Posts Tagged ‘Tanzania’

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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On a fine Saturday morning we woke up and did the pack-up routine; eat breakfast, shower, pack, pay for the room, etc.  Issa, our driver guide, came to get us in the Land Rover.  We went to get the last of what we owed for the safari from the bank and then off we went.  I was so happy with the Land Rover.  It had a small refrigerator.  It had electrical plugs.  It had lots of space.  I can safely say we were all happy.  The ladies chatted away.  We got to the first park, Tarangire National Park, at about 12:30PM.

I wanted to go to Tarangire to see the massive Baobab trees.  They didn’t disappoint. They were truly enormous.  I learned and saw that many of the trees have dramatic scars where elephants have carved big chunks out of the trunks with their tusks.  The elephants do this to get water.  We saw lions, warthogs, birds, waterbucks, zebras, giraffes, baboon, vervet monkeys…

At the end of the day, just about sunset, we went to the Maramboi tented camp.  We had a nice dinner, talked with Issa about the next day, and then the Marias got on the internet.  Yes, there is WiFi available in a tented camp in the middle of Tanzania.  You shouldn’t picture this “tented” camp anything like the little safari tent we had in Bujigali Falls.

A “tent” at this camp was bigger than 90% of the places we’d stayed in on the trip, and luxurious.  The bed was picturesque with its mosquito net hanging from a wrought iron frame.  The whole tent was pitched on a wooden structure; a raised wooden floor with a deck outside and a staircase leading up.

We went to sleep content and were woken up in the middle of the night by what sounded like animals in the room.  I dreaded finding a warthog rooting around in our bags – what am I gonna do about that?  But T- insisted that we should find out what it was.  It turned out to be a herd of zebra who came to use the wooden frame of the “tent” as a scratching post.  T- got excited and took some photos.

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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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Moshi to Arusha

We met a german couple just before we left from Moshi to Arusha.  They were really sweet and about 10 years younger than us.  They were traveling very low budget and having a good time.  The girl was going to stay in Tanzania to do some sort of work.  They’re the ones that told me how cheap it was to get a local sim card.  They also wanted to set us up with a couple of locals to take us on a tour.  They were kind and tried to persuade me off of my complaints about the incessant hovering of hustlers and beggars on the street.  They left on a bus for Dar Es Salaam a day before we left Moshi.

We took a taxi instead to Arusha. One of the guys at the Kilimanjaro Coffee Lounge set it up for us.  The journey was basically a straight line with a couple of turns at the start and finish.  There was some confusion when we arrived because we had no firm destination in Arusha and we didn’t have much luck explaining this to the driver.  We ended up close to the clock tower at the Everest Inn where we had lunch. It was a chinese restaurant with a few rooms and we considered staying there for the night.  We were really indecisive about taking a room there because we were waiting to hear from T’s mom, Maria. Maria and her long time friend Clarinha came to travel with us for a couple weeks and arrived that day.

Part of our weeks worth of doing nothing prior to this had to do with being tired out in general.  Part had to do with trying to put together a game plan for our time as a foursome.  T’s mom had traveled to Europe for a week of so before we all met up.  With our spotty access to the internet and the cost of making international phone calls, it was impossible for us to make a definite itenerary for our time together – an itenerary that we would all be happy with.  I had never met Clarinha before.

So we ended up just waiting, not doing much and being in a bad mood about it.  For instance we thought, “we could go for a hike around Kilimanjaro but what if they want to do that too?”  Looking back at our wish list of what we wanted to do on the Safari and knowing what we actually did on the Safari, I realize we should have done some of the active (e.g. hiking, canoeing) type things during that time before they arrived.

We waited the afternoon at the the Tanzania Tourist Board office and the Africafe Coffee House knowing that the flight of Maria and Clarinha would arrive around 15:00.  There were three foul mouthed well dressed buffoons in the Coffee House babbling on and on about “tree huggers.”

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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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After some false starts in Moshi, with regards to lodging, we settled in to the Kilimanjaro Coffee Lounge.  As the name suggests it is actually a coffee lounge (good coffee and food), but they also have a few nice clean rooms upstairs for a good price.  On our second morning in town we arrived there early with our bags, ready to unload and relax.  After we got in the room we did nothing all day.  Ah, so refreshing.  Late in the evening we finally saw the mountain from the back stairwell.

The next morning when we had breakfast downstairs there was a guy yelling continuously on a cell phone (or maybe pretending to be on a cell phone).  I asked the lady that ran the place what it was all about.  She said he was possibly mad from Malaria.  We spent the rest of the day just keeping busy – life on the road stuff.  We argued a bit, we went to the offices of some travel agencies trying to get some info about a safari, we played back gammon, we used the internet to work on the blog, we watched a Moonlighting rerun on TV, we washed clothes on the rooftop of the Lounge with a view of Kilimanjaro.

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