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Nicole Lucier’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 17 May 2006

Location: Arusha, Tanzania

MapMambo! Wow, wow, wow...that's pretty much all I can say! Just got back to Arusha from our safari! It was an AMAZING 4 days and 3 nights. We started at the N'gorongoro Crater and we were blown away, not just by the crater itself but by the number of different animals we saw! Here's a bit of a list (and I'm in a hurry so don't pay attention to my spelling!!!!!):\
Baboons, Zebras, Black face vervet monkeys, 2 black rhinos of twenty-two total in the crater (in different places), 3 cheetas (of nine total in the crater), elephants (distant), pink flamingos (in the millions!), jackels, hyenas, buffalo, wildabeasts, Thomson gazelles, hartebeasts, hippos, grand gazelles, lions - 2 full grown males were on either side of our land cruser so Berta and I could just stick our hands outside of the windows and shoot pics...we also could have reached down and touched them, but we didn't of course! nine in total including males, females and 2 cubs - this was a major highlight of the day! - warthogs and that's all I can think of for day one, in about 4 hours we saw all of this. So, you can imagine how excited and overwhelmed we were! It still doesn't seem real! The next day we went to Serengetti National Park and saw many giraffes on the way. As soon as we got through the gates of this park, we were able to experience the migration of the wildabeasts...this means that they form a line and stampede in whatever direction the leader feels they should go. In our case, this took place directly across the road in front of our car and I have no idea how many exactly there were but there must have been well into the hundreds. It was such an amazing sight to witness so closely. I have shots of them jumping a little gully as soon as they crossed the road. Spectacular pictures! From there we went further into the park where we saw impalas, topi (like hartebeasts a bit), more baboons, elephants at a distance, more zebras and Thompson gazelles, ostrich. Just another amazing day! The following day was a whole day on the Serengetti and we first went to the hippo pond where we had a much better viewing than at the crater. They were quite active and playing around a bit. Saw some of them open their mouths and those big teeth were very easy to spot. Saw a croc in the pond as well. After that we had a terrific experience where we crossed an elephant herd. Some of them were only about 30 meters from our vehicle so we got a really good look at the herd. After we started down the road, the came across a lone male elephant (our guide said he was 35 years old and 6 tons!!!). He continued down the road toward our vehicle, only choosing to take the grass when he was about 6 feet from us. He passed by and stayed EXTREMELY CLOSE to our truck. He stopped as he reached the end and just stood looking at us. He was chewing on a stick at the same time. For a few seconds, he seemed a bit agitated and we had to be very quiet so he wouldn't charge us. In the end, he just walked away. It was UNBELIEVEABLE!!!!!!! We saw about 3 more herd of elephant that day. We had very close encounters with giraffes as well. Saw many more of the same animals I've already mentioned. Today was our last safari day and we were in search of a leopard, the only animal that we didn't get to see. We never did come across one, but alot of our favorites were standing/sleeping right in the road today so we got to revisit some of these animals up close and personal. It was just awesome!!!! On the way back to Arusha, just on the rim of the Crater, we stopped for a visit in a Maasai village. It was really cool...the men and women came out and sang to us to welcome us and then we got to go inside where the women did a ceremony to welcome Berta and I. They put some of their beaded necklaces and earrings on us and made us dance with them. Cool! We got to tour one of their homes and saw where they teach nursery school. It was really neat. So, here we are back in Arusha. Tomorrow I will fly back to Dar to catch my flight home on Friday (I overnight in London). Berta will be heading north to Kenya so we will have our farewell tomorrow. Very sad. But that's tomorrow! Tonight we are hooking up with some of the other volunteers who just finished a safari as well. We will have dinner and a few kilis and share safari stories. So, the next time most of you hear from me will be once I'm back in Kelowna. Thanks again for tuning in and make sure you tell others to read this entry...I've had 967 hits so far and I would like to see it at 1000 when I get home!!!! Talk to you soon and nekapenda everyone (love to you all)! N.