Thursday 2/23 Springland’s Hotel On Safari
It almost seems anticlimactic after our mountain adventure to be back in the hotel having a huge buffet breakfast with eggs to order, but we needed the rest and recovery. We really didn’t need to be in a rush (nobody is in a rush in Africa). We were to meet our driver for a briefing @ 9:30 African time. Who knows what time we will leave?
After our leisurely breakfast, we headed back to the room to finish packing our bags and prepare to check out of the hotel for a few days. All my cold weather stuff got packed in my big dry bag for checking here at the hotel. I needed extra space so I filled up my backpack for checking too. I was finding all this stuff that I could have used on the mountain such as heavy tights and fleece tops. Oh well, I survived without them. I still have a huge bag to take on safari. Remember we still have to pack all our sleeping and camping gear but no worry about weight this time, we will be carrying everything by vehicle.
We met our new crew which was a driver (Dousan) and a cook (Joyce) threw our gear into the vehicle and off we went. Our vehicle was a Land Rover which seated 7 which had a huge luggage rack on top and a pop up top that we used to shoot pictures from. We hit the road something like 9:30 and headed into Moshi for supplies, at the ATM, gas and some groceries.
The road to our first Park (Tarangire) was a paved road and the same one we came into town on from the airport. We passed through a much bigger city called Arusha and much more modern than Moshi, with a lot of hustle and congestion. It also happens to be the geo-center of Africa. It was a hot ride, and we all had several liters of bottled water to guzzle.
We stopped for lunch at a very nice tourist shop and ate our box lunches (like on the mountain…. same fare each day) outside in a shaded picnic area. Afterwards we did some shopping. I really wasn’t in the mood to buy, but several things caught my eye. Our driver said we would return here on our way back to Moshi.
On down the road we went, passing barren plains with Masi tribes herding skinny cattle and goats to few and far between ponds for watering. We see dust storms (dust devils) swirling in the distance. As I may have mentioned, they have not had any appreciable rain since December but the rainy season is approaching.
Along the way, we stop again. I think our driver is addicted to coke cola and cigarettes. This is what he stops for. (a cigarette break). While we are stopped, our vehicle is mobbed again by women and children trying to sell us souvenirs. They, the women, were practically jumping into the vehicle to pressure us to buy. One woman says to me, “oh come on pa pa, help a Maasai woman!” I learned early to say no in Swahili (hapana) and if you say this emphatically they back away, not like if you just say No! Still it is hard to refuse them. They are so poor and the trinkets are so cheap. Again, remembrances of an earlier time when I was in Mexico as a student.
Not long after our last stop we turn off the main highway (A104) on to a gravel road which will take us to the park entrance past many Masi villages with all these little kids roadside just sitting there waving to us as we powered past them. The conditions they live in look very primitive and I’m sure that they are dependent on the tourist dollar.
We soon arrive at the park entrance and I’m thinking, “man it’s hot”. It is feeling like 80’s to 90’s and dry.
We are entering the park and eager to see what this whole safari thing is all about. Our guide has to sign us in and pay the fees. All our park fees, meals etc. are covered in our contracted agreement with Zara Tours.
As we drive into the park, we are now bumping and jumping on the dirt roads kicking up dust as we go. We will be passing many other vehicles like ours and the windows go up when we see one approaching and as the dust clears, the windows come down. “Oh, no air conditioning”?
It wasn’t long, before Dousan leads us to the wildlife. I’m sure he’s been here many times before. We spot wildlife birds, waterbucks, wildebeests, baboons, antelope, and later zebra (all over the place) elephants, giraffes, and wart hogs. When we drive along the roads we encounter vehicles coming in the opposite direction. Our driver stops and they converse in their language to see if they have spotted anything unusual that will thrill us or make the “book” for the Big Five. (Lion, Rhino, Elephant, Leopard, Hippo)
Not long after many stops and pictures galore. “Oh, another zebra, another giraffe, another elephant, no big deal!” We get a report that there are lions. Our driver, picks up the pace and we make a turn onto a road swinging us by a river (looks like a creek).
There are a half dozen Rovers there parked as we approach. Lions! Up close and personal.
We are close to a male and female in the shade on a hot day. How close? 20 feet maybe! We get our fill of camera opportunities as our guide tells us it is mating season and they have probably just mated. We make jokes about cigarettes, but they are really just not bothered by our presence and are in their own world, literally! We spotted six in this location. I guess this is a very opportune sighting. We never saw a lion on any of our other trips.
The trees are spectacular, particularly the very old Baobab. These trees are a symbol of Africa.
Bill and I both had to replace batteries in our cameras. I’m in conservation mode and Bill keeps snapping away. A problem he regrets later. I am already thinking of saving for the Maasai Villiage.
Back to camp at 5:30 and arrived at 6:30 PM. A big difference here rather than on the mountain is the convenience of having camp near a town and the ability of having a beer run. Ooo wa! We run into town for beer. Dousan drives us no more than a mile into town to a bar where we buy 10 Kili’ to a bar he knows where we can get some cold beer. It reminds me of Korea! Very busy very tight, dirty, poor and people everywhere. We get weird looks, as the Three Mwazungus come to town. (Swahili for redneck American)
Joyce has dinner waiting for us. Table, tablecloth, plastic chairs with a table set for us. This is camping? At 10:30 after dining there are some birds still chirping and cricket sounds, with far away dogs barking in some village.
We enjoyed a great dinner of Leek soup, potatoes, broiled fish (good) kind of like tilapia, a vegetable sauce that I put on my potatoes with a diced salad and of course Kili beer.
Afterwards I headed for the showers and the shitter. It was still 82 degrees outside and the tents we had were big enough to stand up in. With nice fluffy mattress pads, I’m wondering how this is camping? Oh sleep! I’m in the tent w/ Craig and more space than we know what to do with.
Tomorrow is another new day and new adventure. We are headed to Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Maasai village. I understand that it is in a crater and there are new animals we haven’t seen yet and a very popular destination because the animals stay in there and can’t migrate. Kind of captivated! Close at 10:30PM
Next Day 2 safari