It’s hard to believe that in just a few days time, I’ll be touching down in Nairobi and preparing to board the bus that will whisk me away to Arusha in Tanzania.
After three months of relative isolation in sleepy Ben Lomond, to be halfway around the world for my first African experience is a thrill. I have to thank Shadows of Africa for giving me the opportunity to have this awesome experience.
Living the Dream
Like so many of the wonderful opportunities I’ve been afforded by luck (?), I have to pinch myself to make sure it’s all actually happening.
Like standing beside Stone Henge or watching wide-eyed and amazed at Disney Land as my childhood paraded by me, I am continually humbled and amazed by just what an amazing life I lead.
For a kid who grew up watching The Lion King, the idea that I’ll get to see lions, hippos, elephants, hyenas, gazelles, and more in a few days time still hasn’t quite sunk in.
For a kid who grew up not poor but not rich, it’s another in an ever growing list of experiences an 18 year old me never would have dreamed of having.
I was for settling down; to marriage, to a career, and to the eventual, inevitable slide into old age and death.
Oddly enough, it didn’t seem quite so grim when I was young and naive. Not really comprehending just how big and fascinating the world could be, it was easy to look at the prospect of a wife, kids, and a home and think that was a pretty damn good goal.
Don’t get me wrong, I still think that lifestyle makes a great many people happy. I have friends and a sister who have gone down that route and are probably happier than I’ll ever be.
I can never decide whether I envy them or not. On the one hand, their lives seem to exist on a more constant level of contentment than mine, but I like to think my highs are just a little higher. Those moments may be fewer and farther between, but they’re all the sweeter for that.
But enough of that introspection!
The Cultural Experience
Before we get into the sight-seeing and safari adventures, I think it’s an important opportunity for us to see Tanzania through a lens other than that of the tourist.
It’s easy to selfishly ignore the problems of the countries we visit in our pursuit of fun and adventure, but I think the world would be a much better place if we all took the opportunity to see a country not only at the best it presents itself to be – but also as it is beneath the shiny exterior it wears.
My experience volunteering at a disadvantaged school in China was both sobering and uplifting, and I hope I’m able to put some smiles on faces at Kibowa Orphanage and maybe make a small bit of difference. I’ll write more about how you can help make a difference in the lives of these children after I’ve visited.
Our second cultural experience on the trip is perhaps a more commonly sought one: the opportunity to interact with the native Masai people who still strive to maintain their cultural identity in a rapidly developing country.
I’ve only recently started taking an interest in the culture and history of Australia’s Aboriginal inhabitants, and after learning a little about Native Americans while visiting Walnut Creek Canyon in the past; I’m looking forward to learning about another fascinating culture.
The Wildlife Experience
The opportunity to experience a country’s culture is perhaps the dessert to follow a travel feast, but the main dish that draws people to this part of the world is the chance to see some of the world’s most well known animals in their natural environment.
If past reactions to experiences I never thought I’d have are any indication, I’m almost certain I’ll get teary eyed when I see my first grateful gazelle or my first fiercely beautiful lion.
I just hope Leave Your Daily Hell and LL World Tour don’t judge this country bumpkin too harshly for his sentimentality.
Our four day safari takes us through Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater, and the incomparable wilds of the Serengeti. While it’s a shame that I’m a tad too late to witness the majesty of the Great Migration, I’m sure I’ll be more than satisfied with what we do encounter on our time on safari.
Our tour guide and host for this adventure is the aforementioned Shadows of Africa. While we’re being treated to a four day whirlwind tour of the region, their tours cover both longer and shorter stays – and can be catered to include things such as night safaris, hot air balloon rides over the Serengeti, and even canoe tours.
The Accommodation Experience
In order to give us a comprehensive understanding of their service, Shadows of Africa have arranged for us to experience three different levels of accommodation. We’ll get to experience the high life with a night at the Four Seasons Serengeti, while also getting the opportunity to accommodation a budget traveler such as myself would usually be able to afford.
I think the key thing to take away from this is that going on safari in Tanzania is no longer the sole domain of wealthy British aristocrats with monocles, pipes, and a pith helmet.
While it’s certainly still possible to experience the high life while observing some of world’s most dangerous animals, there is certainly an opportunity for budget travellers and even the humble backpacker to experience what Africa has to offer.
A night of luxury in the Four Seasons Serengeti is a rare treat for me, but I’m sure that our nights of affordable comfort at the Planet Lodge, McElly’s Hotel, Osupuko Lodge, & Eileen’s Trees Inn will be unique experiences as well.
Along the way, we’ll also have all manner of delicious meals prepared for us just as you would if you were on safari with Shadows of Africa. Expect my Instagram account to go into overdrive with pictures of envy inducing deliciousness.
I Can’t Wait!
In case the tone of this post didn’t make it readily apparent, I can’t recall a time where I’ve been more excited for an upcoming adventure. The opportunity to experience a taste of what Africa has to offer and to share that experience with you is one I am immensely grateful for.
I’m sure my time in Tanzania is going to be fantastic, and I’m so excited to have you all along for the ride with me!
Have you ever been on safari. What was your experience like?
Is going on safari in Tanzania on your bucket list? Do you oh want your own Circle of Life experience?
What would you like to read about during and after my trip?