Mikumi Safari and Udzungu National Park

Trip Start Jan 14, 2007
Trip End Aug 01, 2007

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Where I stayed
Genesis Motel

Flag of Tanzania  ,
Monday, March 12, 2007

This weekend was my first safari experience in Tanzania, (but not my first african safari experience, went to South Africa in March05).  So I went down to the southwest of Dar to Mikumi National park for a day then to Udzungu National park for some hiking and waterfall watching.  Shari and I booked a budget tour with our own driver/guide, Fikiri (which incidently means "to think" in Kiswahili) drove us down to the park from Dar and we stayed at the Genesis motel, sort of like a Motel 8 on the side of the road next to the national park.  The dirve was long, bumpy and wet as the rains started up as we were trying to navigate our way out of the city..the truck did not have a/c but the rain was so hard we had to roll up the windows, so true to form I was sweating and panicked because we were dodging cars and potholes and if Elana and Darcy are reading this you know how I am in the passenger seat ha ha ..yet Fikiri, our rasta driver looked cool and calm listening to his Bob Marley tape. We finally get out of the storm and the sun comes back out as we approach the countryside which I am just amazed by the view as I have been stuck in the city for so long. I have to keep remembering that TZ's main economy is agriculture (coffee, sugar, grain and tobacco) and its gotta grow somewhere right..I guess its if you are unfamiliar with the geopgraphy you only know what you can see.  Anyway we finally made it to Mikumi around 5PM, just in time for a quick drive through the park to try and catch some animals just off the main road..we managed to spot some elephants, giraffes and buffalo in the distance.  At the hotel, we had some rice, veggies and fish and some nice potato leek soup, we met up with a young Israeli couple who are travelling around Africa for 12 months, the girl all of 22 just got out of the army, her boyfriend is a one of those permanent travelling types.  It was nice to hear some of their experiences both good and bad..they have purchased a car and make their way by driving other backpackers from place to place and collecting gas and food money..they basically sleep in the car or a tent..sounds fun umm for like a minute but for me I prefer my bed. Next day we took an early morning game drive throughout the park, able to track some lions, giraffe, elephant, baboon, buffalo, wildbeest, it was awesome because of the season we got to see a lot of babies like a 2 week old giraffe so cute-- I also practiced my Kiswhaili with Fikiri,
My new words
poa kichisi kama ndizi = cool like a banana (or what we know as cool as a cucumber)

Well after an 'exhausting' dirve watching animals, I know tough life, we had a nice lunch and got back on the road towards Udzungu Natiuonal Park, mountains and rainforest (they call is Africa's Galapogos) lots of birds and mokeys. This drive was interesting as we left the comforts of the paved road and took an earth road crossing over many one lane bridges the whole way..I think Fikiri actually was driving faster on this road than the other one.  All along the road you see nothing but farm land lots of sugar cane, tobacco and coffee, but no matter how desolate you think the place is almost the whole time you see people walking along the side of the roads, or riding bicycles carting wood or mangos or water jugs. I saw tons of school children walking holding huge buckets of water on their heads -- its crazy as you never know how far they have to actually go before they reach their village..and all for just one bucket full of water..could you imagine? As I watch them walk in the 90 degree sun.I have a pit in my stomach thinking about my 2 showers a day and flushing my toilet.  But I digress, we arrive at a hotel run by the sam ecompany as the last one in Mikumi, we take a rest and go for a walk through the neighboring village.  It was so great as Saturday evening church was going on and we hung out and listened to the church choir sing gospel outside on the grass.  Of course Shari and I had our own child following and Shari took some pictures of the kids and then showed them the shots on the digital they loved it and laughed out loud looking at the screeen..and they all practice their English with us "good morning" seems to be the popular saying they all know..even though it was 5PM..very cute.  We walked around a bit of course I stopped to take lots of pictures of a baby goat (mbuzi) and the whole town including Fikiri thought it so strange that I was petting the goat and saying it was cute..look at the pic though and you will agree I am sure of it.  We had a beer and then headed back for dinner and to bed.  We were up early on Sunday and went for a really nice hike up into the rainforest to the Sanje Falls, the hike was great but I was slightly concerned that I was huffing and puffing, sweating and just generally felt out of shape despite my daily gym sessions back in Dar..this is not a good sign for my Kili trip in June..have to step up the workouts!  We got to see some monkeys playing up high in the trees and then had a nice break by the waterfalls, it was just so nice to be in another place for a while..and the view was amazing.  So after lunch and more hanging out with the kids, I gave them a pack of my bite sized oreos (my Dad had them sent over from NC Walmart) and although appreciative I think they thought I was giving them like something from the moon..they were so confused as to what these little black things were with white stuff in the middle..you have to see the picture to understand..ahh back to dar and another harrowing drive..this time Shari passed out in the back and of course I stayed up chatting with Fikiri, some of you know how much I love my guides!
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