Africa, Travel Tips
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.