I went to Africa wanting to see great wildlife. Of course, I did. But we were blown away by the plants. Imagine 40 kinds of acacia trees. And the birds, shockingly colorful! The Secretary bird with its hooked beak and black legs. It looks like its wearing pants. When it hunts it comes in like a hang glider. Beyond that I was introduced to saddleback storks, fish eagles, and so many other birds. I had no idea Tanzania was home to so many different birds. Even things we think of as ordinary had a richness that was magnified, multiplied, and fabulous.
Our guides were terrific. They had such a depth of knowledge about all the animals and birds. Every bird we encountered was an opportunity for our guide to give just a taste of something more. I returned from my safari anxious to accompany my mother on a birding trip - something I never would have done before. But, the experiences that touched most deeply were those that involved other humans. We had a chance to visit a Tanzanian primary school, to have lunch cooked by a Tanzanian woman's cooperative, and to learn about Mwangaza, a health NGO working in villages near Tarangire National Park. I felt that it was a window into local villager's reality and so it made me feel connected to this foreign place. What a magical experience. Really, it changes you.