Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tanzania, again: Part 2

I only had 2.5 weeks in Tanzania this time, compared to 1 month last year. Also, the work week is 5.5 days which makes weekend trips difficult. 

However, I did manage to cram in a 1-night trip to the Serengeti. We went with Mosses from Sange Safaris. The company is locally owned and run, and I was very happy with the experience. We got picked up from Mwanza around 2 PM, drove to the Serengeti and came across a group of lions napping.
They're like giant housecats!
We spent the night at a gorgeous lodge on a hilltop. They were doing a controlled burn of the grass in order to control the tse tse flies (they can transmit sleeping sickness) and all of the smoke in the air created a gorgeous sunset. 

Almost every book about Africa seems to have a picture of a sunset and an acacia tree on the cover. Here's my version, and a few other examples
In the morning, one of my friends had a terrible migraine. While we waited for his meds to kick in, my other friend and I had amazing Swedish massages in an open-air room overlooking the Serengeti. We could see and hear zebras on the grasslands below. Because of our late start, Mosses told us we would not be able to make it to the central or northern parts of the Serengeti. Luckily, we spotted this guy when we were leaving the lodge, right by the side of the road.
My first cheetah!
We spent the rest of the day looking at lots of other animals like zebras, giraffes, elephants, hippos, wildebeast, and crocodiles before making our way back to Mwanza. 

After I finished working in Mwanza, I spent 5 days in Zanzibar. Zanzibar is well-known for its beautiful beach resorts and diving, but I chose to stay in Stonetown. Stonetown is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it's easy to spend hours exploring the twisting streets and wandering past colourful markets, carved wooden doors and coral stone buildings. 

Zanzibar used to be a major hub for the slave trade, and there is a church and a memorial built at the site of the old slave market. Underneath the church, you can see the tiny cells where dozens of slaves would have been crammed together while waiting for transport. It was very sobering to think about how many people suffered and died there.
Monument to the slaves
There are many spice and fruit plantations on Zanzibar. I toured a spice plantation one day, and it was interesting to learn what actually goes into all those little glass jars on my spice rack.  

Fresh nutmeg
I also did a day trip to Prison Island, which is visible just off the shore from Stonetown. Prison Island is home to a colony of Alhambra tortoises. You can feed them and pet them.

Finally, I went to Cheetah's Rock. The website says that it's not a zoo or a wildlife sanctuary, and I would agree that it's something that's hard to define. Many of the animals have been rescued or donated, and the owner teaches about the animals while allowing guests to interact with them. For some of the more dangerous animals, like the hyena, that meant feeding her chicken through the bars of her enclosure. We were allowed to hold and pet some of the other animals, like bush babies, lemurs, monkeys, and a cheetah. It was fun and I was sad to leave at the end of the tour.

I could hear the cheetah purring as I was petting her.

Feeding the bush babies. They liked cooked spaghetti.
I think this will probably be my last visit to Tanzania for a few years, but I'm looking forward to going back again someday.


  1. Wow! You were so lucky to go there and see and interact with all of these amazing animals! I'm seriously jealous.

    I've been planning to go on a safari for years now.

    How amazing that your job allows you to visit such a unique place.


    1. I'd highly recommend going on safari! It's an amazing an experience and you're right, I was very lucky on my trip!

  2. Oh my gosh! What an experience! I'm speechless. Thank you for sharing this!

  3. You got to go on a safari! You are so lucky! I've always wanted to go in one. Anyway, the cheetah "encounter" looks so awesome, and seeing fresh nutmeg is like not even normal! That is too cool!


    1. I know. I was blown away by what the spices actually look like. Cardamom is pretty crazy looking too.