The TEEZ office was closed for the last two weeks of December so Brent and I took the opportunity to visit Tanzania, the country just northeast of Zambia. We have lots of stories and, at your request, lots of pictures to share so this is quite a lengthy blog post. Therefore we have divided it up into three sections: I Mt. Kilimanjaro and Serengeti Safari, II Zanzibar and III Our Orphanage Visit. If you get tired of reading just scroll down for more pictures . Below is section I, enjoy!
After a four hour bus ride from Kitwe to Lusaka, a two and a half flight from Lusaka to Dar es Salaam and a 10 hour bus ride from Dar, Brent and I found ourselves at the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro, in the quaint town of Moshi. We arrived on Christmas Eve and this was a beautiful place to spend Christmas. Mt. Kilimanjaro is roughly 17,500 feet, the largest mountain in Africa and the largest free standing mountain the world, meaning it is not connected to a larger mountain range. According to climbers, the altitude is the biggest obstacle on Mt. Kili and therefore the climb can take anywhere from five to eight days. On average five people per day are rushed down the mountain on stretchers due to life threatening altitude sickness (we met one of these people and boy was he glad to be off the mountain!). Moshi is crawling with people who are either going to climb the mountain or already did. Brent and I opted not to climb, but instead took a day hike meandering through the lush foothills of Mt. Kili. We encountered a few villages along the way, as well as some chameleons, and found ourselves at the bottom of a spectacular waterfall. For those of you from the Northwest, I told my Dad that Moshi is kind of like Sandpoint or McCall, African style!
From Moshi we took a one and half hour bus ride to Arusha, the safari headquarters of Tanzania. The first day we canoed in Arusha National Park and came uncomfortably close to a hippo (Brent disagrees and says we were fine) as well took a walking safari and came uncomfortably close again this time to buffalo and warthogs (both Brent and I were surprised at how much we loved the warthogs). On day two we explored Lake Manyara National Park and saw baboons, blue monkeys, giraffes and hippos. Standing up in the land cruiser cruising through the lush, green jungle we felt like we were in Jurassic Park. The Serengeti was the destination for day three and four and it was spectacular! I said many times to Brent that the pictures will never do justice to what we saw. The Serengeti’s vast open plains dotted with acacia trees and roaming elephants, lions, zebras and giraffes as well as the annual wildebeest migration was pretty incredible. Perhaps the highlight was watching a cheetah stalk and then pursue its prey. We saw three cheetahs and this animal is eerily beautiful, graceful and my new favorite. We rang in 2010 camping in the Serengeti with people from all parts of the world – pretty neat! Day five we visited Ngorongoro Crater and again marveled at its beauty. Formed by a sunken volcano the crater looks as if someone took a perfectly rounded ball pushed it into the earth and then removed it leaving a symmetrical and rounded hole. The drive down into the crater and the climb was a little intense, but definitely worth it! We camped on the rim of the crater with a beautiful view and woke up to the sounds of buffalo eating next to our tent – FREAKY!!! I just kept telling myself that people camp here every night and probably only a few get stampeded.