Day 5 – Safari (Ndutu Woodlands & Great Migration)

Early start this morning. Up and at breakfast at 6:00 and meeting Ally at 6:30 to start the day. There is a story I want to share but have been waiting to see how it all turned out first. You know me, Ms organized and all. Packed for a few weeks, even unpacked and washed my clothes and repacked them. Took pictures of MOST EVERYTHING I was putting in my bag. But what did I forgot? What was the most important thing NOT to forget? The charger for my camera batteries. OMG! I had purchased a third battery just the day before I left, just to make sure I never ran out. Put in on the charger right beside my bed and I completely left home without it. It wasn’t until we were leaving Arusha for the airport to fly to the Seregeti that I discovered I didn’t have it. Saying I was devistated doesn’t even come close. Even though Rich had his camera, it just wasn’t the same. My lifetime dream and I was going to miss capturing ever minute. So I started talking to Ally about it and since there are multiple flights to the nearby airport where we would be staying, I asked if he thought ADS (my Safari company) would be willing to buy one and send it on a flight over and I would pay them when I get back to Arusha. He explained what happened and told them I needed a charger, etc. Thank the lord, they agreed. So Timan, one of the welcoming ADS employees, went and bought me one and put it on a plane so we could pick it up the next day (remember the day we went back to the airport and the presidents were flying in?) Well, that’s why we were there. I was so elated…I was saved. So flight arrives, Ally walks out to meet the pilot and he comes back with a small package in his hand…yeah! But it looked a little small to me. Opened it up and what they sent me was another battery, not the charger. Can you believe it? Now I have two completely dead batteries and one with only 3 notches left on the one left in my camera and no way to charge any of them. Ally called them right away and Timan then went to 5 different locations in Arusha and no one carried just the charger. Really? It’s a Nikon? Who doesn’t sell just a charger AND why can’t a Nikon battery recharge through your computer like most other devices? I was once again devistated :(. Then I got the grand idea to just buy another camera, it would come with the charger and I’ll just sell it but when/how would I get it? They once again agreed…I so love this company…bought me a camera and put it on the first flight out this morning. And to beat it all, the airstrip is only like a few minutes from where we are staying so it was convenient enough. Plane lands and pilot comes out with Nikon box in his hand as he steps off the plane…hands it to Ally as I am screaming thank you and he told me to take lots of beautiful pictures. So now, 2 of the three batteries are charged and I am set to go. I have beaten myself up about this so much. Of all the stupid things I brought that I didn’t need, how could I do that? Ally told me that’s when we are reminded we are all but human…no one is perfect. So, if anyone is in search of a Nikon…lol! Ok, enough of that story.

So we left the camp this morning and drove down to the lake, just to catch the sunrise over the lake. What a sight to see. Rich has commented several times that there has been a full moon here every night, how is that possible? We drove around the lake and saw remnants of the many animals that have lost there lifes around this water. Sort of sad when you think about it…coming to just get a drink of water…lifes n necessity … and your life is cut short. As we went on around the lake we saw a Cheetah, just walking along the edge of the water. She kept looking at animals on the other side, probably wondering how she was going to get over there. Then, she just laid down and enjoyed the breeze. Sat and watched her for a while than went on our way. Lots of other adventures to take.

Again, I can’t begin to tell you how dusty it is. Rich said he has sneezed more in these 5 days then he has in months. Just like yesterday, Ally turns onto this isolated road that honestly looks like it’s going no where, but who are we to question him, right? We drove FOREVER, only seeing Gazelles, Zebras and a few Wildebeest here and there. He told us we were driving to see some herds of Wildebeest…ok, better be worth it. And OMG…once again our socks were blown off. It wasn’t a just a herd of Wildebeest, this was seeing them in full migration. They estimate there are between 2-5 million here in Africa. Pretty sure we saw at least 4 million of them today. They went from as far as you could see left and as far as you could see right, just all walking in the same direction. It looked like everyone other one also had a new baby. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Any picture or video we have taken can not truly capture the moment.

Headed back towards the camp for lunch and a little siesta before we hit a late afternoon drive. Ran across another pride of lions just chilling under a tree. This group has a couple younger adolescent lions, but still no cubs to be seen. Still have 5 days for that. Back at camp had a great lunch, recharged all of our stuff, Rich took a nap and I am finishing the 1st 1/2 of the 5th day here. Maybe I can keep up now.

Part 2 of 5th day. Our afternoon drive was all the way around the lake. The terrain here is more like I pictured Africa would be. We saw a zebra and a baby zebra who had died of what appeared to be natural causes. So very sad. We then spotted a leopard laying in a tree. It was amazing to see how he was holding himself up there. A few monkeys, lots of birds and the norm, zebra & giraffes. Back at camp at 6 with an hour to get ready for dinner.

Shower was much needed tonight because of all the dust. Dinner tonight was exceptional. Learned tonight that in Tanzania, a man can have as many wives as he wants…Rich thought that was ok, me not so much! Glad to hear Ally say that was not for him, he could not split his heart. You are a good man Ally!

As we were being escorted back to the tent tonight, two different warriors led the way – both with flashlights. I know there were buffalo spotted on camp today. As we turned the corner to our tent they spotted two buffalo right in front of our tent. I was video taping the entire walk back so I caught it all. They went into the bushes to flush them out but we never actually saw them leave. From there on, all escorts tonight were by golf cart.

Rich was finally able to reach Linda this evening by phone, but we continue to have problems with the internet connections here. Limited at best. Posting pictures is a problem but Ill try. Will try to post day 4 and 5 tomorrow. We are starting at 7 tomorrow. I’m going to try and sleep tonight.



Day 4 – Safari (Simba Kopjes, Naabi Hill, Gol Kopjes & The Triangle)

We had a little extra time this morning as we needed to wrap things up at the Seronera Sametu Camp, say our good-byes and begin our long drive to Ngorongoro. Had a great breakfast to start the day, just like always. This crew has been so amazing – it’s hard to imagine what the next one will be like. I left this morning with the GoPro on my head, first time using it so we’ll see how it turns out. I know it won’t show distance but I’m hoping to at least give you an idea of what it’s truly like here.

1st stop was back at the visitors center for fuel in the jeep. I can’t wait to see how many total miles we travel. The drive to Ngorongoro was crazy. It’s like a road with heavy, heavy loose gravel that you thought at any moment it was going to throw us off the road. Ally actually said that this road has taken out many of drivers, but after 9 years, he’s an expert. In addition to the loose gravel, they are either with widening the road or just adding more gravel but one side of the road was piled up so you could really only drive on one side of the road – was interesting when a vehicle came from the other direction. We drove 109 miles on that one road just to get to the entrance to the Ngorongoro side of the park. We stopped for lunch at the information center where Rich and I were able to climb up to the top of a cliff to see the park. It was a spectacular view and well worth the climb.

As we entered the park it was very evident that the topography on this side of the Serengeti was completely different then where we have been. Everything would be greener if it weren’t so dry. The dust is unbelievable and so thick! We are in the dry season here now, well for only a few more weeks. Dry season is when all the babies are born which is one of the reasons I chose this time to schedule the trip. After seeing the roads here, I am SOOOO thankful we chose the dry season. During the rainy season, some of the roads become unpassable and many get stuck. Ally told us that in the evenings at the camps they are always looking around to see who isn’t back encase they need to go find them. No thank you! I’ll take the dust of getting stuck next to the hippo pool anytime…lol

So inside the park, Ally turned onto a road that ran straight through the middle of what looked like a crop field of soy bean that has already been harvested. Dry and barren but it went on forever, you could see no end. There appeared to even be very few animals; a few gazelles here and there but that’s about it. Both Rich and I thought he had lost his mind. Asked where we were going and he said out to those rocks straight ahead…way in the horizon. Rich said, that’s got to be another 50 miles. But Ally said I want to show you something…so we trucked on! And oh how happy I am we made that trip. Just around the 1st rock formation, laying right on the top looking over the plain was the most beautiful lioness. This was the picture I was waiting for. The one I have envisioned all my life. She gracefully came down off the rock and up onto another formation and we could tell she had a litter somewhere. We followed her until she returned to her spot in hopes that we would get a glimpse of the babies, but no such luck. Around another rock formation we spotted another female, sitting right in the sun, panting very hard until she just laid down. Not sure why she didn’t move out of the sun into the shade but we left he snoozing. The drive there was sooo worth it and I told Ally I would not question his judgement again. As we got back into the park area it wasn’t long before there was a pride of young lioness and two young males. We were told they were probably all siblings. Just behind them was the kill they were sleeping off…a young zebra. The flies were unreal and it was not a pleasant site seeing the entire back half of the zebra missing but we were able to actually see where the puncture marks were made in the neck to intentionally bring her down…:(

We continued on to our second camp…well if you want to call it a camp. It’s like a resort in the middle on no where with no air conditioning…lol! This camp is call Lake Maserek Tented Camp and it sits on the side of Lake Maserek. As we pulled in we were greeted by a Maasai Warrior (dressed in full robe attire – included a spear) who escorted us to the reception area. Juice, a wet rag and the rules of the camp and we’re off…again escorted by a Maasai Warrior. One of the rules here is you NEVER leave your tent without an escort because the hippos graze in the grass and brush all around the camp. This is going to be exciting. The tents here are on elevated decks, I’m sure to give you the view of the lake. We have an enclosed patio this time so we can sit outside and still be enclosed. We also have an outside shower…yep! It’s really nice. I told Rich I was having mixed emotions about this place. Though it is super nice, it’s not the true bush feeling like our previous camp. BUT it’s nice to see two different sides of a safari. I’m sure we’ll find a way to enjoy ourselves.

This is the first time we have had the opportunity to communicate outside our little world in three days. Internet service is up and I was able to finally post the first three days of our trip. I facebook messaged Krysta and she said they were starting to get worried and if they hadn’t heard anything today they were going to call the office…lol! I’m pretty sure we let everyone know we had NO IDEA what our availability was going to be. Krysta called Linda to tell her to check her email, Rich was going to contact her.

Shower was exceptional after all the dust of the day plus the outdoor feeling was really neat. Dave, I think we should build one. Dinner at 7:00 and we had to call the front desk for an escort. Dinner was great. Our little waitress is just the cutest thing. Ally and Rich couldn’t stop smiling at her. Staff here is great, just not as personal as the last camp. Ally told us that just a few months ago, one of the Maasai Warriors was actually attacked and speared by a buffalo, just outside the reception tent. Oh great! Even the Maasai aren’t safe.

Time to call it a night so our warrior escorted us to the tent. Let me tell you, it was a little different feeling in the dark. I’m going to video tape tomorrow so you can get the true affect. All zipped in, Rich is asleep, I just finished posting our blog and am facebooking with Krysta when I heard the strangest noise. Sounded like chewing! And it was. Got my trusty night vision goggles out and sure enough, right in front of our tent, grazing on the grass were two hippos. They were chewing so loudly I could hear it all the way inside. I came outside and tried to video tape so you could hear what I heard, but the only thing you can hear on the tape are the birds, which seem to chirp, or whatever the sound is the birds make here, all night. I tried to wake Rich up so he could witness it and he was OUT. He finally woke up and I said “Rich, do you hear that? and he said what? I told him about the hippos and he said ok and was back asleep just about as quick. I facebooked Krysta (10:30pm here) so she could experience it with me. In the back ground again tonight was the rumbling of lions. I am in love with this place!