Goodbye 'wilderness', hello 'civilisation'.
Having been awake from 03:30 this morning scratching my insect bites, it's going to be a long day.
It is still dark when we leave the lodge at 06:00.
Brown Snake Eagle
A cackle of hyenas congregate on the road, and seem a lot less timid than the ones we have encountered previously, some are even bold enough to come right up to the car.
Not my favourite animal (sorry Malisa), but I will admit that this seven-month old juvenile is almost bordering on being cute.
A confusion of wildebeest are waiting to cross the Seronera River
A committee of vultures are waiting in a nearby tree for the wildebeest to get eaten by crocodiles while crossing the Seronera River.
I see no crocodiles…
The biggest eagle in Africa, the Martial Eagle can kill a baby antelope! He will grab it, lift it up and drop it until it is dead.
Hot Air Balloon
We are right in the flight path of the balloon as it glides across the savannah.
Watching the balloon
Usually hippos only come out at night to eat and go back to the water in the morning. During that one night, they can eat as much as 150kg of grass; followed by three days merely digesting the food: just lying around farting, burping, pooping.
”I know someone else like that” says David, just prior to being whacked around the head.
This hippo seems a little premature: although it is still eating, the smell of ammonia is so strong it makes Lyn gag, followed by a severe coughing fit.
White Browed Coucal
Close to the road, on a flat open area, we see two brothers with one female. It makes a nice change for them not to be half-hidden by the long grass.
The female is on heat, but the male isn’t the least bit interested at this stage. Dirty girl!
“Come and get me…”
“Not this morning dear, I have a headache”
Even threats don’t work!
Other than to make him back off further.
As she is obviously not going to get her wicked way with him this morning, she walks off in a huff.
It looks like she has had her nose put out of joint at some stage, and not just figuratively speaking. I am assuming that she got her deformity from a fight rather than a birth defect.
It seems the king has food - rather than sex - on his mind this morning.
Normally, the male lion will not let the female anywhere near his food until he has had his fill, as we have seen on a couple of occasions on this safari. When the female is on heat, however, it’s a different story: he will allow her to eat alongside him. Typical man! The only time he treats his woman to a meal is when he thinks there is something in it for him!
Why does this picture remind me of the spaghetti scene from Lady and the tramp cartoon?
Meanwhile, brother Leo comes to check out what all the fuss is about.
There’s no room for another diner, so Leo skulks off, complaining loudly.
Then goes for a drink instead.
Black Backed Jackal
A jackal waits nearby; ready to move in on the leftovers once the lions have had their fill. I think he'll have a long wait.
As we seem to be running out of time, we eat our boxed breakfast ‘on the hoof’ so to speak. We have to be out of the park by a certain time – the permits are purchased in blocks of 24 hours, and they are quite strict in enforcing the fines if you overstay.
A lone elephant is walking across the savannah, presumably to catch up with the large herd we can see in the distance.
Months of rain (we are right at the end of the rainy season now), tourist traffic, heavy trucks and the huge numbers of animals who also use the roads have taken their toll on the unsealed tracks.
By scraping off the top layer, the surface is smoothed out, getting rid of the washboard effect that is typical in this region.
Named after the Swahili word for ‘lion’, Simba Kopjes are the tallest kopjes (rocky outcrop) in Serengeti and as the name suggests, a good place to spot lions.
And guess what? There is the aforementioned simba!
We come across a breakaway crowd who have obviously been dawdling on their journey up north.
Look at that long line meandering in from somewhere beyond!
This marks the end of our safari in Serengeti, as we have now reached the entrance / exit gate at Naabi Hill. We have a coffee while Malisa completes the formalities.
While Chris goes off to use the facilities, I prank him by hiding his coffee, putting an empty cup in its place. With hindsight it was not a good move, as anyone who knows Chris can attest for his love of coffee. Unfortunately Lyn gets the blame as he accuses her of drinking it. Oops. Sorry Chris. Sorry Lyn.
On a positive note: they have upgraded their toilets since our first visit in 2007 (PS these are the old ones)
We’ll be back!
Just because we have left the Serengeti behind, does not mean our adventure is over. As soon as we enter the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Malisa drives off-road. Because he can.
Just like us, the White Stork is not a resident in Tanzania, he has flown in from Europe and is just here for his holidays.
The zebra died of natural causes, and now the vultures are having a banquet!
I love the red-necked vultures – no, they are not a new species, that is blood from where they have stuck their heads right inside the carcass.
It’s a chaotic and grotesque scene, yet morbidly fascinating.
You can’t hear it too well in this short video clip because of the wind noise, but the sound is deafening: like a huge mob of bleating sheep!
It is unusual to see a giraffe sitting down as it makes them extremely vulnerably to predators. Here it seems every tree has one.
As we rejoin the main ‘road’, we also meet up with traffic. And traffic means dust. Lots of it.
The road to Arusha takes us back up into the highlands, and at this altitude David soon starts to feel the cold.
This area is farming land, and we see many herders with their livestock and small stock along the side and even on the road.
Not the worst view I have seen from a toilet stop.
But David is still feeling the cold.
The Maasai have an ingenious way of temporarily stopping their goats from reproducing. It is uncomplicated, cheap, safe for the animal and easily reversible – a simple flap physically stops the goats mating! I love it!
Maasai Village Elders’ Weekly Meeting
Beats a day at the office any time.
We have our lunch in a picnic area within a camp ground between Ngorongoro and Arusha. We are all very sad that the safari part of our holiday is now over. Apart from maybe Malisa, as he now gets to see his family again and have a few days off.
Coming back into ‘civilisation’ again after eight days in the wilderness seems almost surreal – markets, shops, saloon cars, motorbikes, noise, traffic, and even a political rally!
We also experience the ugly side of ‘civilisation’: Malisa is pulled over for ‘speeding’. Being totally secure in the fact that he was most definitely NOT speeding, Malisa argues the case, asking them to prove where and how fast he was going. Knowing they haven’t got that sort of evidence, the police eventually back down and let him go! Cheeky! I bet they were looking for a bribe!
Back in the big town there is a hive of activity as usual.
Due to some political agenda, there is a temporary shortage of sugar and we see long queues at the few stores that have any left.
“Do you need anything from town?” asks Malisa, “if not, Tillya has a surprise for you”.
Avoiding the centre of Arusha, Malisa turns off the main road and weaves his way through the middle of Tenguru weekly market.
Lake Dulutu Lodge
Surprise! Our original itinerary had us staying at Kibo Palace in the centre of Arusha, but Tillya felt that we needed to finish the trip in style; and he was worried that we might not sleep well as the area around Kibo is very noisy. The service we get from Calabash Adventures never ceases to amaze me.
And neither does Lake Dulutu Lodge. Wow!
The entrance drive is long, with vegetation either side, and the car park is empty when we arrive. Nothing particularly awesome so far.
While the receptionist performs the registration formalities, we are invited to sit down in the lounge. This is where the wow-ness starts. The lobby is like something out of Harper’s Bazaar and I feel decidedly scruffy in my dirty safari gear.
Our room is an individual cottage in the grounds, which look nothing much from the outside.
Once we get through the front door, however, its opulence is evident.
And the moment I enter the bathroom I am extremely impressed: despite having been lucky enough to stay in some pretty luxurious properties over the years, I have never seen a bathroom like this before.
Only two other tables in the restaurant are taken, so I guess the hotel is pretty quiet at this time of year. The service, food and wine are all excellent.
Vegetable Spring Roll with Chilli Sauce
Chicken with Rosemary Sauce
Beef Medallions with Pepper sauce
Banana Tart with Chocolate sauce
After all that we should sleep well, especially knowing we don't have to get up for a 6am game drive tomorrow morning.
Thank you so much to Calabash Adventures for the last eight days of safari, and for Malisa's expertise, knowledge, sense of humour, excellent driving and caring nature.