Sunday, November 28, 2010

Back to my roots Africa:

We have been in Africa Tanzania for a week now…. I will be blogging about the clinical experiences soon but just had to share this wonderful weekend with my friends and the world. Despite all the hardships that can clearly be seen in parts of Africa the country and its wildlife are absolutely magnificent….Africa is rich with warm friendly people, diverse cultures and stunning wildlife. I began to feel as if my soul had returned home once I got off the aeroplane. The steamy airport….. crowds of people a disorganized chaos was all reminiscence of my times spent in Zimbabwe.

Our weekend was spent at Mikumi National Park: the park is in Morogoro Region, in the southern tourist circuit of Tanzania. This is the nearest park to the commercial capital of Tanzania, Dar Es Salam. It is about 288 km west of the city and takes about 5 hrs by car. We travelled in convoy in land cruiser troopies 8 to each vehicle that includes the driver (who is a local). The road is bitumenised all the way to the park. The park gets its name from the spindle – shaped borassus palm trees which are typical of the area. Mikumi National Park with an area of is the fifth largest park. It lies between the villages of Doma and Mikumi on the Dar Es Salaam-Tunduma road. The Mkata River-flood plain, with its hardpan, ridges, swamps and black-clay grassland, the miombo woodlands on the hill to the east and west, and the rivers with their fringe of tall trees and dense thickets. Often it looked like it was going to rain…. Thankfully it didn’t; the short rains usually fall during November and December. Long rains are from March to May.

Everyone relaxed and really enjoyed the weekend, it was just not long enough…..being with the students all week, it was great to see them relax as well as us (the supervisors). We were warned that the animals wander around the grounds and to walk together and be watchful. As we sat drinking; me with a gin and tonic and as we had lunch we watched the animals arrive at the waterhole; zebra, warthog (pumba) and her babies and a small family of elephants…. It was brilliant to watch the elephants drinking and having a mud bath…..the giraffe were ambling in the background grazing on the leaves ….. what a wonderful world we live in….it was a time to reflect, re-energize and rejuvenate.

We stayed in small lodges made from mud….self contained double rooms. The windows were open spaces covered by a wired mesh similar to fly wire. We were all sharing; I was sharing with two other fantastic women…. We chose our beds unpacked our bags then out for our first adventure in the land cruisers. The usual application of sunscreen and insect repellent…. Excitement in the air…..a beautiful sunny day….the African air. It was not long before we came across our first elephants, then impala, lots of impala they are almost like our kangaroo’s…. we were all glued to the scenery trying to spot the next animal…when I called out “there’s a Kangaroo” ……on our way back to the village we came across a group of Giraffe, they are so spectacular to watch…. elegant and graceful. Alas still no Lions: The African sunset was spectacular as expected….. got back to the village…. Had a double gin and fanta as there was no tonic….tasted great… a fabulous dinner….beef stew and veg whilst watching animals at the waterhole….. later that evening the lions came to visit…some of the students were disturbed and frightened, the park employees escorted everyone back to their rooms….. it was a hot night…the electricity went off at 11pm so no more fans….. we slept under mosquito nets…it was a hot sticky night….as for me I had tooth ache so took a bucket load of pills and could feel my tooth throbbing…..but did manage to get to sleep…..

Up on Sunday morning at 0600hrs out to go for the morning safari drive; wonderful morning… a bit cloudy…weather great…cool; spotting animals… we came across a herd of elephants…. Unbelievable…the female leads the herd and the rest follow there were two calves in the herd… we spent quite a while admiring them it was so quiet you could hear them walking, they came very close to us…. Fantastic pictures…..we drove for an hour watching…. I was standing feeling the wind on my face…….feeling very much at home in one with the land…..the driver got a phone call and then began driving very fast…., we knew there was something to be seen…. We finally caught up with the other group to find a pride of lions who had very recently killed a buffalo, it was disemboweled…. There was a lioness close by well camouflaged, we all were excited and scrambled to get pictures…the safari was complete now that we had seen lions in the day….it was back for breakfast then the homeward journey back to the hotel (5hrs).

It was fantastic to see large herds of buffalo, wandering groups of elephant, wildebeast, zebra, impala, baboon, warthog, jackal and giraffe. Most spectacular was the sight of a fresh kill of a Buffalo by a pride of lions…… wow… just amazing.
Giraffes are the tallest of all living land mammals. The animal’s typical gait is rather slow, deliberate and remarkably graceful, almost as if the actions were filmed in slow motion.

Elephants have a gestation of 24months and live to about 60yrs, they weigh 3-4 tons and they eat 375kg of food….wow

I have to mention that the traffic (in Dar Es Salam) and the cars / buses are just diabolical – they are crazy drivers; how there are not more accidents I do not know…. We cringed more than a few times on our journey….. overtaking… causing the oncoming traffic to take responsibility to move out the way…..our drivers were excellent: There was a small gift shop on sight which I bought some material for the girls (Kanga) a traditional piece of cloth used for clothes: Now it is back to reality we have another week left….

spot the lion: sitting watching her kill...the pride was further back under a tree too far to take pictures:

I have written this blog on the homeward journey on the bus, as we are often stuck in traffic and hopefully I can upload it when I get back to the hotel, if the wireless is working....Watch this space for further tails and I have many…… photos will be coming soon.. it has taken me over an hour to upload these is back to work tomorrow...

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