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Published: July 25th 2008
This little baby took us through the whole of East Africa. Here she is crossing a bridge with a rare species of Australian monkey hanging out the side.
I took the hour long trip to the Kilimanjaro Airport by taxi, and was lucky enough to be driven by a considerate man who called himself ‘Fresh’ (possibly insane) and couldn’t speak English. I know he was considerate because when he saw that I was a whitey, he dug out a cassette of 80’s pop love songs and put it on for me, giving me a knowing smile and turning the volume right up before it even had a chance to begin. It was thanks to Fresh that I had the fortune of spending my last moments in Africa with Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You'' blaring through the speakers. To be honest though, I didn't mind at all.
As we zoomed past those dirt roads of Northern Tanzania, all the regular sights I'd grown accustomed to over my past two months in Africa seemed to be replaying themselves right outside my passenger window. There were kids kicking around their homemade footballs with their bare feet; Maasai men draped in their brilliant red and purple 'shuka' blankets watching their goats and cattle; and women washing their bright and lustrous materials on the side of the road. There were teenage
A-wimba-way, a-wimba-way, a-wimba-way, a-wimba-way.
boys pushing huge wooden wheelbarrows with car tyres for wheels; old women walking around with buckets balanced on their heads with babies tied inside shawls on their back; and potholes so big that after heavy rains, you can find hippos swimming around inside them the next day (I'm joking of course, but some of them were HUGE).
I spent the ride reflecting on my stay in Africa, and thinking about the great people I met, and what a fantastic safari I had with African Trails. I'll just take the chance to write a few words about overlanding with African Trails and why I recommend their safaris to anyone interested in Africa:
First things first, it felt like I was really travelling
, making decisions for myself, rather than some sort of fishbowl tour where the highlights are pointed out from inside the truck. We had to cook, clean, set up our tents, and get out to push if the truck didn't make through the mud. And because it was a fairly small group, we could make concerted plans as to whether we wanted to hang around a campsite or move on from another. It was a hands-on experience which
Are you having a giraffe?
Quiz question: how many bones in the neck of a giraffe?
I was glad to be a part of, especially when I saw other trucks with multiple staff: cooks, cleaners, drivers, tent setter uppers etc. It felt like we were really getting out there and finding out what Africa had to offer, and that is exactly what I had hoped for.
I also can't stress enough how fantastic our driver, Emil, was in getting us from place to place, sorting out mechanical problems, sharing his local knowledge and showing us how to cook Kenyan food. I have a feeling he won't read this, so I can safely warn you not to encourage his singing if you ever meet him, although his rendition of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" is particularly soul searching.
Fantastic company, awesome experience. You'd be mad not to check it out.
I also want to put out an enormous thank you to my Uncle Chris and his family, who made my stay so comfortable and memorable. Their kindness, generosity and gracious hospitality were beyond any expectations I could have imagined. Thank you.
All these thoughts slowly played through my head as I enjoyed my last moments in this fantastic continent and it was with
a certain desolation that I got out of the taxi and passed on my thanks to Fresh for the memorable ride. As I stepped into the airport with the sun setting somewhere over Kilimanjaro behind me, I bade my farewell to Africa and all the people I had met there.
And I was already looking forward to coming back.
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