A year into my first ever job and definately the slight sense of itchness of the foot soles. After a summer of vaguely wondering where the long holidays of my youth had gone these 17 days were the perfect escape and definately the two and a half week trip of a lifetime!
First time in Africa, very exciting even after the long day of flights to get to Nairobi! We began our trip by travelling in the Warthog (a large truck prone to bumpiness, dustiness with tardis like qualities !) up to Navaisha. Fisherman’s Creek camp on the shores of Lake Navaisha, whose banks were also once home to the late Joy Admunsen whose estate we ate tea and cake at on the lawn. I like to think I am a fairly hardened camper having braved the wintery glacial valleys of Patagonia under barely a poncho, but I was slightly phased upon discovering that the very large hippos of the lake came to graze the grass mere metres from our tents. There was an electric fence, a very small electric fence! In the middle of the night I got up to see their huge shadows disappearing back along the banks. The first (of many) early mornings saw us walking with Giraffes, Imapalas, Waterbuck, Zebra, a few small Dik-Diks, several huge storks and a superb fish eagle in a small national park on the shores of the lake. (Obviously the Fish eagle was more in the trees than walking with us!)
Our next stop was Nakuru National Park further to the North West. Our campsite was a small green hollow in the park visited charmingly enough by Buffalo, second in danger to humans only to the Hippos of the previous night! Huge heidi horned beasts breathing heavily behind the tents in the night. On our game drives in Nakuru we saw more Giraffes, Zebra, Flamingo, Rhino and baby rhino, Elena. We also had amazing sights from a viewpoint whilst enjoying a large fried brunch! Camping at Kembu farm gave us the chance for some fantastic cocktails and to see little chameleons with crazy two toes and swivelling eyes! Then battling with the market sellers in Nakuru town after which three 4 foot high giraffes were introduced to our truck! The next day a long drive and lots of travelling games brought us across the border into Tanzania and to the shores of Lake Victoria, the long sought after source of the Nile.
We drove through fantastic scenery scattered with Lion King Pride rocks and small farming villages. Tanzania was also where we finally entered the Serengeti and powered along the western corridor. At sunset after spotting our first lions and elephants we were treated to the sight of herd after herd of elephants heading across the horizon. After a successful night, not getting eaten by lions as we camped in the serengeti, we set off early for another game drive. We saw lion cubs, Rhino, Buffalo and even the exlusive leopard, happily snoozing in the trees. We had lunch at the exit from the Serengeti and the entrance of the Ngorongoro crater national park. We had to fight off an over enthusiastic baboon trying to steal our lunch! We saw the occasional Jackal and Kori Bustard as we drove through plains of Savannah grass on the way to the Ngorongoro Crater. We reached the crater edge and posed for a group photo with two masai warriors. That evening we stayed in a hotel overhanging the edge of the crater: warm water, comfortable beds and a troop of very acrobatic men in bright turquoise pyjama suits! At dawn we set off in landrovers to drive down into the Ngorongoro Crater. The crater had a huge variety of wildlife: hippos, impalas, zebra, large numbers of wilderbeest, cheetah, hyena and a fantastic male lion sleeping by the side of the road, barely metres away from us. After a while he sat up regarding the 4 landrovers lazily and then lay back down and went to sleep!
After lunch in Karatu we drove down the partly bumpy, partly paved-by-japanese-so-their-tourists-have-an-easy-time-road to Arusha. We were camping in the Snake Park, a lovely campsite with a very nice bar serving very nice shots which was also next to a mini zoo with some very nice and very large snakes. The next morning we hopped on some camels that in my case decided to get up without warning – I was so taken aback that I nearly fell off! We had an intertesting morning visiting a nearby masai village populated by the extensive progeny of one eighty year old masai warrior. The afternoon in Arusha was an interesting shopping experience that I pretty much wimped out on due to the overenthusiatic market sellers. Then onto Marangu for two nights. The next day most of us set off to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Well to base camp at 2700 metres and that was a nice enough uphill climb for one day. After we returned we ate Anna’s carrot cake and tea on the lawn, wonderful.
We had another long drive to reach Dar Es Salaam, when we finally arrived there was a gorgeous white beach with palm trees, outdoor showers in wicker roofless huts, a green lighted swimming pool and a bar with big wicker chairs and sofas. Good for the recuperation and relaxation. The seafood BBQ and Tusker beers were much appreciated. The next day we were off to Zanzibar. First the raffish charm and endless souvenir shopping opportunities of Stone Town. We went for a spice tour around a spice farm, saw and tasted Cinnamon, Tumeric, Cumin, Ginger, Lemongrass, Custard apples, Jack fruit, passion fruit and one of the most delicious pineapples. There were sunset drinks, more shopping, bongo players, mojitos and cheesy dance music. The next day we headed up to the beach on the east of the island. Life is hard with a big double bed, princess mosquito nets and a big white beach in front of the huge turquoise ocean. Watching Dhows sail out in the afternoon, eating seafood on the beach, diving in the coral reef. It’s a hard life isn’t it!