#DispatchesDNLee: Iringa Tanzania Offers Culture, Wildlife, and Outdoor Adventure

Danielle N. Lee is a member of the Outdoor Afro Leadership Team.  She is a Ph.D. Biologist currently in Tanzania doing a field study of African Pouched Rats.  She will be sharing her Adventures from Africa here on Outdoor Afro.  You can join her on her adventure at her blog The Urban Scientist at the Scientific American Network.
I took a weekend safari (journey/holiday) with other Ex-Pats to Iringa.  Iringa is near the central part of the country and is the launching pad for many other Tanzanian adventures.  Many people start their multi-park safaris from Iringa because of its vicinity to Ruaha, Udzungwa, and Mikumi National Parks.

 

On this visit, my friends and I visited Isimila Stone Age and Natural Pillars.  If you didn’t know Tanzania is the Cradle of Mankind.  The museum is modest, but the learning experience was one of a kind.  I only regret that the travel books don’t warn you of the hiking you will be doing while visiting the Early Human Stone Tool site and the trek to the Natural Pillars.  It was beautiful, but be mindful of your steps. There are no safety railings and walking trails and stairs are earth worn.  Sadly, this (and most of the natural beauties I have witnessed so far) could not be traversed by individuals with mobility/physical ability issues.

Beautiful views we witnessed on our hike

We did stay at a lovely campsite, Rivervalley Campsite.  The campsite offers Bandas (cabins), tented camps (with beds) and campgrounds if you want to pitch your own tents.  Bandas vary in size and can sleep 2 – 6+ people.  The five of us stayed in the larger banda that had its own bathroom plus 2 rooms – one with a double bed and the other with 2 sets of bunk beds.  We discovered, as we were checking out, that there was a loft and it had a padded pallet on the floor with room to spare for a sleeping bag.

There are plenty of clean external washrooms and toilets throughout the camp. Plus, there is dining hall also offering hot meals. Prices vary, with bandas being the most expensive and tented camps costing less (and depending on your command of Kiswahili). However, I was very impressed with the accommodations and amenities. We paid $60 USD for one night and that included a hot breakfast. We also had dinner, which cost less than $5 USD. The campsite is also home to a popular language school, so there are many expats around most of the time.

Tented camps seem to be very popular in Tanzania and they are very nice lodging options for the cost-conscious person concerned about comfort.  If you want to see and experience the culture, wildlife, nature, and beauty of Tanzania up close, then I definitely recommend this as a must-do adventure for Outdoor Afros.
Visit Tanzania.  It is beautiful here!
Karibu!

Dispatches from Tanzania
Official #DispatchesDNLee postcard
artwork by @LalSox

Outdoor Afros, want a post card from Tanzania?  I am here until September 23, 2012, so complete the Dispatches from Tanzania Postcard request form today.

#DispatchesDNLee: An Outdoor Afro Adventure to Africa

Danielle N. Lee is a member of the Outdoor Afro Leadership Team.  She is a Ph.D. Biologist currently in Tanzania doing a field study of African Pouched Rats.  She will be sharing her Adventures from Africa here on Outdoor Afro.  You can join her on her adventure at her blog The Urban Scientist at the Scientific American Network.

I don’t believe in coincidences. ~DNLee

Me, standing in the wake of the Uluguru Mountains, Morogoro, Tanzania at my field site

Until I was 8 years old, my mother worked for the Memphis Park Commission which overlooked maintenance of city public lands and community center recreation activities.  Every summer she was assigned to work as a supervisor at a neighborhood park; and accompanied her to work.  I lived for the summer. I played outdoors, picked flowers, and made friends.
I was also a complete zealot when it came to animals.  I rescued almost every cat I encountered. Though I was mousey, nothing stirred me to fight quicker than a kid torturing an animal, and not just the cute cuddly ones.  I probably got into more fights over toads and frogs than any other beastie. And, yes,  I religiously watched Wild Kingdom and collected Wildlife Treasury Picture Cards. I was that kid!
I didn’t know it at the time, but those experiences laid the foundation for who and what and where I am today: a Zoologist. Studying wildlife in Africa.
Field Biology may be one the most romanticized career tracks of the sciences. Images of exotic wild places, muddy boots, trekking through forests or mountains or grasslands, enduring the elements, swatting mosquitoes and other pesky insects…a scientist on an exhilarating journey exploring nature.  I’m in Tanzania studying the African Giant Pouched Rat, doing a capture-mark-recapture study to learn more about its natural habits, its mating system and social structure.

African Giant Pouched rat that I caught during my field study.

I know it doesn’t sound like the wildlife adventures I watched on television as a child; but it all is a part of the fabric of science.  And it is every bit as a dream come true to be here doing this.   Field work can be simultaneously amazing and exhausting, scary and wonderful.  I wouldn’t trade one bit of my journey.

Dispatches from Tanzania
Official #DispatchesDNLee postcard
artwork by @LalSox

And I am grateful to my parents, family, extended family, and friends who cultivated the scientist in me, even as a young child.  Maybe they knew that all of that exposure to the outdoors would lead to this. Maybe they didn’t.  But I am glad either way.  I know it was those experiences that brought me to this place, this space, this path and I love them for it.
How have your Outdoor Afro experiences cultivated your interests in the outdoors?  Has it resulted in a career in the sciences or conservation or environmental education like it has for me? Or perhaps you are encouraging younger generations.  Tell us your story.