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  • The Curious Traveler

What it’s like to be on Safari

We truly love and appreciate when guests share they journeys with us, either while they are traveling or when they return home. In this case, one of our guests regaled us with her daily emails while on our Tanzania: Great Migration Safari. Below is her account of her adventure in Africa (edited for length).

PRE-TOUR

What an adventure already—arriving at night after a long flight, embarking on an exciting ride in the dark to seemingly nowhere, bouncing several miles on an unpaved road, and finally pulling up to our lovely hotel. Today, I saw a huge cultural center in Arusha where African crafts, paintings, sculpture, textiles, furniture, jewelry, and of course, Tanzanite gems took my breath away. The most visual experience is to see the towns in action and the people dressed in church finery all walking along the road. It’s joyous to be here. Africa is always full of wonder.

DAYS 2 & 3

Leaving city life behind, we made our way into Maasai territory and to Lake Manyara. We were stopped at times by cattle, goats, and baboons crossing the road. There were lots of Maasai in traditional dress, roaming cattle, and market scenes. The village experience took a new turn when we were transported by tuk-tuk through a banana plantation and art colony before enjoying lunch in the village. All fabulous interactions with the community. We walked through the forest canopy and inhaling everything as I stared eye-to-eye with baboons, elephants, monkeys, giraffes, birds galore, and one fat hippo incognito. We had an early start to Lake Manyara, home of tree lions. Unfortunately, the lions were not to be found, but they were hardly missed with all the other animals. The guides are fantastic, and no animal is missed.

DAY 4

On the road to our lodge on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, we had an opportunity to learn about the Iraqw tribe and  meet the village chief. Enter Babadingey, a charismatic leader and proud statesman.  He is a magical person, kind of like a modern-day Pied Piper. We were invited into his traditional home, which he maintains out of respect for his ancestors, but he really lives 20 feet away in a more modern abode. After dining on polenta and a vegetable dish—no silverware—we were dressed in traditional fashion, treated to a musical interlude, and learned about the role of an influential chief. Meeting Babadingey and his wife was awesome. We came out absolutely transfixed by this man. Afterwards, we visited a quarry where local families chip away at the dirt and make bricks by hand, firing them 10,000 at a time. 

For now, we are at an elevation of 7,500 ft in a gorgeous African lodge. After a long, active day we were treated to a warm hot water bottle in bed.  Life does not get better…

DAYS 5 & 6

Another wild and crazy day in Africa. We got so close to the animals, and our sightings took my breath away. A gaggle of land rovers were caught under the spell of a lioness. We all watched for twenty minutes in silence as she strutted across the road and plopped under the back of a vehicle, wallowing in the shade and searching for her target. Within sight was a group of zebra, and she was planning her strategy. When she did arise, her body language spoke aggression and off she went…While we were stopped for road “repair” (and I use that term loosely), a lioness sauntered across the road between vehicles and just stopped to contemplate the landscape. Then we came across a giraffe staring us down in the middle of the road as if to play a game of chicken. Cheetahs, which are usually a sporadic find, were lounging in full glory, and it was spectacular. The vehicles don’t bother them one bit.

Lots of jostling and dust, but happily, I have another fantastic Serena Lodge in which to freshen up and relax, right in the middle of the Serengeti. This is a wonderful itinerary that Boundless Journeys has put together. I never thought I would have an opportunity to be on a safari as my parents were over 40 years ago. I am blessed to be in the middle of such an adventure.

DAYS 7 & 8

We caught sight of a leopard, which completes my Big Five list! The day was glorious, starting with the leopard, lions mating, and a dead zebra in a pond—The Cycle of Life abbreviated. Since there are no barriers in the park, animals are free to roam. The dung left overnight around my hut indicated visitors were zebra and possibly buffalo. What a glorious day on the Serengeti with vast vistas, scrub, animals, clouds, silence, and nature in harmony. We caught an elephant parade—a thrilling end to so many intimate insights into the harmony of the Serengeti. We were eye-to-eye with an elephant, saw cheetahs relaxing after a feast, watched vultures en masse—the list goes on. I enjoy waking up to coffee, a yoga mat, and the quiet outdoors with the sun rising over the mountains but know we will soon be on the road and ending our safari.

ZANZIBAR EXTENSION

Zanzibar is incredibly rich in experience, intrigue, religion, mystery, dishevelment, humidity, and more. It’s a photographer’s dream. Women covered head to toe in this humid climate, each pair of eyes has a story behind it. The homes I have seen are beyond words in their simplicity. There are lots of motorcycles—the streets in Stone Town are too narrow for cars, except for a few major thoroughfares, so, trying ways to save on car insurance would be on the top of your mind. A walking tour through the Old City proved fascinating—areas teeming with vendors and the old market where fresh fish is weighed and carted (literally) off to local hotels…no ice, no refrigeration…There are huge plastic drums of octopus and shrimp and lots of passing the scale and arguing over price. Each twist and turn offered a new perspective including gorgeous arrays of fresh produce, wares spread on the ground, old women eyeing me with doubt. I could not get enough of the blast of color, new smells, and the people.

At Jonzu Forest, to my excitement and pleasure, I saw two rare types of monkeys. The red colobus monkey and the black-faced monkey were just hanging around. Other tourists almost drove me crazy with their dangerous and inappropriate behavior, and I had to exert great self-control not to say anything.

If I listened to everything told to me at the spice farm, I would never need a doctor again. It was an eye-opening adventure learning about the medicinal qualities—cloves for toothaches, nutmeg for bone health and headaches, and so much more. Here, coconuts are collected by climbing death defying heights, and the peppercorn plant produces four colors of pepper. The tour included a lunch of elephant bananas, sweet bananas, curry spiced rice, spinach, white sweet potatoes, and passion fruit juice, all completed by a cup of delicious coffee with fresh vanilla bean. Although rain came down in buckets, which limited my camera shooting, it did not stop me from moving about. I am so glad I chose to experience Zanzibar…. it is Old World intrigue in a modern world. WOW.

 

If you’ve enjoyed reading and are inspired to join us or have questions about the adventure featured in this post, please give us a call at 1-800-941-8010 or send us an email at info@boundlessjourneys.com.

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