Lions, Zebras,…. and a RING, oh my!

I hope everyone has enjoyed the blogs so far.  We are now all home and adjusting back to a normal lifestyle.  It is hard to get back to our day to day as I really do feel as if my perspective has changed since returning.  Meeting so many wonderful people during the clinic and then experiencing such a magical experience with the beautiful and elegant animals of the safari. 

We started our safari trip on Monday with the first stop being the Tarangire National Park.  The first change of scenery we had noticed were the Baobob trees.  These trees were gigantic and looked like something that was out of a fairytale, very similar to the tree that Rafiki once lived in from the Lion King.  As soon as we entered the park, we had the feeling that it would take us miles to see our first animal, but that was not the case.  Within the first 10 minutes of entering the park we were greeted with Elephants, Giraffes, herds of zebras, Impalas, Wildabeasts, Ostriches, and Warthogs!  Also to our surprise, they all mingled around the same area, the waterhole.  It was an amazing start to the Safari trip, and we thought, how can it get better than this, it’s only our first day!

To my surprise, it very much did get better as the trip went on.  After we left the Tarangire national park we moved on to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.   This area is considered a conservation area rather than a national park due to the native tribes of the Messai that live here.  Much like in America, we have Native American lands, the Ngorongoro Conservation area is very similar.  We stopped at a Messai village to learn more about their culture and how they live.  They welcomed us with a song and dance, and even took one of the members from our group, Fran, into the song and dance.  They then showed us a competition that they normally hold in their culture in which the men compete on how high they can jump.  The higher the man jumps, the more manly you are.  Alex and Adam from our group joined in the competition as well!  They did very well, but to avoid any hard feelings, no one was actually crowned a winner.  We were then broken off to groups of 2 or 3 to be shown their homes which were made out of mud, manure, and water.  The houses are meant for families of 4, but are roughly only 15-25 feet wide.  The small space holds two beds each to sleep 2 people, and a small fire in the middle to cook.  There is a tiny hole in the ceiling for smoke to escape, but that’s it.  Imagine your family of 4 living in this small space, would you be able to do it?   After we had the tour of their home, we were then shown some of the arts they did that were for sale.  I very much enjoyed learning about a new culture and a new lifestyle that I have never experienced before.  

After the Ngorongoro, we moved onto the Serengeti, which did not disappoint.  The land was vast and very much what I pictured a safari to look like.  A rocky road led us to our campsite of the night which was very much in the middle of nowhere.  We had experiences of being right next to Elephants, Giraffes, and Cape buffalo around our campsite.  We even saw Lion prints outside the main tent on our last day!  Each day of the safari, our group realized there was always an animal themed day.  The first day in Tarangire was a Zebra day, then we had an Elephant Day.  The Ngorongoro we had a baboon day and in the Serengeti we had a Giraffe and Lion Day.  Towards the end of the trip, we got used to seeing animals, and seeing animals close to us!  We were even lucky enough to see 7 black rhinos, even a family of 5 together which is super rare. 

After the trip has ended and we all headed home, I am walking away from the trip with my heart so full.  I experienced so much and grew in ways I never expected.  Tanzania will always hold a special place in my heart.  One reason is because of the amazing experiences, people and scenery that I got fulfilled with, but most of all, I walked away from this trip with a Fiance.  Alex, my boyfriend of 7 and a half years, proposed to me at the first camping spot in the Tarangire National Park.  He dropped to one knee as the cape buffalo and elephants were roaming behind us (from afar of course).  He could not have picked a better place or time for this proposal.  VHI has always been a meaningful organization in our family, and now Alex is working for VHI and loves the organization as much as my family does.  Plus, the scenery could not have been better!  My heart is so full and over pouring with love after this trip.  

Until next time Tanzania, as there will be a next time!  Thanks for reading!  

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