Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! Sorry, not Dorothy here. But I did see lions when I went on safari in Tanzania (see first post on large kittens here). I can’t believe I haven’t posted a blog on this yet, although a bunch of my travel tips made it into my other posts. Getting to the safari was an adventure in itself. My friends were supposed to come with me, but due to one thing and another, neither of them (2 other girls) could make it, but my tickets were booked and off I went. Since I was travelling alone, I figured that it would be safer to fly from Dar es Salaam to Arusha, the starting point for most of the safaris, rather than taking the umpteen hours bus which could be hijacked, breakdown, and I don’t even want to comtemplate the state of the washrooms after that long.
So, off I went to the airport to wait for my flight…and wait…and wait – yup, delayed flight! ok, no prob – call the safari tour people to tell them I’d be late and get on the plane when it came. The flight path goes a little over the ocean as it swings towards Kilimanjaro…because the Arusha airport was closed (I remember this like it was yesterday). And that was the point that smoke started to fill the cabin and the pilot announced we would have to turn around and land (the bus is looking better all the time, huh?). Ok, so wait for the NEXT flight (I know, at this point, most people would have taken the bus!)…which was a government plane and was fine.
Finally, I get to Arusha and meet my safari guide….who tells me there that the group I was supposed to join left and I would have to wait for the next one – no problem – it was coming in the next day – and another person would be waiting too. But I would have to stay overnight, meet the other person and leave the next morning…..and, please don’t go out in Arusha at night alone. The hotel was fine except for the fact that my room fan wasn’t working and I was on the ground floor and door to the outside balcony didn’t really close….but that’s what cellphones are for, right?
The safari company really did take care of me though – the agent made sure I had all the right equipment (sleeping bag), enough cash (since I hadn’t planned on staying the night), came and checked on me that evening (and told me the other person didn’t make it in so it would just be me going) and had dinner with me so things were looking up.
The next morning, I had to take a car out to a meeting point to meet the group because they were coming from another direction. Spent an interesting half hour waiting at an impromptu roadside market at the crossroads between the road to the Serengeti, Arusha and another park. FINALLY met the other group – a couple of friends from Belgium (girl and boy) who would be my safari companions for the next 3 days.
phew!!! and we hadn’t even reached the park yet!!! This is where I learned Travel tip #33 How to Enjoy African Time!
Here’s a couple of photos of driving into the Serengeti – I began to suspect that it would be worth it from these views.
[Both photos taken with colour slide film. Travel tip #36: When travelling on safari, expect dust, lots and lots of dust. Travel tip #37: Clean your camera lens often. Travel tip #38: Learn how to use Photoshop clone tool]