January 9, 2014




Hamjambo rafiki wangu

Here we are in Kilema! We arrived yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon to a very warm, extended Tanzanian welcome after adventures on safari and in the cities of Arusha and Moshi. Our afternoon walk was sidetracked by many sistas (nuns) wanting to greet “Mama Stefan” and meet our dusty crew. It is beautiful here, greener and more lush than anywhere we’ve been thus far but still very dry and incredibly dusty. Red earth everywhere – our feet seem permanently rusty. But we jump ahead of ourselves.

Other than a surprising search of Solana’s bag due to a wayward, and quite large jawbone (seemingly left behind by brother Fraser after some anthropological mission!), we had a long mostly smooth journey. We arrived tired but happy on New Year’s Eve at the JoshMal Hotel in Arusha and hit the rooftop bar about 25 minutes before midnight; needless to say, a great big party was in full swing. After toasting 2014 with a fireworks display and some Kili and Tusker beer and pop for the kids, we crashed (more or less) to the sounds of citywide celebration.

After a couple of days in Arusha – an intense, edgy city full of fast cars and touts hustling our group of mzungus- we left our 14 duffels at the hotel and set out for an amazing 4 day safari with our wonderful guide Boni. Tarangire Park (and unbelievable Lodge) was out first destination where we traveled through herds of elephant, packs of baboons, impalas, gazelle, giraffe, ostrich… even a black momba snake, proof that taking a stroll in the grass is probably not a good idea. A lioness crossed right in front of our jeep looking for her pride. Words cannot describe the feeling of being that close to animals most of us only see in books or on tv nature shows. Breathtaking and reverent are just two inadequate words. The photos only half show it but they are better than words.







The next morning we arose at sunrise and set out before breakfast. We pulled over and sat for a long time next to a troop of at least 50 baboons… babies, children and adults. After swims in the beautiful pool and some incredible food at the lodge, we set off for a long day’s journey to our campsite on the edge of Ngorogoro crater. With 5 sleeping bags for 7 jet-lagged, exhausted people (two got left behind and followed us the next day – oops), we all got to know each other quite intimately….It was a chilly night shared with 200+ other campers and we had a long wait for dinner prepared by our cook Mohammed, it was an interesting experience indeed. Travelling to Lake Ndutu the following day, we stopped to visit a Maasai village where the men danced and the women ululated and sang and Lockie gracefully declined an offer of a sip of a tasty Maasai beverage – cow’s milk mixed with its blood. We also went to Oldopai Gorge – the fascinating archeological site where the Leakeys worked for many years. We found Ndutu to be pretty quiet but the Serengeti Plain was full of herds of wildebeests, zebra, gazelles, lots of birds of prey and flamingos and a few hyenas.





Our dinner companions the second night at the campsite included two large male elephants drinking out of the cistern right next to the dining hall… and after much excitement we retired to our 7 sleeping bags for the night.




After breakfast and packing up the van, we traveled down into Ngorogoro Crater for the day. What an astonishing place! The morning began with herds of zebras and continued with 4 big male lions close enough to touch, just lazing by the side of the road. One strolled lazily through the jeeps; we could have reached down and petted his great mane. We ate lunch with the hippos, watching two babies and their parents lazing in the glorious mud twiddling their tiny ears while little red-footed birds strolled along their backs. How do they keep the water out of those ears?

Many many animals later, we arrived back in Arusha to find Mary Toddi waiting at the JoshMal to join our merry band of travelers. Karibu Mary!     



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