The basis of the economy is agriculture but tourism revenues are an important source of income for the people and Government of Tanzania. Kenya is a role model when it comes to tourism. The infrastructure there is more developed almost everyone speaks English and Kenyans are proud to say that they are way ahead of Tanzania. And although the United Republic of Tanzania (the creation of Tanzania was the merger of the British colonies of Tanganika and Zanzibar, hence the name) is younger than Kenya only by one year (if anyone’s interested in the process of creating independent states in Africa, please refer to Ryszard Kapuscinski – it’s worth it!) Difference in progress between two countries is easily noticable.
Back to the safari. Safari in Swahili means journey and comes from the Arabic language (safar). But this is not the only example of borrowing. Very often the languages of indigenous peoples do not have words to describe modern things or activities so people either use the available words (when I used CouchSurfing in Phoenix my host was a Native American from the Navajo tribe and he told me that eg. the word tank is translated as something like “the shooting fort that is moving ” 🙂 – I can’t remember the exact words any longer) or borrow them from other languages hence the Swahili safari comes from the Arabic, the word school from German (shule) or people just add the -ee ending to English words so the English word project became project-ee 🙂
As we had only one day in Arusha we could only go for one-day trip. We opted for a safari in the Ngorongoro Crater located about two hours drive from Arusha and which is part of the East African Rift. The crater is part of the Ngorongoro National Park and you can get there only by 4×4 vehicle.
Our trip cost us in total $700, $500 of which are the government fees – $150 per person admission to the National Park and $200 per car. The rest goes to the tour operator but they have to pay the driver (it’s good to tip him anyway) for petrol and lunch. Competition is so large that Safari companies can forget about increasing the prices.
The crater is 600 meters deep and has an area of about 304 km². Matilda was previously on a safari in Kenya but for me it was the first time. Of course I’ve seen all the animals in the zoo but it’s not the same. We spent more than 6 hours driving around the crater and we were able to see elephants, giraffes, zebras, lions eating zebra, antelopes, ostriches, buffalo, warthogs (Pumbaa from the Lion King 😉), hyenas and several shy hippos. Unfortunately we didn’t see a rhino… While in the National Park you can also visit Maasai bomas (boma – word for a house and fence made of thorny bushes). Maasai came to the area about 200 years ago and I guess they liked it, because they still live here. They even have a permit to graze cattle in the crater they can’t, however, settle in it. The price of most of the safaris includes a visit to a Maasai village where you can see the dancing warriors and buy souvenirs. We were going to spend five days in a Maasai village, so we were not interested. Besides these villages don’t really have much in common with real Maasai villages…
Of course all the time you have to stay in the car, you don’t want to risk a meeting with a lion or a buffalo, we only left the car to eat lunch and that’s when I saw hippos. But because pretty much all jeeps arrived at the same time, hippos were afraid and stayed in the water.
It was a wonderful experience (although a little expensive)!!! In the end, I saw animals that I looked at in my cousin’s Animal Atlas as a child or admired on TV and guess what?!? They look a lot better in the wild. See it for yourself…