Monkey me...

Trip Start Jul 28, 2009
Trip End Mar 13, 2010

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Friday, January 1, 2010

Wow…game drive…me! Who would have thought? But here I was, planning the entire TZ trip around a two-day safari in Ngorongoro. So, after the disappointment in Lake Mburo (sorry!), I NEEDED to see some real animals! (Not that zebras and antelopes aren't real animals, but if compared to giraffes, elephants and lions…well, you do the math!!)

Our trip to Arusha was accentuated by the safari adventures we were about to have. So, we boarded a daladala to go downtown and when we reached the station people squeezed out, which resulted in Gun and me being the last. Now, in front of the door were around a billion people ready to get in. And they did have some wee resemblance with hunting dogs ready to be released to catch that poor rabbit. However, in this case there was no poor rabbit, but rather a wee Gun who was squeezed from all sides and people pushed and pulled and hit and kicked. This man, who stood next to me tried to grab her to pull her out of this madness and luckily he did succeed. The conductor of the daladala just stood there and smiled. I told him to help or do something at which point he grinned me directly into the face. Now, my anger kind of dictated me to call him a 'jackass’, yet, as expected, this did not have the wished for effect. So, in my most-brilliant self-taught Kiswahili ever, I called him a ‘SEPETO’. And Snot, let me assure you, it had the desired outcome of puzzledness and confusion on his face! (Så kan han lære det, ka’han!!!)

We had booked a room in a Backpacker’s Hostel in Arusha, that worked together with a low-budget safari operator. (And by low-budget I mean less expensive than the others!) We arrived at around 8pm and of course the safari-manager had gone, but the receptionist called him and he got to the office quite fast. He had a puzzled face though, because he did not have the slightest knowledge of us going on tour the following morning. But, he said, that is no problem, because he can in fact organise everything in absolutely no time. Now, the woman we had been in touch with not only did not tell him about us coming, but she also didn’t mention anything to him about the prizes she gave us. So, basically, we had a huge fight with him and…won! We got the safari for $400 per person (which is still shit loads of money) including personal driver, all entrance fees, food, water and 2 nights of accommodation. Yeah!!!

The following morning, we got in a green jeep with Msemo Isaac and drove off. We were going to spend the first day of our trip in Lake Manyara and the second day in the Ngorongoro Crater.

Lake Manyara was pretty cool. It is a groundwater forest, which our driver repeated around 15 times. I am not really sure what that means other than there is water from the ground coming in streams throughout that forest. Honestly, I was more amazed by the scenery (what have you seen in the scenery today?). Now, Lake Manyara is renowned for its tree-climbing lions and the safari-guy at the office told us that though he cannot guarantee that we will see the lions climb the tree, but we surely will see the tree-climbing lion. (Unfortunately we had to learn that he had messed up this word-play, because what he meant to say was no lion, but for sure the tree. Sepeto!!!) Anyways, the coolest thing was that we saw elephants ever so close and the giraffes…they posed for us. We saw a turtle that tried to escape and panicked and another elephant that charged at us, so that I ducked inside the car at which point Gun and Msemo cracked up, because apparently the car wasn’t going to protect me. (But hey, what is one to do in case of 500kg of elephant running towards you???) Oh, and one of the coolest things was the sausage tree. I swear to God, those whatevers really looked like proper German Bratwurst. (I could see my brother grill in the distance and taste my mum’s cucumber salad…)

Ngorongoro Crater was equally cool, yet so different. That place is a huge volcanic caldera and in fact the Maasai live there with the animals. When you get to the crater you drive along the crater rim for a while until you start the descent, 600m downwards while you at first can make out groups of ants in the distance, you then realise that in fact they are huge mammals. My guidebook described the Ngorongoro Crater as ‘Not a bloody zoo’. Yet, our lovely driver called it a zoo. Yet, I also have to agree with the guidebook, this allegation is as facile as it is nonsensical. The wildlife isn’t caged, nor artificially fed, which could be seen as the two defining criteria for a zoo. Surely, the wildlife seemed rather relaxed around the cars and people; in fact the lion took a wee rest in the shadow of the car. (Why not!) Yet, I wouldn’t think that this makes the lion tame; I mean I wouldn’t want to cuddle him. And I believe that only thanx to the wildlife being this habituated to the vehicles that we as visitors had the chance of actually seeing them behave as they would without humans around them. In other words, this experience was far better than driving through a national park where the wildlife is so skittish that most sightings amount to little more than a kabina disappearing into the bush.

Anyways, so the Crater is called ‘excllent Big Five territory’. While lions, elephants and buffalos are guaranteed, rhinos are regularly seen, leopards are chanced upon. Of course, with our luck…we saw all but the leopard! Yeah! Okay, the rhino was really far away, but we saw a rhino baby (still far away). The elephants in the crater are only male ones and in the words of our wee drive ‘hootch’. (Ja, it took me a while to understand that this word meant ‘huge’.) There are no giraffes in the crater and the theory is that they aren’t able to descend the steep crater walls. (Funny!) Another cool thing we saw was a hyena chasing a pumba and its 2 baby-pumbas. That chicken-shit of a hyena! He didn’t get supper that day!

When we left the national parks, Gun saw this giraffe along the way…waving at me! ;-)

The trip was great and we basically came home with two souvenirs we didn’t really need: Gun got lice I got badly sunburnt…on my lip!!! (Outch!!!)
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