The most beautiful place on earth …
March 2022, after about eight hours of flying we arrive at Kilimanjaro airport where we immediately become acquainted with the warm climate and the enviously un-Dutch work pace of the Tanzanian customs employees. We are at the start of our 9 day safari tour where we will spend the night in a dome tent. After meeting our guide Freddy and cook Benjamin, we climb into the jeep and set off on our way. Our journey starts in Tarangire Park which is known for its elephants. The amount of elephants, gazelles and monkeys is enormous. And while we are still checking out the wildlife, Freddy turns off the car and asks us to get out. We have arrived at the first campsite, but are actually still between the monkeys and gazelles. Around the campsite we even see grazing elephants about 50 meters away. So here we go to sleep, in a dome tent.
Due to the pandemic it is not busy and we are even the only guests at the campsite. The tension to spend the night here is a bit less because there is night surveillance. This man, in soldier’s uniform and equipped with a rifle, keeps an eye on things. During the night we hear sounds from the jungle non-stop. It roars, it howls, it sniffs. We thoroughly enjoy ourselves and try to link the sounds we hear to the beast that causes them. Freddy confirms the sounds. So these were hyenas and a lion. Okay…
The first morning we wake up as if we were in an aviary. The birds sing loudly and create that typical jungle sound. And when we look outside through the mesh window, we see dozens of gazelles grazing right in front of our tent. The sun is already shining and we see birds in all kinds of bright colors. Benjamin has a great breakfast ready. What a morning! Eight more to go!
The next two days we stay near Lake Manyara at a camping Migombani Campsite. A completely different campsite with a neatly mowed lawn, extensive bar and luxurious sanitary facilities. Unfortunately no wild animals, but a beautiful view from a large pool. We are staying at this more luxurious campsite for two nights and secretly we hope that the next campsite will offer more experience in terms of nature and wild animals. We make a tour around lake Manyara where we can again spot a lot of game. We also take a walk over a rope bridge (at the beginning of the park) and we take a canoe trip along the banks. During the canoe trip we see bathing elephants and buffalo. The great guides also had their jokes ready, making it a wonderful change from the many driving around in the jeep.
The next day Freddy drives us through the famous Serengeti park. This park is also known as the endless square. The mountainous, wooded landscape gives way to an endless grassy plain from which you cannot see the horizon. And then we see what we hoped for; the great migration! We pass tens of thousands of wildebeest and hundreds of zebras. Freddy tells us that 1.7 million wildebeest and thousands of zebras are part of this migration. As far as you can see we see Wildebeest, there is simply no end to it. In retrospect, the magnitude of this spectacle is one of our highlights of this trip. It’s so huge, so much and pure. Nowhere is there a building to be seen, no transmission tower … we only see plains, grass, sand path and animals. What a great world! Ultimately, this is exactly why we chose Tanzania; the landscape is very diverse.
We spend three nights at Serona Campsite, an austere, public campsite with a typical African, outdated sanitary building. However, the wild animals that we hear in the distance at night make up for it. It gives a bit of extra experience that we missed at the previous more luxurious campsite. In the Serengeti Park, Freddy shows his amazing qualities as a guide. Although all guides are connected to each other via a walkie-talkie to pass on locations of special animals to each other, Freddy is always the first to find these special animals. We find cheetahs, lions and we see a rhinoceros which is a special sight in the Serengeti park. That makes the Big 5 complete for us, but this is not a goal in itself for us. During our stay in the Serengeti park we go out early once and see the sunrise. It’s like we’re dreaming, but it’s really reality. In the serene silence we see giraffes walking past in the distance, in the middle of the red light of the rising sun. May we experience this…
And then there comes a moment when you think you have seen the most beautiful thing until you drive into the misty Ngorongoro crater early in the morning. In the crater it is cool and misty in the mornings. In the veils of fog we see the elephants, hippos and flamingos. It’s the icing on the pudding of our amazing journey. We have not yet seen a more beautiful place on this earth. We see dozens of hippos maneuvering between the flamingos. How wonderful to see this in real life.
The last night we stay in the city of Arusha in an attractive, luxurious Ilboru Safari Lodge. On the other side of this lodge is a small souvenir shop. We chat with the owner named Simba and we ask him how he experienced the pandemic. He takes a few photos from a drawer depicting a completely burned and destroyed building. This turns out to be his former shop two years ago. After the fire, he was able to rent his current shop. Not much later, the pandemic broke out, which has now been going on for two years. Virtually no income for two long years with all the associated consequences. He tells it emotionally and visibly unplayed. Then he takes his out-of-tune guitar and sings the song Jambo Bwana. He ends with the statement; “I’m poor but I smile”. And we are back with both feet on the ground.
Herwin & Janke
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