Serengeti and Ngorongoro

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What can I say about the Serengeti? The wide plains? The animals? The rough roads?

For many people this vastness means the ultimate freedom. For a girl who’s from a mountainous country, it’s a bit scary. Still breathtaking, still gorgeous, but a bit unsettling.

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What can I tell you about Ngorongoro, one of the most magical places I’ve ever been? There are simply no words.

This trip has been on my list of things I wanted to do for so long, it took me a long time to process that it really happened yet. I feel so incredibly blessed and fortunate.

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Now, with a bit of distance I remember the moments that left me breathless. The moments that gave me goosebumps and made me tear up. I remember our first evening in the Serengeti and how I felt a bit on edge as we kept driving in the middle of nowhere, no campsite in sight with the sun slowly setting. I remember the frustration of having to set up 15 tents in the dark, not being able to see anything. I remember how I forced myself to rethink and take it as a challenge, rather than an annoyance. I remember being rewarded with a shooting star across the enchanting night sky. I remember feeling humbled. I remember cold nights, bundled up in five layers of clothes. I remember rising early and warming my hands on a cup of tea in the chilly morning air. I remember sunrises and clouds hanging ominously over the rim of the Ngorongoro crater. I remember being too cold to shower for three days straight. I also remember the dust everywhere. In the air, on our clothes, in our mouthes, hair, and on our skin. I remember the thrill of sleeping in a tent next to hyenas and buffalos. I also remember the exhaustion and how I fell asleep the second I lay down in my tent. I remember long bus drives. I remember laughter. I remember drunken confessions and heartfelt conversations. I remember the lions and elephants and zebras.

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I remember everything.

Into the wild

Quick video of my Safari trip in July. Pictures are to come as soon as I have the patience to sort through them and edit them, so soon, together with stories, tips and everything else I might want to talk about :)

[You can also watch this on youtube directly. Enlarge the frame and put the quality to 720.]

and nothing will ever be the same again

Go to the beach for a quick dip. Haggle for that bracelet and improve your bargaining skills. Learn new words. Make a fool out of yourself if you use them the wrong way. Smile at strangers. Kill with kindness. Open up. Talk. Let new things happen to you. Ask if you want to know. Ask if you want to learn. Ask if you don’t know. Ask. Always. Don’t be afraid of not knowing. Wash your clothes by hand. Eat chapati 5 days in a row and drink way too spicy, way too sweet tea. Know when to be quiet. Say no. Say yes. Be enthusiastic. Open your eyes. Pay attention. Don’t complain too much. Be cautious, not afraid. Go for it. Try new food. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Be open to new opportunities. Take them. Don’t expect too much.¬† Be surprised and surprise others in return. Drive that car in the Serengeti. High five that Maasai. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Get your hands dirty. Inhale the dust. Let the salty water burn your eyes. Get invited to dinner at the neighbour’s house. Be gracious. Be open. Be yourself. Discover more about yourself.¬†Stay the same. Grow. Change.

Do all of it, because you are here and this is now.

If only to see the stars

After a 14h journey in total (including an 11h bus drive with only one stop to buy food and go to the washroom) I finally made it back to my home away from home, the intern house in Dar es Salaam.

How do I best describe the past week? So much has happened, so many memories were made.

I will write separate posts about each stop we made and each location we visited, but for now let me just sum it up:

I slept in a tent in the middle of the Serengeti, surrounded by Hyenas and other wildlife animals. I watched the stars at night, in completely in awe of how close, how big and how many they were. I drove a land rover in the Serengeti. I slept in a tent, wrapped up in 10 layers of clothes and two sleeping bags at the rim of Ngorongoro Crater and later discovered that there was a Buffalo standing right next to us. I hiked 8km up to Kilimanjaro and then back down. I had super interesting conversations with local people and Maasai, soaking up every information I could get my hands on.

All the early mornings, the countless hours spent on buses or in cars, everything was worth it in the end.

Everyone should go to Africa at least once in his life, if only to see the stars.

Roadside Chapati

Our chapati making session went great!

I could not be happier. When we got to the restaurant – souvenirs and chocolate from our home countries in hand – the cook launched into an explanation of how to make these pancakes. He told us the ingredients, showed us how to make it and when we asked if we can buy these now he told us “No, not these, I want you to make them yourselves!”

And so we did.

We had so much fun and such a good time. Lots of people started to gather around the restaurant to see what these three “Mzungus” were doing there.

We went back to have dinner tonight, asked about the ingredients of the tea they’re serving every night (spiced black tea with lots of ginger and cardamom). It is pure and utter perfection. To the point where I have to put the cup down, take a deep breath and sigh from happiness because my heart is just so full.

We also asked about the porridge they serve and our new friend agreed to show us how to make it after he comes back from his stay at home. So much goodness. So much happiness.

I’m leaving for the north of Tanzania tomorrow. Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater planned. Sleeping in tents, early morning sunrise in the Serengeti and Banana Beer were things mentioned in regards to this trip. I could not be more excited.

I will not take my netbook with me, so the next update will follow when I get back from this trip, around the 28th, maybe even a day or so later :)