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The Great Migration has begun
When Sandi Carter, our tour operator, lived in Portland Oregon, she rarely travelled or ventured anywhere. But after a three-week safari in Tanzania, she became so enchanted with the country that she moved halfway around the world to live there. When we first arrived in Tanzania, we could not comprehend how a place could change someone so much. But now that we have been here for almost three weeks, we understand. Tanzania, its people, and its beauty get into your blood and your very being. There is absolutely no other place like it anywhere else in the world. As we begin to reach the end of our African adventure, a great sadness has begun to come over us.
On November 2nd, we very reluctantly left the Serengeti and drove back south. The rains have begun , and our last sight of the Serengeti was of massive herds of wildebeests and zebras beginning to make their way across the vast plains. Even the vultures know that the Great Migration has begun; and they gather greedily around the herds in expectation of scavenging something -- or someone -- soon.
We had a long day of driving -- 200 kilometres -- but it was through familiar territory. We took a morning break at Naabi Hill, the entrance to Serengeti National Park. We ate our box lunches at the Ngorongoro Crater, and took an afternoon stretch break back at Karatu. (We even ran into Mamoya, our Tatogan guide, again in Karatu. He had a new hat.) It was great to see each of these familiar places one more time, but sad to know that we were seeing them for the last time.
Due to the recent rains, the roads were no longer dusty and we made good progress. By late afternoon we returned to Panorama Safari Camp overlooking Lake Manyara, where we would spend the night. The boys were very excited because they had fond memories of Panorama (a week ago we had stayed in their permanent tents -- not our temporary ones -- and the boys liked being able to stand up inside).
But when we arrived, we were nothing less than awestruck by the changes we saw. We knew that Mr. Massawe, the owner, had a plan for his "farm in Africa," but we didn't know he was acting so quickly. Two more scenic huts were under construction, as well as several umbrella-covered shelters. In anticipation of our arrival (for some reason he had become very fond of us), he had set up two new tents -- even bigger than before -- right on the edge of the cliff, so that we could see the valley panorama from our front doorsteps. Peeking inside our tents, we were astounded to see beds, embroidered sheets and towels, and a small closet in each one (we were so effusive that Mr. Massawe gave us two of the towels as gifts)!
We greeted Chris, Mr. Massawe, and the camp manager Joseph like old friends (Joseph, who lives nearby, had seen our truck pull up and ran all the way over to meet us). For the rest of the afternoon we relaxed and enjoyed the view. Cameron taught Josephet, one of the teenaged Tanzanian helpers, how to play his board game.
Some of Panorama's staff, including Mr. Massawe (next to Russell) and Joseph (kneeling in front of Gail)
Among the other guests were a couple of American college girls on a three-month study trip, and a Canadian couple on their second attempt at a trip around the world. (On their first try a few years ago, they only made it halfway through a year before they got homesick and returned home. They also had some friends who tried sailing around the world with their daughter for 14 months. They only made it ten months before the 12-year-old turned into a teenager and they came back.)
By nightfall the rains had caught up with us, and Russell was trying to figure out if he could connect his PC anywhere. We knew that Panorama had electricity from a generator for the lights, but we didn't know if there were any outlets. As it turned out, there was one live outlet in the entire camp, but it was on the outside wall of the women's restroom (and it was raining). The entire staff of Panorama took up the challenge, despite Russell and Gail's protestations that they shouldn't go to any trouble. They moved a table and chairs into the women's restroom. They hotwired the outlet, ran a wire through the window into the restroom, and then hotwired the other end to the plug on Russell's PC. Gail was afraid that someone was going to get electrocuted in the process, but the setup worked perfectly. We were able to review the hundreds of photographs we had taken over the last several days, while the entire staff looked on over our shoulders. (The other female guests avoided the restroom for a couple of hours.)
Looking at our many photographs reminded us again how much we saw here, and how many memories we will keep. We still have a few days left before we return to Arusha, but we are already thinking about how -- and when -- we will return.
A warm return to Panorama Safari Camp
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