Tanzania trip June 07

Jun 20th, 2007, 01:48 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 151
Tanzania trip June 07

Thanks for the helpful input to the Fodorites as I prepared to go to Tz. I kept thinking tho that I had lots of time for details and then 3 weeks before my trip my husband had a motorcycle accident in Reno and I was in Victoria, B.C. and had to fly there to bring him home to Toronto once the surgeon gave the ok. He broke his leg badly.So the time was overwhelming as he was very dependent on me but greatly encouraged me to still go to Africa. My first trip. Our daughter Jen lives in Kigoma and works for a NGO called Right to Play and services the children in the nearby Congolese refugee camps. So,I booked with Tanzania Adventure for the Selous safari, otherwise booked everything else independently with Jen.She had asked me to collect donations for a local orphanage that is destitute so I was able to pack lots of kids clothing, school supplies and toys and games. She is not allowed to give goods to the refugees as there are so many thousands it could not be done fairly.
Outbound with Air Canada June 3 to Heathrow, Air Emirates to Dubai and Dar Es Salaam. Both airlines were excellent in service and economy accommodations. I usually pre order Asian Vegetarian and I was not disappointed with the meals. On arrival I lined up for the visa and texted Jen that I was almost there. I had not seen her for 9 months. She was waiting for me with her taxi driver and off we went to unload the 2 enormous bags I had brought at her companys office. We spent the night at the Mediterraneo Hotel in Dar. It is about 10 mins. past other hotels but well worth the drive as it is on the Ocean, small and has a good restaurant and a clean pool.It cost $80. for the 2 of us in a room. Next morning the taxi driver is on time and off to Coastal Airlines at the small airport at Dar.After a short delay we were off to the Selous Park. It is a short trip and landing was smooth and as we touched down we saw our first sightings of elephant and giraffe and impala.
Our guide was waiting for us as we arrived and took us the short drive to Rufigi River Camp on the Rufigi River. This camp is not a high end luxury camp but the permanent tents and the camp itself was wonderful, very small and relaxing with good simple food and clean water,lovely tents and bathrooms. Our first Safari was as soon as we were ready and off we went with our guide in our private vehicle. The Selous is a very large park about the size of Switzerland so I was telling myself don't be disappointed if there is not much to see esp. as the grass is still high but we saw plenty of game and marvellous birds. The area is forest for a short ways then opens up into savanna. We were out for about 3 hours then returned for lunch. After lunch we had some time to explore on our own and watch the river full of hippos snorting and doing whatever it is they do. Lots of green monkeys in the camp, too.
The afternoon we went on the river boat ride and it was so exciting with lots of crocodile, hippos in the water and beautiful birds along the red banks. We also saw 2 separate families of elephants grazing along the banks and drinking water. It was everything I had hoped it would be.The guide was careful not to get too close to the animals but once an angry hippo charged the boat threatening us so that made the ride exciting! The evening in the camp was so nice with the blazing stars and campfire. A bushbaby was making a lot of noise and there was a Masai guard who chased a leopard out of the camp that night.
Next day was the all day safari and there were more sightings of wild dogs, a python,hippos, crocodiles, monitors, cranes, monkeys,baboons,zebra,Impalas,elephants,giraffe,st orks, lots of horn bills, weaver birds,crollas, kingfishers, vulchurs,gazelle,geese, waterbuck,guineafowl,warthogs,rollers,wildabeast,s tarlings,those are the highlights.It was wonderful to say the least. Another nice evening and then the last day we had a walking safari and the guides explained the habitats in more detail. I was surprised that there was so much game close to the camp like wild dogs and elephant.
that afternoon we headed back to Dar and stayed another night at the Med. Hotel. Our flight to Kigoma had problems with Precision Air as we were bumped off but they did put us up in the New Africa Hotel with all expenses except booze so it was a nice time anyway to be together.Arrived the next day June 9. Kigoma is a very nice town considering it is poor and in a more remote area. It is on Lake Tanganika and there is a lovely view of the mts. of the Congo across the lake. The lake is clean and refreshing, very safe to swim in which we did. I always felt safe and welcomed here as we walked around town and Jen introduced me as MamaJen to the locals she knows. She took me to the markets for veggies and we bought fish from the ladies on the street, beer and wine from little shops and I had the pleasure of seeing my little girl all grown up and taking the lead in dealings and organizing stuff. the evenings were esp. lovely, sitting out on her veranda and the weather at this time of year is perfect.
OK, so we went to the refugee camp called Lugufu. It was a very bumpy, dusty ride 2 hours long to the main office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. There Jen submitted my official letter to allow me entrance..she wrote weeks earlier for permission. The camp is open and houses 120,000 Conglese and has been there for 10 yrs. It is only one of several and there are other camps in the north for the Burundians. We stopped at a small building that serves as the office for the RTP. coaches that manage the programs for the kids. Then after greeting we went to a school that was chosen called Kilimanjaro, one of 10 primary schools that has 1,900 kids each. Thats classes of 60 students per class. As we walked up the lane suddenly there was a rush of children swarming us in enthusiastic greetings and laughter.They were calling Jen by name and seemed pretty happy to see her. I will never forget it.We went with the tide to the playgound and there we were told to sit down in chairs with the headmaster in front of a little table that had 2 plastic cups of fresh flowers. We had no idea there was an event planned around my visit and we were both flabbergasted that there was a little production of singing, poetry readings,skits in French, and dancing. The poems were of anti gun violence as the little children spoke of children stolen to be fighters. The children were so poor and shabby and yet here they were singing and laughing and all eyes on us as we humbly sat and tried to take it all in.Who am I? Nobody> Just a mom visiting her daughter and yet I was welcomed over and over again and thanked endlessly for my visit. I have never felt so humbled yet joyful. Playday began with the Congolese young people that are the coaches playing organized games with the children. Tug of war with no ropes, just hands. No balls, no toys just improvised. But so much fun. It was a long day but rewarding.
After a day like that we were ready for our trip to the Gombe Park. Kigoma is home of the Jand Goodall Research Centre and we happened to see and meet her when we went there to ask about a boat. She was visiting. The lady is 73 yrs. old and looks fabulous. We settled on a boat and arrived in Gombe Park at 10:00 a.m. We were the only guests there all day so we had the guide Nhoom all to ourselves. After 15 mins. walking we saw our first chimpanzees overhead. Then a family of 3 and I thought this is fantastic! Suddenly there was a cacophony of noise all around us! The tracker called our guide to come quick and there we saw 5 or 6 chimps all fighting over a freshly caught red colubus monkey baby! We sat watching them carry on ripping it apart and then off they went into the trees. We walked a little ways upstream and suddenly a angry male went tearing by us thrashing branches on the ground and another ran behind us. Up in a tree, 6 ft. away a family dined on a monkey bit and we were told by the tracker that Frodo had most of the kill and game a piece to his sister Fanny which angered the other males. So we continued to watch Fanny and family in the tree and then left only to almost bump into Gremlin walking down the path with her baby and another female. We saw lots of different monkeys and had a nice hike up the trail to the Gombe Stream Waterfall . What a trip and the boat ride was so nice too, lasting 1 1/2 hrs. each way.
My last day we visited the local orphanage and finally gave out the stuff I had brought with me. We gave it to the directors to give out as they see fit but the 3 complete soccer outfits were given to the kids to try on and play soccer. The orphanages get no government help so they are quite poor. I had gathered some cash too so Jen bought 200 prs. of sandals and 200 toothbrushes and an iron locally as this is what the directors said they needed. It was another heartbreaking experience as the smiles of appreciation for such a small amt. of stuff only made me feel so ashamed of my own extravagant lifestyle. I kept wondering what hope do these poor kids have in life and they don't even have parents to love them.
So thats the highlights of my short 2 week trip. If you are still reading this then thankyou for your time and Asanti Sana.
mingxa is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 02:02 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 259
What a wonderful experience you had. I am sure seeing your daughter doing such good work made you incredibly proud, and as you said, humbled. Thanks for sharing your story.
hguy47 is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 02:10 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 199
An amazing trip & chronicle. Definitely brought tears to my eyes. So glad your husband was well enough that you were able to make the trip. Kudos to your daughter for work she is doing-truly selfless.
QueenofDaNile is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 03:57 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 4,222
An amazing trip. It sounds indeed as if you have a lot to be proud of in your daughter. I'm glad you were able to make it and that your husband's accident wasn't more serious.

Asante sana to you for going, and for taking the time to write this most interesting report.
Leely is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 02:49 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 151
Thxs for your reply. He did fine with help from a few kind folks making his meals etc. So glad I went and would love to return and maybe go to the north.
mingxa is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 04:54 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 532
what a beautiful story, thanks for posting it.
how long will your daughter be in Kigoma?

joeyi is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 06:50 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2005
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Joeyi, Jen will be there one year so until October as that is the length of the contract. The Tz. govnt. is committed to expatriating all of the refugees now but it is a bit of a problem as so many refugees are still terrified to go back. Also most of the children, 10 yrs and younger have been born in the camps.
mingxa is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 10:05 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
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"The Tz. govnt. is committed to expatriating all of the refugees now but it is a bit of a problem as so many refugees are still terrified to go back."

Yes, I have read about this here and in another refugee camp area; I can't recall which one. Troubling, to say the least. So many people feel they have nothing to go back to.

Again, many thanks for your report. I bet your daughter was glad to see you!
Leely is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 01:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,843
Sounds like you had some wonderful experiences. I'm jealous of your wild dog sighting in Selous. Will you be posting any photos? Hope you'll be able to make it back.
Patty is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 01:55 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,216
Thank you so much for sharing your experience - the reunion with your daughter, the safari and chimp experiences and the refugee camp and orphanage visits.

I really enjoyed reading and found some parts very moving. Thank you!
Kavey is offline  

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