East Africa Memories

"Tanzania is a country that brought me to life, my senses were cleared and I soaked up everything." H.D.

From the legendary Serengeti and Mount Kilimanjaro to Ngorogoro Crater and Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania is a country that still plays to an ancient rhythm. The Serengeti is linked to the Masai Mara in Kenya and it is here that the mind is numbed by the spectacle of the migrations. It matters not what sights you have seen or how long you have lived in the wild areas of Africa, the migrations will leave you emotionally drained.

'I have observed the migration in both the Masai Mara and Serengetti on a few occasions. For those observations, I will die a happy man! ' W.S.

Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater, volcanic in origin and thought to have been higher than Kilimanjaro, is now a unique eco-system with its own water source and supporting thousands of animals. It possesses an aura that is difficult to describe. It may be because of its isolation or its diversity, but the Eden concept springs to mind. Ngorongoro will fit on any top ten list of places that I make up.

'I sat for the rest of the journey looking at the beautiful scenery and wondering when we would arrive at our destination. As the day went on, it got hotter and hotter and sticking your head out the window was to no avail, dust and warm air. There are of course no road signs, the locals just know by various landmarks when it is their stop, a small bush or a rock. '

The Race to Our Origins

A visit to Olduvai Gorge was high on my list of priorities. This is where members of the Leakey family have spent so much time tracing our past. In the race to find our earliest ancestors, Olduvai is one of the prime sites of the world. Olduvai is on the route between Ngorongoro and Serengeti and is a must for anyone interested in the history of our past.

'My fondest moment in East Africa was sitting on the verandah of my tent at a place called Sinya. To my right, was a group of about thirty Masai Askaries, singing and chanting in rhythmic unison and to my left, in the foreground was a bachelor herd of elephant, each with close on 100lbs of ivory per tusk and Mount Kilimanjaro, with the late afternoon sun turning the snowcap to a subtle pink completing the background.' W.S.

Kilimanjaro, at almost 6 000 meters, is the highest point in Africa and one of the highest free standing mountains in the world. It has held a fascination for me since my childhood days. I have not had the opportunity to climb the mountain as yet but I can console myself with the picture of the elephant in Amboseli against the backdrop of the mountain.

Tanzania and Kenya have many more game reserves and national parks than those I have mentioned and visited. There are the remote southern Tanzanian reserves of Selous and Ruaha and in Kenya there are Tsavo and the Aberdares. These are places that I intend visiting in the near future.

The roads vary from bad tarmac to reasonable dirt roads. There are roads where you will need more than a steel will, but these all add to the adventure that is East Africa. The lodges and other tourist facilities are top class and the service is outstanding.

For those wanting a rest after a rough safari or simply looking for a beach getaway, the coast of Kenya and the island of Zanzibar provide a world renowned experience. Rich in history of slave traders and seafaring, the coast is the ideal holiday destination. The waters are perfect for scuba diving and swimming and the beaches entice you.

My initial reservations about visiting East Africa have long since disappeared. I am asked about all the tourists and can honestly say that I never noticed any crowds. As with all wildlife destinations you will find areas that are crowded. Kenya and Tanzania provide an unrivalled wildlife experience, coupled with breathtaking variety and scenery.

From Travels in East Africa by Leigh Kemp

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