw, quickly rolling their dung in an area sparse of grass! We ate our picnic lunch under the shade of a large acacia tree and headed back to camp mid-afternoon to relax and get ready for our wedding ceremony later that afternoon.
Heiko was wearing a cream linen suit with an open-neck ivory shirt; he stepped outside our tent to wait for me whilst I got ready. My dress was a beautiful full length halter-neck with a fitted embroidered bodice, made from pure ivory textured silk. Fabric gathered in the front and tapered in at my feet with a ‘cloud of silk’ flowing behind me. I stepped out of the tent to hear Heiko say “wow” :-)
Chris, our driver/guide who was with us for the whole trip, took us to some nearby kopjes (rocky outcrop) where we met our registrar, photographer, the camp staff, as well as a group of local maasai, two of whom were our witnesses, Francis and Kadogo. At the foot of the kopjes cream fabric had been tied around some trees and there was a large table with an arrangement of cream roses as the centre piece. It was here that we had our ceremony, not far from Olduvai Camp where we were staying, with breath-taking views over the Ngorongoro Conservation Area; we could see for miles and miles over the open plains.
After we said our vows the maasai cheered and sang to us and we exchanged our rings and signed our marriage certificate. Every one of us there smiling huge grins! Our registrar congratulated us on our marriage and rose petals were thrown over us. The chef brought out our wedding cake for us to cut the first piece together and we had fun feeding each other and our maasai witnesses too. It was a delicious tiered chocolate cake with cream icing, with the top tier in the shape of a heart.
After our ceremony, and wedding cake, we all went to the highest point on the kopjes for sundowners (champagne!) but the setting sun was hidden by a thunderstorm on the horizon – which was the reason it was so windy that afternoon! The views around us were just amazing, in all directions you could see for miles and miles, we saw the dust trails of migrating wildebeest and zebra, and we spotted groups of Thomson gazelle too. Heiko and I stayed at the top of the kopjes a little longer, chatting with our maasai witnesses and looking out over the plains.
When we returned to the camp, lanterns were brought to the entrance of our tent and we shared a delicious candle lit dinner-for-two.
Our wedding day was perfect! :-)
I know many of you want to see more photos than just the two I include here, and you can! You can visit our wedding gallery. Enjoy!
Interesting fact for you: Olduvai was the place where fossils of the very first human footprints were discovered, made more than three million years ago by three of our human ancestors walking along a riverbank: the Leotoli Footprints. Not all that far from where we were married!