Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Amboseli - Namanga - Arusha - Ngorongoro

Today was mostly a travel day.  We had breakfast at the Amboseli Sopa Lodge and finally were able to see Mt Kilimanjaro as the clouds cleared.  There really isn't much snow and ice any more on the peaks of the mountain, which must be some indication of climate change. 

After eating we then hit the road and drove to the border town of Namanga in order to depart Kenya and arrive in Tanzania (and that is pronounced Tan-zan-ia, which was our biggest learning of the trip).  It was a bit of a funny scene as we went through customs on both sides of the border- filling out departure forms in Kenya, getting in the van for a minute and driving across the border, and then getting out and going to customs to fill out arrival forms in Tanzania.  We had to deal with some pretty aggressive souvenir sellers between buildings, which has been the case at the entrances to the national parks nearly every day. 

We sat around for over a half an hour waiting for our bus to arrive, and when it finally came they moved all our luggage onto the new vehicle and we bid farewell to our lovely drivers from African Jacana Safaris Charles and Joseph, who have taken great care of us over the past eight days.  Besides giving them a tip Tony also brought Aussie stubby holders for them to remember us by (although I don't think they will soon forget our group considering how loud it was). 

Our touring company in Tanzania is Sunny Safaris.  While driving along the highway I noticed the roads are much better than Kenya so far as they really seem to have invested in infrastructure.  Many of the houses we passed along the road also seem to be better built.  The Maasai huts here have a more rounded shaped with straw roofs, and the Maasai people wear blue along with the traditional red and tartan prints.  We were taken to the city of Arusha for lunch and to switch to our two safari vehicles.  Because someone was interested in buying some Tanzanite we ended up having a long side stop at The Tanzanite Experience which is run by one of the mining companies.  Tanzanite is a stone only found in Tanzania and it's considered more precious than diamonds (and also very expensive). 

After we finally got out of The Tanzanite Experience and changed to our safari vans we were back on the road heading toward Ngorongoro.  Although these vans are bigger and 4 wheel drive they are a lot hotter than our other vans (likely due to the non-breathable fabric on the seats), and the luggage doesn't seem to fit in as well.  We passed Lake Manyara along the way and our driver kindly stopped at an observation point so we could see a view of the lake.  Tonight we are staying at the Ngorongoro Farm House, which is really nice with well maintained grounds and massive rooms.  Tomorrow we will tackle the Ngorongoro Crater bright and early in the morning.

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