Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making he best of it.

Gilda Radner

Sitting in Kigoma airport awaiting flight back to Dar Es Salaam, then flight to Arusha. Wi-Fi has been almost nonexistent and finding it actually quite freeing. But one must eventually rejoin the world.

Kigoma international airport departure lounge

Flew into Kigoma 4 days ago (I think). Airport quite interesting as health check (I believe for Ebola and hiv consisted of taking temperature (but not looking at the reading) and hand wash. Baggage trolley pulled by hand and individually loaded to small baggage claim.

Kigoma baggage claim

Hussein , our guide, met us took us to lunch at place on beach. Food was rice and some forgotten sauce, but the spice was awesome taste. ( the last time we had spice).

Then on to the two boats for hour ride to Gombe national park. This is where Jane Goodall did her work and displayed in National Geographic in 1961, by her photographer husband. Again tent camping, no escort required to walk at night, but most definitely lock the zipper doors with provided locks, as the baboons have figured out the zippers and love to go in and remove items to somewhere outside.

Loading boats launching
Jeanne on arrival Gombe

The baboons frequented camp and were fun to watch. When camp staff did laundry (by hand) the baboons would pull it off the drying line and either lay on the sheets and roll around seemingly to play in it. One baboon sat on Dave and Cindy’s tent beneath the metal roof escaping the rain. When Dave poked a stick at tent roof other baboons came in thinking this was great fun.

Baboon on tent

Swimming in the lake was great. Apparently the longest lake in world after lake bakal in Russia. It is 660 km long (400 miles ) but where we are one can see across to democratic republic of Congo and Burundi. Famous for that and it’s fish which include many cichlids and is a source of many aquarium fish. Dave and I snorkeled about the dock (which is mostly underwater, except for handrails), amazed at the number of species. Although not as colorful , almost more interesting than the reef last week. And fresh water which was quite refreshing, as temperatures high and high humidity.

Next day Hussein crew fix breakfast and after waiting for final rain shower, off to look at chimpanzees. They have built amazing trails and the chimps use them. There are numerous researchers and Hussein kept in contact with two groups of trackers who know where the chimps are at. After a strenuous uphill climb he said just around corner. When within 10 meters one must wear a mask to prevent disease transmission to chimps. (It is not the least bit required anywhere in Tanzania for humans)

Rounded the corner and there they were, on the trail, in nests up in trees, cavorting about the trees making squirrels at home look like pedestrians versus a formula 1 car in the trees. Hang by one arm using the other to just pick fruit. Youngsters fluttering all over chasing each other, picking on siblings, flying from limb to limb occasionally crashing down when a limb broke, then scrambling back up.

We had been taught if a male approaches to hug a tree to show submission, and if around chimps get off the trail as it is the chimps trail. Thus we stood there trying desperately to get photos and view their shenanigans. Then some descended and were about us, one baby came up to Dave and began chewing on his pack strap. oh my! We had heard the stories of their occasional aggression, and being omnivores, have been known to steal and eat human babies.

Prancing around
Dave Blanchett video chimps playing pester your siblings

Our allotted one hour of close proximiy viewing time quickly went by. (I timed it at 90 minutes) and we continued our climb up the ridge to “Jane’s peak” where Jane Goodall could look out over the valley to see where the chimps were. We descended a somewhat smaller trail to the waterfall. This trail gave Jeanne grief as slippery and with her new shoulder does not want to fall down or reinjure the shoulder. I got to hold her hand on way to the falls.

At the falls I walked into the falls totally soaking my clothes, but it felt so good and I knew would dry somewhat quickly. The jungle surrounded us and I kept wondering about “Tarzan” swinging through the trees vine to vine. Fascinating jungle, different than Panama or Bolivia jungle, but tropical jungle. Growth on growth on growth. Totally fascinating! One talks about alder bashing at home. That would be easy compared to attempting cross country without a trail here.

Went fishing (Dave Blanchett photo) and

Back to base and an afternoon of relaxing. Power is on only from 7:30 to9:30 pm for charging phone, cameras, batteries, etc. and only one plug in tent, thus judicious planning is required and a headlamp.

Baboons playing

Food was as Cindy described typical Tanzania. Always fish and rice but sometimes French fries, a meat sauce, peas, beans. Nothing exciting! Our group would gather at the “party barn” (Jeanne’s and my tent porch) for a pre dinner before dark get together. We were one of two tour groups, the other a couple from Germany who had been told credit cards could be used. (Unfortunately since no electricity available credit cards unusable. ). I gave the Germans 100,000 shillings (about$50.00) as they had no cash for tipping. (They transferred payment to me via PayPal).

Party barn

Second day and Jeanne opted out of todays trail. It was another strenuous climb this time more straight up by with steps in trail, although maybe a ladder a more appropriate term. Sweat was pouring from us. Then Hussein says just around corner, on go the masks and another hour of viewing. This time the chimps were more relaxing laying about making an occasional nest (tales 3-5 minutes of breaking and bending limbs). All the chimps are known to the researchers and we learned ages and histories. Gimle came down to a limb and laid out just relaxing occasionally crossing and uncrossing a leg or arm, just 4 meters from me. After maybe 10 minutes the alpha male began a call and all arose and began movement elsewhere. Gimle arose from his “lounge chair” and walked down the trunk right next to me, totally unbothered. (I have learned from the news media no one or thing much cares about my existence)

Third day and departure day. Hussein took us to north end of park and village where he grew up and lives when not guiding. (Mwongongo) let walked the village wondering if we were the ones on display. They had been preparing a traditional dance for us and it was amazing. Drums and women doing traditional dances which tell somewhat of a story. (Harvest of crops or fish, or visitors arriving from Congo or Burundi ). Fascinating phenomenal and many of the village came to see. Was quite the event.

School classroom interruption by us
Dancers and drums (note metal percussion rhythm is a broken’ propeller)

Return via boat to Kigoma and all excited for potential good hotel with Wi-Fi, aircon, and most a variety of food. But we had been warned by Cindy to not expect much. Arrival and to David Livingston museum. The guide took a liking to me as same age, but as near end of museum tour he reminded me since we were brothers to not forget a much appreciated tip. He stated he would wait for me at end of tour. Cindy gave me $5.00 US and I learned the art of passing money in a handshake. Cindy has handled all finances and tipping on this trip.

Brothers (Dave Blanchett photo)
Traditional Dance
Kigoma sunset hotel driveway
Traditional Tanzanian meal at high end restaurant?

On to some more incredible traditional dancing. Incredible. Then a delightful hotel with some Wi-Fi, air con and showers although still no hot water (not really needed) excited about dinner and Hussein took us to a supposed high end Tanzanian restaurant. Alas in our estimation it did not meet our expectations. Fish rice, a meat fish and pea sauce. The same. Dory and Di opted for ice cream and French fries from a street vendor. Actually my dinner was good. Costing 12,000 shillings (about $12.00) A great sleep and now we have arrived at Dar es Salaam, a 4 hour wait for flight to Arusha which we flew over about an hour half ago. No direct flights.

Thus today we departed in Far western Tanzania at 9 am for Dar es salaam in far eastern part. Departed Dar for Zanzibar farthest east where we were last week. Arrived here at Arusha at 5 in middle of country. Does not seem to have direct flights. Alas. Now three days of wind down in this high end hotel.


To die for a religion is easier than to live it absolutely.

Jorge Louis Borges

After a delightfully relaxing 3 days at the beach, we headed to town. In this case the island is Zanzibar and stone town, established in the 1500’s, taken over by Arabs. Most famous as the official eastern port for the slave trade, finally abolished in 1876 it served Europe and Asia. Ghana on the west coast served north and South America.

Hotel Tembo
From our balcony

The first night out we went out to eat at the night market. As Cindy describes it , 4 parts entertainment and 1 part food. And I might add delicious food. Reminded me of pikes market in Seattle, but not so sedate, very active. Pikes market on steroids. I got so many hugs from the cooks and hand shakes, and was well taken care of. I finally settled on lobster and prawns with garlic chipati, all barbecued exquisite. The cook made sure I had a seat to eat at. Great fun, but one must have energy for such activity and it is hot. (Upper 30’s(low 90’s) with humidity)

Jeanne breaking sweat
Food market chefs
Evening food market

Next day began with walking tour of stone town. With markets, vendors, narrow streets, intricate doors ( each tells a story of inhabitants and history)

We walked through the meat markets fish, beef chicken. A bit smelly but delightful,with fresh fruits and spices. I did learn there are 19 essential spices of which 18 are grown on Zanzibar. (The exception is saffron).

Fish market
Stone town streets

Then the slave market, oh my humanity near its worst. We went into the room where they weeded out the weak. A closed room maybe 4 meters by 4 (13 feet). No light and no ventilation of which 50 men in chains were placed. No food or water and at the end of 3 days those left alive were sent to the whipping post. The amount you cried out determined somewhat where you went.

Slave market memorial
Great museum (this was last display describing slavery yet going on in the world )
Street side shade
Stone town doors

That afternoon we drove to a spice farm. 10 hectares and they grow numerous spices there. Afraid I was very hot and my brain absorbed minimal, but fascinating. Ginger, cloves, pepper, numerous fruits, turmeric, coriander, etc. at the end of walkabout stall set up for buying. And a demo of coconut harvest. Amazing way to climb a tree. Wraps a cord between ankles and I suppose that makes the feet hold the tree, although our demo person was a total showman removing the strap and cavorting free. When finished they treat us to fresh coconut(milk and meat), watermelon (oh so good), papaya, and of course bananas. (Not cavendish). We received crowns, and ties from banana leaves. The kids came around and are kids. We had a good time.

Coconut harvester. (They can only work between age 14 and 24 then age out. Bones do not heal as well after that)
Coconut harvest
Capturing the show
Spice market/farm
Spice market kids
Departing stone town

Flew to Dar es Salaam, the biggest city of 4 million where 5 people departed for home. There are now 8 of us including Daude going to Gombe to look at chimpanzees, in Gombe stream national park. Daude has never been there so Cindy is treating him to a new experience.

Another African sunset
Daude and J. R. (One good looking one ??)

Ngonongoro crater

Most people rush after pleasure so fast they rush right past it.

Søren Kierkegard

Quite a day. This crater is listed as a wonder of the world. Apparently 25000 animals live within its bounds. Left early at just before 7 and ip to crater rim, which was quite cloudy, but I was thorough enjoying the jungle with tall trees as be thick undergrowth. Rim is about 2250 meters ((7500 feet) and crater just over 1500 meters(5000). A plain without trees and size of crater is 960 square kilometer (360 sw miles)

Ngonongoro crater

It is a nature preserve as and very well controlled. One cannot get out of car except at designated spots for any reason. We were warned our drivers can be ticketed even for emergency bathroom stop. Makes sense as these are wild animals right at car. Many photos taken with just phone camera from window. Keep in mind our vehicles you can stand up in. And two of the animals seen today are in the top ten list of dangerous animals. (Hippopotamus and Cape buffalo, sorry alaska, bears do not come close. Folks commented on the amount of exercise and calories burned showing on our fitbits and exercise recorders. Mine showed I walked 8000 steps and 7 km.

Other animals seen were rhino, elephants, hyenas, jackals, lions, hare, Thompson and grants gazelles, elan, water buck, warthogs, baboons, monkeys, and those are the ones I remember. Then there are the birds oh my. Vultures, ibis, Flamingo, hawks, stilts, storks, herons, starlings, on and on. 17 new species for me today on top of 72 in past days. Both Simon and douse are excellent birders, and incredibly patient. You can ask them the name of that bird when you know you have already asked twenty times on same bird, and they as answer each time as if were the first. As Doug says “I may be old, but I am slow”

Thompson gazelle (although maybe grants)
Grey crowned crane
Cape buffalo
Spotted hyena
White headed vulture? On fresh Wildebeast carcass
Maribou Storks foraging
Jungle near rim

And thus tonight we are on crater rim at 7400 feet and supposedly cold. Maybe low 30’s ( 70’s Fahrenheit) tomorrow head to oldapai Borge and history of humans then on to Serengeti for next three days. We shall see what is to come