Tucan Travel - Safari & Beach Tour Day 6 - 8
After a fun-filled day in Nairobi we were up again by sunrise the next morning, checked out of our beautiful room and got a van to bring us to our Tucan Travel Overland Vehicle. Yaaay! I was so hoping to get to travel on the famous yellow Tucan Truck! That’s him... meet Tom!
I loved this truck which was a welcome change from the little safari vans we had mostly traveled in so far on this trip. And considering that we were only a group of 6 we had the rare luxury of spreading out inside. Heaven! There were board games and books on board and the huge panoramic windows were just perfect for the occasional scenery shot. Oh and our bums & backs were also grateful for a little better suspension and mostly paved roads!
So today it wasn’t only goodbye to Nairobi but we also had to bid farewell to Kenya. Soon enough we were heading towards Tanzania for the second part of our tour.
Just before lunch we arrived at the border. Passports and yellow fever certificates in hand we queued up in one building for a document check and everybody who couldn’t prove they had received the yellow fever vaccine was led to a small room to have it administered right there. We got our Kenyan exit stamp and marched over to another building to fill in some forms, have our pictures taken and finally get a beautiful full-page visa sticker put into our passports. We were in! Wohoo!
Back on the truck it was a short drive before we stopped for our al fresco lunch buffet in the middle of nowhere. We chopped veggies together, put up folding tables and chairs and prepared ourselves a decent little feast! After we did the dishes and packed up we were firmly on our way to Arusha where we would stay the night.
We arrived at our hotel which was very idyllic located in a quiet side street & surrounded by a beautiful garden. For our first dinner in Tanzania we drove out to the snake park – no snakes to be seen that evening but yummy food to be had! Again, a delicious vegan-friendly meal was prepared for us while the others enjoyed a BBQ. After dinner we hung out in the bar and that place seriously reminded me of Daly Waters in Australia! Flags, t-shirts and trinkets from all around the world!
Back in the hotel we were now faced with the same decision we already had to make earlier on this trip: what to take and what to leave?! The next morning we’d be off into the Serengeti for two nights camping again – yes camping, not glamping! That meant sleeping bag, flashlight, toilet paper (of course!), hand sanitizer, bug spray and lots of wipes. This was bare-bones compared to the Masai Mara camp. I never particularly liked camping so yeah... but I was ready for whatever the wilderness would throw at me – this was the Serengeti after all! It’s a once in a lifetime thing I told myself.
So again we packed our overnight bags and left our backpacks in the hotel. It was an early night and – you guessed it! – yet another early start. This time we were back in the safari van. We drove for a couple of hours before we reached the Ngorongoro Crater National Park. After we got our permission to enter, had a quick coffee & bathroom break we got in through the big gates and our second safari adventure officially began!
The landscape changed quite a bit up here – we were now at over 2,000m – the color of the earth went from grey to red to brown and we climbed up higher and higher until we got our reward... this view over the crater:
The Ngorongoro Crater was formed when the original super volcano collapsed into itself and formed the largest un-flooded volcanic caldera in the world. Today the crater is teeming with wildlife like lions, zebras, elephants & hippos and yes, you can actually go game driving inside it! But for now we moved on into the National Park for our first game drive - welcome to the Serengeti! :)
Some rather unexpected guys!
And we also spotted a group of hyraxes! Also knows as "dassies" these little creatures who look like giant rodents are apparently close relatives of elephants...
Wow Mother Nature, how did you do that?!
More big cats...
...and the most beautiful sunset!
I do have a thing for acacia trees - they just scream Africa!
Just after sunset we made our way to the camp site and this was it – our home for the night! The tents, 2-person igloos, had already been put up for us. There was a brick building that housed (cold) showers and toilets – western (yaaay!) and non-western! And then there were two more buildings surrounding the camp – one that functioned as a kitchen and the other as our dining room. Again we had our personal chef with us who would cook us incredibly yummy meals. Let me show you around...
My first night in a tent. Ok technically it was my first night in a tent like this in about 20 years. I had camped before as a kid but this was different. The sounds of exotic birds, the bright starry sky, this was the Serengeti, not my own backyard! So my first night in a tent was amazing I must admit. I slept well and found it quite comfortable! The really thick mats which were provided for us helped me drift off easily. At some point in the early hours I needed to use the restroom all the while remembering our guide’s words: “This camp is not fenced and there’s a lion pride living nearby.” Whaaaat? No Masai warrior to protect me from big cats?! Ok, by now I really needed to pee. I tried to listen for animal noises but apart from cicadas I couldn’t hear a thing... then again, cats are very quiet when approaching their prey. Argh, I had to go! Armed with my flashlight I unzipped the tent and staggered out into the night. Oh-my-God! Since glamping in the Australian outback I had not seen a sky so extremely full of stars! It was just so beautiful that I stopped and stared into the sky for a while before realizing that I’m all alone out here – near a possibly hungry lion pride... cats are nocturnal, right? I hurried to the toilets, raced back to the tent, snuggled up in my sleeping bag again and fell asleep once more.
The next morning we had a quick breakfast and went out on a full day game drive. The whole time I had already had Toto’s “Africa” in my head... “I know I must do what’s right as sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti...” – definitely my personal theme song of this trip!
Ok, so the Serengeti is a slightly different environment to the Masai Mara, most notably I found there were many more of the beautiful acacia trees here. Perfect for a sunrise shot! Other than that I’ll just let the pictures take over – no need to say much more! ;)