Game drive thriller, the return of Priscilla ...

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

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Arusha Campsite

Flag of Tanzania  ,
Friday, August 17, 2012

and a potent yoghurt filler!

It was another early start for our final game drive of our trip. We peered out of the tent at 5.20am and the truck lights were on – people were milling about the camp, head torch lights shining in all directions and fires already lit.  It had been so cold in the night we both kept waking up and snuggling closer and closer trying to generate a bit of body heat.  I didn't think that Africa could be as cold as this.  Andrew told me that he had woken a few times and seen animal shadows outside – I hoped that they were just Zebra – I could cope with zebra – but buffalo and elephant were a whole other story.  We unzipped the tent and found that there was a new ring of shit around our tent – this was beginning to get scary.

Kanyo had been up before everyone else – woken by another group at 3.30am – so he had kindly prepared  the fruit for breakfast.  Pineapple, Banana & Passion fruit with a mug of milk as I had dreadful heart- burn (another side effect of the Doxy I presumed).  Kanyo revealed that there had also been a bush pig in the camp last night searching for discarded food stuffs.  Eeek!  We ate up and boarded our 4x4’s which arrived at about 6.30am and then we began the journey to the gates of the crater.  It took a while to descend the 600m on to the crater floor but we could already see the tiny forms of lots of animals from high up as the grass is so short.  The Ngorongoro Crater is a UNESCO world heritage site covering 100 square miles and contains 25,000 large animals and the largest density of mammalian predators in Africa.  It is believed to have been formed when a huge volcano (thought to be higher than Everest) exploded 2 to 3 million years ago.  The area was also until recently considered the 'cradle of civilisation’ as the oldest examples of human genus were discovered there – this has now been superseded by remains found in South Africa yet the area remains one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world.

The game drive itself was absolutely incredible and we got to see wildebeest, hippo, flamingos, warthog, buffalo, elephant, black rhino, hyena, zebra, eagles, gazelle, and then we came upon a huge pride of lions.  At first we saw a lone young male lying alone and on the other side of the road two females – in front we then saw a female lay right in the middle of the road with countless others further on on the right.  By this stage there were about 30 4x4’s watching and when we were able to get a better position we discovered the dominant male feasting on a kill in tall grass.  Everyone was jostling for position which was a bit sad really – but the lions just ignored all the onlookers as if they were so used to it.  The young male tried to approach, perhaps after the kill and we caught one of the females on camera growling angrily at him to warn him off – it worked and he resumed his position on the outside of the group.  Kanyo later told us that he must be one of the offspring who is close to being cast out by the group to establish his own pride.  Interesting as Ngorongoro crater is believed to have a high proportion of inbreeding as it is basically contained.

As we had to be back to meet the truck at 12 we had to make a move but it had possibly been our best game drive yet as the lions had practically been in touching distance – we could even hear them snarl.  At the entrance to the park we had to wait for the driver to get his documentation back and whilst he was gone a baboon almost got in to our 4x4 and Emma was almost hysterical – Matt had to shriek at it to scare it off.  A couple of minutes later a man got attacked in the car park too – and then another tried again to get in to our van – this time Andrew was on hand to scare it.

We met the truck at a lodge in town and had lunch and then set off to our final destination – Arusha.  It was another long drive and we finally arrived at about 5pm.  Pulling up, who should be waiting for us but Priscilla!  Back from hospital in Nairobi – we were so pleased that we were going to be able to spend our last night with her – having the whole group back together – albeit without Robyn.  It turned out that she had had to have surgery to remove the infection but had arrived the day before and wanted it to be a surprise.  The 3 other Absolute Africa trucks were there and we were due to have a huge barbecue to celebrate the end of some of ours trip.

Liam had come up with the great idea of having an Oscars ceremony so after a performance of Masai dancing and a delicious barbecue we set about voting and revealing the winners.  The results were:

Best looking male & female: Ariel/Erin

Best country:  Rwanda (despite only staying 3 days)

Most prolific vomiter: Ben

Best bar: (last bar in Kenya)

Funniest drunken moment : Matts boat jump/bank climb/haka)

Best dancer: Ariel

Funniest person: Andrew (Erica edit - funniest looking person)

Best optional excursion: Gorillas –the pygmy village came runner up even though only 4 people did it

Most popular person: Kanyo

Best game drive: Serengeti

There was a great bar and dance floor at the camp so the whole group hit the bar and got their groove on.  At some stage Ariel sneaked off to bed so Andrew went and got him – it was our last night that was not going to be allowed!  We had a hilarious night – Matt, Callum & Tom taught me the Haka, and Ariel had his YOGHURT, YES YOGHURT spiked by kiwi Matt who laced it with Rum and beer.  It was 3am by the time we got to bed – for a 6am start – but hell it had been worth it!
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