In pursuit of Daniel and the big five

When we wrote our previous post we were looking for our Swedish friend Daniel. We did found out his whereabouts, about five kilometres to the west. But while looking for him we found a volunteer centre with three germans, and they invited us to sleep in their house, which we accepted, of course. They lived in an old, two stories big house right on the university campus in Mwika. Two of them were 19 year old girls, just having finished high school and then spending a year volunteering in Tanzania. When we met them they had been here for nine months and were now almost fluent in Swahili. They spend their days visiting local poor families. They go there to see their situation. Do they have food? A place to sleep? If the family is lucky they can get a bed to sleep in, a goat or something else that makes their life a bit easier. A German man, also living in the house, spent his days building houses for those in need. He has been in Tanzania the last four summers doing this.

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We had a great evening with these three friendly and generous germans. They cooked dinner for us and before we want to bed we spent a few hours playing the card game UNO. After eight hours of sleep and a farewell we were on our way, and after 30 minutes we found Daniel at the school and orphanage. Daniel had been there a few times before, helping them to build new class rooms through fundraising back home. Now he had come back again, with more money so that they could build two more classrooms. This would qualify the school to upgrade from Secondary school to High school, accepting kids up to the age of 18. We spent the day talking to Daniel, some teachers, the old pastor and his wife, called just ‘mama’. In the afternoon we played soccer with some local teenagers. They played barefoot or in flipflops while we had our biking shoes on. We were referred to as “teacher’, since most mzungus who make it to this school are volunteering teachers. It was a great game and a wonderful experience playing right next to the jungle. Now and then the ball flew right in to the jungle, and one of the kids ran right after it, sometimes coming back with both the ball and some fruits.

After soccer we had a shower from a bucket with heated water, and then had dinner. After dinner they had planned a welcome party for Daniel, and because we were there, the party was now for “Daniel and friends”. When we came into the room where the party was held we were facing 30 young kids singing for us. We were seated like kings and the pastor, mama and a few kids held speaches to us, thanking god that we had made it there. If you’re an easy cryer you’d definitely cry. After this the three of us held short speeches, and then the music was turned on and we were dancing for maybe two hours. The kids were really happy, and it was hard not to smile in there. After a long day we said good night to all our new friends and then went to bed.

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The next  day was slow. We stayed in bed, reading, for hours before breakfast. Then we spent the day biking to an ATM-machine, reading some more, making some bricks that would be used to build the new class rooms, playing more soccer with the kids, reading some more and finally watching the soccer game between Germany and France before falling asleep.

The following morning we had breakfast, high fived all the kids, whom we would miss a lot, said good bye to Daniel, and then we were on our way again. We biked to the city Moshi where we had a burger, and then continued for another 50km before we set camp behind a corn field infected with giant ants that bit us through our socks. It had been a good day, but the traffic was sometimes really bad, and as always in third world countries, safety on the road is not important. However we survived even though we yelled FUCK YOU to some cars that passed just a few centimetres away from us.

The next day we biked to Arusha where we checked in to the Flamingo Hotel with the friendliest staff in the world. Arusha itself was a dirty city with lots of people trying to ‘help us’ all the time. Because of this we bought lunch at a grocery store and ate it at our hotel room. In the afternoon we booked a two day safari to Tarangire National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. Departure would be the following morning. Jonas also booked a trip up Kilimanjaro, which would start right after the safari. Christofer decided to skip Kili and go explore Dar es Salem and the beaches on Zanzibar instead. That evening we had a great barbecue close to the hotel before we fell asleep.
At 9am we were of towards Tarangire. We shared a safari car with three friendly Germans. On the way to Tarangire we stopped in a small village were we had grilled goat and chips before we drove the last hour to the park. The park is pretty small, but has plenty of elephants, which we saw a lot of. We also saw some Pumbas, gnus, zebras, giraffes and more. The park was OK, but the most fun part was to stand up in the car with the roof open and feeling then wind in your face as we drove over the dirt roads through the park. It was a feeling of absolute freedom, and the fact that a leopard could be lurking around the next corner made the day unforgettable. However, we never saw any leopard, and we left the park at 5 pm, exhausted. For two hours we drove on rolling hills into the sunset listening to some good music, the choice of our rasta-driver Sam. At dusk we made it to panaroma camp site were we had dinner, saw a very touristy show with some locals playing with fire and joggling for an hour. At 10pm we fell asleep in our small cottages.

Our safari car!

Our safari car!

Zebras and gnus in Tarangire National Park

Zebras and gnus in Tarangire National Park

Elephants chillin under a tree

Elephants chillin under a tree

Germans looking for simba

Germans looking for simba

In the morning we went up at 5:30 and were on the road again an hour later – destination Ngorongoro crater. This park used to be a volcano, but it collapsed into it self, creating a perfectly isolated crater for animals to live in. We reached the crater about an hour later, and drove down the steep road into it. It was a magnificent view and you could immediately see herds of animals moving around down there. We knew what we wanted to see- the big five. We had already seen the elephant but was now hoping to see the other four – leopard, lion, buffalo and rhino. We drove in a circle through the crater and saw thousands of gnus, zebras, gazelles, ostriches and buffaloes right away. Also a lot of colorful birds caught our eyes along the way. After maybe an hour we stopped next to some other cars, and there they were, the king, the lion. Very boring to look at some lazy lions just enjoying themselves in the sun, but it was great to have finally seen them. Later we stopped by a hippo pool and ate lunch, overlooking a pond full of hippos playing in the water. Later in the day we had almost completed our circle through the crater when we stopped and talked to another driver who told us there was a rhino sleeping a few hundred meters from the road. Not a second later it woke up and stood up and it was a great sight, cause there are only a few rhinos left in the world, and there aren’t that many in ngorongoro, so we weren’t sure we’d see it. But now we had! And it was a great ending of the day, so after taking some photos of the rhino we drove out of the crater.

We felt safe in our safari car!

We felt safe in our safari car!

On our way down into the crater

On our way down into the crater

Hyenas

Hyenas

Lonely elephant in the crater

Lonely elephant in the crater

Buffaloes chilling in the sun

Buffaloes chilling in the sun

Two lions resting

Two lions resting

Jonas enjoying the crater

Jonas enjoying the crater

Hippo on the run!

Hippo on the run!

 

The gnus were everywhere!

The gnus were everywhere!

Lunch break at the hippo pool

Lunch break at the hippo pool

Zebra crossing

Zebra crossing

Back at the camp site we said good bye to the Germans who were going on a third day of safari. After the goodbye we jumped into a minibus that would take us back to Arusha again. On the way back we saw a white couple, again Germans, on the road, and we stopped and picked them up. The looked a bit stressed and told us their story. The day before they had got robbed in a small town. Afterwards they went to the police who arrested some guys, but when the Germans left the police station they were chased by another part of the gang who had robbed them. Apparently they didn’t like for their fellow robber-friends to get in jail. The Germans ran, and that’s when we picked them up next to the road. In the minivan they said that the gang might follow us, but things were fine, and we arrived in Arusha safely.

In Arusha we found out that Jonas had to go to Moshi the same night to be able to climb Kilimanjaro the next morning. Christofer tagged along, cause he would take the bus to Dar Es Salaam the following morning, and Moshi was a better starting point. So we jumped on a local bus, full of people, bags and fruit, and it drove us the 80km in a little less than two hours, stopping in every village along the way. In the bus they were playing some nice Tanzanian music really high, and it was actually a really nice experience. In Moshi we saw Germany humiliate Brazil by beating them with 7-1 in the semi finals, and then we fell asleep. At 5 am Christofer jumped on a bus to Dar Es Salem that took 10 hours. And after a night in Dar, a boat ride, a bus ride and a short walk he his now relaxing at a resort in Nungwi on the north beach of Zanzibar. The water is green, the sky is blue and soon I am going on a kayak trip along the coast. Jonas should be halfway up the mountain by now if everything is going according to plan!

On Monday we will meet up in Arusha again to continue cycling west, deeper into Tanzania!

Love,
Two mzungus.

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3 thoughts on “In pursuit of Daniel and the big five

  1. Lika kul att få läsa ert brev varje gång, full av händelser och upplevelser. Själv cyklar jag Åbo-Helsingfors med start 10 aug…man får glädjas i det lilla!
    Allt gott till er!
    Per-Inge Björn
    Mariefred

  2. Kul att höra om era möten med olika människor. Det är ju det som gör resan, även om djur och natur också är häftig. Själv är jag tillbaka i singapore och har cyklat 7 km i kväll på min minicykel Det räckte gott 🙂 många kramar och var rädda om er !.

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