Out of Africa
On a recent work trip, I was given the opportunity to experience an African Safari..
Something I have always wanted to do!
It was a wonderful surprise for the pilots and I during a recent 10 day trip overseas.. Of course we knew we were going to Africa.. but did not know til we got there that we were going to skip the usual hotel stay and spend some time living among and observing the wildlife- “National Geographic” style!
We arrived in Arusha, Tanzania after an 8 hour flight from Rome. The first night, we spent at a hotel outside the city.. – Jet lag, lack of sleep, and long work hours had made us all a little out of it and a bit cranky.. as you can imagine! So we all took this first night to catch up on some much needed sleep.
The next day, the fun began!
The adventure begins
A jeep arrived at our hotel bright and early to take us 4 hours into the Bush of Tanzania (specifically the Tarangire National park). On the way there, the pilots ( lets call them Maverick and Goose), filled me in on the accommodations we would be staying in. (This was their second time going there).
I was first told by “ Goose”, that I would be in a “tent” living/sleeping among the animals with no technology and only a walkie-talkie to use if I needed “help”.. I was thinking to myself.. “ hmmm, I am not so sure about this.. maybe I should have stayed at the hotel and gone to the spa?!!” I was imagining being alone in the middle of nowhere with lions and tigers sniffing around my tent all night..
( I am convinced Goose was trying to get a reaction out of me with his initial description of the place).. Not that I don’t love the great outdoors or animals,, but the sound of total solitude and not much protection from the very WILD “wildlife”, was spooking me a bit! Goose and Maverick did clear things up a bit and tell me- it was VIP style accommodations( even the tent), with Great food, and amazing customer service.
During the drive, we passed through small villages of typical African society. Grass huts, large fields of grazing animals and farmers harvesting their small crops of produce. As I watched these people living and working, I was thinking how simple their lives seemed. They walked more than they drove, and didn’t even have some of what Americans would call “basic necessities”. All of a sudden I felt like I had too much at home.. I almost felt bad for what I had . It was truly culture shock. But also very eye opening for me.. in many ways..
After a very long drive, we finally arrived at a camp location called Sanctuary Swala. Our beautiful temporary home while on safari..
True to its name, this place was a real Sanctuary! It was beautifully designed to be peaceful and luxuriously simple. The individual sleeping quarters were a tent/ bungalow combination. There was 12 of these strategically placed on the grounds of the “camp” and spread out to give a everyone a sense of complete privacy. The amenities at camp consisted of : a main dining area, a pool area ( also apparently used by the grazing antelope), a bar/ lounge area, gift shop, and a computer room- so you can keep in touch with the rest of the world when necessary.. honestly I was amazed that there would even be internet of any kind in the middle of the African bush!
3 meals were served daily in the community dining space. The food was abundant and the preparation & quality was outstanding, not to mention the customer service.. (One would only hope to experience this level of service in some of our hotels in America!)
At night, after an amazing meal, we were all escorted to our quarters by a person carrying a large sphere… protection just in case a predator was out hunting…
It was awesome to see the sky filled with stars, and the only noise you could hear was the sound of “nature” rustling around. Falling asleep that first night was beyond peaceful..
In the morning, I was awoken by a personal wakeup “call”- An actual person gently calling from outside my door with a tray of coffee and fresh juice.
If the monkeys on my roof had not woken me up first, this was how I started each morning! Outside on my porch, the animals were walking around, grazing, and playing. It was so serile to just stand there watching them.
After a pleasant outdoor/indoor shower, I dressed for my exciting first day out on safari, and hurried to breakfast to meet my team!
And off we go
covered in bug spray and hats; Maverick, goose, and I climbed into the back of our large convertible green jeep and set out with our guide to see the animals!
Throughout the day we must have driven close to 400 hundred miles. It was amazing. Elephants, giraffes, wildebeests, antelope, etc etc etc.. the only thing not seen was the “cats”.. Apparently, during the wet season- which we were in, this is normal due to their hiding capability in the tall grass.. ☹ But none the less, it was so much fun! A little fear factor was thrown in when we aggravated a teenage elephant and instigated him into chasing us for about a quarter of a mile.. We blamed this on Maverick who apparently was repelling wildlife on this trip .. ☺ ( I know he will be reading this and laughing)..
Halfway through our day, we stopped for a delicious picnic lunch that Sanctuary had prepared for us. The monkeys stealing our food enjoyed it as well..
After another couple hundred miles of driving and observing nature, we arrived back at our “home” to relax and enjoy another scrumptious meal.
Each day of Safari was laid out this way and each day I was so grateful for the opportunity to see the things I saw, and time I got to spend in this part of the world .
Three days later, we left camp.. it was time to regroup and head back to work…
On this trip we had a couple more days of travel, including an interesting stay in Nairobi ( another blog story in itself), then it was time to fly home to the US and back to the land of over abundance and technology.
Once again, I find myself being eternally grateful for this amazing career that continues to give me all of these opportunities.
* With this trip in particular : I was also honored to fly with a wonderful client, and cockpit crew that made even the long flight hours and days with little sleep- still somehow enjoyable and entertaining!!
Cobblestones and Heels