Tag Archives: travel to Tanzania

Lions’ buffet

Before travelling to Africa I naively thought it was somewhat difficult to see the wild animals. I mean, your chances of seeing North America’s “Big 5” — grizzly bear, polar bear, moose, wolf and bison — on a week-long trip to Canada is far from guaranteed.

But the three Tanzanian game parks we visited — Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Lake Manyara National Park — were teeming with wildlife. Upon pulling out of Lobo airstrip in our open-air Toyota Land Cruiser safari jeep and hitting the dirt track road in the Serengeti, Blake declared, “Holy crap, it’s a lions’ buffet!”

There are so many animals in the Serengeti, it’s shocking the predators ever go hungry.

Everywhere we looked, herds of wildebeest and zebra grazed on green grass under a cloudless Serengeti sky. Impalas, Thompson’s gazelles, hartebeest and many other species of antelope I never knew existed pranced between acacia trees as if they hadn’t a care in the world. A water buffalo, one of Africa’s Big 5, gave me a hostile stare beneath his heavy rack of horns.

Don’t mess with me, mzungu! (That’s Swahili for hapless tourist.)

Closer to Klein’s Camp, our safari lodge, we spotted giraffes nibbling acacia leaves high in the treetops and elephants plundering the bush for leaves, grass and even thorny branches — anything they could wrap their trunks around.

These “gentle giants” can evidently kill a lion with a swift kick from an impossibly long leg.

When we spotted a pride of lions later that afternoon, I had to wonder if they ever went hungry. All the animals we’d seen earlier were still visible, though they kept a healthy distance between themselves and the beasts at the top of the Serengeti food chain.

Well-fed lions frolic near andBeyond Klein’s Camp.

In fact, we got so close to the pride — still in our open-air jeep — I marveled that mzungu (western tourists) hadn’t replaced wildebeest or zebras as a favourite meal. The crazy reality is they took nearly no notice of our Land Cruiser, but watched the other animals of the Serengeti intently.

Psst, buddy, there’s a tasty snack taking your picture.

The lions looked healthy, happy and, well, a little fat. Turns out they’d just sampled a preferred dish from the Serengeti buffet: a wildebeest.

Mmmm … paw-lickin’ good!

Mt. Kilimanjaro? Bring it on!

If I’m not ready to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro by now, I’d say it’s too late. Blake and I leave tomorrow to fly 14,000 kilometres around the world to Tanzania. The morning after we arrive we begin an eight-day trek that will take us to the top of Africa’s tallest mountain.

Striking a pose at Lake Agnes, above Lake Louise. Kili? Bring it on!

We’re climbing Kili to celebrate 15 years of marriage and also to raise money for our son Bennett’s special needs school. So far we’ve raised $6,895 (thanks everyone!), surpassing our goal of $5,895 (5,895 is the height of the Mt. Kilimanjaro in metres).

In the past three months during “training” I’ve taken nearly 1-million steps, walked 700 kilometres and trekked up the equivalent of 3,545 flights of stairs. On my best day I ascended 3,900 feet (1,188 metres), basically the elevation between our final camp on Kili and the summit. I’ve also had sore muscles, an on-again/off-again achy knee (currently ache-free, woot!) and exactly one blister (from a pair of fashion shoes, not my Raichle hikers).

Training for this trip has been highly motivating. I’ve been keen to walk more, climb more and hike more. Blake and I have done some amazing day hikes on our own and with the kids and it’s helped me rediscover the beauty of the Canadian Rockies.

Here’s the highlight reel…

Best View: Lake Louise from the top of the Big Beehive. Sept. 8, 2012. It was actually hot at Lake Louise.

From this height (2,270 metres), Lake Louise is, in a word, stunning. Or as my friend commented, “Bombay Sapphire blue.”

Most Rewarding: the Polar Peak loop, which included a ridge walk and navigating a rocky outcrop with a cable. We even saw a boy moose! Aug., 5, 2012.

The view from up where they blast avalanches all winter = sublime. And it was a beautiful 30C day too — with no wind!

Best for Kids: Tamarack Trail at Island Lake. It has enough elevation gain for adults, with cool distractions for kiddos (a stream, a rockslide and a view). Aug. 6, 2012.

Rockslide!

Most Rewarding: Mt. Fernie. Its 1,188 metres of elevation (322 flights of stairs!) kicked my soft behind. I was sore for four days after, but it jump-started my muscle memory. June 30, 2012.

Our first summit of the summer. Yes, I really like that hiking outfit!

The climb up Kili and views from the top will be completely different than those above. I can hardly wait!