Sleepless in the Serengeti

Trip Start Jul 24, 2012
Trip End Aug 19, 2012

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Where I stayed
Grumeti Campsite

Flag of Tanzania  , Mara,
Tuesday, August 14, 2012

(andrew) As part of the revised roster it was Erica on cooking and I had the pleasure of being a fire-boy and loader. Erica had advised the cooking group were getting ready to start at 6:15 so the fire should be lit 'about then'. I got up needing the loo at 5:40’ish so thought I would light the fire a touch early. Due to a slight mix up last night whilst washing up we had a combination of kerosene and detergent already mixed which is basically an explosive so pretty quickly the flames were at head height. Lara was passing to go to the loo and suggested I was at least an hour early but I assured her the cooking group were ready to start in half an hour. Erica got up and joined me and we were joined by the rest of the cooking group at 6:45 (the agreed meeting time for the cooks) thus we were indeed an hour early between us.

We were somewhat amused by the fact that a guy walked passed us through the campsite in the dark with a bow and arrow whom we assumed was a security guy. After beans and toast there were loads of birds of prey in the sky which would swoop to pick up pieces of bread dropped on the floor. We were soon underway again for yet another long drive however today at least there was a silver lining. We were arriving in the Serengeti today.

The drive was long however brief periods of light were given. Firstly during a vegetable stop at a market (never seen as many flies in one place as in the fish market in that town) a woman tried to get Erica to buy a cabbage, E responded "no thank you", then the woman shouted “NO F YOU”, I’m not sure if this was a slight misinterpretation of Erica’s northern tones but none the less a great sight. The second was when Ariel put on his Cali mastermix. He was soon up dancing in the aisle of the bus much to everyone’s amusement. Later we were on a particularly bad stretch of road a nd Ariel was launched off his seat in to the aisle – he quickly got up only to apologise to Erica who was on the seat opposite – we then heard a moan and realised that Jill was lying in the aisle and Ariel had literally kneed her in the head! These roads can be lethal!.  When we hit the Serengeti National Park the savannah grasslands were back and it was great to see some of the animals we hadn’t seen for ages but also new animals to tick off our list. We saw Ostriches, Zebra, Buffalo, Elephants, Banded Mongooses (they were great so like Meercats), Giraffe, Baboons, Other Monkeys, Waterbuk, Topi, Thomson’s Gazelle, Impala, Hornbills and others I forget.

We did have a break down to add to our Masai adventure but a short one and something they are hoping to be able to fix at camp tonight. When we arrived at camp the sun was setting and the camp was two toilets and a fire still smouldering from the night before, proper bush camping. As darkness fell Erica’s cooking team had run out of time for dinner as the night drive vehicles had arrived. Perhaps the worst thing about a night drive is setting off from your tent and driving across grassland never seeing a road fence or otherwise, in other words it is what is surrounding your tent. Within a few hundred metres the spotter with his headlight had found a Spotted Hyena. Thankfully it could only crush our bones with its teeth and it’s stomach acid decompose our bodies. Still though it was so weird to come face to face with these creatures. We saw various different gazelles and impala’s. We ticked a dik-dik off our list as well as another grazer called the reedbuck which is only active at night due to its thin skin.

Perhaps the highlight for me was seeing the Bush Babies jumping tree to tree at such a fast speed it was incredible, I’m surprised anyone has every managed to take a picture of this amazing creature but I did manage to get a bit of video of just how quickly it moved.  We also saw a cat type creature called a genet which was out hunting but retreated to a tree when the 4x4 arrived. We also found a chameleon in a tree which was pretty cool to pass around before returned to its natural home. A double edged sword we didn’t see a Lion or Leopard as I’m not sure I would have slept at all if that were the case.

We returned to our vegetable curry back at camp more than a little concerned by the fact that it was obvious that warnings about food in tents and leaving shoes outside for Hyena’s were not just for effect. This was proper bush camping. We did however have a security guard who had a bow and three arrows, I just don’t see that putting an end to a pack of lions, a herd of elephants or a pack of hyenas.
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