Waking to the sounds of last nights reggae party spiralling into
‘Push me again and I’ll f*&king kill you’
we packed our tents beneath a beautiful sunrise as security kicked the last stragglers out at 5:30am. With Aussie brother and sister due Matt and Carla leaving the truck today, we were back down to 17. The border crossing into Tanzania went without a hitch, other than a guy on the Rwandan side giving Sarah a hard time for being Australian and not having applied for a visa beforehand, threatening that Tanzania would not let her in. Turns out he had no idea and no authority and we were soon back on the road.
The next few hours passed through landscape latter and drier than Rwanda along a rough dusty road which crossed over a perfectly good tarmac road about five times, much to Matt’s increasing frustration.
‘Why can’t we just drive on that road??’
Tanzanians are very friendly and they love to wave as you drive by. Spending the night in a small town we pull at purple painted Saywari Guesthouse and are quickly joined by pretty much every kid in town. Crowding around they hang through the fence, boys on one side girls on the other, waving, dancing and just checking us out. When their football rolled into the carpark and Sarah kicked it back they go so excited they forgot to stop the ball rolling out onto the road.
Having the luxury of double beds meant obviously we had no running water, though that was soon forgotten. Enjoying a couple of group beers in the forecourt of the guesthouse, a black car rolls up, the door opens, and owner Iddy steps out to the sounds of 50 Cent blasting from the stereo. A man with a great big smile and a sense of humour to match, we enjoy a few more Kilimanjaro beers as his son keeps himself busy nonchalantly playing games on Sarah’s iPhone. By now the kids outside had become more and more brazen, sneaking inside the gates only to be chased away by Iddy when they got too close.
The next day the landscape developed into hills made of precariously balanced boulders with houses scattered amidst them, the surrounding red soil a little like Australia. Reaching the ferry crossing for Lake Victoria, we fork out $1.50 each for a local specialty, chipsi mayai. After a couple of beers nothing could be better than a plate of freshly cooked potato chips and fried egg and we make light work of it. Trainspotting author Irvine Walsh once wrote a novel called Marabou Stork Nightmares, and it’s not wonder, these birds are on another level of creepy, and some of those hanging around the ferry terminal were bigger than goats. Flying birds bigger than goats is surely a sign of evolution gone wrong.
The view from the ferry along the shore of the lake, with it’s huge boulders, palm trees swaying in the breeze and kids swimming playfully has the beginnings of an idealic screensaver, if it weren’t for the dirty green rubbish strewn water and the fact that somebody gets eaten by a crocodile atleast 1-2 times a year. The ferry ride was quick though when a couple of Kiwi girls from the truck asked for toilet, a local guy showed them to it, pointed and simply said
‘Fucked up toilet’
Needless to say they didn’t go. A tight drive through overhanging bright pink bougainvillea brought us to tonight’s campsite, Tunza Lodge, right on the banks of Lake Victoria. Tents were quickly thrown up with lakeside sunset views, and a game of beach volleyball was begun, with plenty of locals eventually joining in.
Dinner was served on the beach front with the waves crashing gently in the background, and we retiring to bed drifting off to the same. Waking at 2am, Sarah peered out of the tent to find silence and a totally calm lake, reflecting the moonlight like glass. You could easily spend a few days here relaxing by the lake, but we were up early again the next day, heading further south to the wilds of the Grumeti on the edge of the Serengeti National Park.
As the rising sun bathed our tents, tiny bats flitted home and we watched kingfishers diving for fish, as the white sails of local dhow boats sailed past in the distance. It was another in a string of long, hot days in the truck, with the only highlight being a stop in a small market town where we had to pay to pee in the dark, bargaining hard for fruit and vegetables with some not so friendly locals and watching a goat lying on his back overstretch and tumble down an embankment. Arriving at the Grumeti Game Reserve at around 3pm, we perked up as we started to spot zebra jumping a roadside ditch, giraffe, gazelle, impala, elephant and wildebeest crossing the road. Forgetting this was our new truck mates first game drive, their enthusiasm for wildlife we’d already seen was contagious, and we got excited all over again.
That night we found ourselves at Ikama Gate Camp, our first proper bush camp – no fences (though the showers were steaming hot). Pitching our tents Sarah headed over to a couple of the local guards for the night where they were letting everybody shoot a wooden bow and arrow. She wasn’t a bad shot, though we doubt she’d do any damage if a lion strolled into camp. We were given our best African sunset to date, an acacia tree silouhetted by the setting sun flanked by a distant rainstorm lit up in yellow and orange.
With most people having an early night (seeking protection in their tents), we sat up by the fire for a little while admiring the stars. It seems most of the camp were at least somewhat afraid of wild animals, particularly lions, coming into the camp over night, and even with armed guards walking around most people sleep rough. The sound of hyenas getting closer and closer probably didn’t do much to help the situation, as did the guide telling us if we had a call of nature in the middle of the night, pee at your tent. When Matt unzipped the tent at 3am to answer such a call, it caused a knock on effect of
‘What the f*&k was that??’
‘Did you hear that??’
and soon everybody was awake talking, freaking out or giggling.
Best sunste to date in the Grumeti