Trip included safari, Zanzibar and Cape Town.
Photos (best ones) www.crowehome.com/africaphotos
All photos these are categorized by animal or location
My Blog: http://crowehome.com/africa/
We land without incident 24 hours of flying time, and go into the terminal, which was way smaller than my small town airport (Pasco). Hot, there was no air conditioning. We find the line to check in at the VISA/Immigration window. This doesn’t take too long, and they had 2 people working this. I hand over my VISA application form, my $100.00 and my yellow fever certificate letter, as I did not get the shot. Again, processed quickly. Told to go passport line they took our fingerprints, no issues here either. My travel partner realizes that she still has her Visa application in her hand, so takes it back to the guy at the window. He rips it in half and says "This is how important this is"! LOL Get through that, go get our bags, and look around and there is a sign Customs, no declarations. So we head that way and what do we find? The exit door LOL. I wonder if there was a person at Customs with Declaration or another exit door. There awaits several safari guides, we find ours.
His name, we already knew was David. He had his previous week to our safari cancelled, so was nicely rested.
He takes our bags and mentions that it is a one hour drive to Arusha and the lodge and we might want to use the facilities before we go. So we head to the ladies restroom and I see my big fear, the squat toilet! UGH. Luckily there were two other regular toilets, we use the facility and off we go. The drive was in the dark as it was 9pm or so, good thing he drove pretty slowly as we at least twice, encountered broken down trucks right in the middle of the road. Saw a lot of people walking on the side of the road as well.
He turns up a road that was very uneven, almost like it had canyons or gorges, and we come to a sliding gate, he honks and we were let into a little oasis lodge. Ahadi Lodge in Arusha. Greeted with a glass of juice, and our items taken to our room. It was late, though not on our internal clocks, we try to get to bed as we start early the next day. The room had a bathroom, only separated by a curtain, not a lot of privacy, (especially when my travel partner Jessie and I had only met on a trip in Europe and only emailed in the interim, never talked on the phone. ) And the water, you had to turn on 30 min before you intended to take a shower. At night, no running water, the sink and toilet didn’t work.
The next morning, we get a wake up call and get showered and dressed and head to breakfast before being picked up for a half day of shopping. We are the only two occupants at the lodge, and breakfast was set, except I recall for how we wanted the eggs. Fruit, juice, coffee, oh, there was a choice of eggs or French toast. The juice was passion fruit juice, my first taste of that.
David came to pick us up for a trip downtown for some shopping. We were immediately immersed in the hustle and bustle of the busy city. The road, the previously described rutted road, from the lodge to the main road was filled on each side with very small kiosks. I looked in them and saw various items for sale. One of them had DVD’s, and I was thinking, who has a DVD player? As we drive down the main road to the downtown area, the sidewalks were filled with people about their daily tasks. Here is where I notice dusty roads, sidewalks if any in disrepair, women walking with buckets atop their heads, students heading to the technical college, and other assorted people on the street.
We have to first, exchange some money from dollars to shillings. So we find a bureau de change. They are actually all over. Because the dollar is taken all over Tanzania, we only change about $100 or so. Next we go to the shopping area, which is a group of over 200 vendors all in small shops. The items were near identical in them and the pressure was great. We start to bargain and I admittedly do not do a good job on this. I should have walked out of a couple of the shops. Plus, we should have started in the middle or back, not the front, who would obviously get the majority of the foot traffic. But I buy some items here and we finally leave. I had to just realize that a couple of dollars to me meant way less to me than it did them.
After here we go to get some Tanzanite at a reputable dealer. I shop there and spend more than I had planned to, but got some nice pieces. There was a guard outside the door, and as we waited on the street, I was a little nervous about leaving my backpack in the car and of the people I saw, but there was no issue.
After this shopping, we head to the Cultural Center, which was really an eclectic place to see. I got a lot of items here, the pressure was much lower, but no bargaining. I liked some really nice wood statues, but the prices were just too high. Next, off to the Fedex/DHL offices onsite and now to bargain with them. Their initial bids were way high, and as all things in Tanzania you had bargaining room. So they each kept coming back with a better price, yet not telling each other what that price was. I finally pick Fedex, leave all my stuff unpacked, hoping that she is honest and sends it. She did. The box made it home in quick time, beating me by 2 weeks.
After shopping here, we have a quick lunch on site, a torrential rainstorm hits and it rains harder than I’ve ever seen it. We finally leave and head back to the lodge for the rest of the day. The next day we were to leave for safari. We had dinner at the lodge, some mushroom soup, I noticed that all along the tour, the soups were pureed.
David picks us up for our adventure. We stop by the Shoprite store in town to pick up extra bottled water. We all go in and the store sold a bit more than groceries, I noted to Jessie that no wonder we are fat, there were not full aisles of chips or cookies or cola products. The fruit didn’t look too appealing. I picked up a box of Ritz crackers which came in handy later when I had a sour stomach.
We drive towards the first park of the trip, Tarangire. On the way out we start to see Masaai with their herds of goats and/or cattle. It was surprising to see the number of children out by themselves with the herds. A different culture, you wouldn’t necessarily see that in the US. There are small boma’s and some other small ‘towns’ I’d call them. We see other safari vehicles on the road, doing what we are doing, and heading out to the parks!
We turn at what is a little village, some stores, but by our standards, not really stores, people hanging out in the streets, animals everywhere. Down a very bad road we go, the first experience on one of the park roads. We reach a parking area where David has to check us in. Each park requires a fee and we have to check into each one. We wait for him, then grab our box lunches, which we didn’t even know were in the car. This was our first experience with box lunches. We had some chicken, and a cucumber sandwich, fruit juice which I did not like, and some cookies. We head to the gazebo structure in the shade, and are immediately eyed by the vervet monkeys who want to steal our lunch. I try to eat most of it, and this is my first experience with so-so food. Wasn’t really interested. Sure enough, the monkeys grab what I had in my box and head out to feast.
After lunch we go back to the truck to wait again and the monkeys had followed us. We had the top open, and my window was open, all of a sudden! There were monkey hands on my window frame, I successfully shoo him off and shut it, then one is looking down on us from the top! We shoo him away as well. I cannot imagine how I would have reacted had one made it into the truck.
After getting everything square, we head out! Excited to see what was next. We first found impala, quite a few in this park. And a wart hog as well right away. I’m also stuck by the trees in this park. The acacia and the baobab trees are amazing and just what I had pictured before arriving.
After driving a bit, we were up on a high level of the park and looked down beyond the river and saw our first elephant. Must have been a dozen or more, there were far away at that time, we hadn’t yet made our way down there. I could hear some snorting from them.
We spent the half day afternoon continuing to drive around. We saw no cats, but lots of elephants, impala, warthogs, giraffe, mongoose, babbons, oh and tse tse flies!
had my first close encounter with an elephant today, not bad for the first day!
After the half day here, we headed to our lodge. It was a tented camp, (Maramboi Tented Camp) but not mobile. The tents were quite large, and placed above ground level. They had a separate area for the bathroom. You had to head down to the main area for meals, which were on a large deck, which included a covered area, with wifi, and down a bit was the pool. There was an indoor area I guess could be used in inclement weather. The deck overlooked the savannah, with some small groups of wildebeest and zebra. But not in the numbers you’d expect to see for a great migration.
We had dinner on the deck, and it was dark, not too sure what I was getting. I think I got some bad food here as the day we left began a couple day long sour stomach. We picked up our box lunch in the morning, we got to pick out our items and so many meat items were not too appealing.
Spent the evening uploading photos from my memory card to my portable usb hard drive, did some blog writing, then to bed we went. Had a big day ahead for day 4.