Day 1 to 3 – KENYA
We arrived from our flight into Nairobi, Kenya with no problems. Customs took a while but luckily our taxi driver was still there waiting for us in arrivals. We weren’t to know at the time but taking a long time to do something is how it’s done through Africa!
We spent 2 nights in our hotel in Nairobi before our tour started on the 7th of December. We met our travelling companions Andy (from England) and Mark (from Australia). We also met our crew who were Moses (tour leader), Papa (the driver) and Kababa (the cook). This is the part where everyone is meant to feel sorry for me for having to spend 4 weeks with 6 men!!!
Our first 3 days were spent doing Game drives through the Maasai Mara reserve in which we were just blown away by it all. What a fantastic introduction into African wildlife. Neither of us knew how much wildlife to expect to see so we were quite impressed. The Great Migration had already left the Mara but we were assured we would see them once we arrived in Serengeti National Park. Our truck was by far the biggest and the best and had an added bonus of only having 4 passengers so we could all have a brilliant view all the time. The trucks must always stay on the tracks so if animals are on the roadside or crossing the road then we would get right up close to them. We were lucky enough to come in close contact with giraffes, zebras, lions, warthogs (like pumba from The Lion King!!), hyenas, rhino, hippos and elephants.
Mother Lion & her cubs
Giraffes & Zebras 0 Maasai Mara Reserve
Mother elephant & baby
We had the most amazing experience on our last day in Kenya. We pulled over to watch a male elephant which was about 200 metres away. Male elephants get kicked out of their family when they reach a certain age and then spend the last 20 years or so of their lives alone – yes it’s a bit sad but maybe not such a bad idea??!! Ha ha Just jokes Dad!!.. Anyway, it didn’t seem all that exciting because we had seen so many more much closer but Moses insisted we watch it. It gradually got closer and ended up crossing right in front of our truck. Moses told us to sit still and not make a noise as the elephant was looking straight at our truck as he walked past at about 3 metres away. It then stopped and turned to face us and the next thing it stepped forward towards us, lifted up it’s trunk, spat at us and made a really loud elephant noise!!! Moses said afterwards it was threatened by us because we were bigger then he and that he was giving us a warning to move on or else! It was the most amazing experience that we will never forget. It was also the topic of conversation around the campfire for about a week!!
Day 4 – 15 TANZANIA
In Tanzania we got to experience wildlife, culture and the beautiful beaches. We visited a Maasai village with our local Maasai guide, Ollie who explained to us the life and culture of the Maasai people. He showed us inside a traditional hut and introduced us to the kids of the village whom we had bough books and pencils for. These kids live in such poverty yet amazingly they still always have a smile on their faces. They were so intrigued by Ian’s hair on his head and arms as they are not used to this. They didn’t quite know what to make of it at all!!
Maasai Village kids
Ollie finished our walk with some traditional Maasai tribal dancing and singing. One of the distinct traits of a Maasai man is jumping really high in the air which they are taught from a very young age. It’s incredible how high they can get. At the end Ian gave it a go and they were quite impressed at how high the white boy could jump!
Maasai men jumping
And Ian giving it a go!!
We spent 2 days doing Game drives in Serengeti National Park and one day in the Ngorongoro Crater. We were determined to spot the remaining BIG 5 that we hadn’t seen yet. The BIG 5 are lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino which are named so because they are the most endangered. High on our list was also a cheetah which we eventually saw in the crater. Actually we saw 3 of them together all sunbathing on the track which meant we were able to get really close. I was surprised to hear something so big make the sound of a domestic cat rather than a lion! We saw a leopard hunting for food on our first afternoon in Serengeti National Park and then the same one the following day.
The safari truck we used in the Ngorongoro Crater
Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater were 2 of many campsites that we stayed in that were unfenced! It was not unusual to fall asleep listening to hyenas near by talking to each other or waking up in the morning with fresh buffalo poo right near the tent! We stopped off at a waterhole in the Ngorongoro Crater for lunch and were treated to the noise and smell of some hippos.
We spent 3 nights in beautiful Zanzibar which is an island off the coast of Tanzania about 90 minutes by speed ferry. Here the sand is white and fluffy and the water is an amazing array or green and blue. Our hotel room was right on the water so we had an amazing view of the sunrise, sunset and everything in between.
The beautiful Indian Ocean in Zanzibar
Day 16 – 20 MALAWI
We stayed in 3 campsites over our 5 days in Malawi and they were all situated on Lake Malawi itself. After a few long driving days we welcomed the chance to relax. Whether it be by swimming in the lake, reading our books or sleeping in a hammock, Lake Malawi delivered just what we needed. On Christmas Day we headed to a campsite at the popular Senga Beach which was also where a few thousand Malawians headed for Christmas celebrations! We swam with the locals, had roast chicken for dinner and watched the many fireworks going off. Our cook, Kababa, also baked a cake for us on the hot coals! Malawians are renowned for their beautiful teak and ebony wood carvings so we headed for a local market and bartered hard for some gorgeous woodwork which will look great in our house one day. We were told we were getting ‘Good Christmas Price’ and we surely did.
Leaving Malawi we entered our next country, Zambia.
Day 21 – 25 ZAMBIA
Our first day and a half in Zambia was spent being thrown around the truck! The roads in Zambia are very bad and we had a lot of distance to cover all the while trying to dodge the potholes. Evidently there was no sleeping or reading on these days – just hanging on tight to the seat!
We reached Livingstone which is home to the ever impressive and monstrous Victoria Falls. We walked around the top which gave a great view of the falls in from of us. The spray from the falls can sometimes be felt kilometers away so naturally we got drenched when we were right beside it. The shear size of the drop is amazing and the roaring noise it makes is incredible. In the afternoon of our second day here we went on a half hour ride in a helicopter which hovered over the falls and the nearby gorge. I was in the front seat and Ian was in the back beside the window so we both had an awesome view. It’s hard to describe just how awesome it is being up in the sky looking down at one of the great 7 Natural Wonders of the World. I don’t even think a photo can really justify the beauty of it.
The huge Victoria Falls, Zambia side
Today we started the day off at 6am and went to a nearby national park where we had the opportunity to walk along with some lion cubs (about 8 months old). We walked with them through the park for about an hour and got to touch them and watch them play. At this age they are VERY playful and were constantly tackling each other to the ground and biting their tails etc. They were so adorable. They are part of a program where they get reared by the park rangers/keepers from 3 weeks old and over a few years they are taught how to hunt and life in the wild and then when they are ready they are introduced into the wild. This is the due to the decrease of lions in the wild. It was a really great experience and fun to watch them interact with each other.
Our lion friend whose name was Kila!
Well we have one more week left of our tour which sees us moving through Botswana and South Africa. We change trucks, tour leader, driver and passengers when we leave Livingstone so our final week will be much different to the first 4. Fingers crossed for me there are other females on the new trip!!
Hope everyone had a really great Christmas with family & friends.
Terri & Ian