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Africa, Destinations, Travel Tips, What to Pack

A City Girls Guide to Surviving Safari

January 16, 2009 • By

Needed: neutrogena face wipes, baby wipes for hands and bottom, small soap bar, ample bug spray, suntan lotion, no smear/sweat proof make up, dark finger nail polish, flashlight -aka- head torch, sunglasses, bottled water, tasty treated water tablets, backpack, trashy novel, safari pants and shirt(um nothing flashy simple beige and earth tones preferred), camera and extra battery, binoculars, malaria pills, cypro and any other anti anything pill, underwear, patience, perseverance and determination to prevail.

The City Girls Guide to Surviving Safari.

Take each opportunity to shower as if it may be your last. No lingering either or you will be soaped up and out of water.

Always have wipes and fresh undies available. It just makes you feel cleaner.

When its time to use the bush loo, search for a nice thick area of grass. It will absorb the tinkle and prevent uncomfortable splashing.

Brushing your teeth is a must but as Dr. Kane says, “dry brushing is just as effective.” Note: BOTTLE water is key. Use in moderation.

Paint your finger and toe nails a dark color. It will hide the dirt and scum now lingering since you are without a shower and running water.

Spray yourself with suntan lotion before leaving and apply as needed. The sun is strong in the bush and we can’t have you aging prematurely.

Mosquitos are deadly and flys (sp) annoying so apply your bug spray liberally. Be sure to spray your bed, linen and clothing before going out for the night. I highly recommend spraying to the point you might feel drowsy or sick. That should kill the pesky hanger oners until morning anyway.

Each night look to the sky and pinch yourself. It’s truly a gift to see the beauty of the constellations above you. I’m left to wonder why I took astronomy instead of physics senior year since I can barely identify Orion.
Don’t feed the animals. They much prefer leafy geen things to chips and chocolate. That’s why they are skinny and we are plump.

Hold on tight in the vehicle and make sure you have the front seat despite cries from other passengers. Dammit you better have the best photos.

The Big 5 are the most hunted animals not deparment stores or men you have slept with. We have lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo and rhinos in the bush.

When you haven’t slept in your tent because you heard animals screetching all night just tell your hosts you had a great night sleep. Otherwise, they offer to accompany you citing “safety.”

Take your daily dose of vitamins and malaria prevention. Just ignore the side effects since they are apparently not as bad as malaria – sun blisters, nauseau, headache, itchy hands and feet. Warning: I’ve seen the hospital here and it isn’t pretty.

When it is meal time, get there a few minutes early in order to grab the seat away from the light. Otherwise, you will be eating bugs and they aren’t on your protein diet.

After sunset, don’t leave your accomodations without a torch or light. You want to know what critters you will be encountering and tripping over camp poles is a strict no no.

Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from dust and sun. Use wipes after shaking hands with locals or using the bush loo and of course before eating. Don’t be surprised when you get to your lodge and the welcome washcloth they give you turns brown after one swipe at your face.

Finally, enjoy the animals. I’ve seen a male lion (totally awesome), a leopard resting in a tree, the migration of millions of zebras and wildebeests and the spotted hyena and that was just yesterday. It’s a bumpy ride for us socialites but the price you pay to be one with nature.

Looking for the rhino today. I can’t wait! That is after I eat my carefully cooked scrambled eggs. “I like them cooked not watery but you know not burned either.” It is just such a challenge to get good meals(sooooo kidding).

Africa, Destinations

More Animals and Even More Food

January 16, 2009 • By

I left the coffee plantation amply fed as I had pancakes (the huge American kind), eggs, banana muffins, mangos and pineapple. All the goodies were homemade of course.

We left Lake Manyara and headed to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the crater I’ve been dying to see. The crater was actually created about 2 million years ago by volcanoes and a shifting of plates. What I got to see was a huge hole about 5,000 feet above sea level (I was standing at 7,000 on the rim). It was dry other than a few pools of water and quite vast. It’s home to the black rhino which I had to settle on seeing with binoculars but many other species of animals like the buffalo, cheetah, leopard and some elephants.

I had a picnic lunch my myself as my guide picked up 2 friends and the plopped me on some stool and went off chatting in Kiswahili without me for an hour. Why is it when you are literally in a car for 10 hours a day do these safari people feel the need to feed you like a hippo? I mean a sandwich, chicken, apple, cheese, biscuits, juice a chocolate bar and a hard boiled egg is not a boxed lunch. It’s a feast.

>From there, we went to a Maasai village and here’s where it got interesting. I made a donation of about $60. The community chief greeted me (on my crutches) and I was escorted to the village. As I turned the corner, a wall of women on one side and men on the other busted out in some chant-song. The men were jumping up and down. I was told to build muscle but it looked like they were going up for a lay up (check spelling). The women looked old and decrepit. This particular village had 120 people. Many of the women have 7 children and the men 4-8 wives.

After the “performance” was over, the leader took me to a house to learn more about the Maasai. They are nomads so often build dwellings quickly. The women are the builders and the houses cannot be taller than 4 feet and probably about 5×5 in size. The floor is mud, the roof and sides are grass and there are 3 “rooms” in most homes. I found most of the Maasai to be tall so I hope they don’t sleep much. The spot where the husband and wife sleep looked like a puppy’s first bed. The children are in the other room and that was about the same size regardless of the number of kids.
The children are apparently being forced to school by the government but this leader told me when the government comes to check the kids run and hide in the bush.

The entire time I was at this village I wanted to learn but I also wanted to leave. There were flies everywhere. The people have these crazy holes in their ears for decoration. They are filthy and their dwellings would be too small for a midget. Yet, I was fascinated by their existence.

Remember those two “guides” that we picked up? After the Maasai village, my mysterious men and I turned off a barren path which none of the other trucks were taking. I was gravely concerned for my life and kept asking where we were going and why weren’t any other vehicles on this road. I didn’t know what to think as the 3 merry men were going on and on in their native tongue. We were stopping to look at animals which I took as a good indicator I was not about to be kidnapped or raped but I wasn’t entirely sure. My exit plan would not have been effective either since I can’t run and I was in a enormous field with nowhere to hide.

I managed to get an sms through to Jack to tell him I was in a big field in Ngorongoro in case I was never heard from again. And then, my GSM went down and I never got to tell him I was ok. After a tumultuous ride, I arrived at my tented camp in one piece. I immediately took my guide aside and said don’t ever take me somewhere again without telling me where I am going. Secondly, I’m on a continent where you hear everyday about rape and kidnapping and you picked up two people you called guides. I have no idea who to trust (those men later served me dinner. Ooops) and the entire afternoon I felt uncomfortable nauseous and was not able to enjoy the animals. Herman felt very bad so I ended with don’t ever take an American down that path and if a woman is alone you should never pick up any other people. It is not safe and certainly not acceptable.

My GSM went on briefly– I told Patrick and Jack I was fine and I ate another massive potato and meat dinner before retiring to the sound of hungry hyenas and another sleepless night in the bush.