The Luckiest Woman in the World!
01.03.2014 - 02.03.2014 92 °F
Where? East Africa
What Country? Tanganyika + Zanzibar = Tanzania
How do you say it? TanzaNEEyah (not TahnZAHNya)
What do they speak? Njararibu kusoma kiswahili. I am trying to learn Swahili.
What am I doing here? Safari!!! It means "journey" in Kiswahili.
I'm in Africa!!! I can't believe it. I never thought I'd come to Africa. Well, yes, I was in Morocco and Tunisia, but North Africa is more like the Middle East. This is AFRICA as in deepest, darkest. Here I am truly mzungu (a white person) and sometimes I frighten the younger children because they haven't seen one before. Other than that, it's one of the friendliest countries I have ever visited.
I went to Zanzibar Island and then lived like a native in the Kariacoo area of Dar Es Salaam, but the most exciting thing so far has been my two day African Safari to "hunt" for the big five (lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, rhino, and leopard). I saw all except the leopard. It was so amazing! I'm based in Arusha (near Mt. Meru and Mt. Kilamanjaro), but the first day of the safari was in Tarangire which is known for its huge and numerous African elephants and equally huge Baobab trees. I saw herds with hundreds of elephants in the wild and even more zebras. Late in the day, the line of zebras coming down the trail to drink water seemed to go forever; we watched and waited and never saw the end of the line. I was smiling all day and thinking. 'Am I the luckiest woman in the world or what?'
It was a fun challenge to spot the smaller animals like the shy dik dik among the foliage. There were birds on the ground and in the air too. I am surprised my head didn't come unscrewed and fall off from so my swiveling while looking for animals. You know the joke about the elephant in the living room? Sometimes that was so true and sometimes it was the opposite. Once there was another vehicle that was stopped by the road and the people were snapping pictures like crazy. I'm looking off in the distance trying to spot what they see. Ha! It was a small tortoise on the ground just ten feet from them!
The second day was in Ngorongoro Crater which is 2,286 meters above sea level and is the largest unbroken caldera in the world. It is like a natural amphitheater (about 260 square miles). The animals and people of the Masai tribe all live on the floor of the crater. It's wide open so the animals are pretty much completely visible as they graze or drink from the rivers and lakes. Sometimes they were very close, other times in the distance but still visible for lack of foliage.
I missed the wildebeest birthing event (all born in a two week period in February), but the babies were only two weeks old. A Black rhino kicked up dirt and threatened us by charging at us twice before he trotted off. As you can imagine, I was so freaked that I froze and missed the photo opportunity. And he was sooooo close! We were there first...but you don't argue with a rhino. We observed a young male lion within two feet of where he was sleeping and then watched a mature female stalking a wildebeest in the distance.
There were hippos, hartebeests, dik dik (tiny elk about 12 inches tall), several types of gazelles, eland, baboons, monkeys, mongoose, waterbucks, warthogs, hyenas, jackals and giraffes (very cool!). Big birds included the Corey bustard (hee hee, the guide's accent had us looking at each other on that one!), black storks, white storks, the secretary bird, Crown crane, eagles, vultures, flamingos (thousands!) and ostriches. I was getting a little jaded after seeing so much in the last 12 months of travel, but Africa has brought a fresh experience and it is absolutely incredible!