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Arusha National Park

August 27, 2010

Arusha National Park
Size: 552 sq km 212 sq miles).
Location: Northern Tanzania, northeast of Arusha town.

It is hard to imagine that a game sanctuary with such an abundance of life exists only a 40-minute drive from the bustling city with a population of over a million. Within 10-minutes of entering the park border we came across a field of grazing zebra, water buffalo, and warthogs. It’s one thing to see pictures and videos of african wildlife but quite another to see these marvelous creatures up close. I always worry that my overplanning will hinder my ability to enjoy my vacation since I’ve already learnt so much about it but it really hasn’t.

Around noon we were met by a park ranger for a walking safari. Out of the protection of the jeep the ranger carried a gun. His gun safety was a little unnerving; it’s good to watch where the barrel is pointing.  We were soon walking into a field of water buffalo. “Do you want to get closer?” he asked. Umm yes. I wondered what one gun would do against a herd of charging buffalo. In the distance we could see the tell-tale necks of giraffe. Walking across the field we met a lone giraffe sitting and looking around. I took a cue and also decided to also have a rest. Perhaps it was the Malarone (antimalaria medication) or perhaps it had been too many hours since breakfast but I was feeling very nauseated. As I rested David was scanning the area with a pair of binoculars. He tried to coax me up saying there was a mother giraffe with three babies coming this way. I didn’t really believe him but I got up anyways. Ohmygod a dozen giraffes walked by 20 metres away.  Amazing!

After some encouragement we continued on. I was feeling conflicted. On one hand, I was in a field filled with giraffe and buffalo in Tanzania, the place I had been dreaming about for so long. On the other hand I was feeling ill. We decided to continue to a waterfall and then walk back to the ranger station. The water falls from a cliff at the base of Mount Menu. This mountain hovers over Arusha National park and is a popular climb.

We returned to the ranger station for lunch and an afternoon game drive. Highlights of the afternoon included a troop of baboons, flocks of pink flamingos, meerkats and my new favourite animal, the Dik Dik. This animal has the look of a deer but it is only about 1.5 feet tall. I wish there were miniature versions of all animals!

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