Tanzania trip report from 12/05


Apr 14th, 2006, 09:04 AM
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Tanzania trip report from 12/05

The trip was unbelievably wonderful. Our pictures are finally organized and ready for viewing at
The prior arrangments were impeccable, our guide was the world's best, the quality and amount of game we saw was awe inspiring, and the camp crew strived for and met our every desire. Our family had the best two weeks of our lives together. -Thoroughly unforgettable!

We wholeheartedly recommend the safari company: Naipenda Safaris and their office in Texas. Gracy Travel, also in Texas, was the air consolidator.

The following trip report is through the eyes of our 18 year old, Brett, to whom we are very thankful for writing his account as we traveled. Here is his impression upon first arriving in AFRICA:

We have arrived in Kilimanjaro and met our tour guide. Chris took us to where we stayed – Arusha. We were served orange juice as we entered the complex. Apparently Arusha is the third largest city in Tanzania, the only place where the Tanzanite gem is found. With twenty-four hours of travel and about four hours of sleep, we are glad we asked to stay at the Kia Lodge the first night since it is just minutes from the airport.
We have cabins made for two people each so it's Geoff and Brett, the two lovebirds, and Bryan as solo. Outside our room we already were swamped with critters as a millipede that was eating something, finished and slithered away. We were attacked by beetles, and had a fist sized spider crawl on our door. That should teach our arachnophobe, Bryan, not to lurk around in the bushes by our door anymore! Apparently there was a lizard as well. The most noticeable thing in Africa so far is the prominence of the stars. Unbelievable! It looks like there’s twenty big dippers and fifty Orions belts. Amazing. Well more later.

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Apr 14th, 2006, 09:28 AM
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Thanks for posting photos and I am looking forward to the continued report!
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Apr 14th, 2006, 10:01 AM
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Really enjoyed your photos. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to the rest of the trip report.
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Apr 14th, 2006, 10:30 AM
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Just enjoyed viewing your photos! At the begining you mention being open to corrections and I thought I might suggest two:
1. The photo labeled "Blacksmith Plover" is a Hildebrandt's Starling.
2. The first photo that's labeled "waterbuck" is a Topi (the second one labeled "Waterbuck" looks correct)

again, thanks for sharing!
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Apr 14th, 2006, 11:12 AM
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This will be great receiving a report through the eyes of an 18yr old.
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Apr 14th, 2006, 11:14 AM
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Looks fantastic! I can't wait to read more about it.
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Apr 14th, 2006, 11:39 AM
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I truly enjoyed your pictures and the start of a tripreport. Keep it coming, please. Sitting here sipping redwine and dreaming about my trip-to-be.

Thanks for sharing
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Apr 14th, 2006, 01:30 PM
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Thanks for the feedback!

Here's his next section:

Arusha, Lake Manyara, Lake Eyasi 12/20/05
The first day of the safari is over, and an exciting day at that. I thought it would be in a more open area, but it (the park) was actually surrounded by small dirt roads where the cars were allowed to travel. We first passed many towns and small villages with typical African settings – mostly wood framed, thatched homes. Apparently some Masai cow farmers have as many as twenty wives. Their excuse is they need them to tend the cattle and to raise children to tend more cattle. Well our first national park was Lake Manyara. There was a baboon waiting for us at the entrance. It was really exciting at that time, but as we moved on and they became more prevalent, we weren’t very excited when we saw them anymore. The monkeys we saw in the trees were full of energy and our guide said it was because of the sugary fruit they ate. We saw some large birds that looked interesting and ran into our first large game – elephants! We saw several families of them. One we tried to get to charge us, but they would not. They would flap their ears to give A/C and scare people away. We eventually tired of their company and pressed onward until we came to a pride of lions. Apparently we were very lucky because they were drinking and lions sleep twenty hours of the day to rest for hunting and mating. An interesting fact our guide threw in was that when mating, lions mate every five minutes for seven hours straight!! Wow. Now that is doing it like they do on the discovery channel. That was the highlight of the first day. We saw some giraffes and zebras and wildabeests and hippos, many birds, and many small creatures. We could make out the “pink sand” of flamingoes on the distant beach.
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Apr 15th, 2006, 09:39 AM
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A wonderful thread - I'm looking forward to more! But, I must say I am still stuck on a 'fist-sized spider'. Eeek! I may not sleep on our upcoming safari...
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Apr 15th, 2006, 12:32 PM
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I couldn't agree more! That was the one picture I didn't enjoy...
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Apr 15th, 2006, 12:46 PM
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Great report! Funny and well-written.

And, yes, "fist-sized spider" and "attacked by beetles" are the kind of descriptions that keep me up at night.
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Apr 15th, 2006, 11:51 PM
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Bad news: the fist sized spider he mentioned was much larger than the one in the picture that came out of the hole in the ground.
Good news: the "beetles" were miniscule.

After Lake Manyara, we visited the Hadzabe tribe near Lake Eyasi:

We left and headed for our next tent site on Lake Eyasi. There wasn’t really a road leading to the campsite as the only like thing was grated once a year. And it seems like the grating was to be done sometime in the next few days. It took us several hours to travel forty km to our oasis of luxury in this desolate area.
Our tents (Kisima Ngeda Tented Camp) were amazing. Two rooms each with flushable toilet and working shower. Amazing. Complete with a working can of bug spray. We ate, then slept. We were to get up at six the next morning and hunt with the “bushmen” of whom the real title I cannot remember. We went there to meet them after some early morning tea, got out of the truck and watched them make arrows and smoke. We watched them hunt for three hours before they gave up. Unfortunately they did not catch anything, but exciting nonetheless. We saw a goose in a tree they told us to throw nuts at to try and knock out of its nest. We hit it many times, but it was steady in its perch. One of their arrows richocheted back down and rammed into the ground, narrowly missing our interpreter. They had run out of the small tipped arrows. This one had a very sharp metal arrow. They hunted for dik dik, birds, and monkeys and we saw all of them, but they had no luck. We were all given chances to shoot the bow however, and it was very strong, very hard to pull back. We ended up doing a dance at the end with them, and buying beads and arrows.
We then came back to our tents and had another gourmet meal and went for a swim in a natural springs with the fishies. Refreshing. Oh and before I forget, the zebras had really big butts. So today we have our first bit of relaxation. I decided to throw the football around to get ready for the off-season, but while I was throwing the football it got into a prickly tree and deflated slowly. An unfortunate experience, but that’s why we brought the pump, soccer ball, and Frisbee. And not the good football. We’re all getting a little tan already, they say it’s hot even for them here (the natives). Very humid. I related this part of Africa to Arizona. The same poofy clouds, the same dryness, same humidity.
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Apr 16th, 2006, 02:55 AM
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Hi Brett,
You are doing a great job in your trip report. Are you telling me that you were encouraged to try and hit a living goose? Why? I am surprised that they would encourage behaviour that to me seems really mean spirited!

I have never seen a thin zebra, they seem always huge - pregnant females seem enourmous!

Kind regards,
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Apr 17th, 2006, 12:41 PM
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to the top and waiting for more.....
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Apr 17th, 2006, 06:00 PM
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As far as the incident with the goose, we were visiting the Hadzabe people to learn about their hunter/gatherer lifestyle. During the hunt we tried to be helpful by staying out of the way and being stealthy. When asked to help, we were happy to do so even though we are not hunters ourselves (except maybe a salmon or trout from time to time). If they had wanted help killing a monkey, even though living off the bush is their sole means of subsistance, I doubt we would have done more than stand back and watch.

That afternoon we drove to the crater and the day after that we spent about 12 hours enjoying its beauty. We spent two nights at the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge. Then we spent the next two nights at the Serengeti Sopa. We had secured arrangements late and were really lucky there was a room left anywhere for this busy time of the year - much less three of them for the five of us. Funny thing is, we never felt like there was a "crowd" anywhere. The crater was Brett's least favorite part and he didn't directly write about it as you can read below:

Oh what fun. Geoff, Bryan, and I were chasing lizards for twenty minutes or so at our lodge here. We just finished lunch and saw many lizards littering the long pathway back to our rooms. Reminds me of Florida, only the lizards are larger and more colorful. But before I tell of today’s adventures, I must explain yesterday – our first day in the Serengeti.
Long story short, I like Chris as a guide even more than I did before. We left our lodge late and were allowed to sleep in which was SO nice. The first was the site where “lucy” was found – the oldest set of bones discovered. We left around 10 a.m. and passed around the edge of the crater and towards two scenic areas along our way to the national park. History - we didn’t get to see the bones (they’re kept in NYC) but learned interesting facts about them. My favorite is the reason Lucy was named so. When they uncovered the bones the Beatles song “Lucy .. . “ was begin played. I’m not a huge Beatles fan so I didn’t remember, but Bryan knows. So Lucy was named Lucy because of a Beatles song. Tell that to the textbooks!
Then we left there and traveled a short distance to the Shifting Sands. There was a pile of magnetic sand or metal that has moved a great distance in a small amount of time. I can’t remember the figure, but it was several km in forty years. It had passed over a river and not lost any mass. And because of the wind it maintained a crescent shape the whole time. That doesn’t make sense because the wind would therefore have to push from both directions at the same time. But since I can’t come up with my own conclusion, Chris’ works for me.
Wow, a baboon just passed right outside my window not more than ten feet from me. That’s what’s nice about this lodge – it’s so close to wildlife yet doesn’t disturb the nature. There are zebra, water buck, buffalo, baboon, and even leopard within the premises. I haven’t seen a leopard yet, but apparently last night our guide was changing a tire after we had gone inside for the night and the leopard started walking towards him while he was under the car! He screamed and scared it off, but wow.

Going back to yesterday, it was labeled as a travel day so we spent several hours driving, but Chris wanted to go on one game hunt before we retired. We left on a trail and weren’t looking for thirty minutes when I felt like saying, “croickey,” as the crocodile hunter does. We found a pride of lions. They were by the river like all the other lions we had seen. There were eight or so and were being lazy so we kept going and found a lioness just feet from the trail lioning around in the tall grass. What lions do on hunts is they fan out surrounding a herd of zebra in a semi-circle. Then one lioness comes from the opposite direction and spooks the zebra into running into the trap. The one sitting in the tall grass was one such lion, but they wait until dark to attack so we couldn’t wait for them. We took our pictures and left to find a hippo pool. Here there were over thirty hippos trying uselessly to cure insomnia. They couldn’t get comfortable so they kept moving around for us. That was a lot of fun and yes, I did see them poop. Wow. No description, sorry.
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Apr 19th, 2006, 07:07 PM
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So continuing with our trip. The sun had started going down – it always does around 7 p.m. We saw another pride of lions, but just lion around like I said. Then we were coming home and saw a cheetah!! In Swahili they’re called Duma. It was sitting, or walking rather, with two cubs. We were able to get fairly close since our guide left the trail in our land rover. –Got some good shots, wow they are beautiful cats. -So sleek and spotted. We didn’t stay long, however. Cheetah are highly respected creatures. We are very lucky to have seen five so far as the last safari had only seen one group, and near the very end. We whisked home at more than 70 kph, avoiding animals in the dark. Several times we almost hit zebra, and with their huge butts, they would do a little more damage than a deer. There was no more excitement on the way back and we got to the lodge that Chris describes as twice as nice as the last
one. Amazing. We all went to bed quickly though as our safari would leave at 5:30 a.m.

We awoke and Mom told a story that last night they heard chewing outside their window and looked up to see their window almost totally eclipsed as the hump of a buffalo was facing them. They flashed the light and its head lifted. -Pretty scary since they left the door open that night. We left in the early morning hoping to see a fresh kill, after all the Serengeti is the #1 place to see carnivorous cats in the country. We didn’t see any before the sun came out, but our day soon turned around. We came to an open area (the whole Serengeti is open) and saw two black rhinos in the distance. They are two of 15 in the whole Serengeti!! I thought they could only be seen in the crater, but apparently I was mistaken. We then sped along to our breakfast area where the Maasai tribes people used to play drums on rocks that were mostly hollow. The Ngong something rocks were a meeting place of the Maasai over a hundred years ago. My brothers and I decided to explore the massive rock which housed the gong rocks since other member of our party were still eating. Chris said to be careful of snakes and not go too far so he could hear when we yelled. Nice guy. He also said that this was a favorite spot for lions. We were definitely scared. Bryan and I stopped where the rock path ended. He hates spiders. I hate snakes. We needed the might of Geoff to show us the way with his battle staff ready to defend against snakes. We set off on the massive rock and traveled upwards to lion land. We saw lion poop and traveled very slowly – cautiously listening for lions while flushing out potential snakes with sticks. We reached an open area and could either travel up a lion path or around on a longer but wider path with the potential to be cut off from our safe retreat. We found an animal skull. Lions must be there. There was a rustle in the bushes. We grew silent. We grew scared. We told Geoff to pick up a rock and throw it in the direction of the rustle to see if it was a creature or just a bird. Nothing moved. We walked toward the broader path as the rustling occurred somewhere near the lion path. The volume of poo increased. We proceeded with caution.
Bryan whispered loudly, “Lion!” We all turned to see what he’s pointing at, ready to jolt at any moment. After all I don’t have to outrun the lion, just you. There was a mongoose sitting on a rock. False alarm. There’s another rustle from above. We all ran. Now I realize why gazelle all run if one is scared. We reached a point of safety then peered back. Soon we realized it was nothing and crept back. We were almost in the same spot when there was more rustling, this time from below. Thinking it was again nothing, we held our ground. It moved closer, the rustling became progressively louder. “Wait until we have camera confirmation. Then run!” We all waited as it came closer yet. I kept fighting my instincts to wait just a moment longer. Our eyes were trained on the bushes, which we could now see as moving. Closer, here it comes! Dik dik. Out of the bushes and into the light, we all sighed with relief. With bounding confidence, we continued on and reached the tip of the rock and “eeehoo’d” into the wild below, announcing our presence to the passing giraffe below. We found our way back and were unharmed. I picked up the skull and it is soaking as I write. What an adventure.
We saw many lions on our way back. They looked fat from last night’s meal and none were doing much. Lions eat once a week so we were pretty lucky on the previous day to see that one up close. We passed a rock face with Maasai paintings – one riding a bike, one an elephant, others’ shields. We saw many gazelles as they and zebras dominate the plains on our way back to the Sopa lodge. This is where I am now. We had back out around 4:30 this afternoon to see evening kills. Exciting. Now I must tend to my animal skull.

Not too much happened for the evening hunt, honestly. I cannot remember exactly what happened that night. I remember we did not see any kills, many would be kills, but the sun was too hot still for hunting. -Lots of hyena and jackals. I believe we saw lions – lots of them. We found two prides, one with four males. Then at a different location - nine or ten females on a huge rock. The females had just eaten as some of them were lying on the backs. It was really funny looking. They were doing a Bailey style “play dead.” This was because they have to eat enough meat to last a week so their stomachs were hurting. Makes sense I guess. One of the lions was pregnant and was split off from the others, hiding instead in the bushes. The other pride has fewer females by two or so and only had two males. They were very close to each other and I was hoping there’d be some territorial conflict. Unfortunately there was no time to watch, as there rarely is.
Then we went back to the lodge for our last night there.
On the way, Chris told us of one time when he was doing a special for National Geographic and there were two lion pirdes moving closer and closer. They waited awhile in a strategic position as they kept moving closer to each other. The two alpha males of the prides potted each other and raced forward to where they met and began to fight. They were tumbling around right in front of the car as the photographer was immensely pleased with the footage. Sitting in his camera well where the door had been taken out to provide better footage, the lions moved closer to the car. Eventually one toppled into the camera and fell inside the car while still battling the other one! Inside the car Chris was just two feet from flying claws. He had a number of big roles on those programs as footage from his vehicle was taken as part of the introduction to the “Animal Planet” everytime the show comes on, in the beginning where the elephant is charging. And he’s only 28!! Funny, knowledgeable guy.
Anyway, back at the lodge it was dinner time. At dinner we were given little presents, each one different. I got a little cross, Bryan a necklace of Africa. That was fun. In the containers they came in we made animals – a giraffe, warthog, bird, and zebra. Our creativity even surprised dad. There was a Santa Claus even. -Very skinny with an empty bag. He just looked goofy. The cooking crew came and sang us some songs in Swahili. That was pretty much the evening
The next day was Christmas. It didn’t really seem like Christmas, but it was. -Just another day, another hunt. We had quite an exciting day as we saw many animals, again I don’t remember much of the excitement of the day, but we were moving to our campsite that we would stay at for a few nights, in the southern Serengeti, not far outside the gate, so we just had a short safari, but not unexciting. We spotted two female lions in the bushes stalking. They looked just like Bailey when she’s stalking squirrels except they were in tall grass and would crouch and be patient. We looked ahead and spotted a male lion waiting for things to get interesting. Farther ahead was a water hole with gazelle (not lion food), warthogs (not lion food), heartabeest (lion food), and topi (lion food). We were about to witness a hunt right before our eyes!! The lions crouched closer and slunk behind some bushes. We noticed there was a small reedbuck chirping because it was behind the lion and had spotted it. They are so funny! Anyway, the lion kept moving closer and we were getting excited. Off in the distance behind the lions we saw a giant herd of elephants. They were moving slowly toward the water hole, but this complicated things even more as elephants are the only thing lions are afraid of. If an elephant sees a lion, it will charge and attempt to trample it. The elephant seemed like their path would bring them right beside the lion!
The lion heard the elephant so it made sure to be extremely still. An angry elephant is a fearsome sight to behold. The elephants came closer. The lion tensed and couched lower. The first wave of elephants began passing, not more than fifteen feet from the lion!! Nothing happened! There was a large elephant in front and in back of the first wave and as the wave was almost through, the last elephant stopped. It backed up a few paces and lifted its trunk. The trunk slowly swung form side to side, sniffing at the air. I thought for sure it would trumpet and start towards the lion, but instead it lowered its trunk and kept walking! The second wave was farther away, a least thirty feet, so we decided to get closer. We passed the elephants drinking as a road went all along the water holes. We then off-roaded a little ways to where the lions were. They again began slinking towards the animals very slowly. We were prepared to wait as long as it took. The lions passed behind a small hill so we decided to watch the other animals for a while. Fifteen minutes passed and the lions hadn’t emerged from the other side of the hill so we decided to take a look. The lions couldn’t be found. They must be great hiders. We looked closer to see where exactly they were. We looked behind one large clump of bushes, no lions. There was only one more clump of bushes that could hide two lions. We moved closer, closer . . . There they were!! Wait ... they were sleeping. Why?? Ah, short attention span. Lame. It was exciting though. -A ton of tension.
We then took off and arrived at our campsite. It was very large and our tents were very similar to those at Lake Manyara. We were greeted by five crew people, one holding warm, wet cloths for our faces, another cold juice. Wow, what service! They had arrived three days ago to set up camp. We set our things down and were summoned to the mess hall for dinner. A nice, long tent was set up with fine dining and a waiter inside. The amount of civilization they brought to our remote spot on the Serengeti was amazing.
There is a lion pride nearby so we are told to stay in our tents at night. There is a campfire set up with chairs for us to sit in. Popcorn is provided and the waiter Johnson asks us for our drink orders. -Simply amazing. Our tents each have three lights in them. -One for the bathroom, one for the bedroom, one for the porch. We
even have showers that they bring buckets for. It was a fairly restless night however. They scared us with stories of hyena getting into their kitchen tent and biting the fridge. You can see the tooth marks still, also the hyena one time attempted to carry the generator back to its den, and also ate a liter of cooking oil. There were many stories - it would be impossible to remember them all. Bryan said he left a bag of walnuts out and frightfully heard them being eaten in the night.
December 26, 2005
We awoke the next morning and took off for a full day in the middle Serengeti. We had been searching the Southern Serengeti until then. We left in search of leopard and crocodile. It was a long drive, but definitely worth it. Likely the best day of the safari, but also, in a way gave me immense respect for the animals and made me realize the impact of humans on the animals. We were used to being almost the only car on the road - the south is rarely traveled. In the middle, cars were everywhere. During one sighting there were fourteen cars watching and actively getting in the way of the animals. But that’s later.

What I must tell you about now is the tse-tse fly. The most feared fly in Africa, this fly is like a super fly. Incredibly fast and extra tough, it takes more than one well-placed blow to eliminate this pest. Their bite is instantaneously painful and they are about twice as large as a normal fly. They surround the leopard areas, which is where we would spend the first part of the day. With an open roofed vehicle, they can ruin a safari in just a few minutes. We made our first run into the tse-tse land and weren’t able to spot any leopard before being chased away by the lies. As we were coming out we saw a van from Leopard Tours who said, “Together we will find one.” This gave Chris strength and he pushed back into the jungle. We hadn’t traveled ten minutes when the other van had pulled over looking at a leopard. It was fairly far away so we looked at it for a while, then went nearer to get a closer look. We sat almost directly under the tree the leopard was lying in, so close to the beautiful animal. Then Chris told us to look up in the tree to the right. We do and there sitting on a branch was a dead reedbuck! The leopard had a kill and had pulled it 25 feet up in a tree.

The tse tse flies had temporarily gone, and we were feeling pretty good. As we left, tons of cars with the Leopard Tours logo passed. Someone had radioed them. That leopard had seen the last of its peace for the day.

We then traveled up the river in search of crocodile. What they do is they wait in waterholes until an animal comes too close. They then strike it with its tail, break the leg of the animal, then wrap around it and dunk it in the water over the course of half an hour until it drowns. Then it waits there making ripples to bring other crocodiles. When help arrives, the crocodiles each take one end of the animal and spin in opposite directions until it breaks in half and they swallow their end whole. -Pretty gruesome.

So we were looking for crocs and found a dead zebra in the river near a drinking area. We looked closer and ripples were coming form the underside of the zebra. Two tiny crocodiles circled the kill, but they would be too weak to assist the larger croc. We watched for a while, but then left to go leopard hunting again. We found another lying in a tree, but it was behind a branch and we didn’t want to get rangered, so we left.

We went crocodile hinting and found a few, but none were too exciting. An eight footer was the longest we saw. They get up to twelve. We wandered back to where the dead zebra was and some zebra and wildabeests were hastily drinking water just feet from the dead one. Ripples from the underside of it had stopped and the crocodile, afraid of the stampede, had moved temporarily.
The zebra were very tense, jumping at nothing and running suddenly back to the safety of land, realizing their mistake, and running back to the water for more drink. Zebra tensions were high as many young zebra lost their mothers. During a few stampedings, baby zebra were trampled. We saw one where a baby was badly injured, but lived to learn from the experience. Zebra were kicking each other and storks were waiting for their share of the dead zebra.

We left this scene for lunch at a museum where we found many rock hyrats, which apparently like apples. Bryan set an apple core down to get his camera out and from no where arrived eight of these animals fighting for the apple. One jumped right over Geoff’s shoulder to join the fray. Crazy hyrats. We had to wait for Chris to fuel up the car, so when we got back to the zebra pond, all of them had left and only the dead zebra remained. We traveled to the other side of the river to see if there were any crocodiles, but along our way we found a trampled zebra on the ground, just lying there bloated and dead. We were wondering when it would get picked on when we saw the storks flying to a field nearby. Then we saw a hyena, and we moved closer to find several hyena fighting over a dead zebra, likely also trampled. Some tore off pieces and ran away but some remained happily chewing on the remains. Then out of nowhere came a lion! It chased the hyena away and grabbed up the carcass. The front half remained and the lion took it in its mouth and walked toward the road. By now several cars had lined up, and with the radios they had we knew more would soon be coming. The lion took the zebra over a dead tree and looked at the cars. It was angry at the animals following it so it chased a jackal off, then went back to try to find a way to get to its pride with the zebra intact.

There were too many cars to get directly across to where it wanted to go so the lion changed its course. As it did, the cars positioned away from the lion moved to where the lion was going to go, blocking its path even more, causing the lion to change its path even farther. More cars kept arriving and it’s a wonder the cat wasn’t hit. The lion made it just past the road with the zebra in its mouth when it collapsed, exhausted, under the cover of a bush. It was a really sad sight as the lion was surrounded once again by cars. That turned a great find into an uneasy stomach.
We left and headed home. We had gone half the way home when we saw three maturing cheetah on the side of the road. Those were the 7th, 8th, and 9th of our trip when it is rare to see only five. We have been very fortunate indeed. We made it two miles more and found a hyena feasting on a dead gazelle. Amazing luck. But then, when we were feeling good again we saw a gazelle lying on the ground in pain as if it had been hit by a car. The tail had been cut off and one leg was broken. It kept trying to get up with its mother by its side, but kept screaming in pain. It rolled over, exposing its other leg, which had been ripped open and the muscle was almost coming out of the skin. Reminded me of the videos of people skinning animals alive. We felt really bad for the gazelle, but could nothing to save it. We drove away and Chris told us the worst part would be when it is eaten alive by hyena during the night. I think he told the next car going by to end its suffering. Poor guy. When we reached camp, our moods were somber, but we cheered up quickly when we got food in our stomachs and went to bed.
December 27, 2005
Today our game drive was to a lake, where the Great Migration ends. Unfortunately the lake was dry and the migration tardy. We spent the day looking for cheetah and found one more to make our count twelve (I was mistaken on my last figure). We then found two lions Chris thought were going to mate for us, but did not. They were just good friends. Would’ve been interesting. They pooped for us instead, which is almost as good. We retired to camp early after chasing some ostrich. They are definitely fun to chase. When they get tired they fall to the ground and fake being dead, from running at 30km/hr. When the chaser gets closer they get up and run with a renewed energy. It’s late and our last dinner in the Serengeti is coming up. Tomorrow we fly to Zanzibar and hang out on the beaches relaxing and bartering. Hmm, this trip ROCKS!!
December 28, 29, & 30, 2005

So we’ve settled in here on Zanzibar and found yet another amazing hotel. It reminds me a lot of Venice, but since I haven’t been to Venice . . of what Venice should look like. -- -Lots of colorful old-looking furniture. The whole paint something then chip away pieces of it and dull the paint. The bad frame has stained glass, we have a long bench outside that’s cushioned with stained glass between the wood structuring. Tons of throw pillows. Our bed has a red stripe running down the center of the comforter and when we arrived the throw pillows were stacked upright in a triangle on the center with an exotic lower sitting below. The bed has large posts with its own ceiling – all Arabian style. You know, I’m starting to like the whole Arabian thing. If Agrobah from Aladdin came back and was the new retro style, I’d be all over it.

I made a sweet Arabian castle today in the sand, the best one I’ve ever made. Fun. Anyway I should probably recount yesterday as I was in a bad mood most of the day. –Easily the worst day of the trip for me. So we wend on our final safari on the way to the airport. –Saw two more cheetah, a few lions, and those silly zebra at the watering hole again. The cheetah might’ve been the same ones as before so still twelve on the count. We saw the baby gazelle who had been run over the previous day. It had died in piece, without the presence of any hyena. We made it to the rugged airport an hour early, as requested and waited. And waited and waited until we were even waiting to wait. The airplane arrived two and a half hours after it was scheduled to arrive, but I was okay with that. Us bros have a certain way of keeping ourselves amused while we have a ball around. The pilot told us the other airplane couldn’t make it so he was diverted to pick us up.

We had one stop at Lake Manyara to pick up four passengers, then it was on to the island. The airplane was a twin prop, looked fairly new. As I stepped on the plan and almost immediately began a sweat, I embarked on one of the worst two hours of my life.
The first forty minutes were okay, minus the most uncomfortable seats even. The pilot told us it would be 28 minutes. It was almost twice that. No biggy, right? I began to get sick right as we landed, but focused all my energies on maintaining my composure. I was okay, and we picked up the passengers who wined hardcore about not having enough space for their camping gear they had already used enough that if they said “weight and balance” one more time, somebody was going to get shot. I didn’t have a gun, but I’d find a way. They got on and said their excuse was that they were a little tense because they just saved three lives in a car accident. This was actually the beginning of possibly the worst two hours of my life. To make things short and simple, I threw up four times on the plane. The first time mom gave me a zip lock bag that had two huge holes I it. It got all over my pants, my shirt, the seatbelt, my football pillow. Eggs and chicken from lunch. The other times I had a doggy bag, but the first had more volume than all the other combined. Every time I threw up, I would sweat uncontrollably which added to the disgust. So that happened. We arrived at the airport and my last one was just as we touched down. I got off, put new clothes on, and we were on the bus. We drove for about five minutes and the driver pulled over to buy something at a shack that was a store, we concluded drugs. My whole body was exhausted because of the flight so I lay down during the ride. It was supposed to take an hour, but the driver was speeding really fast and crazily, I swear we should’ve been in an accident. When we arrived Bryan asked, “Did you beat the record?” Ya, and that’s when #5 happened for me. I hurried out of the bus and watered the bushed. Yellow goes well with green. I looked down afterwards and ants were swarming. “At least the ants have something to eat,” I told Bryan. Gotta look on the bright side. I wiped my mouth, picked up my bags, headed inside to where check in was a saw a waiter carrying drinks just for us, five of us, five of them. Now I was one thirsty guy and the fancy glasses with a red liquid and straw seemed like just the exotic sure I needed. A slushie would be wonderful. I took a slurp and found it was everything but wonderful. Watermelon. Can they even make watermelon juice? How exactly do you squeeze a watermelon? What about the seeds? Ah, regardless I hate watermelon.

Then I walked in the entryway and down the corridor that led to the pool area. Paradise. Absolute Paradise. The warm breeze drifting in from the perfect beach (minus all the seaweed) that houses white sand and palm trees. Two dining areas to choose from, new old style rooms, massage, internet café, everything you might need.

I must wrap this up since I’m running low on pages. There was even a coordinator/entertainer who organized volleyball, soccer, disco at the amazing nightclub. The nightclub would’ve been better if there were more young people to dance. And no parents. That would’ve just been weird. As the night came on the wind picked up and felt so nice. There was a lookout post on the beach from which there were a few bright lights, crazily beautiful. The water was such a cool blue too, reminded me of Crater Lake.

Anyway, soon we realized the luxuries were definitely in the looks because the island didn’t have enough power. The electricity kept failing and the lights and, more noticeably, air conditioners would shut off. The other draw back was the waiters had to know all the languages in the world it seemed and therefore could not understand English fully sometimes. The steak or beef was delicious. Geoff tried fried tentacle. Wasn’t that great I hear. He also tried to fry his skin, which he did a very thorough job of.

December 31, 2005
We all felt like we had too few tokens of Africa so before our flight we left for the town market to stock our bags. We found plenty of great gifts and decorations. I personally went all out with the bracelets. Hopefully they’ll make great gifts, but we’ll see if I can find some people to gift them to. We toured Stonetown where 150 slaves were held in a very small 15 X 15 room that was less than six feet tall and had a raised floor everywhere. We saw a large church where slaves used to be auctioned off. They’d whip them in front of an audience to see which would cry. That’s how they determined the starting price for the auction. Amazing.

So we went to the spice market. We picked up a guide as we went and he took us to a taxi where we were sure we’d get jumped or taken somewhere where we’d be mugged, so we switched taxis at our first stop – the hotel. We then were taken to the airport, flown to Tanzania, and here I am, waiting to go home, perfectly content. Thank you Africa.

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