Trip Diary - Africa

Tanzania

Early April saw us into Tanzania. My sister Coral was still with us. We followed a back road towards the Serengeti and rough camped in the bushveld for the first couple of nights. Both camps were given Paradise Camp status because of their remoteness and abundance of bird life.

 Lake Natron and the dormant volcano Ol Dinyi Lingai were fascinating. The lake is saline and the only life in it is the multitude of flamingos that feed on the algae. We were still Masaai country and saw how they lived alongside the wildebeest, zebra and giraffe with herds of cattle. The Masaai don’t eat meat and so the wildlife is not hunted.

On entering the Serengeti we made for Lobo campsite. The fees to stay in the park are steep and you pay per 24 hours you intend to stay. Although the park is large you are limited by time as to how much of it you can see. The campsites have no facilities so the price you pay is really for the privilege of staying. Our second night was at Ngiri Campsite near Saronera Lodge.

Our highlight there was witnessing a lion kill. Two lionesses chased a herd of wildebeest. As the herd crossed the road in front of us a lioness pounced on her target. Both predator and prey writhed in the dust. We looked on as the cloud of dust settled and saw only the glowing eyes of the tiny lioness. We made out that she had her jaws clenched around the wildebeest’s throat. The animal wriggled and kicked but was unable to overpower its captor. At that gripping moment 2 car loads of Serengeti staff knocking off from work trundled along and stopped alongside the lioness. The creature ran off into the nearby bush leaving behind its hard earned prey. The wildebeest slowly regained consciousness and eventually tried pulling itself up, only to stumble into the culvert due to a fractured hind leg. Graham drove over to the vehicles and told them to move away and allow the lioness to come back and finish off her job. We all backed off and watched the lioness creep out of the long grass and complete her task. Down the road we saw the rest of the pride; cubs, sub-adults and adults. We watched them as they responded to the roar of the lioness we had seen earlier. Their ears and tails picked up and the pride set off towards the kill. How lucky we were to have witnessed that and been so close to nature.

As we made our way south we stayed at various privately owned campsites set in the bush or alongside picturesque rivers. I admired the different styles of ablutions we encountered at each, long drop loos with stylish wooden seats; outdoor showers with only reed mats for privacy…..we were spoilt for choice.

Ruaha National Park has been one of my favourite on this trip. At that time of the year the animals are grazing amongst lush green grass set amongst baobabs and an abundance of wild flowers. It is difficult to take a buffalo seriously when he’s looking up at you through a bunch of pink and yellow daisies. Once again there were no facilities at the campsite, but camped alongside the river where we were constantly overlooked by curious giraffe and passing warthog. Our neighbours in the river were a resident pod of hippos who guffawed at intervals letting us know that this was their territory. Our highlights were the cheetah we observed on separate occasions stalking a herd of impala as well as a few lion sightings. Both nights we sat around a fire, roasting marshmallows disturbed only by the roar of mating lions nearby and the honking sound of the territorial hippos……PARADISE !!!!

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