We had dreamed for many months while sailing, of taking a land trip to Serengeti National Park, and the great day dawned at last. We cleaned and locked up our Rainbow Gypsy, and George (a neighbour from the yacht Affirmation) gave us a dinghy ride to shore. We then caught a "dala dala" (minibus taxi) to the main bus stand in Tanga. There we boarded our New Central Line bus.
It has to be said that the next eight hours were not the most comfortable. The bus was old. Springs?... what springs? and with very hard “sit up and beg” type seats. However, it was a means to an end..................and what an end!
Shidolya Safaris through whom we had booked our safari, met us at Arusha Bus Station, sorted all the paperwork and delivered us to our B&B, and then arranged to pick us up at 6.00am the following morning. All very efficient and pleasant. Such a pleasure to deal with these people.
At 6 on the dot, our driver arrived to take us to the starting camp at Twiga (Swahili for giraffe) We had breakfast at Twiga and were introduced to our tour companions, two lovely young ladies from from Europe. They had both been to Africa before, one as a volunteer, interning as a doctor in West Africa and the other on an extended trip to South Africa. Very nice girls.
The first day we went to Olduvai Gorge (now renamed Oldupai) where the very first hominids are said to have originated. I must say they did not choose their site too well, it is the most stark, unforgiving, dry area I have ever seen. How anything could live there is beyond me. Maybe 3.6million years ago it was different, but now it is horrible. The wind was so strong it was difficult to keep one’s footing. No picture could give any idea of the desolation, but I will post one which will give some idea.
On the drive to Seronara camp (our overnight for the first two nights) we drove through magnificent, wide open plains and saw many Masai herding their cattle and their isolated encampments. They used to be a proud people, but unfortunately, tourism has inevitably had its effect and they too demand payment for even just standing on the side of the road to be photographed. The children are the worst, they beg before they can even talk properly. They have two words,"Jambo" and "money!" Even our two young European ladies were shocked at the scramble to get to the car first in case there was a handout in the offing.
We arrived at Seronara and pitched our tents, then had a wonderful supper prepared by our personal cook, Meshak. Throughout the trip he provided 3 course meals in the most primitive conditions.
That first night Cherry heard a commotion outside the camp and asked the others at breakfast if they had heard anything, but no-one had. We then went out for our first game drive, and less than 200m from the gate we saw a pride of lions with their kill! This must surely have been what she heard.
That set the tone for the day. We saw 3 lion kills (according to our guide who has been a tour guide for 7 years this is very unusual.The most he had seen before was two.) There were lions everywhere.
I cannot even begin to list what we saw and how wonderful it all was. Instead, I have made up a Picasa Web Album which you can download and see for yourselves how wonderful this place is. It is truly a piece of heaven on earth. For a few pictures (you have a choice of looking at small pics or watching a slide show) please click here
We saw a leopard right next to the vehicle and watched him move around and then climb into a tree for a good ten minutes, next morning we saw three cheetah. We were just so incredibly lucky, most people come away having seen one or the other, but we saw EVERYTHING!
For some pictures of Alec’s climb of Kilimanjaro please click here