An Unforgettable African Safari Experience – Part III
The mobile camps by CC Africa ended up being a highlight of our trip. This was a true adventure of staying in luxury (and I mean luxury) tents set up directly on the ground of the plains, right in the midst of whatever local wildlife. The CC Africa staff of about 16 treated the 6 of us like royalty and served our every need. They cooked, cleaned, and did laundry for us in that two-night stay and served our every need or wish…and were a very friendly fun loving bunch.
We had a ball! We were even treated with breakfast and/or ‘happy hour’ on the plains in the midst of our game drives. Our driver/ guide, Frank, during this excursion stay was only 27 years old and was a very knowledgeable young member of the Massai nomad tribe. He left his village to become more educated and to work within normal society, but still returns to his Massai community whenever he is able.
During our stay in the tents, Kenny and Lorilie had a herd of Hippos wander through our camp very late the first night. Their noise and their brushing up against their tent as they passed thru nearly gave Kenny a heart attack but we got lots of laughs, at his expense, the next morning. We also heard a distant roar of a lion but frankly, at the time, I didn’t know that’s what it was.
The following morning around 6am, I glanced out our front screen door of the tent to see 4 impalas sprinting towards the terrain…very fast…and lo and behold, a hyena followed in tow. We would have loved to see if he caught up with them but they disappeared into the nearby terrain and we lost sight of them in the bush. What a way to start the morning! The following night was quiet and I think most of us got our best sleep out in the bush in the fresh air, under the most comfort of a thick down comforter.
The next morning was to be our last morning in Tanzania but we were going to leave with a bang. We had scheduled a Balloon ride for first thing in the morning and had to leave out at 3:30 in the morning to get there. The Serengeti only allows one company to provide balloon rides, and only two balloons at a time can go up. Each balloon is sectioned into 8 cubby holes that hold 2 people, for a total of 16 riders and the Captain. So we enjoyed a ride with 10 other persons and had a marvelous experience. It was slightly cool at that time of the morning but it warmed up as the morning progressed.
The ride lifted so easily you hardly knew you left the ground because the basket was actually lying on its side on the ground when you took off. You lift and glide forward very smoothly and they vary the height based on what there is to be seen below. Releasing or adding more fire is what determines if you rise or decrease in elevation. It was beautiful sailing above the trees and seeing minor caravans of impalas or pools of hippos. We followed a couple of hyenas for a short while and even viewed a lioness and her cubs taking a morning stroll.
When our ride came to an end an hour later, we all toasted our ride with champagne and were then shown to a breakfast table for 32 people on the plains under a huge acacia tree. The white tablecloth, china and crystal glasses was only the beginning of the luxury service as we dined in the beautiful fresh air. The only aggravation was our waving off the slew of bees that also wanted to enjoy our abundance of fruit and juices, but viewing the zebras as they passed at the top of the hill made it all worth the effort.
We then took our ride back to Mount Village Lodge to gather our things, have lunch, and then head back to Kilimanjaro Airport. Time to go home! We all flew together back to Amsterdam (an 11 hour trip this time) with a 7 hour layover there for me. The rest of our crew had a 5 hour layover and then they flew directly back to Lo Angeles (another 11 hrs) while I flew directly back to Chicago (8hrs).
Our flight didn’t leave until about 8:30 pm so this was a grueling trip home. With us being up for 15 hours before our flight even left (since 3:30am for the balloon ride), and then taking another 24 hours to get home, I can’t even describe the exhaustion. It took me four days to get my body out of the jet lag, but it was all worth it!!
Needless to say, although I thought my first trip was a “TRIP OF A LIFETIME”, I still hope to experience it all again one day! If I’m lucky, that trip will also have to include the mobile tented camps……as this was a part of the trip that EVERYONE should experience if you truly want to experience an Africa safari!
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