Sunny Afternoon, deep hue sky and small airport with me being one of fairest lady standing in the queue!! Aha... With stark, I realised, I just put my heels at Tanzania Airport. Last time when I landed, I really felt an alien just landed on earth. This time it was warmer for me, more easier to handle the 'coolest' as they always say ' Hakuna Matata' !! This visit was short term but needed one!! Really was thankful for my boss ????
Finally the authorities announced my name and I just woke up from my Tanzanian dreams (dated June 2010!!). Last time, they had tried all their means to make me their nationality, luckily this time they didn't get that notion..Lol. Tanzania, an East African country known for its wildness and Africa's highest mountain, the "white mountain "Kilimanjaro!! It was always amma's dream to see the mountain with family and thus it became my purpose of visit .
Welcome to Africa!! Shortly you will be reading and experiencing the wildness. I hope you enjoy the flight with Ms Sophiscated and sorry if you get bumped, since there are few black rhinos left around.
Day 1 -"Kiki mare" "Wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievable white in the sun"
Kilimanjaro- the Mountain of whiteness; Known as the highest peak on the seven continents. Kilimanjaro rises from its base approximately 16,732 feet (5,100 meters) from the plains near the Tanzanian municipality of Moshi, making it the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. Three volcanic cones that make up Kilimanjaro: Kibo (summit) Mawenzi and Shira. Uhuru Peak is the highest summit on Kibo's crater rim. Uhuru, Swahili for "Freedom," was named in 1961 when Tanganyika gained its independence. Tanganyika later joined with the islands of Zanzibar to form Tanzania.
Common guys!! I love geography; scored 99/100 in boards had to write it. So continuing on, our plane landed in Kilimanjaro international airport and my guide, most knowledgeable guide I have met, Mr Godfrey was on ramp with the safari jeep . Weather was cool, it reminded me of Ooty's winters. Mr Godfrey said "mama" in his swahil ascent "I don't think you will see Kilimanjaro today".
I cribbed "great start of a safari". It was cloudy and my snowy mountain had hid her in it, to make me morose. But Godfrey took us to base with hope that clouds may sway away for us. Sadly it didn't. We didn't see her, but I was sadder for climbers who had prepared months to climb the Ms Challenger.
I pledged on base, "one day I will be back to see you, and you will have to shake hands with me" Can't help being a Piscean
We drove to Arusha, northern Tanzanian city , located on base of Mount Meru. The city is close to the Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Lake Manyara National Park, Olduvai Mount Kilimanjaro, and Arusha National Park on Mount Meru, thus makes an apt place for halting, so as to continue the jungle journey. Godfrey drove us around the city, showing us the governmental agencies and of course the apple of eye to me "Mount Meru".
It stood so tall and giant, that once I felt, it must be smiling at me "Lady, Don't I look handsome?" I could see him, even from my hotel, thus making my day and lessening the regret of seeing Ms Snowy. Hakuna Matata !
Day -2 & 3 Climbing trees with Lion
We started on time and reached in 2 hours. But it took us noon to get in, due to crowd of tourist buzzing at same time. Lake Manyara park consists of arid land, forest, a soda-lake in center which covers as much as 200 kms of land during the wet season but is nearly nonexistent during the dry season.
Manyara is known for the most interesting, sophisticated and god chosen, as I say " flamingos"
Fiery and flaming bird is type of wading bird that live in areas of large shallow lakes, lagoons, mangrove swamps, and sandy islands. The color pink comes from beta-carotene in the crustaceans and plankton that flamingos eat. If a flamingo were to stop eating food containing carotenoids, its new feathers would begin growing with a much paler shade, and its reddish feathers would eventually turn white. Isn't it interesting??
But before we met the ms fiery, we met the tallest animal and took my heart away. The reason behind, all the four giraffe stood for photo shoot and interestingly it didn't move once till all the jeeps passed away.
Hey, do you know lion climbs trees? Don't you believe me? Manyara is famous for tree climbing lions - why does his majesty, habitually climb trees is still up for debate, but viewing a pride relaxing in an acacia tree is a remarkable sight! Though we couldn't find any of them. On way you can see the hungry and huge baboons, buffalo, dik-dik and impala. The landscape is so different, grasses were light green with golden patches, and it was like artist had just painted a stroke.
Ahh I forgot! There is a hippo pond at one end of the park. The lazy animal can be seen having the mud bath and singing to its tunes.
Lake Manyara is soft Game Park, just preparation stage for long safari ride to Serengeti national park. Though not that fruitful day, selfie prone graceful giraffe and fiery flamingoes made it delightful.
Day -3 Putting my heels on the place where the land moves on forever
Green grasses, savanna land and clear blue sky with hakuna matta roads!! A day started well with a hope today "we will see the lions". Serengeti National park is one of most famous parks of Africa, documented by many environmentalist and UNESCO world heritage site. Journey gave me goose bumps and back pain. The Tanzanian traffic police have an interesting way of getting money out of us. They hid themselves in bushes and switch on the radar, when you are of the speed limit; they catch you on next stop. Organized!! But they forgot the basic human tendency, "all on same page, help all". The safari cabs used to indicate the message of danger through dippers. We were mistakenly caught by white cap but luckily he accepted his mistake. Poor chap!
While on the roads, you need to go slow as you near Masayi village. Their protection is country's integrity. My eyes met the painted white face semi nomadic teenager, herding livestock. My journey took a turn. I realized that now I am going "away from my civilization".
The Maasai are a semi-nomadic people who lived under a communal land management system. The movement of livestock is based on seasonal rotation. As per their tradition, when they attain adulthood, they need to prove that they are man, can't tell you how is it done, since it is shameful. Alas!!
They paint their faces then white and celebrate. Maasai tribes are still clanged the old traditional ways of lives, all speak a peculiar language "Maa". Very few who have come to city, know Swahili.
Red sheets, shuka, wrapped around the body and loads of beaded jewelry placed around the neck and arms describes them.
Women shave the head whereas men have long hairs. Interesting isn't it!! Now tribes too have got tricks to earn money. They stand on roadside, whenever the safari jeep passes by, they try to stop vehicle and charge money for photographs with them. One more tarnished humans!!
Serengeti should be visited during January - August, then you can see the great migration. As per Godfrey, "Mama, if you see the migration, tourist who has soft heart, would cry; Calf of wilder beast is eaten up by crocodiles at Lake Myara", that's what I say nature has its own rules and she is all above us.
Our first animal to see was hurt hyena. It seemed, it had a bad fight with its pack and was thrown out. Far off though I couldn't see it properly, Mr Cheetah was having dinner. Then I saw my favorite animal "zebra". Fashionisata were seen so close that if given a chance I would have gone and hugged them
Finally we saw the pride in afternoon, can't say pride...Her majesty on the tree between the herds of elephants. We had great expedition whole morning to search them, sadly due to summer, all had hid themselves. Only gazelle were seen who used stop for a minute, wave tail at us and run away.
We saw many elephants on way. If you need to learn family values, you will have to learn from them. But one thing Asian elephants are most beautiful I would say. We saw baby elephants between the adult ones, trying to compete with their speed
Next day was a good day since we saw his highness. They are so used to the tire smell of jeeps that they no longer strike at you, until you decide to play with it. We saw all of them lying in midst of savanna grasses and were camouflaged. They were old and were in no mood to eat us up, so we also didn't bother them.
We saw hippos then, all in the pool as usual relaxing. Funny animal isn't it??
While going back, I saw the strongest bird on earth, Ostriches. They are so huge and I wondered, if one leg hit at me, the doors of heaven would be opened. Finally I saw the bird of Africa, secretary bird!! The bird is actually a secretary, dressed in white tunic and black skirt; I would say "elegant & professional".
On way back, we had flat tires, so we engrossed our eyes to see few animals, but we saw gazelles and zebras. I stood on top and I realised that never in my life, I would have seen so many animals at a time. God has created each and each beings with uniqueness and we try to destroy it. Sad!!
No matter if I didn't come back to visit the Serengeti, its magic enchanted me. Wild and open with no barriers and all at nature's rules and out on the plains sunlight dazzling, that's Serengeti. But I didn't know then, more was still coming, where I learnt few rules of life. Way to Ngorongoro crater!!
Day 4 & 5 If heaven exists, it's here
Ngorongoro crater, a conservation and UNESCO World Heritage site, an ancient crater which is the largest intact volcanic caldera in the world. It has created a singularly exquisite ecosystem that protects one of the most beautiful wildlife and mesmerises you with its charm.Early morning we got out for game. It was so beautiful, breath taking to see the clouds surrounding the crater. It was like sky and land became one. I gasped, I cried because I felt for the first time "Peace". Staying in Pune with no one around you and life becoming busy, some where I felt depressed and a loner. It was here that I found an inner satisfaction and inner me!!
The Ngorongoro Crater shelters of more than 25,000 animals that inhabit a mere 260sq km (100 sq mi) in the 610m (2,000 ft) deep crater. Here the nature rules don't apply- most of the animals do not migrate the way their same species do in other parts of Africa. And where the lion is king in the Serengeti and other national parks and here in Ngorongoro they have become rather lazy. We saw the pride of lioness first, all sleeping and males ones later. They didn't bother at all. I really wonder how harmless they were. LOL
Here at crater, we saw all animals together, living harmlessly. When they were hungry they will follow the rules. It is the only crater where people and animals coexist together.
There are streams also following in between with acacia trees all over the places. It's here where I saw animals to close, that we could even touch it, but it isn't allowed. My favorite animal, zebra was seen with herd. Do you know why walkway is called zebra crossing? Here you will get your answer. Godfrey explained to us to watch animal closely and then I discovered. The zebra first checks both sides of road and looks forward whether there is danger and then crosses. After crossing it waits for his fellow friend to cross and troops ahead. Mr intelligent!!
The drive in and out of crate is compelling and spectacular. The photos also can't capture its half beauty. You can see the movement of clouds on crater; whole place is lovely, I would say surreal! The colors of the land & sky forms sketcher's a perfect pastel milieu. It's as though worldly and time just has stood still. God you have created so beautiful world, but people have forgotten the jewels. If I had all money in the world, I would sit on rim of crater and watch the dawn and dusk and the magical nature.Wild beast is animal similar to yak with lot of hairs and all walk together in queue. During the migration, both wild beasts, zebra help each to cross the river and protect them from predators. Nowadays we humans don't follow rule of helping hand, learn from them!!
We saw flamingoes, our cartoon animal pumba( I wonder, where did the timor go??) many different birds, elephants , hyenas . But the jewel was seeing the mating of lion & lioness and the black rhino. The black rhino is getting extinct, thus we were lucky enough to see one in bush. The lion couples were into mating but seemed they were still in conversation whether to proceed or not. We stood there half an hour, wondering when it will happen. But it seemed couple didn't want PDA so we drove away. One bird which was new to me was the grey crowned crane. She was a princess, with crown on the head. Lovely!! So our safari did end seeing all Big 5!!
We returned to Arusha.
I remained silent throughout the journey, because what I saw, my eyes also couldn't help envy it!! But there was inner satisfaction, inner peace!!
Last day- Kiki mare did love me
After brief shopping at local shops, I took my flight from Kilimanjaro international airport to India. The ice on cake was when the captain informed "look to your left, you can see Kilimanjaro". If I had got hold on captain, I would have kissed him J I saw her, I saw her snowy cap and I got emotional. She was just breathtaking as other jewels of Tanzania. Asante Sana!!
There is pleasure in the pathless roads
There is bliss in the savanna land
There is society where none trespass
Be the deep sea, the sky or we
Let the nature's music roar in its beauty
And god is there for all be it man the less, but Nature more.