Safari.... So goodie....
Trip Start Mar 01, 2009
15Trip End Jun 25, 2009
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So, the pipe line project is going well, although we've not been able to work on a couple of days as the Maasai have had various meetings about strategic cattle grazing and the like, as well as being too busy to dig one day because they had a lion to kill who had been terrorising the local bomas!
Last week, the Maasai invited us to join them for lunch... they took us to a clearing near their bomas, sat us down, brought over a freshly roasted goat's leg on a skewer and proceeded to cut us chunks to eat! All washed down with some beans and ugali. A really surreal experience and we feel very privileged to be this close to a Maasai community.
The following weekend we returned to Arusha to be picked up for a safari to the Ngorongoro crater. We were collected at 8.30 from our hostel and driven for a couple of hours to Lake Manyara National Park for our first day. Within minutes of entering the park we were greeted by an elephant meters from the road so we stopped to take pictures. While we were admiring the elephant, a troop of over 100 baboons casually walked past our truck, we were both amazed how close we were to these animals! Driving further into the park we saw impalas, giraffe, zebra, buffalo, bush pigs, warthogs, vervet monkeys. We then stopped at a pool where loads of hippos wallow in the mud to keep themselves cool and protected from the sun. Our journey continued past families of elephant, wildebeest, more zebra, more monkeys, a host of birds and even lions in the distance! Around four we left the shores of Lake Manyara to head to our campsite on the rim of the Ngorongoro crater.
Our campsite at the crater was amazing but very cold due to the altitude and the cloud that seems to permanently cling to the crater edge. During the night we were woken by a strange noise we both thought sounded a little like people packing tents - we both stuck our heads out of the tent but in the misty early morning light all we saw was huge dark shapes... our guide told us in the morning that it was in fact a herd of buffalo grazing through the campsite!
At six in the morning we headed down in the truck to the crater floor, it's an amazing and surreal expanse. Immediately we saw creatures dotted around the plain - elephants, wildebeest, zebra but our attention was soon grabbed by two cheetahs stalking right past the truck, they're really elegant and beautiful animals and we were very lucky to see them so close up! The drive then continued past the vast soda lake in the centre of the crater, inhabited at this time of year by thousands of flamingo. Continuing on, we drove past a huge herd of zebra and saw a couple of groups of female lions and a solitary male, very impressive. We also passed more elephant and were lucky enough to see the rare black rhino!
After lunch we left the crater, heading towards Lake Eyasi for our next camp. That evening we were taken to the shore of the lake to watch the sunset, it's a barren and beautiful soda lake. The following morning our guide drives us to visit a tribe of bushmen who are one of the last tribes in Tanzania to have virtually no western influences. We visited them to see the way they live, hunting with bows and arrows every day to find food to eat. When we first arrived the men and women were sat on opposing side of their camp, the men smoking marijuana which they believe allows them to be active and hunt all day long.... Quickly we were lead off by a group of the younger men to watch while they hunted for food, shooting several small birds with their homemade bows and arrows. Although it felt a little barbaric, we couldn't help but be impressed by their skill and they hunt for survival, not for sport. When we returned to the camp they tried to teach us how to shoot, it's safe to say we both need practice! They also performed a mesmerising dance with singing for us.
This week, after returning from safari, we were invited to watch a Maasai circumcision ceremony... thankfully the deed itself is done before the ceremony but we were able to see how the Maasai celebrate: the women in their ceremonial dress and jewellery while the young warriors perform their chanting and jumping. It's another amazing thing to see and we're lucky to see it happening outside of a performance staged for tourists!
Well, I think that's about it for now.... Phew!
Apologies in advance for the mammoth amount of pics and vids!