Flew out of Dubai at 3pm on Friday the 17th. First time in a while flying out of Dubai during the day, and the plane did a lap of the coast, so got to see the 'World' man made islands and the Palm Jebel Ali island. Then flew over the Saudi desert, and was amazing how endless and featureless it is, apart from the odd road, just sand in all directions.
Nairobi airport was not too bad, not ultramodern, but pretty functional. After sussing out a Kenyan visa and some local currency, managed to get a taxi into town to the hotel. 2000 shillings or about $US23, so not bad for the 30 minute ride.
Went out for a run in the morning, nice and cool, about 13C so was great for chugging along, easier than the Dubai summer anyway. Saturday, but apparently alot of people work in the morning, so plenty of people about. Found a big park in the city and did a few laps.
I then had a walking tour around the city organized for the morning. I was the only person so it was just me and the tour guide Joe. Walled into the city, and went to a lookout on the way. Saw the local sights like the national parliament and the Presidents building, then visited the memorial where the old American embassy was bombed by Al Qaeda in 1998.
Over 200 people were killed and almost all of them locals.
We then went to the national museum and saw some artwork and Kenyan colonial history and then went for a walk around the city.
Nairobi Railway Station.
We then went to a restaurant with Joe for lunch. Nice place, very busy, full of locals. Had a local dish, a serving of black beans, rice, chapatti, some green stuff which was apparently maize and arrowroot, and an omelette. Very cheap at about 250 shillings or about $US3.
Then walked to the bus stop to catch one of local buses back to the hotel. The buses only depart once all the seats are full, so everyone was jam packed in.
Met my roommate when I got back. Michael from NYC. He is climbing Mt Kilimanjaro after the tour so has got twice as much gear as me. After a bit of rest, I went for a walk back into the city to do some more exploring.
Laughter & tease.
When I got back to the hotel again, I managed to get stuck in the lift. The power cut out when I was between floors! Pitch black but managed to use the dim light from my watch to find the alarm button.
Had the trip briefing at 6pm. 22 people on the trip, some Aussies, Brits, Americans, and some people from Switzerland and Spain and one Greek. Our tour leader said he came from the Kenyan tribe that is famous for marathon running, so he is pretty lean and looks pretty fast.
Got up at 5am for a run again in Nairobi. Saw a few Kenyans running this time, think I managed to keep up.
After a quick breakfast we loaded up the truck and set off. Truck is a big 2 axle, with a cabin type thing on the back. Quite comfy, more leg room than a bus anyway. We each have our own locker at the back to store our bag and valuables etc. Went to a local supermarket to pick up a few supplied before heading out of Nairobi.
At some clothing markets just outside the city.
The highway is the main road for trucks coming from land locked Uganda and Rwanda to the port in Kenya, so is in relatively good nick. Then went to the Rift valley, and stopped off to take a few scenic shots, including this truck wreck.
Got to see the Maasai herdsmen on the road through the valley, with their cattle. Saw a few zebra's too. Stopped off on the way to pick up 6 more people for the trip, so now have a full complement of 22 people now. They had just done a 7 day safari tour in Maasai park, and were onto the second leg to the Serengeti. Stopped off on the side of the road for lunch. Unloaded a table and some chairs while the cook directed everyone to slice the vege's, cheese and bread and then made our own sandwiches. The people who had just come from the previous tour knew the routine and quickly had everyone else organised doing their part.
After some more driving finally made it to our destination, Kisii, at 3pm. Took i8 hours to cover 320k's, but the slow pace mean't it wasn't too tiring. Staying at a church convent tonight, in nice basic twin rooms. After unloading the food and cooking gear for the cook, went with a few of the other guys for a walk into town.
Hands in pockets.
On the bike.
Some fun with the locals.
Another early start again and got up at 5:45am to grab a nice cold shower. Kisii is about 1900 metres above sea level, so a nice chill in the air and water to wake us up. Had breakfast in the covent mess room before heading off again in the truck. After 30 minutes, we stopped off at a stone carving workshop. The men cut and shaped the stone while the ladies sanded and smoothed it.
One of the ladies taking a break.
After having been asked to fork out $200 for a simple carving in Nairobi I was a bit wary, but the prices were really reasonable and got a really good hand carved lion and rhino, each about 20cm, for 1800 shilling, or about $25.
After some driving we ended up at the Tanzania border. Got our passport and visa stamped again, and our yellow fever card checked. Our back axle on our truck was over weight, so our tour guide told a few of us to move towards the front of the cabin, problem solved! Then more driving into Tanzania. Finally got to Mesoma at about 2pm, at our camp site in the shores of Lake Victoria. Was really warm and sunny, but unfortunately we couldn't go swimming due to some water borne disease.
Next was a bicycle tour of Mesoma. Some of us biked into town to check out the sights.
Got some good photo's, with most of the locals were happy to oblige while we harassed them with our camera's. English isn't as common as Kenya, but a bit of sign language worked out ok.
Unloading the day's catch.
Started to bucket down and the roads quickly turned into a river, so we ducked into a school for cover.
We then went to a school for HIV & Malaria orphans, and got to see the kids do some songs and dancing.
Then biked back to the campsite just before sunset, and got to see the sun go down over Lake Victoria. Very beautiful.
Got up in the morning, packed up the tents and had breakfast, including omelette, and sausages. We then went into town, with half of us going to the bank, and I went with the other half to explore the local markets and help stock up on food and supplies for the Serengeti. After helping load up the truck with fruit and vege's, went exploring the rest of the markets.
Crossing the road.
After the guys took ages at the bank (they'll have to bring ATM cards for next time), finally left town for the Serengeti. The road was supposed to be sealed but they had closed it for resurfacing, so had 20k's of 'African massage' (i.e. bumpy roads).
Stopping off on the way for some firewood.
Got to the entrance of the Serengeti, and setup for lunch, with sandwiches. Everyone has got it sussed now, with four teams rotating between setting up the chairs and tables, preparing the food, doing the dishes and the fourth team for cleaning everything else up. We got a bit of introduction to the wildlife with a few monkeys waiting eagerly in the tree above our picnic for leftovers.
Vervet monkey (the extra tail is her baby).
After lunch we set off for the camp site in the Serengeti. 100k's across the dirt park roads, but it was a bit of a game drive, so every time we saw some interesting animals, we stopped and had a good look and took some photo's, so took 4 hours.
Hiding in the trees.
A giraffe checking out the new visitors.
Enjoying a good soak.
Storks on the river bed.
Gazelle (a.k.a. Lion food).
Mother and baby giraffe in the late afternoon.
Got to the camp site at 6pm and setup the tents.
Our cook then whipped up some spicy chicken and vege's, tasted pretty good since it was cooked in a pot. We are here for 2 nights, and off exploring for more wildlife tomorrow.
The night was pretty interesting, got up to relieve myself at midnight, and heard a guttural laugh less than 20 metres away when I was walking back to the tent, and it was a hyena! They took our rubbish bin for a walk too and had to clean up the mess in the morning. Must have been the chicken. Got up for a quick breakfast at 6am, and then headed off for a game drive across the plains before dusk.
Gazelle in the warm early morning light.
African Elephants, and if you look behind the tree...
...you can see the baby elephant.
A couple of Malibu Storks and a Baboon sharing a tree.
A trio of Impala's having a munch.
A Lioness checking out some potential brunch.
Sometimes you just have to bend down:D.
We headed back to the campsite at about 11am, where the cook had made lunch, bacon, cooked cabbage, fried potato, pancakes and fresh pineapple. After a bit of a nap in the shade we then headed out in the truck again at 3pm to do some animal spotting.
A Hyena and a Jackal picking up the scent of...
...a gazelle carcass freshly slaughtered by a coalition of Cheetah's.
The Hyena jumping ahead of the queue over the vultures to get his bite of the gazelle.
Apart from a bit of hissing, the Cheetah's are no match for the hungry Hyena, and decide to disperse.
The Hyena and Jackal share their ill-gotten gains.
The Cheetah's head across the plains into the sunset, looking for another feed.
We got back to the campsite at 6:30pm for dinner, Beefstew, mashed spuds and vege's. After dinner we were around the campfire, when someone shrieked. A big hyena went galloping 10 meters from the tents and into the night, quite a fright!
Got up at 6am, packed up the tents and had cooked breakfast, then headed off to the southern part of the Serengeti.
And another leopard just hanging out.
African (Cape) Buffalo.
Hippo off for a walk in the long grass.
A croc keeping an eye on lunch.
A couple of Hippo's (and friends) passing each other in the scrub.
Mum & Dad on a kopje.
While the kids have a snooze.
One of the cubs having a strerch.
And a close up of Dad.
We then drove further south over bumpy, dirt roads, reaching the southern exit of the park at 12:30pm and stopped for lunch.
Group photo as we exit the Serengeti.
We then drove to the Ngorongoro crater, over very bumpy, corrugated dirt roads. We even managed to burst a tyre on the truck and had to park up and swap it for the spare.
We also saw some Maasai teenage boys who dressed up in ceremonial clothes after having been circumcised.
Got to the rim of the crater and stopped to check out the view before carrying into the campsite, arriving at 5:30pm. The crater is actually a caldera, formed millions of years ago when a giant volcano exploded and collapsed on itself.
The camp site was at 1900 metres so got cold pretty quickly when the sun went down. It is pretty intimate with the wildlife too, there were Zebras feeding on the grass between the tents when we arrived! After dinner of chicken and pasta around the camp fire, had an early night to get ready for the big game drive in the crater tomorrow.
The evening was quite exciting, had a large elephant come within 10 metres of our tent while it was feeding on the nearby trees. When I got up for the bathroom, had to dodge a couple of Hyena's outside the tent and three Zebra's by the toilet block!
Got up and packed up the tent by 6am, breakfast by 6:30am, and then off for the game drive in the crater at 7. We had 3 landcruisers this time, with an open roof, so everyone could stand up in the cab and look out to the animals. Made the 600 metre decent into the crater to start the game drive.
A flock of grey crowned crane's after swooping over a pack of Hyena's.
A couple of Zebra's having a nuzzle.
Lion and lioness resting in the early morning shade.
A wildebeest striking a pose.
These guys were keeping a close eye on us while we were eating our sandwiches. Only 20 meters away and nothing but water between us!
Female and Male Ostrich doing a mating dance.
One of each size.
Lioness keeping an eye on some Zebra's.
Mum, Dad & Kid.
Hyena and Wildebeest's.
Nothing like a good mud bath.
A Kori Bustard. These birds get up to 20kgs, and are the world's heaviest bird capable of flight.
A couple of Lions on the prowl.
A Cape Buffalo, one of the 'Big 5'.
Half a buffalo and one full Lioness!
Completing the 'Big 5', but from several kilometres away.
Over the shoulder.
We then started the drive out of crater. After meeting back up with the truck, we then drove on to the next stop, Mesarai. Was good to be back on tarmac again after 2.5 days on corrugated dirt roads! Stopped at some Masai markets on the way, and picked up a stone elephant and hippo to go with the rhino and lion I got in Kenya. Got to Mesarai at about 5:30pm, and chucked up the tents again for one last night. The campsite had a small snake, bird and reptile zoo next door, so had a look at that too. We then went to the camp site bar afterwards. The place was decorated by t-shirts from tour groups who had visited over the years.
Early start again to pack up the tents one last time, and were on the road again by 7:15am, dropping off some of the group in Arusha at 8, to start their mount Kilimanjaro mountain climb after one last group photo.
We then headed to the Kenyan border, crossing over at Namarang, and then reaching the hotel in Nairobi by 2pm. After a run and first decent shower in a few days, before crashing for a nap on a real bed. Went with the some of the guys for a walk downtown to a Nairobi pub for dinner in the evening our tour leader had recommended. Pretty cool place, good food and had a Kenyan band playing African music which all the locals were dancing to.
Back home today so nothing exciting, so slept in, had breakfast then one last walk around the city.
Front seat of the bus.
Then shared a taxi with an Aussie girl who was flying back on the same flight via Dubai, bringing an end to an amazing trip to East Africa!