|We poked around shops in the afternoon,
among which was an African Art gallery. What, we asked, Should we buy in Tanzania?
Nothing, was the frank answer. We then met the other ten members of our Safari group, all
of us going out together to Indonesian restaurant for dinner.
Tuesday, February 3rd; fly to Arusha, Tanzania; stay at Mountain Village Lodge
The day started nicely; Richard had meetings at Schiphol and was able to
meet us there prior to our departure.
After a long but uneventful, non-stop flight, we arrived at Kilimanjaro airport on the
north-east border of Tanzania to a balmy evening, and were met by the Thomson Safari team,
John, Jonas, Frank and "Little John", and their three Land Rovers. They brought
us to our hotel, the Mount Meru Lodge, a former coffee plantation. Contrary to what
wed been led to expect, the road there, a main north-south artery, was well paved
and immaculate, no litter. The rooms were charming, styled after native huts, attached
cylinders with conical roofs, but were constructed of concrete and had modern facilities
as well as mosquito nets around the beds.
Day 3; Wednesday, February 4th; drive to Tarangire National
Park; stay at Tarangire Tented Lodge
We started the day with an orientation in the garden of the lodge, learning among other
things that though there were plenty of tsetse flies around (think kamikaze horse flies),
the sleeping sickness they carry was, thanks be, confined to the western part of the
We set out for the Tarangire National Park under a clear sky, and could see the
snow-capped peak of Mt Kilimanjaro, on the equator, in the distance. We stopped once en
route to whet the appetite of the shoppers amongst us at a "Cultural Center," a
touristy emporium for souvenir knickknacks. The road, the same one wed been on the
previous evening continued well paved, but when we at last left it to head for the park,
we got a taste of the reality to come. We were able to progress at a speed not much faster
than a brisk walk, holding tight as our driver eased the vehicle over the ditches and
mounds which made up what was more accurately a muddy dirt path through the woods than a
When we entered the park, the countryside immediately changed character, from farmland
and pasture, to untamed. There were numerous antelopes of various persuasions, as there
would be everywhere we went, and we were excited to see almost at once, our first large
wild animals, giraffes.
At the lodge, lunch was an all-you-can-eat buffet, with a good variety of well-prepared
though not memorable food, just as almost all the meals on our trip would prove to be.
Afterwards we had a few moments to introduce ourselves to our accommodations, permanent
tents on a ridge overlooking a river valley, and to our baggage, rummaging through the
three-dimensional mazes in our duffle for the first time in the field. As we gathered for
our first game drive, we were brushed past by a family of baboons infiltrating the lodge
area, evidently a raiding party to see if anyone had left a tent flap or car window open.
The thirteen of us, plus three drivers and a guide, distributed ourselves among the three
Land Rovers, and off we went into the bush.
We immediately learned that a game drive is a stop-and-go affair. Youre there to
see animals, and anything from small birds and rodents to elephants qualify for a gazing
and picture-taking stop. You dont try to make
time. We also quickly learned to appreciate our Land Rovers, and our admiration of them,
and of their drivers, grew throughout the trip. They could speed along on paved and graded
dirt highways, hold steady on the slippery clay of rain-soaked roads, ease in and out of
ruts big enough to lose a Volkswagen in, and slither crabwise, all four wheels churning,
through patches of deep swamp mud, all the while maintaining radio contact with one
another in a stream of Swahili frequently punctuated by "....Rodger,
Our daily routine would be to ride these vehicles for six to eight hours, in morning
and afternoon sessions (nights were out - wed have been shot as poachers), either
viewing game or moving on to another location. The cars had 2x2 passenger seats located
amidships and rear, with a pop-top over them so viewers could stand, plus a fifth
passenger seat next to the driver, which offered a good view while moving forward, but
sacrificed any ability to stand and peer all around while stopped. There was an
unstructured understanding that wed rotate vehicles and positions, so at the start
of every drive people would mosey into what they guessed ought to be their appropriate
spots. Wed then meander through the bush for hours, every eye straining to locate
animals. Navigating the deeply rutted and swampy paths required constant high
concentration of the drivers, yet amazingly, they were almost always the first to spot
distant game as we bumped along.
There were scattered groups of the delicate, graceful Thomson gazelles virtually
everywhere. Less frequent but still numerous were other antelopes: bushbuck, dik-dik,
eland, kudu, oryx, and the vast herds of wildebeest in which zebra and buffalo were
frequently mixed. At first each group of animals we passed caused new excitement but after
enough sightings of a particular species, we started looking past them for the rarer
animals - elephants, giraffes, ostriches, warthogs, and in particular, the scavengers and
predators: hyenas, jackals and of course, the big cats: cheetah, leopard and lion. As well
as animals, there
were birds everywhere, interesting even to non-birders - large and/or colorful birds,
songbirds, birds of prey, and scavengers. Birder or not, its exciting to watch an
eagle hook a fish out of a river, and then have it stolen in mid-air by another eagle; and
a tree full of looming buzzards will attract anyones attention.
The big sighting for the afternoon was a pair of elephants, whom we watched close by
for some time, and who then had the good theatrical sense to cross the road right in front
of us. They pretty much ignored us, as did most of the animals we were to see, the game on
the safari circuit seemingly used to the occasional appearance of those funny-looking but
harmless beasts on four tires.
The weather had been fine all day, the afternoon had been comfortably warm, the evening
turning cool. We ate, chatted, shared a drink, and slept well.
Day 4; Thursday, February 5th; drive to Rift Valley; stay at
Kirurumu Tented Lodge
Our second-day morning game drive in Tarangire featured watching two families: a large
community of baboons which tumbled one at a time out of a tree onto a dry river bed to
spend the morning socializing out in the open, and a herd of gazelles, perhaps 30 graceful
does and fawns, grazing by a lakeside and then meandering across the road around us,
authoritatively supervised by a magnificent buck.
In the afternoon we started our journey of about 150 miles into the center of the
Serengeti. We had originally planned to stay a second night in Tarangire but recent rains
had caused so much deterioration of the roads that the trip to the Serengeti had to be
begun that afternoon rather than next morning, if we were to reach our lodge there by
nightfall the next day.
The first part of the journey was through the open cattle-grazing ranges of Maasai
country. Wed occasionally see warriors, singly and in small groups, along or near
the road. They were always impressive, tall and slender, wrapped in their brilliant red
cloaks, equipped with a spear (to kill), a fighting pole (for combat without killing), and
a short-sword (for self-defence). Both their bearing and their beaded jewellery drew the
eye, but particularly arresting were those youths who wore fierce-looking face-paint,
indicating they had recently celebrated entry into adulthood by being circumcised (both
boys and girls, no anaesthetic; if she flinches, the guide told us, her father may kill
her on the spot). The Maasai are noted for their pride. Their god has given them dominion
over all the cattle in the world, a dominion they freely exercise, much to the distress of
their neighbors. Nor do we Europeans impress them; they refer to us as "those who
contain their farts within their clothing".
We reached the Rift Valley late that afternoon, which in that part of the country, is
actually a cliff. We drove through a settlement at its foot called Mto Wa Mbu, "River
of Mosquitoes". As we crossed the stream, several skinny-dipping youths grinned and
waved. The climb up the escarpment was interesting as well as scenic, in that the
landscape changed dramatically from savannah to tropical rain forest..
We spent the night atop the escarpment, in the Kirurumu Tented Lodge overlooking the
alkaline Lake Manyara. The lodge was a most pleasant place, in a setting offering
impressive views. The porters were lovely young ladies, the common-room floors marble, the
tents were actually good-sized furnished rooms with canvas walls, raised on foundations,
with verandas, each in its own landscaped wooded setting. At the conclusion of the evening
meal, the manager of the lodge introduced us to a small, friendly native hedgehog who
apparently liked to be stroked (but only after dark, a shy animal). Evening music was by a
chorus of enthusiastically randy frogs in a pond by the patio of the dining hall. Security
was provided by Maasai, scaring the bejesus out of one of our members as she rounded a
corner on a path after dark to come face-to-face with three warriors in full regalia.
Day 5; Friday, February 6th; drive to Serengeti; stay at
Seronera Wildlife Lodge
We resumed our voyage to the Serengeti over the meadowlands atop the Rift escarpment,
which presented a sharp change in character from the grazing ranges below. These highlands
were neatly cultivated, tended by a skilled farming tribe called the Mbulu, reputed to
have originated long ago in Iraq.
Part of our route ran along the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, to which we were to
return a few days hence, but we stopped to have a quick look. The guide reported that all
Americans, when first peering over the rim, inevitably said "Wow!". We proved to
be no exception. The view was spectacular; the crater floor, ten miles across and a third
of a mile below us, was a quilt of meadows, lakes, wooded areas, marshes and grassy hills.
Even with the naked eye (anyhow a good one), herds and even some single large animals,
could be seen everywhere.
When we pulled up in a glade for a picnic lunch, several Maasai men and separately, a
few boys, drifted up. While the boys watched the show (us) and their donkeys took dust
baths, the men tried to do deals with us. One, whose physiognomy looked decidedly
unsavory, indicated he wanted my water bottle, I didnt know whether all, or just to
share. I became hopelessly dense and unable to understand..... he shrugged and the moment
As soon as we entered the Serengeti Park proper, we spotted a cheetah and her three
grown cubs strolling about, then saw three lazy lionesses who unobligingly just lolled
motionless, and seemingly boneless, draped over a roadside mound.
Our lodge, which we reached late afternoon after a drive under dramatic storm clouds
and between rainbowed squalls, was architecturally quite interesting, being integrated
into the rocks and enormous boulders of a large kopje (rock outcropping). After dinner
there was an entertainment: "traditional" singing and dancing. I was astounded
to hear Caribbean rhythms. Then I realized where Latin American music must have come from
in the first place, that it was neither Latin (European) nor American, but African. This
discovery of authenticity was then a bit dented by an exhibition of athletic dancing,
featuring break-dancing; I was pretty sure break-dancing was traditional only in the
On the way back to our rooms, we passed an outdoor ping-pong table on which a
moderately-sized furry animal, a rock Hyrax, (somewhat like a giant, phlegmatic hamster),
was laconically sprawled, as it it had just finished an exhausting match, at least our
sudden appearance did not in any way disturb it.
Part of the rear wing of the lodge had recently had a fire and the burned-out rooms
were now occupied by a family of baboons. They made full use not only of the space, but
what was left of the furniture and whatever other facilities of the lodge they could get
away with. I fell asleep to the sound of monkeys galloping back and forth along the roof
and, less charmingly, of folks chatting loudly in the parking area below our windows.
Day 6; Saturday, February 7th; Balloon Ride over Serengeti; stay
at Seronera Wildlife Lodge
Everyone made it to the lobby in time to set out, pre-dawn, for our hot-air balloon
ride, in spite of the failure of the lodges wake-up call system. We drove through
the dark, hoping we wouldnt be shot as poachers, to the place where our two balloons
were starting to be filled with enormous, thundering jets of flame. The scene was dramatic
- the flame jets roaring, the monstrous sacks heaving slowly up from the dawn-lit
savannah. It felt like the opening scene in Top Gun. As the balloons filled, we walked
about peering at a nearby kopje, trying to discern a lion reported to have been spotted
there. The balloons baskets, honeycombed into six compartments, lay on their sides.
When the balloons were part way up, we were invited to get in by sliding ourselves into a
(horizontal) compartment, much like shells being loaded into a howitzer. Then, as the
balloons filled completely, the baskets tipped reassuringly upright, and as the sun rose
over the savannah, so did we.
The big surprise was the absence of - silence. I had expected a serene drift high above
the Serengeti, but the flame-nozzle roared constantly. Our flight path had us skimming the
bush, requiring continual short blasts to micro-adjustment our height. Had we gone higher,
the pilot explained, we would have caught a wind that would have quickly blown us too far,
forcing us to set down prematurely. So to prolong the flight we stayed low, at grass-top
and tree-top level, rushing along brushing the bush, every few seconds thought being
blasted right out of our heads by the bellows of the balloons giant torch.
While most animals we passed in our cars were blasé about them and so ignored us, a
hot-air balloon traversing buzzing ones territory is altogether less usual. A
cheetah we floated over was clearly shocked by this strange horror roaring just over his
head. He made a dash for it, for some reason always running downwind, of course just in
the direction we too were moving, until finally he caught on and peeled off.
The chase crew had anticipated our landing point by a few minutes and had set up a
fantasy scene - a champagne breakfast under an umbrella acacia tree out in the middle of
the Serengeti, a "reserved for balloonists" sign on the white tablecloth,
waiters in fancy dress - all good light-hearted fun. The owner of the operation was there
and told stories, including one of searching for a lost balloon, peering over a ridge and
"seeing nothing but MMBA." Miles and Miles of Bloody Africa, he explained.
We returned a bit tipsy from our odyssey to set out on a late morning and then an
afternoon game drive, the latter ending up in an excursion to the "hippo pool",
a natural rock-walled amphitheatre around a bend in a stream which created a pond,
well-populated by wildlife, including crocodiles, but most notably by a squadron of
bellowing hippos--mamas, pappas and babies--everyone bellowing. All in all it looked
rather like an unrealistically-gorgeous Hollywood set.
Day 7; Sunday, February 8th; game drives on Serengeti; stay at
Thomson Classic Tent Camp on Naabi Hill
As we made our way from the center of the Serengeti to Naabi Hill at its east end where
our next lodging, our "classic tented camp" had been set up, we saw more hippos
and at one point found ourselves so close to a giraffe grazing the tree-tops at the road
edge that we could have reached out and touched him. There were of course also continual
sightings of antelope and other grazers such as elephant, ostrich, and warthogs. There was
never a shortage of interesting birds. Sightings of scavengers - hyenas, jackals - were
fewer but still occurred with regularity: Spotting a big cat however, was never
"regular"; it never ceased to be a special event.
We had our first real experience with being caught in rain just before we arrived at
camp. Turned out, as we drove, that a wet wildebeest looks even more dejected than a dry
one, and a drenched ostrich is just plain pitiful. The squall played itself out while we
were at lunch. Then on our afternoon drive, we saw, and were able to work our way into the
center of, a mass of zebras a good half-mile across. There was constantly a lot of action
going on, as well as general grazing: yearlings racing one another, colts gambolling and
mares trying to keep them in control, the odd neighbors quarrelling, studs trying their
luck with varying success.
Back in camp I thought I heard one of our group talking about having seen an African
bear. Oh? I said to her, I didnt know there were bears here. No, she responded, you
misheard. I said wed seen an African hare. Oh, I said, For a moment there I
thought you were talking about the boys wed seen swimming a few days ago. She
pondered for a second, then announced that I had no longer any credibility with her
Our tents this time were real tents, not canvas motel rooms; no utilities, but they
were spacious enough -10x10 and ample headroom to stand and move about - and
with a "pee-pee tepee" containing a portable toilet attached to the rear of
each. Lanterns were brought to the tent verandas at sunset, hot water was provided for
hand-washing at meals at the mess tent and for showers to order. This was classy as well
as "classic" camping, indeed. There was a campfire to gather round after
dinner and then - aah! the quiet (except for the birds and animals) and the fresh air. No
motors, no generators, no sounds of distant traffic. Peace. Well--there was the
occasional nearby muffled roar of a hungry lion.
Day 8; Monday, February 9th; game drives on Serengeti; stay at
Thomson Classic Tent Camp on Naabi Hill
The tents verandas sported a table, mirror, bowl and towel. Hot water was brought
at wakeup for an outdoor wash and shave in the cool of the early morning air. Nice.
This days game drive finally introduced us to the great herd of wildebeest (gnus)
for which the Serengeti is famous. We had driven along the savannah for quite a while
without seeing much of anything, but this grassy plain is so vast and flat (it appears
dished as you look out on it, much as does the earths horizon from the window of a jet high over
the ocean) that its apparent emptiness can easily deceive; drive a few miles further on
and youre in an entirely different area that only looks identical. With surprising
suddenness, the herd appeared on the horizon as we drove, and then we were amongst them.
They stretched as far as the eye could see, in all directions, a million wildebeest, with
smatterings of other ruminants mixed in, using the gnus for protection. Far out on the
horizon a piece of the rim herd would appear a bit darker than the rest. With glasses, you
could work out that it wasnt just a thicker clustering of the group of animals you
were among, it was a whole new herd - like a constellation outside the Milky Way appearing
to us as a single star.
We later came upon the same four cheetahs that wed seen two days earlier as we
entered the park. Theyd just killed, their bellies were full, and they were cuddled,
preening and grooming one another, eyes closed with expressions as close to ecstasy on
their faces as any Ive ever seen. We also had several lion sightings, one of a pair
in their mating period. He was gaunt and staggering, ribs showing, since for a week or two
hed not eaten, just made love all the time. She looked fine.
On returning to our camp we noted a pair of pigeon-sized birds, brilliant irridescent
blue with bright orange chests and flashing yellow eyes, investigating whether we had left
any tent-flaps open, offering an opportunity for plunder. As striking as the birds were,
the staff, usually keen to point out sightings, ignored them. We asked, and were told that
were "only" common African starlings and indeed we soon saw they were all around
Day 9; Tuesday, February 10th; drive to Ngorongoro Crater; stay at
Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
We left the Serengeti for the Ngorongoro Crater, stopping en route at the Olduvai Gorge
of archaeological interest. We peered into it, and walked through the two-room
"museum" containing a few fossils, some pictures of digs, and a photo of Hillary
and Chelsea during their recent visit there.
More interestingly, we also stopped at a Maasai village. The government, concerned that
the Maasai way of life not be corrupted, has made it illegal for safari drivers to bring
tourists to Maasai villages or even to stop for roadside photographs of Maasai people. A
few specified villages are however allowed to be visited, and it was one such, a few dozen mud
huts enclosed by a fence of brambles, that we entered. Much of the population was gathered
inside the entrance to greet us with song and dance, the men swathed in cloaks of multiple
shades of bright red in rectininear patterns, the women wrapped in more ornately patterned
robes, colored predominately in various shades of rich blue. There were two immediate and
contradictory impressions: admiration of the warriors who had gathered at our arrival to
dance for us, leaping and chanting with skill, power and joy; and repugnance at the
squalor, muck, flies, and distressingly frequent deformities. (This in spite of there
being a reasonable amount of wealth at their disposal. We were told that herds of cattle
running to several hundred head owned by a single individual were not uncommon, and were
worth enough to buy several Land Rovers. Some of the largest heres would, in Texas, make
their owners millionaires).
Afterwards we picnicked on a hill covered with lavender wild flowers, an unforgettable
sight. But the Maasai flies had came with us in the cars and one of our group who had been
thoughtful enough to have brought Raid, was convinced by his spouse to gas them before we
Our accommodation on the rim of the crater, the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, was the poshest
yet: swimming pool, sit-down dinner, spacious, well-appointed rooms and a magnificent
view. But its opulence was accompanied by its being busy-busy, by pricey gift shops, tour
groups coming in and out, and its lobby bustling like that of a hotel in midtown
Manhattan, all-in-all rather less harmonious than our tented camp had been with the notion
of "safari". But the air was lightened for me when, as a dignified Japanese
gentleman and I passed one another on a walkway, he nodded at me respectfully and
addressed me with the one word of Swahili we both knew, the greeting. "Jambo" he
Discordant or not, the international ambience was certainly stimulating. The number of
tongues one could hear spoken on the terrace as the lodge guests sat watching the sun
setting over the crater, was amazing.
Day 10; Wednesday, February 11th; game drives in Ngorongoro
Crater; stay at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
The interior of the crater combines the Garden of Eden with a circus, the latter being
the contribution of us safari-goers.
We passed by a herd of elephants on our way down the rim to the crater floor, then once
on the floor, we drove through one herd after another of sleek, well-fed animals of all
descriptions (except giraffes, who cant manage the slope). I don't mean to give the
impression that the animals are all just standing at attention served up on a tray for
you. They're not; - theres still the thrill of the hunt. The craters ten
miles across, and there are a lot of different topographical features - hillocks and
marshes as well as meadows and lakes - behind or beyond which to discover animals. But
find them you do, at a fast and exciting clip. The big moment was when we finally spotted
the rare black rhino, eight within an hour or so. The most poignant moment was when we
passed a field full of widely separated, single male wildebeests. Each was standing
stock-still, alone, in the forlorn hope that somewhere, somehow, some females would see
him, fall in love from a distance, and gather round him to make a harem. A little like
teen-agers that hang out on street corners.
The circus aspect arose when we arrived at our picnic lunch site. Until then, although
wed see the odd safari vehicle during the morning, thered been no impression
of crowds. But when at noon we topped a knoll, there, by a hippo-pool, was a new herd, one
composed of maybe 50 Land Rovers and a couple of hundred chattering picnickers of all
descriptions of mien and dress. Every safari group in the crater had gathered here to eat.
And, there was an outhouse! - most welcome, as most of us by then had a mild touch of the
Tanganyican Tango. But then it turned out to be locked! There was another, but it
wasnt apparent and was 100 yards away. In the meantime groups of Japanese
schoolgirls were jumping up and down on one leg screaming, and ample ladies in spandex
pants were pulling them down behind sparse bushes, having evidently decided that coverage
from at least the main body of picnicker eyes was sufficient under the circumstances. The
trees were full of cawing kites that would steal your lunch out of your hand if you ate
outside your vehicle, and through it all, the hippos bawled.
After lunch - and back amidst nature - we had the most interesting sighting of the day.
We were watching a lone bull elephant stroll through the tall grass when - surprise all
around - he roused a rhino whod evidently been dozing there. The rhino stood up,
horn presented, and we watched the two of them face off, three elephant-lengths apart, in
full profile to us. The elephant looked very much the irresistible force, the rhino,
smaller but incredibly massive, an unquestionably immovable object. They stood eyeball to
eyeball for a few minutes, not moving, then the elephant decided he didnt have a
stake in the matter worth getting gored over and veered off, making a wide berth around
the unyielding rhino.
As we went back up the rim at the end of the afternoon, we passed through an elephant
herd, probably the same wed seen on the way down, unintentionally separating one
from the rest. We heard her trumpet, then this enormous head appeared over the tree tops
on the uphill edge of our narrow, cliff-face road, just in front of our car. Taking
guidance from the behavior of her cousin earlier, we decided we didnt have a stake
in the matter worth getting flipped over for, so stopped and backed up. The elephant
cocked an eye at us, decided we werent relevant, and crossed the road in front of
Day 11; Thursday, February 12th; drive through Crater to
Ngorongoro Highlands; stay at Gibbs Farm
Last full day, alas. We re-entered the crater in order to cross it and start on the
road back to Arusha. At a rest stop on the far side of the crater floor, we all took
sentimental pictures of one another and of our drivers, while a troop of monkeys looked
on. When they were sure we were fully engaged in picture-taking, the monkeys dashed across
the clearing and tried to raid our cars. We beat them to it, getting the windows closed
just in time.
As we drove along the narrow ridge of the crater rim, everyone was peering with
desperate intentness at tree branches, looking for the dangling tell-tale tail of a
leopard, the only one of the "big five" wed not yet seen (the others are
elephant, buffalo, rhino and lion). Then, at the last possible opportunity, on just about
the last branch of the last tree as we left the park, there one was. Triumph! Whew.
We spent the afternoon and night at Gibbs Farm, an ex-coffee plantation, still in
the Ngorongoro area but outside the park itself, set on a hillside over a pretty, cultured
valley. Its a cluster of Cotswold cottages with an African flavor, with lovely
tropical gardens and tasteful, comfortable interiors - a class act. Some of us joined for
a "walk" that afternoon to a nearby waterfall, a strenuous undertaking as it
turned out, on an uneven, steep and slippery path. One of our group soon turned back, I
kept struggling for footing, but Trig ran back and forth the whole time, racing to
net a butterfly, zipping back to hand it to Waltraud for safekeeping, then bounding past
the rest of us in pursuit of another, as we gasped for breath. It was inhuman. Waltraud
radiated quiet pride. Trig says the moral is: "Butterfly catching (in moderation) is
good for your health!"
We all gathered on the lawn afterwards for a self-congratulatory drink. I leaned back
in my lawn chair, cool draught in hand. A chair leg went into a hole, I flailed as I
tipped, dousing my neighbor in beer. Oh well.
Later we migrated to the comfort of the bar, where we particularly admired several
truly fine prints of tall, slender, flowing Maasai women.
Day 12; Friday, February 13th; drive to Arusha, stay in Mt Meru
Novotel day room, fly to Amsterdam
The final-day drive to Arusha, back through the Rift escarpment, the Mto Wa Mbu
settlement, and Maasai country, was a tough one. It had rained heavily, the roads were
soaked and muddy, and many vehicles were mired (never ours!). When at last we reached the
paved road and thought we could relax - nothing had gone wrong with our group the whole
time - driver Little John got busted. There was a police roadblock, our drivers
papers and vehicles were thoroughly examined, but the best they could come up with was
that Little John hadnt been wearing his seat belt (a shakedown?). We were told he
was able to talk his way out of it.
We stopped again at the "Cultural Center" on our way into Arusha to shop for
souvenirs, then went on to the Mt Meru Novotel for lunch and relaxation in our day-rooms,
awaiting the time to leave for the airport. Rather than relax however, a group soon
assembled to go into town to look around and shop for an hour or so. I ended up buying a
few wood carvings, of a giraffe, a rhino, an owl, a cluster of Maasai warriors and, at the
airport, a charming set of carved wooden animals seated on chairs around a table, having a
tea party, for grandson Willem.
We left for the airport at 6 PM for a 10 PM flight, to avoid problems with what we were
told was frequent overbooking (there are only two KLM flights per week). We had to fly
first to Dar-Es-Salaam, further south and on the coast, and deplane there for an hour. We
developed a new appreciation for the pleasant weather wed had on our high-altitude
safari circuit; in Dar-Es-Salaam it was a humid 100 degrees F. At midnight.
It had been a most enjoyable trip but strenuous. Most of us had no trouble sleeping on
the ten-hour flight back to Amsterdam.
Day 13; Saturday, February 14th; arrive in Amsterdam
We said our goodbyes at Schiphol. Everyone seemed deeply satisfied by our experience,
if weary. Trig and Waltraud started their long train journey that would bring them back to
the snows of Wagenschwend, where they would gaze only on civilized fauna--euro-deer and
euro-boar. I boarded my transport for the ride back to Sue and Jan Willems house in
Zeeland, which passed en route not a single square inch of untamed land.
This is a journal of our Tanzania wildlife safari in February 1998, written by
Richard Neergaard, a member of the group. Harlan Hague, the tour escort, also has written
a freelance travel article about the safari.
See also Hague's web site.