“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

TravelHaven Journal – African Safari 3

Serengeti Mara Camp – Arrival

We take a twelve-passenger plane from Arusha to the Lobo Airstrip on the Serengetti. I had never flown in such a small craft before and it was quite a thrill. As we approach the airstrip we see hundreds of wildebeest and zebra grazing right below us, our first glimpse of some of the wildlife we would see over the next two weeks.

After landing and getting our gear, we decide we better “take a leak” before setting out on our first game drive on the way to camp and head over to the cement bathrooms at the airstrip. What a surprise! This was our first “squat and shake” bathroom — just a square hole in the concrete that you squat over and — since there’s no toilet paper, when you finish you “shake you tail feathers” and pull up your pants and that’s it! It was the first of dozens of times we would do that. Believe me—you get used to it!

We meet our guide for the next five days. Roland was the first of a succession of cool, calm, professional men who would ensure that we see every animal in the vicinity while remaining completely safe. These guys are awesome! We use a 1975 Land Rover with the top cut off to afford maximum visibility. Although the camp is only about 45 minutes from the airstrip, we take about five hours, so that we can see a tremendous assortment of the local animals. We view seven lions, hundreds of wildebeest and zebra (from ground level this time), and a lot of elephants, eland, topi, impala, giraffes, warthog, baboons, rock hyrax, waterbuck and klipspringer. What a great beginning for our safari.

This camp is set up in the East African tented bush style. Our canvas tent has two twin beds with nightstands, a long “vanity” with a washbasin, a small vanity, a clothes rack, and two drying racks (for when you washed your underwear). It’s beautifully decorated with woven rugs, a lovely bedspread, and four solar lamps that look like lanterns. You can visit the website here: http://www.nomad-tanzania.com/camps/serengeti_safari_camp.html

After we shower and change, we meet the other guests around the campfire for drinks and popcorn as the sky darkens and the stars come out and the air begins to cool. After chatting for a bit, we all go in to a dinner of chicken, veggies and coconut soup. Even to a picky eater like me it is very yummy!

Dinner over, we realize for the first time that we are really tired – something about a long day of flying over Africa and then riding about the bush seeing vista after vista and a wide assortment of wild animals will do that to you! So we go back to our tent and crawl into bed, only to find the final pleasant surprise of that day — a hot water bottle, wrapped in fuzzy cloth. How nice!