Away we go

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.

John F Kennedy

Ok because of no internet or Wi-Fi or communication in our remote camp in southern Serengeti I wrote each day but could not post. Hence here back in Arusha I am posting basically each day’s consecutively. I would label each day date but have not a clue what day it is, and have no interest in that. As usual there are errors which are mine because of either typing or I heard something different than what was actually explained. Feel free to correct me in comments

Well another great day although a bit of diarrhea or maybe just upset stomach feeling much better now. So really only one day if it extends no farther But day a little off just feeling other riders.

But made it here not sure how Simon and doudee navigated as no gps no mountains, and endless plains, which happens to be what Serengeti means. Endless plains. A lot of off-road and unsure how I feel about that but it was fun I confess. Doudee is a great driver but others feel they must give advice.

Oldepye gorge where we all came from

At one. point came across car very stuck in mud. Amazing how it looks very solid but a few tracks and it is a mud hole. These were rangers who had gotten lost. But amazing as I only had an inkling of direction.

Driving on the Serengeti

But again the amazing part was the animals thousand and thousands of Wildebeast. Seemingly always in motion. Calves running jumping and kicking being babies. Apparently they can be up and running within 15 minutes of birth at full speed. With lions hyenas leopards and anything else no wonder. One area the Wildebeast a were walking the beach of a lake which was filled with pink flamingos. Then they came to a narrow section and they had to cross which they just kept going.Amazing with the zebras mixed in, but when the zebras reached the crossing the zebras all held back. Doudee says because they are waiting to see if safe from crocodiles or whatever. ( there are no crocodiles in this lake. ). Also mixed in we’re Thompson’s gazelle and grants gazelle, and saw 4 big elan. Before we reached the treeless plain there were the forest of acacia trees with numerous giraffe. Seeing the animals is not a maybe you will see but how many. Maybe for leopard and rhinoceros but others common. And saw some lions today and a fair number of hyena.

Along road between ngorongoro and Serengeti national parks. Masai land
Wildebeast and zebra crossing
Lion and lioness
Coming into camp
Home for three nights

And a visit to Oldevie (actually mispronounced and misspelled oldepye)gorge, some of original anthropology and archeology was done to find homo erectus. Interesting.

Again a tent camp. Nice. Currently it is 9:15 and can hear crickets but also Wildebeast not far. And may have just heard a lion. We are instructed ok to go out and pee, but before going out scan with flashlight first for eyes if seen go back inside. Especially if red eyes. Yellow ok as Wildebeast or gazelle but red is lion leopard or hyena.

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


Gig go go

Many of us have been running all our lives. Practice stopping.

Thich Naha Hahn

Morning here dark for another hour. Want to get out early to climb into the ngorongoro crater where apparently there are 25000 elephants, rhinos, buffalo, and who knows what.

Yesterday a drive reverse of going there. Rough in beginning ending in pavement stopping for lots of birds. I identified and saw 15 new species. Amazing birds.

Feeling bad about the bad writing on previous blog. Little explanations. Sorry. But primarily it was Hadza. They are a hunter gatherer tribe, one of 5 or 6 left in the world. They do have contact but limited. They can go to school but one fellow had returned after school. He liked the lifestyle better. Interesting but as I noted I would starve.

Anyway off again shortly have a very short window of Wi-Fi here.

Remote camp Hadza tribe

Aging is the extraordinary process whereby you become the the person you always should have been.

Dave Bowie

Day 5:Well this is interesting. Began yesterday with another drive about, again with lots of animals and birds , but this time add in the lots tourists. The day called for and acknowledged a long drive When asked Simon how far he had difficulty answering and now I know why. Basically last 2 hours was 4 wheel driving. But began on highway heading west to see the eastern rift rising above the Savannah’s. Lunch before the climb was near a beautiful waterfall but could see little of it die too hot outside of forest and in the sun.

Elephant crossing
From the night drive
Tent camping
Elephants coming to camp
Along the road

New zebra
Lunch stop

Then began a steep climb I estimate some as steep as 20%. Very windy then down the rift into the valley at about 1600 meters whereas high point was at 2000 meters (6200 feet) and the park yesterday at 1200 meters. Wondering if road is passable as worsening, at one point Simon saw a fellow sleeping on side of toad and asked him if road was passable to the health clinic where we wanted to drop medical supplies from Esther. He said yes but still some in other car opted out of one section and walked it. Clinic closed as it was Sunday but somehow they found head village officer and he accepted the gift.

Medical supply donation

Then a road at what they called the swamp, rough although drivable. Then onto “hadza ” land finally at camp just after dark, after a very rough drive. Who know/ how far the day was. GPS says 80 km from last night but long drive. Dinner and the locals had killed a genet cat in camp. And we ate it.

Genet cat. Tasted good barbecued

Slept to a rain storm, our awning came off during night when stake’s ripped out which then covered door keeping it dark until after we had dressed and opened door to find it light outside.

Day 6: Off to a hadza camp to learn hunter gatherer life. Dug out tubers, shot arrows and and I was able to stop a tree in its tracks from attacking us I got up to 20 feet which was close enough. Just missed it by inches as close as the kids (maybe young teens ) who shot from 100 feet. They demonstrated how to make a fire, just with a stick. They took their time explaining it, so took 4 minutes to finally light the grass. I failed at my attempt to start fire although I did get smoke from base of turning stick. Off to collect honey from some trees with bees. Nice. One hive inside the baobab tree had already been taken when the one fellow braved going in. Probably another Hadza family a bit ago.

Fresh lunch
Off to collect tubers
Tuber collection tasted good especially when roasted
Fire starting
Off to collect honey

Now in siesta, which was nice to have a break and from the go go activity. Afternoon the Hadza came to our fir and demonstrated making arrows. Dorobo had brought some nails and they were pounded out to make arrowhead. One nail 15cm(6”) makes two arrowheads. The stick from a local bush charred in fire , bark peeled away, straightened, and ends made flat where arrowhead drilled into end and the other end feathers fastened with ligament. The builder makes decorative marks and we now have our own arrow.

Arrow making

Up to top of rock above camp with all, for “sundowner” then dinner and bed. Tomorrow we hunt

Hunting hyrex
Leopard prints
Cheat sheet for talking in hadza

Hunt was good although no results, although our hunter, Jeanne and I did travel a bit. 5 k (3.4 miles)

Maybe 10 arrow shots although only maybe 4 real potential. Did bend 3 arrowheads when hit rock. Mostly Hyrex (a non rodent closed related to elephants, looks sort of like a rabbit.) Simon before we left gave us three hadza words so we could sort of communicate. Because my memory at language is horrible I wrote them down. “Semama” is stop. “Cambini” is camp (like return to camp)- and “pole pole” is slow down. All one needs to know to communicate while hunting with someone who speaks no English.

Most interesting seeing this culture. A hunter gatherer group in is true sense. They are nomadic hence have no address. (A problem for census takers) They do no preservation as no way to store food if moving. Apparently one of 5 or 6 remaining hunter gatherers in the world. Dorobo our tour company has worked a system with them. Basically barter but not paid and we are warned to not give them anything. It is a cashless society and sharing. In our case Dorobo brought the nails for arrowheads and some beads. They will go into town for some items traded. The kids can go to boarding school if desired, but one fellow after school came back because he liked the life here better. And a happy people always seem to be laughing. Akuma Matada (no worries),

Climbing a baobab tree
Baobab tree

A evening up on rock sundowner. Questions back and forth between Hadza and us Simon and founder translating from English t9 Swahili and Hadza. Our hunter wanted to know if Jeanne /nd I saw the leopard prints. And another wanted to know about problem of Israel and Palestine and if Jesus looked like us. Then after dinner they presented us with sons and dance.

One of many dances

Ok enough of this. We had a day of driving and time to enjoy this resort. Sorry for the mid editing and such but a busy place

Tarangire national park

If I have a thousand ideas and only one turns out to be good, I am satisfied

Alfred Nobel

Oh oh my Cindy our your leader stated before we began don’t bring reading material as very little time. Proving quite true. Up at 5:30 this am just as first light over horizon was erupting. Breakie, and away at 7 for driving and looking. I have 20 bird species which is only partial count, lions, elephants, zebra, ibis, impala, warthog, ostrich (ok that is a bird),giraffe, lizard, blue monkeys, baboon and numerous others. Oh my the. Diversity and numbers are amazing. Once again I am very impressed with the knowledge of of guides Simon and douhee.

Now after lunch we have a couple hours of siesta and wonderful. I am sitting on porch of our “tent” overlooking the River valley watching some bush bucks drink and a bunch of elephants wander about. And just heard some lions roaring. And do not forget the gin and tonic in hand. Temperature is high 30’s. (High 80’s Fahrenheit

Awaiting our arrival
Fashion statement
Our “tent”

Tarangire national park was created befor 1960 and currently has 2800 square kilometers of area. But one must remember this is an island, as are many of the national parks. It is surrounded by people. Mostly Masai tribe which are cattle and goat herders. This park is where the animals can live,

Morning from tent with mt Meru and terengeri River
Elephants are trained here to stand at attention for tourists. Watching this group for over an hour
Nap time for youngsters
Water hole
Mom and babe
Brothers ? Fighting
Impala herd – termite mound to left
Brothers still fighting


View from tent water buck out there and elephants
Giraffe and baobab tree
Laporte-faced vulture
Scratching an itch
Yet another hornbill looking for a handout

And that is just a few hours of photo taking. Sorry no editing. Time to head out again

Leopard in heat of day escaping bugs and heat on ground


Aging is the extraordinary process whereby you become the the person you always should have been.

Dave Bowie

Ok short as Wi-Fi only in lodge here. We are in a very glorified tent with running water shower etc. requires escort at night to walk to tent as lions, jaguars, and hyena about.

More later but todays highlight was elephant crossing road. But we were in path. Apparently they cannot see well.

I have had lots of bears come up to car and sniff around, but an elephant much bigger than the car doing it is another thing. Had to change cameras to phone camera as too close. The guide was totally cool and did not seem concerned but since I know nothing about elephants made me think.

Keep in mind I am standing in car as this picture taken
Dinner time
Lilac breasted roller

Safari begins

Not what we have but what we enjoy constitutes our abundance.

Jean Pierre Petit-Senn

It seems we are staying at a different lodge tonite also near the town of Arusha (population approximately 650,000+), and the Wi-Fi is good so best write. Tomorrow we start heading west towards different national parks, staying varying lodges and “camps”.

Tanzania is a great country from what I have seen. One lady (not on our trip) said safest in Africa. it has outlawed plastic bags. It has created a system of national parks which they realize preserves what we are seeing. Some were created before they got independence from Britain in 1960. (I have not fact checked this, but what I heard our guides say.). Tourism is nearly 100% of the economy here and they have not made it cheap. A visa costs a $100, a day entry (not overnight) costs a $100, and overnight costs again. And on and on. Camping as we know it in alaska is not done or permitted. Several places to hike requires hiring a park ranger to escort you through the area. It is their economy.

The safari has us moving every day to a new location and wonders with a mix of animals, plants, birds, people, culture. We not only have Cindy our tour leader, but two local guides – Simon and Daudee. They have university degrees in wildlife management and conservation. Their wealth of information is incredible. We seem to constantly be asking questions not only about animals but their country (health care, eduction, solar panels, etc). The food served us is amazing. Happy hour on arrival (about 5) dinner at time specified by Cindy, seems 7 – 7:30. We gather about 8 although some days will be earlier as sun up about 6:30.

And thus today we began meeting guides after breakfast and putting gear in vehicles. We have two Toyota Land Cruiser which can seat 8 people including driver. Top opens and we can stand up with Bimini cover for shade. The vehicles are heavy duty as obviously designed for off road use (as well as highway ). And road today was rough putting the vehicle to the test. Stories abound of vehicles getting stuck.

And within 15 minutes we were at the urban wilderness divide. Arusha national park. After doing paperwork to get into park off we went. Within 5 minutes we had seen numerous giraffe, Cape buffalo, zebra, wart hogs, and in numbers. Absolutely nothing like a zoo. Like seeing a penguin in the wild where they can be what they are, wild animals roaming in wilderness. At the end of day we counted having seen 11 species of mammals dozens of bird species, each more glorious than the last. We drive about the lower slopes of mount Meru, an old volcano, approximately 4600 meters high. Kilimanjaro at about 6700 meters is visible on a clear day.

And so it goes, excited about next days, tomorrow is culture and begin heading west. Day after tomorrow is animals, mostly elephants. We shall see. As is said in Swahili “Makuna mataada” no worries.

Partial list of things seen as kept by Diane while driving on a rough dirt road
Colobus monkey
Columbus monkeys with tail
Cape buffalo
Jonathan our park ranger guide for hike. Very knowledgeable and here explaining hyena skulls but how to males from female skulls with buffalo and how to tell male from female giraffe poop. (Females have more square poop and males hav3 more pointy ends)( both look like moose poop)
Giraffes, zebras
Gear loading
Birds of which I have already forgotten the name of
Dinner tonite
Street scene on drive to lodge
Blue monkeys scrambling about



Risk something or forever sit with your dreams

Herb brooks

Arrived, wow in Africa. not sure what to think yet. Jet lag has taken place. Flights were ok without major hiccups but still sitting in a seat for 15 hours is a long time then 6 hours this morning.

Bulkhead exit row seats but still too long in that seat.

It was great having the hotel. Doha has a transit section so do not have to go through customs officially entering Qatar or go out of security. Something that is not available in the United States. Arrived about 6 pm and were checked in by 7 and it is a big airport. Our friends Doug and Jill had arrived about a half hour earlier. A great shower sleep until about 11 pm and then walk to gate. Had set alarm for midnight but all woke earlier????? Guess we had slept on earlier flight. Then the six hour flight to Kilimanjaro airport arriving about 7:30 am. The sunrise was amazing from 40000 feet. With imagination one might see the curvature of earth on the flat horizon with broadening red until the sun blasted itself onto a new day. I had seen pictures of sunrises in Africa but always just thought that’s pretty but not really seen it’s glory. No mountains to break up the horizon. Then Mount Kilimanjaro came into view rising solo above the plains. I definitely missed having a window on flight from Seattle to Doha.

Tanzania arrival

Texted our friends zak and Natasha on our arrival and realized we were exactly 12 hours apart in time So 8 am we were just beginning the day and journey. And they were ending their day. They had picked us up Monday morning at 8 am for ride to airport, and we arrived Wednesday at 8 am. Whew.

But met our driver who brought us to the river lodge near Arusha, where are spending the day unsuccessfully trying to be busy. A luxury accommodation. Being waited on and pampered. As Jill said “when did we become those people”? But our cabin very nice. Tonight before we retire they come in and let out the mosquito net and spray it.

Tonight’s accommodation

And trying to go a bit of Swahili but failing. People are very nice though and appreciate our efforts. Even did a little Arabic in Qatar.

But the excitement is the 10 acre grounds here at lodge have their own monkey bands, here. So here are the tourists out going Gaga and trying to get pictures of these animals flittering about the trees. Fascinating to those of us whose only , not even close animal is a squirrel. The locals look on in bewilderment at people trying to get pictures of their capers about the trees.

Vervet monkeys

For those of us jet lagged,seeing new exciting things and being pampered it is wonderful

Colobos monkey
River trail lodge

So we begin tomorrow bright and early breakfast then car drives and animal viewing. But for now time for sleep and I apologize for unreadability or mistakes. Until the next Wi-Fi.

Africa bound

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will lead you there. George Harrison

Well here we go again. Have never been to Africa. Thus off we go. But as a friend from South Africa once told me – OK where in Africa, there are 53 countries in Africa, all of them very different from each other. If you are just going to check off the box, well ok but there is a lot there to check off. Sounds like one of those lists where as the list gets checked off several items are added. The list gets longer, not shorter. But I admit I have never been to Africa as a continent. This will be the seventh of seven. So in preparation I watched “The Lion King” movie.

This trip came about through a friend of a friend who taught botany at Gustavas. Apparently when she retired she wanted to be in anchorage because of the recreational opportunities. During her professor tenure she had done several trips teaching to Tanzania, and loved that place. She has continued doing trips there with friends. We were signed up to go a few years back but COVID out a damper on things for a bit. So there are 12 of us including Cindy. We shall see.

Currently sitting on a Boeing 737-900 enroute Anchorage to Seattle – 3 hours- then an hour and half before departure. Then a Boeing 777-300 ER for 14 1/2 hours to Doha Qatar arriving tomorrow at 5 pm. 8 hour layover departing 1 am. Jeanne has arranged a hotel for those 8 hours at the airport. Whew! Then on to 7 hour flight again a 777 to Kilimanjaro airport, arriving 7:30 am, where someone will meet us and transport us to Arusha (hopefully acquainted with severely jet lagged zombies).

Sunday 65 meter ski jump hill ready for competition less than 24 hours since this was written
Next plane