A May 2006 trip
to Tanzania by nora_yusuf
Quote: Some books picture Zanzibar as synonym to paradise. Tanzania itself is home to the Serengeti and numerous national parks and conservation. Tanzania is also a gateway to the Kilimanjaro quest.
Day 1 Safari – Lake Manyara National Park.The first day of our safari takes us to Lake Manyara National Park. A fairly small, but very beautiful park right on the shores of salty Lake Manyara. Manyara in Masai language means the finger tree – Elmanyara. The faults of the East African Rift Valley are right here causing a displacement of the higher western side with its steep slopes and the flat plain eastern side. A ride in the open roofed Land Cruiser brings us closer to lots of hippos spending the hours of sunshine in the river water close to the lake. Giraffes, zebras, and wilder beast also can be seen in the distance. I’m glad I have a pair of binoculars given to me as my farewell present when I left Qatar. Thanks guys!! I really appreciate it. Next to the road we watch giraffes grazing on the tiny leaves of acacia trees or just watching us as they chew on their food. The expression on the giraffes face, their eyes with long eye lashes, calm and unimpressed, reminds us of camels... A really similar "I really do not care much" expression. Anke says she could watch them forever…On we go... An accumulation of tourists lets us stop. It’s always a good sign of something more rare… And this time two lions were spotted lazing out on a tree. According to out guide, Lake Manyara National Park is known for their tree-climbing lions. Only the female ones can climb, the male ones being heavier don’t make it. I don’t think I would mind being a female lion. I spend 20 hours in a day sleeping, and the other 4 hours either walking around or eating. When I’m bored with the male species, I just climb a tree and sleep… hehehe... sounds like a good plan. We also saw lots of baobab trees. These trees retain water in their trunks like sponges, which makes them look like weird tree-mushroom mutants.
A grazing herd of elephants impress us next to the road. Storks making noise in the trees. The storks come here from Europe during the European wintertime. I’d put it as them having a vacation in Africa when it's winter back home…
Full of impressions and pictures in our mind, we return to the camp on the western mountains of the rift valley. Amazing enough, our tent is not only facing east, which provides us with a beautiful sunrise, it also has two beds. Did I say beds?? Yup, I did say beds. Two beds and mattresses. This is the first time I see beds in a tent. The cook, Martin and our guide, Gerald are feeding us well. Popcorn and biscuits for snacks at tea time, and pasta for dinner. We are getting spoilt already.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 6, 2006
Lake Manyara National Park
We successfully shook off at least 20 taxi drivers and found our way to the dalla-dallas. Basically, a dalla-dallas is an unfurnished open-sided van with benches that can seat an unknown number of passengers. At the end I think there were almost 20 of us in the dalla-dallas. It was difficult to breathe. Stone Town is built on a triangular peninsula of land and consists predominantly of Arab architecture, with a blend Indian and European architecture. Stone Town itself, being the capital of Zanzibar, is bound together by an intricate network of narrow streets and lanes. You can even see neighbors chit chatting from one window to another above the busy streets. The town with its narrow passages would have great potential if only restoration was not unknown. Next to the sea we find rows of stalls offering grilled seafood and sugar cane juice. Well, the trip looked like it was soon turning into a gastronomic tour after all… Getting stuffed with grilled seafood and drunk (literally) on sugarcane juice. We headed to the port to see available options for going to Dar es Salaam. We get held up looking at the kangas (two-piece colorful scarves the locals wear) and then hand painting. We went to the local market, ate some mangoes, watched the sunset (it was breathtaking), and ready to go back. Off we go to the Spice tour in a dalla-dallas through the spice plantation. I am reminded a lot of Malaysia, while Anke is impressed by the spice plants. Cloves, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, etc. Do you know the difference between a spice and an herb? Well, herbs are usually the leaves of the plant, while spices are made of other parts like the bark or fruit of the plant. Lunch is in one of the plantation villages, by the local ladies. Local spiced rice… delicious. A vegetarian curry sauce and local spinach…See, I told you we would have a gastronomic experience.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 21, 2006
Attraction | "Norongoro Crater"
Day 4 Safari – Ngorongoro Conservation AreaWe start the day with another beautiful sunrise above the crater. Right after breakfast we visit a traditional Masai Tribe village. It does feel a bit awkward though, walking around in the village, being an outsider, and not used to their customs. Entrance fee is $50 for a group of tourists. A Masai man can have as many wives as he can afford. Each of them has a separate house. The whole village is surrounded by a fence, and in the middle of the village, another fence where they keep the cattle at night. In contrast to the straw, round Masai houses we have seen on the way, these houses here are compact and small, built of a wooden frame with cow dung cementing the whole piece together, making it waterproof. There are only two small holes acting like windows to allow the fireplace and cooking smoke to escape. For sure it is impossible for fresh air to enter. Just entering makes your eyes burn and long for fresh air. The only advantage … it is warm, especially in winter when the temperature outside goes below freezing. There is just enough room for two or three separations: one big enough to put a small cow or goat behind it to milk, and the other ones for sleeping. In between the separations is a place to sit and cook.
The villagers did a welcome dance and sang some songs and chants, with ladies on one side and men on the other. Most of them have shaved head (including the women), except for the Masai warriors who have red long locks. Masai people rely a lot on their cattle; cows and goats for their milk, meat, and cow dung. The women do most of the work; milking the cows, cooking, taking care of the children and family, even building the houses. The children and some of the men take the cattle for grazing and the Masai warrior only waits to be called in case of emergency. The women dress mostly in blues. Blue to them symbolizes the sky, i.e. God. The women get the highest ranking which seems natural, because they seem to be doing most of the work. The men dress in red mostly. Red symbolizes the warrior, i.e. strength, and power.
After saying goodbye to our hosts, we descended into the crater to begin our safari in Norongoro Crater. So far we’ve seen giraffes, elephants, zebras, wilder beasts, cape buffaloes, ostrich…. To name a few. Anke was asking if they had any rhinos, and we just followed where all the tourists were gathered, and saw a rhino from far, running away from us. Rhinos are very shy creatures, and they are also shortsighted. Our guide, Gerald said, every time he sees a crowd of land cruisers all close together, he will rush there. "Follow the crowds", he says, "You never know what they see".
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Crater Highlands, Tanzania
Day 2 Safari – Serengeti National Park.The day starts with a beautiful sunrise. The clouds are impressively colored. Our first stop is on top of the Norongoro Crater before we drive down into the vast plains of the Serengeti National Park. Next to the viewpoint stands the memorial of Gizmek, a researcher/biologist known by his effort to save the Serengeti "The Serengeti shall not die", who died here in 1957 when a vulture got caught in the propeller of his plane causing it to crash.
The road into the Serengeti takes us through the land of the Masai. Everywhere are herds of cows and goats with their little Masai shepherds clad in the typical Masai blankets. Among the hundreds of cows and goats are herds of wilder beasts and zebras. I guess they live in harmony and got used to each other. I wonder why they don’t rear the wilder beasts, but I didn’t ask my guide.
Once we enter Serengeti National Park we leave all human settlements behind. An area the size of Denmark dedicated purely to Africa’s impressive wildlife. Our guide tells us that the punishment on illegal hunting is 15 years in prison, even if you are in possession of their meat, the punishment is the same. Severe enough, we believe.A herd of wilder beast and zebras are crossing in front. A lioness is hiding next to the road. She jumps out at a zebra, but being alone, she does not have a chance. The zebra easily escapes. She doesn’t seem to be very serious in her hiding attempt, and simply lies down in the grass to rest and watch. We move on through the empty plain into another part of the Serengeti. Here, we find trees, rivers, and ponds. Herds of giraffes are grazing on the acacia, and hippos are lazing out in the water. Cape Buffalo are also grazing in herds, with their enormous bodies and horns which look like braided hair. Small eyes on the sides of their head make them look quite vicious. The sunset was beautiful, with the clouds adding color to the fading sun.Day 3 Safari – Serengeti National Park.By now it has been a habit for us to wake up early to witness the sunrise. The birds noisy chirping proclaims the awakening of the Serengeti. We spent the morning in the same part of the Serengeti as yesterday. There are two crocodiles in the nearby river, one entertaining us with a fish in its mouth ready to swallow. There are families of elephants with their little ones, and a hyrax hiding between the rocks while a lioness sleeps on the rock. For those of you who have watched "Lion King" movie, the real thing is really impressive. Simba in Swahili does mean lion, and the rock formations and the boulders do look like in the movie… Hehehe… even though it was a cartoon.
Serengeti National Park
Attraction | "Mt. Kilimanjaro"
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia