January 4th 2016 – day 1.
Firstly, happy birthday , Fizz. Wish you were here sis!!!
I can honestly say that today exceeded all my expectations. It was AMAZING!! I literally ran out of adjectives to describe the many wonders of nature I saw today.
Kathy and Fanuel picked me up just after 7am and we headed North. What a delightful pair. I’ve really fallen on my feet choosing them to take me on safari! Kathy is an American nurse who fell in love in more ways than one on her own safari four years ago, and Fan is a local – the guide. His knowledge is phenomenal, on animals, birds and plants.
It took a good hour to get clear of the city and the small shops than line the highway
The country side, once clear of major human influence, was quite how I expected. It’s similar to parts of Aussie really. It was a lot greener than I expected though.
The soil is really red, from the high iron content. Interestingly, Kathy said her once chronic anaemia has righted itself and that the local women traditionally added soil to food if they needed iron.
We stopped at one point to buy slow cooked goat meat from some Masai. It was yummy!! They are still the one tribe who hold on to their cultural roots. They look wonderful with their herds of cattle, wandering the land at will!!
It was about a five hour drive to Mikumi National Park. The countryside became steadily higher. The flood plain the park lies in reminds me of the MacKenzie Basin at home – a huge, largely flattish plain surrounded by mountains. But instead of tussock land the terrain is much more lush. It’s currently the short rainy season here so it’s green too. Vegetation is mostly shrubs with large trees dotted around.
It hasn’t rained much though and it’s so refreshing when it does, one cannot mind!! It doesn’t last long either. We hadn’t even entered the Park for our game drive when we started spotting animals!!
Troops of baboons hang around the roadside, hoping for scraps thrown from cars. Not a good idea on the tourists part. The babies hang underneath their mums and later ride on top!!
I hadn’t really twigged but I’m here for the breeding season too, so I’ve seen all the babies, so adorable (how dare predictive come up with Aussie instead of adorable!!)
Once we entered the Park the abundance of wildlife astounded me. I had thought to see one or two different species each day. I feel privileged to tell you I saw buffalo, zebra, elephants, giraffe, warthogs, numerous birds, hippo (albeit their snouts and tips of the back!!), a crocodile, impala and, thanks to Fan’s superb eyesight and expertise, a huge lion.
It was the most wonderful experience and it’s only my first day on safari. I’m so grateful to these two gorgeous people. I felt a real sense of peace out there, just quietly watching the animals go about their lives. The best spirit food in the world.
I can barely believe I’m here and so blessed. I may never go home!!!
(course I will, guys in NZ!)
Dinner and bed, now! You have no idea how wonderful my cold shower was!!