So this weekend I went on a two-night camping and one day safari trip with all 22 of the watoto (children) who live at the UAACC in the Leaders of Tomorrow Orphanage.
Baba (father) Pete had a great time teasing the kids about lions the first night we got to the campsite. The children ended up being so scared that we had to rearrange all of their tents to be closer to Baba Pete’s. And in the morning all of them were swearing that they had seen a simba (lion) the night before. The safari and travel to the park all occurred in a 30-person bus that the center raised money for and purchased last year. This is the same bus that will be making the trip to Dar es Saalam around Easter so that the children can see the ocean. So we left the campsite Saturday morning to go to Tarangre Naitonal Park and spent about half the day driving around the park and having lunch there. We saw a lot of tembo (elephants) and simba as well as some zebras, wart hogs, vervet monkeys (aka blue balled monkeys, unfortunately it was during lunch so I didn’t have my camera out), a couple giraffes, ostriches and antelope.
Another cool thing we saw were Baobab trees. They are huge beautiful trees. We came across one that had a big hole in it and our driver/guide told us that it used to be used by poachers. They would hide in there during the night and hang the meat in there. It smelled terrible inside but it was cool to learn something new.
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The whole safari experience was great. I enjoyed going with a group of native Tanzanians and learning things I likely would have overlooked had I gone with an all tourist group. It cost less than 50 cents for each of the kids to enter the park and around a dollar for the adults but for tourists it costs $35. I think it is great that they provide the Tanzanians with cheap access to their native lands. The downside is that most Tanzanians still don’t have the money to make it to the parks and pay for a driver/guide. The other crazy part of going with a group of Tanzanian kids is that some of the other tourists would try to take pictures of them like they were an equal part of the attraction and experience. It was good to view things through the eyes of a native group rather than being in an all tourist group.