Tanzania Part 1. Kilimanjaro region and Arusha National Park.

I consider myself lucky that I managed to get away twice last year.  Vietnam in February, just as the Covid-19 pandemic was starting its worldwide spread, and Tanzania in October, as that was one of the few countries that didn’t have restrictions.  I’d booked with a fantastic company, Shemeji Safaris, and in view of the unknown situation, I didn’t have to pay anything until very close to my departure date.  Close to the time, noises were being made by the British Government that another lockdown would be imposed on the UK, and I escaped just in time as lockdown  2 did in fact happen the day after I returned. The lead up to the holiday was therefore really stressful because I didn’t know whether I’d be able to go, and I actually packed my case two weeks in advance, ready to skip the country and go early if necessary! I had booked my flexible flights in advance, but had about 5 flights cancelled and changed, which had a knock on effect on my holiday booking. Emma at Shemeji was excellent however and handled all changes to arrivals,  transfers, and departures efficiently and without fuss.

Early morning sun on Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Before the safari started, I spent a few days near Mount Kilimanjaro, which obligingly popped its head out of the clouds a few times.  The small hotel where I stayed was perfect.  The staff were very Covid aware and were constantly cleaning, the meals were delicious and cooked by the Italian owner, and it was great to relax and reconnect with my fellow traveller. We were pretty much the only white people on our walks around the very rural area and it was nice to take my camera out after many months of not being able to photograph anyone due to Covid.  This young boy was very interested in watching us photograph Kilimanjaro, before he was ushered home by an older sister to get ready to leave for school. His shirt is obviously a hand-me-down and his shorts have seen much better days, but he was clean and his shirt was neatly tucked in.   

It’s a different story for these children though, and this is the reality of living hand to mouth in an African country.

Below L.  Boy and his dog.  I was pleased to see the dog looking healthy and loved, as the attitude to animals in Africa is often very different to how we treat our pets here.  Below R.  Children are expected to do chores to help out, and this plastic container probably wasn’t lightweight.

Whilst in Tanzania the general election took place, and campaigning was happening in the lead up to it.  I’ve never seen or heard anything like it and it took a while to work out what we kept hearing;  music and a voice that was amplified through loudspeakers.  On one walk all became clear.  A pickup truck was being driven around the tracks with a couple of guys sitting in the back broadcasting political messages.  The loudspeakers were massive and it was deafening when passing by. Upon seeing two white people, he immediately switched over to broadcasting in English which made us laugh and we had quite a conversation with him.  After leaving Kilimanjaro we travelled to the town of Arusha where we were to start our safari.  We overnighted in a hotel that was in an extremely poor, dirty and dusty area up a very steep and bumpy road, but once inside the large gates it felt quite tranquil.  We were the only guests in the hotel, and this was to be the case in many others too.  Good for us, but very sad and difficult for the people who rely on tourism.  Everywhere we stayed though we were met with smiles and impeccable service.

Day 1 of our Safari was spent in Arusha National Park, and we commenced with a walking safari.  An armed ranger led us and it was a great experience to see wildlife from ground level. A couple of warthogs were so laid back they stayed almost within touching distance, but I kept well away from the cape buffalo, as they are renowned for being grumpy and charging without warning. It was a beautiful day, not too hot and with my favourite blue sky with puffy white clouds.  Giraffe seem even taller when you are on foot!The other highlight of that day’s safari was spotting a species of monkey that I haven’t seen before – Black & White Colubus monkeys.  They were trying to stay well hidden but we managed to get some photos.  They have really long hair as you can see on the tail below. 

That day I also had another ‘first’ sighting.  The blue monkey.  I was definitely in my happy place that day, and that continued for the rest of the holiday for many reasons 🙂

Next stop – Serengeti National Park……….

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