Olduvai, Manyara, Serengeti and Ngorongoro (2009)

It’s been a jolly old week with Nigel. Well, the past five days have. Sunday involved a 15 hour bus ride up to the northern part of the country where the best National Parks are. It would have been 13 had we not stopped for a couple of hours en route when we saw smoke rising in the distance. We heard rumours there were bandits and guns and so our driver decided this would be the correct time to move closer to the action. We came across burning tyres on the road and a small barricade of rocks. It turned out that a car had wiped out 9 villagers shortly before and the remaining locals were rioting and we were caught in the middle of it. Eventually riot police turned up and as we headed over the still-alight tyres we spotted various youths in balaclavas.

The beast of a car we used around the parks. Nigel and I were accompanied by an amiable Swiss gent as well as our driver/guide and a cook.

We saw literally thousands of antelopes, of all varieties. I think this is an Eland.

One of my favourite spots was this pool. We saw many hippos but this place had well over a hundred, all making the most amazing snorts, howls and splashes.

I guess we saw perhaps 8 different prides of lions. These were having a chill out. Lions have to be the laziest creatures. I wish I was a lion.

It may not come out very well, but we came across this fresh kill. It was fantastic seeing the lions chase away hyenas as well as these…

…hungry vultures waiting for their turn.

We not only visited Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti but we also made a trip to Olduvai Gorge where the oldest human(ish) remains have been discovered, but back to animals…

I caused a little bit of confusion when I asked our guide if he thought this Zebra was male or female.

Each day was composed of around 10 hours safari, 10 hours sleep and 4 hours eating and chatting

One of the highlights was seeing streams of migrating wildebeeste and zebra. Over a million get together for their march towards water.

Another highlight was discovering this zebra. It had died naturally perhaps 15 minutes before and the vultures were the only scavengers to yet get to the body. They are not geared to ripping through flesh and so the only access point to the yummy horse meat was by shoving their heads up its arse. Watching them fight amongst themselves for the honour was spectacular.

We passed the same spot 14 hours later. The pic is dark cos the sun had only just risen. There was little left besides the skeleton, although a jackel and some hyeneas were still finding morsels of flesh.

The Ngorongoro Crater is actually a caldra formed when a volcano collapsed in on itself. The floor of the crater is 20km in diameter and a haven for wildlife. The views from the rim were astounding. We spent our final night near where this pic was taken.

We not only had elephants drinking from the water trough 20 meters from our beds but through the night we heard buffallo, bushpigs and other animals walking between our tents.

I didn’t get to chop his head off and transplant it onto my body this time

Just as the safari was ending we caught sight of two rhino – the last of the big animals we had yet to see (OK, we didnt see a cheetah but we did see two leopards and if you squint then they kind of look cheetahish)

Yesterday we headed back to town exhausted after 5 days on the go – despite managing to sleep for marathon stretches each evening. Now it is Saturday and we spent today doing a 10 hour bus slog down to Dar es Salaam and tomorrow morning we sail for a week on Zanzibar.


About Imo & Tom Feilding

I'm in my 30s and work for the University of Bristol, I regularly visit Buigiri Village slapbang in the centre of Tanzania in East Africa. It is a very poor semi-desert area. I spend much of my time and money helping individuals improve their situation and I write about it on here.
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