Author: Pauline Metz
A foggy, rainy December in London. After a long flight, with a stop in Istanbul, we had finally arrived at Kilimanjaro Airport. It was so hot, humid and uncomfortable when we came out of the plane… But also what a change and immediate escape from the European winter !
At the airport, Philip, our rounded, good humoured safari guide happily met us. He was smiling and very welcoming. The next day, he took us to our first safari in Arusha National Park… We saw incredible animals such as flamingos, hyenas, gnus, buffalos, baboons, giraffes and the black and white Colobus monkey, the mascot of the park… I was amazed by all of this, it was so wonderful to see the wild. Free. It made me question if I’d go to London Zoo again… That evening, we went to the centre of Arusha with the hotel cook to see the local farmers market. It was colourful and full of food we had never seen before, like the Jack fruit. People in Tanzania speak Swahili, an enchanting language. Philip even taught us some words: jumbo, poa, akunamatata…
The next day, we travelled through the country to Ngorongoro National Park. Ngorongoro crater is the biggest volcano crater in the world, with more than 20 kilometers diameter. There, we saw new wild creatures: elephants, rhinos, zebras, lions, cheetahs, vultures… Beautiful beasts were in front of us. The only downside of it were the number of tourists wherever we went, which made the place less magical and authentic. In Tanzania, we also visited a Massai village where people wear coloured dresses and a lot of jewelry. They are very tall and are quite impressive when they do their traditional dancing by jumping as high as they can. We also went in a school made of straw and the students sang in English for us.
We then continued our safari in Ndutu Conservatory Area and in Serengeti National Park where we saw the last “big 5” animal we had not seen before, ie the leopard – big 5 animals are the lion, the leopard, the rhino, the elephant and the buffalo. Serengeti National Park is also famous for the so called “great migration” of some herbivorous species like gnus, zebras, antelopes… which are continuously moving in big herds to search for fresh grass. This trip was amazing and enchanting. We met a lot of people, discovered new cultures, enjoyed stunning landscapes and saw from a few meters the most fascinating animals on earth.
I will always remember this holiday. It made me realize and think how lucky I was. I mostly enjoyed Ndutu National Park because it was the wildest place. We slept in tents, surrounded by hyenas and zebras which were screaming during the night. I have to confess I was a bit stressed … I would love to do this again with my parents and my two sisters and hopefully later when I have my own family.