POOLEWOOD MACHINERY - PETT FARM - STOCKBURY VALLEY - Nr. SITTINGBOURNE - KENT ME9 7RJ
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CLIMBING KILIMANJARO IN AID OF BATTERSEA DOGS HOME
THE RONGAI ROUTE
Monday 27th February 2012 Day Twelve
Up at 7am this morning and down to breakfast leaving our cosy little tent behind.
Were off to the Serengeti today and after choosing our own lunches we were off on around a 30 minute drive to the gates of the Serengeti national park.
It was around here that a masai warrior stood and looked around in all directions and saw no end to the plain. He said ‘Serengeti’ which means eternal plain and so the area was named. Very aptly when we arrived at the gates there was a white backed vulture sitting on the park sign looking at us very suspiciously!
We didn’t actually go in the Serengeti Park but stayed in the ngorongoro side because Terry wanted to see the wildebeest migration and this is where they believed them to be at the time. It is still the Serengeti but just happens to be in the Ngorongoro National Park.
We drove along the border line (a few wooden posts and the odd oil drum!) for a while and you quickly get the idea of how vast and flat the area is. It just goes on and on and on and you never see the end of it. Spotting the wild life here is much hit and miss, we went ages before we had our first real sighting of a cheetah and her five cubs. The cubs looked so cute and cuddly it’s hard to believe they grow up to be so fierce.
Like the crater the Serengeti was once liquid lava and as it set it formed a solid crust. Over the years soil has washed over the crust but only enough to allow the grass to grow. As in the crater any trees that grow here struggle to survive as they cannot get their roots deep enough to provide the nutrients that they need. The animals like it here as they have a good view all around and can see if predators are approaching.
We see many animals including what seemed like millions of the small Thomson Gazelles grazing happily among the zebra and wildebeest. There were quite a few Cory Bustards as well. These are the largest flying African birds and certainly do look a bit peculiar with their fluffy necks!
We also see ostrich the largest non-flying birds and they really are quite big. When they run their long legs really cover the ground.
Giving up hope of finding any lion we suddenly saw one under a tree. He was in the distance and luckily he was sitting up or we would never have seen him! Patrick managed to drive up really close to him and he didn’t move a muscle. We got some lovely close-up shots of him before he collapsed for a sleep. All the excitement must have made us hungry because then it was off to a tree for lunch!
We had challenged Patrick to find us a leopard and I think in searching for one he went a bit out of the way, needless to say we got stuck in the mud! It took a good half an hour to get out but with Terry driving and lots of pushing by Patrick and putting bits of scrub under the wheels we were finally out. Patrick needed a change of clothes and a bit of a wash but he managed it all with good humour!
Even though the Serengeti is very flat it still manages to have some wonderful scenery. We passed around Lake Untutu which although quite depleted at this time of year, still looked amazing and among the birds on the water we managed to see a turtle flapping around.
After coming across some large elephants that we got quite close to it was out of the Serengeti and a two and a half hour drive back to the park gates. We see some masai on the way all dressed in black. Patrick says these are young warriors who have recently been circumcised. For the following six months they dress in black. They don’t like their photo being taken as they believe it takes part of their soul. However for two dollars they take the chance and we got a few good pictures of them.
The drive back was long and tiring but the scenery was awesome. Driving and driving with nothing to see but the landscape you nearly appreciate how large the country really is! After a stop for Patrick to help repair one of his colleague’s vehicles we eventually arrived at the park gates and signed out. This only took a few minutes and we were well entertained with the baboons climbing all over the parked vehicles.
Back to our Lodge where we were to spend one last night in Tanzania. It was really windy when we arrived and when we were shown to our room we thought someone had left a window open. On closer inspection we found that the top two middle windows in the patio doors were just mesh and we had no way of blocking them, only by drawing the curtains. This didn’t really help as they just kept billowing into the room!
After a shower it was off to the bar and dinner. I have to mention that we found out here that Arsenal beat Tottenham 5 – 2! Tomato soup, then beef, potatoes and vegetables followed by apple pie for dessert. A quick beer and vodka in the bar served by our fellow African Arsenal supporter and off to bed. In all the places we have stayed other than the first we have been the only people in the bar after dinner. Typical English I suppose! Luckily the wind had dropped by then and we had a comfortable nights sleep.
Tuesday 28th February 2012 Day 13
Had a lay in this morning and got up at 8am for breakfast at 8.30am, we were the last ones because we got up so late. After packing our bags for the last time we had the morning lazing around the hotel. It was a lovely, warm day and we sat on the patio looking at the view across to the Crater and reading our books. We had the binoculars and spotted some amazing birds although we have no idea what they were. We were really killing time but this was probably the most relaxing time we’d had in the last two weeks.
Lunch was at 12 which was more like dinner – salsa, spaghetti bolognaise and ice-cream. There is always so much food! Then it was off to the airport on a grueling four hour trip. On arrival we said our goodbyes to Patrick; he was an excellent guide, very knowledgeable and always smiling. We were early for our flight and the airport was extremely hot so we found a café outside which was quite pleasant and sat there and read our books.
Eventually our flight was boarding and after a quick journey to Nairobi we then had to wait another three hours for our connecting flight. Never mind we got home safely without any delays or complications and all too suddenly we were back home in England very early in the morning.
All in all the entire trip was simply amazing. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and the Safari were obviously the highlights but just seeing Africa, the scenery and how the people live was equally awesome. Our trip was well co-ordinated and gave us lots of variety and the people couldn’t have been more welcoming, friendly and polite.
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