“Omg giraffes are the cutest!”…
…Said Kertu about 30 times that day. Funny thing is that I had never properly seen a giraffe before. They don’t have them in the zoo in Tallinn. And although I saw them through glass in Dublin zoo, it is something entirely different to spot them in wild nature. That’s what safaris (PS: safari means “journey” in Swahili) are all about – you drive through huge amounts of land trying to spot some animals. Tricky challenge for someone with an eyesight like me. Although sometimes we did not even have to look far – elephants were just casually stumbling across the road.
We booked our Safari through Peace Matunda School and Orphanage – the wonderful project I wrote my last blog post about. Since we were low on money and short on time, we decided to only go for a full day safari and not stay for many nights. Usually people do minimum 2 nights and during that time they travel around different national parks. But to be honest, that one day was already quite tiring – it was very hot (around 30 degrees), very dusty and we had direct sunlight on us the whole day (from 6AM to 6PM). No wonder I got the nastiest sunburn of that whole trip from that safari.
Anyways, our trip cost us 220 USD per person, one of the most expensive parts of our trip, and we went to Tarangire national park. I know what you think – it is super expensive for a one day trip! But let me explain. First, the organisers have to pay for park entrance fees which is around 50 USD per person. Second, they have to pay for gas – the car we were driving took 20 litres of gas per 100 km. It was about 340 km round trip to the national park and we drove around the park the whole day. That adds up to easy 400 km aka 80 litres of gas. Third, lunch and drinks were also included in the price. So if you think about it, the company itself is not really earning a lot of money. Although, while I was searching for a safari organiser I saw many companies that really want to rip white people off. Some asked nearly 1000 USD for a two-day trip. For God’s sake! Also be careful when booking a safari, there are many thieves out there, looking to empty your pockets with no safari or very bad quality safari in return. Booking a decent safari was truly one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do.
But I managed! And we made a good choice because not only did we get a good price and supported a decent charity organisation but the safari itself was truly enjoyable as well! Our tour guide was really knowledgable and polite. Truly refreshing after having every second tour guide telling you bullshit while trying to hit on you at the same time. He also had a super good eye cause he always spotted these sleeping animals under the trees. For example, I would have never noticed lions sleeping under a tree if he had not told me about them for like three times. He even drove closer to them. Although I am glad that we did not get too close because our car was completely open from the side and these big cats would be happy with a fresh bite of meat.
Actually I was surprised how close we got to the animals. Even though it is not allowed to go outside from the car, you don’t really need to either. There were zebras on the road, warthogs sleeping under the tree next to us, the monkeys tried to steal my lunch and nearly succeeded, giraffes were munching on trees just 10 meters from us and elephants blocking the road on multiple occasions. One elephant family was so close to us that it was a bit scary. They had a baby elephant with them and one of the big guys started walking towards us in a very excited manner. The driver noticed it and moved the car a bit so the elephant calmed down. Later he told us that sometimes the mama elephants get an urge to smash the car when they have a baby elephant with them. 🙂 It’s moments like that when you realise that this is real wild nature not the zoo. We were vulnerable.
All in all, I think the photos do this trip more justice than me talking about it. Safari is truly something that one must experience to know what it’s like. Honestly, I had never even wanted to go on one. It had always seemed kind of boring to me. But it was actually really cool to see these beautiful animals in their natural habitat. It really breaks my heart to hear about all the illegal poaching that is still going on. Black rhino is nearly on the verge of extinction – their population has decreased from 65 000 individuals in the 1970s to just only 5000 individuals living in the wild today. Despite the ban on trade in ivory, tens of thousands of African elephants are killed every year for their tusks. People can really be horrible. But I am glad that some of this money paid for park entrance fees is being used on park rangers and for example, many black rhinos now have armed rangers keeping an eye on them. These animals are wonderful. Even though we were so damn tired, with dirt in our hair and skin screaming from the sunburn, it was truly an adventure of a lifetime. Tanzania is wonderful. A country with so much to offer. My favourite trip so far.