We’re on Safari! (Day 3, Tanzania)

Posted in africa 2008, personal, photos, travel at 12:46 am by wingerz


Day 3, late afternoon, campsite, pouring rain
Today has been quite incredible even though we’ve spent about 7 hours in transit. In our jeep: Paul & Marina, Liz, and Joanna. The terrain is varied and beautiful. Muddy roads lead away from the city. We are passed by lots of trucks coming into town for the Monday market – they are overflowing, with passengers sitting on top with their legs dangling off the sides. As we get further from town the outfits become more colorful, and cattle and goat herders wave to us as we pass by. The shelters get progressively more primitive as we travel further from civilization. Our dusty road cuts through the African savanna, which is green thanks to the rains that mark the beginning of the wet season.

driving through
the steppe

This area west of Arusha and southeast of the Serengeti is known as the Maasai Steppe, named after the native people. They are cattle-farming nomads, and a few of them will join us tomorrow to guide us on hikes through their land. Our campsite is somewhere in the midst of it, set up and awaiting our arrival. It feels great to have the wind in my hair as we cruise along; a few clouds give us a break from the sun. Despite being in Africa for nearly two days it hasn’t really sunk in that I am on safari until we see our first animal – an ostrich, followed by some zebras, then some wildebeest.

We stop frequently to view wildlife. Sometimes we only have a few moments to look before the animals flee; the elan (light brown) are especially sensitive to our presence. We come across larger groups of animals and are completely in awe. Towards the end of our drive we spot two giraffes in the trees (in very dim light). At this point the sky opens up and it pours for several hours until we are finished with dinner.

first sighting:
the not-so-exciting

The campsite is set up on the eastern side of a small hill. The two-person tents are blue and quite small, and we all simultaneously realize that ‘luxury camping’ simply means that someone else sets up the tent, cooks, and cleans up. Gone are the visions of huge tents with cots inside them. There are two bathrooms, each with a toilet and a shower. The toilet is a hole in the ground with a plastic (!) seat over it. The shower is a bag of water suspended from a tree. Both are enclosed by small four-sided tents, maybe 3-4 feet on each side and less than 7 ft high. No showers tonight though, thanks to rain and pitch-black darkness after the rain.

The food on safari is quite good, possibly in part because we’re completely famished at every meal. Lunch is usually make-your-own sandwiches and some sort of salad. The preservative-free bread is quite crumbly and keeping your sandwich intact requires a delicate touch, especially if you’ve got lots of cucumber and tomato slices in it. Dinner consists of several stews (at least one vegetarian), a starch, and dessert. The stews are flavorful and the meat is tender; warm, hearty food hits the spot on a rainy night.

nerdy lion food

There’s a safety protocol for nighttime bathroom visits. Turn on your headlamp. Exit your tent. Look in all directions. If you see two green eyes, it’s probably ok. If you see two red eyes, get back in your tent. Wait until morning and be thankful that the lion didn’t get you while you were in the bathroom.

Photo album


  1. Jen said,

    April 5, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    the best part was when the cattle waved.

  2. Samarth Pal said,

    April 7, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    I thought the cattle mooned us.

    Anyway, loving the blog. It is bringing back so many memories. Keep on writing, looking forward to the other entries.

  3. ~wingerz » Africa Day 0 & 1: Prelude said,

    November 23, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    […] to catch up on a handful of journal entries since I jumped straight into day 3 when I first started writing. Almost […]

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