Tanzania 2008: A Very Different Landscape

As we awakened for the final time in Tanzania we couldn’t help to know and believe that this would NOT be our last visit to Africa. Our day began with an early breakfast at the Dik-Dik hotel. We enjoyed a sumptuous meal of eggs, fruit, and cheeses before beginning our final safari drive. While food security and hunger is a pervasive problem throughout various regions of Africa, this was certainly not our experience. At times the opulence of our travels pulled at our collective conscious; international travel has a way of revealing the difference between needs and wants. Tamy and I are quite fortunate to live the life we do and live it where we live, this is an inequity that haunts me now and will certainly haunt me in the future.

The city of Arusha lies between Mt. Meru and it’s more famous brother Mt. Kilimanjaro. On clear days it is possible to see both mountains piercing the sky from the valley that surrounds the city. We left the Dik Dik as the sun was rising above the horizon. Although we were all weary from the previous day of travel, there was this collective desire to see the magic of Africa one last time. 

Arusha National Park lies within the foothills of Mt. Meru. Once we crossed the park gate, we were immediately enveloped by the wet montane forests that characterize the foothills of this mountain chain. Arusha National Park is uniquely different from the parks lying within the Rift Valley. The thick tropical trees are teeming with wildlife, and are home to blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, trogons, and hornbills. Much like Ngorongoro Crater, the park is a microcosm of East African habitats. Lying within this lush forest are the unspoiled slopes and marshes of the Ngurdoto Crater. The road through Arusha leads you past wooded savannahs, wet meadows, and alkaline lakes. Although the distribution of wildlife was less dense than the Serengeti, it was no less exciting. 

During this final game drive we were able to see and photograph giraffes, water buffalo, elephants, waterbuck, zebras, warthogs, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, flamingos, kingfishers, bee-eaters, black-shouldered kites, and countless other species of mammals.

Although the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater are the “main-attractions” of a Tanzanian safari, I strongly suggest that travelers carve out at least one day to visit Arusha National Park. Because this rich landscape is so uniquely different from the other safari destinations, it should be on your must see list.

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