Wildflowers, Gorillas and a Walking Safari

Exploring East Africa with Inadequate Time

January, 2018

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Dona has wanted to visit Kitulo National Park in southern Tanzania ever since she first learned about it. Sometimes described as a "Botanist's Serengeti", it is renowned as a biodiversity hotspot for wildflowers. We had hoped to visit it last year but that didn't happen for various reasons. But this year we decided to do it.

As long as we were going half-way around the world, I thought it would be fun to see the Mountain Gorillas in Uganda.

And while we were at it, we had talked about doing a walking safari ever since our trip to Tanzania in 2014.

You need a permit to visit the gorillas in Uganda, and when I enquired, there were only two dates available during the time when we wanted to be in the area. It wasn't the best time logistically, but I wasn't going to argue. I sent off my money and a week or so later we had our permits. The permits were for the middle of January. We decided to visit Kitulo first, then head to Uganda, then do our walking safari in the Serengeti, and finally return to Kitulo to hopefully see a new set of flowers.

We had an excrutiatingly long trip from our home near Missoula, MT, USA, to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. A friend who was house-sitting for us while we were gone dropped us at a motel the night before we were scheduled to leave. The next morning we caught the shuttle to the airport, where the United Airlines check-in was a fiasco. They had two "self-service" check-in kiosks, one of which was out of service. They had no baggage tag printing capability — that was out as well. They tried to use the Alegiant Airlines printer next door to print baggage tags, but they couldn't get that to work either. Eventually, the Delta Airlines agent got done checking in their flight, closed the ticket counter, and came over to help. Capitalism at work, skimping everywhere they can and bringing you terrible service at the same prices as foreign carriers with a much better sense of what a customer is.

We flew to Denver, then to Washington, D.C., then to Zurich, Switzerland, and finally to Dar es Salaam.

We crashed at the Mauya Executive Lodge to get some sleep. Basic accomodations, clean and most things worked. It's close to the airport and they have a shuttle service, which means the front desk manager drives over and picks you up. We wound around and eventually eased our way down a dark pot-holed dirt road to the hotel.

But at last we were in Tanzania. The next day we would head to Kitulo.

Kitulo National Park Uganda Walking in the Serengeti Southern Tanzania
Kitulo National Park Southern Uganda Walking in the Serengeti Southern Tanzania