Many, many years ago, in college, a group of classmates went on a group trip to Africa to see wildlife and go on safari. As a biology major, this was pretty much the penultimate experience of a lifetime. As they all took off excitedly for the airport, I sat in my dorm room and sulked because I was a typical college student, and as such, had no extra funds for gallivanting across the globe.
I grew up idolizing Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey, dreaming those typical romanticized dreams of the Out of Africa experience, and have been nursing a desire to go on a safari pretty much non-stop ever since. Other people’s bucket lists may have things like going to Lake Como or standing on top of the Eiffel Tower, but for me, this is and has always been top on my list of Things I Want To Do Before It’s All Over.
After thirty-somethingcoughcough- years of wishing, hinting, and gazing enthralled at the Nat Geo Channel, I finally get to go. It’s not a working trip (though with my luck I will probably end up treating something for something, and that’s fine by me). It is a vacation, and one I’ve been saving for and planning out in excruciating detail for about a year. I’ve been planning it my entire life, of course, but from an executable standpoint, one year. We are going to Tanzania, because that’s where the chimps live.
I’m going to Lake Tanganyika, to the Mahale Mountains just south of Gombe where Jane Goodall lived for so many years. You get to track chimps there. Despite my best attempts to convince my husband to also go fly camping in the middle of the Katavi Wilderness with an armed guard to watch for lions, he kind of didn’t really care for that portion of my suggested itinerary so we are finishing the trip with a more traditional safari in Tarangire Park where you view the large carnivores from the safety of a moving vehicle. (The Serengeti is also in Tanzania and would have been my first choice, but the timing is wrong for the big migration.)
I tell you all of this because, well, I’ll be blogging about it of course though I have a suspicion the wifi situation might be iffy out in the middle of Africa, and two, because we are leaving on September 23. Two days before the rescheduled Surf Dog a Thon. So I will tell you what I told Mike Arms when he asked me what could possibly be more important than surf dog, and the answer is, “NUMBER ONE ON MY BUCKET LIST AIEEEE I AM SO EXCITED I CAN’T EVEN TYPE PROPERLY!!!!” Which, by the way, he totally understood.
I’m so jealous, you’re going to LOVE it! I spent 4 months studying in Tanzania (living in a tent the whole time. I was a biology major), but we were stayed in southern TZ, never made it north of Dar. If you get a chance, try the Fanta Passion Fruit soda, I still dream of it =) And the shukas that the Maasai wear make the best lightweight, warm blankets (and gifts!) Also, the best advice ever given to me was bring a bird field guide on safari with you…that way if the charismatic megafauna aren’t out, you’ll still have a great trip. I saw 179 species of birds in 4 months =) Have fun!!!!!
Dr. V says
Thank you for the tips Lindsay! 4 months in a tent. Wow. I bow to you. And oh, I am all over that Fanta. Excellent. Any suggestions for a good bird field guide?
This is the guide I used both personally and in my ornithology class. I absolutely loved it!
You should get to see several species of rollers (European, Chestnut-crowned, and Lilac-breasted). They were some of my favorites along with the kingfishers, bee-eaters, and weavers. After this trip you’ll never look at birds the same way! =)
Dr. V says
Awesome. Thank you!
That sounds like a pretty great reason to miss Surf Dog! Can’t wait to see your pictures – my favorite are elephants, so if you see some make sure to get a good shot for me! 🙂
Dr. V says
Deborah Mendez says
Wonderful, Dr. V! I know that YOUR adventures become OUR adventures! Can’t wait to see what you see! Some of us live vicariously through your blog!
I totally understand, too!! Have an amazing adventure and enjoy everything you experience (as long as it’s not life-threatening) 🙂
You are going to have such an amazing time and I can’t wait to live vicariously through you. In the last couple of years we took my Number One on my Bucket List trip and it was such an amazing experience – not only for everything that we encountered, but also that we were actually doing it. It’s a very fortunate person that can live out their dreams, especially as you and I are still relatively young. Early Bon Voyage!
Dr. V says
Was that the Italy trip? That was insane.
No, Ireland – but Italy was pretty epic. My grandma was 100% Irish American and I’d grown up hearing about how beautiful Ireland was (not that my grandma had ever been there herself) and that I should be proud of being Irish. So as a child I developed this overwhelming need to go there and see it all. We only had 12 days, and we faced the Storm of the Millennium, but it was an experience I’ll never forget. There were moments where I’d just look out at everything around me and think, “I’m here.”
So excited for you and can’t wait to read all about it!
Lisa W says
What an awesome trip! I am so excited that you will be able to enjoy the trip of your dreams, and I can’t wait to read about it.
FYI, I just returned from a two-week trip to London (one of my dream trips), and I was amazed at how many animal people I met — these things kind of come to you when you’re ready, I guess. There was a couple (also from the US) staying at the same B&B, and one morning at breakfast she came over to my table to introduce herself because we both have dog pawprint tattoos on the inside of our left wrists. What are the chances?! I met people at West End shows who are also into rescue, a lady also from the US who is a dog walker, etc. Way cool!
And I have an amazing book to recommend to you, called Unsaid: A Novel. I highly recommend that you check it out. Even on a dream trip, it was kind of hard to turn off the Kindle and go and do stuff when I was in the midst of such a wonderful read. 🙂
Oh one thing I always wanted to do was a photo safari! Just bring back lots of photos! The rest of us poor souls, still wishing, can travel vicariously.
Dr. V says
There will be, I assure you, an overabundance of photos. 😉
OMG! I’m so happy for you! Missed this post yesterday as I’m currently doing a little “Bucket-listing” myself iN New York City, though nothing nearly as exciting as trapping chimps in Africa. I hope you have the trip of a lifetime 🙂