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First Day in Tanzania

Africa, Travel Tips

Sep
27
2009

TANZANIA

September 27th, 2009

It’s pretty wild that in three days time I went from Cebu in the Philippines to Amsterdam to now, the Grumetti Reserve in Tanzania. I know, I know, my life is charmed but, I must admit – I’m exhausted. Fortunately my four-poster bed at Singita’s Sasakwa Lodge beckons with fluffy promise.

Can you give me some credit for not jumping into this immediately?

Can you give me some credit for not jumping into this immediately? (Photo is courtesy of Singita website as mine was crud and this is quite accurate)

But before that, I want to at least treat you to some of what I saw today and how utterly amazing it is what you can see in one day. And moreover, how massively it can differ from what you saw yesterday. Oh travel, how I love thee.  Upon landing in Kilimanjaro airport last night, via an 8-hour flight filled with ‘trekkers’ from Amsterdam, I was met by my host, the affable Tom Lithgow of Firelight Safaris.

Tom Lithgow, G&T maker extraoridnaire
Tom Lithgow, G&T maker extraoridnaire

We set off to the local hotel to wait for one of the other guests and caught up over three, yes three, Kilimanjaro beers. Let me tell you, those things ain’t small.  Fortunately Tom is a big guy and they barely affected him while I was reduced to a wax figure. Fortunately the 30-minute drive to Arusha went by quickly (save a few near dead-dog incidents. NB. There are stray dogs darting into roads in Tanzania like crazy) and I was fast asleep in a low slung bed in the basic, Arusha Hotel in no time.

3 of these = sleepy time
3 of these = sleepy time

This morning we departed early and set off to Arusha airport to fly to the Singita camps in the Grumeti Reserves right along the border of the Serengeti. Our plane was not a charter but rather a local flight that had many stops affording us a few of the vast landscape of Tanzania and me, a chance to enjoy a pit stop behind a tree at one landing and  sit in the co-pilot seat between another.

Our fearless pilot, Julio. Being up at 12,000 feet unpressurized sure made me woozy or, as Tom liked to tell me, look "awfully pale"
Our fearless pilot, Julio. Being up at 12,000 feet unpressurized sure made me woozy or, as Tom liked to tell me, look “awfully pale”

On the plane,  I let Tom know that I was remiss we weren’t going to be spending anytime in the NGORONGORO CRATER, a world Heritage site in Tanzania and I wanted to know why not. Ever the polite host, he merely said there wasn’t time but let it slip too that he wasn’t all that fond of the location in the end. Skeptic by nature, I was disbelieving and pressed on about how I could finagle us a “pop by” sometime during the trip.  Luckily for Tom, we were joined on the plane by two people who had just left the crater and dismissed the site’s merits as being ‘rather dusty’ at the moment. Then our pilot flew us right over it affording me the bird’s eye view (sans the dust) satisfying me. For now.

Ngorongoro Crater from above. According to our plane-mates, its really quite dusty
Ngorongoro Crater from above. According to our plane-mates, its really quite dusty

Finally, after an hour and a half tour of quick stops , we arrived at Saskara, our destination. In typical Singita fashion, we were met by a land rover and smiling guide and then whisked up to the lodge.

Our pickup at the airstrip from our guide Peter from Singita's Saskara Lodge
Our pickup at the airstrip from our guide Peter from Singita’s Saskara Lodge

Instantly I was struck by the vastness of the land. The plains of Tanzania’s Grumeti Reserve are unlike any landscape I have seen in South Africa.  They are so vast and so picturesque that they look like an interactive screen – particularly from the hilltop vantage of the Lodge.

The view at Sasakwa Lodge of the reserve below
The view at Sasakwa Lodge of the reserve below
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Posted in: Africa, Travel Tips

Published by Meg, Sunday, September 27, 2009 No Comments

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About Meg

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Meg is the founder of luxury travel consulting company, Friend of a Friend Consulting. Her three books, Italian Hideaways, Caribbean Hideaways and England's Hideaways are published by Rizzoli. Passionate about travel, hotels and wine, she continues to write freelance travel pieces and is currently pursuing a Masters in Wine through the WSET.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own and do not reflect separate business relationships with the subject. Whenever posts are supported financially, they are designated as such.