Camping safari

Trip Start Jul 13, 2006
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29
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Trip End Jul 06, 2007


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Flag of Tanzania  ,
Sunday, November 19, 2006

As soon as we entered Tanzania we noticed something very different: our heads were no longer hitting the roof of the bus (complete with chickens) as we hit pot holes and it seemed on the whole much cleaner than Kenya. I would also add that it felt safer, but we arrived at the Arusha bus terminal just as the sun was setting which it does with a thud at the equator. While we were arranging for a taxi about 20 men had circled around us, just curious and trying to be helpful. We noticed Quinn started twitching his backpack and we asked him if he was nervous later. He said he came up with this strategy to thwart potential thieves from gaining accesss into his pack.
We came here to do another, more economical camping safari. Saba with SOK Safari's was recommended to us through the Perfects. He turned out to be a very jolly guide and we had a great experience with him and had amazing food thanks to Amanie our cook. The culture is such here that Amanie told his girlfriend he was a camp co-ordinator because it isn't cool for men to be cooks here - that's women's work.
On our first morning just outside the park in a villageDeb and I went for a morning run (once weareina game park that wouldn't be an option for fear of being eaten. Within minutes Deb had about 20 girls running with her and I had 20 boys who matched our pace stride for stride for 2kms.Oneof the most enjoyable runs in my life as their energy and enthusiasm was infectious. Each kid carried a stick to school which would be offerred up to help cook their lunch.
We had some early excitement, within the first hour of our day one game park, Deb's throat became constricted and she couldn't breathe. All I could do was encourage her to relax as she understandably started to panic. The whole episode lasted only a couple minutes but it was enough time to get scared. I did manage to work out a few lines of her eulogy - "only consolation, died doing what she loved".
The Ngorongoro crater was like an Eden, a huge breakfast bowl 18 kms across packed full of animals. In the Serengeti because of late rains, the over 1 million wildebeast were still in the far north, but we still saw a ton of animals and some great cat sightings.
Deb had another exciting encounter on this safari when a Kite (think Golden Eagle) dive bombed her while she was eating a sandwich. The bird snatched it from her mouth scratching her lip with it's talons and cutting her finger.
We had been a little nervous about camping in this environment, but we were told before we came that either park rangers stood guard at night with rifles or Maasai with spears would guard your tent. That didn't happen. We had zebra munching grass by our tent and hyena wander through, but nothing too scary that we knew about. We talked with a couple who didn't sleep at all one night as elephants knocked trees down around their tent.
The downside of safaris is that it is very sedentary as you are in a vehicle for hours every day. After 18 days we had also been spectators enough and wanted to get into the action. It's more fun playing football in the park than watching the Lions play.
Our last day on safari was a visit with the Hadzab 'bushmen'. We walked up to their 'huts' and it was like we had just opened up a National Geographic. The 30 people were huddled around a fire trying to get warm in the early morning. Men were sharpening their arrows and putting poison on the tips. We went out with the men to go hunting with bows and arrows. They shot 2 birds and within 5 minutes had started a fire with sticks, plucked, cooked the birds and then ate them. They also shot a baboon their preferred meat, but it had run off. The striking thing for me was how this scene was unchanged(except for us watching) for thousands of years.
We booked with SOK Adventures, check out www.sokadventures.com
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