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Serengeti, dismal ablutions and first sightings of Wildebeest


Part 5

Friday 10 May – Today we set off for the Ngorongora Crater – what an amazing site.  It was originally a volcano which erupted 3 million years ago leaving a huge crater.   This is now the home of many animals and also the Masai cattle and kraals which are situated on the rim.  We rode all the way around the rim of the crater and then down the other side on to the Serengeti with the corrugated roads getting steadily worse as we went.  I was amazed that things didn’t start falling off our cars but I suppose 4x4s are made for this type of thing.  I wished my body was! 


Maasai huts - Ngorongoro, Tanzania

Maasai Mara kraal – it is the man’s responsibility to build the fence which is made of acacia thorns to protect their cattle from lions. Women are responsible for making the houses as well as supplying water, collecting firewood, milking cattle and cooking for the family. Warriors are in charge of security while boys are responsible for herding livestock

Maasai herdsman - Serengeti


Our first sighting of the wildebeest was actually before the Serengeti entrance when, what we thought at the time was a huge herd of wildebeest and zebra galloped across the road in front of us causing clouds of dust as they went.  It was very exciting to watch, but, this was only the beginning… 


First Wildebeest Sighting - Serengeti


 After going through the official gate we made our way to our campsite, seeing more wildebeest, elephant, hippo, cheetah and zebra along the way.  Eventually we arrived at Ngiri (meaning warthog) campsite where we would be for six nights – what a treat, or so I thought at the time. 


Official Entrance to Serengeti National Park


As we arrived it started to rain a little so Alex suggested we all take a game drive and wait for the rain to pass.  After an hour we returned and, guess what, the heavens opened.  So there we sat, in our four cars, and waited …. And waited …. And waited.  Eventually Alex opened up his huge bat wing canopy on his car and set up his kitchen underneath for supper.  None of the rest of us had that luxury so the other two cars decided to brave the elements and erect their tents in the pouring rain – how daft was that. 


John and I just sat cosy and warm in our car and watched the antics.  Eventually everyone and everything was soaked …. Except us.  Finally supper was ready and we donned our raincoats and set up our table and chairs under Alex’s canopy.  The others sat there dripping wet.  After supper they all asked us what we were going to do.  That was easy.  We have flown to London more times than we can remember and are adept at sitting upright to sleep – and that is what we did.  Cosy and warm in our car, and I must say quite comfortable, listening to the night sounds of hyenas and jackals.


Saturday 11 May – Awoke early to nice sunny day.  Everyone else was waterlogged as they had all chosen the wrong places to put their tents.  We meanwhile could now see where it was better to camp and had our tent up in a jiffy – for once we had done something right.  OK, we did feel as if we had just got off flight BA O58 from London but at least we were dry and were staying put for six nights. 


Ngiri campsite - Serengeti National Park


Our delight was short-lived when we investigated the ablution block.


Ngiri Campsite - Serengeti National Park

Ngiri Campsite – Serengeti National Park

  2 Eastern toilets (the ones with just footpads), 2 cold showers, one without even a proper spray nozzle and one basin without a plug and with a big hole in it. 

Oh my goodness....this is not for the city girl....

Oh my goodness….this is not for the city girl….

It was bad enough sharing these facilities with the 8 of us but when a safari bus stayed for a couple of nights with 18 people on it – you just don’t want to go there!!  Anyway, by this stage we had learned to make the best of it and after erecting washing lines and hand washing a pile of laundry in cold water, we sat down to a hearty “Alex” breakfast before setting out on a first proper game drive. 


Marion doing the laundry - I bet she will never take her washing machine for granted again :)

Marion doing the laundry – I bet she will never take her washing machine for granted again :)


The face says it all...

The face says it all…

Before we left, our “baboon monitor” arrived.  This was a local who Alex had organised to look after our campsite while we were away and chase away any baboons or any other animals who might feel the need to make off with our laundry or anything else which wasn’t tied down. 


Once on the game drive we came across some lionesses in a tree right next to the road and also the most darling cub – what a treat.  After seeing quite a few other animals we returned to the camp to find our washing was already dry as the weather was now very warm. 



Lion and cubs - Serengeti National Park

I decided to brave a cold shower which I had now got down to a fine art.  Stand in the shower cubicle in a washing up bowl full of cold water.  Using a facecloth, I washed down as far as possible, then washed up as far as possible …….. then I washed possible!! :) :)  No pics of Marion unfortunately….  but others were not so fortunate :) :)


Ilsa visiting the loo - reluctantly

Ilsa visiting the loo – reluctantly


Penni off to take a cold shower

Penni off to take a cold shower



That afternoon we went out again and encountered some extremely deep water-filled dongas, so the men were happy doing their 4×4 thing.  After T-bone steaks for supper we retired to our tents and listened to lions, jackals and hyena for most of the night – quite something.


Boys will be boys no matter where they go!

Boys will be boys no matter where they go!


Sunday 12 May – Mother’s Day.  Got quite homesick missing my family.  On our game drive this morning we saw 2 cheetahs sitting on a rock eyeing up an impala heard nearby.  Although we sat for an hour and eventually the cheetahs did suddenly break cover and chase them, the impala managed to outrun them and somehow I was quite pleased.  I’m not one of those people who likes to witness that. 


Cheetah - Serengeti National Park



Hippo - Serengeti National Park

We then went on to the hippo pools which was quite a sight. There were nearly 100 hippos wallowing around.  I’ve never seen so many in one place before.  The down side was that the place was full of flies so you didn’t know whether to swat the flies or take pics.  The upside was that there was a “normal” loo at this site which we all lost no time in making use of!!



Wow, never seen so many hippos together before

Wow, never seen so many hippos together before


 After a morning of game viewing we returned to camp for an afternoon “at leisure” and a celebration roast lamb for all the “mothers”.


Supper at sundown - Serengeti National Park

All went well until I got into bed that night only to find I was sharing my bed with a praying mantis – my shrieks must have scared the wild animals to death!


Up next – The Wildebeest Migration for REAL – spectacular!


About Cynthia

I am a fun loving woman who loves to explore new destinations and experiences. My philosophy in life is “Have suitcase, will travel” and I like to drag my family and friends along with me to share in the joy. Naturally, along the journey of “life” I like to indulge in long, lazy lunches, delicious champagne, creamy chocolate and most important, lots of laughter……Having being in travel for many years, I write about my personal experiences, mostly about Southern Africa but I do also get to travel internationally so will pop in some stories about my travels abroad. As food and wine are an integral part of my travel experience I also explore both those topics as well.

9 Responses to Serengeti, dismal ablutions and first sightings of Wildebeest

  1. Pamela Quinn says:

    Awaiting the next episode with anticipation.

  2. Pat Stubbs says:

    Loved the account of this trip, Cynthia. From one city girl to another – I can imagine how you felt roughing it, but what a story to tell. More fun looking back on it than at the time, I am sure.
    Think of you often. I am in the States for an extended time right now. Missing the sunsets at Isandlwana though.
    All the best,

    • Cynthia says:

      Lovely to hear from you again Pat, hope you are relaxing….as mentioned in the previous comment below, this is not my holiday but is written by my friend Marion – she does though have a similar sense of humour to me which is perhaps why you are mixing us up :) :)

  3. Sounds like an amazing camping and game viewing experience. The only problem is the ablutions. My wife will have a fit.

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