Today I went on my first Safari (fun fact: safari in Swahili means trip). The day started off early with breakfast and off I went in the van for my safari experience! We drove to Arusha National Park. This is one of the smaller parks in Tanzania, yet it was still so breathtaking. The area of the park is 137 km². Arusha National Park covers Mount Meru, a volcano in the Arusha Region. Mount Meru is the second highest peak in Tanzania after Mount Kilimanjaro. The park has three distinct areas. In the west there is the Meru Crater, Jekukumia River and the peak of Mount Meru. In the south-east region is Ngurdoto Crater. The Momella Lakes are in the north-east.
After entering the park, I rode around in the pop-top van to see tons of flora and fauna. As I drove I saw many mango trees, “sausage” trees, coffee trees and so many other plants. The first animals (wanyama) we were able to see were giraffes (twiga) and zebras (punda milia). They were always together grazing whenever I spotted them. I also saw tons of blue monkeys (tumbili) as well as colubus monkeys (tumbili mweupe) and baboons (nyani). By the Momella Lakes, there thousands upon thousands of flamingos (flamingo). It was like a sea of pink. The sounds of them swimming and eating was the perfect noise to relax to. They were very graceful! When getting ready to the fly, the flamingos walked on the top of the water to gain momentum before take-off. As the trip continued I spotted several bush hogs (mbwa mwitu) and even a warthog (ngiri) in the bushes. Towards the end of the trip, I saw many birds (ndege). At one point, I was able to get out of the van and climb up to the top of a hill, where we ate lunch. As you looked over the edge of the hill, you could see a Ngordoto crater. It filled with trees and some animals. A lot of it was covered in fog, but it was still wonderful. Being able to look down and across so much land was amazing. It was a very beautiful sight.
This was one of the best experiences I have had so far. The variety of animals I was able to see in their natural habitats was amazing. Back in the states, the only time I would see those types of animals is in captivity at a zoo. Watching them roam and be free to do what they wanted was very special. Hundreds of pictures were taken on the trip to capture these beautiful moments. I am very excited to be traveling next week to experience more safaris. I will be visiting Ngorongoro crater, Tarangire National Park and Lake Manyara National Park. Hopefully we will be able to see more animals such as lions (simba), elephants (tembo), wildebeests (nyumbu), cheetahs (duma), leopards (chui) and many others. My trip has just begun and it is going to be life changing.