Lions, Trucks and Paradise

post all of the long drives - you begin to realise you aren't Kansas anymore - this really is Africa

Jambo Jambo!

Hey friends, so I am writing to you from my Dar El Salaam campsite on the banks of the Indian ocean and thought I would let you know what I have been up to the last twelve days or so. After the completion of our East Africa tour we arrived back into Nairobi (well into the outskirts of Karen where the best french fries exist) to say goodbye to most of our travellers and welcome the new ones who would be continuing on to Zanzibar with us for 4 days of sun and relaxation.

Our farewell dinner in Nairobi as held at a restaurant called Carnivores and it is basically heaven on earth for all of the meatatarions out there. It has been rated in the top five restaurants in the world quite a few times and the concept is easy – you sit down, are given a flag that basically acts as a stop and go sign to the waiters, and for a flat fee of 35 USD they keep coming by your table with freshly cooked meat on a skewer that they shave off onto your plate until you are full and put your flag down to signal them to stop.

Everything from leg of lamb, crocodile, ostrich testicles (yes you read correctly), camel and turkey comes to your plate all to be garnished and tasted by you with the platter of spices and sauces that they initially set up on your table. It was mind blowing, we all definitely ate too much but it was superb and worth the two hour wait for a table as you watch them cook the meats over an open flame type barbeque that is about 5 m in diameter. If anyone ever finds themselves in Nairobi this is definitely a must do and has been one of the best meals of my life.

After eating my own weight in food, the next day we set of from our camps and started our journey down to Snake Park outside Arusha, Tanzania.It is named so because the camp ground perimeter is a series of cages with some of Africa’s largest and most lethal snakes – seeing a python have his lunch is definitely eye opening to what creatures exist out there. From here we started our excursion to Ngorongroro Crater and the Serengeti National Park. After two nights in snake park we began our drive into the Crate in 5 passenger open top Land Cruise style vehicles. Ngorongoro Crate is 304 km of a perimeter and the largest complete crater in the world – meaning its the only one that is fully enclosed. The drive into it is breathtaking and you definitely get your Kodak moments of wildlife, lakes and sites that look straight out of the Lion King.

This is also where we had our first truck/lion experience (yay LIONS!) with a 10 month old cub that decided to use one of our trucks for shade.

Standing in the open land cruiser I was likely no more than two metres from this beautiful kitty. It definitely made all the 14 hour drive days worth it and I took about 400 photos within the span of 15 mins – I cant help it I like lions. Also in the crater we saw a variety of other animals (i.e. elephant, cheetah, zebra, and hippo) but I really am only in this continent for the lions so meh…

That evening after our game drive we entered the Serengeti National Park for a night of bush camping and enroute to the designated public campsite witnessed what was likely the worlds most exotic sunset painted with various shades of blue, purple, gold and red – truly magical (and screensaver worthy).

Camping itself was amazing, while hyenas and warthogs openly waltzed zigzagging through our tents (the trick is if you have to go pee at night you shine your torch – if you see red eyes do not leave your tent as it usually means danger in the form of cats, hyena or wild dog, whereas if you see green eyes its probably not life threatening – you know a zebra or something haha) We all woke early (4), much to the relief of all bladders who decided instead of deciphering eye colours in the dark it was best to hold it in, and with a pitch black sky lit only by the stars had breakfast before we set off into the Serengeti for our game drive and  witness the sun rising through the acacia trees.

That opening scene in the Lion King when Elton John starts screaming doesn’t even do this justice. It almost looks as though you are witnessing the apocalypse while the sky breaks into deep reds, oranges, crimson and scarlet colours as this whole golden sun begins to make its ascent up into the sky. It stops your breath, silences all conversations and the photo I attached, my new screensaver, and doesn’t even begin to portray this beauty in the way it exists. If there is one thing all of you should add to your bucket lists in life its to witness a sunrise over the Serengeti, I promise you that it will be the most beautiful thing you ever witness.

Onwards though, leaving the Serengeti we saw more lions (photo attached) and after leaving the park we travelled from Arusha a long 17 hours by truck to Dar El Salaam where we camped (same place I am at now) along the beach and for me, this was my first time on the shores of the Indian Ocean. Truly spectacular to see waters this clear, and I think I finally understand why people want to honeymoon in the Maldives.

From here we took a ferry over to the Island of Zanzibar where we spent the first day and a half exploring Stone town, its spice plantations, history of slavery, slave trades and the Fish Market at night – which is basically held in the town square every evening after the sun goes down and all of the local fishermen bring in all of their daily catch to cook to your order while serving freshly squeezed sugar cane juice – a plate of tandoori lobster, garlic prawns, grilled calamari, shrimp and octopus with a juice cost me 5 dollars and was served with garlic bread and salad – really lovely, though because Stone Town is very much a Muslim populated city you are walking around in ridiculous heat completely covered up and wishing it were winter.

From there we drove about two hours North on the Island where the cover-ups were ditched, the bikini and sarong came out and we got to sun bath at Nungwi beach where it seems to be almost deserted so you lie on the beach with your book, watch the dhows sail by or take a walk along the shore to watch the fishermen bringing in their daily catch. It really was serene and you spend your evenings walking along the strip until you find a beachfront restaurant with happy hour, enough candlelight for you to read the menu, and a beachfront flat enough for your chair to comfortably settle into.

If anyone has ever been to the kite surfing town of Cabarete in the Dominican Republic, it is similar to that, except without the lanterns lighting the beach, instead pits are dug into the sand with candles places inside to set the ambience from the shore.

So asides from eating and enjoying cocktails overlooking the sunset we also spent our days enjoying the pleasure of knowing we weren’t sleeping in a tent, and that if we decided to go swimming in the ocean we would have a hot shower to be able to rinse ourselves off before bed. I think my travel mate Shawna and I must have flushed our toilet an unnecessary 20 times just out of awe.

The beachfront bungalows we stayed in at Nungwi Inn also had the first mirrors we’ve seen in about 3 weeks, and that much time of being on a truck and camping while snacking on Pringles has taken its toll on my body, but regardless I sunbathed along the Indian ocean because it would almost be criminal not to walk into such clear turquoise waters.

On our last night in Nungwi together before we got back onto our truck driving/roadside toilet days a few of us treated ourselves to a lovely beachfront dinner of fried calamari, banana fritters, garlic bread and wine as a last super before our next hotel stay in 32 days in Cape town. It was just what we all needed before this mornings 8 am ferry back to Dar El Salaam for one last afternoon of beach, beers and relaxation before tomorrows 17 hour drive day in the Malawi direction…

oh well what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

on that note its 10 pm, and I have a 3 30 am breakfast I must try to look my best for - hahah

Goodnight Everyone and have a great first day of Fall


Lil Miss Planet – Malawi bound