Trip Start Jul 16, 2010
18Trip End Aug 10, 2010
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Local airline was much more impressive than expected with newish aircraft in good repair - Fokker twin turbo props with fancy new six bladed propellers. Very clean and comfortable.
Short flight only - about an hour and picked up by Omary from Maasai Wanderings and driven across-country through Arusha and traditional Maasai lands to the Tarangire National Park. Lots of Boabab trees on the flat plains and the odd Maasai village.
Saw lots of traditional Maasai clothed only in woollen robes and leading traditional lives unchanged for centuries; red, blue or purple coloured robes mainly and all the men carrying their own sticks
Roads tarred but very bumpy. We were very grateful that the local drivers were much much better than in Sri Lanka. Drove on the correct side of the road, only overtook on dotted lines, drove at a reasonable pace and generally observed the road rules.Travelled from airport, through Arusha to Tarangire National Park. Herds of goats and cattle, well fed and watered and tended by small Maasai boys in their traditional red cloths and a stick. Very few dogs, unlike S.L.- guess the dogs were too lazy to walk out for the day to return at night and nothing for them to eat. Lots of Maasai along the roadside chatting and their corrals and huts back off the roads. Very orderly and tidy - a simple life. Amazing decorative jewellery worn by both men and women; some sort of macrame slipped halos around faces and huge earrings and a lot of ostrich feathers!! After seeing the ostrich on the hoof - can see how the Maasai have a field day when designing the headdresses.
Arrived at game park around 1 where the truck was sprayed for Tse Tse fly and we took our lunch box to sit under a huge boabab to eat and watch the monkeys larking. Birds and a huge band of mongoose (about 40) worked their way across the campsite with their scouts checking to see that the coast was clear before moving on. Maybe it was a couple of mongoose not otters I saw outside the Colombo Airport??
Within a minute of leaving the campsite, we saw herds of zebra, wilderbeast, elephants, Thompson gazelle, impala, warthogs, the odd giraffe and an unbelievable array of birds (all of which Omary knew including their peculiarities), ostrich and to top the afternoon off with a pair of honeymooning lions who put on an x-rated performance for us!
Long drive to Tree Tops Camp and we were both over the state of the road by the time we finally arrived round 6. Passed out on delicious beds in our boabab tree hut to be woken by a Maasai man and escorted down to dinner. The dining room was fabulous; built around a tree the size of a 3 storey building and complete with 200 little bats inside the tree - which came out towards the end of the meal to do circles but no bumps! Lovely staff, best spinach and goats cheese feta tart in filo - must add to our menus, not so good kingfish and quite good attempt at pannacotta considering they were using powdered milk for a base; a bit "gluggy" consistency but not bad. Good red wine to top it off but too tired to hang around fire and escorted home to our tree with trapdoor closed against the beasts. Beautiful bed open to the stars and sounds of the night with a huge full moon and silhouetted tree to stare at - amazingly quiet night.
Delicious omelette for breakfast then spent morning wandering along the swamp and hours watching elephants playing in the waterholes, feeding, throwing dust over themselves - you just don't get tired of watching them. Must have seen a dozen herds of varying numbers and the odd lone male. Fantastic to see them in natural habitat; well, breeding and enjoying life
Spent a bit of time on the way out stopping and chatting with the Maasai boys herding their cows. Big smiles when I replayed photos of their dogs and brothers. Cattle and goats in top condition. Boys missing teeth, poxy skin on faces and very smelly - delighted with pens we gave them to say thankyou for posing for photos. Back at TreeeTops Camp early after picnic lunch overlooking the swamp with elephants and beautfiul mountains in the distance. Lovely BBQ with campfire in the evening and Maasai dancing. Managed to stuff up every photo opportunity. Took our wine to the fire where we were joined by obnoxious yank with "big game hunting stories" to outdo all. Glad we shan't see him again. Home to our chinese laundry and an early night. Phone call to Zoe - "Swifts" dinner a huge success. Well done guys. Mark checking ahead and distresssed about yellow fever predicament - Dr in Australia had forgotten to give us yellow fever shots + certificate and entry into Botswana not allowed without certificate. That will be a drama that awaits us in a few days time!!!
Off early am for big drive to the Serengeti.