What an outstanding Group and an Incredible Trip to Africa in May 2018!
Upon arrival into Arusha, we were met by Abby from Boutique Safaris and transferred to the Mount Meru Hotel for our 2 night stay. After a lovely breakfast we were up and at it, first stop, the Tanzanite Museum. Here we learned about this absolutely amazing gemstone. Second stop, Masai Market. Lots of purchases were made here as we strolled the rows of the markets admiring the wonderful trinkets. It was then time for a well deserved lunch - here in Africa, no one is in a rush!
Our afternoon was at the Cradle of Love Orphanage for some time with the local children. Our group delivered lots of food and clothing. Dinner was at the hotel and a fairly early night was had by all, as it was off to Tarangire the next morning for the start of our Safari.
Tarangire is a lovely park and at this time of the year it was very lush, tropical and green due to one of the best rain seasons in close to 10 years. We were treated to elephants, giraffes, lots of gazelles and a lion crossing the Tarangire River. For our picnic lunch we were surrounded by giraffes, baboons and a very sneaky velvet monkey!
On our way out of the park the local market was a buzz of activity. A stop was made and we all went wondering around. Some beautiful material purchases were made as well as a cheeky ivory messaged t-shirt for Ian. A lot of bartering was carried out by everyone with the help of Abby.
Our accommodation overnight was at the Ngorogoro Farmhouse. This is a beautiful property located on a coffee plantation. A wonderful meal was enjoyed by everyone and Abby and myself provided the group with a full briefing of the next day. We were all over the moon, when during in the briefing, Abby advised that we were no longer staying at Kati Kati and instead had upgraded our accommodations to the Kubu Kubu Luxury Tented Camp in the Serengeti. WOW is all I could say!
The next morning it started out raining lightly. By the time we had reached the gates to the Serengeti though, the sun was shining. We had tried to take Abby’s favourite road, a bypass into the Serengeti with amazing views and little villages. However, we had to turn around as the rains came in again and it became a little difficult to chance crossing the small rivers that crossed our path. The African red soil roads tend to turn into a boggy mess when the rains start. Even with a 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser it is not safe, especially when you have a group of people needing to be somewhere at a certain time!
Boy was the park green and lush compared to when I was last there in September of 2016. Apparently the rainy season had bought in lots of rain and it looked amazing.
No sooner had we arrived into the park and there were 2 lions – a male and a female.
There was a cheetah walking near the truck. It then crossed the road in front of us to watch the wildebeest and zebra that were in large groups. Moving further ahead the wildebeest were crossing the road and what a sight to witness. From as far as the eyes could see to the North and South we could see wildebeest! All I could think of was, that if this was fascinating to watch, then what would the water crossing be like up north??? I could only imagine. That will have to be included in one of my future itineraries.
By the time we had arrived at Kubu Kubu we were all so exhausted, yet so excited. It was dark when we arrived as every time we thought we could move on, something else would cause us to stop – elephants on the road, giraffes. It was never ending.
Kubu Kubu in the dark looked beautiful. It was not until dawn the following morning that we truly appreciated where we were.
Robyn (a participant of the group) and I went out with Abby while the rest of the group were enjoying an incredible hot air balloon ride and champagne breakfast. We met them after they landed. We then took them to show the leopards lying in the tree, a pride of lions in another tree, more lions in the grass and then back to Kubu Kubu for lunch.
After lunch Abby decided to take us to the Hippo pool. I had been there before and really wanted The Group to see it. Because of all the rains, a lot of the roads were soft and muddy and even though we had our Toyota Land Cruiser, we still managed to get stuck!!
A second vehicle was dispatched to rescue us, but like I said it was muddy and it also got stuck! The third vehicle was able to get us back to camp safely after The Group did a little walk through the mud. It just added to the adventure though.
Our next day was a full day epic African adventure. We had lunch with lions and a long visit with the hippos and Nile crocodiles at the hippo pools. We saw lots of other animals throughout the day – gazelle’s, topi, baboons, zebras, giraffe and elephants – not to mention birds! One of our group members had been keeping track of all the bird species we’d seen, they announced we had hit the 100th different species today!
The following morning we said goodbye to Kubu Kubu. It was the most absolutely amazing goodbye ever! What was supposed to be a group photo inclusive of the staff turned into the most enthusiastic farewell song and dance I have ever witnessed. As I had come to expect, our group jumped into action attempting to sing and dance along to the Swahili song.
Then off to Oldivai Gorge and the museum. A discovery about the beginning of humankind.
A stop at a traditional Masai village had been quietly arranged by Abby. We were greeted by the villagers in traditional dress, singing a traditional welcome song. Some of the group took part in jumping to another song – very funny, while some of the women in our group attempted singing and dancing with the Massai women. After that we were welcomed into their homes to see how the Massai lived.
In the Ngorongoro Crater, I was extremely fortunate to see my first Black Rhino and it was incredible. Breakky was with the hippos and Abby dressed in his Massai blankets and myself in my awesome massaii garb. How fun to have a picnic by the river with the hippos watching.
That evening was our last with our guides, Abby, Nico and Johnny. We had a great time together and Morley and Shirley (from The Group) sang a song that Nicco wanted to learn. Speeches were made and Abby taught us how to wear the Massai robes. Even my Dad spoke along with Nicco and Johnny. I cried as usual with the emotion of knowing we were leaving and it would be another year before I could return.
The next morning we were off to Arusha for our flight to Zanzibar. We spent the following nights at the Zanzibar Palace.
While in Zanzibar, we toured the spice market and city. Once again lots of bartering and purchases. Our guide, Juma, was wonderful and the day ended with a lovely dinner at the Zanzibar Palace.
The next 3 nights were at Mwezi. This is approximately a 90 minute drive from Stone Town. We had lunch at The Rock, which is a wonderful restaurant in the ocean and which you can walk to in low tide or take a boat when the tide comes in. The food and atmosphere were wonderful and I would highly recommend it to everyone travelling. We did some snorkeling at the blue lagoon, Ian, Shirley and Lou went diving.
Mwezi is a very rustic and laid back resort with sand right up to the bungalows with a big stone water bowl to rinse your feet before stepping into your rooms. Drinks out at the pier for Happy Hour over the water watching the sun set - life was great. My Dad actually learned how to tip, which made me wonder where the real Jim Murphy had disappeared too! This demonstrated to me how wonderful this trip had been.
Time to head home. It was an incredible journey and will all happen again next year!