And I’m back at home! Man, the last two weeks have flown by! Al and I have this ability to max out vacations in a way that is absolutely exhausting! But, after paying +$1700 I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way. Considering that I currently want nothing more than to make good friends with my feather pillows and blankies, I’ll just do a quick, broad overview of the trip now. But, over the next few days I’ll go into the specifics for each part and review the marathon and our different accommodations in detail.
After a lovely +20 hour commute MSP–>AMS–>JRO we made our way to Herbs and Spices in Arusha. We stayed here for just one day, wandering around town, checking out the market and collecting ourselves for the safari.
Bright and early on Monday morning, our safari guide Hassan and our cook S. Bruno (from Sunny Safaris) were there to pick us up in the snazziest of safari vehicles.
On our first day out we went to Lake Manyara. Although it wasn’t the rainy season and the lake was largely dry, the Lake Manyara National Park was very green and lush. It was the smallest of the three places that we went but not short on awesome animal sights.
We then spent days 2 and 3 in the Serengeti. We only really hit a very small part of the Serengeti but even that was soooooo incredibly vast! I think we spent about 8 hours driving there (and visiting a Masai tribe and checking out the animals en route of course) on day 2. It was like it could go on forever. On day 3 we spent the morning on a final game drive and then headed for the campsite at the Ngorongoro crater in the afternoon.
The morning of day 4 was a big game drive down in the Ngorongoro crater and then the afternoon was spent driving back to Arusha.
Each location was very unique which allowed for us to experience a huge breadth of African plants and animals. The three camp sites that we stayed at were very different as well. However, for some odd reason that I can’t really understand, we had to choke down the same greasy, over salted carrot mush each night for dinner (P.S. I detest carrots) and the same bland boxed lunches (centered around bread and butter sandwiches) for lunch each day. Good thing safaris are about seeing animals rather than eating! Here a few highlights for the different animals that we saw…
Returning from the safari, we spent one more night in Arusha and then it was off to Moshi on a Dala-dala for the marathon! In Moshi we stayed at the brand new Hotel Hibiscus. Aside from our initial problems finding the place (as it is brand new and no one knew where it was) this was a fantastic hotel!
Going back to the marathon though, long story short, I did not handle the heat (think 95 F by 9 am, no shade and only 5 water stops) or the altitude (think starting at 3000 ft and then cursing through miles 12-19 at a 10% grade up to 4000 feet). However, I finished the damn thing (and not in last place) in time to still get a t-shirt and a metal, and hopefully have the longest marathon of my life done and out of the way.
And then it was off to the beach! Kind of. The morning after the marathon (Example A: The Epitome of Genius Planning) we hopped a 7 am bus for the 9 hour drive to Dar es Salaam and then an hour and a half cab ride for the last 5 kms to our digs for the night in the city. Forget water boarding and take note Mr. Chaney…
The next morning we were actually off the to beach. We took the ferry to Stone Town on Zanzibar and then a cab to our beach abode at Panga Chumvi in Matemwe on the east side of the island. Hello heaven!
Our last 4 days began with the most perfect Tanzanian breakfasts…
and then spent lounging with our buddies…
reading, shelling, snorkeling out on the barrier reef, on a spice tour…
on a walking tour of Stone Town and stuffing our faces with sea food…
It was the perfect way to wrap up a vacation.
On Saturday it was back to reality though. We left Zanzibar in the morning to meet up with Aliesha’s awesome former host family for lunch and hanging out in the afternoon. In the evening it was off to the airport for our journey home: DAR–>AMS–>ORD–>MSP.
Have you ever been to Tanzania or another East African country? What were the major highlights? Lowlights?
Have you been on a safari? What was/would be your favorite animal to see?
Have you run the Kilimarjaro marathon before, or another marathon with a major altitude change? Thoughts?