My parents wanted to visit Africa one more time. As they were in their late seventies at that time, they did not really wanted to go just by themselves. Nor did they desire to join a fully organized trip. Their brilliant solution was to ask us whether we would come along on a custom made safari. Needless to say our answer was a resounding yes, also from our two children. So, these are the photos of "a vacation of a life-time"; three generations visiting some of the most beautiful places in Tanzania.
The trip was arranged by Miles Travel in The Netherlands. And I must say they did a great job, as you can see below.
Of course such a trip was the best excuse ever to buy a new camera. After long deliberations, reading many tests, and most importantly holding the two remaining candidates in my hands, the choice was remarkably easy: Nikon D80. My only regret was that I did not have enough time to get well enough acquainted with the camera and consequently did not dare to shoot in RAW, but rather relied on JPEG (which shows in some images - sorry).
|After a full day flight from Amsterdam we landed in the dark in Arusha. The first thing you notice upon landing is the smell of all the flowers and the vegetation. We stayed in the Moivaro Coffee Plantation Lodge and Estate, a very nice place indeed but a bumpy last 5 minute drive from the main road (and not the last one either :-) to get there. The following morning I took some shots in their beautiful gardens. After breakfast we met our driver and about an hour later we were on our way, seeing our first sights -and shots- of Africa!||10 photos|
|Our first full day in Africa. We stayed at the very friendly Lake Manyara tented camp, which -surprise, surprise- was run by a Dutch couple :-). After check-in, we were taken to the small town of Mto wa Mbu, which supposedly is Swahili for 'river of flies'. Here we visited a banana plantation (did you know there are more than 50 varieties of banana in Tanzania alone?), the local school, the market and a banana beer factory.||35 photos|
|The next day we visited Lake Manyara National Park, our first safari. Safari is a Swahili word meaning 'overland journey', it originates from the Arabic 'safara', meaning 'travel'. Here we saw our first big game: hippo, elephant, giraffe, lion as well as a wide variety of birds, monkeys, gazelle, zebra, and other animals. A day well spend!||64 photos|
|Olduvai Gorge -a ravine in the rift valley- is regarded the cradle of mankind. Here very early (more than 2 million year old) tools were found in the volcanic ash and it is the oldest known site with evidence of elephant consumption. We did visit the museum and had lunch there before moving on. So, unfortunately we did not visist the nearby Laetoli where the oldest hominin (the tribe that comprises humans and two species of chimpansee) footsteps have been found. - perhaps the next time (if it is at all possible).||20 photos|
or Siringitu in Maasai, meaning "the place where the land moves on forever",
is one of the best known wild life refuges on earth.
The annual migration of around a million wildebeest and 200,000 zebras must be a sight to behold.
We "only" saw the stragglers, and still it was astounding.
How to show four full visit days in about 50 photos (my limit target for a single gallery), clearly impossible so I cheated a little and have 82 here and some in the next gallery :-)
|Oh shame on me. This must have been the greatest sequence of shots during the whole trip and I managed to accidentally switch off the VR (vibration reduction) on my 70-300 lens. It was far, far away (I could have use a 600mm lens and still not have enough reach) and is marred by motion blur, but shows a cheetah with her prey. Before long the vultures come soaring in and, when there are enough of them, they chase the cheetah away. Not much longer they in turn have to yield the prey, now to a single jackal.||82 photos|
|The Maasai are indigenous to the region spanning Kenya and northern Tanzania. As a rule they still follow many of the old traditions but they also spend quite some energy on education. They are comparatively speaking rich and dress is very beautiful clothes. As a rule they do not like pictures to be taken unless previously arranged (and paid for). We, in any case, got a very warm welcome, including the traditional "jumping from standstill" dance and had a very nice time with them.||21 photos|
crater is the world's largest unbroken, unflooded volcanic caldera.
It provides a natural enclosure for the animals, but some migration from and into the crater happens.
Nevertheless there is severe inbreeding.
When we descended into the crater it was wet and foggy and as a result the mud road was extremely slippery. A scary experience indeed. The inside was beautiful, but unfortunately too many people thought so too. As can be seen on some photos it was a crazy situation and therefore, in our opinion, not the best part of Tanzania.
|Kifaru Lofge proved to be a welcome interlude and superb resting place after the many sights we had seen. It is an old, but still operational, coffee plantation turned into a lodge with what must be the friendliest staff and the best coffee in the world. During our stay my mom had her birthday and this did not go unnoticed as you can see. Furthermore my wife and I made a visit to the local school in Karatu where we were very impressed by the commitment of head of the school. Last, but not least, my kids and I hiked to the nearby waterfall with one of the gardeners as a guide, very nice.||40 photos|
|Lake Eyasi, a few hours of very bumpy roads away from Karatu, is abound with waterfowl. We stayed at the superb Kisima Ngeda tented camp, where we were treated very well by Nani Schmelling and her very friendly staff. It is a respecful and restful place, inviting one not only to relax and enjoy the scenery (and the food!), but also to think about the local environment and its people. We did all of the above (and I made some photos too ).||54 photos|
|Near Lake Eyasi we visited the blacksmith, undoubtedly an important but also a very friendly man. With just a little bit of charcoal and some old iron or copper (see the green color in the fire in some of the pictures) he makes all kinds of useful artifacts such as spear heads and simple jewelry.||28 photos|
|Tarangire, the last national park on our schedule, is probably my favorite (although Lake Eyasi and Lake Manyara come very close). Here we stayed one night at the Sopa Lodge which was OK and the remaining nights at the wonderful Swala Camp which lies in the park without any fences or gates and where my wife came eye to eye with a lone elephant bull. We saw the results of a rare kill of a ostrich by lions (according to our guide this was only the second time he had seen that). We also had a flat tire somewhere in the middle of nowhere (and now you know why these Toyota Landcruisers always have two spares).||70 photos|
|At the end of our safari we spend a week on the island of Zanzibar, staying one day in Stone Town. A Unesco World Heritage site, it is a pleasant mixture of Arab, African, and western culture and architecture. The oldest part is a warren of very narrow streets with bazaars and small shops. I was particularly impressed by the slave monument by Clara Sornas and the visit to the old slave chambers. A very bleak part of human history.||44 photos|
|The very last part of our trip, a luxury sea side hotel on the east (i.e. ocean) side of Zanzibar, at the Blue Bay Beach Resort. Relaxing with one last visit to a spice garden, where all kind of local spices were grown (mostly for the tourists, was my guess).||27 photos|