Published: August 8th 2007August 16th 2006
Having a great time here so far in Tanzania, we are just back from an overnight bush camp in the Serengeti. You literally just pitch your tent up in a designated area but there is no fence to keep anything out so you really are in amongst everything. There was one pit toilet to use but as this had definitely seen better days the preferred option was to use the great outdoors instead - even knowing what was out there, which proves just how bad it was! We were one of three lucky (!) tents that had lions sleeping outside throughout the night. We were on the edge of the camp & the safari guides (who were safely locked up in a caged area, they said this was because they had to stay along with the food!) said there were two lions around our tents for a few hours in the night, with a further three just metres behind! I luckily didn't hear them as I think I would have given myself a heart attack, but Sam heard them breathing and moving around & managed to convince himself that someone had done some washing and put it outside the tent and
They walk their cattle down into the crater for water - don't seem anxious about the wild animals..
that was why he could hear a "flapping" noise! In reality the lions had got underneath the “fly” part of our tents and were snuggling up right outside, lucky for me that Sam was being so brave - not! As well as the lions there were also lots of hyenas around, especially in the small hours of the morning; they make a really distinctive “whooping” noise, which was very loud so I think they must have been all over the campground. One of the most spectacular noises that I have ever heard was the lions roar in the morning, thankfully this time it was quite a distance away, but the low rumble was still loud enough and powerful enough to realise what it was - quite amazing.
The Serengeti itself was so dry and stretched as far as the eye could see, it so dusty - we all had dust tans and it would literally fall out of your hair if you shook your head. We saw most of the big animals - lions (mating! apparently they keep going once every twenty minutes until they are sure the lioness is pregnant), hippos, black rhino, elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, buffalos etc,
Us in our safari jeep
Along with Rich, Tarsh, Sophia and Bonnie.
the only animal that we have yet to see is the elusive leopard - it's really difficult to spot as it spends most of its time up in the trees.
We also went to the Ngorongoro crater - it was brilliant - I imagine it must be utopia for all of the animals - it has food and water all year round so many of the animals don't migrate, once they reach it they happily stay put. It was a bit like Noah's ark - with a few of all the animals we saw in the Serengeti, just on a much smaller scale. The drive down was a bit scary as the drivers go about 50 miles an hour in a jeep that is about 20 years old, down really bumpy dirt tracks and everything shakes - my insides feel as though they have been in a blender! The most bizarre thing was that on the way back up, a policeman stopped us with a speed camera as we were unsurprisingly going too fast! Of all the places you expect to see them, I’m not sure what our driver said but after a few words were exchanged we continued
The first animals we saw in the crater was a herd of buffalo crossing our path on the way down. The are one of the "big five" as they are so dangerous
without having to pay the fine.
Our overland truck can sometimes be hard going, as there are 26 people on it - it's a bit of a nightmare in the morning and evening when everyone is trying to get there bags out and sort through all of their stuff. But we are really lucky to have a great bunch of people on it, some from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, America, Italy and a good mix of ages and couples/single people.
The island of Zanzibar was nice and relaxing - it was really nice not to be on the move so much and have a few days in one place. We stayed at a place called Nungwi beach on the Northern side of the island - the "hotel" we were in wasn't up to much - but it did the job. I suppose that is one of the down sides of an organised tour, you don’t have any choice in where you stay and how long you stay there for. We spent most of the four days lazing around on the beach and doing very little really - the sea was an amazing colour and also very
warm. We went snorkelling to a coral reef and saw lots of beautiful coloured fish - also sea snakes, sea horses and lots of starfish. We went on a spice tour and saw the local people racing up coconut trees - you guessed it, Sam did try to join in, but unfortunately didn't make it any further than lunging himself at the bottom of tree, only to cling on for dear life for a couple of seconds before crashing to the ground again - much to everyone’s amusement! He also kept guessing all of the spices correctly when we were being tested, so they started calling him "Mr Eaters" - a name which I thought was very appropriate!! We then had a night in Stone Town - a great place with lots of history, as it was the centre for the slave trade less than 100 years ago. The island is Muslim but it is only really in Stone Town that it becomes really apparent, we were sitting on top of the hotel and you can hear the prayer bells and chanting from all over the town.
After that we basically had 3 days driving in Tanzania to get
Like big pebbles - they used to be my favourite animal but they are rather boring really!
us across the border to Malawi. On one of the days drive, we had to make an unscheduled stop as the truck needed some work doing to it - as soon as we pulled up at the side of the road in the village, everyone came out to see what we were doing. They don't normally have any of the overland trucks stop at this place, so we were a real novelty for the people, especially for the children who came running out of the school to see us! The boys started playing cricket and lots of the young boys joined in, it was brilliant, and everyone was so friendly. There must have been at least one hundred people watching us wondering what on earth we were doing there. The children also love having their picture taken, so that you can show them their picture on the digital camera - they scream with laughter, as they've never seen it before. We had lunch and the ladies thought it was absolutely hysterical that the boys were washing their own dishes - they were pointing and giggling! When it was time for the children to go back to school the headmaster had
Looking down into the extinct volcano
to come out and fetch them but none of them wanted to go, he was chasing them round banging a stick on the floor but I think that this made them laugh even more. The teenage boys were also interested in all the girls from the truck asking if them their names and if they were married, although as far as I know no-one took up anyone’s offer!
We also had to bush camp for 2 of the nights as there are no campsites along the way - at first everyone was a bit sceptical (especially as we all seem to have the African equivalent of the "deli belly"!), but the bush camps turned out to be brilliant. We get a big fire going, and everyone sits round - the sky is so clear and the stars are fantastic. Some of the local people sometimes get a big curious as to why 30 white people are pitching their tents up in the middle of nowhere and come over just to check us out, like the guy who came over with his dog, he had s spear in one hand and a dead antelope in the other but after a
They weren't shy that everyone was watching!
few minutes of chatting to us and us playing with his dog he soon got bored and wandered off. At first I’m not sure who was most surprised..us or him!
There are more photos below