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Contiki East Africa Safari – Day 8: Amboseli to Arusha to Tarangire National Park

Our 6th day of the trip was quite bittersweet as it was the day that we would say goodbye to half of our tour group as well as our two amazing guides, Haron and Dennis! I would be continuing into Tanzania with some of my group and the others would head back to Nairobi to catch their flights home.

We woke up early for our final game drive as a group – which took us through Amboseli National Park towards an exit on another end of the park. This was more of a “bonus” drive as we needed to get from point A to B in order to get to the border, but were able to do it partially in a national park!

Given it was early in the morning, the animals were also out and about. We came across a cheetah mother that had obviously lost one or more of her cubs. As we drove along her path, she was meowing a call which obviously was targeted at finding her baby, but to no avail. As she was walking, a few lions came out of the bush and sent her running for her life. We caught back up to the cheetah, but she was still looking for her cubs.

The meowing call was heartbreaking.

We continued on as we had to be at the border at a certain time to meet our new guide, so we took one last peek at Mt Kilimanjaro and hit the road. The cheetah had crossed the road and was in the picture I took of Mt Kilimanjaro.

s we drove, we saw more giraffes, warthogs, elephants and birds, including the yellow-necked spurfowl.

Eventually, we exited the park and drove the final hour to the border where we said bye to our friends that we made the previous week. It was very bittersweet – as a relatively small group traveling in smaller vehicles, we became quite close.

We then met our new tour guide, JB, who escorted us into the customs building for our instant COVID test. While we waited, we filled out some paperwork needed to cross into Tanzania. Once our tests all came back negative, thankfully, we proceeded to have our passports stamped as leaving Kenya before walking over to the Tanzania desk to pay for our visas and get stamped into Tanzania. The visa fee for European citizens was only $50 whereas it was $100 for Americans, so I tried to use my Irish passport to enter. Unfortunately, because I left Kenya on my American passport I needed to enter Tanzania on my American one as well. Once we all had our visas situated, we left out of the same door we entered, got in a new vehicle and drove through the border. I found this a bit odd as we didn’t have our passports checked at all – it was as if crossing the border was more based on the honor system than anything else. That and you needed to show the entry visa when you left the country!

With that, I crossed into country #50 – Tanzania! It was the least official border crossing of my life, except when transiting across countries that are all part of the European Union. We spent the next two hours driving to Arusha, were we got to know our new guide, JB! Our first stop was for lunch, which took place in a beautiful setting. It was on an estate that felt more like Italy than East Africa. The food was fantastic as well.

After lunch, we continued our drive into Arusha and were behind one of the most unique motorcycle experiences I have seen in my life – someone strapped a couch onto the back of their motorcycle and was driving through the city with it!

Once in Arusha proper we made a stop at a Shanga, which is a store that employs people with various disabilities by teaching them how to make things like placemats, glass ornaments, beads, etc. People working there ranged in abilities from deaf to little people. We had the opportunity to buy things in the gift shop which were beautiful, like glass elephants, but too fragile to take with me the rest of the trip.

After the stop, we continued our drive to our accommodations near Tarangire National Park. As we continued to drive, we kept passing these really cool trees called Baobab Trees, with large trunks and high branches. They are known as the “Tree of Life” and are what the tree at Animal Kingdom in Disney World is modeled after!

The drive was quite long and we arrived at dusk, just in time for us to drop our bags in our “tents” (glamping at its best) and head to dinner, but not before one final wildlife sighting of the day. We actually saw an elephant in the woods about 50 yards from our camp!

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