Over a year ago our big-trip extended family birding companions Ram and Dawn sent us a note saying it was time for their first trip to Africa, specifically Tanzania, and were we interested? Hoooo-ey, you bet we were. We asked if there was room for our son Sid and he said yes; one of Ram's brothers was coming as well, so we would be a total of six... plus guide and driver. Ram was in charge this time, and he wanted to do a variety of things besides just birding.
Ram, Dona and I had more-or-less an open-ended schedule and lots of time, but the other three didn't. I wanted to spend some time exploring more of Mkomazi National Park; both Dona and I wanted to do another walking safari; Sid wanted to climb Kilimanjaro or Mt. Meru; Ram's brother wanted to see large carnivores doing their thing; and for everyone except Dona and I it would be their first trip to Africa, so the regular African wildlife experience was more or less mandatory.
That was a pretty tall order to roll into one deal, but we came up with a plan: Ram, Dona and I would fly over a week before the others, and we would spend that week in Mkomazi, hopefully doing some walking. Then we would meet the other three and head up to the NgoroNgoro crater, over to the Ndutu Game Reserve, a walking safari in the north-eastern Serengeti, a few days in the Seronera area of the Serengeti, then down to Tarangire. After Tarangire, Ram and his brother would fly to Rwanda and Uganda to check out mountain gorillas, Dawn would fly home, Sid would climb Mt. Meru, and Dona and I would check out the West Kilimanjaro area.
Unfortunately, in October I did something really stupid and took a fall from the top of our arena. I broke my right femur, chipped my left hip, fractured my right patella, and shattered my left calcaneius (heel). Fortunately, I was still alive with no head or organ injuries. I got a hip replacement fifteen years before I was planning on it, and a rebuilt heel full of screws and a titanium plate. Ram asked whether we needed to cancel the trip, or at least drop out, but when we checked with my surgeon he kept saying I should be good to go. The heel seemed to mend ok, at least according to the x-rays, but the incision to operate on the heel was slow to close up. I started going to a wound specialist and it started improving, but it took its time. Three days before we were to leave I saw the wound doctor for the last time and she pronounced it pretty much healed over. The foot was still swollen, I was limping pretty noticeably, it was a bit painful to walk, and I had little feeling on the outside of the foot. But there was no reason I couldn't go.
So... the second week of February saw Dona and me flying off to Arusha, Tanzania where we met up with Ram. We were headed for Mkomazi National Park and the northern Usambara Mountains, mostly looking for birds. We still hoped to do a fair amount of walking. We spent the night at Kibo Home B&B in Moshi, near the Kilimanjaro (JRO) airport. The next morning we were picked up by Max, our guide, and Sharif, our cook/camp guru, from Leopard Tours.
After our week in the Mkomazi area, Max dropped Ram, Dona and me off at Kiota Guesthouse near Arusha, where we rendezvoused with Ram's wife Dawn, his brother Uri, and our son Sid. That evening, Dona's and my favorite guide, Douglas Duncan with Dorobo Safaris, met us and gave us a briefing. the next morning we crammed into Dorobo's customized Toyota Land Cruiser and headed off to the Serengeti area in search of all animals African, but particularly large carnivores. We were not disappointed.
Douglas drove us all back to Kiota where we split up; Sid, Dona and I spent a relaxing night at Kiota, while Douglas dropped Ram, Uri and Dawn off at the airport. Dawn flew home, and Ram and Uri headed off to Rwanda and Uganda in search of gorillas. The next morning, Sid headed off to climb Mt. Meru, while Dona and I spent the day relaxing. The next morning Douglas picked us up and we headed off to the West Kilimanjaro area.