It’s been 19 years ago when the monkey and me started traveling. Our first oversea trip led us to the southern parts of Africa. One day I will tell you about this initial journey and bring up some old analogue pictures from my photo albums. So returning to Africa some years ago was a very special experience for us.
At the foot of Kilimanjaro
This time we wanted to explore East Africa. We flew to one of the most melodious airports I’ve ever been. Our boarding pass showed „Kilimanjaro Airport“ as our final destination. We couldn’t have been welcomed more authentic when we’ve got out the plane: They played Shakira’s song „Waka waka ma, eh eh – ‚cause this is Africa“ in a never-ending loop. We stayed two days in a small town called Moshi close by the foothills of Kili. Basically there is not much to see, but it’s a great starting point for safari trips to the Serengeti – and that was on our list. We did a lot of research in advance to find the perfect tour and operator for our adventure. We liked the idea of renting a Jeep with a roof tent and explore Tanzania with our friends on our own. Looking back, this would have ended in a disaster because of: sparse road signs, corrupt policemen, disastrous road conditions, non-transparent national park permissions and perfectly hidden wildlife. I’m grateful that we changed our minds and did a low-budget private safari tour with camping led by Materuni and its wonderful owner Ambrose.
Our perfect triple: Tarangire – Serengeti – Ngorongoro Crater
We were thrilled when our Jeep arrived with our tour guide Boka and guess who? Our private chef de cuisine: Franky. It got even better, when we saw the interior of our car: seat covers with leopard pattern. We had so much space – even the monkey had his own seat. Before we hit the sandy roads, we stopped at a supermarket in Arusha to buy, they told us, „some personal stuff you’ll need“. And guess what? The four Germans and the monkey bought a palett of Tanzanian beer and some toilet paper. Now we were ready for safari.
We started our tour in Tarangire, a national park that is known for its huge elephant herds. It was awsome to have a close view on the gentle giants. The first night in the wilderness was for rookies: a fenced camping ground with a kitchen and dinning area. Our chef Frankie prepared the most delicious meals, always wearing his chef’s hat, and he presented the menu as if we had not been sitting on our plastic chairs on a camping ground, but in a gourmet restaurant with white table cloths. The nights and our tents were really comfy as we had normal mattresses, but my sleep was horrible. I suppose that I didn’t tolerate the Malaria pills and was troubled by really bad nightmares – but that’s another story.
We were lucky that we had the best guide around, he worked with many wildlife researchers for decades and knew the best spots in every national park. It took us three days and we checked off the box „The Big 5“ (lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino, leopard) on our bucket list. I really fell in love with all the lions we saw: romantic couples, lonesome individualists and my favorite kind the clumsy cubs.
Heading to the Serengeti was very exciting because you’ll pass a few Maasai villages and our guide told us many things about their traditions. The volcanic grassland is home to the largest migration of land animals on the planet. Once in a lifetime you should see this amazing territory. The best thing is to wake up early and go for game drive at sunrise, there ist so much wildlife around. Our nights got more advanced and we camped in the middle of the park: no fence, no wall, no security. I dreamed all night that an elephant steps on our tent – accidently. But in the morning there where only wildpigs and some curious antilopes in front of our tent.
Our last stop during this safari adventure was Ngorongoro Crater. The area has a breathtakingly beautiful setting. When you cross the rim and drive down into the crater, which is 20 kilmeters long, you’ll understand what the difficult African name „Ngorongoro“ means: gift of life. The crater has a very fertile soil and is home to 30,000 animals. Here we met the last animal of our Big 5 list: a rhino. A successful conclusion to an unforgettable experience. Hakuna Matata – Tanzania!
© Michaela Blum