Day 8: Serengeti & Arusha

 

We had an early start on our final day in the Serengeti so we could have a couple hour game drive before getting on our flight from the Serengeti to Arusha. It really started to hit me as we packed up our jeep for the last time that this was it, this was the last day of our safari and I started getting really sad. It was a weird feeling for me. I’m usually sad when it’s time to go home after vacation, but a part of me is always looking forward to sleeping in my own bed again and of course seeing my dog again! But this was a different type of sad.

Anyways, we packed up the jeep and set off back into the Serengeti. We only had a couple hours before our flight, so we didn’t have time to go chasing what was called in over the radio really our guide said unless it happened to be close, but that was fine with us. It was kind of nice to just enjoy seeing whatever we stumbled across ourselves. Interestingly our guide said there had been no mention of lions over the radio that morning as we were driving. After the past couple days where we saw an abundance of lions in the central area, it seemed they had moved on to a different area. So good timing on our part I guess?!?

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Elephant

Then my heart just broke for this poor elephant. He was just standing there putting his trunk in the air and opening his mouth. Our guide said it looked like he had been attacked by a lion at some point which is why the trunk was so short. While elephants can survive with a shortened trunk, their lifespan isn’t all that great as their trunk is their lifeline for food and so many other things (cooling themselves off, drinking, smelling, etc.).

Elephant with shortened trunk

Poor elephant Elephant in the trees

Baby giraffe

Baby giraffe

Huge herd of water buffalo

Hornbill

And then sadly it was time to leave the Serengeti. A cheetah had been spotted right near the airport, so we hung around there (with about 100 other safari jeeps) until the absolute last minute we could, but sadly the cheetah kept hidden in the grasses. Arriving at the airport, I was hit once again with a huge wave of sadness. I was most definitely not ready to come home. I have always been an animal lover and just getting to see the animals in the wild and in their natural habitats was something I will never forget and hope to experience again someday. And a part of me is also sad, knowing that in twenty years if I come back, some of the animals may no longer be around or if they are, such incredibly small numbers remaining that any chance of seeing them is basically zero. I hope that somehow the world is able to turn the poaching thing around and stop attacking the animals just because they were born with ivory as a way of defending themselves.

The plane ride back to Arusha wasn’t very long (compared to the 8-10 hour drive through the bumpy roads) and is definitely something to consider if you have back problems and can’t handle the bumpy roads or want to maximize your time in the Serengeti (or any of the other safari destinations). The plane was small so it flew pretty close to the ground giving us some excellent shots of the Serengeti and Maasai fields as we flew back to civilization.

Flight over Serengeti

Flight over the Serengeti

Once back in Arusha, we were picked up at the small airport in town and driven to the Silver Palm hotel. We had some communication problems with the guy who took picked us up from the Serengeti and was going to take us to the big international airport later that night about what time we wanted picked up. Our flight was due to leave at 3am and the new driver (as our Tanzanian safari guide was in the process of driving back from the Serengeti) seemed to think that meant 3pm. Finally we called the guy in charge of the tour company and he was finally able to convince our driver that we needed to be picked at 00:00 midnight, not 12:00pm noon from the hotel.

We ate our boxed lunches that our camp the night before had prepared for us, then we went up to our rooms to just unwind for a little bit. After taking a shower and freshening up, we headed out onto the streets of Arusha. My brother had spent a significant portion of a semester the year before in Arusha as well as he did a follow up research trip a couple weeks before we arrived, so we had a couple recommendations on where to go.

His biggest recommendation was Bha Jia’s Slush Moto Moto. But the only directions he had given were it was on a main street next to the big convenience store and that anyone would know at least where the convenience store was. We just said okay without getting the actual name of the convenience store so it took asking several people at the hotel to find out where exactly it was before heading onto the streets of Arusha. Luckily the juice place was basically right where the road our hotel was on dead ended onto the main street so it was easy to find, but still was a twenty minute walk or so. We definitely got some stares as Arusha isn’t really a major tourist area (mostly just where people start/end their safari’s, but most aren’t out wandering around by themselves in the middle of the afternoon). One girl tried to grab my hand and I was afraid she was going for my wedding ring which gave me a little bit of a startle and got my heart pumping (luckily she didn’t). It was enough to set me a little unease the rest of the walk to Bha Jia’s, but the juice there was amazing. Passion Fruit Mint Juice, is there anything better than that on a hot day?!?

Passion Fruit Mint Juice After our juices were finished, we wandered through the market across the street for a bit then wandered through the big convenience store. It was an interesting contrast of the two different ways to buy goods. The market was old fashioned and the standard way of buying things in the past (and even present day in a lot of African villages), and then to wander through the equivalent of Walmart right across the street was very night and day. It makes me saddened that the American way of buying things so commercially and from mass merchandizers is making it’s way to all corners of the earth. Some of my favorite travel memories are wandering through the local markets and buying fruit or local souvenirs and to think of that disappearing and making way for such commercialization because it’s cheaper and more convenient is a little depressing. Yes, I’m guilty of purchasing from mass merchandizers (though I haven’t stepped foot in Walmart in maybe 10-12 years), but I also try to make a conscious effort to not always buy from them. I seek out independent bookstores and local restaurants back home and trying to visit farmers markets in the summer and the local community grocery store often. Seeing this scene in Arusha really made me look more at who/where I buy from because it’s only cheap from the mass merchandizers until they have wiped out everything else. Once they’ve eliminated the competition, the prices will rise again.

We made our way back to the hotel to relax for a couple hours before dinner. My brother had recommended a Thai place, but we couldn’t find it and ended up just eating dinner at Bha Jia’s again and ordering more juice. Seriously that is some of the best juice I’ve ever had. And with that our safari and adventure in Kenya & Tanzania was at an end. It was one of the hardest times I’ve had leaving a vacation. Africa just really pulled at my heart in a way I wasn’t expecting and I know we will be back in the future, though we will probably try to do a safari in a different country just to experience a different environment.

Animals We Saw Today:
Antelope (several varieties), Baboons, Elephants, Dik Dik, Giraffe, Hippos, Hornbill, Jackal, Warthog, Water Buffalo, Zebra 

Money spent today approx. (2 people):
Moto Moto (2 juices): 8000 TZS
Moto Moto (dinner + juice): 22,000 TZS
Tip for camp staff: 20,000 TZS
Tip for our Serengeti Guide: 120,000 TZS + $25 USD

 

Day 7

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