First safari day - Tarangire National Park

Trip Start Jul 19, 2007
Trip End Aug 03, 2007

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

We both woke with a desire for a little lighter fare this morning.  Ahem!!

This was our first official safari day as we left Arusha and headed to Tarangire.  All 12 of the tour group had arrived by now, and we got a chance to meet both of the tour guides: Hamisi and Ndaskoi.  We loaded the two Land Rovers and headed out by 9am.

It was nice to see Arusha during the day although it was mostly freeway once we actually left town.  The scenery quickly changed to relatively flat and brownscapes.  There were pockets of Masaai grazing cattle and sheep; so pretty.  Their bright cloths against the dirt were a visual feast of red checkers, Scottish-type tartans, reds, blacks, blues.  Being Sunday, there were a lot of people out walking along the road going to and from market and church.  Just as we turned off the main road to head to Tarangire, we went through a market.  It was beyond amazing to see the women, so colorful with all their adornments and the colors of fruit in the baskets. 

As we got to the entrance of the park, we had to stop and register the vehicles, so we had a chance to use the toilets and to walk around.  We saw Baobab trees that were 2500-3000 years old.  It was substantially warmer, but still so much more pleasant than we had expected due to the constant breezes.  We stopped at a lodge for lunch that had the most spectacular view of the Tarangire Valley and river.  This was the classic Africa view.  We saw elephant, giraffes, wildebeest, impala and the most wonderful birds off the deck of this lodge.  Just a taste of things to come.

As we headed out from lunch, we had a few hours to meander through the park on the way to our camp for the evening.  It was unbelievable what we saw in only a couple hours on our first day; giraffes, elephants, 2 lionesses, hyrax, impala everywhere, dozens of birds, a few monkeys, wildebeest, cape buffalo, and dik diks.  Lord, did we get them all?  The most amazing part....they were all so incredibly close to us.  Amy could barely catch her breath.

The sunset drive to the lodge was spectacular despite some of the gorgeous light being attributed to some controlled burning in the area. 

The lodge was, of course, lovely.  Grass roof, stunning wooden floors, comfortable, large rooms.  One of the amazing parts - the sheer volume of people who tend to you during your stay.  Although not apparent this first night, it would turn out that most of our lodges would have guards at your door at night so that if you decided to walk, you had an escort.  Of course, you are never to be unaccompanied because, well, you know, this isn't a zoo and you're on the menu once outside of any enclosure.  Amy found this all quite unbelievable until we walked to breakfast the next morning and noticed "kitty" prints in the planting beds.  Yes, really!

Dinner was as magnificent.  This was the first night all 12 of us were together.  And, we're happy to say we were the most rested.  Others seemed somewhat bleery-eyed and we think we made most of the introductions around the table.  Over the next couple weeks, we would all spend varying time together, finding those we preferred and those we didn't (go away Kevin!).  A bat joined us in the dining room and about halfway through our meal, we were serenaded by the staff; a group of men and women who sang beautifully.  Amy cried.  Again :)

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