Tales from the Serengeti - Episode 8: "A Road Well Traveled"

Posted June 13th 2013 by: Bob House

When I say "a road well traveled" I mean ruts the size of the Grand Canyon. We set out from Arusha at 8 a.m. and headed down the road. Our first stop was the cash machine. I've learned that 1,600 Tanzania shillings equal $1. I am still struggling with the metric system and Celsius. Good thing Brad is here, he can convert both rather quickly so I know how many miles we have to go and what the temperature is.

Traveling to the top of a rift, we came across several baboons meandering down the side of the road looking as if they didn't have a care in the world. Once we reached the peak we stopped to take some photos. Looking down into the valley below we saw a small herd of elephants making their way through the trees and a large herd of buffalo far off in the distance.

Next we split off from Eivin's group who were headed into the Serengeti. Brad, Joseph (a student of Eivin's), Lazaro (our driver), and I headed for Bambutu, a small village where Joseph is doing research on the attitudes and actions of the villagers whose farms border protected areas. These villagers must constantly deal with a herd of about 50 elephants that pass through the villagers' crop fields into the protected area. It's apparent that much of the problems these villagers face could be eliminated if they learned better agricultural methods to increase their crop yield so they wouldn't have to farm in the areas the elephants travel.

After conducting some interviews John, one of the villagers', guided up a perilous, extremely rocky road so we could get a better view and understanding of their proximity to the protected areas. From the top you could easily distinguish where the farmlands ended and the national park began with it's dense forest.

Leaving the village we traveled to Karatu where we spent the night in a Lutheran Hotel and Conference center. Shortly after dinner I was sitting outside typing this entry while Brad fooled around inside the room trying to charge all of our batteries for the camera equipment. Suddenly the entire Hotel and Conference Center was in total darkness. Apparently Brad blew the main circuit. The lights came back on several minutes later only to have Brad do it all over again. When the lights returned Brad was able to figure out how to charge the batteries without reeking anymore havoc.

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