Walking in a Safari Wonderland: Day 1 & 2

After a long overdue period of quasi-relaxation, I completely forgot to update my blog on the magnificent travels of the end of 2015. It is so easy for me to get lost in my time at home, that it is difficult to justify time sitting at my computer, when I could be with the people that I will be missing for the next 4 months. But alas, here I am once again starting another semester (more to come on that) and I find that I no longer have any excuse not to sit down and bust out my best summary of my days in Tanzania. A difficult task, but I humbly aim to do so here and in the following installments.

Day 1: Arusha, Tanzania

After what may have been the longest day of travel that I have seen in a very long time, we have finally arrived in Tanzania! This past week has been an absolutely whirlwind, to be perfectly honest. Busting out research papers at the beginning of the week, taking final exams in the middle, and then hopping on a plane to Boston from Accra only to be home for 36 hours before hopping on another plan back to Africa. Traveling can be absolutely exhausting, which is something that I am well aware of, but never really as aware as I have been recently.

Immediately, I knew that this trip will be amazing. Tanzania is very much unlike Egypt and Ghana in landscape, which was surprising to me. I figured that I would see some similarities, but in nature, I find that I do not. The closest thing I found to familiarity in Arusha was when we were driving from the airport to the hotel, and the city area reminds me a little of how the businesses operate in Ghana, with small stalls littering the sides of the road.

So far, so good, as we have checked into a  beautiful resort that seems to be extremely quiet. We all had a long winter’s nap (although the fact that it is winter still hasn’t really gotten into my mind completely) and then had a delicious dinner before settling into bed officially. We are all very much looking forward to a fun day of safari adventure starting tomorrow!

Day 2: Tarangire National Park, Tanzania

I have come to this conclusion many times before, but it never ceases to amaze me how absolutely spectacular my life can be, and certainly is most of the time. After hours of driving around our first national park, I feel as though I have not blinked for hours. We had a relatively early start at 8am, and we were all absolutely exhausted from the jet lag and the general exhaustion that comes with traveling no matter the distance. We had about a two hour drive from our luxury lodge in Arusha to Tarangire National Park, and the view along the way was lush, green, and beautiful. It may start to look the same to some people, but it never got old for me.

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When we arrived at the park, before we even officially entered we saw tons of little monkeys leaping around. They hang at the front of the park where all of the cars have to stop in order to register because they know that humans have the tendency to feed animals that we think are cute. This is something that is strictly prohibited, but between the rule-breaking rebels, and the food left behind and thrown away, the monkeys know better than to walk away from a pretty sweet deal.

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After what seemed like a humorous detour compared to the amazing things that we would see later in the afternoon, we were off! The roads of the park are obviously not paved, which means that it is a lot of bumpiness along the way. As we trekked along, our eyes were peeled searching the terrain for any sign of movement. Honestly, it was as if we were playing an extremely long game of “I Spy.”

Some of the first animals that we saw were impala, which look faintly like gazelles or antelopes in that they are deer-like, and extremely fast. They are absolutely stunning animals, and they have polygamous living habits that involve several females living with one male. Men…am I right?

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Next on the list of things to check off were baboons. Now here is the thing about monkeys: they get a really good reputation for being cute because we often think of them as shoulder riding or however else Disney paints them for us. In truth, they are actually quite vicious creatures when they are threatened by their own kind, or certainly by humans. Something that we forget, but I was certainly reminded of watching them in the grass.

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Then the main event of our day occurred. In the background of all of these baboons and warthogs playing, we saw some elephants marching along in a line. They seemed to be moving in a rather predictable manner, so I shouted to our lovely tour guide Ami that we should turn back to see them cross the street. Little did we know that so much more was about to happen. Once we stopped, the elephants came closer and closer until finally they had surrounded our car. I would have easily been able to reach out and touch one as they swarmed around us, walking very slowly. A beautiful sight to be seen.

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Among all of the animals we saw, too many to try and list, we searched long and hard to see some sort of wild cat. Unfortunately, we saw none. It was a seriously ambitious thought anyway, and we had certainly had enough luck already with elephants and more. So we headed to our next lodge which was situated on a national park itself meaning that the zebras and wildebeests were grazing close to the fence as we ate a light snack and gazed out at the gorgeous view.

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