Courier August/September Courier - Page 26

Endless fun on Tanzania’s endless plains STORY AND PHOTOS BY PAT HENDERSON GROWING UP IN IOWA, I’m familiar with endless plains. While my homeland may not be as pancake-flat as people believe, there are many areas where you have clear views of the local landscape for miles in every direction. I thought I knew plains. Then I traveled to Tanzania. As part of the NTA Product Development Trip in June, I learned that the word Serengeti is derived from the Maasai language, and it means endless plains. Hey, just like home! Well, after spending a few days on safari in the western and central Serengeti during the tour, I now know the real endless plains. Make no mistake about it, I love my birth state. But it’s not only Tanzania’s plains that are endless; the list of animals on them—elephants, lions, leopards, zebras, giraffes—is also endless and … wow. Just, wow. 22 August/September 2018 The nine-day tour was organized by Scholastica Ponera—a longtime NTA member who owns Dar es Salaam- based Pongo Safaris & Tours—with help from her sponsor partners: the Tanzania Tourist Board, Serena Hotels & Resorts and the Tanzania National Parks Authority. The trip across the Kilimanjaro region of northern Tanzania featured some of the country’s finest game reserves: Lake Manyara National Park, Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Our group consisted of Scholastica, Jerry Varner of Washburn, Missouri- based Making Memories Tours and me. Jerry and I had a lot in common—we’re about the same age, we both grew up in farming towns and we were each raised with the small-town sensibil- ity (and frugalness) that is common to Midwesterners. “I had seen African animals on TV before and seen a few at zoos. But that doesn’t even compare to when you are watching an animal watching you, in the wild, in their territory. There’s a rush of adrenaline, excitement and respect all at the same time.” — Jerry Varner