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Monday, July 22, 2013

Tanzania - We're on Safari!

After we spent several days developing our vision of what the Lutheran Church was doing in Tanzania, (this was, after all, a "vision trip") we were now heading off on three days of safari.  While there are still plenty of real hunting opportunities in Africa, such as this:
"Almost 70% of Tanzania is still as wild as it was 100 years ago which lends itself to a true East African bush country safari. When you are hunting in Tanzania for the most part you are still hunting Africa the way Roosevelt, Hemmingway, and Ruark did."
Most Americans are going on photo-safaris through the National Parks as we did.  And that suits us fine.  After all, when we find a wasp inside the car or cabin, Linda and I gently escort it outside rather than kill it.

For this part of the trip, we left most of our luggage behind at the hotel in Moshi, packed light, and changed over from our nineteen-passenger bus to three seven-passenger modified Toyota Land Cruisers with pop-up roofs.  OK, packing light means different things to different people.  I have my three cameras ready, diarrhea pills in my pocket, several changes of socks and underwear and extra pants just in case the pills don't work.  Some people brought a lot more. Think hair dryers, curling irons, dressing for dinner, etc.

Pastor Chad introduced us to our three drivers:  Kakasii, Momo, and Peter.  They are reputedly the three best safari drivers in the country.  They have remarkable eyes and can spot a rhino in the grass when all we see is a tiny black dot - if we can see it at all!
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We hopped into the vehicles and were off.  From Moshi on the southern slope of Mt. Kilimanjaro, we drove about a hundred miles west through Arusha and then turned northwest for another sixty or so miles to reach our first night's stop in the green hills of Africa as we approached the Ngorongoro Crater.
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Once we passed Arusha, the countryside quickly changed from the agricultural "breadbasket" to less familiar territory.  We caught our first glimpse of a young Masai villager working with a donkey team as many generations before him had.

We had begun loading our bags at 9 in the morning.  With a stop for lunch, a couple of quick visits to tourist markets mentioned in previous posts and a fill-up with diesel, it was almost 6 p.m. as we pulled in to our first safari tent camp, the Rhotia Valley Tented Camp.
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The tent camp offers very comfortable accommodations.  Each tent includes a fully equipped shower and toilet.  The facility is operated by a retired Dutch physician couple, boasts of being quite eco-friendly and it gets only "Very Good" and "Excellent" reviews on Trip Advisor.  The food is very good and when your retire to your tent, you will find a hot-water bottle under each side of the downy comforter to take the chill off the evening air.
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In the morning, we awoke to the unusual calls of birds nearby.  We had a chance to sit out on the deck and note our neighbor's tent, a few local houses and come to understand why Hemingway decided to call his non-fiction account of his 1934 hunting safari in this area, "The Green Hills of Africa."
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