Saturday, December 7, 2013

Paul's Country Review: Tanzania

We came to Tanzania to see the Serengeti, Mt Kilimanjaro and the island of Zanzibar. Being able to see all of these different animals in their natural environment was pretty amazing. What you see on tv is a little misleading as it is very hot, dry and dusty so most of the time the animals are walking while the predators are laying around. There is a brief explosion of energy and violence when these predators catch their prey and then it's back to lounging around - not that different from your household cat. I also thought that as soon as a lion or leopard or cheetah made a kill they then had to immediately fight hyenas over the carcass like when watching National Geographic. We watched the lions laying near the carcass resting while the hyenas paced back and forth waiting. This goes on for hours and the hyenas are content to wait for the lions' leftovers. The only animal of opportunity was the jackal. This small dog would dart in and nibble on the buffalo or zebra and then run away before the lion could swipe at it. Pretty funny to watch. I guess the lion didn't think it was worth the effort as the jackal is tiny and wasn't going to devour the zebra and they had to place their focus on the pacing hyenas. I do understand that during the driest part of the year, when things get harder, the hyenas will be bolder out of desperation and try to steal the carcass, but it wasn't happening while we were there.

They are big and smelly

The crater is a beautiful place

After a couple of extremely hot and dusty days driving around the parks and camping in them we were ready for some R&R and bury our feet in the sands of Zanzibar. Before that we took a small detour from Arusha (safari starting point) to the town of Moshi which is at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro. We had no intention of climbing it, but just wanted to get a closer look and get some photos. We had read that the glacier on top of Kilimanjaro will be gone in the next 15-20 years and will not look the same as it does today. Unfortunately there was nothing to see as the entire mountain was covered in dense cloud/mist/fog. Whatever it was (or a combination of it all), we couldn't see anything - oh well, we got some postcards.

Zanzibar is a beautiful island 40km off the coast, in the Indian Ocean. When Tanganyika and Zanzibar became independent of colonial rule, they decided to join together as one country seeing as how they share common ancestry, language and customs. People had been moving back and forth between the two for centuries and so they are basically the same people. The combination of Tanganyika and Zanzibar results in Tanzania the same way sheep + people = sheeple. Zanzibar is an autonomous region and governs itself on a local level and has a President. On matters of state this president acts as the Vice President to the mainland president who is the head honcho. The people of mainland Tanzania are friendly and much more so than Ethiopians who seemed indifferent and Rwandans who seemed cold, but the people of Zanzibar are some of the nicest people we've met to date. This is where hakuna matata has firmly taken root - believed rather than just said to sell t-shirts. The beaches are beautiful and clean (a rarity throughout the world) the only problem being a lack of understanding of the importance of coral reefs to their existence as fisherman. Most is dead and people are always walking on the reef and dropping their boat anchors on it (the anchor is a giant piece of coral ripped from the reef) and poking and killing marine animals so people can get a photo of it. Telling them why they shouldn't do these things is a waste of time so we didn't take part in these activities and just snorkeled by ourselves. The other highlights were a lot of food, most of which was very good and uninterrupted sleep which we had not had for some time - it was glorious.

I really liked the back alleys of Stone Town

My original intention was to talk about Tanzania by using the lyrics of Toto's Africa as my words but liked Tanzania so much I decided against it and share my actual thoughts. I didn't want to cheat you of knowing all of the words so here it is in all it's glory.

I hear the drums echoing tonight 
But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation 
She's coming in 12:30 flight 
The moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation 
I stopped an old man along the way, 
Hoping to find some old forgotten words or ancient melodies 
He turned to me as if to say, Hurry boy, It's waiting there for you 

It's gonna take a lot to take me away from you 
There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do 
I bless the rains down in Africa 
Gonna take some time to do the things we never have 

The wild dogs cry out in the night 
As they grow restless longing for some solitary company 
I know that I must do what's right 
As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti 
I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become 


(Instrumental break) 

Hurry boy, she's waiting there for you 

It's gonna take a lot to take me away from you 
There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do 
I bless the rains down in Africa, I bless the rains down in Africa 
I bless the rains down in Africa, I bless the rains down in Africa 
I bless the rains down in Africa 
Gonna take some time to do the things we never have

You are welcome.

Here are some more photos of us camping. I fully showcase my skills as an outdoorsman.

Now where did I put the thingy?

If you are cold, locate fresh animal droppings for warmth

Mmmm... toasty

These were about a week old and provided no warmth, but they make great souvenirs! 

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