Wednesday, June 29:
Well yesterday was by far the highlight of my trip (non-children related) and was probably one of the coolest 24-hours I have ever experienced. We arrived at Mt. Mvuu at about 11 am, where we checked in, got a tour of the facility and were escorted to our amazing chalet. I don’t think words can describe how beautiful this place was, and our rooms were beyond my expectations. The chalets were all little house-like tents with two queen beds inside the door when you walked in, then an amazing stone bathroom, and then another room in the back with two more queen beds. Everything was covered in mosquito nets and our chalet was right on the water where we could see hippos from our front porch. After we all had a little freak-out and recorded the tour of our room, we all headed to lunch, which might have been my favorite activity of the entire trip. Just kidding, but seriously it was definitely the most amazing meal we have had the entire time. The lunch was set up buffet style, around beautiful tables that overlooked the river and all the baobab trees. They had the freshest pieces of bread with butter, rice with a warm vegetable mix, and a cold bean mix that tasted awesome on top of the bread. As if we weren’t all in enough heaven, they then brought out the “dessert” which was a fresh bowl of fruit (which we haven’t been able to eat the entire time here!) with a light, warm whipped cream on top. We all left that meal thinking this was definitely the best.day.ever.
Straight after lunch, we broke into groups of 10 and got assigned our jeeps and our tour guides for the safari! Our usual group stuck together (Me, Katie, Anna, Kaitlin, Allison, Bebe, Lindsay and Ashley) plus Dr. Kelly and Dr. Sharon. We headed out into the gated Sahara at about 3 pm and were all on the edge of our seats out of excitement. The first animals we saw were impalas and waterbucks, which both basically looked like deer. However, we all freaked out when we saw them because they were the first animals we saw on our safari! Our guides were amazing and would spot animals from hundreds of feet away, which I could barely notice even once they were pointed out. We also kept seeing warthogs, which we all got a kick out of because they are absolutely heinous. Everything about the safari reminded me of the Lion King and we kept referring to the warthogs as “Pumba” haha. They look like pigs, aged 20 years, with long hair and horns. Cute huh? Halfway through, we finally saw about three zebras! They aren’t very outgoing though, so we didn’t get very close to them but with the zoom features on our cameras, we got pretty awesome pictures of them! Still on the lookout for elephants, our jeep ended up popping a tire in the middle of the safari; not many people can say they experienced that! Casually, there were just 11 white girls standing in the middle of the Sahara, praying we wouldn’t get eaten alive (just adding some drama in here, we were completely safe). The guides literally fixed the popped tire in less than 5 minutes, and we were back en route. Within 5 minutes of being back in the jeep, we all heard rumbling in the trees right next to us and stopped the car. Before our eyes, an elephant was eating leaves and waving his trunk. We all tried to contain our excitement so we wouldn’t scare it, while also trying to take in the moment without the shock of the situation voiding us of reality. As we were adjusting to the fact that there was a hundred-ton elephant about 20 feet infront of us, we heard rumbling again to the left of us. Low and beyond, an even bigger elephant comes out from the trees! The pictures I got were absolutely amazing; this elephant was huge! After oohing and awing for a good half hour, we finally continued on with our tour, with complete contentment of our experience thus far.
After roaming around for a little bit longer, we headed back to the grounds for our “sunset safari”. On the way there to meet the Radford and A&T groups, we ran into a baby elephant and her mom. We stopped to take a few pictures, but kept heading forward to make it in time for the sunset. We met the other groups at about 4:40, when our guides then pulled out big coolers of wine and we all toasted to eachother while watching the sun go down. It was one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen, as the mountains were in the distance and all these wild, awesome animals surrounded us. Our group of 8 took really cute pictures with arms around eachother, backs facing the camera, as the sun is going down on us. The sun was bright orange and the sky was bright pink and yellow. I kept thinking of my mom because now Fager’s doesn’t even stand in comparison! At about 5:30 pm, after the sun was completely gone, we loaded back into our jeeps and headed into the bush for our night safari. Besides the fact that it was absolutely freezing (yes, we were warned) it was such a cool experience (I’m running out of adjectives to use to describe everything!). We didn’t see many animals because it was night-time, but we did see a ton of hippo’s and mongooses, a porcupine and more impala’s. The most amazing part of the night safari though was the sky. It was, without a doubt, one of the coolest and most breath-taking things I’ve ever seen. We saw the Milky Way (which, apparently, is nearly impossible to see now in the United States because of all the light) and there wasn’t a square inch in the sky that wasn’t covered by stars. I wish I could have taken pictures of it, because there’s no possible way I could try to paint a picture with my words. We had our guides stop the jeep for a good 15 minutes and we just watched the sky, pointing out different constellations and feeling like the luckiest girls in the world.
To have a perfect ending to a perfect day, we headed back to Mvuu at 7:30 pm where we were served dinner. At this point, we had been looking forward to dinner since lunch time because the food had been so great. They started by bringing us out more delicious bread and butter, and then brought out minestrone soup which absolutely hit the spot. After the “appetizer” they brought out the main course that was thinly sliced pork with gravy, jacket potatoes and pumpkin (wasn’t a fan, but I tried it). Following dinner, I was obviously anticipating the dessert which satisfied my huge sweet-tooth for sure. I don’t know what it was exactly, but it had the consistency of pound cake, and it was heated with a butterscotch like sauce drizzled all ontop. Delicious. Finally, it was about time to head to our rooms, and the 8 of us girls meet in Katie, Anna, Kaitlin and I’s room. While we were hanging out and drinking wine, we started to hear the hippo’s and elephants literally right outside our door. The girls figured they should head back to their rooms before the animals really started to come out. Going to sleep definitely wasn’t a great time since the hut we were staying in didn’t exactly have walls: I was absolutely freezing! I could barely sleep all night because I was so cold and the sheets were so light, and the loud elephant and hippo noises outside our door weren’t so comforting either. The day had been so absolutely perfect though that I couldn’t even complain, I just kept thinking I wish the day had never ended.