Northern Circuit, Tanzania
By Tracie Thorson
My whole group of 11 volunteers went, we had two land rovers, a
driver/guide for each. We left Friday afternoon for Lake Manyara. The park is beautiful – you first drive through dense jungle full of noise from bugs and animals. Then the open field with the lake. We saw so many elephants (and babies too) giraffes, zebras, warthogs, a lion crossed the road in front of us. There are some trees just full of vervet monkeys and baboons running around.
Flamingos in the lake.
That night we stayed a nice campsite. We had a great dinner together
at the campsite and some wine…so then we decided to go dancing. We went to this very small nearby town to a dance club. I’m not even going to try to explain what it looked like…I felt like I was in a basement and there were old flour sacks for doors. Anyway, they play many American songs and some of the locals showed how the Africans dance. I’ll show you my new moves when I get back.
We got up early Saturday morning and headed to Ngorongor Crater (the
8th natural wonder of the world). It is the largest caldera in the world.
The road up the crater wall and then down the crater into the park was so scary!!! It had rained, so the road was muddy, full of potholes, extremely narrow and at times there was a cliff on both sides of the road ( I’m not fond of heights, and at times just closed my eyes, hoping we didn’t slip off the road). We saw a few trucks that slipped off the road, luckily in a ditch…We drove around all day in the crater. I saw Zebra, gazelles, jackals, hyennas, warthog, elephants, foxes, tons of wildebeast, hippos, monkeys, black rhino and a pile of lions. There were about a dozen lions lounging in the sand, if they got too hot they would stretch and meanter into the tall grass. All the animals I saw aslo had babies. The lion
cubs were adorable!
We had a picnic lunch at the hippo pool, even watched a couple hippos
mate. We took a break to watch the monkeys in the tree and got out of the car. Before we knew this naughty monkey flew into the car window, took our power bars, and was back in the tree eating them.
Our campsite was a bit rustic. There was a covered area with a table,
the toilets (it’s actually not a tiolet, just a hole in the ground with walls around it) were scary. At night you have to shine your light in to scare off any bats. Again we had a good evening together, had a little of our boxed wine, and tried to find our tents in the field in the pitch black. At night you can hear the bush pigs wandering around.
Sunday morning we headed to Lake Tarangire. It’s a hilly landscape
with many baboa trees and thousands of birds. We stopped for a picnic
overlooking part of the park where the river runs through. Two huge
groups of elephants came to the river banks on both sides for a drink. We sat down for lunch and one of my friends opened her sandwich, before we knew, this monkey came out of the bushes and grabbed her food. It was freaky, the monkey was screething. THen all the monkey friends decided to take a shot at our lunch, so our drivers had to be on monkey patrol.
We saw hundreds of elephants here, giraffes, dik-dik, impalla,
gazelles. We saw hundreds of baboons of all ages cross the river and walk along the beach, an elephant walked onto the beach, stood there for a few minutes, then got irritated with all the baboons, he swayed his trunked and “roared” at the now freaking out baboons. We saw 2 leopards in near by trees(they don’t share trees).
That night we camped right down the road from the park. The facilities were not good, a mouse in the toilet stall, a dead lizard and giant bug in the sink…but at least the food is good. That night a few of us were admiring the night sky – you can see the southern cross and the northern star!!
Out of the darkness a Maasi man walked up to us – it was a little eerie because we were not expecting visitors. Turned out he was our guard for the night from the hyennas, leopards and other creatures. But all he had was a bow, a small container of arrows and a small wooden club all strapped around is waist which also held his traditional clothing in place. A few minutes later we smelled something unusual…we realized that our maasi bow, arrow club guard is getting stoned.
I have never heard a Maasi giggle before…especially when we were
walking through the grass to the tiolet and got freaked out of our minds. There was this long black snake like creature in the grass. Our giggling, stoned maasi guard came over and picked up this creature – over a foot long centipede!! Once in my tent I did not get out for the rest of the night – I was more concerned that our stoned guard would stick in arrow in me by accident versus a leopard.
Monday we got up really early to watch the sunrise at the park.We
turned down a path and there was this huge elephant standing near. We stopped the trucks to watch him. THe elephant starting walking towards us – not good.
We started our car, but the other car wouldn’t start!! The driver had
to get out and fix somthing under the hood – we both took off. The
elephant was right behind our truck running behind. An elephant weighs 6 tons, our truck is about 3 tons. Our hearts were pounding!
We stopped by a Maasi village and learned about their culture and how
they live. I got to enter one of their mud hut homes where they sleep, cook and keep their small animals (goats, chickens).