Monday 13 May – This was the day Alex told us we would really see the Migration, but I could not have imagined how spectacular this would be.
We had been travelling for about half an hour and in the distance there seemed to be a thin black line on the horizon spreading for about 180 degrees.
As we got closer, the line got thicker and thicker.
Eventually, we were surrounded by a herd of about 750 000 wildebeest interspersed with zebra. It was just impossible to reproduce this on film, so eventually we just sat back and enjoyed and listened to the grunting noises they made.
We did go on to see a fancy game lodge called Ndutu Safari Lodge but at $242 a night we decided our tent wasn’t so bad. However, it was nice to sit in their lounge for a while in a proper chair! Considered doing a balloon safari but it was explained to us that the balloon just has to go where the wind takes it so there is no guarantee that you would float over the migration. Needless to say we shelved that idea. We were also not able to do the flight over the migration as you need 13 people in the party and there were only 8 of us.
Tuesday 14 May – Another game drive with plenty of animals, but the leopard was elusive.
I did see my first sausage tree – fascinating.
John and Lina’s car broke down and Alex had to tow it back to camp. Was quite scary because there is no one nearby to assist but fortunately John and Alex managed to fix the radiator enough to last until we got back to civilisation. It’s amazing what you can do when you have to.
Washed all the bedding by hand today in cold water – my char would have been proud of me. Fortunately it dried very quickly and the “ironing” was actually me just smoothing it all out with my hands before I put it back on the beds!
More 4×4-ing in water-filled dongas today – our front number plate found a watery grave there. An overlander with 18 people arrived to spend two nights at the camp – sharing 2 toilets, 2 showers and 1 basin was an interesting experience! That night we had a bit of excitement as in the night a hyena stole Penni’s washbasin from right outside her tent. She was crazy enough to run after it but to no avail.
Wednesday 15 May – Experienced my first breakfast of pap. It actually wasn’t too bad as long as there was plenty of sugar and butter in it. Starting to become a real South African! Set off for another game drive via “poo corner”. This was the nickname we had given to the local information centre a couple of kilometres away which had proper flushing toilets. We always tried to pass there at least once a day as no one could face the stand-up toilets.
This time we went on our own for the game drive as we had been given coordinates by Alex on our previous drives of various locations along the route so, theoretically, we couldn’t get lost. Pretty scary stuff but we did all manage to get back in one piece.
Saw the wildebeest again and a lone hyena circling the herd hoping for a weak or injured calf to prey on.
Also saw elephant, bat-eared foxes, silver-backed jackals, lion and giraffe. This was our last night at the Serengeti camp site.
Thursday 16 May – Decamped and set off via a different route for the Ngorongora crater. Very scenic route passing Masai villages, beautiful flowers and vast herds of zebra.
Arrived at Simba A campsite on the rim of the crater late afternoon. This is the nearest you can get to camping in the crater.
We were extremely excited to find hot showers, flushing toilets and electricity – what a treat after roughing it for 6 nights! Although a nice grassed campsite with magnificent views of the crater, the downside was that it gets freezing cold at night – I slept with my clothes on – and you need security guards for your belongings as some of the locals (Masai) have been known to help themselves! Didn’t get much sleep that night due to the cold so was quite relieved to have an early start the next day.
Friday 17 May – 14 days to go! Drove down into the crater – it is half a kilometre deep – for a game drive. Saw flamingos wildebeest, lion, rhino, elephant, zebra, buck and hyena as well as various birds. Alex told us that because of the high levels of calcium in the volcanic dust there, the elephant’s tusks grow 5cm a year instead of the usual 2cm.
We stopped at a hippo pool for a picnic and then did a tour of the rim of the crater back to the campsite where we decamped and travelled back to Kudu Lodge again. After our really uncomfortable night at the Crater Alex thought we needed a bit of luxury so we upgraded to the lodge with rooms that had an en-suite bathroom. We were so excited we were like children on Christmas morning! I spent ages in the shower washing everything that needed to be washed, including my hair, and even painted my toenails – just wanted to feel human again. Unfortunately, I only discovered afterwards that our room’s hot water cylinder also fed the three other rooms so I took all the hot water! I was not very popular with the rest of the party!
Saturday 18 May – Set off for Kerato where Alex had told us was the best place to buy curios etc. Bought a wonderful Masai painting and hand-made toys for the grandchildren.
Also found a roadside store selling doughnuts so the doughnut-eating competition was on again. Passed Mount Meru which is 1000m less than Kilimanjaro in height. It is also a volcano. Passed the usual mealie fields, rice paddy fields and sisal.
That night we stayed at Tembo campsite which had a big sign up that it had been renovated – goodness knows what it had looked like before!! Again Alex took pity on us and we upgraded to one of the big houses which had 4 bedrooms. It was extremely basic having been a private house on the estate which was once a chipboard factory many years ago. I think the whole place was going to be renovated but they hadn’t got very far – the swimming pool was just a hole in the ground. We did have hot water but no electricity but that we were now very used to. There were even cockroaches in the rooms. However, it was just nice not to have to pitch the tent!!
Up Next – Chilling on the beach and upgrades in Malawi