Feb. 13, 2018
Our last day in Tanzania was spent in transit. We had a nice breakfast at Ang’ata Camp and bid farewell to the staff. A group photo was taken, while the drivers packed the vehicles with our luggage.
Group photo including some of the staff at Ang’ata Camp, Serengeti NP
Our drivers were very efficient packers – both vehicles were loaded to the hilt!
Our expert drivers from High Peaks Expeditions, Livingstone and Elias!
We were headed toward the Serengeti NP Visitors’ Center and the airport, where we would catch a flight back to Arusha (one hour flight vs 9 hours by car!).
Along the way, once again on the dirt roads in the park, we saw more animals:
Lovebirds in an acacia tree
Male cheetah – he’s filled his belly so he’s not hunting now!Lots of impalas, including this beautiful maleTopi and zebraVervet monkey in an acacia tree
The tree the monkey was in was full of puffy white seeds or blooms.
Time allowed for us to observe another hippo pond. There were two males either fighting, or play fighting.
We arrived at the Visitors’ Center with a little time to look around. The Visitors’ Center is built around a kopje (rocky outcrop), so that we saw hyraxes very close up (not only in the rocks – they ran along all the paths and sunned themselves on a deck). From there, we also had a view of the Serengeti Plain beyond.
I spotted this colorful lizard basking on a sunny patch of rock.
There was a collection of animal bones, which David (our guide) identified for us.There were also metal sculptures of a lion and a dung beetle.
The airport was practically next door to the Visitors’ Center and this is where we parted company with some members of our group who were staying in Africa and visiting other places. We saw the plane the rest of us would be returning to Arusha on – an 18-seater!
The pilot greeted David warmly – old acquaintances, apparently. When she boarded after we were all strapped in, she warned us to expect a bumpy ride, as it was very windy that day. I had been nervous about this flight, so this news didn’t calm me down!
In fact, though, the ride was unexpectedly smooth and we were able to look down at the places we had traversed – the landscapes were beautiful!
Serengeti – wooded areas with rivers
Mountain that was once a volcano (not Kilimanjaro)
Lush green – looks like the rim of Ngorongoro Crater, although that was off to the right.
Arriving in Arusha, we were taken to the Kibo Palace Hotel, where we were assigned day
Arusha clock tower
rooms – this was a luxurious hotel, unlike the accommodations we had been used to! Our safari lodgings had better views though! Even so, we were greeted the same way as we had at each accommodation: People saying, Karibu! (welcome) to us, giving us hot towels to refresh ourselves and small glasses of fruit juice.
We had a three course luncheon on the patio of the hotel’s restaurant. Service was not fast – which was not expected, but I was getting antsy: I was anxious to take a shower and have time to spend at the craft market as we had been promised.
Dale and I, along with two others from our group, walked to the market, about six blocks away. We had a very successful shopping trip! I bought a skirt, a “dashiki” shirt, pants with an elephant print, and another pair of shorter pants. We also bought Tanzanian coffee and souvenirs for our kids.
The market was large, with a labyrinth of alleys lined with shops. At each one, whether we went in – or even showed interest – or not, the vendors called out to us, “Lady, please come in! We have just what you are looking for!” Some of them were more aggressive than others, and I felt bad having to say no to any of them! But actually, many of the shops had similar merchandise, so once I’d bought something, I didn’t want to buy more of the same thing. The vendors would observe what we’d bought at the shop next door and immediately hold up a similar item from their shop, waving it at us and imploring us to come in and buy something at their shop, too! We were always polite and smiled, as David had reminded us to be; sometimes we’d stop and chat with this or that vendor. I noticed sewing machines at several of the shops that sold women’s clothing. When I was looking at a pair of pants that was gathered at the ankles, I expressed that I didn’t really want that style. Immediately, the vendor would offer to take out the elastic and before I could refuse, she was hard at work removing stitches!
Back in the hotel room, we both took showers and charged our phones and tablets. We logged into the hotel’s WiFi to update our friends back home on our travels, posting photos on Facebook.
Although I took several pictures in Arusha, I lost them all when I lost my phone! Late in the afternoon, a driver was hired to take us to Kilimanjaro Airport, an hour’s drive away. One other couple from our group was with us, because they were taking the same flight to Amsterdam, where we would part company. We had a quick dinner/snack with them in the airport, and they rushed off to the waiting area, even though they had more than two hours before the flight was due to board! Dale wanted to follow them, so I grabbed the food I had just been served “to go”, gathered up my camera bag, mini purse, and backpack and followed him.
It was an overnight flight and I didn’t notice until we were about to arrive in Amsterdam that my phone was missing. We searched the whole area around our seats and the flight attendants did an additional search as they were cleaning up, but it was not found!
in Amsterdam we had a long layover, so I went online on my tablet. There was an email from Sprint to confirm that I had changed my password on Feb. 13 in Tanzania, which of course I had not done! I called Sprint and had the phone blocked so that whoever picked it up would not be able to access my data. Theft of cellphones is rampant in Tanzania, but I don’t think it was stolen – I think in my rush to leave the restaurant at the airport, I left it behind or it fell out of my purse and someone picked it up.
Usually Google uploads my photos automatically so they can be accessed anywhere, but for some reason, it had not done that the entire time I was in Tanzania. So I lost a lot of photos. Fortunately, my best photos were on my camera and I was also able to retrieve the ones I had posted on Facebook.
I bear no ill will toward Tanzania or the Tanzanian people due to the loss of my cellphone (and my Fitbit, as I noticed later also). I LOVED my time there and would gladly go back. In fact, I’ve already done research on other safaris in Tanzania and other countries in southern Africa!
Safaris get into your soul. Seeing all those animals in the wild and getting close up photographs of them was amazing. Taking the time to observe animal behaviors in their natural environment. Admiring the beauty of the land. Appreciating the welcoming friendliness of the Tanzanian people.
I don’t think I can go to a zoo again for a long, long time.
*kwaheri – good-bye in Swahili
ASANTE SANA, TANZANIA! I hope to return someday…