We awoke early so that we could get a jump on the day. We left our campsite near the Boma and headed to Tarengia National Park(sp?). Our drive through the park was really great, we saw many different kinds of animals including elephants, zebras, gazelles, impalas, giraffes, monkeys, cape buffaloes, wildabeasts, and 2 leopards. Seeing all these animals was really a great experience because I’ve always dreamed of traveling to Africa to view these animals in their natural habitats. My favorite part of our journey through the park was when an adolescent elephant tried to show off and acted as if he was going to charge our truck, I have the whole thing on video so I’m pretty excited to show everyone back home. I’ve taken lots of videos on this trip, not just pictures, so that everyone at home can see what Africa is like in motion. We continued to follow roads and eventually got to a public campsite. When we arrived we met up with Massimo Bassano, a National Geographic photographer from Italy. He was about 5’9” with dark hair pulled back into a ponytail, very elegant! What I thought was really cool was that he took the National Geographic Picture of the Year for 2007. I’m sure you could Google it to see it. He also spoke several languages fluently and had traveled all over the world to take pictures. His most interesting story was about how he had almost been lynched by an angry mob in the Congo. He told us a few other stories which were pretty sweet. After that most of us went to bed, but I stayed up with Peter and Erin. We sat around the campfire and took a few cool pictures, we also heard zebras and hyenas while we sat out there. After that I headed to bed.
We awoke early, yet again and ate a lovely breakfast before leaving the campsite. We drove through the park for most of the morning and early afternoon. We saw tons of elephants, zebras, giraffes, impalas, gazelles, wildabeasts, and several other animals too. Soon we headed out of the park and went to another national park! This one was much more jungle-like and had tons of monkeys and birds. On the way in we stopped at a picnic site and had another great lunch, I felt really tired though and I had an intense headache. But it wasn’t too bad. Just as we finished lunch 2 baboons came and decided to check us out. After that we headed into the forest and looked for all kinds of wildlife. We saw several kinds of monkeys as well as elephants, monater (sp?) lizards, and hippos! In all it was really an awesome experience with new memories that will last a lifetime. After this we drove up the side of a mountain to get to our next campsite. I was super tired so I passed out for an hour before dinner and then right after dinner as well at like 8:30.
We awoke extremely early to go to Ngorogoro(sp?) crater, which actually isn’t a crater, it’s a caldera. In fact, it’s the world’s largest caldera. We ate a lovely breakfast and headed out to the national park in 3 land rovers. My car buddies were Killerai (our guide, he’s a beast), Erin (the national geographic leader), Lexi, Sarah, and Tracy. We had a great time going all around the caldera seeing all sorts of animals. Most notably lions, and cheetahs. We saw one lioness eating a zebra which it had killed. We were literally 20 feet away from her while she was chowing on this zebra, absolutely incredible. Then we heard that cheetahs had been sighted on the other side of the park on a hill kind of thing, so we headed over there. Finding those cheetahs on that hill was basically impossible.. Their camouflage is absolutely unbelievable. Like even with a 350x zoom I still couldn’t find them. Eventually after literally 45 minutes of searching, I finally found the cheetahs and I have the pictures to prove it. After that we headed to a picnic area for lunch. The picnic area was really awesome because it was right next to a pond that was filled with hippos. That was really awesome to be right next to. Another interesting thing was that these birds of prey would swoop down and try to steal your food like right out of your hands. One tried to ambush me as I walked to the pond, but luckily I saw it out of the corner of my eye and ducked just in time to avoid being gashed by it’s sharp talons. After lunch we headed out in search of animals. We came across a hyena that had been attacked by lions, it was really hard to watch because you could see that it was going to die in the next few hours and it was in very severe pain. It’s back legs had massive gouges that were probably an inch deep or so. It lifted it’s head up and looked up at us and it was truly heart wrenching. I think I took 1 picture of it before I had had enough. Then we moved on down the road and saw 4 lions sleeping by a water pool. One of them had flipped over completely and was laying on it’s back, it was pretty funny to watch. Then we headed to another pond where we saw 5 hippos. 1 of hippos was actually rolling on it’s back in the water. It was absolutely hilarious. There was also a little baby hippo in the pool that was only like a week old, and it was absolutely adorable. Soon after that we headed out, but not before we stopped to look at baboons that were at the side of the road. I got a really nice video of a funny baby baboon. Then we left the park and headed home. When we arrived, there was another group at camp from Geneva. They were actually from the American school there so they spoke perfect English and were really nice. We ate a great dinner and then had our photos viewed by Massimo and the rest of the group. My photos ended up being really nice which made me quite happy. I’ll try to post them if I can sometime soon. After that we headed to bed.
We finally got to “sleep in” and awoke at 7:15. We packed up our stuff and ate a lovely breakfast. Then we loaded up onto the Man truck and started our journey to The O’Neal’s house (the people who run UACC). Part way through our journey we stopped to drop off Massimo so that he could catch his flight back to Italy. After saying our goodbyes to Massimo, we headed down a dirt road to the Dorobo (our safari company) headquarters. We ate our final safari lunch there and bought Dorobo t-shirts. Following that we drove through Arusha and Magia Chi before turning onto a small dirt road to get to the O’Neal’s house. On the journey I learned that Mr. O’Neal was part of the Black Panthers during the civil rights movements of the 60’s and 70’s, which I think is really really cool. When we arrived we said our goodbyes to Killerai and Simon (our driver). Then we unloaded our bags from the truck, unfortunately I think my tripod bag was stolen by one of the villagers who was watching us unload. I was more upset that my machete was in the bag with the tripod! Yes I bought a machete… After that we gathered our stuff and headed into the compound. The compound is HEAVAN. It has hot showers, running water, electricity, internet, and FIFA. I watched the final minutes of Uruguay vs Korea and I watched the first half of the USA vs Ghana before heading to bed.