Having had a complete camera failure following condensation damage at Vic Falls (the rice treatment was only a temporary reprieve), Malawi was a bit of a waste ground for me. My binoculars and photographs from others saved the day, but it would be true to say that my enjoyment was diminished. Tanzania came, and so did Dar Es Salaam; a city that provided little inspiration. However, it did allow me to track down the only Canon Service Centre in the country. Service centre is perhaps a misnomer as it had nobody to service cameras! But it did have the only Canon DSLR in Tanzania for purchase. Due to the store not taking cards, I was escorted by nine fellow travellers, our cook and local driver to a bank where I collected 1.35million Tanzanian Shillings in 10,000 notes from an ATM, which were promptly deposited into a large bag.
Camera restored, we headed for three days of r&r on Zanzibar. The stop included a spice tour that provided the opportunity for tasting various fruits including old favourites such as durian (the one you’re not allowed to take into buildings or on transport due to the smell); and new varieties such as pomelo. Zanzibar also offered snorkelling in crystal clear waters, and a sunset (for ‘sunset’ read ‘booze’) cruise. I understand that I was drinking tonic with a gin mixer! A trip to a tortoise sanctuary allowed me to meet a chap of 126 years young.
Zanzibar came and went, but that meant we were back on the road and on our way to three of the greatest places in Africa; the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Masai Mara.
Serengeti was unusually arid for June. The rains had finished early, but this did not diminish the quality and quantity of the wildlife. Within an hour period on an afternoon game drive we had seen lions, a cheetah and leopard; the latter two with kills. Over a day and a half we saw the big five.
If Serengeti provided the wildlife, Ngorongoro Crater provided the scenery whilst still impressing on the animal front. Milford Sound on New Zealand’s South Island had always been my favourite place visited, but the crater exceeded this. Stunning. Sadly, only a half day had been allocated and we departed with a heavy heart and a lot of frustration.
Across the border to Kenya and the Masai Mara, an actual extension of the Serengeti it provided us with a view that we shouldn’t have seen. The Great Migration of animals from south to north normally commences in July, but due to the arid conditions in Tanzania, the trek had started. Hundreds of wildebeest and zebra were on the first stage of the migration, grazing on fertile land and oblivious in the main to us. The Mara also provided us with a final surprise, a group of young male lions.
And finally for Kenya, although not one of the great parks, Nakuru NP provided us with a group of six rhinos together.