Caren Ware's Blog

March 3, 2014

Flying High in Serengeti

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 11:44 am

The Tarangire is ravines and rolling landscape. There were herds of elephants, lots of giraffes, that screaming Hyrax, lots more of them on the rocks, zebra, antelopes of all sizes. The Ngorongora Crater is a drive up a volcano into lush forest with trees with flat tops and lots of bush berries the locals use for medicine. We are in Maasai territory and they work hard taking their cows for drinks of water in the crater. The crater is game to game. The lions just bask in their 20 hours of sleep a day out in the open. In the Serengeti they hang like ornaments in the trees. So do Leopards while the Cheetahs ,Hyena, and Jackal work from the grass.
There is a balloon excursion company, Serengeti Safari Balloons. This was a part of Kathy Loper’s excursion and I was pleasantly surprised how fun it was. You leave for the balloons at 4:45 am to ensure you are in the air at sunrise. I went without expecting much. I was surprised how nice the basket and balloon was. How great the staff were. And how poetic is was to be drifting along to the sound and fire flash of the burner. The Captain was half Canadian and Tanzanian, quite a beautiful combination of features and soft voice. He loved this job. Did you know a balloon pilot has to be flight licensed much like a private airplane pilot. We drifted high and low, almost touching the ground and tree tops. We got to fly right over a herd of elephant who were very threatened by our round thing in the air that flashed flames. One took us on and trumpeted and charged and the others rounded up. Big mammoth beings with flapping ears and long ivory tusks, willing to fight us if we got near. We ended the flight with champagne. The captain explained it was a tradition that dated back to the original balloons. In France, the first balloons would land randomly, many times on farmer’s lands. The King ordered bottles of champagne to be shared with the famers if the balloons ended up on their land. It has been a tradition ever since.
Wild Frontiers left us with hugs and Swahili sayings. They said to say this after someone says Mambo vipe. Say, ” Poa kacheezy, comeon easy, danya freggy, john..wine.eee.” (at least that is how it sounds). Translated that means, like a crazy banana in the frig . Somehow, again. Something is missed in the translation. But every time I said it, the Tanzanians would laugh their hearts out. So we just kept saying it. They loved the joke. It was heartfelt when we embraced goodbyes on that grass runway. They would drive over 10 hours back to Arusha and we would take a Canadian built 20 seater airplane over the landscape, above the plains, across more volcanos and craters, and toward Arusha where a van would take us to a town below Kilimanjaro called Moshi , and where they were staging the Kilimanjaro Marathon. The pilots stuffed our bags in the sidings of their plane. They motioned us into tiny seats with fold out padding. They handed back chocolate chews as we flew IMG_4121

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IMG_4188and we watched the view through the front windshield. This was African commercial flying at its best.

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