Safari In East Africa

Trip Start Jun 20, 2003
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Trip End Mar 01, 2004


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Saturday, August 2, 2003

Safariing in East Africa was everything we had hoped for. The plains stretched on forever and we saw more animals than we could believe: countless numbers of giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, and antelope. We also saw an amazing 18 lions, not to mention two amazing cheetahs and one beautifully silent leopard. In fact, we managed to see the Big Five (elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard) in a single game drive!

But we had to start off in the place that seems to only breed touts, Nariobi. Nairobi is a dirty, polluted, dangerous city. The minute that we stepped off the plane to the minute we were secure in our safari vehicle, we were being harassed. The touts are amazingly fierce and persistent, and will wait for you while you eat dinner if you simply say "maybe later" or will find you in impossibly crowded streets hours after you have blown them off. We left as quickly as we could.

We headed off to Lake Nakuru first, renowned for its pink flamingos. And it was a beautiful sight, to look upon the lake and see a sea of pink! They actually let us out of the vehicle that time so we could just walk along the lakeside and enjoy not just the sight but the stinky smell of tens of thousands of flamingos. The other thing that Lake Nakuru is famous for is their rhinos, which is one of the harder of the Big Five Animals to see. It was a beautiful and impressively large creature that could have easily tossed our flimsy safari vehicle at anytime, but we were able to get within 10 feet of one.

The highlight of the safari was Maasai Mara. The Serengeti and Maasai Mara are actually a single wildlife park called different names because one is in Tanzania and the other in Kenya. The animals don't make that distinction, though, and the great wildebeest migration was on! Hundreds of thousands of wildebeest make the migration from Tanzania to Kenya every year to get to better grazing land. And along the way, the predators follow them preying on the young, the old, and the weak. So that means the cats follow them.

Sharad's favorite part of the whole trip was the cheetah's dinner. We missed the actual kill, but we witnessed the horrific and violent process of eating. It was gross, but in a very cool sort of way. The cheetah was calmly eating, and then when he had his fill, he majestically rose up, looked around, and walked away. Then the vultures swooped in. There were at least 10 vultures that basically annihilated the remains of the carcass. And that was just disgusting to watch and smell. Sharad loved it though and I am sure will post the grossest picture we managed to get.

After days of camping we were ready for some luxury as we headed off to a hotel in Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania. Ngorogoro Crater is an old volcano that has collapsed in on itself leaving this rich valley that is filled with amazing wildlife. The view from the rim is spectacular and it just can't be described in words or captured in pictures. You must all go.

We've finally had our fill of safariing, and so we're off for some R&R at the beautiful tropical island of Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania.

-Susan
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