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Tanzanian Safari - Trip Report

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I'm back, and wanting to share my experience with anyone who will listen!! The months of planning and uncertainty are over. The journey has been accomplished. I love Africa!!! I'm trying to organize my thoughts and cull through the hundreds and hundreds of pictures I took. Hopefully within the next day or so, I'll have some pictures well enough organized to share with you all. In the meantime...

Day 1 -- We finally got to the San Francisco Airport Hyatt after making some stops to bid farewell to family members, then turning around and going home to get my drivers license -- just in case I might need it. (I'm not sure what my thinking was -- maybe I'd be called upon to drive our safari jeep?) We ordered room service, watched T.V., and got a good night's sleep to ready us for the upcoming adventure.

Day 2 -- We caught the Hyatt's 5:30 a.m. shuttle for the 5 minute ride to the airport. We took American Airlines for a pleasant, uneventful flight to JFK. At JFK we passed a long 5+ hour layover before our KLM flight bound for Amsterdam boarded. After boarding we waited for 2 hours before taking off. Again, an uneventful flight. Not as pleasant as the flight from SFO to JFK, but at least KLM serves lots of food and free drinks...

Day 3 -- This time change thing is weird. How can it be Day 3 when we just left home? We arrived in Amsterdam about noon and went immediately to the airport Sheraton. My husband and I were tired and cranky and had decided that international travel isn't for us. Fortunately our room was ready, and we showered, napped, had dinner, decided that maybe international travel isn't so bad after all, then slept through the night. The Sheraton is right at the airport; even I, with my bad knee, can walk to it. We are so glad we had decided to spend the night and recharge the batteries before pushing on to Africa.

Day 4 -- Our morning was a little hectic, but we made our flight and got settled in for the 8+ hour flight to Arusha, finally arriving at Kilimanjaro International Airport. It was hot and humid inside the airport; not to mention how slowly everything went. There were only 3 or 4 people to hand check and stamp every passport/visa for 2 arriving international flights. Finally we were through the formalities and outside the airport. It was still warm, but the air was much fresher. We met our driver/guide, Godson, and were on our way. Even in the dark, the feel of Tanzania is of poverty. Something that was to be confirmed over and over during our stay. Despite the incredible poverty, however, we found a grace and dignity among many of the people that is admirable, and is part of what made our trip so wonderful, but I'm jumping ahead...

After driving for about 40 minutes we turned into a dusty, rutted lane. Of course I was terrified that we were being kidnapped and would be robbed and never heard from again. Obviously my fears were unfounded, and we arrived, instead at the Serena Mountain Village Lodge. It was once a coffee plantation, but is now lodging. We were served refreshing drinks and escorted to our rooms. Our room was lovely, and I was to discover the next morning that the grounds are lovely too.

I was exhausted, but too tired to sleep immediately. I was finally in Africa. The sounds of the first night were of insects. They would give way to other, more menacing sounds on future nights, but of course I didn't know that at the time. The night smells were musty, dusty, smokey, with random intense floral smells.

Finally, I was off to sleep to ready myself for the next day when the adventure would begin in earnest!

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