This adventure differed slightly from my Rockies and New Zealand trips from a planning perspective. I had well researched the former trips, whereas for this trip, the safari itinerary was more or less fixed, though it did change at the eleventh hour, and I had worked out a couple of things I wanted to do on Zanzibar and three days' worth of itinerary for Oman. Besides, I would be out of order trying to hoist an itinerary of my choosing onto my son and daughter.
As stated in the main blog, the main reason for my and Dan's venture into Tanzania was to support Sally while she followed advice and stayed out of Kenya during that country's elections. Fortunately, the expected bloodbath had evaporated, but sadly some lives were lost during the elections and the subsequent riots that followed due to claims of vote rigging. It remains to be seen how it all pans out when the victor, Kenyatta, appears in the International Courts for crimes he committed against humanity during the previous elections.
The sheer variety in Tanzania was stunning, on one hand savannah with herds of wild animals, and on the other a tropical island paradise on Zanzibar.
For someone who does not go overboard on animals, seeing the vast herds and Big Five on safari, all freely roaming as nature had intended, and in numbers beyond my imagination, I was totally overawed. Compared to zoos and safari parks, the safari was an experience far higher on another plane, and I felt in a way both isolated from and at the same time at one with these creatures - hard to put into words.
Opting to stay at three totally different destinations on Zanzibar was an excellent idea of Sally's, enabling us to have a balanced view of what the island has to offer, from an almost desert isle type location to an interesting historical and cultural perspective in the island's main town. The beautiful, lush island had deservedly earned its reputation as being peaceful and exceedingly friendly. My previous apprehensions about Africa being an unsafe area were dispelled in Tanzania, and from accounts by Sally, nearby countries such as Uganda, Rwanda and Malawi were also a delight to visit.
Oman was a marked contrast, a harsh sun-baked and rugged landscape pocketed with the occasional vibrant oasis. Although it had a hard and troubled past, the country had a strangely romantic appeal to me. What I found amazing was how this land had grown to a thriving nation over the last four decades, thanks to the stewardship of Sultan Qaboos. This was a leader who loved his nation and its people, and had diverted much of its wealth to creating a better life for its inhabitants, a leader who went amongst his people, listened to what they had to say, and provided solutions to their problems. Although he had dragged the land into the 21st century, he still kept it anchored to its roots, traditions and culture. No wonder the Arabs I had met referred to him as "His Majesty" and "His Highness". I gained a small insight into Oman's workings from my guides, Issa and Abdullah, but sadly the language barrier prevented further communication.
I was pleased to have the company of Dan and Sally for the first two sections of this adventure. I had enjoyed their company, and it had been a joy to see Sally safe and well again. On my final leg, I found Oman an extremely interesting place to visit, though the language barrier tended to render parts of it a lonely affair. Having said that, all three sections of the trip were an enjoyable experience.
Once again, I have been privileged to make such a journey, and to share part of it with my family. I am sure our lives have been enriched by our adventure, and I do hope the accounts I have written enlighten yours and motivate you to go and follow your dreams.
[Sally returned to Britain safe and sound after her six month voluntary stint. Within two weeks of her return she had formed her own company and was working as a locum in London. When she has sufficient capital behind her, she will decide whether to return to Africa, a continent she loves, or follow a new direction.]