Llama Land

adventures and madness


This was one of those once in a lifetime trips, and we had a truly amazing, memorable experience. We spent a full week on the ground in Tanzania (it took 2 days to travel each way). This was our first trip to Africa, and it was quite unlike anything that we’ve ever seen or experienced elsewhere. Yes, we were on a guided private safari for the majority of the trip, so we didn’t have too much direct interaction with the locals, but we did have some interaction, and we saw brief flashes of their lives as we drove through towns.
The standard of living is below anything that most Americans could even begin to imagine. Electricity (much less reliable electricity) is mostly a luxery, or something that only large businesses can afford. Indoor plumbing is also a luxury and a rarity. Potable tap water flat out just does not exist (granted, this is the case for many countries throughout the world, not just in Africa). However, despite all of these limitations, we found the people of Tanzania to be incredibly warm, friendly & welcoming. Even the trinket hawkers who would surround the jeep any time we stopped in a populated area were generally speaking friendly, and once we made it clear that we did not wish to purchase their offerings, they still engaged with us asking questions and being very friendly overall (in stark contrast to what I’ve experienced in much of China).
As I noted above, we were on a private safari. What this meant was that it was just me, my wife & our son in a jeep, with a single driver/guide for the full week. We never shared the jeep (or lodging) with any one else. The benefit of this was that the entire trip was tailored to our specific requirements, each day’s schedule was what we dictated, and we had the undivided attention of our driver/guide. We did see vehicles from group (non-private) safaris on occasion, and quite bluntly, they looked miserable. In most cases there were 8-12 people stuffed in a vehicle not much larger than what we had, all squeezed together attempting to see out the windows. An additional benefit was that our lodging (which was mostly in tents) was always a private camp. This meant that no other groups or people were in the same camp as us, we didn’t hear or see any other humans, other than the team that was responsible for the maintanence & cooking in that camp. Before leaving, we had read horror stories of incredibly noisy, rude and obnoxious people in public camps, who were noisy at all hours of the day & night, disturbing everyone else around them.
The camps where we stayed were always rather remote, requiring long drives down dusty, unpaved roads. The advantage was that we saw (and mostly) heard animals all the time. Despite the remoteness of the camps, this was by far the most fancy, luxurious camping we’ve ever done. We always slept on real beds, with pillows. Our dinners were served with metal untensils, on real plates. While none of the food was bad, it generally wasn’t great either. It was most often quasi-western food, and was rather salty much of the time.
Most days we ate breakfast around 6:30AM (sunrise on the equator is pretty consistently around 7AM, sunset around 7PM), and departed camp at 7AM. We’d return in mid to late afternoon, for dinner.
All of this privacy did come with a price, and we paid about 1/3 more than those on the group safaris.
As for the actual safari, we spent time in four different national parks:
Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which includes the vast Ngorongoro crater
Serengeti National Park
Tarangire National Park
Arusha National Park
In terms of animals, we saw just about everything we could have hoped. Everything from elephants to lions, down to tiny field mice and tourtises we saw in large numbers. However, I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story

Lots of lions


lots o birds



Hundreds of additional pictures are posted HERE.

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