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Published: February 11th 2020
It's less hot here in Tanzania than I had hoped. The people who live here wear down jackets, warm hats or hoods; it must feel quite chilly to natives. And there has been lots of rain, sporadic downpours that have so far arrived (for us) at convenient times, either during the night, at dinner, or when we are drily ensconced in one of the 4X4 safari vehicles heading somewhere. The weather, we are told again and again, is unpredictable.
Our flight to Tanzania landed at the Kilimanjaro airport around 8:30PM on Tuesday, so this is the beginning of our third full day here in this gorgeous wild country. It is just breaking dawn now, almost 6:30AM. I hear birds singing outside my tent here in the Lake Burunge Tented Camp; all is peaceful and lovely. I am in cabin Ngiri, the Swahili word for warthog, an interesting assigning since I have been wary of warthogs since my fearfully close encounter with two of them on the path outside my tent in Botswana three years ago. (Their tusks are fearsome and they can run much faster than I can, plus warthogs, like the weather, are unpredictable.) I do have a very close neighbor here, a dikdik, the tiniest of antelopes. His tracks were visible on the path to my tent, so I asked one of our guides what they were, and then we saw him running into the tall grasses. This is his home, but he kindly shares it with various guests. But there is also an active bee's nest right on the corner of my deck. I truly hope they are not African killer bees.
Now the lake is becoming visible, the sky is turning from dark blue to purples and pinkish colors, birdsong is louder and seems more insistent; soon I'll have to leave for our first early morning game viewing drive in Tarangire National Park. On yesterday's early afternoon safari we were very lucky and even though it was mid-day we saw impala, giraffe, warthogs, elephants, zebra, waterbuck, black faced monkeys, and many beautiful birds. So I expect we'll see many more animals this morning when they are generally more active than at high noon.
Back at our peaceful camp now after an exciting morning's game viewing, again we were very lucky, this time duplicating and improving upon all the animals we saw yesterday, adding a beautiful Baobab tree full of playful baboons, one female lion, a tawny eagle, several mongoose, another lion, and, surprisingly, a cheetah! What a morning! This was my very first cheetah sighting. Now I hope to see a leopard.
Acacia trees border my site to the west, and between where I'm sitting on my porch and the lake beyond is green, green, green, lush growth in which anything might live, or hide, or pass through. A lizard just ran by, butterflies and birds abound, the bees are buzzing, but I have not seen my dikdik today. Perhaps he was just exploring the area, as temporary a resident as I am.
The air is warm and pleasant; many smells and sounds remind me of late spring or early summer back home in Maine. Africa is wild, still mostly untamed, but changes are coming. Electricity is being brought in to many parts of Tanzania, and tourism, with the resulting changes geared to our comfort, is on the rise. The old Africa is in a slow transition, impacted by modern but (in my opinion) not totally necessary gifts. I wonder how long it will be before most countries on this continent become unrecognizable to the traditional people. Because of these changes I am very happy to be here right now, exploring and enjoying Tanzania in its still mostly wild and relatively untouched state.
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