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Published: June 25th 2012
So here it is, the big Safari post you have all been waiting for, with bated breath I imagine. 5 interns, on a mission, 3 nights/4 days camping safari through Lake Manyara, Serengeti National Park, then Ngorongoro Conservation Area what could go wrong? Totally kidding it was an amazing trip and we were thoroughly blessed and safe.. and in a completely gorgeous Toyota land cruiser the entire time, I was in heaven.
We set out on a Sunday, with me waking to Lisa’s wonderful voice telling me I had slept through my alarm, it was 5:20 AM, and we needed to leave as the van was already in the courtyard. After rummaging around my room and throwing things into a backpack, packing the night before is still a foreign concept to me apparently, I went out into the courtyard to find that one of the vans was a no show so we had to squish 10 interns, 1 university worker, 1 prof and the driver into the one van that did. I found later that the only thing I forgot was the camera charger though it ended well as it only died on literally the last picture as
we were wrapping up the final day. These italics are my side notes and thoughts for future clarification. Glad you’re with me on this. Back to the trip, the large morning group was due to the fact that another group of interns from our university were on their way to Moshi, which was a stop only a few hours before Arusha. So after a 10 hour ride to Arusha and one ridiculously overpriced taxi ride we arrived at the hotel the Safari company had put us in and settled in to get a good nights sleep before our big start the next day. Also you should know that when I refer to “we” I mean Cameron, Njavwa, Caitlin, Lisa and I.
The following morning we met our guide and cook, Ima and Hitagi who were both great guys, and set out for Lake Manyara, our first destination. After 4 hours of driving we arrived in the backyard of a lodge where we set up camp for the night. That afternoon we set out and did the Lake Manyara route which was highlighted in the first 15 minutes after we found ourselves stopped in the middle of a
massive baboon migration and three majestic elephants graced us by crossing the road about ten meters from our vehicle. Did you know that an elephant’s pregnancy lasts for on average 22 months? The rest of the trek went well, we saw the occasional zebra butt, mongoose, dik dik (small goat looking antelope), 3-foot long salamander and then a lot more baboons and antelope. Oh, and a complete diva of a giraffe. We returned to the camp that night to a prepared meal and a bit of dancing before we all nodded off to sleep in our tents, each with eager anticipation of what we would see in the legendary Serengeti National Park. Que “The Lion King” soundtrack on repeat.
The next two days were a blur of lions on rocks, lions in bushes, lions in trees, young lions, older lions, thousands and I mean thousands of wildebeest and zebra. We also saw many elephants, hippo, hyena, giraffe, ostrich, antelope, buffalo and the occasional warthog. There were 5 highlights during our time in the Serengeti. First, was the chance to see some young lion attempt to hunt, attempt being the key word though we all
cheered as one of them finally went after a wildebeest. Second was seeing a leopard lounging in a tree 30 meters away from the cruiser, the third was being able to witness a portion of the great migration or maybe the now lazy migration as these were the wildebeest and zebra that were left behind. It was still fascinating to see however as even the group that was left behind consisted of thousands of the animals. The fourth highlight, for me at least, was getting to almost touch a massive male elephant that came a stood incredibly close to our cruiser. Last on the list was definitely the chance to camp in the middle of the Serengeti, with the sounds of hyenas waking you up in the middle of the night sounding as if they were literally a few meters from your tent, it was pure gold. If I had to add one more highlight it would be that I had the chance to do this trip with my beautiful best friend, I am so joyously grateful. Up next was our trip to the Ngorongoro Conservation area.
We left early Wednesday morning for Ngorongoro as it was
a 5-hour drive with a pit stop and a Masai camp. It was an interesting stop however you could tell it had been commercialized for the sake of the traveling “wazungu” or “white person”. It amazed me that many Masai live off a diet of strictly milk, meat, and blood. Upon arriving at the campsite we were all in awe. It was wonderful, we were perched on a plot of land located the edge of the rim looking out across the entire caldera. It was a great stay though bloody cold. We had been warned that it could get chilly at Ngorongoro however none of use really took it seriously as 30'C is considered cold here. Man were we wrong. It was strange to think that the sight of our own breath suddenly came as something foreign to us and we proceeded to put on every article of clothing that we had brought.
A long and cold night then ensued, followed by a long and only slightly less cold day on the caldera floor. The morning also began with the great surprise of our fan belt snapping which thankfully happened just before we descended into the crater.
Ima, our guide, looked out on the steaming hood turned around and stated, “I’ll be right back, maybe 10 minutes”, he then got into another passing vehicle and went to find the mechanic. An hour or so later and we were back on the road though and the day went well with the highlight of seeing some lions that were laying right next to the road seemingly waiting for us to come “ooo” and “aah” at them. A common misconception among tourists is that this site is called the “Ngorongoro Crater” though in fact it is a caldera, very different geographical landforms people and if I didn’t tell you who would? In all it was a great day and after another five hours of driving we were back at our hotel in Arusha waiting to take the 6AM bus the next morning for another 10 hour return trip back to Dar. In total I think I calculated that we drove for almost 60 hours on our 6-day Safari.. we promptly vowed to not get into anything with wheels for at least 3 days following our return.
Well that’s our safari guys, thanks for reading,
we love you, be well, and you will hear from us again soon!
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