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In the winter of 2019, Henderson Productions took a small group to Tanzania for a 14-day adventure.   This blog series tells the story of the trip and our fellow travelers.  Using our network around the world, we curated a tour to give us local connections and experiences beyond the normal tourist choices.  For more information about our upcoming trips, subscribe to our newsletter.

An elephant close enough to startle – us both!

Early Friday morning we all watched the sunrise and sadly departed the Kati Kati camp.   Within minutes, D spotted something moving beneath the tips of the tall grass – and we had seen a very rare leopard not in a tree.   Lovely way to leave the open Serengeti plain.

While we entered the Ngorongoro Conservation area we asked Johnson to teach us an easy song and got Jambo Bwana stuck in our heads.   We’ve reinforced it over a couple of days.    By 10:30 we began the descent into the world’s largest unflooded caldera and home to the largest number of protected animals on the planet.

Engorged hyena walking away from the party

At 12:30 we completed our Big 5 by seeing a big black rhino.   Unfortunately, it was at least 300 yards away so not spectacular but we surely celebrated.    Also, in the conservation area, we saw what looked like a hunting party of hyena about to surround a wildebeest, but it turned out they were headed to what Johnson called “a hyena party with the vultures.”    And while we don’t know what they were eating it was a great feast with snarling and flapping wings and equal time for all.   The ones walking away looked pregnant swaying hither and yon as though they’d just pushed away from the Thanksgiving turkey.

After our bird-attacking lunch alongside an oasis hippo pool, we headed out of the park to our luxury resort.    Greeted upon arrival by singing Masai women and bracelet gifts, we were served fresh limeade and shown the lounge, dining room, reception and infinity pool.   Escorts showed the way to our elegant duplex suites complete with indoor and outdoor showers, a patio, chaise lounge, 2 desks and a huge mosquito-net-encased bed.   The netting puddled on the floor, but my aim was to strip off for the shower.

R chose indoor – I chose out.   Neither was a poor choice.   Refreshed we set off for the pool before 5 and ultimately most of the group came to either try the chilly pool with a view or sit near and chat.   Aaaaaahhhh.

Back to change and grab the camera for sunset, I wandered around the gardens looking for light but likely missed the best of it.   Nevermind.    By dinner, most of us were exhausted and barely able to stay awake. 

Dinner really was lovely with a choice of appetizer, soup or salad and entrée plus dessert.   To be honest, I made it to the main course but by 9, R and I were done and went back for bed.   The housekeepers had left chocolate bonbons in a little bowl on our bed with the full netting pulled back.   Positively romantic as we collapsed into a fitful night for both of us.

Truth is almost all our group is sharing Imodium or Pepto or allergy meds.   And we have been super careful.   No one, I think, has been as bad off as my first night in Dar but who knows right?   What I didn’t expect was an allergy flareup.   For goodness sake, aren’t all the grass and trees in North America enough?!    Fortunately, N had Claritin – 24 hour and gave me 4 days-worth to clear up the drip on the north end.

Having fallen asleep before 10, I was wide awake and worked on photos from 4-6 AM snuggly wrapped in the sumptuous robe and perched on the tufted leather chaise that M and I would definitely steal if we could figure out how.   There, once again, are worse ways to work!