safari day 3

Our early morning game drive started out slow.  The early morning drizzle turned into a light rain and after driving for over an hour we'd only seen a rabbit, an aardvark and few ostriches.  Then our guide spotted a cheetah (no pun intended).  We drove near to where she stood and listened while she emitted short, high-pitched cries for her fellow cheetahs.  Our clumsy vehicle followed her graceful figure as she searched, and we were all rewarded when she led us to the two other cheetahs.

After thoroughly exhausting our cameras on the cheetahs, we noticed a cluster of safari vehicles in the near distance.  We joined the other vehicles to inspect what they'd found: a rare type of hyena/jackal, called an aardwolf, and her cub.  They were adorable!  As we watched the baby aardwolf flail and climb all over it's mother we decided we'd found Moe's long lost ancestors.

The sun came out on the way back to the camp for breakfast, and we came across the coolest thing yet: an entire pride of lions, luxuriating on a sandbank under the sun. They were also surrounded by safari vehicles, but they didn't seem to care.  This was their jungle, and they knew it.  We stopped and watched while they gingerly crossed the thin stream - even the king of cats didn't like the water!

Reluctantly we pulled ourselves away from the lions to go eat, then happily packed our bags and left the camp. The rest of the day was spent traversing the Serengeti, where we were lucky enough to see a leopard  (supposedly the hardest member of the Big Five to find) and a lion in a tree (though not the same tree).

Our digs that night were a significant improvement over the night before, albeit still in a tent to which we were escorted by a bow-and-arrow-wielding Masai warrior.  This tent, however, was attached to a gorgeous outdoor stone shower and had a mosquito net fit for Cleopatra.  It was lovely and we slept like babies.

Click here for all of my pictures from our third day of safari


I've never been much for camping.  My first memory of camping is in my grandparents' pop-up trailer parked in their driveway.  I was about eight years old and it was also the first (and probably last) time I ever had Mellow Yellow.  I made it until about 2 am when I called my mom and begged her to come get me.

Then came summer camp.  I cried my eyes out the first three days.  Looking back, I'm pretty sure it was because I missed my nice clean bathroom and longer-than-3-minute-showers.  (Just kidding, Mom.)

Even in college, camping consisted of hanging out at the campsite until late in the night and then driving home to pee in a real toilet and sleep in a bed above the ground.

So when I was planning this safari and the travel agent told me the only place available in our budget in the area where I wanted to stay (to catch the Great Migration.  Of course I would sign up to go camping and then it wouldn't rain all year and the animals would go somewhere else) was actually a tented camp, I was skeptical.  But I figured since the website said it had toilets and hot showers, it was only one night (I hadn't taken into account how bad the place in Moshi would be) and it'd be an adventure.  

How much of an adventure I didn't realize until we read the rules.

The giant tarp which held our beds was partitioned into four parts: a bedroom, a sink/dressing room enclave, a toilet and a shower.  The toilet, flanked by wooden boards, flushed twice - total - and in order to get hot water, two men stood outside the tarp and poured a fire-heated bucket into the shower nozzle.  It was more slime than water and which left me wishing for a shower after my shower.  I tried to tell myself it probably had really good anti-aging qualities.

Then there were the lions.

Joey caught a cold, and the poor guy had been sniffling and sneezing all day.  Normally this translates to a lot of snoring at night.  After we were escorted back to our tent for bed by the African tribesman, Joey heard a noise.  With big eyes he looked at me and asked, "Did you hear that?"  I shrugged it off and fell into a light sleep.  At one point what I thought was Joey's snores roused me, and I told him, apparently loudly enough for Angela and Steve in the next tent to hear, to roll over.

It wasn't Joey snoring.  It was a lion.  Which is why Angela and Steve were awake to hear me hollering. 

We had an early drive the next morning to see the nocturnal predators returning from the hunt, and at 5:30 am we sat in the dark with our coffee while we waited for our driver.  Joey, Angela and Steve said a lion had kept them up all night, but I didn't believe them.  Then the lion roared again, closer this time, and I apologized to Joey for complaining about his snoring.

Click here for all of my pictures from day two of our safari.

safari day 2

Tuesday morning we began the second day of our safari with a drive through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.  None of Tanzania's reserves are gated; however, an entrance fee is required and you do have to check in and check out of each reserve.  Unfortunately, when we arrived at the gate of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, we did so with many other safari-goers, and it took almost an hour before we were cleared for entry.  Fortunately, Ibrahim was in charge of this check-in process, so all we had to do was try to stay out of the strong sun and away from the nasty tsetse flies.

The peak of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area sits at 7,500 feet, so with each turn the car wound higher and higher up the rim of the caldera.  We stopped to photograph the crater below before winding all the way down the other side to the "endless plains" of the Serengeti, the breathtaking scenery only aggrandized by the occasional presence of a giraffe, elephant or zebra.  Then we passed under the gate of the Serengeti National Park where thousands of impala and gazelle and zebra and wildebeest just seemed to materialize from the grassy savannah like the baseball players from the corn in the Field of Dreams.

With the hatch of our Landcruiser popped and the hot sun streaming in, we bumped along the dirt road toward Lake Masek, where we discovered a wildebeest graveyard. The tires crunched on the bones of the fallen prey as we made our way deeper into the bush and encountered a large family of elephants.  We got so close we could count the wrinkles of their crackled gray skin, and laughed at the posturing of the baby elephant.  He stomped his foot, flared his ears and snorted his trunk, only to be gently led away by his mother who didn't find our vehicle as threatening as he.

We passed flocks of pelicans and pink flamingos, pausing to photograph a herd of hippos taking a mud bath in Lake Ndutu.  They smelled almost as bad as the blunt and bloody limb toted by the very hungry and very pregnant hyena we saw next.  Dark clouds rolled in with the dusk, but we drove deeper into the bush before arriving at camp.  Though a waiter met us at the car with delightfully cold towels and deliciously fresh passion fruit juice, our experience that night would be far more rustic than any other night on our trip.

staycation day 3

On the agenda today:

1. Finish beet juice.  There is an apple, five carrots and a 1/4 cup of mint in this concoction, but all I taste is beets.  Ew.

2. Paint toenails.

3. Paint fingernails.  Then I can't dig ravenously into the pantry calling my name.

4. Procrastinate on vacation blogs.

5. Yoga by the pool with Joey's iPod since I broke mine on Monday.  Did you know when you put an ipod in the back of your sports bra and it's 95 degrees outside the moisture will kill the screen?  Oops.  Good thing there's an Apple store in Abuja.  Ha.

6. Chew raw sweet potato, apple, and celery salad for lunch.  And chew.  And chew.  And chew.  At least when it takes a really long time to eat something you think you're full...

7. Procrastinate further on vacation blog.  Maybe watch TV and try not to think about food.

8. Wait for Joey to get home.  Pounce on him as soon as he walks in the door with twenty questions.  "Hi!How wasyourday?Whatdidyoudo?Didyoumissme?CanyoutellI'vehadnohumaninteractiontoday???????"