Exploring new ground
03.02.2020 - 03.02.2020
Despite having lots of strange and unpleasant dreams, I slept very, very well last night. I get up before dawn this morning to try and capture the sunrise.
A continental selection is available as a buffet, and Lilian comes to take our order for cooked food. As soon as I see Eggs Benedict on the menu, I know what I am having.
We slide along the same muddy track back to the main road this morning. It hasn't improved any overnight!
We are joining the sealed road only briefly today, as far as Mto Wa Mbu, where we turn off left towards Lake Natron
My mum used to meet me with my bike and hers after school when I was eight, but I have never before seen someone cycling with THREE bikes before!
There are always a lot of baboons near Mto Wa Mbu. This one looks somewhat philosophical!
The Road to Lake Natron
We are now entering new territory for us, this is the first time we have come this way. The track follows the Ngorongoro Escarpment on the left, with the flat plains of the Great Rift Valley on the right.
Pale Tawny Eagle
Work started on repairing this road last year, with the rocks just having been arranged in place when the rain came and washed them all away. Now they have to start all over again.
We can certainly see why they are having problems. I find it amazing that Malisa can manage to negotiate these sort of tracks. He has brand new chunky tyres, four-wheel drive and is an excellent driver, but even so.
The track crosses a number of rivers on the way. Why does this make me think of a UB40 song?
As we get nearer, I realise that the river is really rather fast flowing. "Are you sure you are going to drive across that Malisa?"
So far so good...
At this point I am getting a little concerned that we are going to wash away down the river. The water is so murky that it is impossible to see what is at the bottom, or how deep the river is.
At least we'll have a good video for YouTube if we do!
We make it, safe and sound (and dry) to the other side!
The track doesn't get much better this side – I have seen smoother dried up river beds.
This looks like another impossible crossing – a sheer drop of around a foot.
A few little boulder the other side of the drop does the trick. We're fine!
White Throated Bee Eaters
A migrant from Europe, who comes to this area for winter; this is the first time we have seen the Abdim's Stork in Tanzania.
It is not as bad as it first looked; there is a slightly easier route to one side. But only slightly.
Another river to cross, although this one is nowhere near as deep.
We pass a few villages, with straw and mud huts.
We drive through the small settlement of Ngaruka Town, which has only recently had electricity installed.
Of course, not everyone has power.
Gotta love the petrol station, where fuel is sold in plastic water bottles.
This may look primitive to us, but it is also pretty eco-friendly: true basic upcycling.
Blue Naped Mousebird
Another river to cross. We're getting good at this!
We encounter an unexpected traffic jam.
Affectionately known as 'Maasai Landrovers', donkeys are much sought after within the agricultural community and are generally well looked after.
I have never before noticed that donkeys have a stripe along their backs and down their necks.
Ol Doinyo Lengai Volcano
Meaning 'Mountain of God' in the local Maasai language, Ol Doinyo Lengai is an active volcano that last erupted in 2008, although in 2017 scientists confirmed it was quietly rumbling, showing signs that an eruption may be imminent.
From a scientific point of view, it is extremely fascinating: it is the only active volcano known to erupt carbonatite lava. This thin, silvery lava melts at a lower temperature (around 600 °C), and more importantly, it can flow faster than a person can run. This sensational discovery was not made until as recently as in the 1960s.
More bad road surface.
Layers of lava clearly showing.
Brown Snake Eagle
I don't think I will even get used to seeing exotic wild animals such as the giraffe, roaming free. In the national parks, yes, but here we are just driving across the country, not actually in a designated animal park. There are no physical barriers and the animals don't know where the borders are of course.
The youngster is about a year old.
Broken Down Bus
Up until this moment, it has felt like we are pioneering travellers in a land that time forgot. Knowing that this is a bus route ruins all that in a flash.
I am not at all surprised that it has broken down, I am more amazed that it managed to get this far in the first place!
When we realise that there are people working underneath the vehicle, we stop and give them some of our water. They are delighted, and even more so when they find that the bottles are cold out of the fridge!
Booted Eagle - a dreadful photo, but it is a lifer.
We have no idea what this boy was doing under the tree miles from anywhere, but I think he makes an interesting silhouette.
The original sheep contraception. Sometimes simple solutions work better than chemicals.
Yellow Fronted Sandgrouse
From a distance we can see tonight's accommodation, so I will finish this blog entry here. Thank you Calabash Adventures for making this trip possible.