After breakfast, we dosed up on our anti-malarial vaccines and plenty of mosquito repellent. The safari lodge had prepared a picnic lunch, today was going to be a big drive.
First stop was Manyara Park which was absolutely stunning, Baboons and Monkeys in their masses
Ahmed, our tour guide tells us that there’s no guarantee that we’ll see any elephants but as our trusty land cruiser rattles around a corner, a lone bull elephant appears. He’s not up for sticking around whilst I poke a camera at him though and quickly disappears for a dust bath.
We continue through the park and see a multitude of other magnificent beasts, the zebra were particularly playful whilst the wildebeest and buffalo chill and graze. The hippos were taking a bath but sadly too far in the distance for any photo evidence, Ahmed tells us not to worry, we should see more over the next few days.
After the park we head to Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Getting there is fine, with the luxury of real roads but once in Ngorongoro the terrain is as you’d expect, rough, uneven and rocky. Word of warning, the safari drivers don’t mess about, we’re doing 50-55 mph down tracks that I’d be hesitant to drive at more that 10-15 mph. If you have a weak heart, bad back or are generally a nervous passenger, you have been warned!
We experienced this first hand, I could see it coming…. rock, swerve, touch of understeer on the gravel surface followed by the inevitable oversteer, followed by the bang as the rear end slides into aforementioned rock. Thankfully we have 2 spare wheels so a bit of a pitstop and we’re away again (only to find another landcruiser with the same problem about a mile further on).
We pass several Masai villages along the way and finally make it to Serengeti National Park. Ahmed gets us the permits we need to travel through whilst we admire the breathtaking landscapes and witness massive herds of wildebeest and zebra migrating together.
It’s nearing 6pm, we left at 8:30 am this morning but we are close to our camp which will be our home for the next two nights. We’ve not seen any Lions yet but Ahmed knows of a watering hole bearby where we may find some taking a drink. He takes us off track but to no avail. We will try again tomorrow.
As we approach the camp, we come across a small herd of elephants so stop to take a few snaps before heading on. Along the way we see several 4x4s parked up, something interesting is happening so we stop to see what the commotion is about.
There is a Leopard with a cub hiding in the grass, she is a fair distance away from us but I got the best shot I could with the lenses I have available.
We move on and spot a few Hyena before arriving at camp. After an almost 12 hour day, we’re all knackered, so it’s into the Kati Kati camp for a briefing. This is our first tented camp and suddenly things begin to get back to basics and a little bit scary!
Kati Kati means the center, and that is literally where we are. The camp is bang in the center of the Serengeti, no power in the tents, a bucket shower and absolutely no fences! The staff warn us not to move to and from the tents without an escort, even during daylight. I see what they mean as an Impala bounces around about 200 yards in front of us.
We head to our tent to unpack a little and can hear a pack of Hyena having a bit of a fight right behind us. Glad the staff gave us a whistle in case of an emergency (no kidding!). Dinner is served but we’re not leaving the tent without an escort who arrives shortly after to lead us up to the catering. I’m not sure how much safer I feel given that he is armed only with a torch!?
We had dinner with Ahmed whilst I had a plethora of batteries on charge in the “charging station” which didn’t seem like any kind of fire hazard at all, with it’s crazy daisy chaining of extension cables, bad connections and the odd brown out here and there!
Escorted back to the tent safely where I’ve since been uploading photos and writing this post (and listening to some noises that definitely sound like lions and more Hyena). I am absolutely in awe of the fact that I am in the middle of the Serengeti and have a potential 15Mbps full duplex internet connection (for a price though) yet back home, some areas of Aberdeenshire can’t even get close.
All in all, today has been epic. Seen 4 of the “Big 5” on our first day of game driving. The next two days are full of Serengeti and Ngorongoro.
Time to hit the sack, not looking forward to bucket showers and scorpions in the morning, assuming we haven’t been eaten that is.