11 December 2015 East African Encounter with Vee & David on Kifaru

11.12.15

Arriving in camp in Arusha we all meet up to find out about our trip through the Tanzania game parks, to the gorillas and into Kenya, and particularly to get organized for the next few days. … Dinner and bed – first night in a tent. Check out what happens from here…

12.12.15

We have a relaxed morning and take off at a breezy 08.00 after some goodbyes to Mugo and Kanyo who had been our crew up till now. There’s excitement in the airPC060999 as everyone is looking forward to this afternoon, we are making our way to Karatu where everyone will transfer into the 4 x4’s for their afternoon in the Ngorongoro Crater. By 12 noon everyone is off, for their safari in the ancient caldera. We then all meet up at camp at the end of the day and everyone has had a great day with not only the animals but just been in the Crater as they said was mind blowing…..

This evening we sit around the camp fire and get entertained by two of the rangers as they tell us some of their stories of the happenings in and around the Crater. Some of us sit up quite late. Some of the guys were hoping to spot some game which can come in to camp, and yes they did see a bit of wildlife tonight……that is if you consider a domestic house cat as a wild beast – domestic cats can wander through too…..

None the less we call it a night and as soon as everyone was settled in, then the camp was flooded with buffalo. Some of the guys even said they could hardly breathe cause they were so scared……….. ahhh happy days when camping out in the parks.

13.12.15

Its another relaxed start to our day as we make our way from the Crater.

Our drive this morning is so breath taking because of the amazing scenery, and we are quite lucky and start spotting animals within a few minutes.. giraffe really close to the road.. And as we leave the IMG_20151213_103438Conservation area of Ngorongoro and get into the Serengeti.. ……what a sight it was to behold – part of the migration was there and there were animals all over the plains – zebra, wildebeest, gazelle, hyena – you name it, it was so good.

The joys of travelling in the wet season though, before too long the skies open up and we get some heavy rain.. none the less all is good – we continue on seeing animals on our drive through to Naabi Gate.

At Naabi we check in but the rain hasn’t eased off.. and I’m afraid this afternoon the park seems very quiet, we drive for a couple of hours constantly looking for wildlife, but very very little in sight…….some game drives it can happen, luck just wasn’t with us.

IMG_3939We stop over at the Visitors Centre for a warm tea then continue with the drive. Through the rest of the afternoon we came across some giraffe right by the road, a few impala and topi.. ….so that marked the end of our day with some small treats.

Spirits were still high. We are quite glad to have seen as much as we did today. We spend the evening sitting around and exchanging stories. This evening there was not too much around the camp just a few hyenas coming though.

14.12.15

This morning Vivian and her mum are up bright and early as they going for the hot air balloon ride. Tank goodness the rain had eventually let up.. we have two massive giraffes that have come in this morning close to the camp for a visit. A wonderful sight to wake up too.. the rest of us leave for our drive.. but our luck has changed today cause within the first 20 mins we spot a leopard in a tree, and this has now completed everyone’s big five, so happy HAPPY days. And well Christmas surely did come twice for us because we managed to spot leopard number two.

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We head back to the visitors centre where we find some very happy ladies after their flight over the Serengeti.. We start making our way towards the Ikoma gate. And a bit more lucky with the last few kilometres as we did spot a few more animals heading towards Grumeti.

After the check out we make our way to camp and no sooner have we put the tarps down because of the rain. Sure enough lo and behold what do we see bolting from the bush near camp, none other than a good old cheetah. Never have I seen people jump so fast to lift the tarps. I think we were quite lucky today.

We arrive at Grumeti camp. It’s a mad rush to get every thing off the truck as it looks like heavy rain is just about upon us. We move the truck to the lodge as we feared getting bogged, and seeing we were at camp by 14hrs all roads lead to the lodge where everyone has enjoyed some cold drinks with wonderful views across the Grumeti.

15.12.15

Today again we wake up to a sky full of more rain. We make head way but due to the rain the road is extra bumpy . Its one of those drives on African roads that gives your rear end a good truck massage.IMG_20151215_160446

We arrive in Mwanza by 16.30 for some shopping before we head to camp. Everyone is looking forward to spending a bit of time by Lake Victoria. The boys are quite happy to be having some beers with Johan as he wasn’t able to drink for the past two weeks being on medication. So it was a very merry group and a happy evening which we topped up with some fresh tilapia fish from the lake for dinner

 

16.12.15

08.00 am we make our way from camp with a quick stopover for some fuel before we hit the road. A short ferry ride to cross the lake was and then we are back again on dirt road for a while……. This road was offering an even bigger massage than the one the day before!!

We arrive by 16.45 at our camp for the night today. We are in the small village of Nyakanazi. Overland trucks don’t pass through here so its always nice to see the reactions of people as they see the Mzungu’s “the white people” arrive. We are set up in a simple local guest house today so no camping for tonight and a good chance to experience something more rustic and local which can be a real eye opener for some.

Today we have a delicious meal that’s cooked for us by Mama Idi at the guest house. After dinner, Brian, one of the passengers, became very good friends with a goat that he found IN one of the rooms at the bar. Before we knew it he had the goat on his shoulder, keen to keep it…..goat stew or a truck pet………….

Be back in touch with more adventures about pet cats and goats, and wilder more African creatures soon…….

17.12.15

We make our way at 08.00am. Its just over 107 km but it takes us 2.5hrs to get to the border – the road is not the best! Luckily just after we arrive two buses full of teachers pull in. We cross over to the other sideIMG_9020 for visas, then a quick lunch and by about 1pm we are on our way. As soon as we take off the skies open up for an afternoon shower or two.

We are climbing now as our journey takes us into the land of “a thousand hills” as Rwanda is known. Arriving in to Discover Rwanda Youth Hostel, Kigali, late afternoon we pick up 5 new members. Happy days! A few tonight decide tonight to eat out at “Hotel Rwanda” and then later we all meet up for introductions, a chat and to get to know our latest travellers.

18.12.15

There is a referendum this morning so we have a free morning before our visit to the Genocide Memorial and Museum. This gives us the chance for a good walk around to have a look after a few drive days in the truck. When we do get to the Memorial it is so busy, and lo and behold we meet up with the same teachers that we saw at the border who seem thrilled to see us. So much so everyone wants to have photos together, particular with Johan in our group. They seem very taken by his size. Everyone though is soon being photographed and we feel like mini celebrities.

We eventually get in to see the museum.

The Genocide Museum is always a very sad eye opener for everyone.

When we are done, you always walk away from this place amazed at how far the country has come, that people have managed to unite and move on from such a horrific thing that only happened 21 years ago. Driving through the streets, everything seems clean, tidy, and well organised.

IMG_8554We head to Musanze district where we will be spending the night at Red Rocks. We get there by 18.00 hrs. After setting up camp we are treated to a local Rwandan dinner which comprised of cassava, yams, pumplin, rice, ugali, meat and vegetables.. a meal suitable for a king. After this a few of us head out for some traditional story telling.

19.12.15

There’s not far to go today. We exit Rwanda and into Uganda and its Just a mere 10 km to get to camp. As always there’s a warm welcome from the people we pass along the way. OnIMG_9138 arrival we are soon out and about. Some are going to do the coffee tour and others are off to Lake Mtandwa to go and have a relaxed afternoon while others do some canoeing. By end of the day all are back. The coffee tour twas really outstanding outstanding providing a good chance to interact with people in the village as well as experience everyday life.

Excitement is in the air for the big day tomorrow. After a yummy chicken dinner most retire to bed bright and early. Everyone is happy to be in a bed as well. No tents for the next two nights for us as we stay in a local guesthouse for the next two nights.

20.12.15

IMG_7618The long awaited day has finally arrived. All are up by 05.30 and ready to go by six. There are 15 of us on our way to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest this morning to trek the amazing endangered mountain gorillas.

Johan is seriously considering hiring “ the African helicopter “ as he is still not sure what to expect of the long walk. In case you were wondering, the African helicopter “ is basically porters carrying you up and down the mountain on a stretcher! ! Others in the group vow that there was no way he would allow him to pay the $500 or more to be carried.

2When they return I was glad to hear that everyone made it including Johan. Ahh happy days.

I think at the time wasn’t so sure how happy he was to see the gorillas – it was quite a hike, but as the hours pass its safe to say that he is a happy chappy. The rest of the group are also a little tired but it would be a lie if I said there was even one person that was not absolutely over the moon about seeing the gorillas. They are so very special.

We make our way to town to have some celebrations after such a great day.

21.12.15

This morning we are saying goodbye to two of the girls who are finishing their trip today to go back home. A few go through to the orphanage this mIMG_7405orning whilst others spend some time at the lake once more.

By lunch time we make our way to Kabale. The scenery on the way with views of lakes and farm land as we pass the rolling hills is truly beautiful. We arrive by 15:30 at camp and some of us take the opportunity to use the facilities at camp which has a pool and gym.

IMG_9168This evening we have Vivian and Mom cooking us a Chinese meal. Mom gets so excited that she starts laughing and speaking to everyone in Chinese forgetting that we can’t understand a word of what she is saying.. ahh happy days again!! The meal was very yummy by the way.

22.12.15

07.00 am we make our way from the camp and head for the capital Kampala today. We are all geared for a day on the truck today.  Lunchtime finds us at the Equator where we have lunch, a wander around the markets, and check out the Equator Water Demonstration.

From there we braced ourselves for the heavy traffic of Kampala. After a stopover for shopping we make our way to camp by 18.45.. a quick dinner then relaxation time by the pool area for a few drinks.

There is a casino in town and a few of us head there. We had a few wins which saw some walking out with a big grin on their faces-  over a million shillings richer ha ha. 05.30 was the time people got in.. It’s Christmas soon so an early celebration was in order!

23.12.15

verticalFunny enough as some were going to bed, others are waking up to do the white water rafting on the Nile today.

The joys of trying to get out of the city during Christmas period. After 5 hours of travelling we finally reached Jinja, a drive that normally takes us half the time. Almost everyone did call it a night bright and early.

24.12.15

nhs-solo-rider-near-riverAll energized today we have some of the guys leaving to go see the legendary Source of the Nile and then a wander in town to see what the markets had to offer.. Others just went for a stroll around the town, while others went horse riding.

Now Charlotte has been set on the idea of buying a pet chicken and hoping that we could take it with us on the truck. Well that wouldn’t work unfortunately. She isnt deterred and buys her chicken who she named Mzungu and we all shared a few happy moment’s with Mzungu  over the next few days.

Most of us have planned to meet later for the sunset cruise for Christmas eve, setting off by 17.00 hrs. Finishing the cruise we mix with the locals, enjoying few dances at a local bar,  before returning to camp where the party was in full swing for the rest of the night. 25.12.15

Bit of a slow starting to the day after all the festivities of last night. After breakfast we all head down to have a swim in the Nile with Brian having good fun on the zip line.

We later cooked our festive goat which we enjoy with an assortment of African dishes, before opening our Christmas presents. It’s a merry Christmas for us.

26.12.15

Some of us wake early today to go for the bird watching, IMG_9097then later on for the village walk, both activities enjoyed very much. Sad day for Charlotte as she has to sadly to say goodbye to Mzungu but she has definitely made sure that she has found him a good home even exchanging contact details with the new owner of Mzungu and left him lots of food behind. Hope that all works out well.

The rest of us swim and have a chilled out day.

27.12.15

6 AM wake up as we have a very long day today crossing the border and making our way to the town of Nakuru. We arrive at camp by 18.20 with enough time for a shower and then dinner.

Today we have a new member join our family for the next week as well, We also happily always have on board Jon our cook for the next week as well. Happy days all round to have a little extra help through our final days for the special Kenyan game parks.

28.12.15

white rhinosAnother early start to the day as all are having breakfast by 06.30 am and by 7 then all roads lead to Nakuru National Park where the guys are having a full day in this park. Excitement is in the air cause this is one of the few places where you are almost guaranteed to see rhino – both black and white.

We are back at 6 PM all happy.

29.12.15

We sleep in a little this morning, leaving camp by 08.00. There’s just an hour and a half drive and we are stopping over in Naivasha where we top up on shopping then quickly make our way through to camp as we have quite a number of people that are wanting to go and see Green Crater lake. The few that remain behind spent the afternoon relaxing. Some of the guys are back just in time to squeeze in the hippo cruise on the lake and tonight we enjoy fresh whole tilapia.

30.12.15

Today is the big day as we have half the group opting for a walk rather than the mountain biking in Hells Gat46201fac23d6ac13136834a4446eae99128201ee6eae0216a8b500baec621687e and two do the biking. Tina does the normal route and Charlotte goes for the buffalo route on her way back – that’s the most extreme one you can do!

Always the gorge is something  to behold. All were happy with themselves as they managed to conquer hell by foot and back. Charlotte was extra happy cause she managed to break the buffalo record by 25 mins. This afternoon we meet Nick a new member of the family as well, and soon after arrival he gets zipped away to do the hippo cruise. Its been a great day all round for all and we all are looking forward to the next two days where we will be travelling into the Mara.

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After a brief stop over in Narok for supplies and a quick snack, we have some very happy people who have managed the tastiest hot dog they have eaten in the last weeks for just $2.00 – that done we continue with the journey. Everyone has braced themselves for the Ultimate African Massage on this road!! And boy the roads don’t fail to disappoint

We make our next stop over at the Maasai village for a chance to do masai marketsome dancing before they go into the village where they try out making a fire the Maasai way, and then go into their houses where they learn a bit more about how they live and find out more about their culture… was a great time that they had at the village. That being done we make our way to the entrance gate and as we approach the gate some have fun time haggling with the ladies. You can get some great stuff at a really good price here.

A few presents tucked away and we start our afternoon drive.

We saw elephants in abundance so many times, then various antelopes. Then excitement is in the air – lion – as we come across some lionesses in the open. Not more than 5 minutes of been here, the next thing we hear that there is a leopard up a tree about 500 metres away.. everyone was so excited… as we got closer we all noticed the cub up in the tree, and on closer inspection we also see mum there.. woooow.. double bonus!!

I think I was more excited than anyone  as was noted to me after 30 mins of getting to the  and some of the excitement died down. Ha ha well who can help it seeing such magnificence – the cub put on quite a show for us having a bit of a play with mum and then later walking down the tree.

After a good 45 mins we decide to make our way back to the lionesses who also were a little more active now as the sun wlioness in grass 1as starting to set, and one of the lionesses makes a chase for a pumba (warthog)

Unfortunately the chase wasn’t long and her mission failed – lucky for the pumbaa!  On route leaving we see a huge herd of buffalo – the cherry on the top!!

We make our way to camp all very happy with the viewing of the day and John and I prepare dinner. The  camp fire is lit, and after a yummy dinner of Mbuzi choma and kuku (bbq goat and chicken) everyone heads to the bar,  the fire dying due to a downpour of rain. We all see the New Year in together with merry celebrations with all at camp

01.01.16

Well we have made our way into the new healthy, happy and happy new year!

This morning early it almost looked like the game drive would be done with just 2 people but eventually just before leaving time a few more people surfaced… and we make our way back on safari.

This morning its raining ostriches and later loads of elephants. We see a whole load of different antelopes and so may giraffes.. but we break up our dMasai mara (41)rive and head back to camp for a siesta.. much appreciated by all especially seeing that most people crawled into bed at about 4 am from New Years celebrations!

After the much deserved rest we make our way again for the afternoon safari. We see all sorts but the high light of the day was when we came across another pride of lionesses And only to find that in a bush  thicket not so far away there were also some massive male lions having a siesta in the shade.

We waited to see if we could get a closer look, and just for a few fleeting mins one of them stood up and no sooner did he do that than he sat down again. Luck really wasn’t on our side, but we did get that small glimpse of these “big maners”

We make our way to camp and as you can imagine today is a very early night for all after all the celebrations of the evening And early morning.

02.01.16

We are packing up camp this morning and make our way into the park one  last time for a short game drive before exit and start making our way to the capital Nairobi. We are hoping to get to camp at around 4pm. We have a night of much eating planned for tonight as all want to go to the famed “Carnivores” restaurant.

But fate has other plans in mind for us.. we encounter some serious traffic. A bus has unfortuantley knocked over six cows belonging to the Maasai who have barricaded the road and demanded compensation……….so for 8.5 hrs we were stuck there and the cars only started moving at 9.30pm. It  was a hell of a mission to get going seeing that the traffic was backed up for more than 20km either side and on our side we had at least three lanes of traffic..Thanks to our wonderful driver, David’s skillful driving we managed to get out.  We arrive at camp at 11.30 at night. So instead it is chicken curry and some drinks for our good byes.  Well what a story we have on our journeys and a rather epic way to spend the last day on the truck finishing in Kenya. Hope you have enjoyed the stories of our travels on Kifaru!

 

 

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