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.

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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?

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Crossing the Grumeti.
Not a good place to break down !!
Not a good place to break down !!
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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 !!

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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 !!

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

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