l'aventure africaine

our travel journal

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Oh, before I forget, the way our students said “See you happy” was n-shuf-k ferhan… I’m trying to be better about answering questions!!

The promised elephant picture -- check out the two little ones!

So, a little bit about our trip!

Mike and his new friend...

Because of the way the flight connections worked out, Michael and I “had to” spend a night in Amsterdam on our way to Tanzania. We had millions of things we wanted to do in the city, and only one afternoon, but we made the most of it! We really wanted to visit the Van Gogh Museum, but even more than that wanted to go to the Anne Frank House. We did, and I don’t even want to try and say something about how powerful it is, because I am afraid of making it sound trite. We wandered the city, took pictures of the beautiful canals (too many that I’m sure we’ll regret later…but you just can’t help yourself, you know?), and ate amazing sushi.

The next day we met my family at the airport (yay! after 2 weeks shy of a year since we’d seen them!) and flew off to the Kilimanjaro airport to meet our guide, Emmanuel, and crash for the next couple of nights in Arusha. In Arusha we were waiting for the rest of our party, as well as doing some jetlag recovery, and just chilling and catching up!

We took off the following morning for Tarangire National Park, which is a gorgeous park full of elephants and baobob trees. We were closer than I ever thought we could be to some of the animals, just because we’d spot them off the road, and they’d keep going on their path and pass next to our vehicles. We saw oodles of elephants, as well as some giraffe, ostrich, impala, dik dik, and all sorts of birds and lizards and turtles… oh! and our first lions!

We ventured next to a “permanent tented camp” (meaning, very nice tent, like with ceramic toilets and hot showers…nicer than our house here) :) on the shore of Lake Eyasi. The lake is beautiful, but we were here for some culture. We woke up early one morning and went on a hunting expedition with a tribe in the area that retains its more ancient customs, and observed some jewelry-making later that afternoon.

A baby zebra in the crater.

Our next stop was Ngorongoro Crater, which is the largets unbroken crater on earth. It is what is left of a volcano that is believed to have been larger than Mount Kilimanjaro. The crater is FULL of wildebeest and zebra, and is one of the few places you can see black rhino. We also saw our first hippos and hyenas. The wildebeests have a season for having young, so that numerically some of them will survive the hyena and lion attacks, and grow up to be adults, and while we were there there were tons and tons of little wildebeest guys. We had a very “circle of life” moment our second day in the crater when we were driving along and came upon a hyena chasing a little wildebeest. He put up a good chase, but he never had a chance… poor little guy.

Me doing some Maasai dancing...just jumping up and down...way fun :)

Our final stop was the famous Serengeti, stopping at Olduvai Gorge, and a Maasai village on the way. The two million wildebeests who live on the plains migrate in a large ovaly shape, and driving through the middle of that many animals is just CRAZY! We saw a cheetah as well driving into the park, and saw our first and only leopard, after LOTS of looking, the next day. In the park, we stayed in a mobile tent camp that was also very nice, but the crazy thing is you are staying in the park which means all night you can hear baboons... and my brother and our guide heard lion noises… creepy…

The highlight of the Serengeti came on our last day when we woke early for a hot air balloon ride over the park. What from the road looks uniform, from above you can see is a complex system of paths through the grasses. It was fun to see the animals from a different perspective than “animal crossing or standing near the road.” We saw birds doing a mating dance, and a hippo out for a morning stroll, and an elephant who was really not a fan of the balloon – and our first hot air balloon ride was cool just for the experience – even if it hadn’t been set in such an amazing location!

After the balloon ride we high-tailed it back to the airport (and saw Kilimanjaro from the jeep window – our first time, because on our way in it was dark…) and started the trip home!

It was a wonderful two weeks – seeing and doing amazing things – and just to be with family would have been enough!


Anonymous Papa R. said...

I enjoyed seeing your pictures. It was amazing to me to find so many hippos in the streams while we were in the hot air balloon ride. The pictures we have don't give a good impression on how tall giraffes really are. The best I have is with our tour guide, Emmanuel, holding up a giraffe leg bone and showing us just the leg was as tall as he was.

It was wonderful just to see the two of you again.

See you happy.
Papa R.

8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the verbage as well as the pictoral display of your expedition. It looks like it was as fun and exciting as you said it was. It is hard to imaging being able to get up close and personal to all the animals that we have only seen in pictures and zoos.
Glad you also felt you had work to do once you got back 'home' again.
Mom and Dad H.

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Chelsea Lynn said...

Wow, what an experience! I cannot even begin to imagine any of it, but the pictures are amazing! Olivia will love the elephants. :)

A few days ago we were driving in the car, and Livi was tired and whiny and just having a rough day. Suddenly, out of nowhere, she said, "I need Jana!" I said, "I do too, baby."

You are missed. *hug*

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We miss you over hear too! I double Chelsea's comment. You are missed!

Karly, Dustin and Mary Ellanore

5:14 PM  
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