Sunday, April 1, 2012

Day 16 - Tanzania - Fifth day on safari

As it happens, there's not going to be any safari today. I woke up this morning at 6am and immediately had to head to the bathroom. Conditions have not changed since yesterday. I'm extremely disappointed that I'm not going to get a chance to see the bottom of the Ngorongoro Crater much less the opportunity to see the rhinos or cheetahs but there is simply no way my body can handle that rough, bumpy road again with my intestines turning inside-out on me. I explain to Ben that he needs to take me directly to the Springlands hotel in Moshi and he seems a bit confused. He says we must go to the crater first but eventually he realizes that I'm not going. He insist that I write down on a piece of paper that I've elected not to go to the crater and instead return to the hotel. I totally understand what's happening here. He wants to make sure that he doesn't get in trouble for changing the itinerary and of course I want to make sure he doesn't as well. I write out a detailed description of my situation and sign and date it for him so he can fax it to his boss. Then we are off towards Moshi on relatively smooth roads, except for those darn speed bumps.

It's early afternoon when we pull into the compound at the hotel and the manager is surprised to see me back so early. She is unaware at this time of my problems but when she learns about them they show true concern. The hotel I'm now at, the Springlands Hotel, the Highview Hotel, and the Serengeti Wild Camp are all Zara Properties so they are very concerned when I inform them that the couple from Denmark was also complaining about the same problem at the camp. It's not an isolated incident. They immediately start making inquiries to find out what's going on and assure me this is not usual. I'm sure it's not. It only takes one tiny mistake for several people to get sick. With that knowledge I would not hesitate to recommend them for anyone wishing to travel to Tanzania either for climbing the mountain or going on safari. It really was a first class operation the whole way. The people were great, the food was great, the entire country was great.

Once I'm settled in and had a chance to rest for a while I make my way out to the open-air courtyard area where everyone seems to congregate. There's groups of people returning from the mountain and other groups of people just arriving. You can easily tell them apart. The people that have just come down off the mountain have a bit of a disheveled look about them along with a huge grin. I remember that grin. In fact, I've still got mine and I came down 5 days ago! The others, the "clean" ones, you can tell are a little on the quite side. They have that same look I had the day I arrived here just trying to soak it all in. I settle in at a table with three other guys and can tell they have just returned from the mountain. They are going over pictures in their cameras and talking about the experience. We trade stories and of course I've got them all beat with my story about being buried alive on day 5 by snow. Then we start talking about the safari because they haven't done it yet. They leave tomorrow for a really long safari that's going to take them through Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and the Congo. One of the guys describes himself as a professional back-packer. I grab my camera so I can show them what to expect and it turns out one of the guys is a Canon shooter and a camera guy himself.We talk about lenses for a while and I show off the monster 600mm lens. He's got the new 8-15mm Canon fisheye zoom lens that I have to try out and I capture this image of two of them just inches from the front of the lens.

I know it's a goofy shot but my only shot today worth showing off. I gave these guys my business card and hope they are following along on the blog. If so, please leave a comment below, it would be great to hear from you all again and find out how the safari went for you.

The rest of the day is spent close to my hotel room and out here in the courtyard sharing stories with people and even giving a bit of advise for the newbs that are heading up the mountain tomorrow. After all, I'm a seasoned pro now, they better listen. Really the main piece of advise I give to them is to listen to their guides and follow their advise to the letter. That and drink plenty of water and take the hike Pole, Pole - Slowly, Slowly.

Tomorrow I start my journey home but most of the daytime hours will be spent here at the hotel doing pretty much the same thing I've done all afternoon today. Hanging out talking to the people just coming back from the mountain or the ones getting ready to head up. My flight is not till 7pm tomorrow.