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Stauchy Blog » Blog Archive » Starting another Safari! June 13-14, 2008 (JRS/LAS)

Starting another Safari! June 13-14, 2008 (JRS/LAS)


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After a day of internet and chilling (mostly safely within the confines of the Wildebeest Camp), we jumpped on a shuttle to Arusha, Tanzania.  From there we arranged another Safari.  The Safari in Kenya had not dissappointed, and it certainly left us ready for more, and what better place to go than perhaps the most well-known game park in the world: The Serengeti.  In addition, our 5-day Tanzanian safari started at a beautiful lakeside reserve called Lake Manyara (and ended at the “eighth wonder of the world”, Ngorongoro crater).Friday, June 13:

We should start back in Kenya and mention that the road from Nairobi to the border of Tanzania is without a doubt the worst main road we’ve even been on.  I would not really have called it a road had I seen in back in the States.  It was more of a 4-wheel-drive path.  I’d be surprised if we made it over 30mph the whole time.  It was basically one big pot-hole with an occasional patch of dirt road.

Anyway, we finally make it to the border where we all pile out of the shuttle.  There, we were surprised to find out that we were being charged $100 for a visa, where we had understood it would be $50.  We said that we only needed a single-entry, 30-day visa, but instead they insisted that we get a full 3-year visa.  We are still unclear if we could have gotten a cheaper transit visa.  I guess we can chalk it up to making sure we’re more up on our visa requirements before crossing a border.

The upshot is that the road was vastly improved once we got into Tanzania.  When we arrived in Arusha around mid-day where there was a “transfer” waiting for us, willing to take us to our accomodation.  We hadn’t booked a transfer, so we were (rightfully) skeptical.  But, it was quite a walk into town and our bags were heavy, so we took them up on their offer.  It turns out that they were from a tour company called Roots-of-Afrika.  They kept their promise and drove us to a couple of our first choices and allowed us to get checked in before asking us to come with them to their office to hear about their safari/Mt. Kilimanjaro packages.  We listened to their spiel, then headed to town to talk with a few more companies.  As we got into the main part of town, we were mobbed by people trying to sell us tours.  It was CRAZY!  We abandoned our cause and decided to just go to the tourism office to check out if Roots-of-Afrika had been “blacklisted” (which they hadn’t), then bailed into an internet cafe to do some research.

Long story somewhat shortened, after some despair about whether or not Roots-of-Afrika was legit, we decided to bail on our plans to chat with several companies and just go with our first option (the price was very good, but not too good to be true).  The problem was that we had to shell out about $500 that night, with no real gaurantees that our driver and cook would show up in the morning.

Saturday, June 14

But, sure enough, Gladstone (the owner) showed up to take us by the ATM for another large withdrawal then to meet the people we’d be joining up with (you get a far better price if you’re willing to join in on someone else’s tour).  We eventually figured out that he had sold us to another tour operator, which was fine with us, even though he made it sound like he was the operator.

With all that BS asside, we were finally able to set off on the reason we were there.  Our first day was spent in Lake Manyara.  We set up camp and enjoyed a box lunch in town before heading into the park.  Inside the park, we saw blue monkeys, vervet monkeys,

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LOADS of baboons,

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several small groups of elephants,

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a herd of about 20 giraffes.  The giraffes were really neat to watch as several were laying down and we watched the awkward process of the adult giraffes standing up. 

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As we approached the lake, we realized that what appeared to be the sun’s bright reflection on the surface of the lake was actually thousands of flamingos grouped along the water’s edge.  We also saw lots of zebras, mongoose, impalas, warthogs,

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crown birds, hippos, a few water buffalo, kingfishers birds, a fish eagle, and some hornbills.

The best sightings in Lake Manyara, however, were in the trees.  We first saw a female lion in a tree (apparently pretty rare to see the lion in a tree - at least for our guide!)

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Later in the afternoon, we also saw a male leopard resting in a tree branch right along the roadside.

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Both were very close to one of the main roads and we were able to watch for quite a while! 

With that, we returned to the campsite.  After dinner, there was a small music show with traditional songs and dancing. 

-JRS/LAS

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