Special thanks to Journey’s Magazine for this great article on an African adventure. “Let’s take a walk around the campsite,” suggested our guide Rose.
A couple of fellow travelers agreed, including my son Tyler. They had barely taken a half-dozen steps into the darkness before Rose’s flashlight caught two distinct sets of eyes less than 50 feet away. We had guests—a young male lion and his female companion.
Back to the Beginning
Our eight-day “Tanzanian Adventure” safari actually started a couple of days earlier when my son, Tyler, and I flew into Nairobi, Kenya one day early in order to acclimate ourselves. There we visited a few local sights such as the Nairobi National Museum and the Karen Blixen museum—Blixen’s story was portrayed in the 1985 film Out of Africa, starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford.
Our accommodations were at the Hill Park Hotel, conveniently located in the Upper Hill area, only minutes from the city and airport. The evening before our safari departure, we met up with our tour guide, Rose, and for of our six fellow travelers. Rose collected our vital information and gave an overview of the upcoming week. With a fairly long ride ahead of us in the morning, an early start was needed so we could arrive on time at a coffee plantation in Tanzania.
Heading to Tanzania
Following breakfast the next morning, we headed to our meeting point on the hotel’s gated grounds. Our two missing travelers had arrived and Tyler quickly bonded with them.
Leaving Nairobi in a spacious 12-passenger overland truck, the people and buildings became further apart. We stopped for lunch at a rest area which offered a tremendous selection of souvenirs. We ventured through the Kenya border and completed an exit form. Our visas were stamped and we exchanged U.S. currency for Tanzanian dollars. Three hours later we arrived at the coffee plantation where we would spend the night. The community was called Tengeru and out home stay hosts were Mama Grace, along with Joshua and Noel.
After some shopping at a nearby market and a wonderful traditional dinner, we sat by a campfire and heard about the Tengeru Cultural Program which gives tourists the opportunity to sample local Meru culture. Program options include visits to local farms owned and managed by members of the Patandi Women’s Group, a guided tour to the Chief’s compound to see his handicrafts and artifacts, ending with a hiking tour up Mt. Meru. Income from the tourist visits are used to educate AIDS orphans and to develop the Mavinuni Primary School.
After retiring for the night we were soon bid an early good morning by crowing roosters and mooing cows. When we finished breakfast we were given a coffee roasting demonstration and enjoyed fresh cups of java. We also learned about the bio-gas plant (thank you cows!) that supplied the energy that cooked our meal from the previous evening. We arranged to return later in the week to purchase whole bean coffee. Continue reading