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Experiences Guides

Planning a Gorilla Trekking Safari

Did you know that there are only about 880 mountain gorillas left in the world? Do you know that meeting eye to eye with the mountain gorillas in the wild is one of the most unique wildlife encounters one can ever experience on the African continent. There are a few places where one can experience this lifetime thrilling moment. No wonder the cost of a mountain gorilla safari is far higher than other wildlife viewing experiences.

Here is practical information that you may need to plan a gorilla watching safari in Africa.

Where to trek gorillas

It is always very important to decide where to go and enjoy gorilla tracking. There are only three countries where mountain gorillas can be found in the world. Surprisingly there are unique features in each of these three countries that host these rare species in the world. Experience shows that most travelers looking for short trips opt for Rwanda while those looking for gorilla tracking combined with game viewing opt for Uganda.

A gorilla visit to many travelers in Africa is the single largest expenditure they make in the region. Not only having the best experience but it is also worth knowing the security side of it. For most of travelers it comes down to a choice between volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Bwindi national park in Uganda and as the Mgahinga gorillas always cross they boarder to Congo so before booking you need to confirm with your tour company the group is there and Djomba in democratic republic of Congo has been closed for years due to insecurity in the country which doesn’t favor safe gorilla tracking. So Rwanda and Uganda offers the best sighting areas for gorilla tracking, since Rwanda has about 10 gorilla habituated gorilla groups and Uganda has about 13 gorilla groups which are ready for tracking.

Bwindi impenetrable national park

This is the most visited Uganda national park. It is located in the South-western part of Uganda in just a drive of about 8-10 hours on the road from Kampala Uganda’s capital and largest city. Or by a plane it’s just about an hour from Kajansi air strip to kisoro air strip then from there to the park. The park covers an area of about 331 square kilometers. It borders the Republic of Congo border and the Virunga National park on the edge of the Albertine Rift. The park is most known because it hosts the rare species that’s the mountain gorillas almost a half of the world’s population about 400 individuals are estimated to live only in this park about of 880 individuals left worldwide making it the best safari destination for gorilla trekking in Africa. Bwindi impenetrable national park is a dense forest with steep slopes, so this sometimes makes gorilla trekking hard, due to it’s being dense, visibility is also some how tough, and a fast film or push-processing is necessary for good photographic results. Not being dense it’s also a tropical rainforest and in such a background it can rain at any time so you are advised to carry rain gears such as jackets, strong shoes/boots long sleeved shirts or blouses, gloves, other tracking gears include sticks these can be provided at the park headquarters, packed lunch and bottled water. Not only gorillas that are found in the park the is also a home to over 346 species of birds, 202 species of butterflies, 163 species of trees, 100 species of fern, it’s also the only park in the world where the chimps and gorillas co-exist in the same environment a very good experience at the park.

The park has 11 habituated gorilla ready for tracking including Mubale Gorilla Group Nshongi Gorilla Group, Mishaya Gorilla Group, Habinyanja Gorilla Group, The Rushegura Gorilla Group, Nkuringo Gorilla Group, The Oruzogo Gorilla Group, Bitukura Gorilla group, Busingye Gorilla Group, Bweza Gorilla Group, kyaguniro gorilla group, kahungye gorilla group. Only eight members are allowed to track in each group. Arranger guide is every time available to accompany the trackers in the forest and he is armed to guide the trackers in case of anything, he also help to give relative information to visitors to any forest flora and fauna they found on the way to make tracking more interesting. Porters are also available they are hired at a fee of about 10-15 USD they help in caring clients, bags and sometimes packed food in case a visitor gets tired during the tracking.

Mgahinga gorilla national park

This is another Uganda’s gorilla national park, it’s is located in the far south- western corner of the country it covers an area of about 434sqkm; it takes part of the Virunga volcanoes, which span the boarder of Uganda, Rwanda and democratic republic of Congo. The park was formed to protect the rare mountain that inhabit its dense forest and is also an important habitat for the endangered golden monkey. However gorillas to this park are not guaranteed as gorillas tend to migrate to the Virunga national park or Rwanda in search of different adventures although ever since they returned back in the park in 2012 they have stayed a while. However it’s advised to confirm with your tour company to know which side of the boarder the gorillas are on before you confirm your safari. There are only one gorilla group in Mgahinga gorilla national park and that’s Nyakagezi Gorilla Group. Gorilla permits are also at a cost of US$600 in the high seasons and 350 USD in the low seasons.

Volcanoes national park (Parc Nationale des Volcas, Rwanda

It’s just a 2-3 hours drive to the park (volcanoes national park) from Kigali Rwanda’s capital and its largest city. The park covers an area of about 160km2. It is located at the border with Uganda in the North and in the west by Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The park is known for its rare species mountain gorillas and it is refers to as the best gorilla tracking destination owning almost a half of the world mountain gorillas over 380 individuals are found at the park. The park was made famous through the works of Diane Fossy who studied the behaviors of these giant species for a period of over 20 years and it was a base where the film about her works was made (gorillas in the mist).

Due to her works of habituating gorillas, gorillas become the major tourist attraction in Rwanda and one of the major sources of revenue to the country. Not only gorillas but the forest is a home to golden monkeys, various species of birds, plants, butterflies among others. If you want the most real experience; this may be the place to come as the towering volcanoes form a breathtaking background.

Mountain gorilla tracking in Rwanda can be accessed easily as when you compare gorilla tracking in Uganda. Rwanda gorilla permits are at a fee of US$1500 per person per tracking, gorilla permit is a guarantee for tracking however it’s not a guarantee for seeing gorillas although chances of seeing them is at 95% and the park has well experience guides good at sighting them and there most of the time know where they allocate them.

The Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda has about 10 habituated gorilla group and only 8 members are allowed to track in each group. Rwanda gorilla groups include Susa Group (Susa A Family), Karisimbi FamilySabyinyo Gorilla Group, Amahoro Gorilla Group, Umubano Group, 13 Group (aka Agasha Group), Kwitonda Family, Hirwa Group, Bwenge Family, Ugenda Family. Like its counterpart Uganda, tracking gorillas lasts for only one hour and people below the age of 15 years are not allowed to track.

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Destinations

8 Best Places to Visit in New York City

New York City, aptly named “The Big Apple” and the “city that never sleeps,” represents one of the great international centers of finance, politics, communications, music, culture, and fashion. Home to numerous, world-class museums, venues, and sights, this city is one of the most cosmopolitan in the world. Imbued with a rich sense of history and culture, there are many attractions for visitors to see and visit.

1. Statue of Liberty (http://www.nps.gov/stli/)
The Statue of Liberty is another must see in New York, but don’t bother going into the museum unless you really want to. Visitors aren’t allowed to the top of the Statue of Liberty anymore because of security issues. You are thoroughly frisked in an exhaustive security check, and have to reserve a time to visit in advance. You would be better off seeing the Statue of Liberty from the ferry that takes you to Ellis Island. The Immigration Museum at Ellis Island is worth a visit, and it is free. The ferry ($10) leaves every 25 minutes from Battery Park and stops at Liberty Island and Ellis Island.

2. Central Park
Possibly one of the more infamous locations in New York, Central Park is the stuff of American legend. With its beautiful greenery, sprawling lawns, and lakes, Central park in highly popular with outdoor enthusiasts and concert goers. It hosts a number of concert venues and is home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Central Park Zoo.

3. Times Square
Another bit of American history, Times Square is a must-see for posterity. In actuality, Times Square is impressive, but it is also highly commercialized and caters mostly to tourists. The “old “Times Square is located near Broadway and the Port Authority Bus Terminal. It has become quite seedy, and thus a “new” Times Square, located blocks away from the old Times Square, has emerged that is a family-friendly, highly commercialized area of themed restaurants, theaters and hotels.

4. Cathedral of St. John The Divine (http://www.stjohndivine.org)
The Cathedral of St. john the Divine is the world’s largest Gothic cathedral and has been a work-in-progress for over a century. Beautiful Gothic architecture and exquisite stained glass windows only add to the loveliness of this amazing building. If you’re in New York, don’t miss the cathedral. It is an incredible sight, and one that rivals the European churches it emulates.

5. Carnegie Hall (http://www.carnegiehall.org/intro.jsp)
Carnegie Hall is yet another staple of American history, having housed some of this century’s most amazing musicians and performers. Unless you can afford the tickets for a concert, be content wandering through the beautiful building and looking at pictures of past performers and beautiful people.

6. Empire State Building (http://www.esbnyc.com/)
This famous building sits on the equally renowned fifth avenue and was for many years the tallest building in the US. Synonymous with New York, this building, more than any other, personifies the sleek, urban, and cultured New York atmosphere.

7. World Trade Center Site
The site of the of the September 11th terrorist attacks has become popular with visitors. If you were in New York prior to 9/11, you will be astounded at the emptiness. The previous twin towers have been replaced with memorial pools that are quite beautiful, and various plaques are on display documenting the history of the WTC.

8. Chrysler Building
The Chrysler Building is the epitome of Art Deco architecture and one of the most beautiful and well-known buildings in the world. Visiting the lobby is a must, but you’re not allowed up top unless you are on business.

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Tips

5 Killer Camping Supplies List for Backpackers

When planning a camping expedition, it is important to understand that some basic items help you make it through an ordinary day and others you must use in case of extraordinary circumstances that catch you by surprise. In the parlance of camping aficionados, gather supplies for your personal camp kit. The personal camp kit should be considered the essential list of things that every camper needs.

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Guides Tips

Step by Step Guide to Pitch a Tent in the Mountains

Setting up a tent is one of the first things many people do after selecting a campsite. The camping tent serves as a shelter for sleeping during the night and provides protection from unfavorable weather conditions and bothersome insects. The process of setting up a simple tent is easy, and tent assembly can be completed within minutes once the basic procedure is understood.

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Destinations

5 Countries to Visit Before You Die

Many travelers always look for information about the top countries to visit in the world. If you are looking for a memorable holiday, here are the 5 MUST see countries.

1 – Egypt

King Tut, The Pyramids, The Valley of the Kings. The list is endless. But it’s just not the history and the culture, it’s the people too. Egyptians are some of the kindest and most generous people on the planet. They will welcome you into their homes in a second and even if they have almost nothing, they will share it with you.

An afternoon on the Nile with an Egyptian Felucca captain sailing your boat as the sun sets over the Nile in Luxor is a once in a lifetime experience not to be missed.

2 – China

China is not somewhere people immediately think of when planning a holiday…but they should, and hopefully after the Olympics in Beijing they will. Even if you could only afford 7 to 10 days, an itinerary that takes in Beijing, Xian, a Yangtze River Cruise and Shanghai will be a great introduction.

And for an unforgettable experience, juts visit Guilin. Guilins landscape is amazing and totally unique. It can’t necessarily be called Mountainous as such, but the peaks that do rise, rise almost vertically up into the mist.

If you get a chance take a ski lift up to one of the peaks and just stare in awe at the view, and if you are feeing adventurous, take a kart down a toboggan style run (about 3,000 feet in length) !

3 – Jordan

Handily located, if you plan it right you can visit Egypt and Jordan together to make a real trip to remember. Amman is a great city full of atmosphere, Petra is marvellous, but surely the can’t miss site is the Dead Sea. The only ocean in the world with so much salt in it, you actually float !

This alone makes Jordan a must see country and on top of what I have already mentioned, don’t forget the Wadi Rum, Aqaba, Jerash and the Kings Highway. A week in Jordan is good, but 10 days is better.

4 – Hong Kong

Although there is much more to Hong Kong than just shopping, if you do love to shop, then Hong Kong is the place for you. A stroll along Nathan Road and a visit to the Temple Street market just HAS to be done. And make sure you have your bargaining hat on as haggling is as big a part of the experience as the purchases themselves.

There lots more to Hong Kong too. The great thing is that despite it being a modern city, there is tradition around every corner. Don’t forget to take a trip to Victoria Peak and enjoy the stunning views and remember that even if it’s misty, there are 2 guys at the top who will take your picture and transpose it onto a picture of what you should see if the weather where not so poor ! I also suggest a couple of half day visits out to Lama and Lantau Islands too. A great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the craziness that is Hong Kong.

5 – Thailand

Thailand suffers a little from it’s reputation of being a very hedonistic destination and while it is true that the is a very wild side to Thailand (especially certain areas of Bangkok, Phucket etc) there is also an amazing culture to immerse yourself in.

There really is everything there, adventure, culture and even for the not faint hearted, a place about 1 hour north of Thailand where you can go in, yes go in, with real live tigers. No cages, no chains, just you and around a dozen tigers. For me it was a thrill of a lifetime and without doubt it is just one of the many reasons that Thailand is in my top 5 of places you need to visit in the world

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Guides Tips

How to Choose the Right Backpack

Backpack is one of the most important outdoor and camping equipment that you need to make a successful and smooth journey. Any outdoor camping trip cannot not happen without a backpack and good quality backpack provides smooth and pleasant trips across the world. Backpacks are designed to fit to each personality of travelers whether men or women. Though the purpose of carry backpack is simply enabling us to carry all necessary things that you need during your travels, it is not easy for one to travel from one place to another without the right backpack. And when you decide to buy your backpack, there are things you should know as well as the purpose you intend to use it for.

It is quite obvious that backpacks now are becoming the most important equipment that traveler and most especially outdoor enthusiasts like campers, hikers, backpackers must have. However, the factor to determine the type of backpack you would need is to consider from the objective. There are various types of backpack and they can be divided into four major categories which are, military backpacks, assault packs, full packs, day packs.

Therefore, the following detail will take you thought the basic guide of these types of backpack. You will get to know each of them about what they look like and short description of their usage. We are going to start to know assault pack. Assault pack typically known as mountain pack, which is suitable for camping and mountain climbing activities or any other recreation trip. The pack of assault type is probably biggest among pack of any other type of backpack as they are designed for carrying more stuff for long or mountain vacation. Also the packs come in two main types! They are internal frame and external frame. The purpose of these frames is to distribute weight evenly through the pack. The internal frame may have less capability of hold heavy stuff than the pack that has external frame.

The first type of backpack is day pack. Day pack means to some kind of pack that we use to contain stuff that will be used during the day. Therefore, it doesn’t need to be big and they are usually has low capacity. Day pack may not suitable for long trip that requires bigger and tougher backpack. However, you may use day pack with your long trip by us them as a personal bag to carry traveling stuff such as wallet, purse, air tickets, and all travel document. This is because when you travel, especially if you travel overseas, you should keep this kind of stuff handy.

The third type is military backpack. Military backpack is quite flexible and utilized because they are designed to be used in very hard and tough condition. However, you may find that military backpack may not have as large size as other type of travel backpack. Military backpack is also suitable for short trip and if you are willing to travel to remote rural area, military backpack maybe the one that you are looking for. The fabric used for military backpack is extremely hard and you cloud make sure that it will never easily tear.

From the detail described above then you can see that there’s practical value in learning more not only about backpack topic but for all other ones. Can you think of ways to apply what’s been covered in this article and as your knowledge about this topic may continues to grow, you will begin to see how it fits into the overall scheme of things.

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Attractions

Beaches in the Philippines

There are many great beaches here in the Philippines. The most famous of course is Boracay. Then there is El Nido and Dos Palmas in Palawan and other resorts that you pay more for the ambiance and services rather than the opportunity to swim in their manicured beachscape. Expensive. International rates. Not for the backpacker who just wants a good swim and a feel of the local community’s lifestyle.

You will find the entrance at the mouth of a cave in a beautiful lagoon about 50 km north of the city of Puerto Princesa, Palawan. From here the river winds through formations of stalactites and stalagmites and several large chambers before flowing directly into the South China Sea. The Hundred Islands National Park is composed of 123 islands (124 at low tide) and covers an area of 1,844 hectares. The islands lie at the south west corner of the Lingayan Gulf, just off Alaminos City in the province of Pangasinan. Over the years the islands have inspired countless legends — some tell of mermaids that once mystified fishermen; others tell of a primeval giant who lost his lady love.

Engage in Mountain Climbing and Nature Trekking, The Philippines with its large forests, pristine wilderness, and rugged mountains, is an ideal spot for mountain climbing and nature trekking. On Luzon the Sierra Madre mountains form the longest range of the Philippines, extending along the island’s eastern coast for 210 miles. The Cordillera Central Ranges to the west contain Luzon’s highest peak, Mount Pulog, 9,613 feet. And of course, don’t forget the volcanoes. There are 37 volcanoes in the Philippines, of which 18 are still active. Many of these, like Mt. Pinatubo, have become popular trekking sites.

In 1991 the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo was the most destructive volcanic event of the 20th century. Today, surrounded by a vast expanse of lahar-filled valleys and boulders the size of cars, Mount Pinatubo offers a breathtaking view of a hidden lake inside its crater — an enchanting reward for intrepid explorers and trekkers. Taal Volcano is the smallest active volcano in the world. You will find it about 70km south of Manila on “volcano island” inside a lake called Taal Lake. This is a popular trekking destination and, compared with other mountains, the climb is relatively easy. The view from the top is awe-inspiring.

Mayon Volcano is the most active volcano in the Philippines, having erupted over 47 times in the past 400 years. It is also considered to be the world’s most perfectly formed volcano for its symmetrical cone. It reaches 2,460 meters and is the central feature of the Albay Province, about 300km southeast of Manila. Climbing Mayon is possible but can be dangerous. Some organized treks are planned over a 4-day schedule. The best time for mountaineering in the Philippines is either during the summer months from March to June, or during the monsoon season from November to February. It is best to avoid mountaineering activities during the wet season when strong typhoons buffet the provinces.

Feast on Filipino mouth-watering delicacies. In the Philippines you cannot escape the temptations of food; you are literally surrounded by it. Take a stroll down a beach and the chances are you will find vendors selling everything from barbecue sticks to balut — boiled, unhatched chicken or duck eggs. When it comes to food the Philippines has it all — a fabulous mix of foreign cuisine plus its own mouth-watering delicacies. Well, there you have it — more reasons to visit the Philippines. But of course there are more reasons than I have listed here. For example, festivals that bring out the culture of the people, historic churches that date back to the Spanish era, the exciting night life of Manila, Angeles City, and Cebu, or play golf on courses designed by some of the best golf celebrities in the world, and more … come and enjoy! Enjoy the Beaches In The Philippines.

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Experiences

Visit Suzhou Underwater World

Located in Suzhou national tourism resort, with a total investment of 25 million dollars, is the first large-scale comprehensive ocean world in the south of Jiangsu province, China.
The first domestic underwater world possesses some unique national-level animals, such as Chinese sturgeon, Chinese alligator, Taihu white fish, whitebait, breams as well as other native fish. In addition, there are a large number of foreign fish.

Along the escalator down to a small slope, you will feel a sudden drop in temperature, with light becoming dark blue, just like in the sea. Accompanied by marine organisms and music, the transparent cover through the arch, you can see colorful fish merrily swimming around.

The turtles slowly swim around in water, some of which motionless in the corner. Dont you think they are docile yeanling, once angry but very aggressive.
Coral reef gallery is full of lovely creatures, such as beautiful jellyfish floating in the water, gorgeous acanthurus japonicus, as well as the stone fish which is the master of camouflage.
The well-trained sea lions give an irregular show, winning thunderous applause.

In addition, we can also see the Antarctic penguin here, as well as the Arctic wolves.
The Science Museum, a magnificent hall of learning, is composed of popular science classroom, evolutionary biology exhibition hall, marine animal specimen exhibition hall, as well as an exhibition hall of marine shellfish samples. It vividly imparts knowledge of ocean to every visitor, in form of modern high technology, with biological entity specimens, texts, as well as pictures.
Some bottle-nose dolphins in Japan and seals in South America bring brilliant shows in the marine theater for visitors. In addition to animal performance, there are various performances like water ballet, acrobatics, singing and dancing activities, etc.

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Attractions

3 Must See Things in Belgrade

Belgrade is a budget travelers dream, and the three attractions below are free to explore (Ethnographic Museum is free on Sundays) and give some valuable information about the city’s amazing history. Because the Great War Island was closed for the season, we didn’t get to visit it this trip; however, our WWOOF host explained how awesome and fun the island is in the summer.

When we arrive in a new city, especially a capital city like Belgrade, we always try to pay a visit the country’s heritage museum. During our visit, we will peruse the permanent collections and exhibitions so that we can get a better understanding of the history and culture of the land we are visiting.

Ethnographic Museum

The Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade is the place to go if you need to brush up on your Serbian history. The museum is free on Sundays and contains both permanent exhibitions and special exhibitions. The permanent collection features traditional costumes and focuses on the country’s evolving lifestyle and working changes.

Great War Island

Every summer, Belgrade sets up a bridge between The Great War Island and one of its municipalities, Zemun, so that its citizens as well as tourists can enjoy the island, which features a nature preserve and fish spawning area. Additionally, the island also has a beach, Lido, which is a popular hangout for summer swimming and sunbathing.

The Great War Island has played an important role in Belgrade’s history, in part because of its strategic location, which led to be used in the conquest or defense of Belgrade. Currently, historians consider the confluence to be the true hear to Belgrade because the site is one of the first Neolithic settlements in Europe.

Belgrade Fort and Kalemegdan Park

Overlooking the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, the Belgrade Fortress is the oldest section of Belgrade’s urban area. For centuries, Belgrade’s population was concentrated within the thick, grey fortress walls. Some of the world’s greatest empires, including the Roman and Ottoman, conquered, occupied and defended the fortress. The fort endured nearly two millennia of continuous sieges before being declared a Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1979.

The fort and expansive park grounds are free to explore and offer up great panoramas, winding paths and shaded spots with benches. One of my favorite locations inside the fort is the Chapel of Saint Petka near the Rose Church. The chapel was built on top of a spring believed to be miraculous, especially for women. You can drink a cup for free or pay 30 dinar (50 cents) for a bottle.

Additionally, the fortress and park contains an observatory, planetarium, tennis, basketball courts, the city Zoo, Military Museum, and Museum of forestry and hunting.

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Attractions

The 5 Best Beaches in San Diego

San Diego is offered up as a great destination for people looking to take a vacation on the beach. Here are some recommendations on San Diego beaches from a local.

San Diego Beaches

When people think of San Diego, they inevitably imagine year around sun and beautiful beaches. Ironically, the worst time to visit San Diego is from the middle of May through the middle of June. During this time period, the coast is socked with low clouds and the sun breaks through for no more than a couple of hours a day. In fact, we call the annual process by the name of June Gloom.

Assuming you come at a different time, the beaches of San Diego offer up plenty of variety and beauty. There are literally hundreds of beaches you can visit, but a select few are worth a mention.

If you are looking for the beach with college kids and a party scene, Pacific Beach is the place to be. The beach is wide, wild and packed. A sidewalk runs the length of the beach to the south and is a great place to people watch. If you prefer an alcoholic beverage with your people watching, the outdoors deck at Lahainas is the place to be. The suds flow all day, but make sure to get there early as the deck is small.

For a more relaxed experience, the beaches of Del Mar offer a choice spot. The beaches are designated by the numbered streets that intersect them. If you are looking to surf, 9th street is the place to be if you are willing to walk down the cliff. If you just want to loaf, play a little volleyball and so on, anywhere from 19th to 25th street should do the trick. Del Mar is a particularly good place to be during the fourth of July since the racetrack on the back side of the beach puts on a fireworks show. Keep in mind there will be tons of people.

If you prefer to have most of the beach to yourself, you need to look to the beaches backed by cliffs. People are lazy, so they tend not to congregate in these area since you have to hoof it up and down the paths to get to the beach. Stone Steps in Encinitas is a personal favorite. The beach is used sparsely, which makes it a good place to swim and just loaf.

The honest truth is you really cannot go wrong with San Diego beaches as long as you avoid June gloom. If you decide to visit, give me a wave. I’m the tan guy!