Jeeps, crockery and lion-hunting

Trip Start Oct 06, 2010
Trip End Dec 17, 2010

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Flag of Tanzania  ,
Tuesday, October 12, 2010

One day we went on safari.  We had a driver called Elly.  We also had a chef called Kombo.  A chef.  He cooked us all our meals and served them on a little table with a tablecloth and china crockery.  In the middle of campsites.  This makes me larf.  The weird thing is that the campsites were less than salubrious, so surely if you're ok with that kind of accommodation you're not really going to be the kind of person who expects a sugar bowl and three-course meals...

We also saw literally tons of animals.  I'd expected to actually have to look for them, but there were seriously loads and loads, just loitering by the sides of the roads.  We started off at Tarangire NP (I put Ngorongoro on the map cos it's more exciting and it only lets me put one place), then on day two moved on to Lake Manyara, en route to the crater for the third day.  We hadn't even got to the park entrance yet and we'd already seen herds of wildebeest and zebra, and an ostrich, just chilling out, you know.  On the way there Elly stopped at this massive supermarket-type thing crammed to the rafters with Maasai souvenirs, and he kept telling us to enjoy our eyes, which we obediently did.  So we were a bit worried we were going to get the hard sell, but it calmed down once he realised how poor and cynical we are.  The entrance to the park was amazing.  There was a plethora of different species of fat pasty trippers in dodgy camo outfits complaining about their packed lunches, which was highly entertaining if slightly nauseating (see picture). (We did actually both get a bit sick after that, hadn't noticed the link before...)

There were loads of elephants, and some other stuff too.  You do tend to get a bit dismissive of the boring stuff like zebras and wildebeest, which are just Everywhere, but it was all incredible and they're totally not bothered by the jeep.  Towards the end of the day we saw an elephant right next to the road, just munching on a tree, as you do.  That was incredible - we could've reached out and touched him.  We even saw a LION - way off in the distance under a tree - but silly Elly said we had to go and have our packed lunch and would go and look for it after, by which time it'd got bored of the tree and had gone.

Kombo came with us the next day - Kombo's ace, he fed me local medicine for my stomach (which although it sounds thrilling is actually just black tea with honey) and fixed the roof of the jeep with some rubber and an old stick. Magic.  We didn't see anything very exciting at Lake Manyara, except some giraffes and some hippos.

The final day was down in the crater - the most beautiful place I've ever seen.  It's crawling with all sorts of animals, and in such a confined space they're all over the place.  The only down side is that because of these things it means there're vast herds of jeeps crawling around it too.  We left really early in the morning, so the crater rim was shrouded in clouds, and the silhouettes of the trees sloping away into what seemed like nowhere was really magical.  Anyway, this time we actually saw a lion.  Two in fact.  Two boy lions, who were batting around a hyena who must've pissed them off.  We came in just after they'd broken it's back legs, so it was desperately trying to crawl away from them.  They didn't seem too bothered (they'd obviously just eaten) and got bored fairly quickly and left the hyenas to faff around on their own.  Then later, as we came back past where the lions had been, we saw that one of them was just wandering aimlessly right down the middle of the road, right past our car without a second glance.  I could've reached down and stroked him, it was such an incredible feeling.  Without doubt the best day so far.

We stayed at a scummy little hostel back in Arusha that night, but managed to escape and find some random little food place where a bunch of people were watching a comedy programme at top volume on TV - from what we could decipher, the comedy came from the fact the a wife was trying to strangle her husband.  Great show.
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