Woke to a sunny, chilly morning. Breakfast was Spanish omelette, sausages, tomatoes and cucumber, toast and honey, fruit, and lashings of tea. Not bad saying we were in the middle of the Serengeti. A perfect start. Today, it was just Baraka and me, and we were going on a full game drive.
We set off at around 7am, and saw a Serengeti full of life. Herds of zebra and gazelle were dotted around, and crossing our path we saw an army of African buffalo, tough, meaty, aggressive looking things, black and with huge horns. They looked a fearsome match for any predator. One of them hadn’t been so lucky during the night, however. We came across a pride of lions, passed out with exhaustion and full stomachs – and their supper, or what was left of it, lay behind them. A buffalo. Only the ribcage, however, and top of the head remained. The lions had had quite a feast. Vultures stood crookedly in the trees, waiting for the lions to go away so they could finish off the corpse.
We saw another pride of lions after that, and as I was stood up taking photos, I heard what sounded like a large lawnmower behind me, and I ducked in time for a large swarm of African bees to pass through. They were huge. All the animals and insects seem much bigger over here.
We saw hippos lazing in ponds, and could smell them before we could see them. We saw Maribu stalks, Secretary birds, mouths open in permanent jest, scouring the ground for snakes and lizards. We saw a family of giraffes eating leaves from the acacia trees, and some of them were drinking from a puddle – a comical sight, as they have to splay their legs and bend their long necks down to drink. We also saw a lot of warthogs, some baboons, many types of antelope and gazelle, buffalo and wildebeest, all against the classic savannah backdrop I’d seen so often on TV. We saw a Rock Hyrax, tiny cousins of the elephants, and we saw a group of salivating hyenas. Cracking stuff.
We returned to the camp, and I felt delighted. We had a delicious lunch of vegetable quiche, black pepper steak and chips with banana fritter to finish. I ate as much as I could, before the huge ants muscled me out. It was time to go. We now had to drive to Simba A camp in Ngorogoro.
The drive was rocky, but exhilarating. I stood up looking out of the hatch for the last part of the journey, and it felt like I was on the rollercoaster of a lifetime, passing masai in their coloured robes, their teeth a brilliant flashing light in their dark faces. We passed up and down valleys and mountain tracks, and the views over the mountains were epic.
We reached Simba A camp, much livelier than the Serengeti one. A number of people were already here, and had pitched or were pitching their tents. The campsite is right on the crater rim, and you can see down into the huge cauldra of life. It’s quite a spectacular setting. They also have decent facilities, including a hot shower! I washed away the layers of dust from my face and hair, and felt like a new man, then sat in the dwindling sunshine in the crisp, cool mountain air, reading and writing.
Dinner was a more communal affair, long tables with tourists and their guides more conducive to mingling and chatting. I got talking to a Dutch couple, and then a couple of French guys from Paris, who offered me a glass of white wine. The delicious spaghetti Bolognese went down a treat, as did the potato soup, tea, and hot chocolate. I felt very full, as usual, eating better on safari than I had done in years, and I felt ready for a nights’ sleep in the wild again, the promise of a day in Ngorogoro crater to come.