Day 210 - The Best Laid African Plans

Trip Start Jan 10, 2011
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Trip End Jan 08, 2012


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Where I stayed
In An Oddly Shaped Square Tent

Flag of Tanzania  ,
Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The foibles of African planning were revealed even before we started our Safari. We met our driver/guide, Hamis, who took us to the bus station.  He wasn't nearly as knowledgeable about the bus we were booking as had been assured but he advised us well none the less.  It turns out the bus did NOT run where the organizer had said it did – a real "you can’t get there from here" situation.  

We took Hamis’ advice and didn’t book a bus based on a) the bus was not going where we needed it to go b) the pick-up was going to be unreliable in his experience and c) we would be arriving in a remote foreign African city after dark with no prior arrangements.  Um… no.  That would not be a good idea.  Disappointed in the logistics that seemed to definitely be a negotiable constraint we resigned ourselves to returning to Arusha to catch the bus to Mwanza.  We were not thrilled about a separate 15hr bus ride but as Eli is fond of saying: 'Welcome to Africa’ (he actually has said that in just about every country we’ve been in – sort of the flip side to ‘When in Rome’). 

We exchanged introductions with our, and now delayed, safari companions: a Dutch couple and 2 Israeli guys.  We stopped again for tour and personal supplies at a grocery store and then hit the road.  After about 45min on the literal asphalt road we got a flat tire.  With the Israeli guy’s eagerly assisting, the change was both fast and funny.

First stop was Tarangire National Park.  This savannah had longer grass and very interesting Balboa trees.  These trees had very wide trunks which we only about 15-20m tall.  Then a web of thin branches seemed to burst from the trunk.  (It reminded us of the trees we saw in Northland New Zealand).  The locals say that these trees were planted upside down – the branches really do look like roots, particularly in this dry season without leaves.

The real draw in Tarangire is the elephants.  Having seen many in the Masai Mara we were surprised at the number of pachyderms we saw.  The elephants we saw in Nepal must have been in upper percentile of age/size as they are ‘supposed’ to be smaller than African elephants.  It was amazing to get really close to these intelligent and sensitive creatures including a lot of juveniles and a few babies.

It was incredible to learn that Elephants will linger near a family member that has died; even covering the body with branches. Even more remarkable is that they will remember the site and will pause ‘in memorial’ whence they return.

We also saw some baboons, some giraffes with darker coats and a lion that was sleeping though the view was far away.  In Tanzania it seems that they have significantly less freedom than in Kenyan parks to wander off the tracks and thus get really close to all the animals. 

Our group bonded quickly with cultural differences being explored and explained amid the common ground of (virtually) universal humour.  We arrived at our camp with the tents set up.

Ours was an oddly shaped square tent that required contortions to remain inside but we made the best of being ‘welcomed to Africa’.  After a satisfactory dinner Eli shared a scotch with one of the Israeli’s that he had been carting around before we hit the hay.
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