Trip Start Sep 14, 2006
15Trip End Jan 09, 2007
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The entrance to the park did not look promising. It was a dusty, potholed road at the end of a small town, and when the first thing that Justin asked us if we wanted to take a picture of was a tree (the apparently famous baobab tree), we thought that there might not be too many animals to see. We went on a game drive but we were pretty tired from the 10 + hours of travel and did not fully appreciate it
After breakfast, we headed to the park for an all day drive. Not too far into the drive, Mark got bit by a fly. Justin reassuringly told him "Don't worry - not all tse-tse flies carry the sleeping sickness." Since we hadn't previously known that there was any danger of this, his comment did not set us at ease. Mark and I put on more insect repellant and learned that a cure for it was found 3-4 years ago. Moms don't worry, there is a cure and we aren't showing any signs of the disease:)
The park was much better than expected with large herds of elephants and giraffes. We had a picnic lunch overlooking a relatively dry swamp that had dozens of elephants. After days of sitting in vehicles (you are not allowed to walk around the parks for safety reasons), we finally got to exercise by running along a dusty, dirt road just ourside of the park
The next day we drove to Ngorongoro Crater. Our hotel was on the rim of the crater and had great views. We drove down into the crater in the afternoon for an extremely dusty game drive (the dry season is very dusty everywhere). We saw a fair amount of game - lots of hippos in the hippo pools, a lion pride, a black rhino, elephants, giraffe, zebras, wildebeests and warthogs, but the dust, often reaching up 800 feet to the rim of the crater, made it unpleasant to be down there too long.
The next morning we left early to go down into the crater. All of the animals seemed much less skiddish than the animals in the Masai Mara and seemed to be more used to vans and people. This made taking pictures easier but took away a bit from the atmosphere.
We had the afternoon to ourselves and were going a bit stir crazy in the lodge. We decided to go for a walk. There were plenty of Masai (a local tribe) children and herds of cattle on the road and we didn't think the main roads were dangerous
The next morning we flew to the Serengeti. We drove 3 1/2 hours from the air strip into the Western Serengeti. The landscape was much more green and filled with trees than the Masai Mara and there were more animals - lots of zebras, gazelles, baboons, giraffes and during the last few miles, we saw a herd of 30+ elephants.
The next day we headed down to the river and saw some giraffes running frantically
In the afternoon, we saw an even larger group of elephants than the day before. There were several hundred! We also saw baboons mating on our drive. The camp we were staying out (Kira Wira) was a luxury tented camp and probably the nicest place we stayed.
The next morning (9/30/06) we had our final game drive of the safari, and we saw the southernly portion of the wildebeest migration. The first rains of the season came after our drive but luckily they had stopped before our small plane was supposed to fly to Arusha. We spent the night in Arusha (not a very nice town at all and more warnings not to walk around at night) and the next morning we flew to Zanzibar.