We flew to Mount Kilimanjaro to meet up with our friends Kathy, Timmy, Brian and Jenny. Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa and it was cool to see that it had snow on top of it while we were sitting in the hot African plains. Our guides, Raymond and Onesmo, met us at the hotel and then we set off for our first camping spot, in Tarangire National Park.
When we got to our campsite, it was a lot different then the places we had stayed on our previous safaris. Here, we had our own crew from Wild Frontiers go ahead of us and set up camp, so when we got there, there were four tents set up for our two families. There was also a big dining tent and an area for the crew to do the cooking and sleep. It was cool to be right out in the middle of the bush with no fences around the camp, so animals could walk right through. One night there were eighty elephants around our camp while we were asleep. All of the adults where wide awake, but us four kids slept right through it. So we didn't get to see the elephants, but our parents told us about it. On our last night of camping, a hyena went over to Kathy's tent and decided to "mark its territory" on it!
The other thing different about this type of safari were the jeeps we rode in. They weren't open air like the ones we had in South Africa and Botswana. Instead, the roof could come off so you can stand up and stick your head out to look at the animals. There were two jeeps, so half of the time the parents would be in one jeep while the kids were in another, which was really fun.
Another place we went to in Tanzania was the Ngorongoro Crater, which was the inspiration for the setting of "Madagascar 2." Just like in the movie, there were animals everywhere. When we first entered the crater in the morning, we saw some lions eating a kill and there were jackals sitting and waiting for the lions to finish so they could get some leftovers. Later on, we saw another pride of lions and we were really surprised when some buffalo came up and started charging them. The buffalos ended up chasing the lions away, which made the lions really tired, so they ended up coming right up to the jeeps to rest in the shade of the cars! We saw so much other cool stuff in the crater, that at the end of the day, we all decided that this was the best game drive we were ever on.
While we were there, we also visited different tribes to see how they live. Many people in Africa do not live in houses like we do. Instead, they live in huts made of mud, animal dung (poop), and sticks. One of the visits went to a Maasai tribal village, where they welcomed us with a dance and showed us their houses and their school. The Maasai actually live right in the bush with the animals, and all carry sticks around to herd their cattle and protect them from any wild animals, who are actually more scared of them than the Maasai are of them! Another tribe, called the Hazabe, went hunting with us. They do it with bow and arrows, which they gave us and showed us how to use. We didn't actually catch anything on our hunt.
The next place we went to was the Serengeti, where we saw lots of leopards, cheetahs, and lions. In fact, one of the first things we saw was a group of seven lions. Then, we saw three different leopards, all within about a half of an hour! Later on, we saw some really cute lion cubs too.
This whole camping safari has been great and it's really been a wonderful experience. It's even better that we've been spending it with our friends. For our last two nights with them, we moved camp to the southern part of the Serengeti, a place called Ndutu. In most of the Serengeti you can't drive off-road, but here you can, so we were really excited. Driving off-road is really fun and it also lets you get a lot closer to the animals.
If there's one thing they have in Ndutu, it's lions and this is the place where we saw some really nice male lions with huge manes.
There were also cheetahs all over the place. One day we saw 11 of them! There were two different cheetah moms, one with three cubs and the other with two. The cheetah cubs reminded us of Quasar, Seria, and Phoenix from the Cheetah Conservation Fund. With all these big cats around, this was a really nice place to end our trip with our friends.
That's all for now!