Following a wonderful buffet breakfast including sampling the local delicacy Mahambri at Saurabh's (our tour boss) insistance, we head to the Dar airport for a quick flight to KILimanjaro where our road-tour will start. The local FastJet flight is impressive and empty and we get views of mount Kilimanjaro as we descend. KIL aiport is small and lonely but we are met with the warmth of the Tanzanian people when we meet Philip Amon our driver from the airport to the Mount Meru game lodge....our stop for the night. The lodge is a beautiful place for the whole group to gather and begin our Safari. Monkeys, birds, zebras, peacocks and several other animals live in the adjacent nature preserve and routinely make appearances. These animals must be on the payroll i think to myself... We get in our first technical lessons regarding photographing animals in the wild and take practice shots going back and forth with Ali and Fern as they coach us on light and composition.
This Camp (Meru) is very picturesque. The cottages are interspersed in a camp with huge tropical trees, meandering streams, zebras, birds, tall grasses, peacocks, flowering plants, cobbled stone walkways, pretty dinner tables by fireplaces, monkeys playing in the trees and even an ostrich. My cottage has two beds with mosquito nets which looks so pretty
There are animals in the reserve nearby that wander past the huts like a slow deliberate march past. It like they know what happens here, the oohing and the aahing of the gawkers and the shuttering of cameras…all of it! To photographers and photog-wannabees like me its the perfect warmup to the main course a couple of days away. Practice shots, advice on f-stops, apertures and shutter speeds interspersed with more complicated technical direction…all of this goes on even as these lovely tame wild animals routinely visit us.
Dad had a hard nite. Neuropathy in his left foot kept him up all night and I dare say it was made worse by my snoring which of late has take on sonic dimensions. He didn’t complain but looks like he stayed up most of the night nursing his foot and pain. As he went to bed his feet were really cold and even in socks they could find no solace. Our overarching concern last night was the cold temperature and there being no heating. We didn’t run the tap enough to find the warm water and realized that we didn’t pack enough warm clothes for two weeks of 50 degree evenings. Overall it was a miserable night because my apparent rejuvenated allergies had me coughing through the night but the magic that morning brings washed away everything that belonged in the night. Breakfast and a cup of strong India-Tea and we boarded the jeeps for trip to the Manyara reserve.