The following is the conclusion of my journal entries during our trip to Tanzania. Most of this is from our time on safari in the Serengeti.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Friday was great.Yesterday sucked. Our travel on Friday was pretty minimal. We took the dala dala to Dodoma where we caught a bus to Morogoro. It was hard saying goodbye to Chamwino, and especially to Pastor Daniel and Nasson. They have been with us every day in Chamwino and are great new friends. We will miss them dearly.
Our time in Morogoro was short, but amazing. We have an acquaintance in Seattle named Yonah, and we stayed the night at his mother's house. She is a college professor and is quite wealthy. Her house was immaculate. We had a great meal, a nice bed, a clean bathroom, and we all got to sit outside and enjoy a fantastic lightning storm. Couldn't have been a better night.
Yesterday was not good though. We had a 10 hour bus ride on a terrible bus. There was no leg room and it was incredibly hot. The bus company had said there would be AC, but it just blew out warm air the whole trip. And worst of all, once we got to Arusha, we realized that gasoline had spilled all over our bags that were under the bus. Now our bags smell awful and most of our clothes are stained and smelly. Looks like I will be wearing the same shorts for the next 6 days.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Well, our 3-night, 4-day safari is over, and was a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. Absolutely incredible. On Sunday we took off for the Serengeti. While we were driving all day, it wasn't tiring or boring because we were seeing animals for most of the trip. After driving past the Ngorogoro Crater, you enter the flat lands of the Serengeti and start seeing more animals than you ever thought existed. We would come to areas where there were thousands and thousands of zebras and wildebeests, stretching as far as you could see. Truly awesome. We also saw a lot of giraffes. At one point we got off the main road onto some side trails. We didn't know where we were going, but what we would see was incredible. We drove over to a tree, and under the tree, basking in the shade, were 2 cheetahs, no more than 10 feet from us. After leaving the cheetahs we saw a bunch of jeeps sitting by another tree. Underneath was a lion that had recently killed and eaten a zebra. She still had blood all over her mouth and was stuffed to the gills with zebra meat. That night we camped out in tents in the middle of the Serengeti. AWESOME!
Monday was the day for lions and elephants. We got up early to be out driving as the sun broke the horizon. Soon after, we came across an area of rocks where 9 lions where hanging out. That was so awesome. Two were male and 7 were female. Some were walking around, some were sitting up tall, and some were laying in the sun. Then a really special thing happened. We drove a little ways down the road and came across the head hauncho, the king of the jungle. Perched about 15 feet up on a rock, sat a massive male lion, overlooking his kingdom. He was enormous, with the big, round mane surrounding his face. He looked so majestic and regal upon his throne. This might have been the coolest thing I saw on safari!
After lunch we started heading back toward the Ngorogoro Crater. We had been seeing elephants here and there, but when we got to the rest area at the border between the Serengeti and Ngorogoro, we got to see elephants up close and personal. There were about 10 elephants hanging out at the rest area, no more than 100 feet away from the people. It was so fun to watch them up close, and to get some great video of them. Since it was really hot, the girls decided to go sit in the shade by the bathrooms. All of a sudden the elephants decided to move, though, so they took off running toward the bathroom. Mandy and Nicole had their backs turned, but heard a rustling and turned just in time to watch the elephants run by just 10 feet from where they were sitting. They were scared in the moment, but now have an experience they will never forget.
That night we camped on the cliff overlooking the Ngorogoro Crater. It was a stunning view. After dinner our guide pulled us aside to show us something breathtaking. Right outside the cooking area was a large water tank for the camp to use. To our surprise, a giant elephant was drinking from the tank. He was no more than 20 feet from us and I think us and our guide were the only people in camp who knew he was there.
Tuesday we woke up to a beautiful sunrise, and again, after breakfast, our elephant friend visited the water tank. It was cool to see him so close again, this time in the light. He didn't leave right away after he was done drinking, though, but chose to wander around camp a bit. A dog at camp didn't like that, though, and began barking to chase him off. The two animals started a little battle where the dog would try to scare the elephant, and then the elephant would chase him down a bit. One of the times the elephant charged, Nicole was sort of in his path and she got spooked. But she was pretty proud of having that story to tell in the future.
The rest of the day was spent in the Crater. Most of the animals were ones we had seen a lot of already, but it was really fun to see a rhino, which we hadn't seen yet. That afternoon we made our way into a small town where we stayed in a crappy hotel for the night.
Wednesday was our fourth and final day of safari, but was pretty relaxed. We spent about 4 hours driving around Lake Manyara. It was fun to see the animals, but most were repeats. It was fun to see a ton of baboons, though, and to see a lot of hippos actually out of the water. We made our way back to Arusha that afternoon, had a great meal at a nice restaurant, talked with Brian and Nicole in our hotel room for hours, and then hit the sack.
Today we had a ten hour bus ride from Arusha to Dar es Salaam. The bus was the nicest we've ridden so far, but it was so hot out that we were still miserable. I'm now writing this journal entry from a great hotel in Dar. It is nice to have a great shower and a clean room. We are going to spend tomorrow laying on a beach on the Indian Ocean. Should be a nice, relaxing way to spend the end of our trip. This may be my last entry of the trip, since we just have a few relaxing days left, followed by 20 hours of plane rides. We have a 5 1/2 hour layover in Amsterdam, so we will probably leave the airport to quickly see the city. See you soon!