Posts Tagged ‘Tanzania’


Hot Water

Linda Lou Burton posting from Abeid Amani Karume International Airport, Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania – If I haven’t said it yet, I’ll say it now. A cool, air conditioned van with cushy upholstered seats and a wide sliding door on the side beats a 4×4 for basic travel. No ladder step! No twisting and maneuvering my way to 3rd row back. Zanzibar’s roads were decently smooth too. And then there was Ali, the calmest driver I’ve ever ridden with (and that includes family, friends, and NY cabbies!). Plus he was reassuring. He arrived at the hotel on time; we arrived at the airport on time. He told us to wait as he went inside to make arrangements for my wheelchair. He pushed me quite a long distance into the terminal, introduced me to Mark, the gentleman who would get me all the way through the airport to my gate. And then, goodbye. The airport was sparkling clean with gleaming white tiles; employees were dressed in black. Mark looked immaculate in a black suit, white shirt, black tie. He pushed me (and led Rick) to the counter for checkin. The agent there, a woman also dressed in black (head covered, face not), stepped from behind the counter so she could speak with me eye-to-eye as I sat in my wheelchair. I explained that I’d need a wheelchair in Zurich and Reykjavik, but had not been able to include that in the reservation. She quietly processed everything and handed us our boarding passes, with a smile! Mark then pushed me through a series of check points and x-rays and scans and, yes, a standing-up pat-down by a gloved female. Then a chair right by the gate, with wheelchair waiting to get me all the way to the plane! Needless to say, that set the bar VERY HIGH for airport standards around the world.

Until. I asked for some water and a restroom. After my pat-down, I was considered a secured passenger. But alas, even though I was pushed in my wheelchair by airport staff to a restroom, pushed INTO the restroom by said staff, and locked in; even then; I had to go through another standing-up pat-down before returning to my chair. I managed to get a bottle of sprite for me and a fanta orange for Rick on this journey – we hadn’t eaten dinner. Yikes, I won’t move AGAIN, I thought, sipping my sprite in tiny swallows. I had a pain under my rib cage; it always hurts when I’m extremely tired or tense; and the more I thought about it, the worse it got. Eight hours of a tiny seat in coach ahead of me, aahh, I’ll take a Tylenol AND the pain pill my doctor had given me for the absolute worst emergencies. So I did. All my evening meds were in my Pill Minder; hmmm, I’ll take these now too, so I don’t forget. Gulp, gulp.

The crew arrived, spiffy in Edelweiss Airlines garb, so European in style! OH MY, I thought – are Friedrich and Frieda part of this crew? I clung to my sprite bottle, determined not to be deprived of something to drink EVER AGAIN. Next thing I know, I’m pushed to the door of the plane, assisted to my seat, and tucked into my 8-hour coach-prison. Rick squeezed into the seat beside; we buckled up. And then it happened. That sprite I’d been sipping on came back up. Just sprite, in two rapid upchucks (gross I know), spilling all down my shirt. I didn’t have time to reach for a Sickness Bag, just pow, there it was – I was soaking wet. Even Rick wasn’t aware of what had happened!

Sometimes an angel is one step ahead of us. When I zipped up fancy-schmancy in the hotel, things just didn’t fit, so my blue-knit night-shirt got crammed into my backpack. First time on the entire trip I’d put any clothing there. Awesome, I’m thinking, sitting there now soaking wet. I can go to the restroom with my backpack, get out my night-shirt, clean up, dry off, and nobody needs to know of my mishap. We were on the row right in front of the restrooms; just a swift step in. Blue-knit night-shirt looked like a tee shirt; I tucked up some of its length; good to go. Back to my seat. Buckled.

The flight attendants were busy getting everyone settled in. The pain under my rib cage continued, the stress building. At home, a Tylenol and my electric heating pad take care of that problem. No heating pads here. Then I remembered the lovely hot water bottles tucked into our bed in the tent camps, all cozily wrapped in flannel, so comforting! Ah, an idea; surely they’d have such a thing on airplanes too! I signaled to an attendant (no, she didn’t look anything like Freida). “Could you bring me a hot water bottle, please?” This fell into the realm of an answer on Jeopardy. “A hot water bottle? You want a bottle of hot water?” She looked genuinely puzzled. I explained about these strange bottles filled with hot water that one could place against ones body for warmth, or to ease pain.

“Pain?” she said, eyebrows raised. “You are in pain? Where is your pain?” Before I realized how my answer would affect the next moments, I replied “In my chest.” This set off a series of alarms and commotion befitting the arrival of a baby or something equally monumental. Suddenly a nurse appeared; the passenger across the aisle announced he was a doctor. Questions, questions, questions. “They are going to haul me off this plane,” I realized. “It’s my RIGHT side,” I said, as fast as I could think. “It’s a surgical scar! Sometimes it acts up!” What kind of surgery? How long ago? Ten minutes of questioning ensued before calm finally settled in. The aisle began to clear. Rick, and the passenger on the other side of me, each patted my shoulder. “Whew, that was close.”

And then, the nice non-Freida attendant was back. “I have a hot water bottle for you,” she said. “I hope this helps.” She had taken a two-liter sprite bottle, filled it with water, wrapped it in a towel, and microwaved it. The plane took off. I left Africa wearing a blue-knit night-shirt overlain by a bottle of hot water. Adventure 101, I passed.


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Abeid Amani Karume International Airport

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Till Time To Go

Linda Lou Burton posting from Zanzibar Serena Hotel, Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania They left a bowl of fruit and flowers in our room when they cleaned every day. I’m sitting on our porch now, eating a banana, thinking about, well, food. People were curious about what we’d eat in Africa. I had studied in advance – what grows there, how it’s prepared, absolute favorites. I vowed to try “at least a bite” of as many different things as I could, although our brains and stomachs tend to crave the familiar. Beans, corn, greens, tomatoes – familiars to me that I knew I’d find in Africa. I knew there would be more dishes featuring bananas and coconut than I have in my routine; I was looking forward to that. So how did it turn out? Here are 10 Things  I read about ahead of time:

  • Ugali – maize is a major crop in Kenya and Tanzania. Ugali is standard fare; everybody eats it! Take cornmeal, boil it into a paste; roll it into a ball; eat it with your soups or stews or anything. Like the cornbread I grew up on, only boiled not baked. Did I eat ugali? I honestly don’t know! I tried lots of breads but don’t remember seeing “balled paste” on the Serena buffets. I think I’ll try making it at home, just to be sure.
  • Githeri – a favorite in the Kikuyu community; corn and beans, first boiled, then fried. Avocado is often added; all served on rice. Sounds a bit like Mexican food I’ve eaten, agree?
  • Ingoho – like the Thanksgiving turkey, Ingoho – chicken – is prepared in Kenya as a special meal; roast the chicken until it is brown; then braise it with onions, tomatoes and spices.
  • Kachumbari – claims to be Kenya’s “most delicious salad.” Thin slices of fresh ripe tomatoes, onions, green/red peppers, lemon juice, coriander. I don’t remember seeing the name tag on our buffet’s selections, but every meal had interesting (and beautiful) salads. All delicious.
  • Mandazi – oh yes! A very popular sweet! The dough is made with sugar, flour, water, yeast, coconut milk (ground peanuts or almonds can be added). Fry in hot oil, dust with powdered sugar or cinnamon, eat for breakfast or anytime! I remember this one.
  • Mchemsho – this means “something boiled” and could be any number of vegetables such as potatoes, green beans, carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, eggplant. Definitely ate this!
  • Mukimo –I’ll be making this at home. Mash some potatoes, then add spinach, corn, peas, whatever, for added flavor. I’ve made colcannon (around St Paddy’s day); love it!
  • Ndizi na nyama – a favorite in Tanzania this is bananas (ndizi) and meat (nyama) made into a stew with curry powder, cayenne pepper, oil, onions, tomatoes, and coconut milk. Simmer then serve with rice, or ugali! I don’t remember seeing this but I think I’ll try it at home.
  • Nyama Choma – Swahili for “grilled meat;” both countries are fond of goat, beef, chicken or fish grilled over charcoal. Our bush meals usually had a grill going for an outdoor feast.
  • Rice – rice was everywhere, cooked every which way. In Tanzania, Wali wa nazi is rice cooked in coconut milk and water, seasoned only with salt. In Kenya Pilau is a special rice cooked with spices and chicken or beef.

Why am I thinking about FOOD as I sit on our porch in Zanzibar, till time to get on a plane headed far, far north? A change awaits us in Iceland, for sure! I’m ticking off their favorites in my head: skyr (kind of like yogurt); ice cream and cheese (yes, they are mad about ice cream!); rye bread and butter (I can dig that); lamb (lamb stew, lamb roasted, lamb sirloin?) and, of course, FISH. Icelanders eat fish every single day. Pretty popular in Zanzibar too, I’m thinking, as another fishing boat goes by. Ali is picking us up at 7, better zip up the old fancy-schmancy suitcase, one more time. Look at these flowers we’ve been enjoying here by the Indian Ocean, while I go back inside a minute. We won’t see them in Iceland!

Credit Rick with the flower closeups.

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Next Post: Hot Water


The Guard Made The Day

Linda Lou Burton posting from Zanzibar Serena Hotel, Stone Town, Zanzibar, TanzaniaOur plane was not due to leave the airport till 10:30 PM today. It was the only flight this entire week headed from Zanzibar to where we wanted to go. 10:30 PM Tuesday, a flight to Zurich, then Iceland. One flight per week. Otherwise we’d have to fly, or ferry, to the airport on the mainland, Dar es Salaam, 30 miles away; then fly from there. The good thing was – the late flight gave us another full day to enjoy Zanzibar! Our hotel desk was agreeable, no extra charge. Our transport was arranged with Ali from the day before – he’d get us to the airport in plenty of time and help us through the Tanzanian hoops. So why the heck did Rick have his suitcase zipped and ready to go at 9 AM? There he sat, long warm pants on, long sleeves, decked out for cooler weather. Arms folded, hat on, sitting in a straight-back chair! “Do you want to go on another Tour today?” I asked. “We have plenty of time.” There were two more Tours that we’d talked about; one to Prison Island, which would give us a cruise on the Indian Ocean for about 30 minutes and the chance to visit with giant tortoises that live there. The Jozani Forest tour was another; it would give us a chance to spot the red colobus monkey, a species that only lives on Zanzibar. But we agreed; our animal count to date was high enough for one trip. We thought about a few restaurants – one in particular, the fancy Tea House where you sat on cushions on the floor, gazing across the rooftops to the sea; the other a hangout bar, named for Freddie Mercury, right on the beach.  “Or we can just sit here on our beautiful porch and look at the Indian Ocean,” I said. And then I remembered – I have not yet touched the Indian Ocean – one of my main reasons for being here!

Here’s where our Serena Hotel sits; this point jutting out into the Ocean; facing west, looking towards the mainland. Its history is marvelous; it’s really two historic buildings joined together – an 18th Century Chinese doctor’s home and a 19th Century office building. They were careful, when turning the spaces into a hotel, to preserve the original architecture and the decorative finishes; or to restore them if necessary. It is “Zanzibar Style” – you expect to come face to face with a Sultan any moment. Arabic and Swahili designs, tiles, wood finishes, cool whites and blues. Gardens. One other thing Zanzibar Style means is “close together.” Buildings touch buildings, all around the oceanfront. Our Serena is midway, see the turquoise pool our room overlooks? Below is another view of the hotel, our room is ground floor, right in front of the boat’s sail. The pool is left of the sail, see the umbrellas?

A Security Guard paced the sidewalk between our porch and the ocean, back and forth, day and night. We’d become nodding acquaintances with our daytime guard; he was a friendly fellow; making sure nobody on the BEACH climbed into our secure hotel space. There was a high wall (for high tide) and a wooden fence above that. Which also kept hotel guests from accessing the beach, directly. I caught his attention, stepped out to ask: “How can I get to the beach?” He told me I’d need to go to Forodhani Park. I pointed to the rickety wooden steps by our pool, behind a locked gate. “Would you unlock the gate and allow me to walk down, just for a minute?” I went into my long story – my plan for dipping my foot into ALL FIVE oceans; I had the first four, this was Number Five. And we were leaving TODAY. I put on my sweetest plaintive smile. He smiled back. “It’s too dangerous,” he said. “Just look.” We peered over the gate together. There was no rail (a bad sign for me, the rail-grabber.) The tide was about halfway out (or in), jagged rocks lay against the base of the wall, water fiercely lapping against stone. “I simply cannot allow you on these steps,” the guard said. “It’s treacherous.” Well in fact, it was, for me, for sure. “I just need the WATER,” I said. “I don’t need to walk ON the beach. So, would you walk down a few steps, get some Indian Ocean water on your hands, and then just SPRINKLE it on my feet?” This set off so much laughter between the guard and Rick; so many grins exchanged over an old lady’s head, that, next thing you know, he unlocked that gate and headed down those treacherous steps.

He was WADING in the waves; his shoes, his PANTS were getting soaked. “Just a teeny bit of water is OK!” I shouted down. “Be careful!” And then, he spotted a plastic bottle floating, banging against the rocks. This (precious, sweetheart) guard grabbed it, rinsed it out, and hopped back up the steps with an entire BOTTLE of Indian Ocean water! He poured it on my left foot! He poured it on my right foot! He laughed! Rick laughed! I squealed like a kid! Sometimes the most unexpected thing can lead to a tick mark on a bucket list. Ocean #5 is now on my feet! Just 78 years after Ocean #1.

The guard made my day. Of course I tipped him generously!

Zanzibar Serena Hotel

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A Spicy Afternoon

Linda Lou Burton posting from Zanzibar Serena Hotel, Stone Town, Zanzibar, TanzaniaCinnamon is tree bark. A pineapple plant produces only ONE pineapple. And the lipstick tree (no, I’m not kidding) has little red berries inside its spiny smooch-smooch pod that some people (have been known to) use to redden their lips. All of this was news to me! Cinnamon is TREE BARK? That’s right, that beloved wonderful-smelling stuff Mother would sprinkle on toast for me (a picky-eater-kid) comes from the bark of a tree. Imagine this: you scrape off the outer bark of a cinnamon tree (it’s an evergreen); then you cut out the inner bark, in strips. As the bark dries, it rolls into a curl. The dried curls are cut into “quills” 2-4 inches long for sale. Somehow or other this delicious tree bark winds up powdered on bread making cinnamon toast for picky kids. Or cinnamon rolls for everybody. We couldn’t even have Halloween Red Hots without that fragrant tree bark! That’s just part of what we learned this afternoon at the Jambo Spice Farm, where things that sit in everybody’s kitchen cabinet take on an exotic aura. Like cloves, the “Emperor of Spices”; like nutmeg, turmeric, cardamom, black pepper. You should have been there!

Ali drove, and Said led the tour, along with locals on the farm; a jungley maze of green to wander through on a warm afternoon. No crowds, no hurry, just stop, look, smell, and taste. Touch a banana while it’s hanging on the tree, still growing. Watch a brave soul shimmy up a coconut tree while everyone below chants him higher, higher, daring. Rick wound up with a hat and a tie made of woven coconut leaves (and he didn’t have to climb the tree). I gained a new appreciation for the gardening tactics regarding pineapple. Cut off the top and plant it so it can make another plant. Eat the pineapple fruit. Repeat. As for the lipstick tree: those bright red berries actually are used in industrial dyes for food preparation and cosmetics. My vote for prettiest just-off-the-tree spice was the nutmeg – once you open the outer shell it looks like you’ve lucked into a fancily-decorated chocolate bon-bon. Don’t you think?




Jambo Spice Farm is a 30-minute drive from Stone Town, in a cluster of spice-growing farms – Abeid, Badru, SISO, Tangawizi; and near the Zanzibar Agricultural Research Institute and the School of Agriculture. The drive passes along the coastline, turning eastward at Bububu.

Why do spices grow so profusely in Zanzibar? Perfect soil and climate – plenty of rain and always, always warm.


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Zanzibar School of Agriculture

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Food, Facts, & A Fort

Linda Lou Burton posting from Zanzibar Serena Hotel, Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania – Who doesn’t love pizza? The minute I saw “pizza” on the menu I knew that’s what I was ordering. I’d read about “Zanzibar Pizza” and was dying to try it – not Italian pizza, but Zanzibar pizza. You take unleavened dough, stretch it thin and fill it with beef, chicken, seafood, vegetables, cheese, eggs, whatever you please. Then you wrap the sides around, throw it into a pan full of butter, and fry it to a crispy gold! You can also make it sweet: bananas, mangoes, chocolate spread, even peanut butter. We’d had our Zanzibar coffee earlier, now with the Walking Tour done, Rick and I were in a tiny restaurant-by-the-sea for our lunch break. Said and Ali would fetch us later for our ride south to the Spice Farm. Lots to talk about – Rick had wandered through several hundred years of civilization in the last few hours. Stone Town is on Unguja, the largest of the Zanzibar Archipelago’s four main islands; it is 53 miles long and 24 miles wide, about 25 miles from Tanzania’s mainland. Zanzibar’s population (all islands) is under 2 million. Zanzibar City, of which Stone Town is a part, is the capital of this semi-autonomous province-within-a-country. That’s the geography. We needed to get Zanzibar’s HISTORY unscrambled in our heads, so, dates next.


10 Significant Dates (among many!):

  • 1498 – Portugal’s Vasco da Gama visited the islands
  • 1571 – Zanzibar became part of the Portuguese Empire
  • 1635 – Portuguese established a fort on Pemba Island
  • 1698 – Zanzibar came under influence of the Sultan of Oman
  • 1699 –Omani’s expelled the Portuguese, built fort in Stone Town
  • 1784 – Brief revolt against Omani rule
  • 1890 – Zanzibar became a protectorate of Great Britain
  • 1963 – British protectorate terminated, Zanzibar became monarchy
  • 1964 – Sultan deposed, Zanzibar became Peoples Republic
  • 1964 – Zanzibar merged with Tanganyika to become Tanzania

Oops, here are our pizzas, looking very American. “Sorry, we don’t serve Zanzibar pizza here,” our server explained. Okay then, something familiar! “Just tell me about two things you saw this morning,” I said to Rick as I scarfed down my cheesy pizza. “Your favorites.”

His picks: the coral stone used for building construction and the Old Fort. 

Stone Town was named “Stone Town” because its buildings were mainly built with coral stone, giving the town a warm color. Look at this alley wall!


The Old Fort is on the main seafront, by the House of Wonders, facing Forodhani Gardens. History: it was built by Omani Arabs after chasing away the Portuguese in 1699. It was used as a garrison and prison in the 19th century. In the early 20th century it was a depot as the railway that connected Stone Town to the village of Bububu (named for the sound a steam engine makes as it passes by bububububu) was being constructed. A new guardhouse was built in 1947 and used as the ladies’ club. And, thoroughly modern — its amphitheater is now the headquarters of the Zanzibar international film festival!


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Next Post: A Spicy Afternoon


The Pause Button

Linda Lou Burton posting from Zanzibar Serena Hotel, Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania – The telephone was ringing. I left my peaceful spot on the porch, wondering who would be calling so early on a Sunday morning. It was the front desk. “Your Tour Guide is in the lobby,” I was informed. Still in my jammies, I hastily threw on yesterday’s clothes, grabbed all the Globus info, and headed down the hall. A smiling man wearing a Fisherman’s Tours badge, said “Good morning, Madame. I am Said, and I have come to take you on the Walking Tour of the city.” I shook my head and began my apology. “I am so sorry! I guess the message didn’t get through. I told our Transport Driver yesterday we wanted to have a day of rest and do our tours tomorrow. I am very sorry for the inconvenience. We are just too tired to do anything today! Plus, we want to change the tours that were picked for us. I can’t do the walking City Tour, and we both want to go to a Spice Farm instead of walking in the Jozani Forest as you have scheduled, but we need to do that tomorrow. Can we please arrange that? I talked to the Globus main office about these changes months ago, but they told me I’d need to work with you directly once I got here.” Said was most agreeable and kind, as I kept apologizing for his troubles. We agreed on 9 AM tomorrow for Rick to do the Walking Tour of the City, with the driver getting me to one of the places I wanted to visit, the Zanzibar Coffee House. Then lunch, and an afternoon tour of a spice farm, which would take us farther inland on the island. We said our farewells, “Until tomorrow, then.”

Rick was still sitting on the porch when I returned. “A whole day of nothing planned!” I said. “For the first time in sixteen days, we can do just what we want to do, when we want to do it. And that includes doing nothing.” “Sounds like a plan to me!” he replied. Here’s what we did.

  • Watched the boats go by.
  • Watched the tide go out.
  • Watched people walking on the beach.
  • Watched people pretending to swim in the ocean.
  • Watched the tide come in.
  • Wandered around our pool.
  • Wandered the hotel grounds.
  • Ate lunch in the Baharia Restaurant with open-air windows overlooking the beach.
  • Took pictures of the flowers.
  • Took pictures of the people. (And yes, the gal in the scruffy jeans shorts is the one in the teeny-weeny bikini, surprise!)

It’s hard to do ABSOLUTELY nothing. As our gang-mate Ed said often, while we were on safari, “There’s always something to look at.” Even when you hit the pause button.


Zanzibar Serena Hotel

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A Story of Water

Linda Lou Burton posting from Zanzibar Serena Hotel, Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania – This is the prettiest drink ever! And I promise, the most welcomed. We arrived at our exotic Serena-By-The-Sea (Kingdom by the sea? Poe) just after 3 PM, with a poet’s bag of stories (I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence.” Frost). There’s the story of Ben’s flight-booking surprise, that turned into turmoil for everyone. There’s the story of our strange pilot (Santa?) who “spoke not a word but went straight to his work” for the entire two-hour flight. There’s the story of Immigrations (Give me your tired… Lazarus) where, even though Zanzibar is IN Tanzania, and we were IN Tanzania on a Tanzanian visa as evidenced in our passports, we had to fill out paperwork for Zanzibar. And then there’s the story of water.

I was the last person on the plane (slowly, slowly; pole, pole) being pushed and pulled up the tiny steps and squeezed into the last seat. The person carrying my backpack threw it into the pile of luggage secured behind a cloth curtain at the back. As the plane taxied down the runway, my seatmate began recording our flight, his camera-on-a-stick held to the window, technology capturing his dull monotone voice. I looked around, surveying my surroundings; the plane had 1-2 seating with me in the aisle seat. Friedrich (I decided to name him) was on my right and his traveling partner Frieda (as I named her) had the single window seat to the left of me (yes, they had grabbed both windows). About 30 minutes into the flight, Friedrich reached into his backpack and pulled out two water bottles. He leaned over me and handed one across the aisle to Frieda, then tucked one into his seat pocket, unopened. This set off the “thirst command” in my head, and I realized that MY water bottle was in my backpack, and my backpack was way beyond my reach, oh criminy! After 30 minutes of staring at those two unopened water bottles, I nudged Friedrich’s arm and said, in gesturing English, “I need some water badly but mine is in the back. I’ll be glad to pay you for your water bottle.” He shook his head and frowned. “No. This is my water.” Then I started coughing. I didn’t MEAN to, I swear! But I couldn’t stop coughing! My mouth was completely dry; I was reminded of those poor zebras in Amboseli, dying of thirst. My throat hurt. I was thinking evil thoughts. Friedrich never looked my way, nor did he ever open his water bottle. Frieda didn’t either.

This beautiful drink I’m sipping now, in the lobby of my Serena-by-the-Indian Ocean, isn’t the much-craved water I needed so badly on the plane, but bungo juice, which is found only in Zanzibar; it tastes of pineapple, mango, and orange; refreshing but not too sweet. The flower is hibiscus; red and orange blooms surround the hotel. A poet would have a word for a place like this, I’m thinking, as I looked past the massive hand-carved doors to the lively street scene out front.  “Friedrich and Frieda will probably hate it here” is the best line I’ve got.

A record of our day, so far, beginning at Seronera Airstrip. See, I had water with me!


Zanzibar Serena Hotel


Even Safaris End

Linda Lou Burton posting from Seronera Airstrip, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania–Some things you never want to forget. I’ll remember my gripes about this fast-paced-energy-charged safari for a long time. It’s been exhausting! But I’ll remember the giraffes forever. That very first day, when I gently placed a pellet on the gray velvet tongue of a giraffe and looked straight into those eyes with their Hollywood lashes, I was forever taken in. They look amazing in the wild too; in every photo I took, zooming across the grasslands, those beautiful long lashes stand out. I’ll remember the neat-looking zebras, and their unlikely best buds, the scraggly wildebeests, what an odd, but wildly successful, relationship! I’ll remember the pudgy hippos with their sublime mudpuddle grins and the rhinos with those not very attractive outgrowths stuck to the top of their faces that make them a desirable target for mean money makers. I’ll remember the elephants, going at life full-force, pushing over trees and slinging dust every which way, but so tender hearted they grieve when they lose a loved one. I’ll remember the many species of antelope, with their dainty, pretty, sometimes fairytale swirls of horns, and the big broad sweep of the buffalo’s “boss” stretching across the top of his head. I’ll remember the land plover, fearlessly guarding her two tiny eggs laying among the rocks at the side of the road. As for the lions, well sure, I know they have teeth and jaw powerful enough to bite off my arm, but what I’ll remember is all that sleeping, and stretching, and sleeping, just like my sweet little Katy cat. Overall in my memories, however, is the land, the landscape, the home for these animals. The acacia trees dotted across the open plains are planted firmly in my dreams. What a fitting place to end our safari today – the Serengeti. Even the name is beautiful – “serengeti” is an approximation of the word “siringet” used by the Maasai meaning “the place where the land runs on forever.”


Early morning packing (don’t forget that hustle!) to taking pictures of each other, just before boarding our plane. The first animals of the day were two cape buffalo by our front porch (yes, I called security). The last animal (surprise!) was the long awaited “tree-climbing lion.” I reminded Willy of our fruitless search at Lake Manyara, saying “Willy, don’t let us leave forever without seeing a lion in a tree.” By golly, he found one. Do you see a lion in that nice shady tree? Willy did! He moved the 4×4 so we could see both back and front.


Serengeti National Park is a World Heritage Site covering 5,700 square miles of grassland plains, savanna, riverine forest, and woodlands. It lies in northwestern Tanzania, bordered to the north by Kenya, where it adjoins the Maasai Mara National Reserve. To the southeast is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, to the southwest the Ikorongo and Grumeti Game Reserves, and to the northeast and east the Loliondo Game Control Area. This space teems with wildlife – over 2 million ungulates, 4,000 lions, 1,000 leopards, 550 cheetahs, and some 500 bird species. The Serengeti is well known for the largest annual animal migration in the world of over 1.5 million blue wildebeest and 250,000 zebra along with smaller herds of Thomas’ Gazelle and eland. The Park is also home to the largest lion population in Africa.

The park is divided into three regions:

  • Serengeti plains: The best-known feature of the Serengeti is the almost treeless grassland in the south. It has kopjes, granite formations that serve as observation posts for predators.
  • Western corridor: The Grumeti and Mbalageti. Rivers, big groups of riverine forest, and small mountain ranges stretch to Lake Victoria. The great migration passes through the corridor from May to July.
  • Northern Serengeti: This remote and relatively inaccessible area is dominated by open woodlands and hills, ranging from Seronera in the south to the Mara River on the Kenyan border.

Human habitation is forbidden in the Park except for the Tanzania National Parks Authority staff, researchers and staff of the various lodges, campsites, and hotels. The main settlement is Seronera with its primary airstrip.

Serengeti National Park

Next Post: A Story Of Water


Crossing My Fingers

Linda Lou Burton posting from Seronera Airstrip, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania– “He never helped with pictures.” This was the complaint every member of the gang was voicing, as we sat in the airstrip terminal this morning. Ben (remember, not his real name) was running here and there, supposedly getting tickets, supposedly for the right people, going to the right places. I sat terrorized, my confidence level in the “right thing” being done for the “right time” at a good minus-ten. (That’s -10.) Fond memories of Abdi, our guide in Kenya, and our drivers in both countries (Daniel and Willy for our 4×4), all expert photographers, were recalled; how they’d take any one of our cameras (if asked, and sometimes, even if not); make the correct adjustments for the circumstances, and “get the shot.” Anyone on the wrong side of the 4×4, no matter, they were always willing to take our camera and help. Ben (remember, working on his Masters in Tourism) had his own fancy-schmancy camera with lens that could zoom to the moon, and he concentrated on his own photos at every stop. He said he was “collecting information” for a project. I wasn’t as bothered by THAT as much as his inability to get us anywhere on time, to listen to anything we might ask, and, most especially, to follow through on the trip itinerary. Promises by Globus, not carried out by Ben. Here are two:

DAY 12, WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 21, 2022. NGORONGORO. Full-day game drive in the crater includes a picnic lunch. (Remember the 4:30 AM departure and boiled-egg in a box?)

DAY 14, FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 23, 2022. SERENGETI. Special farewell dinner in the bush includes a traditional Maasai dance performance. (Guess what.)

I was still stinging over his double-cross about the day in the Crater, which caused me to miss one of my prime objectives of the trip. I strongly suspect he simply failed to book the lunch in advance, and then the Lodge couldn’t accommodate us. Or maybe he thought he’d get more photos for his project earlier in the morning. I’ll never know. But the missing Maasai dance at last night’s farewell dinner was the last straw! We did have a dinner on outdoor tables, but we were seated in the dark with a spotlight in our faces (not lanterns in the trees); and the entertainment was Ben making speeches about tourism in Tanzania. Remember our “last night” with Abdi at Amboseli? Sundowners as the gang  sat together around the fire, talking and reminiscing? When I asked Ben “where are our dancers?” he shrugged. “No dancers,” was all he said. I asked him to come to our tent afterwards. He did, wearing a distracted look. I put “tomorrow’s itinerary” in front of him, pointing to the arrangements, already paid for, that were critical for the next day. Rick and I were to move forward on our own, still as Globus customers, but sans a guide familiar with the territory to take care of potential goof-ups.

DAY 15, SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 24, 2022. SERENGETI–STONE TOWN, ZANZIBAR. Morning game drive. Fly (via Arusha) to Stone Town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). STONE TOWN Free time in the late afternoon and evening.

“Do you have our plane tickets to Zanzibar?” “Do you have transport booked to get us from the airport to our hotel there?” “Is everything confirmed?” “Oh sure,” was his answer. Based on past experience, I am crossing my fingers.

Last night’s farewell dinner. A night-hunting lion strolling through, or some klipspringers dancing might have livened things up! It ended with everyone straggling off to their tent.


Mbuzi Mawe Serena Tented Camp

Serengeti National Park

Next Post: Even Safaris End


Let Sleeping Lions

Linda Lou Burton posting from Mbuzi Mawe Serena Tented Camp, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania–Almost time to go. Our gang disperses today. We’ve hung together, for better or worse, since Monday morning, September 12; twelve days of breathing the same air, eating the same food, and bumping our butts all day long in the same 4x4s. Some head home today. Rick and I are headed for Zanzibar, a few days added as part of the overall tour. Maureen and Ed are going to Zanzibar too, after more time in Arusha on their own. Ben and Willy head home to Arusha to begin another tour. Will the animals miss us? Gawking TOURISTS with our cameras pointing every which way at them as they try to eat, and sleep, WOW-ing even when they fart? Yes, that was Rick’s story from yesterday’s game drive – several male lions were spotted in the grasses so of course all vehicles in the area parked within view, and every safarian raised their cameras. People in the States WARNED me to “Be careful in Africa, those lions will eat you up!” These lions, however, simply noted that the 4×4 created some shade, so walked over to begin napping in the SHADE for a while. One lion was so contented, he rolled over and farted, the sound reverberating through the 4×4; then nodded off to sleep again. I guess that’s telling them, Leo! I share Rick’s photos of the Lazy Lions, plus more lions and a few other good shots he got yesterday, like the striking kopjes he saw near a museum, while I was sitting on the porch gazing at our camp kopjes.

Sorry about the last photo. Rick tells me it is a leopard, and it certainly has its spots. Don’t know why the color is off, but maybe it was excitement — the leopard sighting rounded out the Big 5 for Rick — elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros, lion, and leopard. He was elated!

Mbuzi Mawe Serena Tented Camp

Serengeti National Park

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