Blitz

 Ngorongoro Crater and Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

See that map on the right? I’m not proud of that. With the end of my trip coming on the horizon, I’ve had to start picking and choosing where I want to go rather than just meandering around. Unfortunately, it means that I’m giving Tanzania the short shrift, and so I made my way across the entire north of the country in a mere six days — three of which I spent on long-distance buses, and the remaining three of which I also spent a lot of time in transport.

Tanzania does have a lot to offer, but a lot of it is similar to what I’ve seen and experienced already. There’s Lake Victoria, which I saw briefly in Uganda and decided to skip over this time. There’s the Usambara Mountains, which I saw on my bus ride from Moshi to Dar — pretty, but I’ve been seeing plenty of hillside villages in Rwanda. There’s the Seregenti, which is contiguous with Maasai Mara NP in Kenya. And there’s also Mt. Kilimanjaro, which I had no interest in climbing due to cost (over $1100!) and time, but I did make an extra stop just to see it.

Still…if I had more time, I would definitely have stopped along the way, maybe experience a bit more of local life. I haven’t had much of a chance to talk to locals like I have in my past five countries. I blame it on having to rush so much, but I also wonder: people in Tanzania are super welcoming, but not particularly chatty. I’ve had plenty of friendly people greet or assist me on the street, but none seem to linger or continue to chat, even on those 12-hour long bus rides. Also probably a big reason: many speak only Swahili and little to no English. They do seem to be truly happy to see visitors though, and they’re proud of their country.
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Wild

 Maasai Mara NR and Hell’s Gate NP, Kenya

There’s one pretty obvious thing people come to Kenya for.

Nairobi’s not the safest place out there, which made wandering around difficult especially come evening time, and its suburban sprawl makes it even more difficult to get to know. Despite the sea of brightly-painted matatus (minivans plying a few hundred routes around Nairobi and beyond), the city feels like America in some ways. Outward religiosity (in the form of garish matatus and buses covered in Christian slogans) flying right in the face of an in-your-face sexualised pop culture (in the form of urban music with explicit lyrics being blared by those same buses, plus restaurants playing some pretty racy music videos) is one thing, along with big western shopping malls far from the city center, fast food restaurants (they love their fried chicken and fries), skyscrapers, businessmen in suits everywhere, and heavy traffic, but the biggest similarity I see is how everyone seems busy and has somewhere to go. Several Kenyans I talked to outside Nairobi mentioned that last sticking point, and some compared it to America as well. Few if any people paid any mind to me, which was a jarring but somewhat nice change from the constant attention in Ethiopia and Somaliland, but at the same time, it made them hard to get to know. While still developing and doing so quite rapidly, Nairobi is getting up there with the likes of other cosmopolitan multicultural world cities, for better or for worse.

So instead, I spent most of my time in Nairobi looking at animals, and prepping a trip to look at more animals. Naturally.
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