Simba and Other Cats: Safari to Kilema





Haria mwaka mpia! Happy New Year from our safari in Tanzania. As we rung in 2016 over our 5-day safari, our theme was “intentions for the year ahead,” as reflected in our chosen Safari Spirit Animals. Just as each of us is incredibly unique, bringing our own perspectives, strengths, and values along on this trip, so too are the animals: each herd and pride embodying strikingly distinct personalities and airs.

Elizabeth intends, in 2016, to live more like the grounded, family-oriented elephants who move slowly, with purpose and a sense of community and awareness. Claire intends to approach 2016 more like a goat: sure-footed and balanced while living on the edge, playful and wild yet valuing routine. And I strive, in this year ahead, to embrace my inner giraffe. To move gracefully and slowly through the months and seasons ahead, reaching high and curious up toward my goals, yet also valuing and embracing the lower, simpler pleasures, the strong foundations, at ground level. I seek to support others, throughout my travels here and elsewhere, who may grow from what my mind and heart have to offer, just as numerous small birds are supported by the giraffe. The small dark birds rest on the giraffe’s slender neck and tawny body, gaining sustenance and rest; or perhaps they’re just tagging along for the ride.



As we were leaving Ndutu Lake on our second last day of safari, we saw a pride of lions and a pack of hyenas. 15 lions and 28 hyenas; though not together of course. The lions were surrounding another safari vehicle, lounging in the shade it provided. After a while, all 15 began to walk away from the shade. Within minutes they were passing our vehicle, merely steps from us, while touching our car, without even the slightest bit of annoyance at our presence. The closest I think I will ever get to lions in their natural environment. Any closer and it would have been the last experience of my life…

What really struck me at the time is the animal culture. We observed so many different personalities, yet there was one underlying similarity between all of the animals, even the lions; they all had a sense of ease in how they walked, a smoothness to their energy and a presence that was very welcoming, despite our presence (along with several other safari vehicles) in THEIR home.

I was not the only one who was aware of the strong animal energy on the trip; it was a shared group experience. So much so that our following dinner and breakfast conversations were focused around our spirit animals and how we want to embody those energies as we take this experience into our everyday lives.

I am a proud lion moving strongly and fearlessly into 2016.

Shukrani (with gratitude),








Our Safari begins!

Safari in Swahili means journey and that it has been. After 30 hours of traveling we arrived to Arusha excited to be there and yet sleep came easily. A call to prayer and baying dogs woke us up for a typical travelers’ (though not African) breakfast of omletti, instant coffee and banana. Corrugated metal rooftops, Mt. Mehru, and diesel fuel wafting through open windows surrounded us as we sat for breakfast at the Joshmal Hotel. Reggae music provided the background beat as our leader, Stephanie, provided us “mzungus” with a plan for the day.

Once outside we were quickly reminded by worn out painted Bata Shoe signs, a plethora of old tires and women in beautifully colored outfits that indeed we were no longer in North America. A large clock on the corner near the hotel asks in large letters: “What Do You Need?” always a good question when beginning a safari.

Back home the earth shook as we made our way into Tarangire Park. Elephants, huge Baobob trees, giraffes silhouetted in the grey morning mist. A pride of 15 lions approaching, hoards of vultures drying their enormous wings like drying laundry atop of Acacia Trees in the rising sun are some of the images I hope never to forget.

Our safari did not end with animals, however. We will look forward to our time at The Kilema Hospital visiting students, tutoring children, meeting new friends and moving along in our own little pride.

Haria Mwa Campia! Happy New Year!

Enjoy YOUR safari of 2016. –Elizabeth




As we made our way out of the bustling, colourful city of Arusha towards our first safari adventure, we found ourselves driving past fields of coffee plants and groups of Masai wandering the red dusty plains. Tarangire Park, a vast expanse of land almost equivalent to the size of the Netherlands, greeted us with an array of beautiful animals and scenery. Yet it wasn’t the animals that I loved the most, but the magnificent mtis (trees) that dotted the valleys and hills of the Tarangire world. The Baobab trees were grounded by huge, sprawling roots, centered in their straight, wide trunks that led to sky-reaching branches in the canopy above. We watched as a group of impala’s sought shelter in the shade of the branches, and an incredible amount of colourful birds perched in and flew between their homes in these trees. The beauty and centeredness of this tree along with the relationships it seemed to hold with the animals inspired us to give it the nickname “The Tree of Life”. Whether silhouetted against the misty pale horizon during the morning’s sunrise, or towering over us as we stood at its base; I could feel the energy and sense of mystery that the Baobab trees possess. They have flowers that bloom only at night, are one of the only trees that can stand up to the strength of the Elephants’ tusks, and are pollinated by bats during the nighttime. They are also quite symbolic of Tarangire, and we couldn’t find very many of them outside of the park. Since then we have seen many other beautiful trees, like the classic Acacia, but the Babobab trees are by far the most magnificent!

Poa kichizi kama ndizi,

Heri ya mwaka mpya! (Happy new year!)





Happy New Year ! and a very happy mother daughter reunion on safari in Tanzania.  It could not be more wonderful to catch up in this part of the world after four months apart!

Stephanie and Eva



Like all meaningful volunteer work, ours required a good amount of sweat and labour on our part, but nothing like the hardship that the Tanzanians face daily. Our work was to transport the 600lbs of medical and school supplies donated by the Compassion Warehouse in Victoria. We stayed in several places before reaching our final destination, The Kilema Hospital, and so it was no small task to load and unload our 12 50lbs duffel bags several times in the first week. The most challenging was the Joshmal Hotel, in Arusha, where the storage room was on the 4th floor and, being Africa, the elevator was broken and it was 30 degrees Celsius. We lugged everything back downstairs 2 days later and arrived at the YMCA in Moshi in more suffocating heat and we were overjoyed that we could store things on the main floor! Once in Kilema we began to distribute the supplies by loading our backpacks with school supplies and hiking for quite long distances to the villages where many of the students who are supported by the Kilema Tuition project live. Needless to say this was the most rewarding aspect of our work so far.




Karibu Kilema

Leave a Reply