Tuesday, December 15, 2009

O! - M! - G!

UH! So, I don't really know where to begin. It is always kind of a rush here on the computers for one reason or another and I swear it just takes so long sometimes to put the words together. Every time I do a post I log off only to think of about 10 other things I should have said. But - here goes.

I just came back from 4 really amazing days of safari. I think on my last post I told you about how everything just kind of came together for me to book my safari. I was a little reluctant but I just decided on a whim to book it instead of spending days going from tour company to tour company looking for a trip. As a solo traveler it is exponentially harder to book things like safari tours. Many companies shy away from grouping people together that don't know each other and also people are on different travel schedules and want to go to different places. Also to do a tour on my own would be incredibly expensive. So I just went ahead booked the first tour that came my way and I am telling you now, there is no way possible that I could have ended up on a better tour.

First great thing, the thing that can make or break a safari. I got paired up with 4 of the best travel companions I could imagine. I could not have imagined before hand what great people they would be. There were 5 of us on tour plus our guide/driver our cook and a whole lotta stuff, all crammed into one medium size Land Rover. Travel companions - Bev, a 25ish girl from England, Thymon(?) from Holland, and Lase and Cecilie, really cute couple from Denmark. They were my first travel friends so it was hard to see them all leave today. They were all pretty much at the end of their travels so they were a wealth of information to get me on my way with my travels. We had a lot of fun together, lot of great conversation, lots of joking around, we really never ran out of things to talk and laugh about. And we really just all seemed to be similar types of travelers. We are all backpackers, they have all traveled a lot and were very interesting people.

We did pretty much one of the typical circuit tours of northern Tanzania. The first morning we, the three singles, met Lase and Cecilie at out campsite just outside of Myanara National Park. Had a great breakfast then headed into the park. This was my first safari experience so everything was exciting. We saw baboons, giraffes, zebras, warthogs (with 3 cute little babies), an enormous lake filled with flamingos. The tour company sends along box lunches for us. We stopped at a little picnic spot not too far from the Lake Myanara, the huge lake filled with flamingos. There was a huge sandy beach like area leading up to the lake. As we were having lunch a whole family of giraffes slowly made there way across the beach in front of us. They move so slowly and gracefully it just makes it seem all that much more surreal.

Then the next day, the day I have been waiting for years, we drove to Serengeti National Park. The day before Paul, our cook, had not been with us. But this day, because we were moving to a new campsite, we had to take him plus ALL of our stuff - tents, sleeping gear, cooking gear, food, everything. They load most of it on top of the land rover but we were still completely crammed into the truck. If you could see how they drive here plus what the mountainous roads look like you would get how claustrophobic it was to be on top of each other for the 6 hour drive to Serengeti. We were totally dreading it but we really ended up having lots of fun. We drove up and over green lush mountains. This area is home to the Massai tribe. They are the nomadic herding tribe of this area. It is really crazy to see them all along the road herding their goats or cattle. They wear very colorful clothes wrapped around themselves but they wear 4 or 5 at a time wrapped in various ways and it is really hard to tell how they keep them on. The women have tons of large earrings running all down the sides of their ear lobes. We saw some boys who I guess were going through their circumcision. At about maybe 12 they are circumcised then they have to go off on their own and take care of themselves for some really long period of time. During that time their faces are painted like black and white masks and they are really kind of creepy looking.

So then you come down out of the mountains and there you are in the Serengeti plains. A totally different landscape. It is so flat the horizon seems go on forever. We had all of our things and our camp is in the middle of the park so even after we arrived we still had lots of driving just to get to where we would set up. We set up in a group camp where there were maybe 3 or 4 other groups set up. So this is the real deal. We are in lion country and we are camping. The cooking structure and the place where we ate were made of cement with really strong wire caging to keep the animals out. But the tents, it was just us surrounded by a little canvas. Bev and I shared a tent and we were pretty much terrified. But I have to admit it was pretty exciting. Once we dropped our stuff we still had time for an evening game drive. Once again the luck was with us. We saw a group of lions very close to the road just lounging around. We stopped to watch them. We had the windows rolled down and all of the roof open. One of the cubs (she was a BIG cub, maybe almost a year old) is bored and gets very curious about us and starts walking up to the truck. We were freaking out but the driver did not move. She came right up to the truck and started clawing at the spare tire and biting at it. At this point I was hovered down in the truck and, from what my team mates said, saying a few obscenities. Of course the guys just thought it was cool and they were snapping away taking pictures. I was positive she was going to jump on the top which we had totally open at the time. Our thought she was just walking behind us, he had not realized she was tearing apart the cover to the spare tire. I can not imagine I will ever again be that close to a lion. Later we saw a beautiful leopard lounging in a tree while her cub was running all around the branches playing. And there was so much more - elephants (whole families), zebras, giraffes, tons of wildebeest, I really can't even remember it all. And then back to camp for our night of the real deal. We really weren't even suppose to get out of our tents at night because the hyenas and sometimes lions walk through at night. WHAT!!!! It was weird because after being so up close and personal with the lion earlier I really wasn't that scared anymore. They just seemed more playful and docile than anything else. I am sure if they are hungry that is a different story. OH, I forgot we had also seen two lions stalking a group of zebras and hyenas. The lions started to run at the pack but that all ended abruptly when a group of stupid tourists came flying up in the their land rover ridiculously close to the lions just so they could get a better picture. I guess there are idiots everywhere.
OK this is just the beginning cliff notes on my last few days but it is not a good idea to be out here at night in Arusha so I should be heading back to the hostel.
I am headed to the island of Zanzibar tomorrow. All my travel companions have gone but hopefully more to come.
I am still trying to work out how to call from the states to my cell phone so as soon as I work it out I will post the info.
I know this all sounds wonderful but I have still been living a very sheltered life since I have been here. Today was the beginning of my solo travels here in Africa and I assure you it is not to be taken lightly. You always have to on your guard here and it is always just a little scary. Even my safari team, a group of well experienced travelers, say Africa it a tough place to travel. But I will take it day by day and step by step.
Next post from Zanzibar.
Over and out.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! You're killing me with these posts. I'm so envious! Sounds great!

    Snow here today. Roads are crappy, but driveable. (Sounds like your riding is a bit uncomfortable. I always thought a safari was a hunt!)

    Glad to hear from you. Was getting a bit worried.

    Love You!!! Dad