A December Safari with an old friend

Charles Lane has written his own account of this safari. Read it here - PDF file.(external link).

I must start by saying that back road safaris that travel the less used tracks are the most rewarding and as Tanzania continues to develop its tourist infrastructure I gravitate towards these exciting routes and try to completely avoid the main roads and circuits. I am happy that the bulk of tourism is predictable and stays on the main routes - thankfully the available maps are not detailed enough and many areas remain unaffected by the main stream mass tourism now pouring into Tanzania.

On this safari we had dust and scorching sun, lashing rain, flooded roads with water coming over the car bonnet (hood) , muddy roads, indistinct roads, difficult escarpment and rocky roads thrown at us, we drove long hours some days and had to work hard to find lions! We all lapped it up. When adventurous driving and challenging routes cease to be part of my safaris I will hang up my hat! When wildlife becomes predictable and cell phones reach every corner I will write that book! Give me adventurous guests that want to explore and they get the best out of me and Tanzania.

The Ngare Sero Lake Natron Camp is uniqueThe Ngare Sero Lake Natron Camp is unique

Two Cultures meet and smileTwo Cultures meet and smile

I see a flamingoI see a flamingo

A fellow guide from the eighties, Charles, now living and working in Australia decided to bring his family out to see Tanzania. In his time in Tanzania from 1975-1990 he had worked with Oxfam and on his PHD as well as some safari guiding work. He had not been back for over 10 years and wanted his young family to see the landscapes that have remained unchanged by tourism as well as the ‘new’ Tanzania. We decided to meet in Nairobi and drive across the border at Namanga, on to Lake Natron via Longido and Gelia Bomba and stay our first two nights at the Ngare Sero Lake Natron Camp. Then up over the escarpment, the Gol Mountains and on to Suyan Camp at Piaya. After two nights at Piaya we drove down to stay at the Ndutu Lodge for three nights before crossing The Ngorongoro Crater to stay a night with old Maasai friends at Nainokanoka. After that they would return to Arusha to stay at my home for two nights before setting off themselves to Hanang in a hire car to visit another group of pastoralists he had studied – finally returning to Arusha for Christmas eve to stay at Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge where we had worked together all those years ago.

[2007/12/04.jpg]Old friends meet

My new best friendMy new best friend

Charlie photographs the mud flatsCharlie photographs the mud flats

We had great fun together and the 12 and 14 year old boys had their eyes on storks most of the time! Their mother Jane has also worked in Africa, mainly in the Sudan and Ethiopia with refugees, so both parents were concerned that their boys would see the ‘real’ bush and not some luxury replica created for western comfort seekers. Staying with the incredibly welcoming Maasai Village chairman and his family at Nainokanoka was a real eye opener for these young and enthusiastic boys. Charles’s older daughter Sarah also came along and she was captivated by everything she saw and experienced-including the Cheetahs, Rhino, Serval cat, the wildebeest migration and countless other wildlife species we enjoyed. I may have even converted a 12 year old to take a keen interest in birds! Attitude is everything on safari and a willingness to explore and take a few uncomfortable moments on the chin, with a smile, the very best approach.

We laughed every minuteWe laughed every minute

The children of NainokanokaThe children of Nainokanoka

What a way to end 2007 and I look forward to 2008 with renewed vigour and with an unrelenting determination to explore and adventure the wilds of Tanzania whilst always keeping in mind that a smile goes a long way. Tanzania is blessed with smiles a plenty, landscapes and cultures to satisfy any respectful and curious guest and hopefully a 2008 where the natural resources continue to directly benefit the very people that live off and have cared for them and not developers that seem to be hell bent on carving up Tanzania’s rich Natural heritage. Get off the main roads and see the real Tanzania.

You do have the right to choose so spread your wealth responsibly!

My wife Tati and I are off to the coast for Christmas and the New Year and send Seasonal greetings to you all.