Posts Tagged ‘safari’

Third day on safari, we all got up and had breakfast early. We were in the truck and descending into the crater by 7am. It was still foggy so we couldn’t see anything. The weather was nice, around 18 degrees C. The first animals we saw were two cheetahs casually laying around, with big bellies, leading Issa to guess they had just eaten. Now in retrospect and looking at the pictures, I believe one of them was pregnant.

Inside the crater and in our vehicle, we all had a cup of coffee to warm up.

And as magic, we began to see many other animals. I remember seeing 5 lionesses and a young lion. For a while, we waited around hoping we would see them hunt, but they did not.  We saw a rhino which is a rarity. We saw hyenas running alongside herds of zebras.

After driving around the crater for a few hours, we stopped at the hippo swamp to eat lunch. After lunch, we took off to the Serengeti.

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Our second day on safari we got up and went back into the Tarangire.  For me the elephants were the best.  We saw a baby elephant drinking its mother’s milk.  We saw a group of them “bathing.”  Bathing in elephant terms has nothing to do with getting clean.  It’s a matter of changing from the old protective layer of filth to a new protective layer of filth.  First they roll around in water, then scratch themselves on any available rock or log or tree, then roll around in the dirt and pick up dirt with their trunks and shower it on themselves like cologne.

After lunch we got on the road to the Ngorongoro Crater area where we would spend the night so that we would be there bright and early the next day.  Tarangire is near lake Manyari and at the edge of highlands which sit dramatically on the horizon.  On the drive to Ngorongoro we headed straight for the wall in the west with the sun in our faces.  I sat up front with Issa.  The sun was brutal.  But as we started to climb up into the highlands the temperature dropped.

When we got close to Ngorongoro and night was falling we saw a leopard in the road.  It was a lucky coincidence because they are known to be so shy.  We tried to stop and see it better but it was gone in an instant.  When we got to a point with a nice view of the crater after sunset we stopped to admire the view and take some photos.  We stayed in a place close by.  We had a good dinner and I went to sleep.  It was nice to sleep because it was cold.  T- stayed up and worked on organizing all the photos she took during the day.

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The Plan

The first night we stayed in Arusha ended for me with an African Lounge singer doing “I can be your hero baby,” right outside our window just before I fell asleep. The highlight of the evening was seeing Maria’s face when her chicken soup arrived with an enormous chicken leg hanging out of the bowl.

The next morning we all got our bags and went over to take rooms at the Everest Inn. Then we went over the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) to check out Ajabu Adventures. Maria and Clarinha had hitched a ride from the airport the day before with a guide from Ajabu and thought we should arrange our safari with them. We had called them and gone to talk about itenerary.  So after we checked them out at TTB (they were on the recommended list) we called up and said it was a go.  We spent the rest of the day scrambling around town to get enough cash out of ATMs.  At some point our banks wouldn’t allow any more withdrawals so we would have to get the rest the next day, Saturday.  We had a some fun counting our millions (of Tanzanian Shillings).

We hung out the rest of the day at the Everest Inn using internet, watching Tv, basking in the love of Mommy.  The next morning we would start the Safari!

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While we were in Moshi we made up a plan of what we wanted to do on our safari.  Here’s the itenerary we came up with. (Its probably not that original, but I have this idea that when you go to spend money you should have some expectation of what you want going to get in return.  How very un-Buddhist of me setting myself up for disappointment.)

Prerequisite: 4-wheel drive vehicle with a roof that opens.

Day 1 – Start out from Moshi/Arusha and go to the Tarangire National Park.

  • Walking safari
  • Lunch
  • Evening game drive
  • Stay the night

Day 2 – Tarangire to Lake Manyari.

  • Morning game drive in Tarangire
  • Game drive through Lake Manyari – climbing lions
  • Stay the night in Karatu

Day 3 – Lake Manyari to Ngorongoro Crater

  • Bike/Walk/Canoe safari at Lake Manyari (choose one)
  • Stay the night at the Ngorongoro Crater

Day 4 – Ngorongoro Crater

  • Game drive in the crater
  • Walking tour to visit Masai
  • Stay the night near the Ngorongor Crater

Day 5 – To Olduvai Gorge and the Serengeti

  • Visit Olduvai Gorge
  • Go to the Serengeti in the area of Lobo or Klien’s Gate
  • Stay near Klien’s gate or Lobo.

Day 6 – Serengeti.

  • Hot air balloon
  • Visit a Masai Village

Day at the beginning or at the end – Hiking at Kilimanjaro.

  • Spend a day hiking at the base of the Mountain

That was our idea and we sent it by email to a few Safari companies.  Thinking about it now it still sounds good.  But, we kept in mind that if we really wanted to see animals we would need to trust that our guide would know where to take us.  After all the Serengeti is an enormous area.

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We woke up early the next day and took the day off in our hotel. We had breakfast, enjoyed the view and planned the visit to the park. It was not an easy task. I was really looking forward to get a 4 wheel drive car with open roof but it somehow seemed an almost impossible task.

First, we tried to arrange the drive at our hotel, but they said they could not find a car as we wanted. So, I called other hotels in the region with no luck. I tried almost all tour companies listed in my travel guide, but once we mentioned that we were at the park already, they would say, “sorry, we only organize tours leaving from Kampala.” I was almost going crazy when the girl from reception called E- and said she have found us a car with a guide and driver. E- confirmed with her many times that the car would be a 4-wheel drive with open roof. We scheduled to leave at 6:00 and went to bed happy and excited.

At 5:30AM we woke up for the drive. Our guide was there and when our car and driver arrived… well, it was just a salon car – neither 4-wheel drive or open roof. Ai ai ai…

We got into the car and headed first to the Kasenyi area in the north part of the park hoping to see hunting lions. We drove around without any luck for lions but many buffalo and gazelles. Then on our way back out we saw a couple of cars parked in one area and rushed there. At first, I only saw one lioness hiding near a rock, carefully staring at some kobs. The gazelles could sense the danger and were all frozen up staring at the area where the lioness was hidden. Then a saw a second lioness. The grass was high and our car low, so even though we were close, it was hard to spot the lioness. Our guide allowed us to open the door of the car in order to stand up on the car holding the door in front of us. Few minutes later one of the other cars passed us and the guide said there were a total of 8 lioness there and a couple of them was really near us. So we immediately got completely in the car and close the door. We waited for the action a while and then had to quit as we still needed to head far south to Ishasha before taking the boat trip we scheduled.

Ishasha is located at the south tip of the park and is very close to a region in Congo with conflicts. During our stay, the area was considered safe, which is great as it is here where you can spot tree climbing lions. We got there at 10:00 and a ranger said lions had been spotted at some fig trees. Our guide was clearly an amateur and not very skillful in spotting animals or discussing their habits. But we were always lucky to have at least one other car in view that could give us indication of where to go. The driver started to chase other cars instead of wildlife, what would invariably lead us to wildlife by default. We saw two cars parked near some fig trees and sure enough, two lionesses taking a nap.

After Ishasha, we headed north again to Kazinga Channel to take a boat trip. On our way we gave a ride to a nice soldier, but later E- confessed that we was a bit uneasy having the soldier with us and he was reading a book by a Ugandan writer which had some unpleasant passages about soldiers from the Idi Amin days. By the time we reached the boat, we were really hungry but we did not have time to stop for food as the boat was ready to leave 😦 . We jumped in for the ride. E- was quite frustrated and upset, specially due the hunger and that bought me almost to tears. We saw many hippos, a few crocodiles, buffalo and all sort of birds. At some point, we passed by a dead buffalo at the side of the river. It had its swollen belly up and tongue sticking out of its mouth. No other animals nearby. Later, we learned that it died of anthrax.

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After the boat trip we were supposed to go back to Kasenyi, but we were starving and asked for a stop somewhere to eat. The food took forever to come and by the time we were done with our late lunch our guide said we did not have enough time to go up Kasenyi again. So, we drove out of the park toward the near village where we had to find another place to stay. The hotel we had spent the last few nights was too expensive and it was time to go budget again.

We checked in a small motel near the road and talked to our guide when it was time to pay about the differences between what was promised and what was delivered. As usual, we stared at a blank face that does not respond when criticized or questioned. E- asked me to give up on the inquisition as it would not take us anywhere, but I was so frustrated by the way many Ugandans do business. I will write a short post on this later. E- went to a more practical approach and simply asked for a discount, which was promptly met.

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