Tanzania, start of our world trip

14 April 2021 | Marijke, Frans, Evi, Nienke en Karlijn

The plan was outlined, in July 2020 we would go on a trip around the world with the family. School, work, house arranged, but unfortunately there was Corona … We decided to stay in Europe and postpone the world trip.

Since we were still working from home in October, we thought we could do that in Tanzania too; the country without lockdowns and (then) the 1.5 meter and mouth masks duty. That’s how we came into contact with Marjolijn from Explore Tanzania. Unfortunately, this plan was canceled, because our clients did not think this was such a good idea. But we decided to look for the sun in December 2020 and to recharge in Zanzibar. How wonderful that was!!!!

There the plan was born to start the postponed trip around the world anyway, in Tanzania. After that we will see again, is the idea.

In consultation with Marjolijn, we choose a nice accommodation with its own kitchen and washing machine. We have fussy eaters and three months of pancakes and chips doesn’t seem like a good idea to us. We rent a house at Ngare Sero Mountain lodge and we book the excursions when we get there; after all, we have plenty of time.

And so on April 7, 2021, we leave for Tanzania for three months, with another scheduled end on Zanzibar. We say goodbye to grandpa and grandma at a rainy Schiphol Airport, and our adventure has begun.
When we arrived and passed all the checks, we are neatly met by our driver who will take us to our new “home” for the next two months. The grounds are beautiful and the house has all the space we need. And after a delicious meal we unpack our suitcases. We use the first days to get used to. And although we are not really guided, the staff are very friendly and willing to help us. We arrange a cafetière, some extra pans and we get bread for breakfast for the next day. We let ourselves be driven back and forth to the supermarket for the essential groceries. But after we speak to one of the owners there, it appears that we can also order the groceries. So we are happy to do that.

After a few days it is still itching to discover the country with the beautiful National Parks. We make a calendar and put the places we want to visit on it. First it is Tarangire and Lake Manyara.

On the day of departure, our guide Joseph is ready to accompany us for the next few days. The big smiley guide has a great safari Landcruiser with him and we drive to the park in 2.5 hours. We drive into the park with the roof open and immediately see everything in the distance: giraffes, antelopes, boars, other types of deer, monkeys and elephants. It is a beautiful park, but when we arrive at the lodge, there appears to be a superlative. Our lodge is located on a small hill overlooking a large stretch of Tarangire valley with extensive grasslands, beautiful large trees (including the typical baobab) and a river: so breathtakingly beautiful.

In the afternoon we have a long Safari drive where we of course also see the same animals, but often up close. In addition, we see many different types of birds in all colors and sizes, and birds of prey that fly at great heights. We drive right through a large herd of buffalo. After dinner the girls go to bed and we agree that there is one parent in each house. The power goes off at night and it is really pitch dark. The great thing about it is that we see a beautiful starry sky, the Milky Way and shooting stars. But what do you have to wish for, if you are already in paradise….

When we wake up in the morning we discuss the many noises we heard last night. If you sleep in the middle of a national park, without a fence, you here a lot of noises. Our guide tells us that especially the hyenas made a lot of noise last night .. We have breakfast and go on the road again. We drive through a beautiful piece of nature along hills and the only river in the park and especially see giraffes gracefully walking around. We don’t necessarily see animals for long stretches, but the weather is lovely and allreally beautiful. After a while we see a large group of elephants in the distance, but when we want to drive there we get stuck. It can happen, a little shoveling, a little to the left and to the right and we go again. I prefer not to be stuck in no man’s land for too long. After another hour of driving, we see a huge challenge: mud and water on the only path we have to cross and even our guide does not trust the car through this. Then we really have to worry. Frans first starts navigating outside (really super smart, walking around with all kinds of wild animals nearby), but I [Marijke] apparently talked too much into our guide and he decides to go through the tall grass. All out, gas and luckily we succeeded.

The beauty of this time – and especially in combination with Corona of course – is that there are hardly any other people, so we have the whole park to ourselves. However, the downside is that if we are stuck it will probably take hours before anyone can be with us at all. Just when we conclude that we have seen relatively few animals, we still get a beautiful dessert. A procession of elephants is in the middle of the road, with a very small baby elephant. What a great sight. We end this day with the swimming pool, a nice drink and delicious food.

On the last day in Tarangire National Park we clean up in the morning and see the monkeys walking around the door when we wake up. Special about these (Vervet) monkeys is that the males have blue balls when they ‘want to’. And by blue, I mean really blue.

We drive through Tarangire National Park with another small safari where we encounter a few giraffes, boars, deer and monkeys, but the highlight of this part is the chameleon with its beautiful colors! After this we go to Manyara National Park at the lake of the same name.

Getting there is quite a challenge; even for our mega jeep who can really do everything. Holes, floods, debatable slopes and especially maneuvering by feeling by Joseph helps us through it. Before we enter Manyara National Park, we end up in a terribly poor part of Tanzania. People have mud huts, corrugated iron can be seen everywhere, floods have left houses uninhabitable and there is often much junk that no one apparently cleans up. With a last look at a lady holding a child next to a mud hut of 2×2 meters without electricity and water, you get a bit wistful…  We drive towards the back entrance of the park and apparently nobody has driven there for a long time. You can hardly call the road that and with art and flying work we finally reach our lunch spot, which is also the entrance to the national park. The Manyara National Park advertises big with the only park where the lions are in the trees so we go looking for that. There is a lot of wildlife, but of course we have already seen a lot in the previous park, so let those lions come! We drive through the park and soon see that the amount of rain over the past three years has taken its toll. The lake is a lot bigger than usual; actually too big, because the trees that used to be on the waterfront are now dead wood. The park itself is wonderful green, hilly and beautiful to see. However, it is so thickly wooded that we do not encounter any animal in the first part; certainly no tree climbing lions. When we drive along the lake we see hippos, flamingos and pelicans for the first time and just before we arrive at our sleeping place tonight, we are allowed to see some giraffes. We sleep in an ecological lodge in the middle of the park. The shower is a cistern, after the toilet you have to cover everything with wood chips, there is no running water, no electricity, but there is peace. Lots of rest. There is no one else in the lodge and we are sitting against a mountain slope with a waterfall and a small running stream. There is also no fence, so in principle everything can just pass by what can be found in the park. Monkeys are already there, buffaloes seem to be on the other side, but on the beach we already see the enormous prints of the elephants; next to our sleeping places, hmmm. Not too much thinking though. The girls play by the stream / waterfall for the rest of the afternoon and in the evening we dine by light (generated from solar panels) on the beach.

We wake up in the morning and are curious who stole past our tent last night. The girls think they saw large elephant steps on the beach, but they were there yesterday as well :-) There is a lively monkey family on the rocks and the beach and in the distance buffaloes are cooling off and drinking in the water. Breakfast is also on the beach and with delicious pancakes this is another hit. We clean up everything and leave this little paradise again in search of animals in the national park; frankly especially lions! We drive quite a bit and see a beautiful landscape with green hills, a large lake and all kinds of trees you can think of, but not many animals at first. Towards the end, however, they all seem to come by at a rapid pace: – Many groups of deer – Large baboon family with boars in between – Several giraffes that are very close – The very first wildebeest – A few zebras And … ) lion sunbathing on the beach. Quite a lean and lazy variety, but no less impressive. After staring for a while he gets up and disappears into the thick forest, but how cool! We leave the national park and drive to a nearby village: Mto Wa Mbu. A village where almost all the tribes of Tanzania come together to trade with each other and here we drive around with a tuk-tuk after some lunch. It was our intention to do this on a bicycle, but Karlijn does not dare to do that yet – the bicycle was also a bit too big. The advantage of a tuk tuk is that we do not have to make any effort in 30 degrees heat. We drive through very poor neighborhoods and a variety of people and tribes and stop at a local market. Here you will mainly find vegetables, but also a wooden mixer, cooking pot on fire and other things that you really only find in a poor neighborhood. We walk around and quickly walk past the butchers (what a smell ..). A little further we get some explanation about the banana trees – and there are quite a lot of them! – and we get some explanation about local painting arts. We skip the ‘tourist trap’ and a little further on we walk past a woodworking company with beautiful things. We buy three bowls for the girls and go back to the big jeep. It’s another three hours’ drive before the safari adventure is over. They are quiet on a nice highway, although we are anti-socially pushed off the road by a large column of expensive cars and police with the legendary remark of our guide ‘probably someone important, most likely corrupt’. We eat at our own lodge, shower the safari door and stop for the day.

(wordt vervolgd)

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