‘I went on Safari… and all we got to see was a massive COW.’
….good thing ‘SAFARI’ in Kiswahili means ‘to take a journey;’ and a JOURNEY we indeed did take…..
Wednesday, March 14th- Safari Njema (Good Journey)
…with our backpacks packed FULL— our cooler WELL chilled – and one golden can of HEINZ BAKED BEANS in tow; the Dust Mobile was rearin’ and ready to go places the Wyatt’s had never gone before…….
And little did we know ‘the unknown’ lie just 4km’s away down that dirt road…..
Now, granted— one had to take a 5 minute and 33 second ferry ride (give or take a few seconds… but this was HARAKA fast regardless of the “sketchiness” of the fine machinery we may have been carried across upon) over the Pangani River to reach ‘this new WILD-Wyatt Territory.’ Throughout our last few months living here near the the small village of Pangani, we have stood many a times on the edge of that river bed in curiosity as to what LIE a across ….. And today, well—today was the day we spread our WINGS. We were on the open road…. adventure lept out in front on us…NOTHING could stand in our way….. !
Our plan was to head about 55 Kms south towards a Saadani Game Park—set up camp and pitch a tent for a few nights. We couldn’t wait to roast some wienies under the stars, crack open our baked beans and soak it all in….. and with Saadani being one of the newest most ‘unpretentious’ game parks of Tanzania, and almost ‘our neighbor’…. we felt it was the perfect place to do just that. Perhaps we would even splurge and on a ‘guided safari?’
SIDENOTE: I am sure you have all heard of the ever mysterious and magical SERENGETI National Park…DUN DUN DUUUUUUN! This magnificent game park in Tanzania will also captivate your wallet at — *gulp* — $50 per person/day. Game parks ‘ain’t cheap’ my friends. They will get you coming and going—and that price doesn’t even include your car….OR camping… OR ‘river usage.’ …. and why would you even ENTER a game park if you don’t intend to do a proper Safari WITH guide??…. That’ll cost’ya too. And…. The best bit is the lodges. On average, a game park lodge here will cost you a solid $350+ per night.
OR…. you could “Saadani-it.” A different kind of game park option ($20 per person/day)….. a unique 1000 sq km patch of wilderness set right on a vast and untouched beautiful coastline of beaches directly across from Zanzibar or conveniently on your way from Dar es Salaam or Tanga where you could see a pretty fantastic mix of wildlife like: lions, giraffes, hippo’s, elephants…… and massive cows (okay, so that was just us).
A) Just ‘OUR’ Style B) WAAAY Closer and C) WAAAY Cheaper
(who are we kidding…. it was really B and C that swung the vote)
So off we went that beautiful and smoldering hot Wednesday morning as we crossed that Pangani River for the first time…. ‘NEW’ land just ahead…… windows rolled down…. dust starting to build up around us…. NOTHING could stop us now—the ‘dust-mobile’ was on its way…. HOORAY!
Did I mention that 55 km’s in the ‘Dust Mobile’ on a extremely bumpy dirt road can take up to 3 hours? No matter…. because NOTHING could stop us NOW…… Not even the 2km stretch of black cotton soil sand as we turned into a Lodge called ‘Tent with a View’ to ask about how far we were from the Saadani’s Game Park Entrance and have a cold drink.
…..and then….. we got BOGGED. This was some FINE ‘black soil sand’ if I do say so myself—as it had been dry for many many days. Our first thought was to ‘pull the ol’ Minnesotan snow trick’ where you develop some sort of traction and place ‘it’ under the wheels. (our source here; Palm Trees) Unfortunately, we just dug ourselves deeper. HOORAY!
We tried the machete next to dig….. as out of EVERYTHING that we had packed including: fire extinguishers, luxury cot beds, sausages and safari chairs— we had somehow forgotten the shovel. Our bad. But…. never fear, TENT WITH A VIEW employees soon came to our rescue and started digging us out.
SIDENOTE: Of course, it was ‘crisis-calm-Ray’ that sorted out the palms….. sorted out the help…. sorted out it all….. and also said “I must snap a photo—we would laugh about this later!” I must admit- I have found that my biggest downfall are moments ‘JUST. LIKE.THIS.’ I am hysterical….. I freeze up. How many ba-zillions of situations on this whirlwind adventure thus far have Ray and I been faced with something equally if not worse—and gotten through it? And yet…. I still manage to go all limp noodle-like and forget how to manage to pull it together. MacGyver Ray—once again, comes to the rescue with this ‘logical execution.’
But here is the best bit– Of course…. we weren’t ready to be kindly dug out of this fab-tab black soil sand for a good hour in the 100 degree African-tastic heat—set to fire up the ol’ dust mobile and then…… the gosh darn battery ends up dying on us too! (like sulfur acid leaking out of its crevices dying….. So that’s what that ‘rotten egg’ smell was a few km’s down the road back? huh.)
Anyway…one more HOORAY! ……for good measure.
…..And then, the heavens opened up…… *insert twinkly music here* ….. through the mist (insane humidity) came Steve and Lynn walking toward us. Strong Steve with his powerful wooden ‘safari stick’ and gentle Lynn with her kind smile. Instantly they made us feel welcomed—and that everything would be taken care of. Their fundi (mechanic) would replace another battery in our car just to put into their carpark and they would take us to the lodge and we would sort out our options over a cold beer. Our only concern was — ‘ how on earth were we going to afford to be broken down as SUCH a high-end-luxury-establishment?’ ….. guess who went all limp noodle, again.
Lucky for us Lynn could see in our eyes our concern—and immediately let us know that ‘she would cut us a good deal.’ ….a huge sigh of relief later, we got word to Ulrik and Lisa (the owner of the Dust Mobile) that we were stranded (a term I use loosely for the place we were so lucky to have been ‘broken down in’) and they were working on finding another battery and would drive out in their other car the next morning to bring it to us…… Everything, had ONCE AGAIN come together. Meanwhile, Steve let us know that we could ‘stay in the drivers quarters’—and we were MORE then appreciative as we knew how expensive these bandas/luxury tents cost. We let them know we could put up our OWN tent in their carpark—we truly didn’t mind! We were just so grateful to have a safe spot to be…. sans elephants strolling over our pitched canvas. Well, as she walked us to the ‘drivers quarters’ she took us up the stairs and I thought perhaps she was just showing us what the rooms looked like…… ‘travel-agent-fam-style’…. THEY WERE STUNNING….. All I could say was, “wow—thank you for giving us a tour!” And Lynn said …..“NO! This is YOUUUUR room!”
….. So much for ‘roughing it.’
It was after our 5 course dinner on the beach with lobster later that we found out……(I know, I know…. la-tee-da) that we were actually only 6 Km’s away from ‘THE ENTRANCE’ of the Saadani Game Park before we had broken down earlier that day.
Shall we throw in another HORRAY! for good measure??
But as we tucked ourselves into our ‘zebra’ striped sheets that night, it didn’t quite seem to matter that we didn’t see REAL LIVE zebra’s in Saadani Game Park on our big fat ‘Safari’ out, because being amongst such good people, in such an amazing surroundings and being ACROSS the Pangani River, in the new ‘Wild-Wyatt-Territory’ was far more then we could ever have expected OR anticipated.
It was actually MORE then we could ever have hoped for.
There are some acknowledgments I would like to make:
- I would like to thank Ulrik for the loan of the Dust Mobile….. and for Lisa driving her ‘Mosh mobile’ all the way out to save us with the Village Chief’s battery so we could then drive to our next LUXURY hotel on the way back to the Luxury Hotel we reside in at Mkoma Bay. Oh yes…. all this Luxury. And we live in Africa-land. Its all SO very exhausting.
- I would like to give a VERY special thanks to THE TIDES hotel and the managers Candy and Graham for there generosity and fabulous stay at their gorgeous lodge on the other side of the ferry (the unknown) so we could ‘luxury safari it’ just one more night before we had to go back…. Insanely SPOILED to the brim. THANK YOU.
- And last, but not least…. the the little hut down the beach from ‘The Tides Hotel’ whom gave us our very first ‘CHIPS MYAI’ (fries with an omelet over the top). A local treat we have not yet been able to have, and so glad we got to experience it this way, on this beach on THIS safari. YEEE-UM.
Hold on tight, there is more to come!