Isles of Scilly – here we come: cars, boats and tractors – day 1 and 2.

Having packed the car to the gunnels (quite apt considering some of our modes of transport to come)  we set off on the 300+ miles to Penzance, our stopover for the night.  Considering our friends j…

Source: Isles of Scilly – here we come: cars, boats and tractors – day 1 and 2.

Our Penultimate day in Tanzania – Saturday School, Isamilo International School.

During term time, Isamilo International School operates a Saturday school. It is run by volunteers from the sixth form and staff who give up their mornings to generally help, supervise and be on hand.  The children who turn up are ones who may not attend school (most secondary aged children don’t due to expense, having to go out and earn a living, or a multitude of other reasons). Given that it was our final Saturday I wanted to try and get some nice pictures of a very laudable project. It ended up being an upsetting occasion as it simply highlighted the inequalities in a beautiful country that had been our home for ten months. A country of those that have and those that have not, and in this instance, those that can and those that can’t………………….get in.  Each week it is a different group of children so one week it may be primary children and the following it will be different aged children.  Whatever age children it is they start queuing about an hour before the  gates ‘open.’

Part of the queue to get in.

When the gates do open they are ticked off one by one.  The children come in with mismatched shoes, no shoes, broken shoes, ill-fitting clothes, worn out clothes but all with the aim of bettering themselves.  Sadly there are always some that are unable to come in due to the sheer number of them.  I have only labelled a couple of pictures  as I’d like people to simply think about what the pictures might show: hope, despair, division, equality, inequality,

An orderly queue waiting to come in.

IMG_3775 IMG_3785 IMG_3787 IMG_3796 IMG_3793 IMG_3792 IMG_3790 IMG_3797 IMG_3798 IMG_3801 IMG_3806

Tuesday 26th May – Day four – A Long Way Home !!

Up at 7am and the crater was again shrouded in cloud. I had looked at the map and worked out we had 270km of driving through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Serengeti on rough roads. And then another 160km on normal roads.   It was going to be a hard day. A fairly leisurely breakfast and then it was 22km to the main ‘road’ – all of it in virtually zero visibility on a twisting road which clung to the outer crater wall – not a pleasant journey and one which took lots of concentration.  Once onto the main ‘road’ the weather got slightly better in that visibility was slightly better and we could see the outer side of the rim.

Masaai tribesmen on the crater rim.
About to enter the Serengeti for the last time.

A solitary giraffe was alongside the road and eventually the road began to descend and the cloud started to clear. Passed the masai villages as we descended and finally we were on the flat and travelling at about 50kph.  The road had been smoothed so we were able to make good progress.  Drove through the gate to the Serengeti and then out of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area where we were delayed by about an hour. An NCA permit lasts 24 hours and we had gone past by about an hour. So they wanted another $120 dollars or some such ridiculous amount. We had no money and explained that we had done our best to get to this point in time but the poor visibility had slowed us down. They were having none of it.  In the end we paid about $15 and we were on our way.  Animals aplenty: hyenas, giraffes, vultures, jackals, lions, elephants and more and even though we had said we were not really going to stop to take photos we felt duty bound – after all it was going to be our last time in the Serengeti.

A caracal – supposedly nocturnal !!
Frisky male lion in pursuit of his mate.
Lappet faced vultures.

IMG_3066 DSC07061 IMG_3028

We made fantastic time and in the Western Corridor we got to see our last sight of a herd of elephants, impalas, baboons, zebras, wildebeests and topis.  We left the park and made the last 160km tarmac section in time to be back to the compound in daylight. It had been 4 days, 1070km, countless animals, mainly rough tracks apart from 320km and good company for the first day.  It was a brilliant way to spend our final road trip.

Young baboon with mother.


Our final herd of elephants.

Monday 25th May – Day three – The Ngorongoro Crater – A Natural Zoo !!

Left the nunnery early as we wanted to make the most of our ‘double the cost of the last place stayed.’ We were now going to be paying $300 for the next night – well it was going to be for full board.  Plus the $200 fee for entering the crater itself. It was only about 10 minutes back to the NCA and after that about 45 minutes of a steep drive up through lush forest blanketed in cloud – it was also only 12 degrees centigrade. Arrived at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge at about 9am – truly stunning views. We had a view over the whole of the crater.

Lake Magadi in the Ngorongoro Crater
Into the valley.

We were now at 7800ft above see level and to the east of the crater a huge bank of cloud was spilling over the crater wall. After an  hour of sitting around having a drink and generally relaxing we decided to take the drive down to the crater floor. It was only a 20 minute drive down a steep dirt road – no change there then!  At the Lodge we were in the cloud and could see very little but as we took the road that descended the crater wall the cloud slowly thinned and the view became clearer. And what a view – a steep sided hill in a large sweep with a large ‘plain’ in the middle.

At this stage we could see no animals and as the side of the crater flattened out all we could see was a huge meadow of pretty yellow flowers. In he distance we could see a huge pillow of cloud spilling over the crater wall.  As we drove on the animals slowly came into view – we had decided not to have a guide for the crater but to do our own thing – drive around and discover the crater ourselves, so that’s what we did.  He first animals we saw were cape buffalo.  Next into view were impala and it soon became apparent that the crater floor is simply ‘a natural zoo.’  There were animals everywhere and every type of animal – during the course of the day we saw rhinos, elephants, buffaloes, wildebeest,  hippos, flamingos, impala, hyenas, vultures, kori bustards, various other birds of prey, golden jackals, zebras, a lion and possibly others that I can’t remember. And they were all happily existing side by side – well I suppose it was happily until one of the lions got hungry !!

IMG_2891 IMG_2877 IMG_2888 DSC07061

It was apparently low season but we stopped by a lake to look at some hippos and counted 27 safari vehicles.  The main lake, Lake Magadi was covered with flamingos – but sadly we couldn’t  get too close to them as the lake shore had shrank due to lack of rain and was not that close to the track.

Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge by night.

IMG_2963 IMG_2911 IMG_2985

We spent about 5 hours driving around the crater floor.  It must be one of the most incredible places on the planet. Again, as we drove back to the lodge we had to go through the beautiful yellow-flowered meadow and took a last view as we entered the cloud.  Back at the lodge we had a drink and then later we had dinner whilst being entertained by some of the staff singing in the dining area – they had fantastic voices and it was a great way to end the day.  IMG_3016

Early night as we had to be up early to make sure we weren’t going to get back to Mwanza in the dark.

Sunday 24th May – Day two – Lions, elephants and the ‘birthplace of mankind’ !!

Our breakfast audience – banded mongooses !!

After eating breakfast with an audience of banded mongooses and giraffes it was time to bid farewell to the Jansens, Kate, Hilary and Brian who were heading back to Mwanza as they only had the weekend off.

What a sight to wake up to – 20m from our tent!!

We were heading south towards the Ngorongoro Crater – a drive through virtually the entire length of the Serengeti and then through most of the Ngorongoro Conservation area – all on rough dirt roads.  The first part was through acacia trees and then they thinned out and to the right of us we could see several safari trucks.  It wasn’t on our route but we took the next right as we decided to see what they were all looking at. When we got there there was a safari truck with six lionesses around it’s wheels plus another two up the nearby tree.

Welcome shade !
Spotted hyena with vultures waiting for their chance.
Literally next to the road – too hot to move despite safari trucks, and us, passing by.

We stayed a while whilst they sat in the shade, took some photos and then headed back to our main route. It was going to be a long hot day on very dusty, bumpy roads.  The further south we headed the rougher the road got and we were travelling at about 40 kph. It did give us the chance to stop for the animals though – more lions, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, impala and herds of elephants (some on the road).

These had just crossed the road !!

However, one of the best sights was a stand-off between a hyena and some vultures – who seemed to be taking it in turns in stripping a carcass of it’s flesh.  We got to Naabi Hill – the boundary between the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area (NCA) by lunch – good going given the roads and the amount of times we stopped to look at animals.

By 2.30 we had made it to the Oldupai Gorge – one of  the ‘must do’s’ we had written down when we knew we were coming to Tanzania.  The Oldupai Gorge is one of the most important paleoanthropological sites in the world.

History lesson – in 1931, Louis Leakey found Oldupai fossils in Berlin and thought Oldupai Gorge held information on human origins, and thus began excavating there. Louis and Mary Leakey are the archaeologists responsible for most of the excavations and discoveries of the hominid fossils in Oldupai Gorge. Their finds convinced most paleoanthropologists that humans originally evolved in Africa. In 1959, Mary found remains of the robust australopithecine Zinjanthropus boisei . The specimen’s age of 1.75 million years radically altered the accepted ideas about the time scale of human evolution. Leakey’s son Jonathan found the first specimen of Homo habilis, a jaw fragment, at Olduvai in 1960.

Amazingly, this concrete post marks one of the world’s most important paleoarchaeological sites.

So there we were. A huge site with a natural feature named ‘The Castle’ infront of us. We listened to the talk by the guide and then asked if he would take us to see the sites where the fossils had been found.  We drove down into the gorge and saw where the hominid fossil was found in 1959. It was possibly the most unassuming place we had visited simply marked by a small concrete post.  Excavations are still going on 56 years after the initial find.  We then visited 2 more sites close by where other hominid remains had been found.

‘The Castle,’ Oldupai Gorge.
The Ngorongoro Crater – 14 miles wide with Lake Magadi visible on the crater floor.
Masai children with our Landcruiser

After the tour it was back in the car for the rest of the journey to our overnight stop.  After the Oldupai it was a steady drive through flat plains but slowly the landscape changed and it was a steady climb.  We came to a sudden bend and there to the left was the most incredible view – the crater floor with Lake Magadi way down in the distance.

From here it was slow drive around very twisty roads until we eventually reached the exit from the NCA.  From there it was only a few kilometres to our overnight stay – a nunnery!!  It was very peaceful and the portions of food were ridiculous – enough for 8 people !! The room was clean and simple and double what we had paid to camp – the doubling of room prices would continue.

Saturday 23rd May – Day one – Where the wild things are !!

So it’s our final Tanzanian road trip and we’ve chosen the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater for our visit – on our doorstep by Tanzanian standards.  By our standards it’s a late start, 8am. We meet our travelling companions: Amy, Christian, Olaf, Viggo, Hilary, Kate and Brian at the local super market, U-turn – an apt name as it happened. So we all set off together but within 5km Kate and her 2 passengers had to turn round as they had forgotten their gas canister for cooking.  We agreed we would meet up at the park entrance – 160km down the road.  As usual on our road trips it’s customary to be stopped by the police. This time, with Christian being the front car, he was stopped first and we pulled in behind.  Christian was shown a speed gun with a blank screen and was told he was going 63kmh.  Being the mild-mannered polite chap that he is he asked them ‘what school did they go to and couldn’t they read.’  Sadly another policeman decided to check us over too – he found a brake light that wasn’t working despite having checked them the evening before and proceeded to give us  TZs30,000 fine – about £10.  Christian for all his rudeness got let off. Way to go Christian !!

Back on the road we were at the gates to the Serengeti by 11am and Kate wasn’t far behind.

The intrepid ‘journeymen.’

Paid our entrance fee and headed into the park. First stop was going to be lunch.  At this point I should add that despite the park having crocodiles, lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants and many other wild animals there are places where you can have a picnic. So we headed over the Grumeti River – scene of the annual migration and found a spot where we were allowed to get out the car and eat food – no fences, no guards, just a couple of tables and a toilet – about 20 feet from the river which had hippos and crocodiles in.  West Midland Safari Park – perhaps this is something you could look into in the future?

Crossing the Grumeti.
Not a good place to break down !!
Not a good place to break down !!
30 feet from our lunch stop !!

A lovely lunch and it was further into the park as a convey of three cars – the aim was for all of us to camp together at a campsite called Dik Dik. Our journey was punctuated by regular stops to take photos of animals along the way.  It soon became clear that to get to the campsite before dark and get the tents up we would have to ‘put our foot’ down – not easy given that the ‘road’ was as rough as you could imagine – anyway Christian led the way at a pace that was just around the ‘safe’ mark. There were many dips in the road and at one, as we went down and then up, part of our car took off – the wing mirror into the kerbside grasses.  Made camp by six and hastily put the tents up. There was already a chap there who had been there a few days – he warned us that on the kopje about 50om away was a family of lions and that the male had visited the camp a few days earlier !!

Blurred – but there on the rock about 500m away was a lion !!

Factor in hyenas and any other animal you could think of it was going to be an interesting night.  Dinner was followed by an early night.  Christina and family decided to put their tent in the dining area – made of brick and metal fencing – the rest decided to take our chances with the lions and hyenas.  Pearl and Gil decided that they would sleep in the car and Liz and I in the tent.  We could hear the lions roaring and hyenas whooping.  It was an interesting night – half way through the night we could hear Gil – he wanted to sleep with us so we had to leave the tent in the pitch dark and get him out the car – not the safest of  thins to do.  Anyway, we all survived – especially the Holm’s who had spent the night in a cage – with lions on the outside !!

And this is where the ‘real men’ slept.
This is where the Holm’s slept – yes in the dining area.

Next time you want a 4 x 2, think of this !!

Yesterday we had a tree chopped down in the compound as the local electricity company said it was blowing against their power cables.  So along came two men and a big saw.  It was a lovely hard wood tree.  Today, the proper work began.

To give an idea of scale.
Step 1 – measure up.
Step 2 – suspend over large pit.
Step 4 – measured up – sawing begins

This is what happens to felled trees here.  Firstly a big pit is dug, about 5 feet deep.  The tree is then cut into smaller sections. Two of the smaller sections are put across the hole onto which the larger piece of trunk is lain.

Step 5 – old bike crank inserted to help split wood
Step 6 – the sawing continues

Hope that makes sense – if not see the photo.  The large piece of trunk is then measured into square sections using a piece of string soaked in charcoal dust in water with a plumb attached.  The two men then set to work to cut the trunk using  a saw that must be about 8 feet long. One man is in the hole and the other above.  Once they have cut into the trunk by about a foot they knock an old pedal crank into the gap to help split it.  The two men saw through the entire length of the trunk until they reach the end – all of this done in about 85 degrees of heat. They have been doing it all day and the net result so far is a nice pile of six 10 foot long pieces of wood – all uniform in size and all done by hand.  The skill involved is amazing – I sat and watched them for about half an hour whilst they measured, sawed and generally showed an how ingenious the Tanzanians can be.

Step 7 – another old bike crank hammered in.
After a hard day's work !!
After a hard day’s work !!


Ugandan Road Trip – Day fifteen – Bukoba to Mwanza – Power, Corruption and Lies

Woke, had breakfast and returned to the police station at 8. Was told they didn’t give stickers at the weekend so eventually got an officer to write a note to any policeman that stopped me that I would be getting one immediately on my return to Mwanza – if they had any and were open!!

Back on the road with the aim of getting back before dark – 480km on reasonable roads.  Headed off at our usual 100kph where it was achievable but progress was hindered due to the fact that Tanzania roads are liberally filled with potholes and massive speed humps.  Paul was map reading and there was a slow dawning of the fact that we were driving quite close to the lake, certainly not as close to the lake as we did when we were driving on day one – and we should have been on the same road.  Still we knew we were heading in the right direction and finally we realised that we were on a parallel road but weren’t sure how we had got on it.  Couldn’t complain though as it was good quality.  Managed to get to the Busisi ferry at 2.45 which was really good going and there weren’t many people in the queue – relatively speaking.  Joined the back of the line and Paul, Karl and Gil go tout to get tickets.  It’s a bizarre system where the passengers have to board as foot passengers and the driver is the only person allowed in the car as you wait and drive on. So tickets bought and the waiting began.  We noticed that only one of the larger ferries and a smaller ferry were working (the latter only taking about 8 cars). This meant the queues were getting longer. Having been there for a good hour waiting I noticed that some people were using different lanes and being put on ferries having not waited as long as we had.  Eventually I’d had enough and after a beat up Suzuki jeep passed down an unused line and joined the queue for the next ferry – when I was at the front of the line – I shouted as the driver passed me ‘how much did you pay as a bribe?’  The driver heard and reversed –

‘What did you say? The driver had obviously taken umbrage!

 I said ‘how much did you pay for a bribe to jump the queue?’

‘I’m an army officer,’ came the reply.

‘I don’t care who you are, people have been waiting here far longer than you,’ I remarked.

‘I’m an army officer,’ he repeated.  It was never going to get anywhere. He drove off. But people of Tanzania you can sleep well in your beds knowing that army officers drive around in beat up jeeps without uniform with their car full of pineapples!!  At no point did he say ‘I didn’t pay a bribe.’

By this time there were lots of Tz drivers who had waited around for hours and the next ferry again had a lady push in. This time one of the Tanzanians went up to her car and quizzed her on why she should jump the line. She looked very sheepish and didn’t give a good explanation at all.  Come on Tanzania stop with the ‘this is Africa’ attitude and stand up to corruption.

Eventually we boarded the ferry after 140 minutes of waiting. Once across the gulf it was plain sailing and we were in Mwanza before dark. We had clocked up 3008km and seen some fantastic sights – another brilliant trip in Eastern Africa.

I’d like to thank Karl for his map reading, entertaining Gil by playing Sudoko with him, letting him play on his phone, sharing his headphones and generally being a great ‘uncle’ to him on the  journey.  I’d like to thank Paul for his company, generosity, general just going with the flow and putting up with someone 14 years his junior !!  I hope you both enjoyed it. It was a blast – thank you both, you are true friends and I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. And finally I’d like to thank Gil for managing to annoy all of us regularly but being a brilliant passenger and telling some ‘funny’ jokes to entertain us all.

31d Nile Cruise (50)

Ugandan Road Trip Day Thirteen and Fourteen – Lake Albert Safari Lodge to Entebbe – The Long Road Home

Woke after a fitful sleep (for me anyway). So we had breakfast, dried the tents and packed up the car ready for the start of our journey back to the southern hemisphere. There was no way we could get to Mwanza in one drive so having visited Kampala on the way north and  decided that we really didn’t need to visit on the way back we agreed to visit Entebbe. This meant driving round the outskirts of Kampala – thankfully not the centre. Entebbe is famous for the Siege of Entebbe in 1976 and is the site of the main airport for Kampala, about 35km away.  It was going to be a long drive and when we left the lodge it was nice and sunny. Unfortunately, the further south we got the weather started to change and by the time we were about 100km from Kampala it was torrential rain. I have never had the wipers on the fast setting for more than a couple of minutes anywhere I’ve driven in the world and that setting was useless in this rain. Note to car makers – make a setting on the wipers for ‘African rain.’ So we were crawling along really. By the time we hit the outskirts of Kampala it had stopped thankfully and we managed to circumnavigate it without really going wrong.  Got to Entebbe by about 3pm and found a small guest house to stay with Karl opting to stay in a backpackers lodge behind our guest house.  Went to a lovely restaurant for dinner and then off to bed.

Our last night in Uganda – Entebbe.

After breakfast the next day we had decided to visit the botanical gardens which were only a short drive away.  These were beautiful and have been there for many years as some of the scenes for the Johnny Weismuller Tarzan films are reputed to have been shot there. We spent a lovely hour or so wandering around the massive trees and beautiful plants.

Gil in front of a large termite hill, Entebbe Botanical Gardens
Did Tarzan swing through these trees?
Black and white colobus monkey – Botanical gardens
Botanical gardens – Entebbe.

It was then time to hit the road for Bukoba, our last night on the road.  We stopped at the equator for lunch which was lovely as on the way north the weather had been rubbish – it was now sunny and hot.  After having lunch we headed to the border, hopeful that the red tape we had encountered going north would be simplified that we were heading ‘home.’  It took us 40 minutes to get through the border posts which was really good.  Within two minutes of being in Tanzania I had been stopped for speeding – another Tzs30,000 fine. And then 30 minutes later I was stopped again by a policewoman. She said that I didn’t have a fire sticker – which is what I had been stopped and fined for as we were leaving Tanzania.  I said I knew and explained that we had been fined 2 weeks ago. She asked why I hadn’t bought one to which I said we had been in Uganda for two weeks.  She asked why we hadn’t come back to get one !!  Eventually she relented and accepted that I wasn’t going to pay (fine or bribe) and said I had to go to any police station to get one. Funnily enough we were outside one so I said could I get one there.  The answer was a flat ‘NO’ so I agreed to get one in Bukoba when we arrived.  Got to Bukoba with no more police stopping us, found the police station and was told that I had to come back at 8am in the morning after having found that our fire extinguisher was empty and having had it re-filled.  We all stayed at the very nice Kolping Hotel overlooking Lake Victoria. Only 480km to go !!

Ugandan Road Trip Day Eleven and Twelve – Murchison Falls to Lake Albert Safari Lodge – Thunderbolt and Lightning, Very, Very Frightening!!

Time to move on again so it was bags packed, car packed and back on the road to Lake Albert Safari Lodge.  Headed through Murchison Fall National Park for about 25 kilometres and then on dirt roads for miles. The scenery was beautiful, hilly and with great views of Lake Albert and the East African Rift Valley.  We had managed to lose the directions to all of our destinations as Karl had binned them in Kampala – still it made for an interesting navigation puzzle for most of the rest of our entire journey.  But we carried on knowing we were heading in the right direction – roughly.

You may have to navigate the odd flock of sheep in England, but not these – Ankole Longhorn – not an animal to be trifled with.
Camp Sahu

We eventually came to a fantastic road – it was beautifully smooth with absolutely no potholes and was clearly very new. We assumed (wrongly, it later transpired) that it was built by the Chinese. Anyway, it was a joy to drive on and carried on for several miles until we saw a sign for Lake Albert Safari Lodge – back onto the dirt roads and then, next to a very small grass airstrip, we hit tarmac again.  On we continued suddenly a sign to the left showed ‘Lake Albert Safari Lodge.’  We followed it for about 3 kilmetres and there we were.  The Lodge  was to be home for two nights: Paul was living the high life in a banda and Karl, Gil and I were slumming it, camping.  The Lodge is situated on top of the East African Rift Escarpment and the small garden – at the back of the Lodge looks out over Lake Albert. On the far side of the lake (35km away) you could clearly see the DRC.  As an aside, we had spent nights so far where we had had baboons wandering around, rhinos wandering around and  warthogs wandering around but this was the first place we had stayed where we had horses wandering around !!

IMG_0668 IMG_0711It would have been rude not to have had a drink on arrival so that’s what we did looking over the lake from on high – literally as there is about a 200ft drop to the lake.  After our drink we were shown to the camping area – a couple of minutes away from all the bandas.  We had the area to ourselves so put up our tent – Karl erecting his with his newly purchased six inch nails acting as tent pegs and went back to the main lodge where we lounged about, drank, looked at the view and generally relaxed, which included doing a jigsaw and playing cards.  In the evening we had dinner – 3 courses – and chatted briefly to the owner, Bruce. He mentioned that one of the waterbuck had been spotted with a snare around his neck and that the vet was coming the following day to tranquilise it and remove the snare. He said, if we wanted, we could join them for the hunt.

Sunset over Lake Albert and the DRC.
Electrical storm over the DRC.

 It was then time for bed, but not before witnessing an amazing electrical storm over the DRC 35 km away.  Of course Paul went off to his banda.

In the morning we were up reasonably early, having slept well in the little tent, and headed to breakfast.  After breakfast Gil and I were booked on a fossil hunting trip !!  We picked up our guide and headed through the reserve to a place overlooking a bay on the lake. I have to say it didn’t look very promising at all.

View from fossil collecting site.

few up.  We then moved about 20 metres further down the hill side and this is where we struck lucky.  Instead of shells we were picking up bits of dinosaur bone and vertebrae – no hammer required.

Gil ‘Mary Anning’ Sahu

After an hour or so we decided that was enough as it was getting very hot, so we headed back to the lodge in time for lunch. After lunch the vet arrived along with 8 armed rangers on the back of a pick up.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, the rangers seemed not to have enough room on the back of the pick up so we ended up with an armed ranger in the back of our car with Gil and another park worker in the front.  All very exciting!!

IMG_0695 IMG_0717

So we headed off into the scrub looking for the injured waterbuck.  As we were following the rangers we didn’t have to stick to the paths – it was off-road all the way.  Great fun but after an hour or so we had failed to find it.  Back to the lodge for a rest and Gil had a quick dip in the pool.  Just before dinner, Karl and I went for a walk to a point where there was a great view over the lake and also some of the mainland – in the distance were some very ominous clouds, beautiful, but ominous as we would find out later.

Dinner was great, beef fillet which was cooked perfectly!  Eventually crept off to bed after playing cards and settled in for the night – NOT!  At 11:40 I was awoken by large flashes and there was obviously an electrical storm approaching. By 00:15 the first few drops started to fall, and they were heavy drops.


It was soon evident that a massive storm was approaching and in my head I was planning what to do if the tent wouldn’t withstand the rain. By 00:30 I felt the first drop of rain seep through the tent – so I woke Gil and gathered sleeping bags and told him that we had to try and get in the car as quickly as possible. Luckily, the car was only 5 feet from the tent.  In the time it took to get Gil and I into the car my shirt was drenched.  Gil curled up on the back seat and I reclined the driver seat and tried to go to sleep. I have never been so close to a storm.  It raged around us for an hour or so with fork lightning all around the car. Amazingly, Gil had gone straight to sleep.  I couldn’t really get to sleep due to the flashes of lightning which were blindingly white and the noise of the thunder and the rain smashing own on the roof of the car.  I thought that was it but after what seemed ages another storm came, again we were slap bang in the middle of it, another lull, and then another storm – each as ferocious as the last.  I eventually drifted off to sleep amidst the, what seemed to be, never ending storms.  One of the most scary nights I’ve had to encounter – Gil slept like a log !!  What storms??