safari day 1

Monday morning a representative from our safari company rescued us from our hotel and whisked us away from Moshi in his white minivan.  The clouds impeding our view of Mt. Kilimanjaro the day before had dissolved, rewarding us with majestic views of the tallest mountain in Africa for much of our drive to Arusha.

Joey's cousin, Angela, and her husband, Steve, flew over 30 hours and almost 10,000 miles from Seattle to meet us in Arusha.  We couldn't decide whether we were more excited to see Angela and Steve or to begin our long-awaited safari.  Luckily we didn't have to, because no sooner were we reunited than we were loaded into the Toyota Landcruiser in which the four of us would have many, many hours over the next week to reconnect.

About two hours through the Tanzanian countryside and a snack of red bananas later, we reached our first safari destination: Lake Manyara National Park, where we were greeted by a blue monkey before even passing the gate.  Once inside, our driver and guide, Ibrahim, popped the vehicle's roof hatch so we were able to stand while he drove through the park.

Standing in the back of the car.  See the giraffes in the background?
As we made our way through the forest, we saw baboons, more blue monkeys, black-faced velvet monkeys and impalas before lunch.  We stopped in a clearing with several picnic tables and Ibrahim doled out our lunch boxes.  Lunch was fairly meager, but fortunately for always-hungry Joey we still had some of the bananas purchased along the way from the women on the side of the road.

After lunch we headed into the bush and over the next several hours spotted wildebeest (which Ibrahim pronounced as "wild beast"), giraffes, elephants, teeny tiny little impalas called Kirk's Dik-Dik, an Egyptian lizard, warthogs, zebras, hippos, and numerous species of birds!  With the aid of Ibrahim and my journal, we counted 23 different animals and we still had four more days to go!

Pink flamingos, giraffes and wildebeest

This giant turkey vulture looking thing is called a Southern Ground Hornbill

We left the park and about an hour later arrived at the Bougainvillea Safari Lodge, a welcome respite from our accommodations the previous night.  We had our own cottage, with a four-poster bed draped in mosquito netting, a fireplace and large walk-in shower, which I employed immediately.

Feeling much fresher, Joey and I met Angela and Steve for dinner in the lodge.  Many glasses of really bad boxed wine (actually, the first glass was the only really bad one; Angela said she saw them tipping the box to get all the wine out) and many good laughs later, we finally retired to our romantic little cottage.

Click here for the rest of my pictures from our first day of safari