So here it goes. The last full day in Tanzania. Am writing this blog on a flight from Dar Es Salaam to Amsterdam. We are scheduled to arrive in Amsterdam at around seven AM and then pick up another flight to JFK and arrive at twelve PM.
The day started like any normal day on this trip. Wake up was at five. I gulped down my great Tanzanian coffee while I packed. Sleep was pretty good given the heat and bug situation. Went over to the dining area to board our boat ride on the Rufiji River. I had contemplated missing this final drive since I need some serious sleep and mopping time. At the last moment, I decided to go.
We boarded our little boats and took off. We tried to get the sun to reflect off the hippos in the water. Finding the hippos was not the problem. Getting the right light was. At this point, I am not sure what I captured. We then drove further down river and got some good croc shots of them sunning themselves and going into the water. We then searched the banks for birds. The birds of Africa are so unique and beautiful.
At about eight it was time to head back to Camp. We needed to be packed and then meet in the dining area for breakfast. After break we just sat around and waited to leave at twelve for our drive to the Airstrip. I am so tired that I fell asleep on one of the couches for about an hour.
At twelve we left the Camp after saying our goodbyes. We drove through this part of the African Bush for the final time. My eyes became glazed and my mind tried to absorb all this beauty for the last time. The heat was intense and the ride was extra bumpy, but the only thing I could think of was this majesty of our planet all around me.
We arrived at the Airstrip and waited for our putt putt to arrive. The plane then landed on the dirt runway and we all boarded for our forty five minute flight to Dar Es Salaam. The flight was quick and there was sadness in my mind to leave such a beautiful place.
We all disembarked and walked on the runway. As soon as we entered the terminal, the ten of us just stood inside and could only feel the comfort of cold air conditioned air blowing on us. There members left us, including Sean, for different flights. Sean lives in Nairobi and his flight is very short. The other seven, including myself, were all driven to a hotel where we had day rooms reserved. The traffic in Dar Es Salaam or Dar as the locals call the city, was horrendous. It seemed that traffic lights are only a suggestion. We eventually arrived at our hotel. The day room was very nice and the A/C was great. Took a shave, a hot shower and rested. We were meeting at seven for dinner and then it’s off to the airport. By the way, during my down time I called Olivia. We talked and talked. I told her that I had taken a long swim in Lake Tanganyika. Her comment was “Whats wrong with taking a long swim in a lake in East Africa? Have you ever heard of parasites? “. Oh well, I hope I am alive in a few weeks.
Now let’s sum up the trip. We visited four areas of Tanzania and the African Bush. They are the Serengeti, Katavi, Mahale on Lake Tanganyika and Selous. All four places are different and unique. The Serengeti is all that we would think it should be. Beautiful plains, tall grass, trees and rock formations, but it’s always about the wildlife. The leopards and their cubs. Watching the cubs playing and exploring together. The lions in their beauty and grace. The zebras, elephants, baboons, Wildebeest and giraffes. Even a small lizard that had some of the most beautiful colors I had ever seen. I’m sure I have left some wildlife out. The sweet and friendly nature of the Masai people taking care of us at the Camp. Then the sadness of one of my mentors, Andy, leaving us. I so wanted to spend some time with him. Onto Katavi. The remoteness and experience. Doing an old fashioned safari. Sleeping in a tent. Taking Bush showers and then the wildlife. They are so unique and plentiful. The huge amount of hippos, crocs, lions, giraffes, monkeys and baboons. Watching amazing sunrises and sunsets. Seeing crocs digging holes to stay cool while they wait for the rains. Seeing baby crocs in a hole dug by their mother. Barely seeing anyone else and knowing that so few people have visited this place. The amazing sunrise and sunset that so defines Africa. I will miss Katavi the most. The beauty and majesty of Africa is so well defined here. I know I have been blessed to see and experience Katavi. Onto Mahale. Taking a boat ride on Lake Tanganyika to our Camp and knowing that there are no roads and that this is the only way to get there. The beauty of our Camp. Then the chimps. Trekking through a dense jungle. Finding the chimps and then trying to take pictures of them. The photography challenge was enormous and I learned and succeeded. Swimming in Lake Tanganyika and having its cool water bring my core body temperature down. Now the final Camp, Selous. The challenge of the heat and bugs. Adjusting and living with the challenge. The beauty of the wild dogs. I had never seen so many. The lions and their cubs. The giraffes, Wildebeest, zebras and baboons. The amazing sunset I saw there and the colors. The drive with Will in darkness and him searching for more. I could go on and on.
How could I forget to not mention Sean and Will. Both love Africa and the beauty of the Bush. They both were such great, leaders, teachers and mentors. Both always had time and patience for all of us. Both showed us such different perspectives. I will never forget both of them and aspire to be almost as talented as they are.
The African Bush is so special. Whenever I go back, my eyes and mind become reconnected with nature and the amazing planet we call home. How I wish to have all my eight grandchildren see and experience this place. This place erases everything else in my mind and I can only see and remember what is around me.
This adventure is the last one this year. We have been to Mexico, the Galapagos, Kamchatka and now Tanzania. What a year of travel and memories.
So far, we have three adventures already scheduled for 2020. In February, I am finally going with Olivia to the African Bush. We are going to Tanzania. To the Serengeti and to some other places I have not seen. I hope she loves it. In June, it’s back to Africa. We are going to Uganda and Rwanda to see the gorillas and chimps. I will be ready for this one and know what to expect. In September, I am going on a scouting trip for Muench Workshops with three other photographers to North Vietnam. We are starting in Hanoi and then going to experience the beautiful countryside and indigenous people of the highlands. Before or after
Vietnam, I hope to go visit my friends in Cambodia.