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Our world Travel On 10th May 2007 I fled the UK on a journey around the world with a long list of places to go. Got as far as the Philippines where I met my wife. We got married on 11th May 2010 and are now sharing the experiences of travelling the world together

Kenya to Tanzania

UNITED KINGDOM | Saturday, 28 July 2007 | Views [3088]

Sunday 15th July - day 1 of overland tour that will take 49 days to get from Nairobi to Cape town. For the first few days there is a bit of changing around as people who started in Uganda join the tour and others not doing the full tour leave in a few days time.

9:30am start from Hotel Boulevard heading towards lake Naivasha. As this is to predominantly be a camping tour, we stopped off for provisions at a local supermarket on the way. Good way to start to get to know the other travellers in the group. Finished up at Crayfish camp site on the banks of the lake at lunchtime. After a nice healthy lunch, we hired boats (3000/= between 7 of us), and went onto the lake wildlife spotting. Loads of hippos to see. Awesome sight! One of them charged the boat, so a quick escape was in order. Also saw pelicans, african Jacaranda (lily trotter), grey heron, Ibis, stork of various types. Decided to go to Hellsgate National Park tomorrow so organised a guide and the hire of some mountain bikes. $40 for John the guide for 4hrs and 350/= for the mountain bike plus $20 park entrance fee.

Evening communal dinner to meet the group then into the bar until 11pm. Seems like a good crowd. The truck we have is called Maggie and the tents are named after the Simpsons characters! Oh dear!

The group:-

Sharon&Cameron (oz), Terry&Rayleen(Newcastle oz), Clinton&Felicity(oz), John&Jessica (oz), Nat&Rachel (uk), Joel&Nill(uk,Nill from Sri Lanka), Natalie (Perth oz), Sarah (California), Nicole (oz), Shay (uk), karen (Kuwait), Chris(ireland), Me(uk), John&Siobahn(uk), Tom&Amy(uk).

Liam, Gareth(Ireland), Imah(Ireland) left tour after a few days.

Monday 16th July (day 2) - up at 5:45am to collect bikes at 6:30am. Now picture a bunch of people who haven't cycled in years about to do a 36km round trip in the early hours of the morning with a guide that said it was mainly flat. What a liar! This was about to be a killer ride and my bike only had 2 gears - one I called useless and the other next to useless. One person (no name mentioned) dropped out after 2km! Fortunately not me - not a quitter. Got to the park, sorted out our entrance - have to pay 50/= per person to take the bikes in, What a con! Within minutes saw a group of baboons playing, including some babies. Brilliant start. The track thru the park is totally rough dirt track so hard work. Subsequently saw zebra, maasai giraffe, thompson gazelle, grant's gazelle, warthog. Incredible to get so close to these animals on bikes and feel safe. A special experience that makes you feel priviledged. The destination we were aiming for was hell's gate gorge. This is a long ravine with hot water springs and can only be tackled on foot, so bikes were left at the gate. At one stage we had to climb down some slippery rocks through a hot spring shower so got soaked. Great fun. Another point there were pockets in the rocks that had water so hot you could poach eggs in them. Water was low at this time of year xo not difficult. Superb view into the valley awaits at the end of the gorge. On the walk back to collect the bikes a few odd sights. First was a maasai warrior walking past in full maasai dress with a mobile phone to his ear. Technology gets everywhere! The other was the 'whistling thorn'. This bush has junctions on its thorny branches that are swollen. Ants live in these and enter through tiny holes. Giraffes try to eat the bushes and the ants come out and bite them so protecting the bush. When windy, the little holes whistle, hence the name.

By the time we finished the walk, the temperature had risen a lot, so the cycle back was tough going and up hill for a lot of it. Once the temp rises the animals run for shade, so less to see on the way back. Close to the camp site entrance we passed a school that were on playtime so decided to go in. The head teacher Leah made us very welcome and the children, who were very poor, were so excited that they were falling over each other to touch us and shake our hands. A very moving experience. Leah showed us around the school. Basically three small rooms built like shacks. The school covered 3yrs to 8/10yrs old. The top class had 55 children in the tiniest of spaces. I was so touched at the experience, I gave a donation to the school and will be in contact with them again, as will other members of our group. Schools here are after the simplest of things, pens and paper.

Back at camp and after lunch we hit the road, destination Narok. The roads are diabolical and in general almost non-existent, so slow going. Many still under construction with the most basic of road teams that the british would find a joke. Not a journey for anyone who gets travel sick.

The Narok campsite was very basic. Its claim to fame was that we had to share our toilet with a nervous looking  guinea fowl! I envisaged going in there during the night (no lighting of course), and the poor bird getting the fright of its life when I grabbed it to use it as a toilet brush! No wonder it looked nervous as it probably has happened and it's still suffering from shock. During the night heard gunshots, animals screaming and a loud car crash. For safety reasons we weren't allowed off site to investigate so can only guess what happened.

Tuesday 17th July (day 3) - yet another early start to get off site by 6:30am. Destination maasai mara. Lots of wildlife en-route - wildebeest, impala, gazelle, topi, bustard bird. Lots of maasai shepherds people, so we stopped for a chat with a couple. Maasai is a generic name for the people. Locally they are called the 'Morans'. One of them was a 20yr old called 'Inuk'. The other was an

Old guy on his way to fetch water - get this, a walk of 25 miles, armed with only a club and a spear in a land where lions, leopards, and rhino roam free! Got photos for a fee. Later stopped at a maasai village (manyatta) to learn more about their ways.

The tribe leader was Jackson. Very tribal sounding name. They start opening up holes in their earlobes from about 14yrs. The maasai still adhere to the old worrior ways. They did a welcome dance for us with a bobbing, chanting rhythm, followed by the famous jumping dance. The higher they can jump is a sign of status. They were dressed in typical maasai robes and the wonderfully ornate hair banding and beading. Worriors have a special emblem that they incorporate on the front of their heads when they have proven themselves by killing a lion and bringing back its head. This proves that they fear nothing so will protect their families

Maasai can have 8 to 10 wives depending on how many cattle they have. His first wife is chosen by his parents. Subsequent wives are suggested by his parents but he doesn't have to accept. We were showed how they light a fire using elephant dung, straw and two sticks. One made from olive wood which is hard, and the other from fig tree that is soft. The fig stick is twizzled in holes in the olive stick to make smoke and subsequently heat to burn the dry straw.

Their huts, made from animal dung, mud and straw with thatched roof are cosy with cow hide beds that are surprisingly comfortable.

Funny thing - their shoes were made from old car tyres. Bought a maasai blanket from them.

Tommorows plan is to go ballooning so had to stop off to book it on the way to our campsite at Aruba near to the Mara National park.

Game drive in the afternoon. Saw: tori, zebra, gazelle, buffalo, heartbeast, frankling, crocodile, hippo.

Dinner back at camp and played pool. Odd to see a maasai worrior playing pool with western dressed people. He did his jumping dance and chant when he potted a ball! Funny.

Wed 18th July (day 4) - 4:30am start for ballooning. Got to the launch site for 5:30. The truck was waiting to offload the balloon so we got to see the whole process. Unfortunately, it didn't go well. We got as far as being loaded into the balloon but the guy in charge couldn't get the right conditions for takeoff so, after repeated attempts to get off the ground he had to abandon, otherwise there might have been safety implications. Very very disappointing. He was apologetic and said it was the 3rd successive day when he had cancelled due to conditions. If only we had known that we may have decided not to bother. Got our money back so that was something.

Back at the camp, our driver took us out on an impromptu game drive as compensation, which actually turned out ok as we saw some black rhino and a pride of lions demolishing a zebra carcass. So not all was lost. Back to camp for breakfast then set off for Karen village near Nairobi to stop the night.

After a group meal, the rest of the evening was spent chatting to other travellers and dancing til 2am. Good fun. One of the travellers had an interesting story to tell. I shall call her tractor woman. She was from Holland and is driving a tractor to the south pole. Ckeck out www.tractortractor.org She is selling t-shirts of her quest and is writing a book about it. Travels with her dog.

Thursday 19th July (day 5) - free day to do our own thing so we hired a minubus to ferry us around the local sights. 1st stop the elephant orphanage. This only opens between 11am and 12:30 due to the routine of the elephants. 300/= entrance fee.

Baby elephants are brought here for a number of reasons, usually because they have been separated from their parents due to poachers or ivory hunters. They all come in traumatised so have to undergo special care before being able to return to the wild. They are all sent to Tsavo National Park for release. As infants they are raised on SMA gold which is imported from the UK and consume 30 pints/day each. A costly exercise. Ordinary cow's milk would kill them. They get sunburnt easily so have regular dust baths which is their natural form of suncream. They also get flu easily so wear blankets. As they get older they have coconut milk added to the SMA. Each elephant 'chooses' its keeper almost by interview as they have a very close relationship. The keeper sleeps on a mattress near to the elephant so they are to hand if needed, and will stay together until the elephant is released into the wild. This is generally after 3yrs but is dependent on each animal.

Next on to the giraffe center. I had already been here on my last visit to the Nairobi area recently. Whilst the rest of the group were looking at the giraffes I went on what turned out to be a rather novel safari walk which is directly opposite the center. The warden asked if I needed to be escorted so I asked if there were any dangers and he said NO - remember this for later........Just follow the paths...should only take half an hour or so......

So off I went...he opened the gate to the compound, let me in and locked it behind me. So off I walked through fairly dense vegetation. After about 10mins I came face to face with a giraffe staring at me. Various thoughts entered my head such as oh sh1t!. Going into reverse gear seemed appropriate swiftly followed by the giraffe! The pace quickened a little! Back at the gate, the warden appeared in a bit of a hurry. Meet Jock he said...19yrs old and 19ft tall. Thanks I said....he's harmless he said, let me show you. So we followed Jock for a bit and I got some very close photos. Any other surprises then I asked. There are leopards and rhino in here too....remember that word NO from earlier. Now imagine such a show of public safety in the UK! He was armed. I had a camera, a daysack and a few pens I could poke their eyes out with. Fair enough then!

Must pen an e-mail to the kenyan tourist board sometime?

Did some african curio shopping at an enormous centre on the way back to camp.

Friday 20th July (day 6) - up at 5am to head for the Tanzanian border. Arrived at 10:30 and got thru in under an hour. Amazing. Costs $50 for visa.

First nights stop in tanzania is Arusha, where we changed into 4WD jeeps after lunch for the journey to the Ngorongoro crater park. This site was designated a world heritage site in 1978 and is also a Unesco consevation  area. Millions of years ago it was a volcano that collapsed, leaving behind an 18km diameter crater that now houses awesome sights and a diverse range of wildlife. Nicknamed 'the garden of eden' and 'paradise on earth'.

On the way there stopped in Mto-wa-mbu which means river of mosquitos to buy some red bananas. You can also get orange ones. Very sweet flavour. One noticeable thing about Tanzania relative to kenya is that it has decent roads..and road markings. Don't remember any in kenya. This country is very fertile like kenya so lots of fruit & veg along the route. Coffee plantations, bananas, rice paddy fields etc. Stopped at the crater rim inn campsite which was really nice. Early start tommorow. Another local beer to try 'kilimanjaro'. In kenya it was 'flag'.

Saturday 21st July (day7) - 5am start for the game drive into the crater. Driver was 'Jefter' from the Sukuma tribe. He was amused him that our names were similar. The maasai were once removed from the crater due to their hunting habits, but were allowed to return in 1981 and share the crater with the wildlife. We saw: cheetah, wildebeest, lion, jackal, crown crane, zebra, ostrich, gazelle, buffalo, flamingos, hippo, elephant, bustard, pelican, weaver birds. Really stunning place. Packed lunch by the lake with the most awesome of views.

Later that day headed off to Arusha and set up camp at the masai camp. This place was brill and a great disco so boogied on down til 2am with the locals. Some really funky stuff these girls do.

Sunday 22nd July (day 8) - next major destination is Dar es Salaam, the gateway to Zanzibar. The journey was to be split over 2 days of driving. Nothing exciting today. Lunch stop at Moshi, a very average place. Camp stop at tembo. Got a pool, the first in a while, so time for a dip. Just to remind me that I am In Africa I got the sh1ts today. Hey ho. Been doing ok so far so taking extra care for the next few days.

Monday 23rd July (day 9) - 7am start. Lunch stop in a place with no name but heaving with street sellers and a very unhealthy lunch. Chip omelette and kebab. Topped off with fresh pineapple straight from the plant. You can't get any fresher and all for 500/= a pineapple (40p). Beautifully sweet, so made up for the unhealthy stuff. Nothing much happening on the way to Dar es salaam other than seeing a prison truck containing about 50 or more guys squashed into a small cage in temperatures exceeding 30°C. Their hands stretching out between the cage bars and shouting to passers by. The truck was also going the wrong way down the carriageway so caused a bit of a stir. A reminder of the slavery links of this area.

A couple of hours in town to get currency sorted for the next 5 days in Zanzibar as a lot of things have to be paid in US dollars. Food can be paid in tanzanian shillings but hotels etc in $USD. After lunch a short drive to catch the ferry to north shore. Takes an hour wait for a 5min journey. Off the other side and another short drive to the beach club campsite. Lovely site even in the dark. Indian ocean waves lapping into the white sandy beach.  Took me back to my recent visit to Mombasa with thatched huts on the beach if you wanted to pay extra. Would have done if I was with someone, but not on my own. Nice touches to the site like showers built amongst the palm trees with thatched walls.

Next blog will be for Zanzibar..

Bye for now

Tags: Sightseeing

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