Tarangire: Cheetahs and a Village Visit

At 6:00am, a guy knocked on our door. Time to get up. Breakfast, then we were up and on our way at 7:15.

We drove past some tiny villages of different tribes until we arrived at Tarangire National Park. More giraffes, elephants and impalas. We saw our first herd of wildebeests, who were walking single file towards the river. They had several zebras with them. Wildebeests can smell well but have week eyesight. Zebras can see well but can’t smell too well. Wildebeests like to eat short grass, zebras cut the tall grass and the wildebeests the can munch on the stubs.

We spotted an ostrich doing a mating dance, flapping his wings and bobbing his head. The dance worked because he mated with the female, then strutted around the place.

The radio cracked on Swahili, and Peter, today’s driver took off. We came up to a bunch of limos who were watching a cheetah eating its kill, young one in tow. Cheetahs are rare, our trip leader said they rarely are seen. We were quite close and watched for a long time.

We headed out to a bluff overlooking the river where there is a picnic area and men’s and women’s “happy rooms”. There we meet a large troop of baboons who come every day at mid-day to steal food from the picnickers. We left and headed back to our camp for lunch and a nap.

This place where we’re staying is a bunch of permanent tents on platforms with bathrooms, hot water, all the comforts EXCEPT air conditioning. They are very hot until about 2am.

Food is okay. Lots of upset stomaches in the group, which the trip leader blames on malaria meds. I don’t think so…

After our nap, we went to a nearby home of some farmers. They weren’t expecting us, but the trip leader explained that we wanted to see how they live. The woman was applying a fresh coat of mud to the walls, so she showed us what she was doing, the mud was made from termite mounds, a little sand and water. Neighboring kids came by to see what was happening. She showed us her kitchen and how she grinds millet using two stones. Very primitive, simple life, but they are doing pretty well, the kids are all in school, and they have cattle and goats.

Back in Arusha on our first day here, we bought a ceramic water purification system, simple, effective with a 5 year lifespan. We gave it to this family. Trip leader showed them how it works and explained the simple cleaning instructions. The mom had tears in her eyes.

Then we drove on to a village of the same tribe. Here, they were expecting us, trip leader had arranged it with a tribal elder. They greeted us with singing and showed us around their village. None of the tour groups that passed by the road ever stopped. The place was neat and clean, they have fields and cattle, the kids go to school. Some Australian aid workers hat taught them to use a chimney for their cooking fires and the importance of washing hands after using the latrine. A woman demonstrated the simple effective hand washing system made from two plastic bottles, a piece of string and a stick:

We gave these villages 2 water filters, they thanked us with a song. We were the first tour group to visit this village. It was a big event.

These village visits were impromptu, not part of the program.

The highlight of the trip so far.