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National parks and Lakes
Kenya and Tanzania
from 12-09-1999 until 12-10-1999

We made our last trip to the beautiful African continent in 1997. Now, in 1999, we have made plans to go on a trip which will take us through Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. However, we won’t be visiting Uganda due to the slaughter by Rwadan rebel forces of English and American tourists, who came to see the endangered mountain gorillas. Instability and danger have spread throughout Uganda which led KUMUKA to adapt their trip and follow the advice of the English Foreign Office. We support this choice even though we would have liked to be able to see the mountain gorillas.
The adapted itinerary takes us mainly along the lakes and national parks of Kenya and Tanzania. We’ll be flying to Tanzania form Schiphol airport together with Beate and Karla, whom we met on our last trip. We’ll go in search of the rich Eastern African flora and fauna. Our preparations started at an early stage, as they did last time.
Kumuka, African Holidays and the Rottink travel agency helped us prepare wonderfully so we can go on our third big African adventure well-prepared. We’ll be travelling with a truck and sleeping in tents again.

12/9
We’ll leave for Schiphol at 06.45 am and will arrive there at 8.00 am which will leave us enough time to check in. We won’t have problems with fully booked flights this time because we booked our seats in advance. We agreed to meet Beate at the gate. Karla came from Belgium to our home address yesterday. The four of us have a cup of coffee and we leave for the gate after having had time to catch up with each other.
It’s the first time that we’ll fly over the African landscape by daylight and when we’re finally over Africa the desert seems to be endless. Our plain lands at 8.00 pm and we arrive at the Boulevard Hotel in Nairobi at 9.30 pm. The pre-departure meeting has already taken place so we get a bottle of water and go to sleep. We’re quite curious about our fellow travellers but meeting them will have to wait until tomorrow.

Nairobi

13/9 Nairobi - Segana (Tana-river)
We get up at 06.45 am and wonder what this day will bring us. After having had breakfast we prepare to leave. We’re sitting in the lobby of the hotel and try to guess who is part of our travelling group and who isn’t.
According to the schedule we were supposed to leave at 9.30 am but at 10.15 am we haven’t spotted any KUMUKA guides or any of our fellow travellers. Then all of a sudden events start to unfold quickly. Prue, our guide, enters the lobby wearing a safari hat lined with zebra fur. The people who were at the pre-departure meeting huddle around her. Now we have to introduce ourselves. After a quick recap on what was said yesterday and inspecting our truck, MUZZA, we leave at 11.00 am. But before we leave Prue introduces us to Shaun and Karanja who will be our driver and cook on this trip. There are fifteen people in our international group eight of which will make a ten week journey which has Harare, Zimbabwe as its final destination.
Once on our way, the first contacts are made and Prue tries to get the mood going. Just before we enter Thika we have lunch by the side of the road. It’s a great feeling to feel and hear the African wind blow around you. Travelling in an open truck does have its drawbacks though. The music cassette broke Steve tries to wind the tape that got out of the cassette up again but the wind makes this very difficult while at the same time giving a comical air to Steve’s attempts.
In the afternoon we reach our first campsite at Segana. The campsite is situated on Tana river, which is the major river of Kenya. Here we get more elaborate instructions about the truck, the adjusted itinerary and tomorrow’s events which will include white water rafting. Apart from this arrangements are made for the chores which we are supposed to do. We are split up into four groups: A cooking group, a cleaning group, a group which cleans the truck and a group with time off.
After an excellent diner we still sit in a circle. Prue asks everyone to introduce themselves again and to tell the group about their daily activities and their most beautiful experience in life so far.
If the first day is anything to go on the upcoming four weeks are going to be wonderful. We get a positive first impression of KUMUKA just as we did of Drifters. KUMUKA is Swahili for long journey. In Shona it means awakening.

14/9 Tana river
After a good and substantial breakfast we play a game of volleyball. After having gotten some instructions about the rules and dangers of white water rafting we leave for the Tana river at 11.00 am. I am accompanied on my adventure by Prue, Sally, Shanon, Steve, Matt and Nicole.
The river is shallow and the rocks come dangerously close at times. We’ve got seven rapids ahead of us. The group works together well as opposed to the one with which I went rafting on the Zambezi river, so the first few rapids are a piece of cake. At one of the rapids with a two meter drop the guide voluntarily decides to go surfing. Surfing is a term used by rafters to indicate that the boat gets stuck in the rapid and the people in it are given a good shaking up. The process repeats itself three times and at the second time the boat shoots out of the rapid and I see Prue, who sits diagonally across me, hanging above me. She can’t hold onto the boat anymore. I am about to get a ducking when we look each other in the eye and lands on top of me after making a free fall. Together we plunge into the deep to resurface gasping and spluttering ten metres further along the river. We arrive at a waterfall after having tamed the longest rapid. We get out of the boat and climb onto a rock next to the waterfall, where the rest of the group is waiting for us. The guide has come up with a bold plan: To jump off the rock, if you want to. Everyone’s adrenaline levels are up so all decide to take a jump.
Once we’re back in the boat we position the boat across the waterfall with its tip pointing straight toward the waterfall. Apparently there’s a cave behind the waterfall. We try to make our way through the waterfall with a supreme effort but we give up after three attempts. I’m at the front of the boat and every time I try to make a rowing movement my paddle is pushed backwards by the waterfall. Before continuing on our way we rest and allow our shaking hands to calm down a bit. We’ve got two more rapids ahead of us but before we get to those we put the boat at shore one more time where the river has formed natural slide between two rocks. We take turns at sliding down as spry puppies. After having slid down once we want more and when we slide down in a line the children who by now have flocked to the shore are laughing at us silly white people. I slide down once more and try to turn around in the rapid so my tired body will be carried along the same current three times. In this process only my yellow helmet is above the surface, a spectacle which brought about a new bout of laughter. Prue was the one who was chiefly in stitches until the evening.
Shortly after this we came across a rapid with small differences in height but little room as well. We’re told to sit on the left side of the boat. We do so too quickly as a result of which all but three people fall into the water. Prue, Steve and I are under the boat. We disappear under water and are driven into deeper water through a narrow gorge. With surprise written all over our faces we climb back into the boat after which we can finish our journey on a quieter note and enjoy the scenery.
Rafting on the Tana river is incomparable to rafting on the Zambezi. Of course, the Zambezi has bigger rapids but the rocky Tana river is attractive because of the marvellous scenery in which many birds live.
The people who didn’t go rafting spend the morning swimming and entertaining themselves otherwise. At 1.00 pm they’ll leave camp for a warm and exhausting climb to the waterfall where we will be passing by shortly. Once we’re back at the campsite we get a chance to rest and have a nice beer. We sit around the campfire and talk. The stories about our rafting trip are told elaborately again.

15/9 Segana (Tana river) – Timau
We leave for Timau at 9.00 am. The first part of the trip is especially stunning. We pass several villages of various sizes. All villages have many roadside shops, though. We’re approaching the Laikipia plateau and Nanyuki, which is the herald of Mount Kenya. Kuki Gallman wrote about these places in her book I Dreamed of Africa, which I read just before I came to Africa. The trip is not long and all roads, except the one to Nanyuki, are passable. Before we reach Nanyuki, we cross the equator. We are invited to come and look at matches in a funnel filled with water. Twenty metres to the North of the equator the match swirls clockwise and twenty metres to the south of the equator it swirls anti-clockwise. Exactly on the equator the match lies perfectly still in the water. It is fun to watch but no one could be warmed up for a certificate. When we enter Nanyuki, we can see Mount Kenya with its top in the clouds on the right side of the road. We continue our journey to Timau on a road which has some level spaces. After some time we reach our campsite near Timau. The Timau river lodge is situated at a height of 2000 metres and is adjacent to the last piece of Kenyan highland rainforest on one side and to the foot of Mount Kenya on the other. The tents are pitched and we have lunch between scrounging geese, turkeys and common cranes. Soon after, we leave for a hiking trip through the rainforest. It’s a substantial hike with our local guide Francis, who walks at a brisk pace. Winding paths lead us through lush surroundings. We are presented with hyena tracks, instructions on how to get food and liquids in times of emergency and information about the fauna. We rest at an open space in the rainforest. Just as we get on our way it starts to rain and immediately a refreshing smell which is a delight to our noses rises from the ground. Taking shelter is hardly worth our while so it doesn’t take us long to get going again. We walk toward a few cliffs and before we know it Francis is standing on a ledge and is encouraging us to join him which takes is more of an effort for us than it was for him. There is an abyss at the other side of the cliff. Someone suggested to go and sit on the ledge straddle-legged with a leg at each side of the ledge. We let Francis take a picture of us on the ledge while we are seated behind each other in a row. He walks across the ledge nimbly so he can take photographs for nearly everyone. It a feast to the eye to see the way he takes the pictures. Bent over and with the camera obliquely across his face he is balancing while he tries to find the exposure lever. Standing in this pose he keeps on asking “Where is the something?”
After enjoying these entertaining moments we hike deeper into the forest. We see the local people till a patch of deforested land. Some of us watch this spectacle intently without realising that the rest of the group is moving along. We catch on too late when our fellow hikers have vanished without a trace. We choose a direction at the gamble. We whistle and shout to no avail. Trying to estimate the right direction Prue, Kath, Roger, Ellen and I walk on haphazardly. We rejoin the group at a small brook where they’re busy crossing the brook by stepping on loose rocks. Everybody gets to the other side dry enough even if they do have to use their hands and feet in order to do so.
After a while we return to the campsite. Dusk has set in and it is quite chilly. One after another we go in search of the shower. The guides have a surprise for us: diner is being cooked and we can eat inside for once. The rest of the evening is enjoyable and Francis is the centre of attention in it. He teaches some of us how to dance African style. I take the opportunity this evening to learn the names of the group members by heart. And it is a good thing I do so because I don’t know a lot of them yet.

Sweetwaters GR

16/9 Timau - Sweetwaters Game Reserve
This morning the tasks of the four groups in the camp are changed for the first time: I become a cook and Ellen has time off. This means I have to get out of bed early and Ellen has to take the tent apart and store it by herself.
We leave for Nanyuki at approximately 09.00 am. Once we’re in Nanyuki people selling fruit and knickknacks flocked toward us. They have a keen sense for picking out acquisitive tourists. Sharon is their victim. Even socks serve as a means of exchange and after many bids from both sides the merchants succeed in selling something. After having put the knickknacks in the truck we leave for Cunninghams, which is a campsite on private territory near Nanyuki. From there we drive to Sweetwaters Game Reserve.
We reach the gate of the twenty four thousand acre reserve by driving two land rovers across dry and dusty roads. We see much wildlife on these plains on which the Masai once lived. Against the backdrop of Mount Kenya, warthogs, giraffes, zebras, hartebeests, impalas, Thomson gazelles, bushbucks, waterbucks, elephants, oryxes, common elands and jackals brave the heat of the midday sun.
The reserve also has a chimpanzee sanctuary, in which chimpanzees, mostly with a sad past, are cared for in their natural habitat which is surrounded by fences with electric wire. In the look-out visitors can read dismal situations the animals have been rescued. We watch this sight with mixed feelings. Fortunately, we are cheered up by seven Scandinavian tourists who are all wearing identical topees and khaki clothes. They put a smile on our face that the sight of the chimpanzees did not provide. In another part of the park we pay a short visit to “Blow”, who was the model for the Lion King’s warthog, Pumbaa. After our visit to “Blow” we go to see a hand reared black rhino. The twenty-five-year-old rhino is ensconced among the acacia trees. This giant passes the days of his life under a constant guard and oblivious to constant caresses.
This is not the side of Africa which we have enjoyed for years but it does force you to face the facts about life here. Dusk has already set in when we go back to Cunninghams. We have a drink around the campfire on the private territory by the river and go to sleep afterwards.

17/9 Sweetwaters Game Reserve - Bushcamp
We take a bath in the river after breakfast. We don’t wash very thoroughly be the water is very cold. We leave to travel further into the north of Kenya according to schedule. We plan to go on a camel safari with Samburu warriors on Sunday and Monday.
In Nanyuki, Muzza is parked in the same spot as the day before and once again the merchants know where to find us. Under Karanja’s supervision Nada, Keth and the two of us get groceries for the coming four days. Tonight, we’re going to camp wild and tomorrow and the day after tomorrow we are going on a camel safari, so we have to stock up well. After two hours, we’ve got everything we need. We put everything in the truck and try to make a short phone call to the Netherlands. It’s half an hour’s walk to the lodge where we can phone, fax and e-mail while enjoying a milkshake.
We leave Nanyuki to go to Bobong at 12.30 pm. We don’t expect we shall reach our destination today so we’ll probably sleep in the forest tonight. During this afternoon’s ride we hope to come across a lot of wildlife. In stunning surroundings we spot the first piece of wildlife. Thomson’s gazelles, zebras and giraffes walk on the side of the road. After a three-hour-drive we set up camp on the side of the only road to the north. John, our local guide at Sweetwaters, recommended this place to Prue. We don’t set up camp until disk because we attract much attention camping directly by the side of the road.
Far off, a rock formation can be seen. We decide go over to the formation and climb onto the rocks in order to kill time. That gives us a chance to gather brushwood for tonight’s campfire. Once we get to the rocks some of them turn out to be difficult to climb which makes Karla and Ellen decide to stay on the ground. I reach the top even though at times I have to conquer my fear and curse my choice to go to the top. The climb was worth the effort but the thought of having to get down again is already going through my head. We see three common elands from the top. I stay up on the rock standing perfectly still and pretending casually to enjoy the view while the others move down nimbly across the rocks. On the other side of the rock we see giraffes moving in the distance with a herd of Arabian camels closer by. We see a man on the road walking in our direction. At the same time we see a hyena walking by just close to the rocks. The hyena walks toward the road and crosses it in front of the unsuspecting man. Immediately, we realise that Ellen and Karla are at the bottom of the rock too and we decide to go back. When I follow the path my predecessors have made I find out that my anxiety about going down the rock were unfounded. At the bottom of the rock both ladies are waiting for us, blissfully unaware of the fact that a hyena just passed by them at a short distance.
The man on the road comes to meet us. It turns out he is the herdsman of the group of Arabian camels and we accept his invitation to come and take a closer look. While we’re on our way to the herd the man warns us that there are a lot of buffalos in this area. We get a dry mouth and have to swallow hard at this announcement. Once we get to the Arabian camels the herdsman asks us if we’d like some milk. An Arabian camel who is nursing her young provides us with some milk and each of us takes a sip. The warm fluids don’t taste bad at all, but I think it is taking things a bit far to gulp it down. To the herdsman’s utter amazement, the rest of the group agrees with me. We are surrounded by Arabian camels and I decide to film one of them. I follow a young Arabian camel which is passing me by with my view finder. As if by impulse, it decides to make a ninety degree turn and walk straight toward me. I completely zoom the camera out. The young Arabian camel walks toward me with his eyes fixed on the camera just to change its direction when it is a metre away and slowly walk past me.
> Dusk is setting in and the thought of the hyena is still fresh in our minds. We decide to go back to the truck. On our way back we gather some brushwood and wash ourselves in a small river that meanders through the landscape near our camp. Tents are pitched quickly and another lovely meal is cooked on the campfire. We are visited by two men during our preparations for diner. Apparently we set up camp on private property on which camping isn’t allowed. We are allowed to camp here this night because it’s too late to find another camping spot, but Prue is to inform the other guides that camping isn’t allowed in this area.
The sun has set and we hear hyenas laughing not too far away. The zebras also make their presence know to us. After diner we are gathered around the campfire and are enjoying a nice cool beer when Prue gets up and walks toward the small river. The light of her flashlight is reflected in the red eyes of a hyena which is separated from us by the small river and disappears into the bushes again. Some of us are visibly shaken up by this incident and shrink from leaving the safety of the tent to go to the bathroom tonight. After some time everybody hits their sleeping bags. We hear hyenas and zebras throughout the night.

18/9 Bushcamp - Bobong
We get up at sunrise and nearly the entire group decides to go for a walk before breakfast is served. Prue is our guide as we try to make our way through the bushes on the riverbank. We try to make as little noise as possible despite the size of the group. We succeed in doing this, the result of which is that we see a bushbuck, a Dik-Dik and several birds. The animals come to the water to drink at this time of morning. We also find some dried out buffalo and elephant droppings which indicate that these animals live in this area. We hear the sound of a car coming toward us and decide to hide in the bushes because we‘re not sure if we’re allowed to be here. The men in the back of the car look around. When the car has disappeared we go back to the truck.
By the time we get back, breakfast is ready. After having had breakfast we break up camp and leave for Bobong. We see giraffes, a Dik-Dik and a big turtle along the bumpy road. It’s a hot day, so we immediately dive into the pool once we arrive at the campsite, which is situated on top of a hill and has a pool with a view on the vast plain ahead. Our two day camel safari will start here tomorrow. We update our travel logs and relax by the pool with a drink in our hand. Once again diner is fabulous thanks to Karanja. After the dishes are washed we dance around the campfire during the flapping ceremony. The flapping ceremony consists of nothing more than waving the plates, bowls etc. around so they dry faster. The coming two days will be tiring which is all the more reason for us to hit our sleeping bags early.

19/9 Bobong - Bushcamp
The preparation for the camel safari consists of packing the bare essentials. We’re supposed to take as little luggage with us as possible. The Arabian camels greet us in a hilarious way while the Samburu warriors strap our luggage on the camels’ backs. Sally is especially frightened by the unwilling Arabian camels. Their protest involves making a gurgling bleating sound which allows you to look into the green, slimy mouth which is filled with brown teeth. All in all it’s not a very appetizing sight.
We leave at approximately 9.30 a.m. We’ve got three Arabian camels to carry our luggage and eight more to carry us which means there are two groups which in turn walk or ride on the back of these strong headed animals. We cross the Laikipia plateau accompanied by Samburu warriors and armed guides. Wildlife comes close to the group because we’ve got the Arabian camels with us: groups of zebras and hartebeests lead the way. Later, when the group has been split in two, we ride by a buffalo standing less than seventy five metres from us. It’s watching us form under the acacia tree under which it’s hiding. You’d walk right past it if you weren’t on the alert, but that wouldn’t be without any risk because unsuspecting passers by are attacked quite frequently. Fortunately we as a group aren’t an easy target and the buffalo decides to walk off. When we see hyena and lion paw prints we are al the more alerted and realise it’s important that we stay together. Shortly after this, we have our first break near a waterhole. The people who’ve been walking need their break because it’s hot and the guides keep a steady pace. We have to make sure we drink plenty of fluids.
We leave again when the other group has taken their places on the backs of the Arabian camels. The zebras and hartebeests are leading the way once more. Riding an Arabian camel isn’t particularly comfortable so it doesn’t take long for my back and bottom to start bothering me. I change positions regularly and after another hour and a half we get our second break. We have lunch there at the riverside. We paddle in the river while two young Samburus spy on us. The heat gives me a sudden nosebleed. Once we traded places again and leave for our camping spot for the night, some clouds start coming in. This makes the weather much cooler and the last part of the journey in which my nose has stopped bleeding more bearable. During the journey, it’s Sally of all people who is attacked by the Arabian camel which is walking directly behind her which makes her jump off her own Arabian camel out of fear. After another two hours, we’ve had it but fortunately that’s the exact moment we arrive at our camping spot. We stretch a canvas out and make a campfire at a rapid between a small and a larger waterfall. It’s been an exhaustive day and Ellen gets her first blisters.
We rest a while by the Ewaso Narok river, which gives us an opportunity to have a chat. After we had diner most of us decide to go to sleep. We try to get some rest under the breathtaking starry sky, with our feet only a few inches away from the river, and wonder what tomorrow will bring us.

20/9 Bushcamp - Bobong
We wake up at sunrise after having slept under a starry sky with an occasional cloud. We spent the night in the middle of the forest surrounded by the sound of swirling water. Of course a substantial and healthy lunch is made here. The protesting Arabian camels are burdened with our luggage again and then we leave for Bobong. I have blisters on my feet as well, but since they’re not as bad as Ellen’s it’s better for her to ride the Arabian camel the entire way back. The entire group has to walk through a mountainous area, but after we crossed a small river and walked up an incline half of the people in the group can mount the Arabian camels. We manage to get lost in the first hundred metres. How on earth can we loose sight of eleven Arabian camels? Well, you can do so easily in the bush. We find the rest of the group after a while thanks to Prue´s searching skills. Again, there is much laughter when half of the group gets on the Arabian camels. We have a long road ahead of us but maybe we will be as lucky as we were yesterday and we will see much wildlife.
We do not see much beside a few common duikers ducking away and some fresh lion and hyena paw prints for the first few kilometres. We take our first break at a hippo pool. There are fifteen hippos and many photos are taken. We continue our journey after half an hour. We still do not see much wildlife but after a few more kilometres we are asked to be quiet because a group of fifty elephants has been spotted. John leads us around the group of elephants so we can approach them upwind. We leave the Arabian camels behind and continue on foot. It does not take us long to hear the first elephant noises. Shortly after this we see them too. We have to walk around the elephants with a wide berth again because we might find ourselves downwind otherwise. Further along the road we wait to see what will happen. John is the first to go out exploring. He returns after ten minutes and three of us are allowed to follow him. It does not take long before the rest of the group can follow. John even says we have to hurry because we can see the elephants cross a path if we hurry. It’s a lovely sight. Again, we try to get in front of the group of elephants and succeed. Only this time we walk upwind. The elephants are at a distance of a hundred metres. All of a sudden an elephant runs out of the bushes at less than fifty metres distance. John makes a sign which means we have to run away fast. The elephant examines us with spread ears. After a few seconds the elephant rejoins the group without making any further threats, so we can watch the group in peace. It’s impressive to see these giant creatures from this perspective. We go back to the Arabian camels and have lunch before we go on our way again. We expect to arrive at Bobong in an hour. Nearly everybody is at the end of their tether. Walking in the heat and sitting uncomfortably takes its toll.
We see another buffalo and two zebras. The latter are blocking our path, but decide to let us pass when we’re at a distance of twenty metres. We count the kilometres, minutes and seconds before we get to our familiar camp, which we reach with dragging feet. The last fifty metres to the camp are made up of a steep incline. We brave this barrier too after which we see the familiar swimming pool and spots in the shade, both of which are used to full advantage. All physical discomforts suddenly disappear when two ranch employees offer us cold beers. This is the best beer I ever drank in my entire life. We would not have wanted to miss these past couple of days even though our feet are full of blisters and our bodies are terribly stiff. The first memories are being exchanged by the side of the swimming pool. The main topics of conversation were our run-in with the elephants and Sally and Lisa’s moments of fear.
Karanja offers me a nice cold beer when I’m taking a delightful shower. It turns out that he himself has had enough of the stuff already. The beer does not agree with him due to the strain of the last couple of day and he cannot cook. This means that the cooking crew has to have to exert themselves once again. Of course, everybody goes to their sleeping bags immediately after diner.

Lake Baringo

21/9 Bobong - Lake Baringo
Today, we get up earlier than normal without to much sore muscles. The only troubles we have to deal with are sore feet and blisters. Our journey leads us through acacia bush land. Again, people are waving to us in a friendly way. Slowly but surely, the landscape gets greener and the soil get its distinctive red colour, which I always associate with Kenya. We’re heading for Lake Baringo, which is one of the lakes situated in the Rift Valley with a great variety of birds. Hippos and crocodiles also live in this protected area. We pass through the gate as if we were missionaries. The entrance fees are cheap.
Gibraltar Island is situated in Lake Baringo. It’s a quite hot day which we can feel even better due to the difference in height of two thousand metres going up to the lake. We camp at campsite Roberts and when we arrive there I immediately go to the lake. I watch a crocodile which is in the water together with Kath in tow. We walk along the shore of the lake for a while being drawn to the sounds of a hippo, a yellow billed stork and a pelican. All of a sudden a crocodile darts into the water and Kath is so frightened she grabs hold of me. This only goes to you always have to be on the alert which we definitely were not at that moment. We take the opportunity to escape the heat at the campsite bar. It is too warm to do anything so we enjoy a nice beer. Ellen is not so lucky: she’s part of the cooking crew and still has to go shop for groceries. A boat trip on the lake is planned somewhere in the afternoon. It is rescheduled to the end of the afternoon even though we were advised not to do so because chances at hard winds are higher at the end of the afternoon. Still, we decide to make the trip at 04.30 pm, for which we have to pay. Firstly, the sun is low in the sky and shines toward us, which makes it hard to see much and make photos. After half an hour the wind does start to blow harder. We see flamingos, spoonbills, kingfishers, hamerkopfs, crocodiles, fish eagles, hippos, pelicans and other birds which cannot be identified. We go around the island and the wind keeps increasing in strength. We are sitting in a long boat and more often than not waves splash over the edge of the boat. This makes the craziest thoughts go through your head. We do not see any crocodiles or hippos at this moment, but there are there. We protect the cameras with our jumpers. The water fiercely beats against the bow, clouds are gathering and it is starting to get dark. We huddle in the middle of the lake to protect our cameras and do not take anything in of our surroundings. Half an hour later we get into one of the lake’s lees. Along the shore, we see a few big crocodiles and a yawning hippo getting ready to walk onto the land. The crocodiles are chased back into the water by our guide. Everything is done to make us as comfortable as possible.
After all of this we are ready to go back to the campsite, but one of our boats breaks down which again causes quite some commotion at this dusky time of day. The boat is towed along for the rest of the trip. However, after five minutes the motor of the boat starts to work again and the two boats are uncoupled again. The steering man in the boat accelerates to quickly which makes the rope strung between the boats tighten. The guide in the other boat just barely manages to get out of the way of the tightening rope and prevents himself from falling into the water. Despite all this we safely arrive at the landing place that we left two hour earlier. When we get to the campsite it turns out that Karanja once again was not able to perform his duties. This is turning into a problem fro Shaun and Prue. Karanja stayed with friends of his in the village to make a night of it. Once more the cooking crew do a terrific job preparing a perfect meal. We spend the evening at the bar playing darts.

Lake Nakuru NP

22/9 Lake Baringo - Lake Nakuru
We leave Roberts campsite at 09.00 am. They tell us a group of hippos grazed around the tents tonight. We did not notice anything but now we know that the “camping at own risk” is not put up for nothing. We expect to arrive at Lake Bogoria in less than an hour. The road is reasonably accessible and we reach Lake Bogoria National Reserve in less than an hour, as we expected.
At the gate the wardens try to make us pay 2000 Ksh for taking cameras with us, but that won’t wash. We follow the road until we catch our first glimpse of the 26,563 acre lake, which is surrounded by hot springs. It is a pink glimpse because there are millions of flamingos in the lake. The lake becomes more and more fascinating as we get closer to it and a pungent odour is in the air. This odour is caused by flamingo droppings, growth of algae and high temperatures. The pink blur slowly turns into separate flamingos. The impalas and other animals do not get the attention they deserve anymore. When we stop the truck at the side of the road for a moment, the flamingos are treading in the water in order to gather speed and fly off to another spot. We drive along the lake with pink fringes until we reach the geysers. We get out of the truck and are able to come quite close to the flamingos. Many funny moments in turn lead to many photographs. We boil the eggs for our lunch in one of the puddles next to a hot spring.
We decide to take one of the more difficult routes out of the park now that our stomachs are filled. It is time to seriously put Muzza through the test. We drive over a mountain and out of the park over a nearly inaccessible road. When we reach the summit we take one last look at the pink lake. We are shaken up quite badly, but it is good to know that our four wheel drive is up to the task. It is rather hot and we do not have the benefit of a cool wind because we cannot drive fast. We reach sisal plantations after driving through hardly uninhabited terrain. It is clear to us that we arrived in an area which only has plantations in it. Sisal is used to make rope among other things. We are driving on a tarmac road again when we notice that the past few hours have taken their toll on Muzza. One of the tires is flat and needs to be replaced. Just a few moments after we come to a stand still we are joined by children and workers. Dark clouds are coming in from a distance and it starts to rain just after we changed the tire and put the canvas top over the car.
We continue our journey with another hour to go until we reach Lake Nakuru. Our destination is the Kembu campsite, but first we have to get some groceries. In Nakuru the first postcards are bought and mailed. We are surrounded by curio merchants whom we have to keep at bay for an hour. Once we reach the Kembu campsite it starts to rain again and we quickly put our tents up. After we pitched the tents we go to the cosy bar. We go and sit by the hearth with a gin tonic and a beer. The situation with Karanja is discussed during diner. We do not exactly know what happened, but we are going to give him one last chance. After diner we play a game of darts while enjoying a drink. Prue tells us what we are going to do tomorrow during the game. We gladly go to our tents early in order to be well rested for tomorrow’s day long game drive. We are supposed to leave at 6 am.

23/9 Lake Nakuru National Park
We leave for Lake Nakuru NP at 6 am, as planned. It is a twenty five minute drive from the campsite to the National Park. The sun rises in our first few kilometres. It is still quite chilly. When we drive through Nakuru, everybody is on their way to school or work. The children enthusiastically wave at us. While Prue takes care of the formalities, we take the canvas off the truck so everybody can take a good look around. Lake Nakuru NP is a 21,744 acre park with a fence around it. White and black rhinos have been reintroduced into the wild here. Other common animals in the park include Rothschild giraffes, hippos, waterbucks, reedbucks, impalas, zebras, buffalos and warthogs. Leopards also live in the park, but you will need much luck to spot one of them. The largest part of the park is surrounded by steep cliffs. The lake in the park is one of the most beautiful lakes in the Rift Valley. We have to stop to let a group of buffalos cross the road just after we get into the park. You hardly see them when they are in the woods, but now that we are standing still and take a good look around we spot more and more buffalos that are hiding in the vegetation. Further along some giraffes are eating leaves of an acacia tree. We smell rotting flesh. We try to discover its source out of curiosity. We cannot find anything and go on our way again. We drive through the park clockwise. We drive through acacia bushes and along euphorbia, which are cactus like trees. Every now and then we spot some impalas and warthogs, but mostly we see tourist busses coming toward us. It is lovely to feel the wind on your skin while you are sitting in a truck with an open roof and in which you occasionally have to duck for the low acacia branches.
We leave the woodlands and drive toward the lake, where we see buffalos and zebras. Later, we also spot impalas, Thomson’s gazelles and more buffalos. In the distance we see another tourist truck standing still. A grey giant is standing beside the truck. We decide to go to the truck. Two rhinos are standing far away to our left, but we have set our sights on our first discovery. We do not regret our decision. We arrive at the place where we saw the truck and see another rhino stand beside the colossal rhino we first saw. It is a young rhino that stays close to its mother the entire time. When the young rhino suckles with its mother, soft moans can be heard from the car. We count ourselves very lucky. When we drive on we see even more wildlife, among which two more rhinos each with a young.
We reach a vantage point where we have a stunning view of the park and have our belated breakfast. The temperature rises as the day draws on. Apparently the wildlife has hid itself. We drive to the waterfall at the back of the park where we wait until the worst heat is over. This gives us the opportunity to lazy about in the grass. Luckily, some clouds come drifting in. When we drive toward the lake we come through leopard territory. The vultures in the trees and the air alert us to the presence of a carcass. We closely watch the area, but this does not do us much good because we are not allowed to leave the road. Again, we see wildlife that is common to the park. Then all of a sudden, we see two enormous rhinos standing just by the side of the road. Their size is very impressive when seen up close. We cannot complain about rhino sightings: we saw twelve of the sixteen rhinos living in the park. The day is drawing to a close and it is time to go back to the gate.
Back at the campsite, Karanja has outdone himself. We get an excellent African meal. Apparently, he wants to use his last chance well. This evening we go to sleep later than we would normally. We play some games while enjoying a drink. Tomorrow we have a day off.

24-9 Kembu Campsite
Today we get a chance to rest ourselves. We lie in until 9.30 am which is quite late by our standard. After that we get our baggage from the truck and start to do our first round of hand-washing. When our clothes are clean and hanging out to dry, we phone home. We have delicious pancakes with pieces of banana baked into them for brunch. After brunch we play a game of badminton and a game of darts. Karla and Ellen are having their legs waxed and they are not the only women to do so. Hardly any woman passes up on this chance in Africa. There are many chameleons at the campsite. We did not see any of them yesterday, but today some of them show themselves during the day.
It is a quiet day, up until the moment Karanja comes to ask me for some money. It turns out that I am not the only one whom he asked for money. He could not pay last night’s bill and has to find some money after he failed at putting the drinks on someone else’s bill. Fortunately the barmaid did not cooperate with Karanja’s plan and put everything on a separate bill. Everybody is fed up by Karanja’s behaviour by now. Enough is enough and has to pack his bags and in front of the entire group his bags are unpacked once more to see if there are any stolen articles in them. After this is done, Shaun and Andrew, who is the owner of the campsite, drop Karanja off at a small town four kilometres away where he has to get on the bus to Nairobi. This series of events casts a shadow over the day, but it is the only right solution there is. With a good meal, punch and gin, vodka and African marihuana, we try to lighten the mood. The alcohol is starting to work which makes some of us extremely cheerful. All in all it is a good end to a dark day.

25/9 Kembu campsite - Naiberi river campsite
Today, we planned to leave at 10 am. Last night has claimed its victims. Some of us have a headache, have to vomit or are bothered by diarrhoea. Last night’s bill is paid literally as well as figuratively. We get some groceries in Nakuru for the next few days. We drew lots for a dress-up at the end of our four-week holiday. Everybody has to buy dress-up clothes for the person on the lot we drew. We try to buy some clothes here in Nakuru because you never know if you are going to get another chance to do so. All arrangements are made within an hour.
The road to Eldoret is not spectacular. The journey takes longer than we planned and many people get some more sleep. We quickly pitch our tents when we arrive at the campsite so we can enjoy a lovely gin-tonic and a rum cola. The campsite burned down at Christmas of 1998. The walls are up again and the roof is covered with plastic. Photos and banner of other in Overlanders show that this campsite can be a nice place to stay. We eat an Indonesian meal, after I have bought a shirt made of a Masai robe. We do not have to cook ourselves. This has nothing to do with Karanja’s departure but more with the fact that the food at this campsite is very good. After diner, we shoot some pool and play a game of darts after which we have a vodka challenge. This means that fifteen people have to drink one bottle of vodka as quickly as they can. The record is set at 23.41 seconds. After three attempts, it takes us 27.60 seconds. This means we finish at sixth place, which is not good enough for an honourable mention in the high scores.

26/9 Naiberi river campsite - Mount Elgon NP
We have to make a trip of a few hours to reach today’s destination. Just before we reach Mount Elgon we pass through Kitale. In our opinion, the friendliest people in all of Africa live here. When the truck passes by, nearly all people wave at us. We arrive at the gate of the park at 1 pm. We have to wait quite long before we can go in. Mount Elgon is not visited as often as other parks by tourists. Mount Elgon is a 41, 816 acre park with grottos that are visited by elephants and buffalos which eat mineral salts there. We want to walk to one of the grottos this afternoon. The Ebola virus allegedly broke out in one of these grottos in the past. At the gate, Prue was told that it will start to rain in the afternoon, so our trip to the grottos is moved to tomorrow morning. This gives us enough time to have an extensive lunch and try to discover wildlife near the campsite by ourselves. We were expressly told not to wander too far into the park. We reach the place where we will sleep and are greeted by a group of ten waterbucks. There is much wildlife in the park: there are at least four hundred bush elephants, waterbucks, giant forest hogs, leopards, buffalos, baboons, black and white colobus monkeys and several species of antelope.
After we pitched the tents, Ellen, Beate, Karla and I decide to go for a short walk. We already feel lost when we are just a few metres into the forest. We make use of path that animals made. All of a sudden, we hear a large branch snap, which means that a large animal is close by. We do not see it but apparently it did see or hear us because we hear it running away fast. We decide to go back. Once we are back at the campsite, I decide to walk into the opposite direction for a while. Again, I hear a branch snap, this time high up in the trees. I once more walk into the bush and I catch a glimpse of a black and white colobus monkey which is jumping away into the forest. I decide to wait for a while to see if the animal will return. My patience is not rewarded. On my way back I see a few baboons. The animals in this park are shier which can probably be explained by the fact that the park is visited by so few tourists.
In the meantime clouds have gathered and a thundershower erupted. We look at photos Prue took on her previous journeys to Africa during the rain. We also start making preparations for diner. Matt and I go out to spot wildlife after the shower passed by. The two of us calmly walk together without making much noise. We see a bushbuck and a waterbuck. The waterbuck stares at us for a long time but eventually walks into the forest. We go back to the camp with a sense of satisfaction. Dusk is setting in and Beate, Steve and I talk about the animals Matt and I came across. Beate got curious because of my stories, so we set out together to see if we can spot more wildlife. We do not have to wait long until a large male waterbuck appears. The animal already picked up our scent but it cannot see us because we are hiding behind a tree. Approximately two hundred metres further along we see nine female waterbucks. Dusk is setting in fast now and we decide to return quickly to the camp. When we get back to the campsite, we just missed the serving of soup, but we do not mind. Our encounter with the waterbucks was very special. We go to our tents under a marvellous starry sky with the call of the black and white colobus monkeys lulling us to sleep.

Kakamega Forest

27/9 Mount Elgon NP - Kakamega Forest
The delayed foottrip to the Citum cave and the Makingeni cave starts today at 9 am. We gobble our breakfasts down and are able to leave according to schedule because our guides arrive right on time. The group is quite loud on when we make our way to the caves and we assume that we will not see much wildlife on this trip. The baboons and black and white colobus monkeys quickly disappear into the forest once we come closer. We are hiking up Mount Elgon, which is a steady ascent, when the guide asks us to be quiet. A female buffalo and her young are standing at a short distance. The rest of the herd stands at a short distance of the mother and her young at less than twenty five metres from us. It is a bit scary but we use our time to get the herd on film.
We do not see any more wildlife before we get to the caves, but the forest is magnificent, which makes the fatigue that is setting in more bearable. We have to negotiate a stiff climb before we get to the grottos. We are panting and sweating heavily when we reach the first grotto. It is somewhat of a miracle that the elephants and buffalos use the same path to get their minerals from the caves, but their pawprints are proof that they do so. We can catch our breath in the cool cave. We have to climb again to reach the second cave. Fatigue is clearly increasing, but a waterfall in front of the grotto and the view make up for much of the effort even though we are dog-tired. The guides ask us if we want to go further up, but we decide to go back to the campsite. The group divides itself in two on the way back. The first group still hopes to see some wildlife and are not disappointed. We see a waterbuck, buffalos, a bushbuck, several species of monkeys and a common duiker. So, despite the chatterboxes in the second group the amount of wildlife we see is not too bad.
When we reach the campsite, the people who did not go with us already packed the tents so we can leave almost immediately after lunch. We hope to reach Kakamega Forest before dark. Once we arrive in Kakamega, we buy some charcoal by the side of the road. Lisa suffers from diarrhoea and she needs to go badly, but it is not quiet enough here to squat behind a tree. We ask children where the lavatory is in Swahili, but when the words “wapi choo” the children have a laughing fit. However, they do direct us toward the house of the lady who sold charcoal to us. She chases the children who run after Lisa away so Lisa can use the lavatory in peace. We take a left turn on the outskirts of Kakamega and drive down a very bumpy road with more potholes than level patches. Our campsite is situated at the edge of Kakamega Forest and is little more than a patch of forest. It does not amount to much, really. It is warm and damp, which is no surprise since we are very near the rainforest. We will take a walk through the rainforest tomorrow. We wonder if it is going to be as exerting as this morning’s hike. In any case, Ellen will not be joining us because the blisters on her feet have become quite large.

28/9 Kakamega Forest - Kisumu
We leave at 07.00 am for a trip through the only area with lowland rainforest that is left in Kenya. The 11,040 acres rainforest is a remnant of the Congo Basin. Kakamega is the eastern most part of rainforest where wildlife can still be found and is unique to this part of Kenya. Tourist do not often visit this beautiful stretch of rainforest surrounded by plantations which has an average rainfall of 200 millimetres a year. When we leave the campsite we walk straight into the rainforest where we immediately are witness to a fierce feud between two blue monkey families. We also meet the agile and shy and black and white colobus monkeys again, which stay high up in the trees.
We get an extensive talk about the flora and fauna of the area. There all sorts of medicinal plants: some cure a sore throat, others help against fever. There are even plants which cure prostate cancer and snakebites. The pace of the two-hour walk fortunately is not too high, so maybe Ellen could have joined us even though she has blisters on her feet. At the end of our trip we spot a large colony of safari ants. These extremely aggressive ants attack everything that blocks their way. When we get back, it turns out that a second hike to a lookout point has been planned. I decide to stay with Ellen and together with Prue and Sharon we prepare lunch for the entire group. When the others return, they tell us the hike was exhausting, so I do not regret not coming along at all.
We leave for Lake Victoria. We get two flat tires just barely after we left the bumpy road just outside of Kakamega. The tires are changed in a downpour accompanied by thunder. The rain stops just as the finishing touches to the changing of the tires are made. We arrive in Kisumu in the middle of the afternoon. Kisumu is situated at Lake Victoria and is the third largest city of Kenya. The streets of Kisumu are very busy. We take a detour to Kisumu Beach, where our campsite is located. It is a simple campsite and we can think of more beautiful places to stay on the shores of Lake Victoria. This part of the lake is the only one we get to see. Dusk sets in fast and heavy rains and thunder come in. It is still raining when we go to sleep, but we hardly notice the rain because we almost immediately fall asleep.

Lake Naivasha

29/9 Kisumu - Lake Naivasha
We leave Lake Victoria behind us at 6 am. We go to Lake Naivasha via Nakuru. The sun is just rising when we drive out of Kisumu. The scenery is varied. We pass by hills, tea plantations and lakes. In Nakuru, we get groceries for the upcoming days and buy some knick knacks to boot. The negotiations are conducted slowly, but with much humour. They eventually result in the purchase of a leather bag and two bookends. We still have twenty eight miles to go to Lake Naivasha.
We arrive at Fisherman’s campsite at about 3.30 pm. Another downpour breaks out just before we reach Naivasha, but fortunately we manage to get the canvas over Muzza in the nick of time. Prue and Shaun, who were in front of us, were not as lucky and they are soaked when they get out of the truck at the campsite. Fisherman’s campsite is an excellent site to stay at for the upcoming three nights. It is well-maintained and perfectly situated at the shore of the Naivasha lake, which is situated just a few metres from our tents. The only thing which separates us from the hippos is an electric wire. This campsite will be the starting point of our trips to Elsamere, Cresent Island and Hell’s Gate National Park. We have diner and a drink in the cosy bar. Tomorrow we will visit Elsamere and Crescent Island.

30/9 Lake Naivasha (Crescent Island and Elsamere)
After giving some thought to our program, we decide to visit Crescent Island in the morning. We rent a boat and go to the island, which is inhabited by giraffes, impalas, Thomson’s gazelles and wildebeest, along the shore of the lake. Along the lake’s shore, the reedy border of the lake holds a variety of birds. We see reed cormorants, African fish-eagles, kingfishers, pelicans, a few flamingos and a hippo.
We can already see the first giraffes as we get closer to the island. Once we get out of the boat, we can come very close to the animals because they are used to humans and because there are no predators on the island. We immediately come across giraffes after our arrival. There is little more than ten metres between us and these lovely animals. Some of them just stay put with their young by their side while others stare curiously at the group. Many photographs are taken because it is so much fun to see the giraffes going about their daily business. We walk around the island in this way for a while and everywhere we go the animals are not shy at all. We are glad that we chose to spend the morning in this way. The people who stayed at the campsite are really missing out. This trip is really worthwhile, unlike the boat trip we took on Lake Baringo.
In the afternoon, we visit Elsamere, which is the final resting place of Joy Adamson. Together with her husband, George, she fought to protect animals across the globe but especially in Kenya. One of her most famous books is about the lioness Elsa. We watch a video documentary about her life and enjoy a genuinely English afternoon tea. The conservation centre is situated at a marvellous place, an acacia forest right at Lake Naivasha. She described the search for her home like this “For years I had been looking for a house where George and I could live. Eventually I found a place that seemed to combine all we wished for. It would be impossible to imagine a more attractive site for a home. We decided to call our home Elsamere.” Unfortunately, Adamson was not able to enjoy the perfect view for long because she died shortly after she and her husband bought the house. The garden is still visited daily by black and white colobus monkeys as it was when Joy Adamson still was able to enjoy all of this herself. On our way back we book bicycles for tomorrow when we will pay a visit to Hell’s Gate National Park.

Hell's Gate NP

1/10 Hell’s Gate National Park
We get on our bikes at 8.30 am, and not at 8.00 am as we planned, to go to Hell’s Gate National Park. Children wave at us as we make our way to Hell’s Gate NP. The park is situated at three kilometres from our campsite and it is one of the few national parks in which you can hike or cycle without a guide, even though there are buffalos, cheetahs and hyenas about. The wardens at the gate want to know what the identification number of my passport is. I do not know it by heart, but when they ask me if I really do not know it and say I have to fill it in on the form I answer “well I do know it now” and fill in a number at random. The wardens have a good laugh about my behaviour but the way I handled it suits them just fine, so after dealing with these mock formalities we can go on our way.
When you enter the park you immediately see Fischer’s Tower, which is a tower of rocks created by a volcanic eruption. Somewhat further along we see zebras, warthogs and hartebeests walk by. Beate, Karla, Ellen and I decide to go in the direction of these animals while the rest of the group cycles straight ahead. After we passed the zebras, warthogs and hartebeests, we see hyena trails. We decide to get off our bikes and walk for a while. We cannot come as close to these animals as we could to the ones that we encountered yesterday. It is quite a special experience to be cycling among wildlife. Fatigue is starting to take its toll, but still Beate and I decide to go to a look-out while Ellen and Karla will go to Fischer’s Tower, where we will meet them again.
Once our small group is complete we continue on our way under the watchful eye of zebras, hartebeests and giraffes. When we come to a fork in the road we decide to take the left-hand side. The landscape changes and we decide to follow the tracks of other cyclists. Exhaustion is beginning to really set in and we follow the track until we reach the next fork, which turns out to not be on the map. We do not discover this until later after we negotiated some particularly nasty inclines, and by that time we want to get back to the exit as soon as possible. However, the road back is terribly tiring and we rest for a while at the gate of the park. We hop back on our cycles after a quarter of an hour to complete the last stage of our trip which, according to the gatekeeper, was another seven kilometres. This is a tarmac road but it still has inclines. After a while, we get to a second gate which turns out to be the main entrance of the park. Before we reach the second gate we see giraffes and zebras cross the road which makes up for a lot. We still have three kilometres to go which we struggle to cover. After nearly overheating and thinking three times that we negotiated the last incline we finally reach the campsite. When we get there, Nada, who left the group, is the only one who has already returned. We immediately head to the bar to have a cola and a beer. We feel much better after a refreshing shower and while Ellen starts diner I go to the bar to get my level of fluids up. Slowly but surely, everyone is starting to trickle into the campsite each of them with different stories about what they did today. After diner, we go directly to the bar and we decide to go to the tents at 8.30 pm to catch up on our lack of sleep.

Masai Mara

2/10 Naivasha - Masai Mara
Today we are leaving for the Masai Mara at 7.00 am. We slept well last night, despite yesterday’s physical exertion. I woke up for a short while because of a cramp in my hamstring. We leave Naivasha in full career and after we passed through Narok, the landscape changes and the first contours of the Masai Mara come into sight. Beside some members of the Masai people we see wildebeests, zebras and Thomson’s gazelles.
Before we reach the gate of the Masai Mara, we visit a Masai village, which unfortunately is too commercially oriented. Maybe we as tourists are to blame for this development. Still, we make some photographs although the commercial atmosphere puts a blot on the picture. We do not stay in the village for long and soon we reach the gate of the Masai Mara. We use the opportunity to take a game drive as we make our way to the Riverside campsite. We see wildebeests, zebras, impalas, hartebeests, warthogs, topis, elephants, giraffes and many more animals. After the worst heat of the day is over and the tents are pitched, we make another game drive in the evening. Prue will not be joining us because she has a bout of malaria. Before we leave, we make arrangements for a hot air balloon flight. There are just two places left on the flight so we try to find another balloonist. We will find out if all went well when we get back from our game drive. We do have much luck with our search for wildlife. However, we have to be patient in order to see big wildlife. After driving around for a while we see common wildlife. Less common for tourists is the sight of mating zebras and that of a young elephant playing with its trunk. Later on we pass by hyenas and reach a group of cars where we see two cheetahs coming toward us by walking among the cars. It is a pity that twenty cars are blocking our view, but that is typical of the Masai Mara. We have a short moment to take pictures and make video recordings. A funny sight is provided by a cheetah which jumps on the spare tyre of one of the cars. The people in the car plunge into the car out of fear. We watch this scene for a while but then to decide to go on. The day is drawing to a close and we decide to head back to the campsite. The sunset is absolutely splendid. We see four hyenas, buffalos and wildebeests, which are abundant in the park, zebras and the animals which I mentioned before.
Once we get back, it turns out that no more than two persons can make a hot air balloon flight the next morning which means that we have to draw lots. Beate and Ellen are the lucky ones, but Ellen lets me go in her place. The rest of the group will be going on a game drive. We leave at 5.30 am tomorrow morning so we hit the hay early. This does not do us a lot of good though, because four Englishmen make such a racket that we cannot get to sleep until 2.00 am.

3/10 Masai Mara - Nairobi
James wakes us up at 5.00 am. We quickly freshen up, have a cup of coffee and got o the balloon. Before we leave, we hear that another person in our group can join us because someone has dropped out. Lots are drawn again and this time Matt is the lucky one. We go up in the balloon at sunrise. We do not see the wildlife we saw yesterday, at first, but later on we see Thomson’s gazelles, topis and elephants. Apparently, the big herds of wildebeests and zebras have disappeared because the migration to the Serengeti is nearly over. It is a wonderful experience to see the animals from another angle while you are floating above the plains and narrow rivers. Slowly but surely, the giraffes, hyenas and zebras are starting to come out of their hiding places as well. The hot air balloon flight takes about an hour and a half. A quarter of an hour before we land, we see an enormous herd of wildebeest walking to the Mara river where they will cross over into the Serengeti where the impending rain will provide for them. It is a spectacular sight to see the herd disperses because the sound of the burner of the balloon startles them and see them become one groups again after the balloon floats away.
We are also nearing the Mara river where vultures and marabou storks wait for us. After floating over a few bends of the river, we land at one bend where we are witness to just how chaotic the crossing of the river by the herd of wildebeests must have been. The dead bodies of several wildebeests are floating in the river. The vultures and marabou storks feast on the pungent flesh. The crocodiles lie well-fed among the carrion. At the moment we see this scene, tables are being set for a champagne buffet. It is a somewhat strange and unreal experience to see the champagne, scrambled eggs with vegetables, bacon, pancakes, white beans, sausages and rolls displayed on the table. The buffet ends with a cup of coffee or, for some, a bloody Mary or a gin tonic.
After all of this, we go on a game drive to end the morning, but we do not see much. The sighting of some cheetahs is one of the highlights of the game drive. When we get back to the starting point of our trip the rest of the group picks us up and we go on our way to Nairobi. When we drive out of the Masai Mara we use the opportunity to make a final game drive. We see the common wildlife and two hyenas. So we have not seen any lions in the Masai Mara. Can this be true? It seems as if the lions are at our beck and call, because we see a lioness just before we drive through the gate. She only has eyes for a few zebras, but she decides to walk and walk toward our truck away after assessing her chances.
We leave the Masai Mara for Nairobi. On our way there we buy a heavy and big statue of a Masai couple, carved out of beautiful wood. The merchant drives a hard bargain but still it is fun to do. I manage to get the initial price of $600 to drop to under $100, not in the last place because the owner needs money quickly. It is a game in which I occasionally walk off and say that I am afraid we will not reach an agreement. At one point, I am already standing at the truck ready to get in with the motor running again, when the merchant comes and grabs me by the shoulder and asks me to come into the shop one last time. The merchant tells me that I drive a hard bargain and that his boss will not be pleased, but he does wrap the statue. Now we have to drag along twenty kilos for some days to come. We get into the truck being pleased with our asset and knowing that the statue would not have been sold if the price had been to low. We arrive in Nairobi at 5.00 pm and have a lovely meal at a campsite with a Dutch manager. Tomorrow we will leave for Arusha at 8.00 am.

4/10 Nairobi - Arusha
We leave for the Tanzanian border after a good night’s sleep. The estimated arrival time is 4.00 pm. We reach the border at 1.00 pm where Masai women badger us in order to sell their knick-knacks. They start out with offering to trade their merchandise for T-shirts, pets and pens, but you still have to pay when you accept the offer. We quickly dispense with the formalities at the border after which we see a big mountain in the distance. We arrive in Arusha at approximately 4.00 pm, after having stopped for lunch. Now we are in Arusha, it is time to quickly get some essential groceries, but first we have to book our return trip to Nairobi on the Arusha – Nairobi shuttle. Then it is time to get some more bric-a-brac: Masai sandals and a wooden bowl.
When we get back to Muzza, Prue asks us if anyone would volunteer to get some groceries for the group at the supermarket. Steve and I sign up. When Prue walks into the supermarket after a few minutes we do not even have half of what we had on our shopping list because some items have to be brought in from other shops. When all our groceries have been brought in, we pay. The boss orders the clerks to put the groceries into the truck because of the bulk of it and because of the amount of money we spent. When we get outside everything is neatly stacked into a mini van with the words “Church for a Mission” on the sides. Steve, Prue, I get in the back and assume we will be taken to our own truck. When we have waited for quite some time, we ask the clerk when the driver is coming in. He answers that he thought this was our van. So there we are, sitting in someone else’s truck with three days’ worth of food for seventeen persons. Then a man walks up to the van who says he has to mind the van. The owner of the van is in a shop further down the road. So, we have to unload all our groceries under the watchful eye of the shop staff. All parties involved have a hearty laugh about the situation. The owner of the car did not notice that anything out of the ordinary happened to his car, which is probably just as well because a large amount of liquor in a van whit the imprint “Church for a Mission” is odd to say the least. It is already 6.00 pm when we are ready to go to the Snakepark campsite. This evening we will stay up until midnight and drink to Steve on his birthday.

Serengeti NP

5/10 Arusha - Serengeti NP
Today we leave for the Serengeti, but first we have a good lie-in and eat breakfast in peace and quiet. Some of us are going to do some shopping in Arusha. Together with Steve and Karla, Ellen and I are going to get a nice cup of coffee at the bar. The campsite has a small park with crocodiles, snakes, other reptiles and birds of prey. We finish our cup of coffee and have a look in the park. We hear during the morning that Prue has gone to hospital to have her malaria treated, so she will not be joining us in the Serengeti. When the group is together again, we hear that Shannon’s purse has been stolen. She had much cash money and cheques in it. We leave for the Serengeti after everything is packed into the truck and Shannon made the necessary arrangements.
The road is much better than it was two years ago. We set up camp just before we reach the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The campsite where we sleep is situated in a small village. The houses are covered in red dust which is blown up into the air by the cars that pass by the village. I go into the village together with Sheryl, Steve and Beate. The ladies heared that they can buy sarongs here for only two thousand Tanzanian shillings.

6/10 Serengeti NP
We leave early in the morning today. After a short drive we reach the gate of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The sky is rather overcast and the only view we have at the top of the crater is that of the clouds. Later, when we descend form the crater on the side of the Serengeti, the sun shows itself again and immediately does its work. The weather gets much warmer. We arrive ahead of schedule and plan to go into the park at 2.00 pm. So we can make use of our permit, which is valid for twenty-four hours, to make a long game drive tomorrow morning. Besides that we probably will not see much wildlife in the hottest part of the day, so we first visit Olduvai Gorge where three-million-year old human and animal remains have been found. Many of the animals that were found are extinct, but they are relatives of the elephant, buffalo and other animals. After spending an hour in the museum we go to Swifting Sand, which is a lava sand dune that moves fifteen to twenty metres a year. We reach the Serengeti gate at 2.00 pm. We make a game drive before we pitch our tents at dusk. We have fond memories of the Serengeti. After we had lunch and dealt with the formalities at the gate, we go to a look out from which you have a marvellous view of the plains of the park. The Serengeti is a 14, 763 square kilometre park and also interconnects to the surrounding parks. At the moment the park is very dry and dusty and the grass that remains in it is withered and yellow.
We first see Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelles followed by topis, warthogs and a lion. Further down the road, a hyena quickly gets out of our way and two giraffes are peacefully eating acacia leaves. The closer we get to the Seronera Area, the more wildlife we see. We can add hartebeests, zebras, elephants and other animals to our list. While we are watching the elephants, a leopard darts across the road. We shift our attention just in time to see it disappear among the bushes. Now it is time for us to go to Seronera Lodge where a hot air balloon flight over the plains of the Serengeti will be booked for Karla and Nada, who could not go on the flight in the Masai Mara. Dark clouds are coming in and the darkness is setting in fast, so we decide to go back to the campsite. Over night in the wild starts with a hot meal. We hear the sounds of lions and hyenas and wonder if we are in for a quiet night or not.

Ngorongoro Crater

7/10 Serengeti NP - Ngorongoro Crater
We wake up at 5.30 am after a good night’s sleep in which we were occasionally woken up by the sounds of hyenas and lions. We have a simple breakfast and we leave at 6.45 am for a game drive that will last until 2.00 pm. Initially, the amount of wildlife we see is small. Does this mean that we were extremely lucky last year? We rarely see zebras and other common wildlife.
After driving to and fro for a while we reach an open space. Then, all of a sudden we see a group of more than twenty hyenas of all sizes and ages. One is chewing on a zebra’s head, the other on a zebra’s leg. The young hyenas play with each other one moment and are at each other’s throats another. There is much activity around our truck. One hyena is munching off a skull and keeps competition at bay. Another hyena is curious and comes to investigate what is going on around the truck at a distance of less than two metres. This scene is the beginning of an exceptional morning.
Shortly after this, we spot a herd of elephants, which again consists of animals of all sizes and ages and which brims with activity. A young elephant follows his mother whilst suckling. Two adolescent elephants are having a stand-off while a very young elephants is trying to get control over its trunk. The herd comes ever closer. At a certain point we even have to get back a little because one of the young elephants is very curious and comes so close to Muzza that we can nearly touch it. The herd crosses the dirt road in single file. Our driver is talking to his colleague in the other car. This raising of voices alerts a grown elephant which charges toward the car. She stops its attack just in front of the car with its ears spread. We take due warning. We see the last elephant of the herd cross the road while we wait until the elephant will let us through. We drive along for a while until Ellen spots four lions. There are off in the distance but it is clear that they are following each other in single file. We put our foot down and approach the lions. Some Thomson’s gazelles are watching the lions from the rear, in a way which makes it clear for us that they know the lions will not attack them. After following the lions and gazelles for a while, we set off on our own way again. After about five minutes, we see a cheetah walk along the water. We go to a place where we have a better view of the animal when a lion menacingly draws near to the cheetah. The cheetah sees the lion and keeps its distance. These animals are each other’s rivals and if the lion has the chance to kill the cheetah it will certainly not pass up on the chance to do so. The lion is still threatening the cheetah who makes a run for its money and disappears. Now, the lion, which is looking for food, walks past the truck to a flock of vultures which he chases away after which he sees to the disposal of the carrion. Not much was left of it because the lion almost immediately is on the look out for some more food. We use this moment to carry on with our game drive.
We see three lions further along the road: two adult males with beautifully full manes and a female. One of the males lies by a tree, apart from the other two, and we see why when we wait for a while: the other two lions are mating. It is the first time we are privileged enough to witness this scene. On the first day of mating, the lions mate every five minutes, on the last day they do so every ten minutes. We get to see the lions mate three times while the other lion is watching and probably biding his time.
After observing this spectacle, we leave for Seronera Lodge to pick up the people who went on the hot air balloon flight. The time of departure from the park draws ever nearer. We use the time we have left to spot some more wildlife. Again, we see a lion which spies on Thomson’s gazelles and zebras as they are drinking at the waterhole. A crocodile is in the water and is within striking distance. The animals are frightened and keep on running away to return hesitantly for another sip. All of a sudden, the lion attacks at a moment that was unexpected for us because the animals stood closer to the lion earlier on. It is spectacular sight to see the lion chase its prey. However, the result for the lion is unsatisfactory. We drive on to the gate and see a leopard in a far off tree. Last time we were also lucky enough to see a leopard in tree, but then we stood right in front of the tree. A cheetah chases its prey far behind the tree, but this hunt is unsuccessful too. Once again, our trip through the Serengeti was a success.
It is nearly 2.00 pm and we are coming closer to the gate. We see lions basking in the sun on a kopje just before we leave the park. This makes for a suitable farewell to a beautiful National Park where we saw much wildlife despite the drought and the lack of large herds of animals. We have lunch near the gate and go on our way to Ngorongoro crater. We hope to witness more memorable scenes in the crater. It will be hard to find a day to match this one. We sleep on the edge of the crater. A warm day and night are followed by a cold day and night.

Tarangire NP

8/10 Ngorongoro Crater- Tarangire NP
We awake early on Ellen’s birthday after sleeping in the cold on the lips of the crater. We descend the crater wall at 7.00 am. It is still chilly when we reach the bottom of the crater. We can immediately see that the water level of the crater lake is higher than it was two years ago. Flamingos walk along the water’s edge. We make a right turn into the acacia bush while Thomson’s gazelles run to the open plain.
Further along the road we see two rhinos in the reed. They are not clearly visible but their heads and rump stick out of the fringe of reeds, which is dancing in the wind. At the same moment a lioness and her cub appear at the other side of the truck. It is difficult to choose at which side to watch the wildlife. When we reach the edge of the bush we see an elephant with enormous tusks at the left hand side of the road. We admire the giant from a distance of less than ten metres as he eats off an acacia tree.
We pass by vervet monkeys, hyenas, jackals, lions, zebras and most of the common sorts of antelopes. We are obviously in more luck than at our last visit to the crater. We drive along the lake’s edge and see how a jackal chases off a hyena. We also see a hippo surrounded by flamingos. We go on our way to the back of the crater. After we passed by a large herd of wildebeests we see a hyena munch on something and spot some lions lazing about on a rock. After these encounters we see less wildlife.
We take a break by a secluded stream. Some of us go and sit under a tree to eat when they are suddenly attacked by a few black kites. The birds of prey hover over the picknickers to go on and swoop down in order to take the sandwich from the picknickers’ hands. Now that we are convinced that this is not a good spot to have lunch, we leave for the acacia bush. A gigantic elephant with enormous tusks comes walking toward us just before we reach the bush. Its tusks are the biggest tusks we saw in all the three years we went to Africa. It is an impressive sight. It is time to have lunch. We prepare some rolls in an open space in the bush. It does not take long for the vervet monkeys to pay us a visit. We try to ward them off when they get to close, but they do not accept this and regularly launch an attack on us. This means we do not get a chance to sit quietly.
When we ascend the crater wall to leave we have a lovely view of the crater. We set off to Tarangire NP and stop at a few tourist shops on our way to the park. Prices of knick-knacks have sky rocketed in this area due to the many American tourist who visit this area, so it is no use trying to bargain here. When we reach Arusha we take a right to Tarangire NP. We meet Prue again at the campsite near the park where we will be spending the night. It is good to see her safe and well. We celebrate the reunion and the birthdays of the last few days.

9/10 Tarangire NP - Arusha
We leave for Tarangire NP at 6.00 am. We were told that it is a beautiful park where all animals, except the rhino, live so we are very curious to see which animals we will spot. When we arrive at the park, we have to wait a short while for the boss to arrive. After ten minutes we can enter the park. The scenery is indeed marvellous. We see our first elephant walking in the distance, which seems to be uneasy. The animal passes by while protesting loudly and spreading its ears. Later on, we see giraffes having breakfast by the side of the road. During our drive we see lion pawprints, so we watch the surroundings extra carefully. We see waterbucks, zebras and many birds. We make a game drive of two hours in the 642.460 acre park that is known for its large elephant population and great amount of baobab trees.
We have breakfast in the truck near a partly dried up river. Shaun, Prue and Ed make breakfast. The roll I get has so much peanut butter on it that it takes some effort for me to eat it. We have to stay in the truck and can only leave Muzza for a short visit to the bathroom. We go on after breakfast.
Unfortunately the lions remain hidden but we do get to feast our eyes on the elephants. We greatly enjoy our game drive, despite the fact that we do not see any big cats. Around noon time, we stop at a lodge for coffee. From the terrace, we have a lovely view of the plain which is full of wildlife flocking to the river to drink. We use this stop to catch up on our lack of sleep caused by us getting up early. After everyone has assembled at the truck, we leave fo0r Arusha to go and pitch our tents at the familiar Snakepark campsite. This will be our last night in a tent this year. We will take the shuttle to Nairobi tomorrow. The evening will be devoted to the dress-up party which I mentioned before. We dress up and have diner in a restaurant and a drink at the bar. Ellen and I do not stay up late because we are both exhausted.

10/10 Arusha - Nairobi
We leave Snakepark early to go to Arusha. After a short but emotional farewell we leave the travellers who make a ten week journey. We have a good trip by shuttle to Nairobi and arrive at the boulevard hotel there at the beginning of the afternoon. In the shuttle, most of us have caught up on our lack of sleep. After we checked in, we have a bite to eat at a restaurant at the pool. We use the rest of the day to arrange our luggage better.

Tonight we will be going to the Carnivore, which may be the most famous restaurant in the whole of Africa. We enjoy an excellent meal, especially the meat. Hartebeest, zebra and more wildlife is served at a great pace.
We go home in a dilapidated taxi. We hear the bottom of the car scrape against the tarmac every time we hit a bump in the road. We get to the hotel without having an accident and go to bed.

11/10 Nairobi

Today is all about getting through the day, which we try to do by playing tennis at the tennis court of the hotel. Steve and Nicole are our adversaries. We try to keep the ball in the court despite its dingy appearance and the handicap of having tennis rackets which have been nearly sawed in half. We say goodbye to Beate at the end of the morning, because she will be flying home sooner than we will. In the afternoon, we go shopping in the vicinity of the hotel. It takes us a few hours to buy some knick knacks and bags made out of baobab bark. The bargaining is so much fun that time flies by. Apart from this, this day is a quiet one on which we occasionally wish we were already home. Then finally, it is time to go to the airport. We hope that we will not have any trouble getting the twenty kilo statue through customs. Fortunately, the formalities at customs do not cause any problems and the statue is stored in the luggage department of the KLM staff.

12/10 End
We have a good flight and land at Schiphol airport after six hours. It is prohibited to land before 6.00 am so as not to cause noise nuisance. We say goodbye to Karla after we collected our luggage. This leaves her just enough time to catch the train to Brussels. We drink a cup of coffee to our farewell together with Nicole. This is the end of our third African adventure which lasted for four weeks and in which we saw and experienced many new things. Despite the fact that we still want to go back and see the gorillas, we did not feel like we missed out on something for one moment during the trip. So that is a god sign.


Mijke thanks

 This travelogue is translated by Mijke van de Wiel
 Mijke van de Wiel  Mijke has a bachelor digree
 interests  American literature
 e-mail  mijkewheel@hotmail.com
                                                       copyright: Paul Janssen