Today is the beginning of the real Safari. Up at 3:30 sorta out of bed by 4:30 for more packing. We were told to pack light coming here, we were told to pack even lighter for Safari, it still wasn’t easy as most of us really weren’t sure what we’d need or what to expect. Somehow, I got the camera gear into my ThinkTank hip bags and rest of my stuff into my small bag. Felt like I should have more but I realized I’d have to make do regardless.
Breakfast, noticed that I’ve come to be excited about what we will be having each meal. The cooks put a lot of it in these stainless-steel pots with lids, it makes each meal service an interesting and tasty surprise. Breakfast at 6am on the road by 7ish. We are told that we have a schedule to meet including about 4 hours of driving to the Serengeti. So many questions in my mind about what’s coming and expectations of the animals and things we might see. Seems though that everyone has similar expectations.
By now we had gotten used to each other in our Land Cruiser on the drive to Karatu and the Masai village, it just felt right to be with this same group as we headed west to the Serengeti. (Daniel had told us that we might be switched around between cars and guides but it never happened on the trip as we just sorta bonded. Very cool.) As we headed out of town the terrain began to rise and turn greener. In what seemed like a long time we got to the gate to Ngorongoro Crater park.
Godlove had to deal with the usual paper work and we got out and walked around. First off there were (?) 20-30 similar Land Cruisers and their customers milling around. We were entertained by the small visitor’s center and well, toilets (the often repeated phrase on this trip was ‘never pass up the opportunity to use a toilet,’ very true, very true), and our first real bigger animals – baboons.
Daniel had said that he didn’t like them but they were so cute and so CLOSE. Being a newbie at this wild animal photography deal we…well I…shot lots of images of them. After all they were so close.
Continue reading Day 6 – Safari
Night thoughts…For me, waking up after 6 hours sleep in a boma was not really an incredible experience, it was more like 5th or 6th on my worst nights I ever spent outside but we weren’t outside, we were inside. We entered the boma just after midnight through a single door then a sharp turn to the right and into darkness of the interior space. A small u-shaped fire pit with ashes was in the exact middle of the round boma. I’m guessing they are about 15 feet in diameter. The women make them we learned and saw one under construction. The walls are built of branches and held together by long vines. Mud covers the walls and a thatched (or so it looks to me) roof covers the boma. Two sleeping spaces more like low racks were available, I took the single one, while Jason and Patrick shared the double one. Daniel and Michael had space on the floor on a flat cowhide. Come to think about it, I had a cowhide for the cover of my rack which was formed by more or less straight branches. Of course, there was a lump in the middle. As I removed my sleeping bag from its cover, I noticed a number of ‘apparently’ dead cockroach bodies laying around. Then I remembered that our support team had ‘prepared’ the boma for us. This apparently consisted of perhaps cleaning it up but also involved killing or reducing the number of bugs. No problem. The odor inside the boma was a mix of smokey smells and some other stuff, I couldn’t identify. Again, no problem, even though it was very warm inside, I got into my bag and as I was really tired, went out in seconds. I do remember the sensation of something crawling on me but honestly, I think is was more my imagination.
Continue reading Day 5 – Night and Morning with the Maasai – Karatu Recovery
Tanzania Blog Start
Karatu – Had a really good sleep best one of the trip. However, upon waking I remember that packing for our day and night at the Maasai village needed to happen – I kept asking myself, how can I possibly bring all the things / clothes I will need for a stay in a Maasai village? Wasn’t easy but I got it all into my small bag. I mean, how can you pack for a sort of unknown, known? Anyway, I did it. As I tend to always say, ‘if you don’t have it, you don’t need it.’
At breakfast later today as we had a more relaxed start. We headed back east again seeing what we didn’t see in the dark. Stopped in one spot for a few shots of the first baboons we saw. Stopped again at an overlook to Lake Manyara and got assaulted by the trinket sales guys. I made a mistake and didn’t bring any money, very dumb on my part.
Continue reading Day 4 – Karatu, shopping, and the Maasai Village
Our day started with the usual wake ups and breakfast at the big table in Twiga House – the plan for the morning was our final visit to the school and then visits to several homes of our EEF students. The clear point was to enable us to better understand the issues faced by our kids. We arrived back at school to say goodbyes to the teachers and headmaster.
Continue reading Day 3 – TGL Tanzania – Home visits and Ride to Karatu
On Monday evening we had another lovely meal of simple food (some of which I’m never really sure what it is but rice and beans of some kind seem to be involved), It’s always good. Then – as I predicted more or less – it rained for quite a while.
Tuesday morning – Seems like 4am is the dog barking / call to prayer / rooster crowing hour. Could not sleep so I got up about and did my blog. My mind went back to Monday and those kids. As we were going to be at the school basically all day, there was a lot of doubt in my mind about how it would go. Elizabeth was also having sleeping issues and we both worked on images for about a hour and a half until nearly breakfast. After breakfast Michael our leader broke out the 20 donated point and shoot cameras for today’s teaching shoot with the school kids.
Continue reading Day 2 – TGL Tanzania
Tuesday Morning – Spent the bulk of Sunday getting acquainted with Daniel (he has quite a background and currently lives in Granada, Spain – how cool is that!) of the Giving Lens (TGL) and each of the members of our group as they slowly trickled in all day. Michael the co-team leader surfaced after 12 hours in the rack from travel later in afternoon. He was a nut! To our great surprise we realized that although 30 years apart, we both went to Redwood High School! Cool. At dinner our leaders began the orientation process for this trip. I was struck that both our leaders were very clearly engaged in the mission of TGL and how their experiences here and elsewhere were deep and very rewarding. Similarly, in meeting our American, Canadian, Singaporean, and Australian team members, how they all came from a background of travel and interest in helping learning about cultures. Not surprising really but, I feel the definite lightweight here in this area.
Monday morning we were greeted with an almost clear view from our house of the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro! Wow, that’s a big mountain, going to have to consider what it might take to climb that sucker.
Continue reading Day 1 of the TGL Tanzania Experience
Dateline Moshi, Tanzania
After spending about 11 hours in Nairobi yesterday, the short 55-minute flight to Moshi, Tanzania was a relief. Nairobi was overcast which mostly stayed around all through flight. The plane broke through the cloud cover and a nice glory formed around the plane’s shadow, I had my phone off and couldn’t get a shot before it was running, however, although the image below is cell phone quality, I was able to get a shot of Mt. Kilimanjaro poking through the clouds! Very cool.
Continue reading Tanzania – Finally!
The relatively short 5 hour flight from Dubai to Nairobi ended this morning at about 5 am, nice and dark for a flight all night – theirs – on my day time body. Had a great seat and could stretch out with a ‘dinner’ at my breakfast time. Upon arrive we walked up the jetway then down the stairs on to the tarmac into buses. A few of us transfer folk were walked through security and the airport to a desk where they nicely checked us in, insured that our luggage might be attached to us and might surface at the right airport at the right time. That’s all good for me. Just want to see it all again in Moshi.
Met a nice Scot waiting for the bus, we passed the Turkish Air lounge in the airport I’d signed up for as had he. We got real chummy and I learned that ‘John’ lives in Portugal, was in 5th Commando during the Falkand’s war, is in international security for the UN and currently spends a lot of time in Africa doing security for camps. He was headed for Entebbe and points further in the interior of Africa. I guess he’s about 5-7 years younger than I and is planning to retire in a few years. One of his goals is to drive his 1200cc BMW bike around the perimeter of Africa! Wow, I will admire that from a distance and have no desire to follow that lead, but you know…it might be, not!
Anyway, living in lounges as I am at the moment is nice, food, power, some pleasant company. Works for me. Got to use my first word in Swahili today – asante – or thank you. Also broke out the big camera today and to a couple of snaps out the window to the east, somewhere out there Kilimanjaro waits.
Here’s the view out the window today. Not a great shot but it’s with the laptop camera again. Oh, and it’s hot the best weather either… [sigh]
Tonight – Moshi, Tanzania and tommorrow, begins the TGL experience.
Dateline Dubai International Airport, it’s 9:30 pm in this enormous airport. Friendly people and great shopping…on my return of course. The 15+ hour flight over the pole was long but good.
Slept ok, food good. Only issue was a annoyingly boorish women in the middle seat. Lift could be harder I guess. Anyway, thanks to Amanda’s TGL trip 3 years ago, I researched airport shower options. The Marharba lounge here is really nice with food and drink included. It’s 40+ pounds but worth it. I get to say here until midnight then take the train to my next flight at 1am local…
Next stop Nairobi…
Got here a bit past 1pm, checked-in very quickly, TSA Precheck again! 2 minutes from entering to exiting, no scan, shoes off, just metal screen and I’m in. Very cool.
Me beginning my blog today.
Next stop Dubai…