Now I know what Ernest Hemingway meant when he said, “I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy.” For eleven magical days, we couldn’t wait to see what our expert guide, Godson, had in store for us as he carefully guided our trusty Cruiser along the endless trails of the Tanzanian wilderness.
The sheer abundance of wildlife awakened a childlike wonder within. Lion, leopard, hyena, elephant, giraffe, hippo, baboon, eland, topi, kudu, dik dik, and, of course, wildebeest and zebra appeared suddenly, as if out of no-where, yet they were everywhere. While some encounters were thrillingly illusive (cheetahs hidden away in the high grasses), others were breathtakingly close and even, momentarily pulse-raising, like the time we came face to face with a great bull elephant who had no intention of giving way to our Cruiser. Quickly, Godson diverted our vehicle off-road, giving this very determined giant plenty of room to pass, as well as providing us with a great photo-opportunity!
A much anticipated wildebeest crossing taught us early-on the value of patience and filled us with a deep sense of awe for Nature’s Ways. Nothing can rival such a thunderous mass of ruminants braving dangerous waters for another day of life. That experience moved me to tears.
Another great surprise was the incredible variety of raptors and birds! Ostrich, egret, guinea, stork, flamingo, kingfisher, and songbirds flashed their shimmering colors and amused us with their antics. How do they manage to perch between those claw-like thorns of the acacia trees?
Admittedly, I lived behind my camera for the first couple of days. Then the sheer abundance of life all around me demanded that I come out from behind the view finder and absorb those moments of encounter which no photo could ever do justice. It was a decision I will never regret. While I still brought home a couple of thousand pictures, I think of them as tools to sharpen the memories I’ve tucked away as my real treasure.
The elegantly appointed tented lodges and camps provided a big exclamation point to the end of each day! Smiling, attentive staff greeted us with cool, wet cloths, pleasant drinks, and a sincere welcome (“Karibu”), then whisked us off to our tents for warm, smoke-scented showers with waters heated over open flames. Later, gathered in the crisp coolness by a crackling bonfire, we toasted the sunset then lingered over intimate, candle-lit meals underneath the canvas roof of the dining tent. With the night skies awash in stars and our seclusion broken only by the roar of a lion in the distance, we knew we were having the experience of a lifetime.
Many thanks to ADS’s knowledgeable and cheerful Dawn Anderson who spent the past year indulging every one of our questions with promptness, patience and kindness and helped shape for us a fantastic travel adventure. Asante sana, Dawn!
Elizabeth S., Clark S. and Larry O.
Safari Dates: July 26, 2014 to August 7, 2014