Tuesday, January 13, 2004

2 weeks of work/2 weeks of holiday - December 23, 2003

Well, I'm off on my safari tomorrow!! It was a bit of a hassle getting this trip organised (first i was going fly, then i wasn't, then i had a safari booked, then i found i wasn't going to make it on time, etc etc.) But, its actually worked out really well. I had confirmed a safari to depart this morning, and was going to take the bus to Arusha in Tanzania, but then found out that the bus wouldn't get me to arusha on time, so then i cancelled the safari and returned my bus ticket; then i decided to just buy a bus ticket again and just go to arusha, because everything i'd read said the booking a safari should either be done way in advance, or on the spot, for good deals. (Basically, it was disadvantageous to continue to try to book by phone/email from Kampala.)

So, I took the bus here [arusha] in the hope that it would all work out, which it did. I walked around to a bunch of places, and couldn't find anything - its tough to sign up as an individual, because most safaris are booked by groups, not many companies do ones specifically for individuals, or you need to find and meet people who are willing to let you join their group. So I went to the Arusha tourist office, and they knew of a company that had a couple signed up for a 5-day safari, and they wanted more people to join them. So i went around the corner to this safari company office, and there was already two guys, not together though, talking to the woman about doing a 4-day (i didn't want to go for 5 whole days), and i said i wanted to too, so the three of us who just happened to go into the office at around the same time are going on a safari together tomorrow morning. And, i only needed to spend about 3 hours looking for a safari, instead of a couple of days, like i had feared. So its alll good. (Plus, we got a pretty good price - $90 US a day. Sounds like a lot, but safaris are expensive. And it includes your meals and the park fees, which are pretty expensive themselves.)
The bus ride to arusha was quite an adventure in and of itself (and i use 'adventure' in the way that you use it when you'd try to convince yourself that something crappy was in fact good.) The roads are CRAP, you are bumping up and down for about 20 straight hours, on the first leg of the journey the bus both got in a small accident (clipped a truck while passing, no one was hurt) and broke down for an hour and half. Plus you need to get out at the borders, go through exit immigration, walk through no mans land, go through entrance immigration, buy a visa, blah blah. And we had to do that twice, once a the uganda/kenya border and then again at the kenya/tanzania border. Sounds simple except that its the middle of the night, there's no signage, an there's all these men trying to get you to exchange money on the black market that only exists in no-man's land, and little kids trying to sell you boiled eggs or pineapples, and its kind of chaotic. And yay, i got to spend money on a kenyan visa for the privilege of sitting on a bus through the country for 6 hours.

The scenery here is amazing though- spent the whole bus ride staring out my window, i didn't touch my book. More than the landscape (which, until we hit Tanzania and the view of Mt Killimanjaro, wasn't spectacular), it is the people landscape that is so interesting. Its like going through a National Geographic - there really aare all these people walking around dusty villages in bare feet swathed in all this bright gorgeous fabric and all this beaded jewellery while they lean on a big stick and stare at the goats. And the bus had to stop on the highway for a giant wildlife crossing. It was neat! ( I wish i could have taken more pictures, but we were going too fast; hopefully I'll have another chance.)


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