So again we managed to get a bit behind on our blogposts. Our travel in Tanzania was rather high paced, and the places where we did have some time left, we were plagued by lack of internet and/or electricity. But finally we reached a place to relax, and have somewhat usable internet so now we’re playing catchup. Expect the following post soon!
So last post we were on Zanzibar and had booked a flight on a 13 seater Cessna for less than the combination bus/ferry would have cost. So we said our goodbyes to the island and went to the airport, with a stop on the way to see the red Colobus monkey, which is unique to Zanzibar.
And then we had our flight, which was quite fun. We were with only six people on this plane. The plane was going from Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam and then from Dar es Salaam to Arusha, safari capital of Tanzania. Because you sat right behind the pilot you could see exactly what the guy was doing. At some point he was just reading a book… But it was also interesting to see him enable the radar when there were storm clouds ahead so he could manoeuvre around the most turbulent parts. And it also was nice to be informed personally by the pilot that the plane was delayed because they were still fuelling, and to even have someone waiting for us with umbrellas after landing. It was a fun experience.
From Arusha we immediately went on a 4 day safari to Lake Manyara, the Serengeti, and the Ngorongoro crater. While Zanzibar was a little bit disappointing, the safari exceeded expectations. From the lush forests around lake Manyara teeming with elephants to the vast savanna of the Serengeti to the beautifully green Ngorongoro crater: the scenery was breathtaking. And we were able to see almost everything: elephants, giraffes, zebras, wildebeasts, hyenas, leopards, cheetahs, lions, rhinos, hippos, buffalos and much more.
Lake Manyara NP:
What surprised us was how close you could actually get to most of these animals. Sitting only a couple of metres from a bunch of lions feeding on a wildebeest is quite thrilling. Also, camping in the Serengeti was very exciting. The campsite was unfenced, so walking to the toilet at night and seeing a whole bunch of eyes reflecting in the beam of your flashlight staring at you is quite scary. Hearing buffalos walking within a couple of metres from your tent at night, hearing the sound of hyenas from afar. Camping in the Serengeti was amazing.
What was quite interesting was how all this was organized. Of course a LOT of people do safari here (and with reason) and everybody is travelling around with a 4×4, a guide and a cook. So at the campsites there is this kitchen where all the cooks cook the meals for the different groups at their own brought along gas stove with their own brought along ingredients. And there is a building where everybody eats what their cook prepared for them, while all sitting on different chairs, drinking from different glasses, using a different table cloth. Quite funny to see. Our cook was really good, because looking around our food usually looked the best, and we usually got the biggest plate of (freshly popped) popcorn at tea time.
After the safari we went back to Arusha. Here we stayed at a funky lounge bar / guesthouse aimed at Tanzanian people but started by some Belgian guy. This was a great experience. The staff was really great. They didn’t have vegetarian items on the menu, but after the first night the cook wrote down some different vegetarian options for us every day to choose from. The owner has been a volunteer in the past so he made friends in a Maasai village which he showed us because he wanted us to see the real Maasai life and not something put up for tourists, which was something we really enjoyed. The Maasai really live with nature. No electricity, no water (not even a borehole), just herding their cattle. The Masaai have a lot of traditions. They live in a ‘Boma’, which is like a coompund for one family. The Boma is in the middle of nature, hidden away in the bush. The fence of the Boma is made from branches with thorns, to keep out the wildlife, like hyena’s. Within the Boma the women have their own huts and the men can choose in which hut they sleep. At some festivities they drink the blood of a cow, straight from the still alive cow, which is punctured with an arrow, which makes a hole to drink from. As a welcome they sing and jump for the visitors. They sleep on cowhide. The toothbrush, toothpaste and soap is straight from the nature. It’s a life so vastly different from what we are used to, it was really interesting to witness this.
And another day the Tanzanian manager showed us around town. It was a really nice guy, and even though there is not a whole lot of interest to see in Arusha (mostly the museum, the Coca Cola sponsored clock tower that marks the midway point between Cairo and Cape Town, and the market), we had a very enjoyable day.
From here we travelled back south towards Malawi. But this is for the next post.