East Africa

It occurred to me later after arrival here, that this travel will lead me from the Cradle of Mankind around the Oldovai Gorge, to the last locations where where men put their feet. It could have been interesting to follow just this line of thought and put the whole journey into one blog article. But it would neglect too many other impressions. Another remark to make here, is that my photos do not capture the full beauty of wildlife this time. The reason is that I later in this journey lost, beside other things, my primary Camera in an armed robbery in Peru and that I did not backup the pictures. But I stayed alive and so did my memories.

The first time I saw Mount Kilimanjaro was from Arusha National Park over Lake Manjara with thousands of flamingos in the water and flying by. This is paradise. Instantainously all the old childhood stories come back, like Hemingway's Snows on Kilimanjaro. But at that time the plots were set in a far away place and a long ago past - when men were still real men and women were still real women. The Arusha wildlife was introduced as an "appetizer", but at that moment I could not believe it can get any better. Only the armed ranger with a big game rifle was a reminder that we are not in a zoo. 

Arusha has comparably small wildlife reserves. But as the way passes via Tarangire, the Ngorongoro Crater into the Serengeti you will be taken away completely by the beauty of this land. There is not a minute you don't want to spend getting close up to buffaloes, wilderbeests, lions, leopard, cheetahs, zebras, giraffes, elephants and all the other wildlife from birds to corocodiles. For me two situations caught me completely. One was a peg of lions hunting buffaloes in the Ngorongoro Crater. The other was the big migration where thousands of animals come into the Serengeti and move towards water and green grass. Perhaps these are some instincts deeply engraved in the human brain millions of years ago, but to watch this is one of the most intense experiences you can have.

The closest was to leave the tent at night for a pi and walk strait into a peg of lions, just a torch in my hand and no gun. And even if somebody would have been awake with an AK47, I thought that being between him and the lions might even make it worse. As I am too small to be serious food, I slowly retreated to be also not be perceived as danger, but watched them carefully not to end up as a toy. 

This region is Maasai land and  they still roam around in a traditional way and live in clan based villages with a patriarch and around ten wifes each. Everybody are brothers and sisters in the genetically sense of the meaning and it is actually surprising to me that evolution did not wipe them out as a result of inbreeding. Another question, which they did not answer, was what happens to the men which do not find wifes in this system. I just could not match the numbers. But I was told that this ratio is natural. Maasai architecture is very much shaped by the building material which is cow shit. And sitting in such a cow shit hut in front of a fire place with no chimney and nearly no ventilation, explaining to my host that Carbon Monoxide makes you sleep well but perhaps not wake up again, I was thinking how good it was I did not study Anthropology when I was young. Later, when we had to leave behind a Rand Rover trailer with a broken axle in a Maasai village, I followed the bizarre picture how they dragged the trailer into the inner circle of the stick fences for a while until it disappeared in the cow herd. I found the Maasai are strait forward to talk to, but for me a bit hard to read the faces.

After weeks of wilderness and camping, the unpaved Serengeti airstrip was the point to take off again. On a pole hang the airbag flattering and a man with a walkie talkie and a binocular standing beside. This was the tower. A few Land Rovers standing around. This was the terminal. People with spears boarding the Russian plane. This was the security check. A sign that the axe is beside your seat behind the pilot was another reminder that this operator might not comply with IATA rules. We took off East and had another view from up here on Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater. Then the pilot pulled South towards Zanzibar.