After Christmas in Rwanda there were a few off colour from the festivities the night before,the luxury of a hotel room was probably offset by an early rise at 5am and a windy road to Kigali. One of the crew vomited over the side of the truck. On entrance Kigali Airport to pick up some wayward baggage of our newest members, it was discovered that the hub fixed earlier needed some further repairs. A few rounds of Monopoly cardsand five hours later we had spent the last of our Rwandan Francs and left. However, because of the delay, we missed the Tanzanian border crossing and stayed in Kigali, with the remainder of our travel to be packed into the next day (including some ad hoc music trivia competitions).
With another early rise for a long day of travel, we got in some good miles. At the border crossing Mitch was the last to get his passport and almost got left behind. Tam, last on the truck, was attentive as ever. We stopped at the campsite we were originally supposed to stay in to pick up some dinner. Tam, a bit restless from the travel, hoped on a pushbike and circled the yard. The kids watched over the fence and held back at the gate with anticipation. Once she decided to bring the soccer ball out it was all on! About 15 kids rushed into the courtyard and at first looked like they were keen to take part. Once they picked up the ball and took off back towards the gate it was clear they thought otherwise. Tam managed to wrestle the ball from the boy who had slipped in the mud and throw it back on the truck.
Once we arrived at the ferry terminal, Tam was at it again, playing a game of tiggy and inciting a small riot amongst the children selling peanuts. Their boss came in wielding a big stick. We didn’t see any of them getting hit, but thought restraining Tam might be a safer option in the future. Heavy rain began when we arrived on the ferry and persisted for most of our trip to Mwanza, Tanzanias second largest town on the southern shores of Lake Victoria, where we camped.
The next day involved another game drive in Grumeti Game Reserve and we were instantly treated to a view of a small pride of lions, including four lionesses, a lazy male and a small cub.
That night a game drive excursion was planned. From our jeeps we saw, plenty of dik-dik, black jackals and other wildlife not visible by day like bushbaby, chameleonand a small possum/cat animal. The elusive leopard was spotted by a few, but as ever is one of the rarest sights. At midnight we drove back, nodding off, through a herd of zebra. We had left rain cover open in a full moonlit night and were surprised when it down-poured at 4am, flushing a part of the tent.
Heavy rain continued throughout much of the next day as we entered the Serengeti. Although the game was considered quiet by local standards, we immediately spotted an elephant grazing 15m away. Some keen eyes saw a cheetah family with mother and three juvenile cubs and the majestic leopard. The sight of the leopard was quite special as it was the big ticket on everyone’s list.
At the Serengeti Information Centremore truck repairs followed (still the dodgy hub). After a few reruns of nature films and watching the Rock Hyrax and Mongoose crowd the boulders, we again passed the time.
Our current campsite is surrounded by moaning lions, grunting water buffalo and hippo, the “who-woops” of hyena and a few black jackals. We have safety in numbers around the campfire, with a fortified hut to run to if there are any dangers. Our tents are supposedly thought of as rocks by the animals, so long as they don’t smell of food and stay relatively quiet and still (sucks if you snore…).
Before going to bed a group went to the toilet, only to hear a massive growl by a territorial lion nearby. This quickly turned the majority of the group, leaving a few still in the squatter toilets to fend for themselves. Although the sunset was clouded over, the Serengeti has not disappointed. We look forwards to the animals infiltrating the campsite tonight!