We arrive at our campsite, our home for the night. The tents are set up and instantly I’m disappointed. Our lodging is small canvas tents. My research suggested spacious tents with double beds and sheets. We are in a special campsite and would not share the space with another group, unfortunately, all nine of us would use the same chemical toilet and rustic shower. We will live like this for the next week. I’m still ill and I retreat to our tent with its two single cots and sleeping bags and cry. John comforts me but soon he is called away. John is the spokesman for our group and he must negotiate for all our group and their demands. He acquires toilet paper and the promise of towels and listens to the growing complaints.
Soon, it’s time to eat. I’m still not hungry though eventually I sit with the others and pick at the food. Hot chocolate is an addition, milo, tea and instant coffee the same as Kilimanjaro. The food is okay, passable. I have no appetite and it does not matter.
The toilet is not cleaned regularly and frequently runs out of paper. It is dismal. We have paid so much money for such poor conditions. We have also been given a letter from the tour company explaining how much we are expected to tip each worker at the end of the Safari. It’s not really a tip but rather a surcharge and an expectation. It seems as though we pay twice and again I wonder how many of the thousands of dollars already paid ends up in these men’s pockets. I suspect none and few dollars have been utilized to make the experience comfortable. I imagine the majority of money has been used to grease hands and line pockets of people we will never meet.
My mood is foul. I stay up for a time and stare into the flames of the campfire and then we retreat to our tent. Luckily, we packed headlamps. We have brought too many clothes, our gear inappropriate. We streamline all useless items into our largest suitcase and put it in the safari vehicle where it will remain. I wish we had been more prepared.
The animals today were amazing and I remind myself that we are here to take photos, which will be incredible. We opted for an experience and a chance to depart from our comfort zone. I tell myself these things as I drift off to sleep listening to sounds I’ve never heard while I lay in a tent pitched on the Serengeti. Okay, this is pretty cool.