Safari in Tanzania
February 2-18, 2004

Outpost B&B This year's annual adventure began on an Airbus, the latest in technology with individual movie screens allowing each passenger control over the movie of their choice - sweet. After stops in Detroit and Amsterdam we arrived at Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania. The aerial views of the coast of Italy, the blue Mediteranean, and the endless sands of the Sahara Desert were awe inspiring. The airport we arrived at is halfway between Arusha, the take off point for the Serengheti, and Moshi, the closest point for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. We spent our first night at the Outpost Bed & Breakfast, just outside of Arusha. Even though we thought we were visiting during the dry season, we experienced a couple of strong downpours during the first few days.
Mount Kilimanjaro
Day 2: We visited the town of Arusha which had a large tourist market down one long alley, where I bought a beautifully hand-carved wooden giraffe. While in town, we scheduled an 8-day safari with a company called Shidolya Tours & Safaris. We were fortunate to book a private trip which provided us with more trip control and flexibility in taking photos. Hesbon was our guide and Emanuel our cook. The next 2 nights we stayed at Colebus Inn at the foot of Mount Meru (second in height in Africa to Kilimanjaro). It was very pleasant and we got on well with the German couple who ran it.

Arusha Park
Masssai Giraffes The safari began with a visit to Arusha National Park. This is a small park near our Lodge, which has a wealth of animal populations, including Maasai giraffes, Black & White Colebus Monkeys (endemic to this park), water buffalo, bush bucks, warthogs, zebras and much, much more.

A Black & White Colebus Monkey As we drove through the park in our vehicle we oohed and aahed at our first glimpses of the animals. In the afternoon we took a walking safari. The park guide who led us had a rifle, which he said he had only rarely used in the past to fire warning shots in the air. We saw giraffes and their calves, water buffalo (up closer than I felt comfortable), and a pretty waterfall.

Manyara Park & Lake
Baboons at Manyara Park Day 3 we headed out toward the Serengeti and took a driving safari through Manyara National Park. In addition to African elephants, we saw many new animals here, including the retriculated giraffe (their coloring is different from the maasai giraffe), impala, banded mongoose and a troop of guineafowl. crossing the road. An unusual form of vegetation here was the sausage tree. Apparently the baboons like to eat these vegetable sausages.

Lions take refuge in a tree Flying above we saw West Nile Kingfisher, and on the ground, the plentiful Maribou Stork. Later we drove to the hippo pool and watched as the hippos, opened their mouths wide, then rolled over to cool off. As we left the park, we observed a family of lions in a tree. They prefer the trees at this park due to the ants/termites that infest the ground. Very tall (6 feet+) termite mounds were common.

Twiga Campground near Manyara At dusk we headed back to our campsite at Camp Twiga (Swahili word for giraffe). This was a log-walled campground that was nicely landscaped. Emanuel had prepared a lovely four course dinner for us, served on a folding table with a cloth table cloth. We had soup, a stew and rice, and a wonderful banana dessert.

The Serengeti
Wildebeest on the Serengeti The next morning (day 4) we arose early and hit the road for a long drive to the Serengeti. On our way we drove along the rim of the Ngorongoro crater, which we visited more closely later on. All the views of the crater were impressive as it is 20 kilometers wide. The Serengeti, on the other hand, is a very flat plain. Secretary Bird on the Serengeti On the way to our camp we caught a glimpse of the migration which was relatively thin at this time of year. All the same it was impressive to see thousands of wildebeest (aka gnus), zebra, and other animals running together. Another sight on the drive in was a secretary bird, which has a headpiece reminiscent of a bun with pencils sticking out. Other birds seen this day were the tawney eagle, yellow-billed stork, and the kori bustard.

Twiga Campground near Manyara Just before arriving at camp for the night, we encountered a pride of female lions with a few cubs. It was amazing how close they would allow the vehicle to approach - within a few feet. Back at camp we pitched our tent under the nests of some weaver birds, who provided wake-up music in the morning. The Crowned Crane

Day 5: We took a game drive after breakfast. We saw several female lions kill a stork (see video on main web page). We also saw a leopard sleeping on the branch of a large tree. It was fairly distant but you could make out the limbs of the leopard dangling from the branch. Judi posing by a Candelabra tree The sighting of a pair of Crowned Cranes (the national bird of Uganda) made for stunning photos and viewing. Next we spent some time at the Serengeti nature center which had some interesting exhibits. We made the interpretted hike around a kopjie (pronounced ko'-pe) where we saw some cute hyrax which are medium- sized rodents. I posed for a photo by a Candlelabra tree.

Ndutu Our campsite at Ndutu
In the afternoon we traveled to Ndutu, a more remote section of the Serengeti. On the way to our campsite we saw a saddle-billed stork among thousands of pink flamingos. Our campsite, described as "special", was what I would call primitive, but it was actually both. Aside from our guide and cook, we were alone. We pitched our tent under an Acacia tree and had a romatic dinner while viewing a spectacular sunset. We also had a full moon at night, making flashlights unnecessary. Zebas in all their stripes During the night we could hear the braying of the zebras as they traversed the migration path. They were close enough for ambience but far enough away to allow us to rest without the fear they would trample the tent. Regarding zebras, I must say they are a most unusual beast. When seen in the daylight, you would swear that their stripes are painted on - but is it black on white, or vice versa?
Chuck & the newborn Gnu (Wildebeest) The morning of day 6 brought us a couple of unexpected surprises. First, Emanual brought us a bowl of deliciously warm water to wash up with. It is amazing how good clean hair feels when you are out in the dusty bush for several days. Then after breakfast, just as we were packing up, a newborn gnu came wandering into our campsight, clearly lost. He bleated loudly as he made the rounds to each of us asking "are you my mother?" After determining in turn, that none of us were related to him, he wandered off.

A jackal on the Serengeti We spent the remainder of the morning exploring the area surrounding Lake Ndutu. There were several sets of lions pairing up. This was the first time we had seen a male lion. Afterwards we headed back out into the migration trail where we saw hyenas, jackals, Thompson gazelles, elands, a pair of cheetahs, and a leopard tortoise crossing the road (really!). We had lunch at Olduvai (pronounced old-u-pie) where Louis and Mary Leakey did archeological studies for 50 years.

Maasai woman In the afternoon we paid a visit to a local Maasai village called a boma. It is a village consisting of mud huts built in a circle with an Acacia-thorn fence surrounding it to keep the wild animals out and the domestic goats in. Maribou Stork at Ngorongoro campsite Many of the villagers are artisans (who of course, sell their wares), but the young man who escorted us around was a student at Arusha University. By sunset we arrived at the rim of the Ngorongoro crater where we camped for the night. We had to share the campsite with several Maribou storks and one loner elephant who munched trees at the forest's edge.

Ngorongoro Crater Ostriches at Ngorongoro
We spent day 7 traversing this large crater. It contains a nearly isolated animal population who do not migrate like their Serengeti counterparts. Our first sighting were several ostriches (yes, the females are the more drab ones). Hippo Pool We also saw lots of zebra, wildebeest, warthogs (they kneel to eat), and an occasional hyena. At one point we stopped at the Hippo pool and were amused by the antics of these large beasts. Warthog The crater also contained several prides of lions and we stopped to watch them, too. We had lunch on the shores of Lake Magadi in the crater bed. It seemed like every other safari vehicle was stopped there too. In fact the birds liked it also, as one large hawk swooped down to grab a piece of chicken out of my hand. I felt his claw but would not relinguish my food! Another more friendly type of bird was also there - the guineafowl.
Cheetah Later in the day we had a spectacular sighting of a group of four cheetahs. At first they were off in the distance and we had little hope that they would move. We watched through our binoculars as they slowly rose and methodically ambled in our direction. They came right up to the five vehicles whose passengers had their eyes glued on the large cats as they strutted a path through the vehicles to the other side of the road. Wow!

After a full day of animal watching, our vehicle climbed the crater walls to camp for the night at a remote location at a higher (and colder) elevation (~9000 ft). Day 8, I took a guided hike to the rim of another crater to see the Munge River. I hiked to the edge of a very pretty waterfall. From that vantage point I could only see the first part of the drop which was very scenic. Back at camp Emanual made the Tanzanian version of pizza for lunch. It was mostly vegetables (mushrooms, carrots, onions, a little cheese, but very little sauce). After lunch we headed to our next and last campsite, the Wild Palm, which was located near Tarangire park.

Tarangire Park
Sign at Tarangire Park Day 9: This was the last park we visited on our safari. Built within the last year, the visitors center was very beautiful. It included a viewing platform built around a Baobab tree which provided a good vantage point to observe the surrounding plains. We did not see any "new" animals here, but did observe some old favorites, the elephant, maasai giraffe, impala, dik dik (small antelope), water buck, and baboon. African Elephant, the back view In the afternoon we headed back to Arusha where we spent another night at the Colebus Inn to regroup for the next portion of our trip. The next 2 days were spent traveling. First we took a day-long bus trip to Dar es Salaam (the capital of Tanzania). There were many stories of bus accidents, but our trip was thankfully uneventful. After spending the night at the economical "Jambo Inn" not far from the harbor, we took a ferry ride to the island of Zanzibar.

Our quaint hut on the beach Zanzibar is a magical island. We spent the first few days on the east side of the island (a two hour cab ride) in the village of Jambiani. Hand made dugout sailboat We stayed in a little hut at Oasis Inn, a little place right on the beach. We could see the ocean from our window! One day we took a ride in a dug-out sail boat out to the reef, where we went snorkeling. Two locals were the boatmen, and they provided us with coconuts to eat when we surfaced. Being near the equator, the sun was brutual. Our quaint hut on the beach In the afternoon we visited the local park where we saw red Colebus monkeys. They were not as large or furry as their black & white cousins, but they were playful and would allow us to get close. Red Colebus Monkey We also took a hiking tour through a mangrove area. That night, to commemorate my stay I had a henna design applied to my hand by a local woman, who was quite an artist.

A decorative door on Zanzibar After a few days on the beach, we headed back to Stone Town. We took a couple of independent walking tours of the old city during the two days we were there. The streets were narrow, twisty and lined by old stone buildings with massive carved doors. We got lost once or twice, but overall managed well. One afternoon we went on a "Spice Island tour" and saw, tasted, and smelled many types of spices. I brought home some samples. This island was a center for slave trade, and we toured some of slave market locations. At one site there was a very moving memorial.

We opted to fly back to the mainland in a puddle-jumper which allowed for great views of the land and sea below. When we neared Dar, we ended up flying in between two thunderstorms. It was a unique experience, as was this entire trip. Later that night, I flew back to the States. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Tanzania, with all the culture, history, and natural beauty, which I experienced with the help of the knowlegdable and interesting people who live there.
- Judi

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