Off to Tanzania and the Serengeti

Trip Start Aug 26, 2012
Trip End Dec 22, 2013

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Flag of Tanzania  ,
Thursday, September 27, 2012

This truck is my home for a lack of a better word for the next 45 days, to be shared with 16 other travelers, our guide, driver and cook. The seats inside are very much like a coach bus and each of us get a locker at the back of the bus for our packs and belongings and we are assigned a sleeping mat and a two man tent that is shared.  So far the campsites have been great with toilets, hot showers, bar and pool. So not slumming it to badly just yet.

As we crossed the Kenya – Tanzania border I was amazed at out how immediately the landscape changed.  It was finally Africa as seen on TV.  You know the images I'm referring to; the wide open hot and dust plains with the lone Maasai in traditional dress herding his herd.   I also noticed right away that Tanzania appears to be in better economic shape then Kenya was though according to our guide this is not the case.  They are slightly below Kenya due to the movement over the last few years from a socialist village government to a more democratic government.  The roads, shops and houses were in much better condition.  People were better dressed and while there was still garbage littering the streets it was not nearly to the degree that I saw in Kenya. So I wonder then what the Kenyan government is doing with all the earnings…as it is clearly not being spent on their people.   Other factors to Tanzania’s perceived wealth could be contributed to the large influx of Islamic people and tourism that Kenya does not have in the same capacity.

We have covered a lot of miles in Tanzania this week with arriving in Mto Wa Mbu, a village 18kms from Arusha which is the safari capital of Tanzania on the first day.  On the second day we packed a smaller bag hopped into some six man jeeps and headed off to the Serengeti with a pit stop in the Ngorongoro crater, which is a huge, perfectly intact volcanic crater and is home to some 30,000 animals including endangered black rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, impalas, zebras and hippos. After driving up the outside of the crater and then down into it I got to experience my first game drive.  It was pretty amazing, having the top off the jeep and to stand up and search for animals.

During our time here we saw many gizalles, ostrich and wildebeest where the crater is home to approximately 7,000 of them as they do not migrate from the crater.  Our first major sighting was a cheetah barely disguised in a tuft of dry grass. Then we saw two male lions about 15 feet apart. Our game driver Rama told us they were brothers of the same pride (there were four prides in total in the crater.  For a bit of excitement we watched a jackal chow down on a flamingo and bur some for a snack later. Then on the way for a bathroom break we spotted a lone lioness and then 2 lionesses right near a water tank which we later realized was the tank for the restroom. So these lions were literally about 80 feet from where we were going to the bathroom.  They were definitely looking for prey, and we hope not the human kind.  The park workers thankfully were on standby with their rifles at the ready just in case. 

We camped for 2 nights in the Serengeti National park. There are many different campsites with in the park but none of them have any fences or walls around them which means animals are free to wonder in.  Hyenas were a common occurrence both nights and quite brazen and knew exactly where to go; the garbage and cooks area.  The first night they did howl.  In the morning as we were having breakfast some Cape Buffalo wandered by at about 150 feet away.  The best though was having a bull elephant come within 60 feet of where we were eating and doing dishes.  He stayed for about 20 mins happily grazing but then as more and more campers from other groups learned of him they came over making noising and shining their lights at him that he finally wandered off.  Wait an amazing sight that was.

The morning game drive in the Serengeti (name is  from the Maasai word Siringitu - 'the place where the land moves on forever') landed us a herd of elephants (2 babies) as we were still exiting the campsite, giraffes, impalas, jackals, topis, three lionesses, a cheetah, rock hyraxs, vervet monkeys, baboons and moguls. Not bad for 3 hours work eh?  Our evening drive was not as busy but we did hit the mother lode…….a leopard…..just hanging out in a tree.  Within 24 hrs. I saw four out of the big five game animals. As I was sighting and watching all of these animals it seemed completely natural for me to say causally "oh look there is a lion" but at the same time it seemed surreal that I was actually watching them in their habitat. 

Back at our truck we spent another night camping in Mto Wa Mbu and had a village walk and lunch before getting back on the bus for two days of travel to Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.  Goodbye plains and animals (for now), hello spice farms, beach and Indian Ocean.
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JoJo on

One thing that you can drink without fear... Beer!!!

TB on

Great Photos!!!

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