Over the 2012 winter break, I (Eli B.) went to Kenya and Tanzania (both are in Africa). My itinerary went like this:
1. Two days in Kenya
2. Two days at Tarangire National Park
3. One day at Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area
4. Two days in the Southern Serengeti (Ndutu)
5. Two days in the Central Serengeti (Seronera)
6. Two days at Chumbe Island Coral Park
7. One day at Stone Town, Zanzibar
In Kenya we stayed at the Macushla House in Nirobi. It was a very nice place and a giraffe sanctuary was only a 10-minute walk away. We also went to the David Sheldrich Wildlife Trust. There we saw young elephants that had been orphaned when poachers killed their mothers. The David Sheldrich Wildlife Trust was started by David Sheldrich (1919-1977) and has been continued through his family. If you donate some money, you get to become a ‘parent’ of an orphaned elephant or rhino. It’s just like the zoo parent program at the Albuquerque Zoo and is sort of like bragging rights. My elephant’s name is Barsilinga (bar-sil-eeng-ah). Barsilinga was born on March 28, 2012, and was two weeks old when brought to the David Sheldrich Wildlife Trust. Barsilinga was found next to his dying mother who was euthanized because her wounds were too severe.
Next we crossed the border to Tanzania where we met our guide an hour later. Our guide’s name was Hashim and our cook’s, Shambo. Shambo cooked the best food I have ever had. It was all Tanzanian style food. My favorite dish was Beef Stew. Our guide Hashim was an extremely good spotter and an excellent driver.
At the main gate we saw a troop of Vervet Monkeys. As we entered the park, we saw a herd of Zebra in the distance, a troop of Baboons, some Hornbills, and plenty of Peafowl. Then we arrived at our special campsite. A special campsite is a campsite where we bring our own camping supplies and camp in sleeping bags. The other option is to sleep at a tented campsite or a lodge. Tented campsites are semi-permanent campsites. The lodges are just like hotels. I stayed at special campsites most of the time, but at Ndutu I stayed at a tented campsite. I also visited a lodge and went swimming in the pool at the lodge. I prefer the special campsites because it was a very fun experience to go camping in Africa. I also really enjoy the tented campsites, but do not wish to stay at a lodge.
In Tarangire we also saw our first Ostrich, Impala, Dik Dik, Leopard Tortoise, Masai Giraffe, Grant’s Gazelle, Honey Badger (Hashim said he had never seen a Honey Badger during the day in his 20 years of guiding), Hammerkop (bird), Warthog, Dwarf Mongoose, Monitor Lizard, and Lion, as well as an assortment of birds including eagles and vultures.
Then after two nights at Tarangire, we were on the road to Ngorongoro Crater. Ngorongoro crater is a crater that is a mile high in the center of the crater, 7,000 feet on the rim, and 14 miles in diameter. At Ngorongoro crater we saw plenty of Zebra , plenty of Cape Buffalo, Plenty of Wildebeest, some Baboons, plenty of Thomson’s Gazelles, our first Spotted Hyena, our fist Jackal, our first Crowned Crane, and four Rhinos!!
Ngorongoro was amazing. The only downside was that it was really cold. We saw lots of animals. I think Ngorongoro crater was the most concentrated area for animals.
Then we were on the road again to the Southern Serengeti – Ndutu. At Ndutu we stayed at a tented campsite. It was pretty nice! We had a working toilet (as opposed to a hole in the ground), and had great food (Shambo was not our cook though). In Ndutu we saw lots of animals including Secretary Birds, Bat-eared Foxes, six or so Cheetahs, some dung beetles, and two male Lions. On the first day that we arrived, we saw a Wildebeest that had died of natural causes right near our campsite. Over the next two days we would visit it and see what the vultures had done to the carcass.
Then we drove north to Seronera. At Seronera we saw Hippos, storks, a very well hidden crocodile, a Leopard, an African Land Snail, two little brown birds attacking their reflection in the car mirror, and lots of the animals we had seen before. Seronera was really wet. It rained a lot, but we still had fun.
Then we took off in a very small plane from the Seronera Air Strip. We said our goodbyes and were on our way to Zanzibar, the birthplace of Freddie Mercury. We immediately took a boat to Chumbe Island, a laid back, Coral Reef Conservation Island. At Chumbe we went snorkeling everyday. It was a very laid back, flexible place. There we saw hermit crabs, coconut crabs, corals, and a million different fish. We also stayed in a very nice bungalow.
After two days at Chume Island, we went to Stone Town, Zanzibar. There we saw an old slave trading place, a market place, and the very small streets of Stone Town.
Overall the trip was amazing! I was so amazed at the beauty of Africa. So now you know that when planning a trip for winter break, think about Africa.
More to come online…also: In the next paper copy of the Jeffersonian, you can read the complete story with pictures taken by Eli during his trip.