Tuesday, January 1, 2008

One year ago today, Tanzania

One year ago today I greeted the New Year at a wilderness camp on Maasai land in the Serengeti.
The word Serengeti comes from a Maasai word Siringitu. It means the place where the land moves on forever. 

On New Years Eve, as we turned off the good dirt road onto “the road” to our camp, (which was really nothing more than where others had driven before us), I asked Sebastian, our guide how long it would take to get to the camp. He replied, “Four hours if we have no trouble.”
We were about 1 kilometer down the “road” and we got trouble. Flat Stanley is posing here with Carrie as we see just how far down the rear tires have sunk into the soil. It was quite an adventure as over a 3 hour period Sebastian jacked up the wheel, while we hunted and gathered on the grasslands for rocks to put under the tires for traction. After unloading all the luggage and pushing as Sebastian drove we were finally able to get the landcruiser out of the mud. Our happiness was short lived as about 10 kms further on we got stuck again. Fortunately Sebastian had sent text messages to the camp and Julius and Noel soon arrived. With their help we were unstuck in a matter of 15 mins. or so and on we went. By this time it was getting dark and as we sped along the Serengeti at 40-50 kms/hr Thompson gazelles would race along side the car and cut across in front of us. Sebastian was determined not to get stuck again since working to get the car out of the mud with lions around at night was something none of us wanted to do. This resulted in a great deal of fishtailing through the mud and calls from Sebastian to "HOLD ON", as if we weren't. We all were wondering if he had ever flipped a landcruiser... Finally at 11:30 at night we arrived at camp, and what it camp it was!
This was the most luxurious camping I have ever done. The photo above is of the dining tent and lounge area. The food was fabulous, and at night after dinner and conversation a staff member walked us to our tents since we were out in the wilderness with lions and leopards around. 
As you can see from the inside of my tent, I had a wash basin, there was a chemical toilet in the tent, and a gravity fed shower. Early in the morning one of the camp staff would come in through a side door in the tent and put warm water next to the basin, and leave coffee and scones or other goodies on the veranda outside. I could get used to this kind of "camping".

Since we were on Maasai land and not in the National Park we could get out of the landcruiser and go for walks. We went for walks every morning and afternoon. On our last night there we walked to a kopi (a rock outcropping) to find the staff had set up pillows, blankets and rugs for us along with food and drink so we could enjoy the sunset, and...
the rise of a full moon.

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