Arusha, Usa River
Arusha is a bustling city at the base of 14,000 foot Mount Meru, not far from Mount Kilimanjaro. Once a quiet town, it has grown into a busy city, populated with hundreds of thousands of people from the countryside. Twenty minutes outside of town, just off the main road to Kilimanjaro is the small community of Usa River. The village council is trying to create a better life for the Usa River inhabitants. They have developed a plan, including electricity for their dispensary, books for the school, a water supply in the town, and widened streets. The people of Usa river are eager to share their ample hospitality with Andrews students, who will spend time learning and working with Usa villagers. Just three kilometers from Usa River is the Tanzania Adventist College, a place that will be expecting our visit as well.
Although the crater is small compared to other nature reserves, it is truly one of the wildlife wonders of the world, due to the amazing diversity and quantity of animals living on the crater floor, almost 2,000 feet below its rim. All of the ‘Big Five’ (elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo and leopard) and most of the plains wildlife can be seen here. The crater is one of seven World Heritage Sites designated in Tanzania, and it is the world’s largest unflooded caldera. Visiting the crater is a memorable experience; while only 100 square miles in total, it offers six distinct habitats: acacia forest, swamp, short - grass, long grass, riverine and woodland. Each habitat attracts a variety of animals.
This area is also the world’s first multi-purpose land use experiment, combining tourism, research, archeology, wildlife management, grazing rights and farming. The rim of the crater sits at 7,800 feet in altitude, and the floor descends to 5,000 feet above sea level. The crater is home to almost 30,000 animals in an area naturally enclosed by the slopes of the volcano and is a great location for viewing black rhino and huge old bull elephants.
Lake Manyara National Park
It is a small park and is bordered by the Western Wall of the Great Rift Valley and lies at 3,150-feet altitude. It is noted for its elephant population and tree-climbing lions. Actually, it is quite hard to see tree-climbing lions in Lake Manyara, due to the brush and woodland. The park is 123 square kms in area, 88 square kms of which is surrounded by ground – water forest, with wild fig, palm, tamarind and baobab trees. You will see hippo, giraffes, elephants, tree climbing lion, zebras, monkey and profusion of birds [more than 380 species].
Serengeti National Park
The Serengeti is one of the most famous wildlife areas in the world. The park’s 5,700 square miles are part of the 9,600-square-mile Mara - Serengeti ecosystem, home to incredible herds of wildebeest and other grazing animals. It is one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in the world and the site of one of the most breathtaking events in the animal kingdom, the migration of more than a million wildebeest. The area consists of treeless central plains, savannah dotted with acacia and granite outcroppings called kopjes, and riverine bush and forest in the north. The park’s name is derived from the Maasai language “siringit” which means endless plains.
The famous “migration” is actually a dynamic process taking a full year to complete. There are different events that happen at different times of the year and in different locations in this park. The migration is guided by rain and the growth of grass, what we will actually see will depend upon the weather pattern. In any event, the Serengeti is always a magical place of endless horizons, full of excitement and home to many resident plains animals and predators. We’ll see lions, cheetahs, and perhaps leopards, in additional to jackals, hyenas, and birds of prey. Elephants are common in the forest areas, as are giraffes.
Loliondo Game Reserve, Serengeti
Located on the eastern edge of Serengeti National Park, the Loliondo Game Reserve is a part of the Maasai ancestral lands in the northern part of Tanzania, along the common border with Kenya. It borders the Ngorongoro highlands to the south, Serengeti National Park to the west, and Kenya’s Maasai Mara Game Reserve to the north. The Loliondo Game Controlled Area (LCGA) encompasses an estimated 4,000 square kilometers, roughly a third the size of Serengeti National Park and as there is no physical barrier separating it from these other protected areas. It is a continuous ecosystem and an important dispersal area for the Serengeti wildebeest and zebra migration, as well as providing habitat for its own resident population of wildlife.
Staying on private land in Loliondo will allow us to do game drives, game walking, night drives, and have private interactions with local Maasai. Every evening we’ll discuss our experiences and talk with our local guide about the following day’s activities, including the night game drives.
The Maasai are the pastoralist people of this region whose traditional lifestyle has changed very little since the arrival of Europeans to Tanzania more than 100 years ago. The life of the Maasai revolves around their herds of cattle, sheep, goats and donkeys. They still follow their traditional ways as semi-nomadic pastoralists. Young warriors carry spears and decorate themselves with red ochre, and the women wear elaborate and beautiful beadwork. Hides provide clothing, containers, and mattresses for their bedding and sandals for their feet.
Health and Safety Matters
The travel program is not strenuous, and anyone who is fit and in good health should be able to participate, But there will be long international flights and time spend in vehicles traveling over bumpy and dusty roads. The maximum altitude reached on this trip is about 8,000 feet above sea level. Malaria pills and other health precautions may need to be taken. Full information will be sent to each participant. If you have any questions about your ability to participate in this trip, please contact Donald May at Andrews University for more information.
Medical services or facilities may not be immediately available during all or part of this program, particularly in the wildlife parks. However, Andrews participants will be members of the Flying Doctors’ Society, which provides emergency medical care to travelers in East Africa. Vehicles are outfitted with short wave radios and keep in contact with each other and with the home base in Arusha.
Each participant must be covered by medical insurance that is valid overseas. We urge you to take out medical and trip cancellation and interruption insurance. You will be provided with information upon your enrollment.