Friday, February 28, 2014

Week 9 of BZ Adventure

Saturday, February 22
Awoke at the Stella Maris lodge in Moshi for breakfast, packed our stuff and caught a shuttle to our hotel in Arusha for our safari kick off. The hotel is wonderful, and called the Outpost Lodge. It has a pool, wifi and a wonderful lounge. Steve, Lennie, me, Alex, and Adam all from the Kili trip are on the safari together so that helps that we know half the people already.

Steve, Alex, Adam, Len, and I enjoyed a pizza and coffee in Cafe Mambo and boy was it delicious. We then walked to town to check out the sites, did our laundry in the sink and waited for the 6:00pm meeting. Our new CEO (chief experience officer) is named Michael and we have more Canadians from Calgary and New Brunswick and Australians with us for the safari for a group of 11.
Michael had us complete the forms, gave us an agenda and we went for dinner together to get to know each other. We also played cards, drank some beers, and laughed a lot. I think the safari is going to rock.

Sunday, February 23
We got up, ate breakfast, loaded the trucks and were on our way to a village for a tour. It was in the town of Mto Wa Mbu, Tanzania. It was a banana plantation, sculpting studio, and painters. They also gave us a wonderful traditional African lunch. It was so yummy. The roads are terrible and so bumpy this will take some getting used to.
We then got back into the trucks and went to our camp site where we unpacked, got water and got ready to head to Lake Manyara for our first safari. When we arrive at the camp site everything is set up for you. The tent, mattresses, water for washing and a food tent all appear. You just have to bring your bag from the jeeps.

We left for the park and the drivers opened the roof in the trucks so you can stand up and we looked like real safari people. Right away we saw a million kinds of monkeys, birds, and animals. We saw so many kinds of deer, then wart hogs, and my favourite, zebras. We then headed further into the park and all of a sudden there were giraffes. 6 giraffes, 2 moms and 4 babies. It was getting darker so we headed to the gate when the driver got a call to come see something awesome. 5 elephants crossed the road and went up the hill beside us. I got some wonderful photos today and am so happy I bought the new camera at Christmas.

We arrived back at camp and the chef had prepared a wonderful pumpkin soup, beef stew, lentils, and avocado salad. He brought us fresh fruit while Michael the CEO debriefed us for tomorrow.
Our tent is huge. Much bigger than the ones on Kili plus it is warm weather so we don't need to be in the sleeping bags. You can even stand up in the tent so it's easier to pack and get dressed.
So exciting already.

Monday, February 24
Got up after a great sleep in a wonderful camp and had a shower. The bathrooms are so much better on safari - there are toilet seats and that is a luxury. Ate a delicious breakfast of eggs, crepes, and toast. Someone bought baileys so I had a cup - delicious. We got into the jeeps and headed to a Maasai village where the boys did the jump test and we did the women dance. We also got a tour of the homes and met the chief's sons. So many wonderful thoughts about their lifestyle but also so different.

We got back into the jeeps and headed to the Ngorongoro crater. We stopped at the gate, took some photos, got the park pass and headed through the crater to the Serengeti. On our way we saw so many zebras, giraffes, wildabeasts, then the ultimate...a lion waiting in the grass to attack. A couple of hours later we reached the Serengeti and saw more lions, elephants, hyenas, and then a pride of lions on a rock. 3 moms with 4 cubs so cool. We reached the camp and moved in for 2 nights. We enjoyed a dinner of potato soup, moussaka, cucumber salad, and mango. So good. It started to rain so we went to bed because we have another busy day tomorrow seeing the animals. We are pooped from the long drive, being so dry and dusty plus the bumpy roads.

Tuesday, February 25
Woke to a wonderful breakfast of eggs, baileys, and toast. We left at 8:00 for our first of 2 game drives today. Our goal was a leopard. We saw so many wonderful sites again including elephants right beside the jeep and then a beautiful leopard sleeping in a tree. We also were taken to the hippo pool where 100s of hippos were bathing. We got awesome photos of hippos yawning. We had a terrific lunch of BBQ burgers, a short nap and then back out to see another leopard in a tree. Our driver said that is pretty lucky to see 2 in 1 day.

We returned to the camp for wine and popcorn. We got wonderful sunset photos, a dinner of carrot soup, delicious bread, BBQ chicken and pizza, then off to bed to prepare for 2 more drives tomorrow and back to the Ngorongoro crater for the night. What a great day.

Wednesday, February 26
Woke up early because the hyenas were very close and making their weird noises. I quickly ran to the washroom and took a long needed shower. Breakfast was eggs, toast, crepes and fruit and we packed up the camp site and were off. We told Richard our jeep driver we needed more lions and a cheetah. I laughed because I couldn't imagine seeing more things than we had already seen. All of a sudden Richard said "cheetah walking" and there he was...a beautiful male cheetah walking along. We stopped for our photos then moved on. Then Richard said "lions" and a male and female lion were mating beside the road. Wow! We moved along and saw 2 more brother lions in the tall grass, a group sleeping in the meadow, and another male/female on some rocks and a male drinking from a pond 30 feet away. So many lions!
We ate a hot lunch of rice and beef stew at the park gates and drove to our last camping night. We are sleeping at the Ngorongoro crater. It's nice and cool here and should be a good sleep. We are up at 6:00am for the crater drive. We hope to see a rhino to complete the "big 5"; lion, buffalo, leopard, elephant, and rhino. I just wanted to see a zebra so my expectations are totally blown away.

While we are driving around we snack on cliff bars, mars bars, and trail mix that everyone brought. We also each bought a case of water and drink that so everyone is feeling good.
The roads are terrible and exceptionally bumpy! They call it an "African massage".

Thursday, February 27
What a night, barely slept because buffalo and elephants were in the camp site eating and knocking the tents. Scared the crap out of you the first time you heard them. Up at 6:00am for breakfast and off to find the rhino in the crater by 6:30am. Our driver said it will be slim finding one today. The drive down to the crater was nuts, so scary, straight down on a curvy road.
We immediately saw the elephants, lions, zebras, and even a mama and baby jackal. But then....4 rhinos walking in the middle of the field. It was unbelievable. We all freaked out. Not 1, 2, 3, but 4. 2 grey and 2 black. We drove more and saw wildebeests fighting, a mom and 2 lion cubs right beside the jeep, and elephants eating. Then Richard our driver spotted another rhino. That's 5! We raced to the other side of the crater floor and caught him crossing the road in front of us. It was the best way to end our crater visit. We drove to the edge of the crater and met our other jeep friends, stopped for lunch, and had a bumpy car ride for several hours.

After lunch we drove back to the Outpost lodge in Arusha. Showers, dinner, drinks and laughs topped off an unbelievable week.

We counted over 40+ animals seen plus the "big 5" now that we saw a rhino plus over 25 lions. I think the zebras and giraffes were my favourite to photograph but seeing elephants within 10 feet plus lion cubs was amazing.

Friday, February 28
Flying to Singapore and Bali today - long day but excited to go to another continent.