Journey to the heart of Africa in the land inhabited by the Masai, visiting six national parks among the most? rich in fauna. Days immersed in nature between Kenya and Tanzania at the? Hunting? photo of the Big Five.
Africa? the destination of our last travels, a continent that brings you back to the basic concepts of life. But Africa is not? all the same and certainly life changes from nation to nation and very often from one place to another. Do you realize that what little there is? along the road, only sometimes paved, often misses how you get out. And there are few roads, much fewer than one might think. Get an idea of Africa in fifteen days of vacation? almost? impossible, but it certainly leaves something inside that? difficult to describe that we can summarize with? the desire to return.
We move a few months in advance. First of all the destination, then what to see and where to go. We are attracted to the land of the Masai with the great parks of Masai Mara, Serengeti and Amboseli. Not being able to opt for the? Fly and drive? not safe in Kenya, we look for some organized tours on the Net and ask for quotes. Safe Ride Tours & Safaris (reported by Lonely Planet) offers 10 days between Kenya and Tanzania visiting the Parks of Masai Mara, Lake Nakuru, Amboseli, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro and Tarangire at a price of 2000 dollars. After a couple of phone calls confirming the comfort of the facilities (we stay on beds) and that we can count on a driver-guide and a 4x4, we book. We find a flight to Nairobi with Turkish Airlines for 630 euros. We stay out of the program the first night in Nairobi, the penultimate in Arusha and the last in Nairobi, the rest should all be part of the package purchased. The total expense per person? was around 2700 Euros.
Thursday? August 7
We depart from Fiumicino with a Turkish Airlines flight that makes a stopover in Istanbul. The departure ? delayed due to bad weather problems in the Eurasian metropolis, we embark at 18.30 with about 3 hours late. Skip the visit to the Golden Horn as we had a 6 hour stop. We arrive in Istanbul and immediately notice an uncommon chaos. Several flights had been canceled and the others were hours late. We queue at the information office to ask about our flight and they assure us that it will be? on time at 0.50. When does the delay appear on the airport screens? 3 hours and no gate assigned. We go to the restaurant on the upper floor to chase away the wait, the terminal is full of people even at night, so even just moving becomes a constant push. In turn we get up to see the updates on the terminals, but no gate assigned and the delay remains the same even at the time allotted for departure. We understand that c? something strange, in the meantime it is 4, then 5 in the morning. No gate assigned yet regarding departure time. Between sleep and fatigue it is 6.20 am and finally boarding begins. It starts at 6.50 with 6 hours late and arrives in Nairobi at 13.30, keeping the accumulated delay.
Friday? 8 August
As agreed with the agency, they pick us up at the airport and take us to Sarova Panafric Hotel (100 euros double). Nairobi? chaotic, the arteries that cross it are overflowing with vehicles and the smell of exhaust gas stuns. Traffic ? hallucinating, you walk at a man's pace and it takes almost two hours to travel the 20 kilometers that separate the airport from the hotel. We immediately think about the return trip and the fear of missing the plane. The luxurious Sarova awaits us with open arms, a shower and immediately in bed to try to make up for the lost night. We get up for dinner and appreciate the cuisine of the restaurant on the ground floor (there are 4 inside the structure), the traditional Kenyan dish does not fully satisfy our palate but manages to block the languors of hunger. We are unable to meet with the agency that eventually gives us an appointment by phone at 7 the following morning.
Saturday August 9
We wake up early and immediately have breakfast in the luxury of Sarova. At 7 Charles picks us up, sar? our driver and guide inside the parks of Kenya. Does he take us to the agency to complete the formalities? of the trip. We are waiting for other adventure companions in the center. A very young Kenyan couple and a Nepalese boy from Katmandu get on our 4x4 van, who will spend two days with us at the Masai Mara. We leave for the great nature reserve, with Charles who, between one phone call and another, explains the way. We stop to admire the Rift Valley in a panoramic point, some customary photos even if the weather does not? benign, the clouds do not give the perception of the vastness? of the valley. Once past the valley, the mountains that are the border with the Masai population resume. The tones change and especially people's clothes. Bright colors with shades of reds and yellows take the place of the dull tones left behind. The villages are visible from the road, they are signaled by the grazing cattle sometimes guarded by children. We leave the asphalted road a few kilometers from the Park to enter paths marked out in the Savannah. The first wild animals can be seen sometimes confused with those of the Masai grazing. We arrive in the village that? close to the entrance of Oloolaimutia. ? traced in an orderly way on hypothetical roads that the rains of the previous days made them almost unusable. Of the seven corridors traced it is hard to find the one that can be walked on but in the end you can get to the Manyatta, in a camp run by the Masai who will host us? for three nights. Do you immediately feel spartanity? of the structure, where c ?? only the essential. Our accommodation? a? military? with two beds inside and behind a masonry bathroom with toilet, sink and two shower pipes. Seems for? clean enough, certainly we did not expect such an accommodation? Spartan. Let's start with some doubts about our choice. ? lunchtime, they bring four gas-heated containers with food inside. In the first there are spaghetti, then baked potatoes, soupy stew of meat and in the last three compartments for vegetables. Hygienic conditions are certainly not the strong point of this campsite, we wonder how the dishes were washed, but luckily we were vaccinated against Typhus. The potatoes with the stew served in abundance are able to curb the languor of the stomach and yes? immediately ready for the first safari. Antelopes, Gnu and Zebbre welcome us, the first Giraffes also stand out, the first big five immortalized by the camera and the Buffalo, from behind we also see an elephant in the high vegetation, we stop to photograph the birds and the majestic trees of the savannah . A group of stationary cars suggests that something? Big? c ?? nearby. We have to use a powerful zoom to see a cheetah among the vegetation. When it moves between one bush and the other, the silhouette becomes smaller. clear and in the end we manage to photograph it almost in full screen. As the first day we can be satisfied also why? ?
C ?? the time for a shower before dinner. They warn us that the electricity will be? in operation a few hours from 18.30 of sunset to 22, then it will come? restarted the following morning from 6 to 6.30. We realize that we are not prepared for this, we do not even have a torch for moving around the campsite, but we are lucky to have the first tent a few meters from the meeting place. We note that the camp? full of people, mostly young and many Asians (Chinese?). We await dinner and the usual 4 containers arrive: rice, stew, boiled potatoes and vegetables. With a few variations they will accompany us throughout our stay at the Manyatta. To drink there are only soft drinks at room temperature, we prefer the water we bought in Nairobi. We go to bed very early to make up for the lost night again, but the television inside the structure and the noises of? Saturday night? of the nearby village wake us up more? once upon a time. Getting up becomes a challenge both for the lack of light and for the mosquito net placed with painstaking attention around the bed? meanwhile it's raining outside.
Sunday August 10
We wake up long before dawn and wait for the lights to come on to go to the bathroom and have breakfast. On the table this time only one container with pancake inside and the typical Kenyan dish based on beans and corn. For us Mediterranean at 6 in the morning the smell alone makes us close the stomach, we opt for toast with butter and jam on top, while to drink there? the choice of 4 thermos: coffee, coffee with milk, tea with milk and hot water to soak the Kenyan tea bag, one of the best in the world. At the first light of the sun we notice that there is no ?? trace of the copious night rain. We change the program by going immediately to visit the village of the Masai who hosted us. Outside about ten of them were waiting for us, singing and dancing when we arrived with the most? daring tourists (we were few) who are carried away in the? jumps? with them. Inside the village life flowed as if our presence had not been there. A woman was busy building her house made of cow droppings mixed with earth. The absence of strong smells amazed us. Then a group of women lined up and started singing and dancing. The primary colors characterize their dress. Reds, yellows and blues mix with designs ranging from checkered, zigzag and floral. The story of their day and their culture is unmissable. Customs and traditions that are passed from generation to generation even if the last ones have all studied, sometimes leaving their villages for the city? or even for abroad. But always the return to the nomadic life of shepherds in contact with nature. The only ones who manage to live in the savannah in contact with the? Ferocious beasts? without exterminating them. A Masai is not afraid of a lion, and even his weapons are a long stick and a knife. A long-lived people who make their diet the source of well-being: they drink milk mixed with the blood and urine of the cow and feed only on products from their own cattle. The village chief takes us inside his hut. We sit by the fire, on a kettle for hot water, next to everything we need for meals resting on wood. The hut? divided inside by partitions in order to create small rooms where to sleep. There are at least seven people inside, including some children who look at us without making any grimaces. Inside c ?? the place also for the calf they carry during the night. The only smell that is perceived? that of the burnt wood that cannot get out of the small and unique "window", while the flies are numerous and tireless. We go outside drenched in smoke and continue to visit the village. An opening between the huts takes us to the clearing where the animals are. At night locked inside a circular fence made of dry branches safe from predators. The trampling of the hooves makes the ground wet from the night rains a kind of mud mixed with manure, but once more? we are surprised by the lack of strong odors, while the flies increase threateningly.
The welcome is given to us by a Serpentarium, while two? Damaliscus lunatus? they are intent on the fight.
The Vultures scan the savannah from the top of the trees. In a pool you can see a group of Hippos, near there are the Ducks, while an? Eagle? ready to fly. It is 10 in the morning and we find a Lion lying among the vegetation. He has no intention of getting up and getting noticed, so we decide to continue. A group of Giraffes stand out in the bush, while not far away some Vultures flesh out us? that remains of a prey hunted in the night. We stop at the Keekorok Lodge, a luxurious structure inside the Park, set of the film? Out of Africa ?. At the exit of the Sprigboks they compete for territory to the rhythm of horns, while a Turtle walks undisturbed. On a hill a group of Elephants in search of water, while the Ostriches peck the ground. In a puddle, another family of Elephants, the pi? little one lay down in the water while the mother sprinkles mud on her body with her trunk. We arrive up to the Masai River, we skirt it until we spot a herd of Hippos, on the other side of the bank an impetuous Crocodile with its body on the ground and its tail in the water. Only in the middle of the Savannah a wounded Lion, the marks on the body and blood on the face, together with the panting, are signs of a recent struggle. We go back to the river with two other crocodiles to sunbathe. In the green vegetation, two Lionesses lie in the shade behind a bush, but then the gaze goes into a bush where there is? lying down a lion and other members of the group behind. We continue our journey and we meet a herd of buffaloes. A group of cars shows us the way for a new surprise, four young Lions marching, perhaps in search of prey. One of them unaware of the? Voyeurs? cross the street touching the stationary Jeeps to the rhythm of clicks and flashes.
We return to the Manyatta at sunset, dinner awaits us.
Monday? 11 August
Wake up before dawn to be ready already? at the first light of day. Do the two Kenyans say goodbye to us, their vacation? finished. We enter Oloolaimutia Gate and an owl can be seen on a tree. In the first stream there are Buffaloes, Gnu and Zebras to drink. A bird with a colorful beak can be seen in the bush. The Savannah is teeming with animals, the Wildebeest flock to the Masai Mara from the neighboring Serengeti this season, staining the landscape like small polka dots. Vultures are intent on feasting on an animal surely killed by predators in the night. Not far away a Cheetah, perhaps the author of the? Crime ?,? so camouflaged in the vegetation that we find it hard to find it. Then we get close enough to immortalize it in a? Passport photo ?. He has a scar on his nose from some old duel. At the top of a hill with the vegetation to act as separ? a pair of Lions in the act of mating. The sun ? already? high when we stop at Keekorok Lodge. A Masai accompanies us inside where we see a panoramic walkway inside the Savannah. A bar allows you to take a drink overlooking the lake where a group of hippos are completely covered by water, only the nostrils emerge to breathe, near a large crocodile sunbathing, not far some buffaloes. The stop at the Lodge would be worth a few more minutes, but we are in a hurry to bring the Nepali to the airport. Two hyenas block our way, others are still close to an animal carcass in? Struggle? with the vultures to divide the prey. But the belly? full and the desire to fight is missing. We also see some Jackals, they too had taken advantage of the meal and they head towards a stream to drink, then cross the road in front of us. We leave the Talek Gate but not the Masai Mara which does not have fences and? surrounded by Private Reserves. A white stripe on the horizon indicates the airport. We park the minibus near the planes, a small house of a few square meters is at the same time boarding and disembarking with the relative formalities? for travelers. We wait for the aircraft to arrive and for the Nepalese to board to resume the safari. We skirt the Masai River in search of animals, in the vegetation sheltered from the sun a Lioness rests. C? We come across a herd of Baboons, perhaps they are moving in search of food, the young are on the backs of their mothers, the proud males lead the way. We stop under an acacia to have a snack. Hippos again to bathe and in the same stream not far away some Masai are doing laundry. Charles stops in the village near the Talek Gate to recharge his mobile phone, we take the opportunity to take some photos. The shops are all in different colors, the advertising writings are hand-made in a contrasting color. C ?? everything from carpenter to mechanic, from bar to restaurant even a small house with the? Club City? sign. Domestic animals, cows, sheep and donkeys mingle with the people. Once back in the park we stop at a lodge on the border. Can you? enter directly by crossing a bridge. A Masai and an Antelope welcome us. Let's have a tea in the characteristic bar, wood is the master even if? left in its natural state. We continue the journey and we see a Gnu taking milk from its mother. We approach a group of resting Lions, the pack leader rolls in the grass, strangely green at this time of the year in the Masai Mara. We travel along a hilly road full of Acacias, Charles's gaze points to an area rich in vegetation. His behavior becomes nervous, he points with unusual haste at a tree. Above it a Leopard in classic pose. We manage to photograph him closely, he looks at us annoyed, first he decides to turn around and then to go down to go into the bush. The other rangers warned by our radio do not have time to see it, they will have to be satisfied with our photos. Still a group of Lions resting on the rocks and buffaloes grazing. At the exit we see the Maasai women washing clothes in a stream. Is the evening clear, a halo? around the full moon, an optical phenomenon? moon shadow ?. ? dinner time, we realize that more? people than usual are waiting in front of the TV, all local. A Reality is on stage, the scenes were shot right at the Manyatta. People look and recognize themselves. We await the end of the broadcast to go to sleep, the day?
Tuesday? August 12
We always get up at the same time, now we have taken the rhythm and more? late at 5 the bed is our enemy. Let's take it easy, the appointment? at 7. Sar? a long day as we will leave the Masai Mara to move to Lake Nakuru.
But to do so we will cross a large part of the park to exit the central part towards Nairobi. So we load the suitcases on the minibus what? everything has become available to us. We stop in the village to immortalize it in some photos. The resale of? Petrol and Diesel? without pumps, made with canisters, the bars and restaurants certainly used by the locals and the hotels with brush lettering, some under construction. Buffaloes are the first to wait for us at the park entrance. Then a group of Elephants, while Gnu, Antelopes and Zebras have become part of the landscape and we do not deign them anymore? of our looks. ? more and more? easy to see animal carcasses stripped by vultures, a sign that the Masai Mara? in full health. We do an off-track, just the time to see a Lioness with two cubs maybe a couple of weeks old. One of them walks away and she gets up to pick him up. We have to give way to the other cars, behind us also two? School bus? full of schoolchildren on a trip. We move to the peripheral and hilly part of the Park where the Giraffes stand out. We leave the park and head north. We resume the road traveled on the way towards Nairobi, but after at the Rift Valley we turn left towards Lakes. The first ? the Naivasha famous for the rose nurseries exported mostly? in Europe. Goat-antelope graze in front of the greenhouses. At the entrance to the park there is a camp with luxurious tents on stilts, next to the solar panel for hot water. The lake ? overflowed into the nearby countryside and many trees are covered with water. The threatening clouds hint at a few drops of rain. This does not interrupt the excursions on the lake with the boats, for us only a short stop with a regenerating tea. We continue our journey in the "stinking" traffic. ? the artery pi? important for the country is the one that leads from Mombasa to Uganda through Nairobi. Skirts the railroad which at the behest of the Government? has been scaled down by increasing heavy road traffic. You begin to see Lake Nakuru, but first you have to cross the town. In a green area c ?? the Residence of the President of the Republic. We arrive at the Chester Hotel, a hospitable hotel in a suburban street near the football stadium. The large room has two double beds and a sitting area. Before dinner a hot shower. At the restaurant on the first floor you can? order à la carte, we opt for a baked Tilapia (typical fish from Lake Victoria) served with potatoes.
Wednesday? August 13
Now the rhythms are those of the Sun and we anticipate the alarm clock. After a hearty breakfast we load the suitcases on the minibus and head inside the park. To our amazement, also why? not reported by the Guides, two years ago Lake Nakuru due to heavy rains raised its level. The main entrance? been moved today? literally submerged by the waters. The road that ran along the lake is not there now? but? was immediately traced a new pi? internal. The characteristic of the lake are the Pink Flamingos that feed on its algae. But with the rising of the waters the birds can no longer? eat it and then moved elsewhere. The little lake? also home to a National Park with several species including the? quinto? big five? what we still lack. Do we arm ourselves with powerful? Weapons of war? to drive him out. A 1200 mm zoom, right? in Namibia escaped us? for too much distance. And here is a group of White Rhinos lying on the side of the road. They are close to us and immovable they let themselves be photographed. We see Herons close to a turtle carapace, some are reflected in the water, while the first birds emerge on the lake. They are pelicans with plumage ranging from pure white to pink. We go up to a hill to admire the view. A large family of Baboons awaits us who we film while screaming screaming. Going down we come across a group of Lesules, the male? excited you can see it from the phosphorescent blue testes. Goat antelope alternate with warthogs while a group of baboons? poured out onto the street in a "general strike" way. The mountain that forms the backdrop to the lake shows off its rock, while the buffaloes graze undisturbed. On a hill there are six Giraffes, in unison they look at us, then continue to graze in the vegetation. They are the Giraffes of Lake Nakuru, different from the others, recognizable by their characteristic white legs. Does the coat color change too? ? pi? dark. We come across another herd of White Rhinos, these are more? active and graze undisturbed. Amount ? huge, everything? huge almost outrageous. There are many we cannot count them, maybe a dozen. Behind us three school buses from? The Makueni Schools? of Primary visiting school. We are at the exit of the park when the radio reports the sighting of black rhinos, much more? rare and difficult to spot why? they live in tall vegetation. Charles hurries the craft in their direction. We spot them, they are very far from us, only the strong zoom can take them back but in a grainy way. I am a Mother with a Baby (so to speak), the vegetation reaches up to the mother's belly hiding a large part of the child. Let's go back but first let's take some panoramas of the lake immortalizing Zebras, Buffaloes and Birds of various species.
Shall we set out for the next stage? l? Amboseli at 400 Km crossing the whole Nairobi. Traffic ? intense and smelly, on the road you cross the villages. We retrace the stretch on the Rift Valley and stop to admire the view again and to? Nibble? our basket. We continue our journey and before arriving in Nairobi Charles makes a detour. It leaves the main artery and enters the outlying streets through the Karen district of Nairobi. Neighborhood dedicated to the writer Karen Blixen, where is her home? been transformed into a museum. We stop at the Karen Shopping Center, Charles has to go to the Bank and we take the opportunity to take a tour of the Supermarket. The impact? to enter one of our hypermarkets, in the short time passed the idea that we have? that local products are cheap while imported ones are very expensive. Yes ? late and there is no road? still a lot. Traveling at night in Africa? not recommended. We skirt the district of Libera, the most? poor and populated, with about 200 people per square kilometer. Has the government built high-rise buildings to give hospitality? to the township inhabitants, Charles tells us that whoever had the house immediately rented it, preferring to stay in the shacks. We skirt the Nairobi National Park, close to the city? and close to the two airports. Two hours to leave the capital and head towards Malindi. The villages on the road cause long lines of trucks. You have to cross them at a walking pace also because of the artificial bumps. Sometimes we prefer the dirt side roads that allow us to overcome the trucks in the queue. In the villages, life is teeming with more merchandise stalls. varied are everywhere. On the street the products of the earth are sold: potatoes, carrots, onions and all kinds of vegetables. ? already? night when we cross Sultan Hamud. Truck drivers parked on the side of the road to refresh themselves before resuming the journey, in the evening some shops are transformed into restaurants where they make roast meat. The smells reach the street. The situation ? chaotic and there is still a long way to go. We arrive in Emali where we leave Nairobi-Mombasa to head towards the Park. Which road on the maps? ? white? it is just asphalted. Only a few kilometers from the entrance to the park we leave it for a dirt track full of holes. We arrive at Kibo Safari Camp when everyone is already there. in the tent to sleep. From the road leading to our accommodation you can see the inside of the tents. Very large, with a double bed, a corner with a mirror and a small table, behind the masonry bathroom divided into three rooms: toilet, shower and sink. Full of compartments made between wood and plaster. The restaurant ? still open and serving hot and cold dishes at the Buffet. The choice ? wide, ranging from soups to dishes through side dishes. A table ?
Thursday? August 14
We take it easy in the morning, the long journey forced us to postpone the program, but before the alarm sounds already? we are standing. The day is not? beautiful and we can't see Kilimanjaro. There are too many clouds, some threatening with rain. After a rich breakfast, we leave for the Park vault. Kimana's entry? one kilometer away, waiting for us as in the Masai Mara, the Masai women to sell us some souvenirs. ? always a smile to finish the deal. At the entrance a group of Elephants marching towards the water, four adults and three small ones. After all, the Elephants are the main attraction of the Park. We approach another group more? numerous what? intent on? rasping? the ground to tear the vegetation and eat it. This is a great concern for rangers who are afraid that Amboseli will become arid and turn into a desert. Pi? times yes? thought about moving the Elephants to another park, but didn't? the system has still been devised. A Hyena runs along the road, accompanies us for a few minutes and then disappears into the bush. We have to brake suddenly, a big elephant crosses the road, above the back and below there are birds accompanying it. ? followed by the Piccolo who also carelessly crosses the road to reach his mother. In a puddle c? a mom with a baby lying at her feet. Others are immersed in the pond, more? in l? of Hippos. Unmissable birds with colorful plumage. We come across a large group of Elephants, perhaps about thirty adults and children. The scenery ? indescribable, the dry clearing leaks even more? the size of these animals. A group of Monkeys get confused in the underbrush. A group of Hippos in another pond? completely immersed in water. From time to time they come out with their nostrils to breathe and look at us annoyed. Another elephant mother with her baby cuts our way. Let's get on? Rock to Dust? to admire the view. The mound? above a mirror of water. Inside there is an islet occupied by hippos. From above you can see the animals, above all (also because of the size) the Elephants. We go back down to the marshy area, dominated by the Elephants and Birds. We realize that there are also Hippos completely covered with Birds. We meet two lonely Elephant males, are they dangerous when they are alone? better not to stop. One of them ? threatening and visibly excited. We see a Hyena and then a couple of Giraffes. We return to have lunch at the Lodge and we notice that the Masai graze the cattle inside the Park, not caring about the dangers. We return to Bimana Gate for the afternoon Safari. But immediately a Cheetah makes us stop. With us several Jeeps to immortalize the splendid animal. But with astonishment we notice that behind a bush c? another Cheetah, the gaze returns to that bush and three other snouts can be seen. The mother remains isolated, while the four children return to? Cover up? behind the green. In the air they smell some prey. I am definitely looking for a 'hot meal'. We ask Charles to follow the scene. All five are sniffing towards the other side of the street, in favor of wind which at that moment? sustained. They are in no hurry and neither are we. The mother changes direction, goes back and crosses the street. Followed at a distance by her four children. They all have their mouths open as if they are fatigued, while they are just? Tasting? the air in search of the right direction. Are they more and more? close to us, we can photograph them in all positions. The mother steps forward into the Savannah, near by the trees there are antelopes. The distance ? still a lot. With a cat-like step, the mother walks towards them while the rest of the group hides behind the bush. The step is getting more and more? intense and flattened, while the four begin to move in other directions. ? now at the distance of the attack, begins to warm up the engines and increase the speed? and in a few seconds? already? on prey. We only see a fuss, with a few shouts of "catch, catch". The next image? all five with their clutches on the poor prey, from time to time raise their bloody heads to see if anyone comes. Meanwhile, yes? made the time of the exit, the Gate? not far away, but before going out an elephant blocks our way. The two and a half hours spent following the Cheetahs passed quickly, a show that will remain there? imprinted on the mind forever. A shower and we are ready for dinner which this time we can enjoy without rushing. But first does all the staff begin to involve those present with singing and dancing? ? Jambo Bwana? above all. Surely they have the most fun? also this ? Africa. Then they serve dinner with a smiling face and refrains still in mind. Out ? turned on the Boma, already? the chairs are ready around for those who want to warm up and enjoy the equatorial sky. We raise our heads and notice the myriad of stars that can be seen. We are enchanted by this show. They start just above the horizon and cover the entire cap. Every now and then some haze of clouds hides them and then rediscovers them even more? shining. A group of Masai arrives to do the show.
Friday? 15 August
The biological clock now? calibrated at 5,? still night to leave the tent. At the first light we go out reckless using the supplied torches (one? with photovoltaic panel). The day is not? beautiful, but we can see Kilimanjaro in the clouds. Only at the top? stayed a while? of snow, at the bottom there are already? the first threatening clouds. Breakfast and immediately leaving with the suitcases, the day will end? in Tanzania. A young woman comes up with us and tells us to work in the Lodge Spa as a masseuse. Take advantage of the ride to travel to Nairobi. She sits forward, but we immediately realize that she is not? used to seeing animals. We enter the park always with the idea of seeing the greatest African peak. Occasionally the clouds let you see it, but we can't take the classic photo with the animals and the summit in the background. We meet a group of Cheetahs perhaps the same as the previous evening. The inevitable Elephants, three mothers with three babies and another little elephant? great. In the bush a Lion,? too far to get it right. Zebras and Buffaloes mix. We skirt the Amboseli Lodge, next to another now abandoned camp. A minibus at the gate? in failure. Charles doesn't panic and puts five of them on our vehicle. Are they Chinese who, with their hands joined, thank us more? once upon a time. We cross the whole Amboseli from east to west, convinced that we will see the lake. All the maps show it, but with amazement? completely dry, Charles tells us that for several years? became Pan. The Masai go there to graze cattle. The road leads to Namanga, the town on the border with Tanzania. We carry out border operations to leave Kenya and walk to the Tanzanian visa offices. The bureaucratic processes are slow, but no one is in a hurry. Not even us who have to wait for the shuttle to Arusha. Charles's task ends here in Arusha. We will have another guide. But before leaving us awaits the arrival of the Shuttle which takes a long time to cross the border. We notice that? already? packed, we manage to find a makeshift seat with suitcases loaded on the roof. The path will be? short, Arusha is a hundred kilometers away. The checks are very rough, no one stops us to ask for a passport. After the border, Tanzania seems a bit? ahead of Kenya. The street ? large and new, work sites can still be seen. It points towards Monte Longido, a Forest Reserve, characteristic for its horn. With astonishment we also notice the signs, which in Kenya were absolutely not. The villages are less spartan and there are many more? brick houses. On the hills you can see houses, after all this? the rich part of Tanzania. We arrive in Arusha completely unaware of our schedule. We ask the driver where he will take us, but he replies that he will stop? to a parking lot. Arusha? a city? which acts as a watershed between Kilimanjaro and the Great Parks of Tanzania. Traffic ? chaotic, but it flows. The side streets are a buzz of activity, the use of the motorcycle? very widespread as in Kenya. But here you can also see three wheels, some to take tourists around. The bus stops in a parking lot where two gentlemen are waiting for us. They make us get into the car to take us to the hotel. With astonishment they note that we have normal suitcases. They expected backpacks and sleeping bags. We ask for explanations. But when you get to the hotel, well let's call it that, they disappear into thin air. We are left with doubts in this almost dilapidated structure. We do not know where we are, in what part of the city, we have no local money and no idea what it will be? our future. We call the Nairobi Agency to ask for explanations. After several attempts, the owner answers us, confirming that in our program there were two days camping. We are not used to it, and above all we do not have more? l? age? to spend nights in tents with a sleeping bag. We wait until dinner time, in the meantime we find a change, then we call a taxi to take us downtown. The taxi driver stops us in a place where you can? to eat. ? very clean and well done, we order a la carte. We are nervous, disheartened and worried about our future. Upon returning to the hotel we are told that the Arusha Agency come to look for, contact her and give us an appointment in the evening. The owner comes to meet us and confirms that we have purchased two days camping in the package. We make him understand that these were not the agreements and that there was another type of arrangement in the program. The tones get warm, we are not willing to give up. He first asks us for money to change accommodation, then re-reading the program well, agrees with us that c? it was a misunderstanding. Indeed, as he claims, they sold us one thing for another. He says not to worry that we will have a nice vacation and that he will fix it tomorrow? everything.
Saturday August 16
The sounds of the awakening of the City? they interrupt sleep ahead of time. Thoughts make room for sleep. From our window we begin to see Mount Meru which dominates Arusha with its 4566 meters. We go down early in the day for breakfast. Not C?? trace of doing it in the? Mediterranean way? so let's spread a little? of butter on toast and on it we put a little sugar, the snack of when we were children. The coffee? instead? good, after all in Arusha there are the most crops? valuable. At 7 they come to pick us up and take us to a house on a dirt road. To welcome us c ?? the owner of the agency who takes us into his study. Has it already? made some phone calls and changed the program. He assures us that we will not sleep in a tent with a sleeping bag. In the meantime a couple arrives, what to do? part of the trip with us and then a guy. The driver also arrives, Mascia, who immediately introduces himself and casually tries to talk to us. He is instructed on the new program and then loads two cases of water and off you go. Our? Engine? this time ? a Toyota Jeep. The boy ? Chilean of Santiago and d? around the world for three months, after Africa will touch? Asia and then Europe before returning to South America. The couple ? formed by two Italian boys, in reality? she ? from the province of Ferrara, he is Belgian. They come from two weeks of volunteering south of Dodoma. Before leaving Tanzania they will spend a couple of days with us in the parks and then a few more at the seaside. The first thing that strikes us? the guide of Mascia, especially in overtaking, alongside the car to be overtaken, brakes, moves at the same speed? and then unaware of how it will be? the road completes the overtaking. We understand immediately that its intent? to protect us, does it at every pi? small opportunity. We arrive immediately at Tarangire, a national park that is the pride of the Tanzanians, why? rich in flora and fauna. In line d? Area is not more? 50 km from the city. At the entrance to the park, a Baobab acts as a median for those entering and leaving. A Warthog lets himself be photographed before going into hiding. In a pool of water some wildebeests drink, with them also some warthogs and birds. On the way we come across a large group of Elephants, they mix with the Gnu and the Zebras. A goat-antelope looks at us in fear. We arrive at an isolated area under a cliff, home to a campsite. Zebras, Antelopes, Giraffes and Ostriches on our path. On a hill a lone Elephant. Then again Giraffes, Zebras and Gnu. We go up to see the view and for a refreshment stop, Mascia has with him some? Baskets? with the meal. ? an area equipped for picnics, many Jeeps parked. We lean on a table near the fence, which houses a group of Baboons. The signs invite not to feed the animals, but one of them steals a sandwich from the hands of a child who is amazed. Then he climbs a tree to discard it and eat it. From the panorama you can see the valley, there are groups of Elephants on the river bed which in this period has little water but the distance between the banks suggests that in the rainy period the flow? much greater. Under a tree, two Cheetahs feast on a still warm prey. We arrive at a point where the water? greater, flocks of birds take advantage of it to cool off. Pi? ahead a large group of Elephants.
We leave the park in the opposite direction, take the road to Arushia up to the junction with the road that leads to the Serengeti. At the intersection yes? developed the village of Makuyuni, now? still hot and people? poured into the street. A continuous market of colors, the goods? shown in every way but above all lying on the ground on colored sheets. We find it hard to understand what it is, you can see the products of the earth on all the potatoes. The Masai are distinguished from other groups by how they are dressed, the? Blanket? on the shoulders. We resume the path on the foot of a hill full of Baobabs in a Masai village. We arrive on Lake Manyara, cross the city? and we climb a mountain. We take a dirt road where there are large antennas, not far from a campsite. Mascia park the Jeep, sar? our home. On one side the tents overlooking the valley, hence the name of Panorama Camp, on the other side of the bungalows made in trullo. They give us the number 13, inside the essential also as a space, two concrete walls are the beds spaced by a corridor of one meter, on top of them are placed mattresses, nothing else. The toilets and showers are common. We knew we had to make do but we certainly did not believe we would go below the Manyatta level. We ask for sheets and blankets, with a lot of availability? they try in every way to please us. Staff ? kind and you can see that he cares. Of course for us the accommodation? below the limit threshold, we are now there and we must continue, we will postpone the possibility to the following day? to interrupt the program. They offer us a tea to snack on, everything? already? set in our table for 5, but? almost dinner time. We serve it by bringing a tureen and a tray where there is? a little? everything from rice to potatoes, from vegetables to meat stew. Everyone pours his portion onto his plate. The hygienic situation? to the limit, but nobody stops to emphasize it. At the end of the dinner, a group of acrobats who deputy in that camp, begins their show. Songs, dances and then flips and flic and flac. Then the acrobatics with the pins and the hats. The tiredness? so much and we can't see the end.
Sunday August 17
Wake up late at night, the hard bed does not allow you to go back to sleep, but you have to wait at least for the dawn to reach the bathrooms as it is devoid of any light source. After all, the appointment? at 6 o'clock it is the Ngorongoro which is about sixty kilometers away. The rest of the group? punctual for breakfast, we need coffee? or hot tea, toast where you can spread butter and jam, in the? usual? tray there are also fried eggs, crepes, sausages and? brodaglia? perhaps with beans. It tells the story of the past night, c ?? those who fought with mosquitoes (some carriers of malaria and yellow fever), those who slept dressed for hygienic conditions below the norm. At 6.30 we are already? marching towards the? Crater? along the road that leads to the Serengeti. In the villages the lights are still on, Mascia stops a peddler with a cart and buys us some chewing gum. We arrive at the entrance of the road to Ngorongoro at 7.10. There are many cars waiting to pass, but first you have to untangle the bureaucratic procedures such as buying access passes. And while the Guide deals with this, we take the opportunity to visit the Hall which houses a model of the Crater and various posters on Tanzania. Above the entrance gate the inscription? Karibu eneo la hifadhi ya Ngorongoro? welcome to the Ngorongoro protected area. After the gate begins the dirt road, the same that leads to Serengeti and continuing to the Masai Mara (going through it entirely would return to the point of a few days ago). Immediately the encounter with the Lions who are inside the Forest, a Lioness runs along the road? close enough to touch it. The plateau has given way to the mountain to enter the forest, and you climb in a few kilometers from 1765 of the Gate to 2200 of the panoramic point and then skirt the crest of the volcano up to 2370. The clouds are low and do not allow us to see inside the crater. Then in a glimpse you can see the land, we are right above Lake Magad, at the bottom you can also see some rays of sunshine. The show ? breathtaking, there are at least 600 meters in altitude. We arrive at the Gate and get out of the car to capture the moment with souvenir photos. The temperature ? very low and blows a wind right against our face. The descent into the crater? steep and takes about twenty minutes. They are Herons to welcome us, near Lake Magad of the Gnus and in its waters the Hippos. In the distance we can see a Black Rhino. At Ngorongoro you cannot leave the roads and the tracks are few, so we have to be content with seeing it from afar. Instead we stop in front of a group of Spotted Hyenas. We also see some Lions lying in the underbrush. We come across a herd of buffaloes with the inevitable birds on their backs. On the shore of the lake a Black Rhino, but? too far to take it back. We stop near a small lake in an equipped area to have a picnic. There are hippos in the water, some very close to the shore. Many tourists ignore them not knowing that? the animal pi? dangerous of the Savannah. Birds are approaching to peck at the? Crumbs? that fall on us. We continue our journey and we come across a Lion with a flowing mane,? lying in the tall grass, we wait for him to get up to take some pictures. Then he walks away. Two jackals are looking for food, while a warthog hides in the underbrush. In a pool a group of spotted hyenas. The sun from time to time peeps through the clouds and we take the opportunity to take some photos of the landscape accompanied by Antelopes, Warthogs and Zebras. We take the road to get out, don't we? the same as the entrance,? all paved in brick to allow the Jeep to climb more? comfortably. But the slope? such that some charges have great difficulties, blocking the others. Going up with the clouds do you thin out the scenery? enchanting. We stop at the viewpoint to aim the entire Ngorongoro. Let's go back to Lake Manyara what? still day. From our Camp, precisely the Panorama, you can? look at the valley below with the lake surrounded by high mountains.
We decide to stay the next night as the couple of friends found a ride to Arusha. The boss? from the camp he wants to talk to us, he wants to know how we spent our stay and offers us a bungalow each for the night since they are released. We do the move without forgetting the sheets and blankets so as not to ask for them. We take advantage of the little bar inside to connect to the Internet and recharge the PC. Dinner ? almost? the same and the show of the acrobats as well. We decide to remove the disturbance and retire to our? Rooms ?.
Monday? 18 August
The alarm ? the usual one, but the appointment is postponed to 7. C ?? all the time to have breakfast and give us a wash. There are three of us left (like the song) and can we move more? smoothly on the Jeep. At Chilean they change the program from hour to hour, he loads the suitcase too why? there is no return to Camp Panorama. The day includes a visit to Lake Manyara and then the transfer to Arusha where the program planned by the Kenyan agency ends. We do not expect anything special at the lake, the guides do not describe it as an important park. Gi? we were disappointed by Lake Nakuru without Pink Flamingos, so we face the day hoping to reach the City? the pi? soon as possible. We stop on the road to scrutinize the view, another cloudy day but at least the visibility? ? good. We enter the park but a landslide in previous years has completely overwhelmed the offices. At the entrance, the structures submerged by mud bear witness to this, which can be visited on a guided tour. In its place there are curtains that replace them. Parrots welcome us, then baboons intent on grooming. The vegetation ? bushy and on the treetops you can see birds. We arrive at the edge of the lake where pelicans rest. They are an impressive number so as to create white spots on the quagmire. Also nearby are Ducks and other Birds. Among the vegetation completely immersed in the water, the Hippos. Returning towards the interior a group of Baboons. You begin to see the lake and a pink spot characterizes it. Surprisingly, we note that they are Pink Flamingos, so the one seen from the Panorama the day before was not a mirage. There are many, all close to each other in order to form real mobile islands. Next to them white spots composed of Pelicans and Seagulls flying above them. The homeland of the birds, we can't keep track of the different species, even Mascia is sometimes confused with the names. We can see on the shore Gnu, Zebras and Giraffes and in the background the Pink spot before the blue of the water. We walk along a hilly stretch under the mountains where the Baobabs reign, on a large boulder the Rodents sunbathe. The view of the lake reopens this time the Giraffes are the side dish. We wade the river at this time of the year? completely dry. A Giraffe cuts our way, behind her some Zebras. A Group of Zebras? intent on eating from a tree. The views of the lake with the animals grazing and the pink flamingos in the background are breathtaking and we never tire of admiring and photographing them. We also meet a small Dik Dik antelope. A buffalo carcass makes us stop the car. Behind it, a lioness is standing guard. The smell? intense, nauseating, the flies are numerous, but the desire to wait for the lioness to rise? great. Are particular Lions those of Lake Manyara, do they have the capacity? climbing trees and are difficult to find. The Lioness widens her eyes intrigued by the noises. We move a few meters to reach the lake and have a snack. Obviously we do not get out of the car there could be other Lions nearby. Let's go back to the? Place of the crime? the Lioness now? completely out of the vegetation, but the smell of carrion? even more? strong. We skirt the lake again and admire the fauna and the myriad of birds. We park in locality? Hotspring where we go down through a staircase to the lake. Here c?? a thermal spring where you can? touch the hot water that flows from the rocks. Colorful Lizards bask in the sun. Workers are completing a walkway that will allow? to go into the lake to better admire the animals. We leave the park and take the main road again. On the side of the road on the treetops the Storks have nested. Rice fields and coffee plantations? can be seen on the path. Does a kaleidoscopic riot on the side of the road draw our attention? ? a Masai Market. We stop to take some pictures. The colors are intoxicating, the dominance? red and blue with all the chromatic shades including purples. It sells everything from food to clothes passing from shoes to containers. Goods ? on carts or on the ground but always on top of sheets. Nobody ? unkempt, all dress in a neat, we can say elegant. Surely their ways are elegant, isn't there ?? confusion even if the market? very popular. We continue and the airport tells us that we are at the gates of Arusha. Mascia takes us to our Lodge we booked from Italy, the Oasi? S Lodge & Restaurant. To reach it you have to take a dirt road in a poor neighborhood of the city. Even the Jeep struggles to absorb all the holes. But is it worth it since the Lodge? a real oasis a few kilometers from the city. The huts are very large divided into two lodgings. In ours there are two double beds and a cot, the bathroom? very large and with all comforts. We take the opportunity to take a shower immediately and regain energy. The comfortable bed allows us to lie down and dinner time comes early, skipping the visit to the city. The restaurant ? well cared for and we can finally drink some ice cold beers. Dinner too? tasty and very welcoming. Do we take the opportunity to stay a little longer? and connect our PC to the internet to know the news from the world now? detached? for ten days. We still have a whole morning to spend in Arusha with the program to be created. Those offered on site are both expensive and long-lasting, and at 14 pm we have the shuttle that takes us to Nairobi. We do not know who and when will come? to take, but this climate more? times we have breathed it in Africa. Calmly we go to sleep also why?
Tuesday? August 19
We wake up with the noises of the Hall where already? at 6 they turn on the TV. But they are now absorbed by our bodies, so we get up and go to breakfast. ? another structure to accommodate us, open which then lets in the coolness of the morning. We are not more? get used to so much choice and fill your plate with delicacies including seasonal fruit.
On one site we find many things to do in Arusha, including visiting a museum and then taking a tour downtown. We get a taxi from the hotel to take us to the center, but along the way we change our mind, we recommend that we visit the Serpentarium with the nearby Masai Museum. We agree on the cost of the ride ($ 30) and accept. On the road we see a coffee plantation, the taxi driver tells us that you can? visit it, we will do it on our return. The entrance to the Serpentario? $ 15, in truth? he told us 5, there are display cases with various reptiles inside including Pythons and Mamba with the terrible Green Mamba. In a tortoise tank. Then some cages with owls, an eagle and monkeys. Another tank with some Varani, then the Crocodiles including some in extinction. We move to the Masai Museum where the moments of the life of the Village are depicted. You go out in a real Masai Village where everyday life? in full swing. Women are gathering straw by tying it in sheaves. The men are close to the cattle. They don't want to be filmed nor photographed. We agree the price with one of them, but the others want the same too. It becomes a kind of continuous barter, always with a smile on your mouth. We try to steal some images, the women don't want to be photographed and they cover their faces. The pi? young people are grazing cattle. Every so often they catch a glimpse of them on the edge of the village.
We leave the Masai to return to Arusha but first we stop at a coffee plantation. We enter the premises used for sale, where there are varieties? of the aromatic plant. Can they explain the various types and the goodness? of the local product. We decide to pay a visit to the plantations ($ 15 per ticket). We move to another facility where the activity is bustling. daily. An employee takes us inside the plantation and explains the history of the coffee. ? the harvest period and the fruits are ripe. Let's go back to the base and offer us a cup of coffee? local, we immediately warn that? very strong. The morning ? passed in a hurry and the Shuttle to Nairobi awaits us but first we must return to the Lodge with the hope that someone will come there? to take. We also manage to have a quick meal, at 13 they come to pick us up to take us to the parking lot where the shuttle leaves. This time ? a tour bus, we take our seats after reporting our hotel in Nairobi to the driver. They give us ok and we go up reassured. We arrive at the border with Kenya already? very late, the procedures get long and the night falls when the way to go? still a lot. On the street we see a group of Dromedaries and life in the villages? still full of life. The assurances given by the Tanzanian driver are denied by the staff on the bus. 5 people who took turns at the border. Do they tell us that no one will take us? to our Hotel in Nairobi and that we will have to provide it ourselves. We do call the hotel to come and pick us up, but there isn't? a sure answer. Traffic ? chaotic and smelly, the smells mix. We travel at a man's pace and now? more and more? late. Got off the? Bus? c ?? a taxi to wait for us sent by the hotel. It begins to ziggle in the traffic then it takes an isolated part of the city, then a disconnected road, only after half an hour it arrives to the Meltonia Lodge. We realize that there was a longer road short that the distance was less so we do not give him there? asking but much less, he admits he stretched, takes the money (about $ 10) and leaves. At the Meltonia (about 100 euros per room), a Suite awaits us for the night. You enter a sitting room, cross a small corridor where there are doors to the kitchen and bathroom, to arrive in the large bedroom with two double beds. We go down for dinner in the intimate restaurant near the pool. We go back up with fatigue on our shoulders. We are worried about missing the flight the following morning at 8.40, in the reception they tell us that to get to the airport it takes 1 hour and a quarter, 1 hour and a half. We book a taxi for 6 am. We have breakfast prepared and brought directly to the room to save time.
Wednesday? August 20
The biological clock wakes us up at 5, we eat breakfast and we are ready to go. ? night but already? c ?? the taxi downstairs waiting for us. C ?? little traffic, a little? more? ? the one who enters the city. After twenty minutes we are already? to the airport. We pay the taxi driver ($ 30) and carry out the boarding procedures. After six hours we are already? about Istanbul. The coincidence gives us no way to waste time, a piece of pizza on the fly and back on the plane to take home. Do we collect the car that we parked at AltaQuota (40 euros)? the holiday ? over.
There are so many doubts that we ask ourselves about the life we lead? Civilized ?. We have perhaps forgotten the basis on which our existence rests. Are we focused on ourselves, spoiled by a company? which has completely lost its way. We are like horses with blinders, which show us only what the? Society? of consumption? he wants us to sell. We are concentrated in having, in possessing, losing the proper meaning of life. Africa takes you back to the fundamental values of life. It makes you rediscover the meaning of a smile. Everything that we think is not there,? what is not needed? the superfluous. Does it have priority? different from ours, and if they can sometimes coincide, they are revealed in a completely different way.
? difficult to describe the sensations one feels in seeing nature. A nature different from ours. But not why? there are some animals that we have extinguished, but why? all ? left in its natural state as it was millions of years ago. The? Sulcus? traced by man? small, derisory for the vastness? what can you? see.
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