Tanzania

I’ve been on safaris in South Africa and Kenya, but those times we visited friends who arranged everything. Tanzania was different, since we arranged everything on site after arriving. Our flight took us near Arusha, the jumping off town for the Serengeti and adjacent national parks. There were lots of agencies offering safaris from low-budget to luxury ones with stays in lodges and succulent meals, but we were happy to have the money for an inexpensive one, sleeping in our tent and eating the food our guide cooked. We did make the mistake of booking a safari with two other people who were staying in lodges, since we lost a lot of time driving them to where they stayed overnight. The amenities of the lodges were certainly tempting, but we probably would have chosen our tents even if we had had the funds, because tenting in the game parks gave us a much better feel of the wilds.

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Five days of amazing encounters with the animals of Tanzania.

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Our vehicle with our guide and driver.

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Three Masai that we encountered on the way.

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At one spot, there was no lodge, and the other two also had to sleep in a tent. Our guide told us that there were lions around, but that they normally did not bother people in this campsite. Needless to say, we had a restless night and heard a lion roaring in the distance once.

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Of course, our driver and guide knew where we could probably see some lions during the day, and I ain’t lying, these were lying lions.

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Traffic jam

At the bus station in Arusha, we bought our tickets to continue. I got into a conversation with a local and told him that I liked Arusha a lot, that it was nice laid-back town. He replied, “Yes, but too many niggers here,” which kinda shocked me, since he also was black.

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Our daughter did not always appreciate the attention she got.

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Wish I could remember where and what occasion this was!

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We headed in the direction of the Usambara Mountains with a spectacular view of Mt. Kenya on the way, but my daughter was too big at the time for me to carry her up the mountain as I had in Nepal when she was smaller, and she had no desire to hike it.

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Locals on the road

We had to change buses and then experienced a lot of hairpin turns with steep drops on the roadside up to Lushoto. We were the only tourists there, which was surprising, since the scenery is so beautiful. We hired a guide for a day-hike, well worth it and he was very grateful for the work. It was a favorite spot of the Germans and later British in colonial days, which can be seen in a few buildings there.

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Curious, local kids

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With our guide

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European legacy

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And a local market

On to Dar El Salam, a crowded city with nice markets. We stayed at the YMCA, which was recommended as the best cheap place in town, but the manager gave us dirty looks and she was apparently not overjoyed at our patronage.

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We soon left for the Island of Zanzibar, the Spice Island, little realizing that a terrorist bombing of US Embassy was taking place that very day. This surely made me suspicious to certain officials in the USA.

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We stayed a couple of days in Zanzibar Town, also called Old Stone Town, wandering around and viewing the historic buildings. There were some Italian resorts, which seemed empty, and we were told that their main purpose was money laundering, reporting full occupancy and corresponding revenue back to Italy. I have no way of knowing whether that is true.

Old Stone Town

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We headed to the east coast and a beautiful beach, although it took some effort to get beyond the coral for swimming, especially at low tide. Women harvested seaweed there most days. The men running the bungalows were quite bored and told me there was not much for them to do there, although they did have to spend quite a lot of time fixing the plumbing in the toilets. The children were full of joy and constantly came to us. We also met two Spaniards from Granada, Miriam and Miguel, who became good friends and whom I have often visited the many times I have been in Granada for Spanish and flamenco guitar classes.

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Miguel and Miriam

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Little girls usually like me, big ones usually don’t

One of the highlights was a spice tour with Mr. Mitu, who was the first to organize such tours on the island. He took us around to various spice plantations and showed us where various spices were growing as well as gave us them to taste: cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, black pepper, cloves, etc.

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Then it was off to the north of the island where swimming was much easier, but accommodation much simpler and more expensive. The young guys running the place constantly played reggae music and refused my requests to play some African music such as soukous, which they despised.

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Of course, there has to be a nice sunset at the end!

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We had a flight back home directly from Zanzibar with a change in Nairobi, Kenya. They told us at the airport in Nairobi that the flight was overbooked and they would give us $100 each and put us up in a good hotel for the night if we agreed, which we immediately did. Unfortunately, some people did not show up and we had to fly home that night, and I would only get the chance to visit Kenya and Nairobi years later.

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