Saturday 04 November 2006
This morning we were up very early to pack and check out before meeting Protty for breakfast at 6.00. Protty wasn’t feeling well so only had coffee. We were a bit wary of the food since I hadn’t been feeling well since Serengeti Serena – Protty thought it was because at the lodges they buy food in large quantities and keep a lot of the food frozen for a long time whereas at the camps the food is fresh (and very delicious).
By 6.30 we were on the way to the crater gate and by 7 we were descending to the crater floor. There were hyena and jackal at the place where we saw the lions feeding yesterday morning and there was a tawny eagle in the tree. On the right we could see two female lions walking up the hill. Protty asked us to say hi to Peter at Tarangire and joked that if we don’t see lions there he has to go back to Zimbabwe! – that’s because we’ve been seeing a lot of lions on most of our game drives with Protty!
We stopped briefly by some trees and saw mice running about under them. There were a lot of zebra wandering about, they don’t walk in single file like the wildebeest but they do walk in their family groups.
We saw a male lion walking in the distance and two females lay near to him. We watched the male for a bit and then drove in the direction he was walking to wait for him and eventually he passed the road in front of us. There were no other vehicles around so it was very special. He was a young male lion with only a small light coloured mane.
We also saw lots of buffalo, some noisy sandgrouse and a group of warthogs on their knees digging up the ground to feed. Their colour was a very light grey since they roll about in the soil and the soil here is very ashy. In the Serengeti the soil was a reddish brown so of course the warthogs were also that colour! We saw the kori bustard (the heaviest bird in Africa that flies) and later saw a few mating pairs.
We saw the male lion that we watched mating close to the road yesterday, he had a very swollen belly and his mouth was very bloody so he must have just been feeding. He walked towards the road close to our vehicle and drank from a puddle before crossing over to the other side. He went over and sat not far from a female lion.
We saw more ostrich, hyena, grants and Thomson’s gazelle, and a family of black-backed jackals with a young one (they also mate for life). We drove past some elephant bones where an elephant had died (naturally – probably of old age). We saw more warthogs and two elephants in the distance. Nearby one of the elephants we could see two female lions lazing in the green grass and two more a little further away. They are quite easy to spot in the grass when it’s green. They are very difficult to spot in the dry grasses!
We stopped by the picnic site where we had our breakfast yesterday and again saw the hippos. There was a very clean-looking yellow-billed stork in the shallow part of the spring as well as several blacksmith plovers (now renamed blacksmith lapwings) and a couple of Egyptian geese. The ruffles-tailed weavers were back although we weren’t eating this time. One of the jeeps parked where we were yesterday and had three kites all swooping low near them.
From the picnic site we headed for the Ngorongoro gate, stopping at a viewing spot on the way to take photos of the crater. We managed to reach the gate before our permit expired! We were then on a tarmac road heading towards Arusha. No bumps – it was quite a change! Protty took us to a Curio shop in Karatu. It was one that he had told us about earlier since the prices there are cheaper than the tourist places.
There were so many carvings and we spent a long time looking. Then we saw a large giraffe with a young one made from mahogany and it was really beautiful – that was the one we wanted to take home but the price disappointed us as it was too expensive. We were encouraged to make an offer and had a think about it as we continued to wander around, but of course we came back to the giraffe!
With the cost of shipping as well it was more than we were prepared to pay so we resigned to leaving it behind and looked for something else. Heiko found a really nice elephant (also very heavy) and we were discussing the price of that (which was much better for our budget) but the owners knew we were interested in the giraffe so they tried to offer us a better price. We gave in!! It is a really beautiful carving and the price offered was much closer to that which we were prepared to pay. Our next problem was that they didn’t accept MasterCard, only VISA. So we paid in cash (euros) which completely cleared us out of the money we wanted to later exchange for the local currency. So, we needed to find a bank/ATM machine…
Our next stop was for our nyama choma with mbuzi (goat meat) at Protty’s friend’s place (Fred’s). It was delicious, the goat meat was so tender though sometimes quite chewy – quite similar to lamb and very tasty, there are no spices cooked with it even though it tasted like it! We also had roasted banana – they were very good! We will have to try cooking with the green bananas when we get home!
Our next stop was the ATM machine but it didn’t accept maestro so now we’re really tight on money. I knew I should have brought my UK Visa debit card!!! Visa seems to be accepted everywhere! Oh well, can’t go into a bank either because it’s the weekend!
Protty took us to Gibb’s Farm next which was only 20 minutes drive away (they take MasterCard!) Our room wasn’t yet ready so we were invited to take lunch first.
It was also time to say goodbye to Protty. We wish he could have stayed with us for the rest of our trip – he has been a really fantastic guide, very knowledgeable and a lot of fun to be with. We have his contact details so we’ll be mailing him a DVD of our photos when we return (bearing in mind we have already taken thousands of photos, it might take a while to make our selection!) We had someone take a photo of the three of us together and then Protty left. I bet he’s looking forward to being back with his family. When he’s in the office on Monday, he will find out when his next safari will be, perhaps it will be the next day and maybe it will be at Tarangire… hope so – it’ll be fun to see him again.
IMG: Heiko, Protty and Natalie at Gibb’s Farm
So we went off for lunch; we were full from the nyama choma but had soup just to be polite. It was very nice – vegetable soup. But we were really really full after that!
Our room was ready after lunch so we were shown the way. The lady said to us “welcome to your house” – we both thought she was confused but no she was right – we have a cottage, all to ourselves, and it’s stunning.
When we walked through the door I was amazed, shocked almost. We certainly weren’t expecting this! On the left after the entrance hall were two large beds, on the right was a table and further in were two comfy sofas sat around a fireplace. And then the bathroom was through an archway – two large sinks, a big shower, a huge bath. And you can see the fireplace on that side too. There is also a shower outside! We have a large veranda with two very comfy leather chairs and all around us it’s very green, beautiful plants, flowers and trees. There are lots of banana trees with their fruit; I have never seen them with fruit before!
IMG: Relaxing on the verandah of our cottage (Gibb’s Farm)
Time for a snooze, we were exhausted. As the leaves of the banana trees swished like the sound of rain and the birds sang I slept on the bed and Heiko snoozed on the veranda. We had lovely hot showers as the sun went down. We were a bit worried about the electricity though as the lights weren’t coming on and Heiko ended up having his shower by candlelight. We went to ask at reception and someone came to look – it turned out to be a blown fuse from the last guests!
Off we went for dinner, which was really delicious and very fresh and tasty. Heiko tried the Gibb’s Farm coffee and I had tea (which tasted of spices, it was very nice). Back in our room, someone came to the light the fire for us and brought lots of firewood so we sat and enjoyed the fire to finish of the evening. Heiko is very tired, he first fell asleep by the fire and is now sleeping on top of the bed – and he hasn’t yet taken his contact lenses out. I am finishing this off by candlelight since the electricity went off at 23.15 lala salama…
tutu nana kirche = see you tomorrow!