continued from Part 1...
Day 4: Arusha
I took an Uber to Kenyatta International Airport where I boarded my flight to Kilimanjaro airport. The flight is no more than 40 minutes take off to touch down so for most of the flight I kept my eyes glued on the window because I didn’t want to miss a glimpse of Mt. Kilimanjaro. I have never in all of my nine trips to Tanzania, seen Kili so clearly (except when I was climbing of course). It was a site that literally brought me to tears. I don’t know if it was its beauty or just my excitement to be back in a country that means so much to me, but I was glad no one was sitting next to me in that moment ;)
My friend, Gilbert, picked me up from the airport and drove me on the familiar drive from Kilimanjaro to Arusha. I loved watching as I passed familiar landmarks, but then also seeing the new developments of the past four years since I’ve been to Arusha. So much is the same, but so much has changed.
I got checked into my hotel, a place I love to stay, as much for its location as its authenticity, Boulevard Inn. As I was checking in, Gilbert went to pick up one of my dear friends and bring her back to get me. My friend Cherie was also in Tanzania attending to her own projects, and we planned to overlap our trips to go on safari together. Cherie is from Australia, so the only time I get to see her is in Tanzania! We met because we both volunteered through the same organization almost a decade ago. I’ll always be so grateful for that experience, for introducing me to so many of my friends.
Once she and Gilbert were back to collect me, we went straight to town for lunch, to meet our safari guide, and to stop in some of our favorite places. One of those places is Shanga, a workshop that employees women and men with disabilities to make incredible pieces - glassware, blankets, jewelry, and more. If you’re ever in Arusha, definitely don’t miss the opportunity to stop here!
As it only happens in Tanzania, we were able to corral some friends for a lovely dinner overlooking Mt. Meru at a new hotel in town, the Gran Melia. Spectacular views with even better company! Jackie used to work for Projects Abroad, which is how we met, but we’ve been able to stay in touch over the years. And David is a friend initially because of business, but now just because…which is how it is in Tanzania. He is one of the founders of Pamoja Tunaweza, a boys and girls club in Moshi, Tanzania, which also has a jewelry making workshop attached. Covid was very hard on Pamoja because of tourism being way down, but he is incredibly resilient and resourceful and is working on a few different projects - glass blowing and painting being two of them. I bought a painting from him that I can’t wait to get framed - he is incredibly talented!
Day 5-7: Safari
Cherie and I went on and three day safari to the Serengeti. Every time I am in Africa, I try to do some kind of safari because it is my favorite thing in the world, but I don’t always get to go to the Serengeti because it’s about a 7 hour drive from Arusha. There is nowhere like the Serengeti. I’m convinced of it. It was my fourth time there, and I’m more in love now than ever. Each trip, each day is different and full of wonder. Each sunrise and sunset is more beautiful than the next.
We stayed at Mawe Camp in the central part of the Serengeti, a location I had yet to explore. Mawe was fantastic - gorgeous accommodations, delicious food, and Tanzanian hospitality at its finest. I would absolutely recommend this place and would certainly return.
It is such a privilege to witness these gorgeous animals in their homes - to watch a lioness nurse her six cubs, a herd elephants graze, to observe two male lions wake up from sleeping, lion cubs playing, a leopard eat her kill up in a tree, hippos roll around in the hippo pool, a mother cheetah scan for prey in the distance, two cheetah brothers resting under a tree and then get up in search for water, a group of lionesses finding shade under our jeep, and so, so much more. It's more than I can put into words and the photos don't do their beauty justice!
I could go on forever about how I feel about being out in the bush, off the grid, in a place that feels almost untouched. I hope you can feel its magic through these photos.
Day 8: Arusha
Today was my last day in Arusha, my flight late that night. Cherie and I spent most of the day in town visiting some of our old favorites and some new spots too. One of the new spots was a place called Sanaa, which like Shanga, women and men with disabilities are employed to create amazing handmade products. I loved learning about their workshop and their mission, and I even got to connect with an old friend who used to work at Shanga, and is now at Sanaa.
My dear friend, Milton also met us there, which was so fun. I met Milton years ago, and although we keep in touch, there’s nothing like being in person. I loved hearing about his company, Bike Heroes Tanzania, which he started since the last time I had seen him. Next time I’m in Tanzania I will definitely go on one of his bike tours - what a great way to see things!
Saying goodbye is never easy. After not being in East Africa for three years and Tanzania for four years, this trip really reaffirmed for me my love for this part of the world and was so good for my soul. I will be back soon!