Live the life!

16 February 2024 | Agnes

February 16, 2024
Life’s for the living, so live it! For years I have dreamed of going to Africa alone for a week to see wild animals. You keep putting off such a dream. Until you realize that things happen in life that you have no influence on. Dear people around me died and dear people around me got sick. So…. Live life! And that’s why I’m in Arusha now.

I flew into Kilimanjaro Airport this morning. 8.5 hour flight + 1 hour in line for immigration. Nice man behind the counter took his time and really wanted to help me find a nice spot in my passport where he would put his stamp. He was very happy and proud that I am now visiting his country for the fourth time. I was picked up by Baboe (not from the cargo bikes). Baboe (see photo) took me to Outpost Lodge in Arusha (about 1 hour’s drive). Baboe told us the name of each village we passed. Very sweet, but it’s pitch black here so you can’t see anything.

At the lodge I am met by four gentlemen. I ask if I can eat or drink anything, but everything is already closed. It is now also 11:00 PM local time. Two hours later than in the Netherlands. I simply think that one of the four can arrange some food and drinks, but I don’t think that’s quite right :-). The room is simple. The door can be locked but a window is missing. Fortunately, there is a screen for that. Important. I have a thing for insects. The toilet does not flush. At least then you know you are in Africa again. The shower is really wonderful! Tomorrow the adventure really starts. Alpha, my guide and BFF for the coming week, will pick me up early tomorrow morning. Together we then drive to the Serengeti. A drive of approximately 6 hours. Next week I will be staying in the middle of the Serengeti in so-called Green Camps. These are camps in the middle of the wilderness.

At this time of year the baby boom of migrating animals takes place. The herds of zebras, wildebeest, wildebeest and gazelles roam the Serengeti all year round and have arrived in the south-east of the Serengeti in Tanzania from the north. They stay more or less in the same place in this area for several months, because of the green grass and the necessary water. This is therefore the right place and time of year for hundreds of thousands of new calves to be born. And I hope to see that next week.

February 17, 2024
This morning at 8:00 am Alpha & I left Arusha. First we drove for a few hours on an asphalt road through charming villages. Then to Ngorongoro Conservation Area. There is a great viewpoint on the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater. The nature here is so beautiful! Then drove for hours on bumpy dirt roads through breathtakingly beautiful nature. We see a few giraffes, zebras and impalas. Next we see two female lions relaxing. Alpha knows a lot about all the animals so I enjoy all those stories. We drive on again. And then suddenly… thousands of wildebeest (wildebeest) and zebras! This is what I came for! The great migration! With tears in my eyes I look at all those animals that are literally surrounding us! I cannot put into words how incredibly beautiful this is.
I would like to stay here for hours, but we have to get to camp before dark. When we finally drive further we see three cheetahs! They have just half eaten a wildebeest and are now bloating. Great to see. When we are almost at our tent camp (it is now almost 7:00 PM) we see another elephant. The tented camp is really great. They move this camp every few months to be as close to the animals as possible. A few friendly men are waiting for us with a drink. A barrel is filled with hot water so I can take a shower. Although it is a super cool and nice shower, I don’t want to miss anything outside. So I take a quick shower and then watch the sunset outside with a cold Tusker draft beer in my hand. How incredibly beautiful this is! And how grateful I am that I can do this! This was just the first day in the Serengeti! Live the life!

February 18, 2024
There’s a huge horn in my room. I have to use this when I’m attacked. It is not clear to me whether the sound is intended to scare the animals or whether it is to alert a guard. In any case, it’s a nice idea. After a delicious breakfast we start our game drive. It rained very hard last night and the road is super slippery. We slide from left to right but Alpha is a good driver. We see lion cubs, but they are well hidden in the grass. We also see thousands of wildebeasts and zebras again. That remains so impressive to see. A lot of little ones are born at this time of year. We see a calf that has just been born! Those little ones should be able to walk within fifteen minutes! Mom pushes her head against the little one a little and he/she hesitantly takes the first steps! Great to see! We also spotted a cheetah. We brought another lunch and we used it among the thousands of wildebeest and zebras. Unbelievable how beautiful it is to be among them. According to Alpha there are no lions or cheetahs, so I’ll just assume that. Unfortunately, the enormous herd of wildebeest also attracts many flies. The flies are extremely irritating and the che che flies sting very viciously and cause thick, painful red spots. I love animals so much but I hate insects 😀! During the game drive we also see elephants, hyenas, foxes, a wild cat and many beautiful large birds. After a whole day game drive we also see two male lions. That remains really great to see. We take all the time to look at them quietly. That’s fine. There is no one else around and we park the car right next to the lions. I can just hear them breathing. What very beautiful animals to see. Simba is King of the Jungle and he radiates that. Back at the camp the crew is already waiting for us. With a nice draft beer I watch the elephants that come to the camp to have a look. Bush television. Wow, I am so happy and grateful that I can make this trip. I have a smile on my face all day long. It’s so special. In the meantime, my shower is already filled with warm water. Around 7:00 PM there is another huge thunderstorm. Fortunately, the weather is always beautiful during the day. There are only three guests in camp tonight. Alpha & I have dinner together. There is a lot of laughter together with the boys at the camp.

Februari 19, 2024
When I woke up this morning there was a group of dik-diks walking in front of my tent. That’s nice to wake up to! After breakfast we unfortunately leave our amazing Green Camp and the fantastic Serengeti. We have seen so much! We drive a few hours to the gate. Along the way we see some beautiful lions, zebras, impalas and wildebeest. We are on our way to Lake Manyara National Park. In this park we see many baboons, velvet monkeys, giraffes and elephants. The tented camp is again super idyllic with a wonderful outdoor shower. The cook is already busy with chickens on the BBQ. By the campfire I enjoy a chardonnay (yes, really) and the sound of crickets & frogs. This is Africa! Early to bed again. Tomorrow is the last day. I will fly back home in the evening.

February 20, 2024
Last day in Manyara. Get up early for a game drive. In the Serengeti we are so spoiled with all the beautiful animals that Manyara is a bit disappointing. Fortunately we see a lot of baboons, which are super fun to watch. We also see velvet monkeys and blue monkeys. After an hour’s drive we come face to face with two elephants. Alpha always turns off the engine so that we can watch quietly and I can take pictures with my phone. But then jumbo comes walking towards us. Alpha wants to drive back a bit, but the car won’t start again. I stop taking pictures and put my phone on video. If Jumbo is going to push us off the road, it would be better to have moving images 🐘. After a few attempts the car starts and we distance ourselves from jumbo again. The camp is super fun. It is less luxurious than the camp in the Serengeti. For example, here is an old-fashioned poop box. But it works so that’s fine. After lunch we still have to drive five hours to Kilimanjaro Airport. Alpha & I go through the week. Alpha is a good driver. After the rain, large parts of the road were super slippery, but it drove fine. Alpha is the real bush master! He drives to places in the Serengeti where hardly anyone else goes. He dares to do that because he knows the way well. He knows a lot about the animals. I learned so much from him! I wrote everything down and noticed that he really appreciates my interest in the animals. And we laughed a lot together. Made jokes together with the staff in the camp about their various origins (tribes) that are too lame to share with you 😁. Alpha told me that the manager of the camp had come to him to say that they loved me so much. They thought it was a bit strange that I traveled alone, but the fact that I personally greeted all staff members in Swahili in the morning and wished them Lala Salama in the evening was very much appreciated.
Life is for living, so live it! ❤️💚🤍

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