Home sweet home!

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.

Dinner at Spices and Herbs in Arusha

Dinner at Spices and Herbs in Arusha

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.

Sunny

With our sweet wheels

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…

zebra

Zebras chilling in the Serengeti

wildabeast

Wilda-beast chilling in the Serengeti

zebra and wildabeast

Zebras and wilda-beast chilling in the Serengeti

warthog

A pair of shy warthogs in the Serengeti

ugly bird

An ugly bird that thought he was king of the Serengeti

monkeys

Adorable Lake Manyara monkeys

massai

A Serengeti Masai tribe welcome dance

lions

A lazy Serengeti lion pride

lion

A beautiful Lake Manyara lion

elephants

A Serengeti elephant family

giraffe

Giraffes near Lake Manyara

gizel

Gazelle in the Serengeti

hippoes

Hippos in a hippo pool in the Ngorongoro Crater

elephant

A Ngorongoro Crater elephant profile

cheeta

A Serengeti cheetah

buffalo

A powerful (and dirty) buffalo in the Ngorongoro Crater

Hassan

Looking over the Ngorongoro crater with our fantastic driver and guide Hassan

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.

SAMSUNG

All the essentials laid out the night before – this includes the awesome watch I got to borrow, enough snacks to feed a small village and my malaria, altitude sickness and pain medications

before

Before (when this still seemed like a good idea)

after

After (having spent over 5 hours cursing what a terrible idea this really was and with a rather unconvincing fake smile)

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!

panga chumvi

The afternoon view from our ocean front bungalow at Panga Chumvi

Our last 4 days began with the most perfect Tanzanian breakfasts…

SAMSUNG

Breakfast first course – coffee, freshly squeezed passion fruit juice and fresh fruit that I will forever dream about

Breakfast course two - cheese, grilled tomato and sausage with toast

Breakfast second course – cheese, grilled tomato and sausage with toast

and then spent lounging with our buddies…

SAMSUNG

reading, shelling, snorkeling out on the barrier reef, on a spice tour…

Check out the fruit that nutmeg and mace come from!

Check out the fruit that nutmeg and mace come from!

on a walking tour of Stone Town and stuffing our faces with sea food…

SAMSUNG

Prawns

SAMSUNG

Fish

SAMSUNG

Calamari

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?

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1 Comment

Filed under Marathons, Tanzania, Travel, Trotting

One response to “Home sweet home!

  1. It is good to know you are back on American Soil again!!!. Dad

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