Saturday 28 October 2006
Had a very good sleep and woke at 5.00. The sun was just rising as we went for breakfast, very different to see the gardens in daylight! We left for Arusha Airstrip at 6.30 and passed Mount Meru which was stunning to look at with the light and cloud shadow, there was also low mist and clouds near the summit. We also passed by a lot of large coffee plantations.
There were lots of small planes at the airstrip, ours was an 18-seater plane and you could see into the cockpit. The pilot, Sebastian and co-pilot (Liz, I think) took us first to Manyara (we saw Lake Manyara on the left from the air) to collect four more passengers. Ours was the second stop and we flew by the Ngorongoro Crater on the way.
IMG: On a small plane (Arusha to Serengeti)
At Kleins Camp Airstrip we were met by our driver/guide, Protty, and were driven through the Serengeti to Olakira Camp (which is just outside Kleins Park Gate). On the way we saw giraffe, impala, buffalo, Thomson’s gazelle, zebra, wildebeest, waterbuck, a secretary bird, and eland, all close to our vehicle. Stopping to allow another vehicle to pass us, they told us they had spotted a black rhino in the distance and tried to show us where it was. They are very rare to see as there are not so many left in the wild. The last time one was seen in the Serengeti was seven years ago. So even though the rhino was so far away it was a very special moment and everyone was very excited!
At the park gate we met William. He is a maasai and a guard at Olakira Camp. He had come to show us the way there since the camp has recently moved to a new location. At camp we were greeted with face towels and orange juice. Mark explained how the camp runs – we need escorting between the tent and the dining area in the dark. The view from our tent is amazing.
IMG: View from our tent (Olakira Camp, Northern Serengeti)
Apparently zebra and baboons often come near. Antelope, such as impala, also sometimes come close. It’s very warm during the middle of the day, right now it is 29°C and it’s time for a quick snooze before lunch!
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After lunch we had some time to relax and at 16.00 we headed out for a game drive into the Serengeti. On the way to the gate we saw baboons, helmeted guineafowl, Rüppell’s long-tailed starling (a shimmering purple colour), impala (impalas can be found in a harem which is all the females together, a bachelor herd which is five males or more – older males that are kicked out plus young males – or a breeding herd which is one male and many females) and we also saw banded mongoose – 3 of them ran across the road in front of us while some others ran in the opposite direction. At the gate we saw a marabou stork – they sometimes scavenge from the rubbish bins that the rangers use.
Once inside the park we saw many wildebeest, zebra, more impala, also giraffe, topi, hartebeest, waterbuck, elephants (with a young calf), and warthogs. On the giraffe we saw oxpeckers but could not see if they were red-billed or yellow-billed. They eat the ticks and by doing so help the giraffe. You also see oxpeckers on buffalo and zebra. A common bird that we saw a lot was the crowned lapwing (used to be known as a crowned plover but has recently been renamed); they fly away making a loud sound when disturbed.
On returning to the camp we had a ‘bucket shower’ – the massai had warm water waiting for us and kept refilling the 20 litre bucket which they hoisted up on a pulley system so that we could shower.
At 19.20 we were escorted to the campfire for drinks and had fried bananas which were really delicious. We had our dinner outside but it was very windy, so we’re both glad to have brought our windproof jackets! Protty was telling us that the Baboons in Lake Mnayara are very funny – they like to wait for you to be underneath them in their tree and then they leave a present (number one or even a number two!) and then look at you as if they are laughing. When you catch their eye they scarper before you can do anything. It was so funny when he was telling us.
Protty has also climbed Kilimanjaro – 2 days up and 1 day down, he didn’t have time to acclimatise so he and 12 of his friends that went too were very very sick for two weeks afterwards! Normally, 7 days up and 2 days down is a better trip and is more achievable.
After dinner the massai led us back to our tent, we saw a lot of zebra on our left and crossing the path in front of us was a group of impala – we are really out in the wild! I can tell Heiko is very impressed. We are both very very happy here. The scenery, the colour, the light, and the wildlife are all really amazing! Tomorrow we are looking for the big cats…