Monday, June 16, 2008

"GIRAFFE!!!!!!"

On Saturday, our LTP group plus a couple of our Tanzanian friends went on a day trip to Arusha National Park, which is less than a half-hour drive from our apartments. We weren't really sure what we were going to do, what we were going to see, what to bring, or what to wear (that's been a reoccuring theme throughout this trip in general.) We took two cars that have tops that can open up so that they become safari cars. About three minutes after we drove through the entrance of the park, I was digging through my bag but looked up when I felt our car slowing down. I looked out the window right beside me and found myself staring a mid-sized giraffe (about 10 feet away from the car) in the face. It was at this point that I had my first very obvious stupid-American moment of the trip - before I could stop it, I yelled very excitedly, "GIRAFFE!!!!" Of course, I was immediately shushed by everyone in my car. Luckily, the windows and top of our car were still closed so the unsuspecting giraffe wasn't subject to my outburst. It simply looked at us calmly, crossed the road in front of us, and went on its way.

Over the course of the next 2-3 hours, we drove through a mountainous, green, lush area in our safari cars. We saw more giraffes as well as zebras, water buffalo, warthogs, water bucks, baboons, Colobus monkeys, and the like. We stopped to eat a boxed lunch overlooking a lake, and also at a lookout point where we could see a large crater below us. After the driving tour, we parked the cars and went on a walking tour. A guide joined us for this part of the trip, and he carried a very large gun with which to protect us from any unruly wildlife (at least I assume this was its purpose). We hiked around for another two and a half hours or so, during which we saw two herds of water buffalo, a few warthogs, and a group of 14 giraffes (mostly from afar). We also stopped at the bottom of a really neat waterfall, and I illegally stole a small volcanic rock from the river below it. The walking tour was in a flat, field-like area (as opposed to the forested mountains we explored during the driving tour). We all agreed that we felt like we had walked right into a scene from the Lion King, and as a result I was singing the entire Lion King soundtrack to myself for most of the hike. I'm pretty sure the guide thought I was crazy.

As we were driving out of the park, we were lucky to come upon a group of baboons, a group of giraffes, and a group of zebras all near each other. Each group then proceeded to cross the road in front of us, and our driver let us get out and stand right next to the car (which, of course, isn't allowed). One of the giraffes started running after it crossed the road - the thundering sound of a cantering giraffe is without a doubt the most awesome thing I've ever heard.
SO COOL. Giraffes are my new favorite animal, and if I didn't feel like I was in Africa before, I definitely do now.

1) The giraffe that inspired my outburst. SO AWESOME.
2) Colobus monkeys in a tree right above our safari car.
3) Me with my roommates sitting above the Ngordoto crater. What looks like the sky in the picture is actually fog.
4) Water buffalo, taken during the walking tour.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yay! Giraffe. :) Random fact: I've heard their tongues are black. Say hi to Ami for me!

- Lisa

PattyB said...

That's great that you can post photos. Now we want to see one of "Simba" (so we can know for sure about that mane thing...)

Alden said...

Whoa, you're making me have flashbacks. This is exactly like the trip i took with my family to Tanzania and Kenya when I was 11... right down to the giraffe in the road. Yay for Arusha.

Dave said...

I've been everywhere but home (and that's really just to pack so I can move Sunday) so yes, this comment is a tad belated.

Anyways - Of course it would be you yelling Giraffe! I can picture it so easily...