Migombani was a glamorous campsite with Golf-course grade grass, spectacular views and an infinity pool overlooking lake Manyara.
The sky was clear that night, affording impressive views of the stars, and we played with long time exposure photography on our cameras while we were having a few beers. We had cooked the rest of our beef in a stew for about two hours, but the meat was still a jawbreaker.
The next morning, the showers were hot, the Dutch owners offered Capuccino and breakfast with fried eggs, and we had an interesting chat with another Dutch couple, who have lived in Tanzania for 20 years, running two farms for plant seedlings, employing 1500 staff. A good start to the day.
Off we went towards the Ngorongoro National Park, a 20km wide meteorite crater, which was declared a World Heritage site. Unfortunately, we were two gorillas in the mist. The road went up high onto the ridge of the crater at an altitude of around 2000m. Due to the bad weather with low cloud base, the visibility was rather poor.
We took a few pictures and went on, as our next destination was the Serengeti and we were both keen to get there. On the way we passed memorial plates for Prof. Grzimek. I remember vividly from when I was young that there were often documentaries on TV about the wildlife in the Serengeti, and those were often produced by Prof. Grzimek. We had a beer to celebrate his memory that evening. Along the way we met Masai, wearing their traditional clothes. Whenever we stopped, the car was quickly surrounded by them, as they had discovered posing on photographs as a business opportunity. We were reluctant, so you won’t see many on our photographs.
Then, eventually: the Serengeti. As we bought entry tickets to the National park, our excitement was slightly put to the test: The entrance fee was in excess of 500 USD for the two of us for two days!!! Well, swallow it and move on, we don’t come here every week.
One problem we encountered along the way is that suddenly the tyre pressure of the left rear tyre dropped to 0.3 bar. It was flat. We stopped and there was a big hole in the sidewall. We jacked up the car but found that we couldn’t raise it high enough to put the new wheel on. In order to get the space required Mark brought out a spade and we dug a whole into the hard, rocky surface of the dirt road. With good teamwork we had changed the tyre in a matter of around 20 minutes and moved on. Only one spare left now…
There was an abundance of wildlife. We agreed we had never seen as many animals in one place. Elephant, Impala, Giraffe, Buffalo, you name it. (Of course, we were keen to see cats as well. On the first day we didn’t.)
We went to the village Seronera to buy some groceries. Having chewed up all our beef, we were going to buy some meat. We thought about a chicken and inquired at a local shop. After being sent from shop to shop three times we ended up in the storage hall of a bottle store. In one corner, there was a plastic bath with several pieces of meat in it. It was mostly goat and so we bought a leg, which Mark later carefully surgically separated into bone, muscle, fat and tendons. The shop owner wrapped the goat leg into a black plastic bag, the type usually used for rubbish. We went on to another store to buy vegetables: beans (yes, beans!), ladyfingers, tomatos, onions, garlic, and carrots. 10.000 Shillings (around 5 USD). We failed miserably at negotiating three eggs into the package and had to leave them behind. Then, on to the campsite, quickly set up the tent, put a fire on and the chefs got to work. We cooked a stew together with pap (Maize) for about two hours and we both agreed that the goat was so much better than the beef. Maybe we’ve been here too long already.
As we were sitting around our pots on the fire, it had already gotten dark. In the distance, we could very clearly hear hyenas and while we were not nervous about it, we agreed that – since the campsite was not fenced – it was wise to regularly scan the surroundings with a torch to see if there was suddenly a pair of eyes staring at us. In the campsite there were 3 or 4 other tents. A girl from one of those tents came running out of the ladies’ washroom, looking shocked. As she had opened the door, she was staring straight into the eyes of a hyena, which was inside the washroom. What a shock! Mark and I agreed we would have had a heart attack. So, we were cautious, and as the sounds came closer, decided to move upstairs into the tent. But not without setting up the photo trap looking at our fireside. Reviewing the photographs the next morning, we found that we had no less visitors than: a hyena, a rabbit, a mouse and a jackal!
Today after a spectacular sunrise, we went for a game drive through the Serengeti. Wow, that was always a dream. Before even leaving the campsite, we saw one of the Big 5: Elephant, which was inside our camp. It was a great day, and we saw herds of elephant, a herd of around a thousand buffalos, hippos, impalas, giraffe, various birds, reptiles, and and and… A picture says more than a thousand words, so we have included many pictures here.
As I was typing this up, Mark prepared a delicious fried rice with the rest of our goat meat and we are now sitting at the campfire, listening to the hyenas again. Stay tuned.