Knud Henrik's diary 18 May 2006: Arusha

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Last updated 2007.11.21

Tuesday 16 May we had arranged for the first safari. That is, in Swahili "safari" means "journey" or "travel" so literally we were already on safari. However, Tuesday we went to Arusha National Park, a fairly small national park just about one hours drive north-east of Arusha town. The area is completely dominated by the volcanic formations of Mount Meru (second highest mountain in Tanzania) and Ngurdoto Crater, offering some very distinct, varied and beautiful sceneries. We saw quite a lot of the more common wild game, giraffe, zebra, buffalo, warthog, lesser flamingo and greater flamingo, hippo (just the nose tip), but also a few of the more rarely seen, the tiny deer called dik-dik and the beautiful vervet colobus monkey. We had lunch at a picnic site overlooking the Small Momella Lake.

On the way back to Arusha we passed by the Usa River Street Children Project, a social project that aims at helping homeless and/or parent-less children in the village Usa River. The project is funded by a Danish association guided by the Danish consul Geert Holm-Lassen in Arusha. Presently, four Danish volunteers were working there as well as a number of local staff. 30 children inhabit the premises, aged from 2 to 18 years.

Wednesday morning we went to Meserani Snake Park west of Arusha. This was an improvisation but it turned out to be a very nice and informative experience. The park holds quite a number of different snake species from different parts of East and Southern Africa as well as crocodiles, lizards and tortoises. We even had the chance to nurse a little croc and hold a snake around the neck (a harmless one), real fun to the kids. Next to the snake park there is a Masai Cultural Centre to which the entry fee to the snake park was valid as well. A guide showed us around and told us many interesting things about the Masai people.

After the snake park and Masai centre we went to a hot spring called "Chemka" ("boiling water") some 60 km east-south-east of Arusha. Actually, our driver Japhet and I misunderstood each other. When we decided to go to the snake park I had another snake park, situated east of Arusha, in mind but according to Japhet the Semerani place is superior. That misunderstanding made the combination of destinations less obvious. I had been at this hot spring a few times back in 1992-93 and reckoned it a nice place to swim and relax. Japhet didn't know the place but had asked around at the office and got some rudimentary directions. Only after having asked for directions on the roads at least twenty times we found the place at last. And it remained just as beautiful and tranquil place as I remembered. The source springs with salty water which flows from the underground into a pond and continues to form a river. The temperature is just perfect for swimming and the water flows through the pond with a gentle speed, perfectly adjusted to relaxed swimming speed. We had a really good time there, swimming, relaxing and having a little picnic. We were all very tired when we finally reach back to the hotel.

Today Thursday we experienced the coldest morning so far, just 13 C. All voices singing the praise of the ever melting hot Africa be silenced...

We left Arusha and went on in a western direction. After having shopped we went to a camp site (Zion Camp, formerly known as Kigongoni Camp) just north of Tarangire National Park, east of Lake Manyara. The camp site is very well kept, with water flush toilets, fenced with a wall and gate and some guards looking after us. We brought along some food stuff in anticipation that there would be little to buy here though there is a small village just nearby. As it's still low season we have the camp site almost to ourselves, just one more tent is put up but so far no inhabitants are seen, unless it's inhabited by the staff. We have arranged with one of the local guys to cook for us so now we are in for the more traditional Tanzanian kitchen.

Tomorrow we intend to go on safari in the Tarangire National Park, check back to share the experience.