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Emily and Lee’s Kenyan Safari

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I love starting trips on weekends. The traffic to escape Nairobi is clear and we don’t have to start a safari in a jam. Emily and Lee conveniently started their journey to Mombasa on a Saturday morning, and we found ourselves bright and early at Wildebeest Eco-Camp in Karen. It was a reasonably unremarkable drive, therefore, to Amboseli. The only potential for disaster arose when I inserted my foot firmly in my mouth with a cynical remark about the aid industry… only after the words were out did I remember that Lee works as a fund raiser for an NGO.

But their humour remained intact, even after the 22 kilometres of corrugated road on the last stretch to the park (it’s nothing compared to the road to the Maasai Mara, but not having that for comparison, 22 kilometres can also be tiring).

Our arrival at Kibo Camp was like a homecoming for Francis and me. First Charles, the supervisor, cracked a big smile in welcome as he saw us emerging from the van. Francis had only been there a few days before, but I was pleasantly surprised they remembered me after several months.

We checked in and Charles generously gave us a new guest tent. The tents are floored with stone and covered with cow-hide rugs. The four-poster bed in the middle of the room is surrounded with a mosquito net which is set up during the evening turn-down service while we have dinner. At the rear of the tent is the en suite with flush toilet and hot shower. The water is solar heated – part of Kibo’s eco-friendly efforts. No time to linger in our luxurious tent though; it was lunchtime.

As Francis and I entered the dining room our old friend Gona was preparing our table. When he turned and saw us, it was like meeting a long-lost pal. “Mama and Papa Overland” he cried and shook both our hands energetically. Nothing is too much trouble for Gona – as he says “my name is Gona and I’m gonna serve you.” Gona had christened us Mama and Papa Overland on my first visit to Kibo in 2013. We were quietly tickled by the name and are glad it’s stuck.

Safari in Amboseli

Emily and Lee had their first game drive that afternoon. They were lucky with an early lion sighting! Even better, it was a lion couple on their honeymoon. Of course they also saw plenty of elephants and a hippo with her baby out of the water.

Emerging from our tents at sunrise the next morning, we were greeted with a perfect view of a naked Kilimanjaro. Usually covered in cloud during the day, early morning is the best time to see the mountain and Amboseli is the best place for those views. Francis whisked Emily and Lee off to the park for an early morning game drive. Over breakfast, Lee marvelled at the incredible variety of birds they had seen during the drive, many of which they had never heard of, including the Secretary Bird. We all had a giggle at Francis’ imitation of the Secretary Bird as it hunts. Amboseli National Park comprises a large swamp in the middle of a massive arid area and thus attracts many water birds including water rail, egrets, herons, ibis, kingfishers and plovers.

After breakfast we bid our farewells to the awesome staff and started back to Mombasa Road. The highway between East Africa’s main port and the rest of the region is only single lane in each direction with some trucks hurtling along at hair-raising speeds while others barely make it up the gentlest of inclines. Side mirrors are a needless accessory it seems and rarely used. It’s not my favourite road to travel on and so I like to either turn around to talk to people behind or pretend to sleep – anything to not look at my impending death over and over! Francis is masterful though and navigates the other drivers’ craziness with cool calm.

Leopards and Elephants

Our destination was Taita Hills and Lumo Sanctuary. It took us about six hours from Kibo to Taita Hills but it was worth it as Sarova Salt Lick Game Lodge came into view. A herd of elephants were wending their way through the lodge’s stilts as they made their way to the waterhole. I had tried to describe how the waterhole is at the reception area, but it’s difficult to understand that elephants can be just a few metres away as you check in, until you get there!

Once you are there it is even more difficult to tear yourself away from the incredible proximity you have with these beautiful creatures. However, after enjoying sunrise over Kilimanjaro that morning we felt it a fitting end to have a drink watching the sun set over the mountain. The only trouble was that we got distracted by a couple of lionesses feasting on a zebra on our way. By the time we got to Lion’s Bluff, the sun had all but disappeared. The thing about being so close to the equator is that sunset happens in about five minutes – not the two-hour romance we get in Melbourne! But Lion’s Bluff still has one of the best balcony bars in Africa, so we indulged in a glass of wine anyway.

There’s a rocky outcrop in Lumo Sanctuary where on one of my earliest visits another driver-guide told us he had just seen a leopard. We scoured the outcrop, fully circling it, looking for the leopard with no luck. On every subsequent visit I search that outcrop desperately for the leopard. I look among the tree branches and in the cracks and crevasses of the rocks, always suspecting the leopard will be in the most hard to see place and really wanting to be the first clever cat to find it.

So the third day of the safari saw us on an early morning game drive close to this outcrop with me desperately craning my head to find the elusive leopard. As I carefully searched the branches of a particularly large sausage tree (a leopard’s favourite), everyone started talking about something else remarkable: the large elephant that almost seemed stuck under the very same tree. Had I really missed that?! He was perched somewhat tenuously on a ledge and munching on the leaves of the sausage tree. As he backed up, his side rubbed against the rock giving an audible demonstration of how thick his skin must be. After watching him for some time and satisfying ourselves that he wasn’t really stuck, we continued our circuit of Leopard Rock.

I returned to looking in all the hidey holes when a minute later Francis suddenly hit the brakes and said “Leopard!” And there, lounging in plain view on a Pride Rock-style arrangement was indeed a leopard! What luck! And we were the only ones there to enjoy this magnificent sighting. After several minutes however another van approached, but too fast and too noisily. The leopard jumped lightly off his rock lounge and disappeared into the grass. (Note: suggest to your driver-guides they drive slowly in the parks, especially as they approach another vehicle that is obviously looking at something, so you don’t miss out on exciting sightings.)

We were happy with our sighting anyway, and headed back to the lodge for breakfast. This morning the zebras were having their turn at the waterhole, but not before having a bit of a chase around with the elephants.

Kenya’s coast

Then it was time to drive to Mombasa. To avoid driving through the city centre, we turned off at Mariakani and drove through rolling green hills. It became a rough road but the scenery was quite beautiful (aside from the large rubbish dump in one part). Finally we got to Nyali where Francis and I took our bearings from the dentist’s office he had visited in 2013. As he had been under the influence of strong painkillers at that time, I suggested he trust my directions… and eventually we got there.

We had such a great time with Emily and Lee and we can’t wait to welcome them in 8-10 years when they bring their baby daughter for safari!

For us, we found a campsite and sat down to a cold Tusker and a chat about how long we were going to enjoy our beach holiday. The silver lining of Kenya’s tourism decline is that we didn’t have to rush back to Nairobi for the next safari… lucky us??!!

After a lazy morning, we headed 11 kilometres north to Jumba la Mtwana, the ruins of an Arab trading port. It was very interesting; the guide taught us a lot. And it was so beautiful – ruins of stone and coral buildings amongst trees of so many shades of green. The port was active between 1350 and 1450 and has three mosques and many houses including a hotel of sorts for the traders who sailed in.

In the morning before leaving for Nairobi, we visited Bombolulu Workshop and Cultural Centre. Established in 1969, Bombolulu is a craft workshop employing people with disabilities. They design and produce jewellery, bags, clothes, wood carvings and many other crafts. It’s a fantastic project employing around 100 staff (that number used to be 350 before the global financial crisis). Accommodation is provided for the staff if they wish and there is a school and day-care centre for their children. It is well worth a visit if you stay on the north coast.

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Source by Tracey A Bell

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Where to Find Those Efficient and Hardworking Affiliates?

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Everyone wants a hardworking affiliate, employee, associate, partner, or even spouse, and why not? It’s the next best thing to doing the work yourself. However with the massive outbreak of work and income opportunities available online, how can you beat everyone else and find that one (or more) ideal person who will make your online business explode with success? Here are some of the most ingenious and uncommon ways to snag the idea affiliates for your affiliate program

Direct Sales Agents

Direct sales people are really one of the most enterprising, hard-working individuals in business. They mostly work on commissions or rebates and are willing to literally go door-to-door offering their products to anyone and everyone they bump into. Imagine how much easier their job would be if they could be an affiliate and simply work via the Internet and a mobile device or desktop.

Also, most direct sales people tend to carry more than one brand in their product arsenal so signing up as an affiliate would be almost the same type of work but using a different approach.

Colleges and Universities

Many college kids would be interested in a part-time income opportunity if it would mean funds to help pay for their education, loan, or partying. All you have to do is make sure to offer them products they can endorse as a student.

Freelancers

Did you know that the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest annual report show that 75% of U.S. businesses used freelancers in 2011? Freelancers earned a whopping US$990 billion in 2011 which is a 4.1% increase from the previous year. The only industries where the number of freelancers decreased were in insurance, finance, and construction. Most probably your affiliate program isn’t a part of these 3 industries.

Furthermore, online business and finance experts are predicting the growth to increase incrementally every year even with an economy that is improving. People just want income security and more control over their earnings. With the spate of lay-offs, it’s understandable why many would prefer to work as an affiliate than as an employee.

Scout For Them At Affiliate Conventions

There are annual affiliate conventions held in different cities around the country. You should try to catch one when it is held somewhere near your location. The average turn-out for these types of conventions has increased regularly over the years. Last year, many of them were sold out weeks before the event.

Advertise!

The US Census Bureau has said that as of 2012, 15% of Americans are poor, 43% of young adults depend on their parents to some extent for money. Even more surprising is that the median income of young adults in 1982 was $31,583 and last year it was $30,604 for the same age group! Income is dropping and people are looking for ways to earn additional income outside of their 9 to 5 jobs. That’s where you can come in playing the hero and helping others realize their dream income.

Finally, go online and talk about your product. Make the affiliate marketers come to you and have the luxury of picking the best candidates. You will need some help in marketing your affiliate program so target a marketer who’s experienced in affiliate program and SEO.

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Source by Lina Stakauskaite

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Recession Is Here… Six Costly Mistakes Home Sellers Make During Recessions And How To Avoid Them

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The U.S. is officially in a recession. What is a recession? A recession is a business cycle contraction or general economic decline due to significant drop in spending and other commercial activities. Most pundits and politicians will blame Covid-19 crisis for the recession, but even pre-Covid-19 the proverbial writing was on the wall.

The U.S. had over 120 months of economic growth, which was the longest expansion in the modern history. Other indicators, such as negative yield spread on treasuries (long term bonds having lower interest rates than short term T-notes), were pointing to an imminent change of the economic cycle and an impending recession. The only real question was: when and how bad?

Then Covid-19 came… If the cycle was going to change anyway, Covid-19 acted as a huge and unexpected accelerant to make the recession much more immediate and severe.

Inevitably during recessions all classes of real estate, including residential homes and condominiums, will be negatively impacted as lower consumer spending and higher unemployment rates affect real estate prices and marketing times.

Here are the six costly mistakes home and other real property sellers make during recessions and how to avoid them:

Mistake #1: This will pass and real estate market will be hot again soon

First thing to remember is that real estate cycles are much longer than general economic cycles. Even if the general economy recovers, which eventually it always does, a typical real estate cycle takes as long as 10 to 15 years. The cycle has four key stages: Top, Decline, Bottom and Rise.

Let us consider the last real estate cycle, which lasted approximately 14 years:

  • 2006 – Prices hit the Top
  • 2006 to 2012 – Prices Decline
  • 2012 – Prices hit the Bottom (Trough)
  • 2012 to 2019 – Prices Rise*
  • 2020 – Prices hit the Top
  • 2020 to? – Prices Decline

*NOTE: In 2016 the national residential real estate price index reached its pre-recession 2006 peak levels. It took 10 years for the real estate market to recover.

The way to avoid this mistake is to recognize that real estate cycles take years to run and plan accordingly. Additionally, nobody knows for sure when the prices will hit the top or bottom until after the fact.

Mistake #2: Low interest rates will make the economy and real estate market rebound

Between 2006 and 2011 the interest rates (Fed Funds) were continuously cut by the Federal Reserve Board and went from low 5% to almost 0%. However, that did not stop the real estate recession and depreciation of property values.

Undoubtedly, low interest rates made the economic decline and real estate recession less severe and saved some properties from foreclosures, but it still took six painful years for the real estate market to hit the bottom and then four more years for the prices to go back to their pre-recession levels.

Some markets had never fully recovered. For example, residential home prices in some parts of California, Arizona and Nevada are still below their 2006 highs.

To avoid this mistake, one needs to realize that although low interest rates help stimulate the economy and the real estate market, they do not cure them.

Mistake #3: I don’t need to sell now, so I don’t care

If you do not need to sell until the cycle plays out, which typically is over ten years, then you will not be as affected, especially if you have a strong equity position, limited mortgage debt, and solid liquid assets.

However, it is good to keep in mind that “life happens” and either professional or personal circumstances can change and we may need to sell property before the downturn runs its course.

Furthermore, if a property has a mortgages and its value declines to the point being “upside down,” meaning the mortgage loan balance exceeds the value of the property, then the options of selling, refinancing or even obtaining an equity line of credit, will be significantly limited.

This does not mean that everybody should be rushing into selling their real estate if there is no need to do so, just keep in mind that circumstances may and often do change and property options will be affected, so plan in advance. As one wise proverb says: “Dig your well before your thirst.”

Mistake #4: I’m selling, but I won’t sell below my “bottom line” price

This is a common and potentially very costly mistake. Generally speaking, every seller wants to sell for the highest price and every buyer wants to pay the lowest price. That’s nothing new. When selling real estate, most sellers want to achieve a certain price point and/or have a “bottom line.”

However, it is important to understand that the market does not care what the Seller, or his/her Agent, think the property value should be at. The market value is a price a willing and able buyer will pay, when a property is offered on an open market for a reasonable amount of time.

Overpricing property based on Seller’s subjective value or what is sometimes called an “aspirational price,” especially in a declining market, is a sure first step to losing money. When a property lingers on the market for an extended period of time, carrying costs will continue to accumulate and property value will depreciate in line with the market conditions.

Additionally, properties with prolonged marketing times tend to get “stale” and attract fewer buyers. The solution is to honestly assess your selling objectives, including the desired time-frame, evaluate your property’s attributes and physical condition, analyze comparable sales and market conditions, and then decide on market-based pricing and marketing strategies.

Mistake #5: I will list my property for sale only with Agent who promises the highest price

Real estate is a competitive business and real estate agents compete to list properties for sale which generate their sales commission incomes. It is not unusual that Seller will interview several agents before signing an exclusive listing agreement and go with the agent who agrees to list the property at the highest price, often regardless if such price is market-based.

Similarly to Mistake #4, this mistake can be very damaging to Sellers, as overpriced properties stay on the market for extended periods of time costing Sellers carrying expenses such as mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance.

Furthermore, there is the “opportunity cost” since the equity is “frozen,” and it cannot be deployed elsewhere till the property is sold. However, the most expensive cost is the loss of property value while the real estate market deteriorates.

During the last recession, we have seen multiple cases where overpriced properties stayed on the market for years and ended up selling for 25% to 40% below their initial fair market values.

The solution is to make sure that your pricing strategy is based on the market, not empty promises or wishful thinking.

Mistake #6: I will list my property only with Agent who charges the lowest commission

Real estate commission rates are negotiable and not set by law. A commission usually represents the highest transactional expense in selling real properties and is typically split between Brokers and Agents who work on the transaction

Some real estate agents offer discounted commissions, in order to induce Sellers to list their properties with them. But does paying a discounted commission ensure savings for the Seller? Not necessarily.

For example, if the final sales price is 5% to 10% below property’s highest market value, which is not that unusual, due to inadequate marketing, bad pricing strategy, and/or poor negotiation skills, it will easily wipe out any commission savings and actually cost the Seller tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenues.

The solution is to engage an agent who is a “Trusted Advisor,” not just a “Salesperson.” A Trusted Advisor will take his/her time and effort to do the following: 1) Perform Needs Analysis: listen and understand your property needs and concerns; 2) Prepare Property Analysis: thoroughly evaluate your property and market conditions; 3) Execute Sales and Marketing Plan: prepare and implement custom sales and marketing plan for your property; and 4) Obtain Optimal Results: be your trusted advocate throughout the process and achieve the best possible outcome.

Finding such a real estate professional may not be always easy, but it certainly is worth the effort and will pay off at the end.

In conclusion, this article has outlined six costly mistakes real estate Sellers make during recessions and how to avoid them. The first mistake is not understanding that real estate cycles are long and take years. The second mistake is a misconception that low interest rates alone will create a recovery. Another mistake is not realizing that circumstances may change and not planning in advance. Mistakes number four, five and six pertain to understanding the market value, proper pricing and selecting the right real estate professional.

By understanding and avoiding these mistakes, real estate Sellers have significantly better chances of minimizing the negative impact of a recession while selling their properties.

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Source by Robert W. Dudek

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Useful Tips To Build The Best Gaming Computer

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Every gamer will want their computer to be the best gaming computer among their peers. Sometimes, with a little knowledge and tips and tricks, it is possible to build the best gaming computer and show it off to your peers. This article will show you how:

1) You can’t get the best gaming computer from computer retailers

If you want to get the best gaming computer, you have to build your own. Different gamers have different requirement for their gaming machine. Unless you are willing to pay a high price, you will not be able to buy a commercial computer that fulfills all your gaming needs. The only option you have is to build your own gaming computer.

2) You don’t have to be rich to build the best gaming computer

It is not necessary to burn a hole in your pocket to build the best gaming computer. With some due diligence, do some market research and compare prices around the marketplace. Merchant such as TigerDirect and NewEgg give regular discount to their products and you could save a lot of money if you catch them during their promotional period.

3) Most expensive parts do not have to be the best part

Sometime, the latest model or the most expensive model does not have to be the best part for your computer. It requires various components to work together to form the best computer system. When choosing a computer part, what matters is how well it can integrate with the rest of the components. Compatibility is more important than individual performance. What use is there if you spend lot of money on the latest quad-core processor and find that your motherboard doesn’t support it?

4) You don’t need to change the whole PC to own the best gaming computer

It is a misconception that you have to change the whole gaming machine to build the best gaming computer. If you already have a good barebone system, what you need to do is to upgrade the necessary parts and your gaming computer can roar back to life instantly.

5) Brand is important

Unless you want to see your computer system malfunction every few days, it is important that you purchase the parts from branded manufacturers with strict quality control. Motherboard brand such as Gigabyte, ABIT, ASUS are some quality brands that you can consider

If you follow diligently to the tips stated above. You will be on your way to build the best gaming computer. While price can be an issue, it is better not to scrimp on important computer parts such as motherboard, CPU, RAM and graphics card as it will cost you more to upgrade in the future.

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Source by Damien Oh

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