An Unforgettable African Safari Experience
By Marsha Tyler
This story, although written in 2008 when Marsha attended that Tanzania African Safari with us was just received this past week in March 2011.
Charles L Harmon
How do you describe some thing that you can’t find words for? Africa! ‘My’ new found discovery!
My cousin Kay is a part time travel agent and has a passion for Africa, so she plans and books a lot of safari or adventure trips to Africa, along with other exotic sites overseas, but Africa has her heart. So in 2007 I was able to join her for the first time, along with her niece Lorilie. We went to Tanzania, Africa, which is East Africa. Our safari included the Lake Manyara area, the Ngorgongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Park, for an 8 day safari adventure.
I almost turned down this wonderful ‘once in a lifetime’ adventure only because of the plane ride to and from. I didn’t think I could do it because it was so long. The ride to Africa included a one and half hour ride to Detroit where we would all connect (Kay and Lorilie were coming from CA). Then we had an hour layover and took an 8 hour ride to Amsterdam. In Amsterdam, we had a 4 hour layover before we took our final flight into Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania, which was another 8 hour ride.
I always thought that 4 hours would be the most I could ever tolerate on a plane. I love to fly but sitting still in those small seats takes a toll on you and despite your efforts you seldom can find a way to sleep. So 18 hours of flight, along with the layovers, was something I KNEW I couldn’t do, so why even consider it. But how do you pass up a paid opportunity to go to AFRICA!!
Was I nuts? Was I being ungrateful and unreasonable? I finally decided yes…I was, so I had to find a way to do this! However, I believed it was going to be a thorn in my side the whole way there because I just didn’t believe I could tolerate it. But of course, I did! And it really wasn’t that bad! Fortunately the trip was broken down with layovers in-between, so that helped, but I also found that I just needed to break down the actual flight also.
I read or watched movies for part of the time, we were served a lot of meals and snacks, and I also found that I had no problems sleeping either. I had brought my blanket and a small inflatable pillow and I slept actually quite well, which I think irritated Kay some because she’s never been able to sleep good on all the flights she’s taken.
Keeping up with the time in Africa vs. the time in Chicago was always a challenge. I think we finally figured that they were about 8 hours ahead of Chicago time, so if we were in the midst of a safari drive during the day, my family would be still sleep or ready to rise for the day. So our Monday morning might still be their Sunday night, (or Monday during the wee hours) etc.
I was able to use my cell phone in Africa since I had international service, but just one minute of conversation was $4.50 each, so I didn’t make actual calls but I just couldn’t resist sending a text message (only $.35) if I wanted to tell everyone how beautiful it was or to just stay in touch.
The beauty and vastness of the Tanzania plains is indescribable. From higher elevations looking out onto the plains, it just goes on and on and you’d never believe the amount of wildlife that lives and roams there daily but isn’t viewable from higher heights. Our first stop was at the Mountain Village Serena Lodge in Arusha. This was where we stayed overnight before starting on our safari adventure. We left miscellaneous belongings there and would pick them up after our safari before heading home.
Anything we didn’t need on the safari could stay so that we could lighten the weight for an internal flight we’d need to take several days later. Our driver and guide for the entire week was Fabian, with the Bushbuck Safari Tour Company, and we all got along very well instantly. He was intent on making our trip enjoyable and unforgettable and I believe he achieved his goal…because we all came back to Africa the following year! But more about that later!
The next day we saw parts of the city of Arusha and then headed to Lake Manyara Serena Lodge where we stayed the night and also went on our first game drive….a night drive which was somewhat scary and also the most exhilarating! This drive was in a totally open jeep, in the pitch dark with no headlights. We only had a guide with a spotlight that he used to spot the animals in the dark, and we also had a Ranger (with a rifle) that accompanied us.
We weren’t into the park 2 minutes before we discovered an elephant on the right of us eating from the trees and then we heard a noise on the left to find ANOTHER one! They were directly on both sides of us and they were very big and not more than about 200 feet from our jeep.
Continued – see below