Tanzania on Safari
Trip Start Mar 15, 2005
27Trip End Apr 01, 2007
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Ive had a little time to get back into the routine of Senegal (which was no easy task)..and now its time to fill you all in on my Tanzanian adventure:
My traveling companion and I (sorry to be vague..protecting the innocent) left Dakar on the 7th of December heading East. A stop in Bamako, Mali followed by a food filled flight to Nairobi and a jump to Kilimanjaro. I must have eaten dinner four times in the span of 9 hours, not that I'm complaining.
We were met at the airport by our smiling Yoda-esque guide (I'll explain later) holding a sign with our names on it. He drove us from the airport to our hotel just outside of Arusha. The Jacaranda trees were blooming brilliant purple and the coffee plantations stretched for hectares. We slept off much of the afternoon and that evening met the second half of our Safari party at the airport. My traveling companion's parents were able to sneak away from a busy schedule in the States to join us. I'll admit i was a little nervous knowing the next 10 days would be spent with people I didn't yet know...but it turned out wonderfully. I couldn't have been thrown into the mix with a nicer or more generous crowd.
The next morning we were off to our first National Park: Tarangire. I don't want to get redundant with lists of animal sightings and game drives so I'll summarize a bit..give an overview. Tarangire National park kept us busy for two days, a day drive to Lake Manyara, two days at the Ngorongoro Crater; and to top it all off; a four day stay in the Serengeti.
We were 'camping'..and i use that term loosely because I slept in a king-size bed every night (with the sheets turned down while i was eating dinner), had hot water for showers (even though they only lasted about 40 seconds), electricity, laundry service, and ate three course meals every morning and night. Lunch was often boxed so we could eat on the road. There was a staff of five serving the four of us at all times. They packed up and moved our tents when we changed camp sites, cooked for us, cleaned for us..it felt awkward being so well looked after. (but nice..don't get me wrong..it was a vacation after all)
Most days we left camp between 7 and 8 for a morning game drive in our open top land cruiser. Yoda, our guide, could spot a leopard ear poking two centimeters above the grass..anticipate the movement of rhinos...predict cheetah sightings..the man was amazing. We saw so much wildlife every day...yet it never got old. I was in constant awe.
Elephants close enough to touch, Zebras being chased across a river by angry hippos, giraffes de-thorning branches with their long tongues, hyenas fighting over a rack of ribs, black rhinos...just standing there (there are only 17 in all of the Serengeti), lions searching for shade beneath other safari vehicles, a cheetah and her four young playing in the grass...I could go on and on..oh, and one of my personal favorites: a hawk swooping down to steal the chicken leg from my travel companions hand during lunch. (it was funny to those of us who didn't lose our chicken)
The 6-9 hours a day spent in the vehicle flew by. The food was amazing as was everything else. If any of you are considering a Safari in Tanzania or Kenya I will give you the name of the company we went through. They were wonderful. Every detail taken care of.
When it came time to say good bye to the other half of our travel party we made our way back to Arusha. After a delicious lunch at the nicest hotel in town the four of us split into twos and went our separate ways. My traveling companion and I were continuing east the next morning. Zanzibar!
We flew from Arusha in a plane small enough to allow the pilot to turn around and say 'OK, its going to get a little rough, could you put on your seat belts?' I don't know about you, but I'm much more comfortable when i cant see the pilot of my plane...or the individual dandruff flakes on his blue shirt. We survived.
Zanzibar was beautiful. Tanzania gets two rainy seasons every year so things stay much more lush than I'm used to in Senegal. Banana trees everywhere, fruits I'd never even heard of piled up on the side of the road. I can understand the 'exotic' feel that many people talk about after visiting. Most of our time on Zanzibar was spent reading or walking on the beach (i wont lie..we also enjoyed the AC of our beach front room..which felt like winter inside even though it only got down to 70) We were about an hour drive from Stone town, the largest 'city' ..the only city..on the island. We hired transport twice into town, once to take a Spice tour from a local plantation and once just to walk around in search of trinkets and ice cream.
The spice tour was very interesting. We had a local guy with English phrases like 'okey dokey' in his vocabulary. He walked us through a 3 hectare plantation quizzing us on our spice knowledge which was pretty non-existent. Coffee trees, pepper trees, cloves, ginger, lemon grass, cardamom, jasmine, ylang ylang, jack fruit..and more i cant recall off the top of my head. Our tour ended at a table covered in every fruit imaginable...and some quite unimaginable. We were given a taste test of all of them. I had never even heard of the Jack fruit before. Apparently it can get up to 50 kilos. Its taste was something between a banana and a pineapple. Very good.
Eleven days spent in Zanzibar felt just about right. After the stress of the past almost two years in Senegal I needed a lengthy vacation.
We arrived back in Senegal to a chaotic airport, manipulative taxi drivers, the smog of Dakar. I had to laugh...this is home...for a little bit longer.
I will be home in mid-May if all goes right. I'm hoping to do a little traveling after i close my service here. If possible, Morocco and Portugal. I want to thank you all again for your continued support and generosity. I would say that the start of January should be the deadline of any postage you might want to throw in the mail for me(packages or padded envelopes..letters are fine). Things take about 2-3 months and i wouldn't want you to spend time and money putting something together that doesn't reach me.
I cant wait to share pictures and stories upon my return!
Peace, and a Happy Holiday season to you all!