Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Back from Africa


Dora Machado 

Sunset over the Wami River.

My trip to Africa was AMAZING. True, it’s a long trek halfway across the world, and air travel is not getting any easier, but once we hit the ground, the sacrifices to get there were worth it. We landed in Arusha and, over the course of several days, travelled overland to Arusha National Park, the fabled Ngorongoro Crater and the legendary Serengeti. From the Serengeti, we flew east across Tanzania to the island of Zanzibar, where we stayed for a couple of days before we returned to the continent, to Saadani National Park. From Saadani we drove to Dar es Salaam right before we flew back to the United States. I could write a novel about our trip, and maybe someday, I will. But today, I’ll just share the highlights and some of my favorite photos.

Tanzania is an incredible destination, and our itinerary ensured that we were exposed to the best wildlife viewing a safari can offer, along with an excellent snapshot of the culture and history of this beautiful country. We usually prefer to travel on our own but, for this trip, we chose to travel with Smithsonian Journeys. It was the best choice we could’ve made and it provided us with comfortable transportation that took away the logistical headaches involved with complex travelling and freed us to enjoy our trip. 

All of the lodges and hotels we stayed in were full of character and especially well located to our activities. The food during the entire trip was excellent. The Serena lodges at Ngorongoro and Serengeti offered breathtaking views of the crater and the plains respectively.  The African Tulip in Arusha and the Serena at Zanzibar were particularly responsive to our needs, with very personable staff. The Saadani River Lodge offered stunning accommodations right on the Wami River and exquisitely trained and friendly staff.

Special thanks and kudos to the drivers that navigated us through the bumpy roads on the Ngonogoro Crater and the Serengeti, especially to Mr. Godson, who drove the Land Rover I rode in. A loud shout out to our tour director, Malley Simon for anticipating all of our needs and taking the work out of traveling. It was a total pleasure to travel under his tenure. Our study leader, Grant Nels enriched our traveling experience, sharing a wealth of knowledge and a gift for story-telling that infused us with his passion for Africa and left us wanting for more. I can’t imagine what it’s like to travel with someone as curious as I am, firing questions all the time—annoying, right?—but Grant was generous, sharing his extensive, impressive knowledge with us and answering my millions of questions with patience, grace and enthusiasm.

Here are some of my favorite pictures of this amazing trip:

Baby elephant nursing at the Ngorongoro Crater.

A majestic Baobab at Saadani National Park.

This Cape Buffalo came to drink water from the hotel's swimming pool at the Serengeti.

Can you spot the cheetah prowling the Serengeti in this picture?

Colobus monkeys at Arusha National Park.

A candelabra tree at dawn on the Ngorongoro Crater.

Dawn on the Serengeti.

Flamingos take flight at Arusha National Park.

Elephant at the Ngorongoro Crater

Can you spot the elephants at the bottom of the crater?

Full moon over the Wami River, Saadani National Park.

Hippo pool, zebras & wildebeests at the crater.


Can you spot the curious giraffe baby checking us out on the way to the Serengeti?

A mirage of giraffes on the way to the Serengeti.

Tommies and Grants, the gazelles that populate Tanzania and the Serengeti.

This big hippo was trekking along and didn't want to be disturbed by us or the lions lounging nearby.

We watched this gorgeous leopard as he got up from his nap here and in the two shots below.

Can you see the hyena prospecting for dinner?

This Serengeti big fellow was watching a herd of water buffalo as it approached.

Yep, this is what lions do most of the day at the crater and elsewhere.

Zanzibar from our hotel's balcony.

Mmm. Awesome African all you can eat buffet.  

Sunset in the Serengeti. I hope one day I get to go back.


Unknown said...

Dora, Thanks for sharing these amazing pics with us!

Brae Wyckoff said...

Fantastic! What an amazing trip.

Brae Wyckoff said...

Fantastic! What an amazing trip.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Hi, Dora. I thought I left a long message here but it disappeared! Welcome back! We missed you. And I love your photos, they are just gorgeous. Thanks so much for sharing, I will look forward to that novel you may write some day based on your amazing journey!