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!
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…
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.
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.
Our delight was short-lived when we investigated the ablution block.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!!
After a morning of game viewing we returned to camp for an afternoon “at leisure” and a celebration roast lamb for all the “mothers”.
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!