Karibu! Welcome to Maasai village!
We fly at 8 o’clock in the morning from Arusha Airport in a Cessna Caravan for 12 people over the Serengeti. We get a plastic boarding pass. We fly over Lake Manyara and spot elephants and wildebeest, along the way. We land at Airstrip Kogatende and meet our guide and driver for the next few days, Aloyce. From here our 1st safari immediately starts and we see large numbers of zebras and some giraffes close to the Airstrip. On our route we see many wild animals, in total there are 2.5 million, which together with the zebras make the world famous migration or migration through the Serengeti from North to South and back again, in 1 year’s time. Always looking for enough fresh grass to eat. During this migration they also cross the Mara River where crocodiles lurk. We will see these later. On the way we see the first elephants and buffalo, one of which is standing next to Roel’s tent every evening, scary! Shocking was also the dying wildebeest and the vultures around it. They wait until it is dead and then pick out the eyes first. This is nature! Around 5 pm we arrive at our tented camp Green Camp Kogatende where we will stay for 3 nights. In the evening at our 1st dinner an elephant appears right in front of our tented camp. It’s a blessing says Cliff, the manager of the Camp.
After our first night at the Green Camp we leave early in the morning for our 2nd safari. In retrospect, this is the day that we see a lot of wildlife with special animals. The first is a buffalo sitting in a bush. He has the undergrowth behind him and his dangerous horns for defense at the front. After he has looked at us for a while, he gets up and leaves in the bush. A little further on, a whole herd of buffalo with their young stands in the middle of the group for protection. Moments later a herd of elephants and a mother animal comes to warn us with a trumpet sound that we must stay away from her young. And yes, it is true, hyenas laugh in front of you! We witness the mating dance of an ostrich, which is very special says Cliff. A little further a group of lions with their young in a tree. Papa lion is sleeping 1 tree away. After this scene, we feel like watching the movie The Lion King again. (Lions eat once every 5 days, which is why they are so often lazy) We also see a crocodile with a group of hippos. Did you know that a hippo bites you in half in one bite?…they are quite aggressive animals. On the way back to camp we stop at a spot where a leopard sits in the bush. We look breathlessly at this copy. They are very rare to see. He gets up from the bush and walks past all the cars without embarrassment. We got it, our number 4 of the Big Five! A few kilometers before the camp we get for dessert a heavy rain shower with mud splashes to the top of the window. Jambo Tanzania!
Today is our last day in the Serengeti. Iris and Lisa decide to stay in the camp, they are tired of the bumping in our jeep. On this safari we take beautiful pictures of an elephant and a giraffe very close. We continue our way to the Mara River to see the world famous crossing of wild beasts and zebras. You see the wild animals jump into the river and turn around, too dangerous because crocodiles are lurking! A little later a second attempt follows and they very cleverly choose a route close to the hippos, because crocodiles are very afraid of hippos and stay away from them. We are lucky that we found and saw this special crossing so quickly, there are safaris without the crossing. On the way back to camp we see a zebra with a large, bleeding hole in its buttock. Whether this zebra will survive remains to be seen. When we get home to the camp we hear from Iris and Lisa that about 30 elephants had come to drink nearby. Very special so the staff also took pictures of this. From our “bathroom” we look at a starry sky with millions of stars, never seen so many stars 🌟🌟🌟
I was scared last night!! Cliff had told us which animals come in and around our camp and what noises they make. In recent days there were elephants, buffalo and the leopard was also seen in the night. So this sound, the sawing whirring grunt was audible outside our tent next to my head! My heart rate was at least 150 beats per minute. And I didn’t dare to move. Ton also woke up by shaking his chin, shared sorrow/anxiety is, after all, half sorrow. A little later a screaming sound and trampling, we think a piggy that fell prey to perhaps the leopard. It took at least an hour and a half before the sound disappeared into the distance. We say goodbye to Cliff, Alfred and William and leave for Ndutu, our stopover towards the Nogorongoro crater. The landscape along the way is very arid. On the way we see a jackal for the first time and how special, 2 cheetahs. The drive lasts endlessly over the arid plains before we arrive in Ndutu. Hakuna matata!
Because the journey to our next destination in Karatu is not too long, we leave at 9.30. We drive around Lake Ndutu and see flamingos and a single hippo. We continue our journey to the Nogorongoro crater and drive over the rim of this crater to Karatu. Here we take beautiful pictures with a wide view over the crater. Our stay in Karatu is a whole house with a large balcony, The Garden House, with a spacious room for everyone. The pool is also top notch.
Today we get up at 6 am to descend in time into the Nogorongoro hangover. Looking for our number 5, the rhino or rhinoceros. Our guide hears through contact with other rangers that 1 has been spotted in the bush of the crater. We quickly drive to this place to stop for a while and peer into our binoculars to spot the rhino. It is a beautiful place with special yellow acacia trees. But unfortunately no rhinoceros seen. We hear from our guide that the rhino hides when it feels threatened by lying down in the bush. We continue through the crater and see many other animals; wild beasts, zebras, elephants, piggies and also a pack of lionesses. It is dry and barren. A project is underway in Tanzania to increase the number of rhinoceroses. In the Nogorongoro crater, only 15 seem to still be alive. When we get home we have fun at the pool. Mission Big Five not completed.
Mto wa Mbu
Before we travel on to our next destination, we stop in the village of Mto wa Mbu. We meet our local guide and experience a walk through a banana plantation. We learn about the growth and harvest of bananas. While walking we pass small shops where the local residents carry out their craft; Tinga Tinga painting and wood carving. Here we go wild and buy our souvenirs. On the way to the local market we pass a primary school. Children from 7 to 17 years old are taught here. The school has just under 1400 students and only 13 teachers, so count how many students per class. Our guide arranges a meeting with the head of the school and especially Iris listens with great attention. Would she like to work here? At the end of the conversation the head asks Ton for money so that a toilet block for the boys at the school can be built. They still pee in the bush now. Of course we donate an amount and the head of the school smiles from ear to ear. After a visit to the local fresh market we continue our journey.
Karibu! Welcome to Maasai village! What a special place to be! We are warmly welcomed with song and dance. After a welcome drink and explanation about life in the village, we are taken to our mud hut. These huts are all made by women. With cow shit and glue. Luckily it doesn’t stink! On one side of the village we look at Mount Meru, the other side overlooks THE KILIMANJARO. Wow, this is what we came for. Unfortunately now almost dark and cloudy but tomorrow we will see him. By the way, “Kiliman” means mountain, and “jaro” means rock. So mountain of rock. It soon gets dark and we are invited for a traditional bbq. It turns out to be a goat on skewers around a bonfire. Iris and Lisa pass because the’re vegetarian. Eh, it’s not really good to eat so I gave my portion to the village cat. Lala salama!
It is chilly in the early morning and there is no view of Kilimanjaro. Hopefully as soon as the sun shines we will get a better picture. The Maasai are already on their way with their herds of cows and goats, the landscape looks rocky and dry. We stay the whole day in the village and marvel at the life of the Maasai. Only Roel and Margit dare and take a short dip in the ice-cold swimming pool, brrr. In the evening, javelin throwing is on the program. This turns out to be more difficult than it looks, not a single throw is hit. Ho ho says Roel, hit the tree twice instead of the target. The sun is already setting and at bedtime there is whaaaaaaa, a scorpion next to the bed. Pats, a big book on top of its head by heroic Ton haha.
We see vague contours of Kilimanjaro as we leave the Maasai village. A good-tempered warrior takes us to Kilimanjaro airport. Oh dear, our flight is not listed with the departures. The flight to Zanzibar departs from Arusha airport, which is an hour and a half away by car. Panic! What now? Iris sees the warrior’s van still standing and runs towards it. At the same time, Ton is talking to staff at the airport. Hakuna matata again! Don’t worry. A small plane is leaving for Arusha shortly. Flight time 12 minutes. 1 problem. Room for 12 passengers and Ton is number 13. So, take a seat next to the pilot as co-pilot, see photo. A great experience for Tony! On arrival at our accommodation in Matemwe Zanzibar we step with our feet in the soft white sand and look out over the azure blue sea.
Sun, sea and beach, that’s what we’re going to do today. In the afternoon we decide to do something, we walk to the reef because it is low tide. The female manager of our hotel says we can do this without a guide. We do need special reef shoes because we can encounter coral and sea urchins along the way. Nondeju, what a lot of sea urchins, there are thousands of them! A local young guy who lives on the beach comes after us. “Do you want help?” he asks. “Nope, we’ll do it ourselves”. He has no shoes on. Moments later, Roel falls into a group of sea urchins and Ton also has the first spines, ouch ouch. “I ask 3 dollars” says the young guy and we say “yes please! It’s my habitat here, I do this every day”. “Pole pole” he says, slowly slowly. He navigates us past the many sea urchins and shows us various sea creatures along the way such as starfish, spiderfish and seacucumber. Once back at our hotel, the local Maasai doctor is called and removes the spines from a cactus with a needle. Then add some papaya on top and you’re done! Iris and Lisa missed this adventure, luckily.
Today we head to Stone Town, the old center of Zanzibar City and birthplace of Freddy Mercury. We meet our guide at the entrance of Djaradani Market and he asks if we want to see the fish and meat department. It seems to smell very bad so we skip it. Roel and Lisa are interested in the island’s spices and buy them to use in the kitchen at home. The whole market exudes an Arab atmosphere. Our guide leads us through the narrow streets of Stone Town and points out the many beautiful wooden doors, entrance to Arab or Indian houses. With sharp points on it, nowadays for decoration, in the past to keep elephants away. The bigger and more beautiful the door, the richer the family. Along the way we visit a number of shops and buy our last African souvenirs. We walk past the Palace of Wonders, it is the National Museum of Zanzibar. Unfortunately, the building collapsed during the last renovation and covered with cloths. We conclude our tour with lunch at The Africa House Hotel overlooking the beach and harbor of Stone Town.
Months ago I reserved The Rock for today, a restaurant in the middle of the sea. At low tide you can walk there, at high tide you will be picked up by a boat. The drive there takes an hour and a half and is fantastic, you get a look at nature and the daily life of the residents on the island. The food at The Rock is mediocre, except for the “fish carpaccio” and “the steak on the stick”. The view and location is top notch!
On our last day of this dream trip we swim one last time in the warm ocean, take a last dip in the pool and pack our bags.
Kwaheri Tanzania! 💋
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