Three Weeks ’til Africa
It’s Labor Day and we’ve been on our computers all day. Dave is taking a break from mapping our twenty-one-day journey in Eastern Africa to run his credit score, a fun pastime he acquired after realizing the secret to a high score is having just enough credit but not too much, and paying credit card bills before they are due.
We’ve made our list of the precious items we plan to pack in our allotted thirty-three pounds of luggage (including the suitcase). We need to carry almost a month’s worth of clothing and toiletries in a soft-sided suitcase advertised to hold one to three days of supplies. The arduous packing list comes later. First, the route we’ll take.
We’ll start our journey at the Kigali National Airport in Rwanda where we’ll be greeted by our tour guide and driven to the Kigali Marriott for a two-night stay. We decided to take a day to recover from the twenty-five and a half hour flight from SFO to Kigali. After two nights at the Marriott, we’ll be driven two hours to Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel near Volcanoes National Park where the gorillas live. We’ll say hello to our furry cousins and relive what it must have been like for Sigourney Weaver, err, I mean Dian Fossey, to have met and bonded with these fantastic creatures. Our time is short in Rwanda, but we hope to visit the Genocide Memorial. From their website: “The Kigali Genocide Memorial is the final resting place for more than 250,000 victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. It honours [their spelling, not mine] the memory of the more than one million Rwandans killed in 1994 through education and peace-building.” Once we have paid our respects, we board a plane for Nairobi and the Giraffe Manor. We’re hoping to be woken up by a giraffe in our window but there are no guarantees the brochures say.
After spending time with the longest necked animals of the world (is this true?), we’ll head out to Naboisha Camp where it’s said the big five will be hanging out. According to Wiki, “the big five game animals are the lion, leopard, rhinoceros (both black and white species), elephant, and Cape buffalo. The term big five game (usually capitalized or quoted as “Big Five“) was coined by big-game hunters and refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot.” While the name was coined from disruptable methods, it stayed and now most travel agencies advertise trips to see the Big Five.
We travel to the Masaai Mara for a few nights then on to Tanzania and the Serengeti. We want to make sure we don’t miss the Great Migration that will be taking place somewhere between the Maasai Mara of Kenya and the Ngorongoro of Tanzania so we’ll go to both! During the Great Migration 1.7 million wildebeests and zebras, accompanied by gazelles, impala and kongoni cross a crocodile-infested river risking life and limb to get to the other side. We’ll be cheering for the good guys (aka the prey) but we’re mentally (and emotionally) prepared to see the hidden predators lurking in the bushes and beneath the water’s calm surface snatch our heroes from their journey. We think we are prepared anyway.
After a half dozen or more safaris by jeep dressed in our blandly* colored safari clothes (see packing list), we head to Arusha for the Children’s Arts Camp we are putting on with the help of our local hosts from Armani Afrika. Our time in Arusha will include a four-night stay at an operating coffee farm. Coffee is our drug of choice. 🙂 Six hundred children attend school in Lemugur village. Lunch will be provided for all of them, however, only sixty will be allowed to attend the camp. On the last day of camp, we’ll have a recital as is our traditional practice. The children showcase what they have learned to their friends and family while we say a tearful goodbye.
For the last four days of our journey, we head to the beach in Nungwi, Zanzibar where we’ll rest, relax, and reminisce about the weeks we spent in Eastern Africa. Of course, we promise to keep this site updated as we go along. BTW, Dave’s credit score has climbed higher than mine using the techniques he perfected over the past year.
Map of our Eastern Africa Journey
3 pairs khaki or light gray or olive green REI/Marmot/Duluth hiking pants
2 button up Columbia omni screen shirts in neutral tones
1 pair of REI technical shorts
1 pair Prana olive capris
1 pair 32 degrees gray capris
1 khaki safari hat
1 Nike runner’s visor – gray
1 multi-pocketed lightweight jacket from ExOfficio – sage
3 pairs Darn Tough hiking socks from REI
1 pair trail running shoes
1 pair croc flip flops
1 pair closed toe Keen sandals
2 weeks of underwear
Eagle Creek ultra thin toiletry bags for shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste & brush, moisturizer
*Bland colored clothing is recommended by several blog sites for African Safaris (and you know you can trust blogs!). Several reasons given for this unfortunate choice: 1) it helps the observer blend into the environment and not spook the animals, 2) black and blue attract the tsetse fly, and 3) it doesn’t show dust and dirt as much as white. Arguments against this point to the Maasai who wear bright red and don’t seem to spook any animals. An example given in favor say a woman dressed in bright yellow scared a herd of animals away.