Botswana to Kenya
Hello again. Better late than never, I'm sure you will agree.
Ok, so in the last section we had our flight over the wonderful Okavango Delta. From there we had a 600km drive to Kasane and we saw a few little cuties along the way:
From Kasane we headed off to Chobe in 4X4s and saw a fair bit, buffalo, elephant, jackals, warthog, baboon, giraffe, a male lion under a tree which had the audacity to roar at us! We also saw hippos, a crocodile, fish eagle, lilac breasted roller, greater kudu, impala (lively little fellows), maribu stork, yellow billed hornbill, banded mongoose, lechwe antelope, Egyptian spitting cobra, guineafowl and a rare wild dog which was sadly dead at the side of the road. We then jumped on a boat and saw a tonne of hippos which was fantastic.
The next day we left Botswana for Zambia and headed straight for Livingstone and the Victoria Falls. We had plenty of time to look round the falls which really are something and the spray is incredible, even at a distance and we all took an impromptu shower there. There was a small market there and I bought/traded for some wooden carvings. That night we had a booze cruise on the Zambezi river which was a very drunken affair and not the smartest move as the next day I was doing a 111m bungi jump at the falls....
Not the best of experiences being flung about helplessly at the end of a bungi cord and hanging upside down when you have a hangover! First I did the flying fox canyon glide which was very brief but quite pleasant, then the bungi jump which wasn't the rush I had hoped for, then heading off of the bridge I was getting pretty freaked out about being on the edge of the drop so when it came time for the canyon swing I bottled it and headed off to firm land. There is something horrible about jumping off a bridge feet first that really put me off although why head first is ok is a mystery to me.
The next two days were spent in Livingstone and most of our group left which really was very sad. Some new people joined us afterwards so we all got to know each other a bit.
April 24th we said goodbye to our trainee guides Jaco and Yasmin and also to Moses who was heading off alone despite our encouragement to continue to Nairobi.
So we headed off to the Kafue River and boarded the world's slowest boat which eventually took us to a remote campsite down river. We were given local food and a display of dancing and singing was put on for us. The next day we were taken to look round some nearby villages so that we could see how the people there live. I'm still uneasy about viewing people's poverty stricken lives, it just feels wrong but I have to admit that it was quite interesting at the same time. We did learn a bit about how they farm and saw mango and banana trees growing there and this rather cute dog too!
From our campsite we took a speedboat back to the truck and headed off to Lilongwe where a bit of souvenir shopping took place! We then camped at Eureka campsite and were very pleasantly suprised to find a load of zebras roaming around our campsite!!
We had some problems with the truck due to a modification that should have allowed for the use of both fuel tanks but was instead letting in air and preventing the engine from running. Poor Patrick was up half the night bleeding the system and trying to get the truck running again. But the next morning the problem resurfaced so we stopped for a while at a petrol station and he managed to fix it, hurrah!
April 27 and we are camping at Songa Bay on Lake Malawi after a very long day of driving. I slept on the beach which is a first for me and managed to avoid the sandflies somehow. I think I will start sleeping on the roof of my house when I get home!
The next day we headed to Kande Beach, also on Lake Malawi where I bought a small, folding, wooden table. Starting to get the hang of haggling and was able to exchange some of my unwanted clothes for souveniers too. That night it absolutley tipped it down with rain and as none of us had put our rain covers on our tents we all evacuated to the bar where it was drier. Eventually the security guard found Patrick who unlocked the truck and everyone climbed in there to sleep. Katie and I moved in with Patrick and I kid you not, I woke up to find myself floating around in about 2 inches of water where our room was being flooded. My glasses and flip flops had floated off and my backpack was soaked but it really was quite a memory!!
Then next day should have been a lazy day of sunbathing but the weather was crap so I retired to the bar at 10am and got chatting with a fascinating guide called Tim from another truck. So we did the only sensible thing possible and spent the whole day drinking beer and nattering. A very satisfactory day in my opinion!
We also saw a huge cloud of lake flies that day in the far distance which was pretty amazing given that the flies are only small.
That evening we had some goat which had been especially bought for our dinner but to be honest, I don't thing I will ever be a fan of the stuff, bit too strong a taste for me.
April 30, we got stuck in a load of mud after a landslide for 1 1/2 hours. We were all pushing the truck and laying down rocks and stones to try and give it some purchase. The truck was all over the place and there was a horrendous moment when it looked like Cath was going to fall under the wheel, I think everyone's heart stopped for a moment there. We could not have gotten out without the helps of the locals who were delighted to assist for a fee, fair play to them.
May 1st, we had the biggest bread rolls I have ever seen for lunch today and a very long drive to Iringa in Tanzania. The place where we stayed was lovely with a fab bar and a very nice restaurant that had table cloths, napkins, glasses made of glass and china plates. Absolute luxury!!! The pumpkin soup that they served was really very tasty.
The next day, yet more driving and we saw quite a few crashed vehicles along the way. This time we headed to Dar es Salaam. Unfortunately a truck had jack-knifed in the road ahead and we were stuck for 3 hours waiting for it to be pulled out. Patrick later told us that he would have turned around had it taken much longer because the risk of being robbed on that road at night was just to great. Thankfully we got through in one piece although arrive in Dar at night, Maritje insisted that we switch off all of the lights in the cabin as otherwise we might be attacked. For fun or something more sinister I'm not sure but we complied!
The next day we met the two lads that had joined our group and we all headed off to Zanzibar on the ferry. Upon arrival we had a look around Stone Town which I have to admit, I absolutely hated and can't understand why anyone would ever go there. Things improved a touch when we headed off to a spice farm and were given a tour. We had the opportunity to eat jackfruit, passionfruit, custard apple, pawpaw, avocado and coconut as well as try a number of teas including the rather delicious lemongrass tea. That evening we went to Stone Town's one redeeming feature which was the night food market and I have to recommend the Stone Town Pizza which is very nice indeed. Also the sugar cane drinks is quite refreshing.
The following two days were beach days which resulted in quite a lot of beers being consummed as well as manicures and pedicures for the ladies. Jolly nice. We also met Leila who was my new tent buddy and very easy to spend time with.
May 6th, we had a two hour ferry ride back to Dar and my god was I feeling rough, not sure what caused it but I just went straight to bed when we got back to our campsite with an upset stomach and aches from head to toe, especially my hips and feet for some unfathomable reason. The weird thing is I felt nearly 100% after a few hours sleep and a some Neurofen, just a bit tired. The human body is pretty smart I suppose. Also Jim joined us as we were leaving Zanzibar.
The next day was another long driving day and we were very badly delayed leaving Dar so we had to stop for the night at Zebra Camp. Ooh, the mozzies!! But it was nice because there was a little bridge over the river that we could sit on and drink in the peace and quiet.
The next day was a lot more driving but we did manage to catch a glimpse of Kilimanjaro. We stayed at the Snake Park which is a cool place that specialises in the treatment of snake bites and malaria. We were taken around the Masaai village the next day and then to visit the clinic. It's all charitable and the couple have been treating people for years. That afternoon Dani and I decided that the best course of action would be to undertake a spot of sunbathing having viewed the snakes and crocs at the sight already.
May 10th. No for the good stuff. No, one of the real highlights of the trip. Serengetti and Ngorongoro Crater. Totally and utterly awesome, beautiful, breathtaking, wonderful and that's just the scenery. The animals that we saw were incredible.
We headed off in two 4X4s and headed up to the crater rim to take a look.
We stopped for lunch and hid our lunch from the circling birds that apparently love to steal peoples food!
We then headed into Serengetti and we saw masses of zebra, ostriches, giraffe,white bearded blue wilderbeast, Thompson's gazelle, Grant's gazelle, secretary birds, Lichtenstein hartbeast, kori bustard, vultures, lions, jackals, hippos, monkies and ducks. Phew, my camera was being kept pretty busy!
That night we slept in a camp in the middle of the Serengetti and fell asleep to the sound of lions roaring about 2km away, marvellous!!
The following day we headed back out to continue our animal spotting and saw many of the animals that we had seen the day before plus spotted hyena, lovebirds, maribu storks and a cheetah. Fair play to Jim, he spotted one in the distance which was quite a feat given that it was just a well camoflagued speck in the distance. It was just incredible to see the huge number of animals, especially the wilderbeast which were undertaking their migration. At one point we were completly surrounded by them. If you ever want to see a wide range of animals in huge numbers I have to recommend this place. We had lions coming out of our ears, including two males with a wilderbeast kill right at the side of the road, just amazing!
We then headed off to Olduvai Gorge where we enjoyed learning a bit about the discoveries made there by Mary Leeky and her husband relating to five different types of early humans. We then set up camp at Simbon capsite which is right on the rim of the crater. We went for dinner and emerged to find a load of rhino walking around our campsite!! There were some guys with guns just in case any of the rhino became dangerous but apparently they will not attack or walk into the tents but will instead go around them so we all survived the night!
The next morning we woke to find that we had a fabulous view and we all eagerly set off into the crater. We again saw a tonne of animals including some new ones such as eland, crowned crane, Egyptian goose, flamingo and greater flamingo. Again it was just incredible, the number of animals that were to be seen and the scenery was truly stunning. We also saw two male lions walking along the very same path that we were driving on. We watched them for ages, they were fantastic and so close that you could reach through the window and touch them if you didn't value your arms! They were rubbing up against our vehicles and rolling around on the floor and didn't seem to be in the least bit bothered by us. Unfortunately the battery on my camera died just as we approached them so I cannot offer you a nice close up of them but take it from me, they were amazing!
Here are some photos of the little critters.
I was really sorry to leave but we had to head back to Snake Park, the last couple of days were just incredible and I will never forget them.
Anyway, we were nearing our trip so we all wrote our names on a t-shirt and Katie did some amazing free hand drawings on it and we hung it up in the bar where I hope it will remain for years to come. Had a few beers and chatted to Tris till stupid o'clock and managed to get an hours sleep before getting up to leave for Kenya. There's nothing wrong with Kenya but I didn't want to go, just wanted to see more of the park and crater!
However we did have a fabulous time visiting the giraffes at the sanctuary in Nairobi, sorry, but I don't have photos as I forgot to put the battery back in my camera but you could hug the giraffes from a viewing platform and hand feed them. You also had the rather slimy option of putting food between your lips and having the giraffe take it from you. It looked like one was going to swallow Dani's face at one point so I declined this singular, slippery experience! We also went to the elephant orphanage nearby. I had watched a documentary about the place years before and remembered that the keepers forged very strong bonds with the little ellies and seeing it with my own eyes I could see how true that is. The keepers clearly love the elephants very much and the elephants reciprocate. They were led out to be fed milk from big bottles and to have a little time to roll in the mud and they were almost unbearably cute. I've always quite liked elephants but after seeing these little guys they have stolen my heart. Some of them had really sad stories and a lot of them seem to have fallen down wells and ditches and had to be rescued. If you ever go to Nairobi I figure that seeing the orphans is just about the best experience you can have.
So that was the end of our truck trip. I was so sad that we could not continue further north, I'd have loved to kept going for another month or so. The only other option was the go to Uganda to see the gorillas but it was very expensive and I don't like apes much so that was not an option for me although I was sorely tempted for a while.
In summary, I strongly recommend the truck journey. For me it was the best thing I could have done, I would not have acheived even half as much travelling independently and wouldn't have felt safe, didn't want to hire a car and have the hassle of paperwork and navigation and I would never have learnt anywhere near as much as Maritje and the others taught us about the animals and the countries we passed through. Instead you would have had pictures of antelope type thingies and large birds and some mountain but not sure which one. Also I really think that doing it myself would have cost a lot more and you would have to do all of the work alone and would not have the chance to socialise. If you don't mind camping, spending a few days doing a lot of driving and mucking and helping out then you will love this trip and the people on it. I did.