FEATURED TRAVELLERS: Allan Moore & Zuzana Capar
Last fall Allan Moore and Zuzana Carpar volunteered in Tanzania with The Olive Branch for Children in Tanzania. While there they also took time out to go on safari and relax on the white sands of Zanzibar. We are so happy they chose to travel with Original Trails and share their incredible slide shows with us all here! Growing the OT Family with good people doing good things!
In the fall of 2012 we embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime six week adventure in Tanzania consisting of a safari in the north, a three week volunteer opportunity in Mbeya and finishing with a visit to Zanzibar. The safari and Zanzibar were arranged through Original Tails, while the volunteer work was arranged through The Olive Branch for Children. The best part of our trip was the amazing diversity of our experiences which exposed us to many varied geographical, social and cultural aspects found in Tanzania.
As mentioned the safari was arranged through Original Trails and we must extend our thanks to Aaron for organizing such a wonderful trip. Everything either met or exceeded our expectations. After arriving at the Kilimanjaro Airport we spent two nights at the Kiboko Lodge. This lodge was run by the Watoto Children’s Foundation whose mission is to take street kids and teach them trades. Each person on staff were young people who have gone through this program. We don’t recall in all our travels finding a more welcoming, helpful and friendly staff. It was the perfect introduction to Tanzania.
The next day we departed with our guide Gilliard on our safari with our first stop Lake Manyara. As amateur photographers we were in seventh heaven as we drove through the park finding so many incredible shooting opportunities. We also discovered how great it was to have our own personal guide and the extra space in the jeep for all our camera gear. We never felt rushed and our guide was very accommodating and patient with our many requests to stop and in letting us take as long as we wanted at any particular spot. Although we did see a wide variety of animals including, giraffes, elephants, zebras, and gazelles, the highlights of the day had to be the antics of the numerous monkeys and baboons. That night we had a very nice stay at the luxurious Lake Manyara Safari Lodge. The fact that Lake Manyara was relatively close to Ausha and was a smaller park; it was a perfect way to start the safari.
We left early the next day for our lengthy drive to the Serengeti. We have to admit that after passing numerous dried up watering holes and streambeds without seeing many animals we were getting a little concerned. Such is the drawback of travelling in the dry season. However, once we entered the heart of the Serengeti things quickly picked up. We in fact saw three of the big five that first day, lions, elephants and the proverbial leopard sprawled out sleeping on the limb of a tree. Even with the animals we eventually did encounter, the plains of the Serengeti was an incredible place to visit. The day was capped off by staying at the Mapito Tented Lodge. Who could believe that a tent could be so luxurious and that it would have a bathroom three times the size of the one at home? We can highly recommend this camp as a place to stay.
Our second day in the Serengeti started extra early as we opted to take a picnic breakfast with us. Our first stop of the day was at a quite populated hippo pool, definitely one of our favorite spots of the entire trip. Despite being very lazy, they are very comical with their continuous yawning, splashing and jostling for position. It’s hard to believe they are responsible for the deaths of more humans in Africa than any other animal, but we can blame that on the carelessness of man. After our wonderful picnic breakfast we continued to explore the Serengeti and were rewarded with some more great shoots of African animals including the often elusive water buffalo. We continued to be amazed at how nonchalant the animals were to our presence. It was then back to the camp where we were served a wonderful late afternoon lunch outside under the shade of an Acacia tree.
The next morning we continued our exploration of the Serengeti before leaving for the Ngorongoro Crater. We were fortunate to spot more lions and were treated to viewing two cheetahs with a kill in the long grass just off the side of the road. Cheetahs are wonderful subjects for photographers because of their remarkable faces with, as our guide called them, the black “tear drops”. Our day ended with the arrival at the Norongoro Crater where we took a walking safari along the rim before retiring to the Rhino Lodge, a lodge run by the local Masai. The rooms were quite basic but the large main meeting area, excellent food and friendly staff made for a very enjoyable stay. We were both looking forward to the descent in the crater the next morning.
The Ngorongoro Crater
How does one describe the Ngorongoro Crater? It is 21km in diameter, breathtaking to behold and the home to about 35,000 animals, although elephants and giraffes are not among them. As you drive down into the crater you soon begin to see the forms of animals appear in the distance. Although the animals were mostly the same as those of the Serengeti, there was something special about seeing them in their own sheltered ecosystem completely surrounded by the walls of the crater. It is interesting that even with the ever present predators, there seemed to be a real sense of harmony and balance among the animals as they shared their unique environment. Lady luck did keep the best till last. As we were about to leave the word spread through walkie-talkies of a lion with a kill. Soon we joined numerous other jeeps at the side of the road to witness a lion and a lioness with a wildebeest as its kill. The circling black backed jackal just added to the impact of the scene. What a way to end the safari!
Later that day we safely returned to the Kibiko lodge with a lifetime of photos and memories. It was a fabulous experience and again we would like to extend our appreciation and thanks to Aaron for organizing such a wonderful safari for us. After a day’s rest we flew to Dar Es Salam for the start of the next part of our adventure.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Allan & Zuzana’s adventures volunteering and beautiful Zanzibar!