Sorry to have left things so long on a cliffhanger. Life, both good and bad, has got in the way since I last posted.
We’ve got to Friday 19th February, and we’ve had our last morning drive in Tarangire National Park. We left the Safari Lodge around 3.00pm, for a three-hour drive back to Arusha, where we could use an ATM, and make little purchases in the shops, and were to say goodbye to the lovely local jeep-drivers and guides, Deo and Sammy, who had made our lives so interesting over the previous week or so. From there we were to transfer to a small coach to return to Kilimanjaro Airport, for an hour’s flight to Dar es Salaam, (on the coast) from where, the next day, we would have a three-hour flight way over west to Kigoma, on Lake Tanganyika.
Except that when we got to Arusha, I realised to my absolute Horror and Terror and Panic that I had not got my little bag, containing purse, passport and mobile phone, with me. It should have been in my backpack. It wasn’t. I must have left it at the Safari Lodge, either on the settee where I had been awaiting our departure, or slung on the back of my chair at lunch.
Sammy and Ian, our British leader, took over. It needed only a few minutes to establish that the bag had been found at the Lodge. OK, so far so good. But I would need that passport in exactly 7 days’ time to get out of the country, not to mention that it was to have served as identity for three internal flights beforehand. And my purse contained plastic for hole in the wall and a lot of cash. Moreover it would be something of a nuisance, but manageable, not having my phone.
Sorted, hooray, within another 10 minutes. The next colleague of Sammy and Deo, from the fantastic company Serengeti Select Safaris, to make the journey from Tarangire would bring the bag to their HQ in Arusha. SSS would then post it to Dar es Salaam Airport where it would be waiting for me the following Friday. What a relief!!!
For cash, well, I had another bit of plastic in my backpack. And as for passport for internal flights – I also had a photocopy of the key page in my back pack. This just sufficed, though things were a bit sticky at Kigoma on two occasions, when it would have been better if I had also been able to show my visa – they are tight there because of illegal immigration from the very close Burundi.
And to jump to the end of the story, a week later, someone was indeed waiting for me at Arrivals at Dar es Salaam airport with a brown paper package in her hand. She got a hug! And all credit to SSS – they didn’t charge me anything for flying the bag from Arusha to Dar. (The wildlife and development charity ‘Tusk’ have received a donation from me in very grateful acknowledgment of that fact.)
For a blog which is meant to be photos, sorry that was a lot of text, but I felt I should come clean about my stupidity, and I wanted to thank publicly the great kindliness and efficiency of the Serengeti Select Safaris.
OK, back to Arusha on that Friday night. As we approached the town and airport of Kilimanjaro, it was getting dark rapidly, as it does in any country near the Equator. But we could just make out Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance to our left, and I marvelled at the fact that my cousin-in-law had climbed it for charity quite recently – chapeau Nick!
Once at Kigoma, a bustling town on Lake Tanganyika, we stayed for two nights in self-catering accommodation – which was interesting as, of the nine of us, two were vegan, three vegetarian and one gluten-free. We managed, but when we stayed there for one night on the way back, we decided to have a take-away!
No great wildlife interest there, but there was a very pretty bay in which some, but not I, bathed:
Our accommodation at Kigoma
Some children at the lakeside. They presented me with a crab they’d caught
From Kigoma, on Sunday 21st February, we transferred to Gombe Nature Reserve, made famous by Jane Goodall’s research on chimpanzees, research which has been carried on ever since she started it in 1960, and now financed by the Jane Goodall Institute, for which at the age of 82 she continues to fly round the world for 300 days a year, promoting its work and fundraising.
We got there by the only possible means, a 90-minute boat ride, on the choppy Lake. Here’s what Wikipedia says about it:
It is the largest rift lake in Africa and the second largest lake by volume in the world. It is the deepest lake in Africa and holds the greatest volume of fresh water, accounting for 18% of the world’s available fresh water. It extends for 676 km (420 mi) in a general north-south direction and averages 50 km (31 mi) in width. The lake covers 32,900 km2 (12,700 sq mi), with a shoreline of 1,828 km (1,136 mi), a mean depth of 570 m (1,870 ft) and a maximum depth of 1,470 m (4,820 ft) (in the northern basin). It holds an estimated 18,900 cubic kilometres (4,500 cu mi). It has an average surface temperature of 25 °C (77 °F) and a pH averaging 8.
I was just thrilled to think that I was actually on the Rift, a very gradually widening geological split in the African continent.
One of the several fishing villages on the lake
Olive baboons, the first of many we saw…
Jetty at the Park headquarters where we stayed.
After some lunch we rushed out for our first trek into the jungle, on the steep-sided Lake edge, in search of elusive chimpanzees. Some of us found the pace very fast, and pushing through the jungle (machetes not allowed) very difficult indeed. It was also incredibly humid, which (partly) explains why my photos are not brilliant. Moreover, to our disappointment of course, we didn’t see many chimpanzees, though this first one is the alpha male, Ferdinand, of the habituated Kasakela troop.