Features

Photo: Adriana Sgabellone.

After walking off of the airplane in Tanzania for the first time, the only thing going through my head was “What the hell am I doing here?” Don’t get me wrong, I am an avid traveller with wanderlust in my veins. I love new cultures, food, people, and scenery.

What I don’t love is dirt, bugs, or anything even mildly outdoorsy. My idea of roughing it is a three-star hotel. I’ll admit it, I’m a complete city girl and I was a little skeptical and scared at the idea of traversing the wilderness in a seven seat Toyota Land Cruiser.

Despite these reservations, Tanzania turned out to be absolutely breathtaking.

Everywhere we visited—from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area to the Serengeti National Park—revealed a different landscape. These ranged from the lushest forests I have ever seen to areas that showcased nothing but the vast expanse of desert in every direction. Plus, there was the promise of the sunset every night, which—no matter where you found yourself—will shine with colours that you didn’t even know existed.

If you are seeking a surreal experience guaranteed to be wholly unlike anything you have ever seen, then Tanzania is for you.

With that being said, there were still a couple things that I would have liked to been made privy to before I took off on my grand safari adventure.

Giraffe

Photo: Adriana Sgabellone.

Motion sickness

I have a history of getting motion sick, but nothing could have prepared me for what a safari induced. Winding, bumpy, unpaved roads for six hours a day is taxing.

I spent more time curled up in the backseat of the truck than I care to admit, only to poke my head up occasionally to look at animals and scenery.  So, if you’re prone to car sickness or nausea like me, prepare accordingly.

Zebra

Photo: Adriana Sgabellone.

Clashing temperatures

When we first got off the plane in Tanzania at 10 p.m., it was 43°C. Even the breeze was a heavy blanket of heat that mercilessly wrapped itself around us.

But as blistering as the days and nights were, the early mornings were surprisingly cold. On mornings that we left the hotel before the sun was up, the temperature hovered around 5°C.

I had rolled my eyes when my dad told me to pack a hoodie and sweatpants for our trip to Tanzania, but I was glad I listened. My advice is to pack layers—you’re going to need them.

elephant

Photo: Adriana Sgabellone.

The real circle of life

Before this trip I had only ever seen exotic animals in the zoo, which may be why I had embarrassingly assumed that all of the animals we found on the trip would be in segregated groups.

Instead, I quickly discovered that they were all intermingling. The wildebeest were casually lingering around the hippo pool, while the zebras were drinking out of it. But when some predators came calling, Mother Nature triumphed in the end.

As such, we saw the circle of life complete right in front of us a couple of times, and it wasn’t the whimsical Disney version we’re all used to.

Whether that seems fascinating or repulsive to you, you should expect to see some blood.

wildebeast

Photo: Adriana Sgabellone.

Guilt

This is an uncomfortable one. There’s a big difference between knowing that there is unimaginable poverty in the world, and seeing it up close.

The juxtaposition of our hotels against poorer communities  right outside of the gates was heartbreaking. One time we even had a little boy run after our truck waving frantically and yelling. Our tour guide told us later than he had been yelling for water. I don’t need to tell you what that does to your conscience.

In memory of Donald Patrick Timmins, avid traveller and incredible godfather who was taken from us too soon, shortly after our return.