8 February, 2018, Day 21, Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Our journey today began at 7 a.m. We traveled in safari vehicles back through Amboseli National Park and across the dry lake, out the gates. Then followed an hour drive on the washboard road to the pavement, and a quick drive from there to the Kenya/Tanzania border.
Along the washboard road, we see a group of nomads moving to their new location. They are led by a water finder who has done the scouting for a good location. All their goods are loaded upon their beasts of burden or carried on their backs. The herds are out grazing, but will be driven to the new location at the close of day.
At the border we wished Amos and Benson goodbye, and climbed on a bus big enough to fit us all. Once on the bus, we traveled a few meters, and then entered the bureaucratic maze. After much consideration, including scrutiny right at the beginning of our yellow fever cards, we received an exit stamp from Kenya.
On the bus again, we weave through the complex to the Tanzania entry point. Here we enter the health checkpoint to have our yellow fever cards scrutinized once again. Once passed, we are given a form to fill out. It has been copied so many times the print is fuzzy, and the “key” for what we are supposed to put in for purpose of visit is absent entirely. Witress tells us “5”, and also what we are to fill in for contact in Tanzania.
The formalities in Tanzania take a while, but are not arduous. Reunited once again on the bus, we drive an hour and 40 minutes to Arusha, where we have lunch at the beautiful Arusha Coffee House. This is a hotel and restaurant on beautiful grounds, with a lovely mosaic pool at the entrance, wooden plank floors, and and gazebos for outdoor dining. Across the way are gift shops and artisan studios where the disadvantaged (blind and deaf) practice their crafts.
After lunch, we transfer to safari vehicles and meet our new local guides, Mohanga and Simon. We ride with Simon through populated areas, small towns. Deep gullies beside the well-paved two-lane highway that are the evidence of flash floods that began ravaging the area some three years ago.
Plowed fields edge the road, and we pass several plows. Now is the season for plowing and planting, before the rains begin. There is only one crop a year. Closer to the park, we pass fields that have been planted with corn and sesame. The main crops are corn, sesame, sunflowers, beans, and peas.
We pass through several towns. One of the problems here is water, and the number of water sellers seems to increase as we go. Some have carts stacked with large yellow plastic casks that look to hold about 20 liters of water. The people bring their buckets and jugs and the water seller fills them. I wonder where the water comes from.
We still see herds of animals along the road, in one case an enormous herd of cattle. We see herders in Western clothes with the traditional red wrap and walking stick. We see sesame stalks bundles used for fencing and for waterproof roofing.
We turn off the paved road onto a bumpy dirt road, winding through residences and homesteads. We turn past the gate to Tarangire National Park toward our lodge, Tarangire Simba. As we approach the lodge (you can see the roofs in the near distance) we come upon a group of 9 or more elephants. Once of them has tusks that just don’t stop.
We stop to view. Some elephants cross the road in front of us. When the last three decide to cross, including the one with the big tusks, we back up to let them have free passage.
We are welcomed at Simba lodge with the complimentary wet washcloth. We meet Mary, who is our hostess; Lembris who will be our waiter; Good Luck who tends bar. After the briefing we are shown to our spacious rooms. Ours is the “Tembo” (elephant) room. There are screened windows on each side, glass sliders at the front, a charging point in a corner that works 24/7, a huge bathroom, and an outdoor shower at the back! Tissues, washcloths, towels, laundry basket – the works.
We do a little unpacking, download pictures, change into lighter clothing, and head for the bar. As I work on my pictures, the same group of elephants we saw earlier appear near the camp. This camp is not fenced, so we can expect animal incursions. I keep head down to the computer. I will have to rely on Bob for pictures.
We meet at 6:30 p.m. to discuss our day tomorrow in Tarangire National Park. Dinner follows. Soon after we retire, elephants come to visit the waterhole just outside our tent. Noisy beasts! Early in the morning we hear hyenas, a guard tells us that zebras and lions also visited.