Travelogs & Reflections > Carrol's Travelog > East Africa

East Africa


Tanzania | Uganda | Kenya 


TANZANIA: March 2006


Ngorongoro Crater is another wonder to visit.  Our guide, Godfrey, picked us up at our hotel in Arusha and we were on our way to this unique location.  We arrived at our campsite after a three hour drive. We walked into town and just wandered around and saw many fabrics that were beautiful.  Paul woke me up at 4:30 am and he was wide awake and ready to go on the safari.  We had a quick breakfast and left for a two hour ride to the rim of the crater.  We arrived at the rim just after the light had filtered through the sky.  There was still a little bit of mist hanging over this large valley.  We descended into the wonder that is the Ngorongoro Crater.  We were amazed at the beauty of the lands that went from the savannah to the grasslands, to the lake and finally into the jungle—all in one area.


The animals were scattered throughout the different regions.  You could stand in the center of the Land Rover and turn around and see the herds of Wildebeest that were being stalked by a den of lions.  Then the hyena that is chasing the Thomson’s Gazelle and finally made his kill and was eating his first meal of the day.  Turn again, and see the hundreds of zebras roaming over the land; turn again and see the African buffalo roaming the plains; turn again and watch the lake with all of the flamingos; turn again and see the hippos laying on the shore after a short bath in the river; turn again and see the elephants as they slowly walk through the jungle at their own pace.  Wow, your heart and mind is exploding with all of these marvelous sights that keep coming.  God made this a glorious place for the animals to live after the volcano erupted.  This place will linger in my memory for many years to come.


Our next stop after a long ferry ride will be Zanzibar for some more rest and relaxation on the beautiful blue-green beaches.  We stayed at the town of Kendwa and resided at the White Sands Guest Cottages. 


We were loaded with books to read, sketching to update, and journaling to bring current.  Each day became lazier than the previous day.  We walked on the beach and collected shells, swam, and got real sunburned.  The boys had a great time and enjoyed all of the foods and the easy life when they were not studying. We also had a surprise birthday party for my daughter-in-law at one of the larger hotels. It was fun to dress up and celebrate this talented woman’ s special day.


UGANDA: February 2006


We arrived in Mbale are soon realized that we were in the middle of the country’s national election campaign that could turn violent.  We left this small town and arrived in Kampala where the situation was not any better.  We decided to wait until morning and make a decision about if we would proceed on to the Garden Project in Kabale or leave the country.  We would leave it in God’s hands.  The next morning we immediately found the bus station for Kibali National Park and felt it was a good place for us to go during the next few days before the election.


Kibali National Park has lush tropical rainforest and fascinating diversity of animals; it is one of the most beautiful and stunning forests in Uganda.  Kibale forest is certainly worth protecting as it is home to the largest number of endangered chimpanzees, as well as the threatened red colobus monkey and the rare L’Hoest monkey. The forest has one of the highest diversity and density of primates in Africa totaling 13 species.


We arrived to a quiet and calm national park and made plans to go on a Chimpanzee hike with a certified guide.  We were all excited about the prospects of seeing these primates. About an hour into the hike we found a large family of chimps. I tried to take some photographs, however it was difficult because of the trees, branches, and heavy growth so I just began watching them in their habitat. On a branch I saw two chimps high in the trees grooming each other.  Another time Ý watched as one of the chimps put his hand on the shoulder of the other chimp and kissed her on the lips and began picking things from her hair.  Also saw a family out for a swing with their young ones who were flying through the trees while junior was making a nest out of branches for a short nap.  Their parents were watching from a larger branch.  Watched many chimps climbing down trees and walk away through the forest as they picked up the fruit and continued on their way.  Chimps were also throwing fruit at us.  One hit Steve in the face.  He just removed his glasses and continued to take pictures as fast as possible.  We stayed here for over three hours then headed back to camp to pack up and continue on our trip to Lake Bunyoni.


Lake Bunyoni is 6 km west of Kabale town.  Bunyoni means the place of little birds, and birding is great here.  Over 200 bird species have been recorded at the lake.  There are 29 islands within Lake Bunyoni. 


I went on a long hike and just lay on the green banks of the lake and looked at the surrounding hillside that was covered with terraced gardens.  There were many crops, corn, banana trees, beans, and much more.  Each terrace was in several shades of green and was so beautiful to just lay and relax and soak up the warmth from the sun and to behold the blue of the sky.  In the background you could hear the voices from the people that were traveling on the lake on their way to the market.  I had visited that area earlier in the morning.  This has been a special place after a hectic schedule.  This has prepared me for the volunteer work that we will be doing in Kabale in a couple of days.


We were picked up by Pastor Edward and driven to one of his churches for Sunday services where we, once again, experienced the magic of music and the sincerity of testimonials from the members of the church. 


Today we walked to Victory Garden where we will be working for the next few days.  The rains are back with us as we walked up into the hills.  We rested at a school and met the children and Marcia passed out some pens for them.  We met the garden workers and went back to the garden when the rains subsided. It was quite muddy, oh well, we planted onions and carrots in terraced beds.  We walked back to our hotel which is close to being like our home with our great parlor where we can invite our friends for our meetings about the project.


We began to realize that each of us would be using our expertise with this project.  I was asked to conduct a seminar on Volunteer Management for the Christian community.  I began organizing my thoughts and after a long discussion with the pastors came up with the idea of dividing this training into three segments.  The first segment would be on Volunteer Recruitment, then Volunteer Retention and finally Volunteer Recognition.  We had close to 30 people from the community attend and participate in each segment. Other segments that were taught by family members were: Public Relations by Therese, and Steve taught Land Management and crop rotations.  Our friend from Eugene worked with the gardeners on the layout and planting methods for the garden and did an in town session the last day on program ideas related to the garden.


Once again, we made some wonderful relationships and made plans for follow-up when we return home.


KENYA: January 2006


As we boarded the flight from Nairobi we were approached by someone from the airlines and he asked us if we would like to be upgraded to first class.  What a treat this was as we had just spent the night in the airport.


We were picked up from the airport by Jackson from Game Drivers, a safari company. They took us to Flora’s Hostel which is owned by the Consolatta Sisters. We are able to begin our day by attending mass on a daily basis.  This is such a peaceful and joyful place to be.  We met Sister Elizabeth today and had a long talk with her about Kenya. She is from Scotland and it is a joy to hear her talk about her country.


Today we leave on our first safari, our guide is Sampuli and our cook is Mosamba.  We arrived at the Samburu National Park and I was amazed as I looked up at the giraffes that were in front of me.  The reticulated giraffes have such a rustic color and a large design on their bodies.  They walk so elegant and raise their heads to the top of the acacia trees as they eat their dinner.  As we were driving we looked through some larger sized bushes and spotted some elephants moving through this area.  It was wonderful to watch as they moved among the large green bushes.  Then, all of a sudden we saw a baby elephant for a short moment before it passed through the bush.  What a sight to remember at the beginning of this safari. In the distance we saw an African water buffalo.  As we got closer to camp we stopped along side the river and across from us was a mother lion and right in front of us her two baby cubs.  We were all so excited, as this was our first night drive and we had already seen three of the big five animals in Africa. We arrived at the campsite and unloaded our equipment into the tents and sat down to our first meal in the wild.


Paul was so good with his spotting of the animals.  He spotted the Leopard up in a dead tree. It blended into the wood and was difficult to see.  We were all in awe of this magnificent creature and stayed to watch and film him until he jumped down and then we moved and the driver had parked directly into the path of the Leopard as it walked away.  We immediately drove to a spot where a pride of lions were gathered in the bush not far from the leopard.  The radio began to chatter and two cheetahs were spotted in another region.  We headed that way and followed them and realized that they were stalking a Thomson’s Gazelle.  The lead cheetah dropped to the ground and began to move slowly forward and then bunched up and looked like a log.  We watched for a long time and finally she moved up one side of the hill and the gazelles had a lookout that spotted her and signaled the herd, so the Thomson’s darted away.


We are leaving the park today. God has provided us with the opportunity to see many of his creations in the animal world, how exciting all of this was for me. It filled my heart to watch the animals. 


Our next park is Nakuru National Park where as we drove the park we saw many of the same species as we did in Samburu except here there were millions of Flamingos.  We could see a strip of pink and white as we watched these magnificent birds.  We took a walk along the edge of the lake and watched them recede further into the lake. I picked up a feather from the water’s edge.  As we left this area we saw many zebras, African buffalos, and even a few white rhinoceroses were present.


Today another adventure begins as we are on our way to the Masai Mara National Park for another safari.  After a quiet night in camp we left for an early morning game drive.


Along the way we saw a large herd of wildebeest.  This animal seems to be a combination of many parts.  It is said that when the heavenly committee created this creature, they were tired used the following thoughts in their creation: 

            Their face if like a grasshopper

            They have the tail of a horse

            Hump of the giraffe

            Horns of a buffalo

            Mane of a lion

            Legs of a cow

            Ears of a goat and

            Stripes of the zebra.

Now you realize why they became one of my favorite animals.  They are to be admired for all of their parts that make up the whole.


We also saw a cheetah with her kill, waiting to eat breakfast. We then went to the Mara River to see the hippos and the crocodiles.  There were lots of hippos in the water.  This is the location of the great migration, where thousands of animals will cross this river to get to the greener lands later in the year.


The next day we immediately came upon a cheetah and her two cubs that appeared to be close to one years of age.  We had been taking a lot of pictures and were all watching the family sleeping, when suddenly Steve dropped the lens shield from his camera on the ground.  One of the young cheetahs jumped up and came toward the truck and sniffed it and began rolling it around when the mother got up and sniffed this strange object, she finally walked away and let the young lion play.  It was so funny watching them. They played just like the kittens at home would.  They batted the object with their paws and when they tired of that they began biting the inside and outside of the shield.  One of the cats got tired of the new toy, however the other one was much more interested.  Sampuli got out a rag and started waving it out the window to distract the cat, when that didn’t work he waved a pillow and the cat growled and finally went farther away, however by this time, Sampuli had lost the pillow in a tree.  So we moved the auto and finally got the pillow. He drove toward the other cheetahs and they growled and also moved further away. We were able to drive next to the lens shield and get it off the ground.  What a great memory we had with these fast colorful animals.  We said our goodbyes and headed toward another area where we saw three hippos in a stream enjoying a quiet afternoon.


We were also fortunate to see a short glimpse of the Black Rhino, which is almost extinct. We have been blessed with such an array of animals that we have seen during this magical time.


It is time for us to return to Nairobi and continue our journey. We will miss all of the time that we shared with the wildlife in these National Parks, where we experienced a once in a lifetime adventure.


Our next volunteer project was in Enoosaen, Kenya. We got up early in the morning and prepared to attend the Catholic Church Service.  Next we walked into town and we met more people along the way. We arrived a little after 10 am and church started a short time later.  We met Simon, who is a Catechist, and also does the prayer service.


Church was such a joy – the music, liturgical dancing, and homily all were inspirational.  Mid way through the service I could feel Jesus among us. He must be so pleased with the love, laughter and joy that emanates from this community.  I felt a part of this during the services.  I realized I was here for a reason and just needed to find out how God wanted me to give of myself to these wonderful people.


The next day we began the long hour walk to the location of the water project.  We worked at removing the trees, plants, and many, many rocks.  Before we realized it was noon time and we had uncovered not only one spring but four springs.  This was great news for the committee and the village.  This process continued for several days.


After work one day, Julius took me to an elders meeting to discuss ways that myself and members of my church could interact with each other. It was interesting to watch the elders interact with each other in Swahili.  They are such a strong faith group.  Opening prayer was in Maasai and then in Swahili.  We agreed to have the primary language be in Swahili.  We met for two hours and discussed many possibilities from a priest home to an orphanage.  First we talked about how to build a relationship between the members of my church and their church in Enoosaen and then discussed the main projects.  1) A priests home 2)New church 3)Orphanage

4)Kindergarten.  We also wanted to consider items to be donated, such as: A used tractor, a Tabernacle, Musical instruments, Christian books and programs for children, and crosses for the rosary’s that the catechist make for the new members of the church.  When I return home I will meet with the members of my church and see if there is a way for us to have a relationship and assist with the needs of this progressive community. 


I have just received news that the Bertha’s Junior Academy has been started by members of the family.  There are 38 students who now have a certified teacher with all of the materials necessary to make this program a success.  The members of Enoosaen have all worked together to make this happen.