Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Short rains in the Serengeti aren't so short!

I woke up to the sound of pouring rain Friday morning. For a split second I thought I was at home in my own bed listening to the rain fall on the roof of my Seattle home. Nope. I was at Singita Grumeti's Sasakwa Lodge (in a bed nicer than my own!) and the rain was dumping at 3:00 am. From 3:00 to just before 9:00 am the lodge received over 2 inches of rain, which was compounded by the fact the earth was already saturated from a month's worth of heavy showers. I wasn't too worried until Tansy came to my door and said,"Um, the Sasakwa airstrip is flooded...so are all the airstrips in the Western and Northern Serengeti. We're trying to find a way to get you to Arusha in time for your flight home tonight."

Hmmm...I've always secretly prayed that I'd get stuck in Africa...just once. This might be my lucky day! But by 9:30am a photographer, Singita Grumeti's assistant head guide, the GM and I were racing down the hill from Sasakwa and literally floating across the Serengeti trying to reach Seronera airstrip in time to meet the Air Excel flight back to Arusha. We made it in time to watch the airstrip's visibility decrease until when we were sure no flight could land, there came the plane touching down with a splash...Leave it to Singita to do what needs to be done for their guests. That said, I would have been happy hanging out in bed for one last rainy day in Tanzania...maybe next time.

The rains have been quite heavy in Northern Tanzania so far this October and November. Just a day after I passed through Manyara, the road between Lake Manyara (and the airstrip) and Arusha - a major thoroughfare - washed out completely. But, the earth is a lovely ripe-looking color, a blanket of green covers everything and there are loads of little baby animals running around. The short rains are a great time for the adventurous and flexible traveler to visit sites that are normally a bit busy in the high season without many others around. It was awesome to be one of just a handful of guests at Gibb's Farm (a perennial favorite of mine!) and I had Faru Faru nearly to myself, too. So, the lesson here: put on your rain gear, get out there, enjoy the color of the land, the amazing skies and some great game viewing! Stay tuned for more on Gibb's Farm, Singita Grumeti and my full East African adventure with Classic Africa Safaris and Gamewatchers Safaris!

Photos by Lyndsay Harshman/The Kusini Collection

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