Saturday, 21 January 2017

A guide to the Serengeti

Kilimanjaro 

From Dar Es Saleem we boarded an overland bus , it was spacious and the hold was fully equipped filled with camping and cooking equipment. - Everything we needed for our trip across the tough terrains. There a two guides on board with us , one a driver and the other a chef.

There are several checkpoints that you need to go through before reaching the open lands of the Serengeti.

On the way we stopped at local villages for food which serve up basic lunch buffets , rice , chicken and stews are a staple.
Everyone in the group was given a job in the evenings to ensure that everyone is fed , watered and settled into their tents before dark. Pitching tents , fetching water , preparing food , lighting fires ..everyone chips in!




Arusha is the gateway to the Serengeti and the last main town you will enter before the reserve. It sits beside the highest mountain in Africa , you may have heard of it? Kilimanjaro.

We camped beside the mountain which was really special but if you want to get even closer you can climb to the peak. These guys give great tips and advice on how to trek up the mountain. https://www.climbkilimanjaroguide.com/

As you pass kilimanjaro further into the outback the last camp site is called Snake Park , it is famous with travellers worldwide. It is run my an Australian couple , you will find `Ma` at the bar serving up Kilimanjaro beers into the wee hours. The camp gives you a great chance to wash your clothes , charge electricals and get cleaned up ready for the next leg of your trip. There is a great atmosphere in the campsite , most of the groups are on their way too the Serengeti so their is an air of excitement as everyone is looking forward to what lies ahead.

This is where you change from an overland truck to a safari truck , the idea of entering the animal kingdom all starts to become very real!

Masai Marai 
The next stop was the ngorongoro crater where from the highest point you can see panoramic views of the worlds largest inactive volcanic caldera. It is also home to wildlife wildebeests , lions , cheetahs and if you
are lucky you may spot a rhino.


After this we travelled down onto the plains and travelled further towards the Serengeti national park. On the way we stopped at a Masai Marai tribe campsite , they don't always accept visitors but our tour leader had been a few times before so they were happy to let us in.





The tribe were incredibly welcoming , they performed a welcome dance and requested that we all got involved. The tribe leader showed us around their homes , livestock , school , homemade furnitures and crafts and told us about their day to day lives.They live off the land and many of the tribe have never left it's boundaries , they love where they live and work very hard to protect their way of living.

Before the young boys are officially classed as men they are painted in white paint and sent into the wild to fend for themselves for a few years to live in the wild so you may see some of the boys in the open plains when you leave.


Serengeti 
After visiting the tribe we travelled through the night right into the heart of the Serengeti , the land is open for as far as you can see. We camped at a very basic campsite which had no lights ,a hole in the ground for a toilet and food was only available at meal times , this was because they did not want to attract any unwanted attention from the wildlife.  Everyone had to leave their belongings and toiletries in the truck , as you may have visitors in the night! - Apparently Hyenas are big fans of toothpaste!











Next morning we sat off at 5am and got to see animals waking up in their natural habitats. The safari trucks allow you to get super close to animals you never would have imagined. Hippos , leopards, buffalos , baboons , lions , zebras , cheetahs . 


The safari truck drivers have radios so alert each other if they spot something of interest then drive towards it to see the action. You will get the rare opportunity to see how animals hunt in the wild.

If you are fan of lion king you will notice how the movie took inspiration from the serengeti , the open plains and lion rock where the lions dwell during the day.

After exploring the open land we moved back towards the crater area where we set up camp for the night , wild elephants also liked the look of the camp and came up to drink water. It is important to remember these are wild animals so you should keep your distance.


The next morning the camp was silent and all I could hear was a lion grumbling! It was clear that everyone else was hearing the same thing and decided to stay in their tents until it went quiet again.

After failing to find a rhino we searched again on the last day but unfortunately we could not find any , sadly due to hunting they are endangered and becoming much harder to find.

Nairobi
The following day we made our to Nairobi , there is a check-point on the way with a large queue. To skip the queue  organise your visa before you travel. You can organise a visa for Kenya by sending your application and passport to the London embassy who will stamp it ready for travel , ensure you allow plenty of time for the passport to be sent back to you as it can take 4-8 weeks to process.

The traffic entering Nairobi is backed up for miles so expect a long wait , the streets are bustling with traders and locals hanging out.We stayed at the hotel boulevard which was a guarded hotel in the city centre , it was modern , safe and had all the amenities you would need. http://www.sentrimhotels.net/ After living out of a back pack and camping for a week getting your laundry wash and sleeping in a bed with fresh sheets anywhere was exciting , never mind the thought of restaurant food.

We ate at a reknowned restaurant called canivore which is an open air buffet restaurant with a tribal theme it serves up sausages , steak and exotic meats such as kangaroos , crocodile , oxtail balls. http://www.tamarind.co.ke/carnivore/ The waiters keep coming to your table until you have had enough so make sure you go on an empty stomach.


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