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Tanzania

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With the Tazara train finally in the rear view mirror, the pair shuffle through the strangely tall wooden gate, relief etched on their faces like savage incontinence. They stop, slowly gazing around, taking in the shaded grounds, the rustic thatch huts and the glorious blue of the lake not so far off, not now. Shaking their head as though waking from a dream they push themselves back into motion, invigorated by the tantalizing proximity of their ultimate goal. It is 12:15 pm several kilometers outside Dar es Salaam and the sign in front of the Tazara train station is demoralizing in its simplicity. “The 13:50 train will be delayed until 20:00. Sorry for the inconvenience.” Six suddenly discovered hours to look after. The choice – return to the city and pay for another night’s hotel, or spend the day in the faded, crumbling 70’s glory of the station built in…

Welcome to Zanzibar – not just a funny name, it’s hot and muggy too! Boy, hit the nail on the head there, Phil. We’re just kicking the tires on the rainy season now so the temps are ramping up, the clouds come and go with no rhyme or reason and when it does actually rain it comes down fierce, and it’s tough to tell if that makes it less or more humid. Nonetheless, Zanzibar, being an island and all, is practically surrounded by water, and, when the tide is out at least, some really nice beaches as well. Can’t have it both ways in most areas, though – tide is out, beach but no swimming / tide is in, you can swim but no sand in sight. You think our life is easy, you don’t know these problems we face. Got in a bit late on the ferry and ended…

With our epic Tanzanian safari now in the books we once again set our minds to onward travel, specifically to finding the best bus possible to take us the 5-8 hours (notice how the range gets wider and wider as we gradually catch on to the true extent of “African Time”?) to the quiet little town of Lushoto, nestled (using words like that make me feel like I’m the smiling guy in khaki pants in an SPCA commercial) in the Usambara Mountains along the border of Tanzania and Kenya. The place we ended up, Muller’s Mountain Lodge, sits in the leafy green crux of a lush valley at about 1,800 metres, bestowing us once again with some agreeably cool temperatures. All in all, we’ve been very surprised at how many of the African towns we’ve visited are at altitude and not sweltering hot the way we had imagined (I’m speaking…

Tanzania, home of the Safari (Swahili for “journey”), Zanzibar (whose “zan” was hijacked to change Tanganyika to Tanzania back at independence in the 60’s) and Mt Kilimanjaro (whose iconic snowy peak just can’t wait to succumb to global warming). We plan to be all over the first two like body paint at Burning Man, and get a nice lazy glimpse of the third from afar – clean, dry and highly un-exerted. Stage 1: A five day safari encompassing Tarangire National Park, Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater. Titillating, to be sure. First things first, let’s meet the cast of safari-going characters who will be joining us on this lively excursion. They can be loosely grouped as follows: 1) The Classics Tilley hats, zip off pants, a full complement of Jack Wolfskin and absolutely nothing but khaki. 2) The Upper Middle Class Father, mother, 2 ½ kids. Suit jacket, no…

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