Africa (Part 3)
Following on from my previous two blogs about my journey in Africa I conclude with the final part of my trip which is through Tanzania and Kenya.
After leaving Malawi with fond memories of a beautiful nation facing huge difficulties we entered Tanzania, which seemed quite developed in comparison. The scenery was stunning as we wound our way through the agricultural terraced farmland that provides a lot of the export for the nation. We were following the Great Rift Valley, which we would continue to follow up into Kenya, but extends all the way from Northern Syria to Mozambique. There were long hours spent in the truck to enable us to get to Dar Es Salaam, the launch point for the Spice Islands, Or Zanzibar as it is now called. We stayed at a place called Kandwe Beach, which is often touted as one of the best beaches in the world and it was easy to see why. With some much needed relaxing under the belt we headed back to the mainland. After a stop at Snake Park, which is an infamous campground on the overland circuit, where the owners built it from scratch, and along with the camp, had built a snake zoo, Masai museum and cultural centre and Masai clinic and orphanage. We left our truck and got picked up by 4x4 jeeps and taken onto the highlight of the safari tours - the Serengeti. To get there we had to go through the Ngorongoro Crater National Park, a great safari destination in its own right, but more impressive for its steep sides and vast size of the crater itself. Then onto the plains of the Serengeti. Images seen on numerous documentaries build this place up to be an almost Disney like playground of wildlife, well it lived up to its reputation and was justifiably impressive. The only problem was the amount of other 4x4s also around the same wildlife, especially the leopards, where the drivers would call on the radio as to the whereabouts. They are on a lot of pressure from the very rich clients that frequent these tours, so it is no surprise to see this happen.
We were there at the same time as the Great Migration, where up to two million Wildebeest migrate to fresh pasture, this is one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on the planet, and would have been an amazing picture. I managed to witness this from very far away, but only special trucks with expensive filming permits are allowed off the designated tracks. We ended the trip by visiting a traditional Masai village, which although was contrived for tourists was fascinating hearing about their way of life and culture. Later that evening I met a cameraman back at Snake Park who was interviewing a Masai Warrior who was the first of his tribe to run the London Marathon, and was in the process of setting up a NGO to get his people to gain income from other means other than from the safari tourists that pass through. A truly inspirational story.
|Left: Painter in Stone Town, Zanzibar||Centre: Masai Warrior walking alone on Kandwe Beach||Right: Fishing Dhow on crystal clear waters in Zanzibar|
|Left: Driving down into the Ngorongoro Crater||Centre: Zebra in the crater||Right: Black Kite circling above|
Left: Zebras at waterhole in the crater
|Centre: Wildebeest on the lookout keeping guard||Right: A Zebra Crossing|
|Left: Curious Elephant comes to greet us||Right: Close up of Elephant's eye and skin|
|Left: Female Lion in the Serengeti National Park||Centre: Acacia Tree at sunset|
|Left and Right: Female Leopard stalking her prey from high up in a tree|
|Left and Right: Masai tribeswomen in their traditional Masai village|
We left Tanzania with a heavy heart as the next day we would be in Nairobi, and the conclusion of our overland journey. Nairobi is the capital of Kenya, and of Eastern Africa, and has comparisons to Southern Africa's commercial hub, Jo'burg. Its crime rates are high, poverty and slums are rife, but also has the juxtaposition of a large middle class who sip lattes in sanitary clean shopping malls and surf with free wifi on the iPads. There are not necessarily that many things to do in the city unless you like shopping or sitting in some of the worst congested and poorly maintained roads I have seen. There is however a National park in the middle of the city, where an Elephant orphanage run by David Sheldrick Wildlife trust which cares for orphaned elephants mainly from the result of poaching. There is also a Giraffe Centre where one can feed the three different species including the rare Rothschild Giraffe, although this was overpriced and not worth it, the recommendation is to book into the Giraffe Manor for afternoon tea which is next door, and you can have a cream tea with the lumbering giants along with guests who have spent $800 a night to stay at the hotel! We didn't reserve so could not get a place so call ahead in future. We did get a chance to get out of the city though and did a day trip to Lake Nakuru. This is famous for having up to two million Flamingos and also home to many Black Rhinos. It was a beautiful national park, but unfortunately the water was so high that the algae that the birds love so much was diluted so many of the Flamingos had flown off to other lakes. We did spot a few rhinos and a male lion so was worth the visit.
Having a few days left before my return back to the UK, I had heard of a train journey which was worth taking. It was from Nairobi to Mombassa and was due to take 10 hours overnight. Lined up on the old Victorian station, there were mainly just tourists and backpackers, so it was well known that it was a famous train journey to take, mainly as it passes through a national park on the way to the coast. It only departs certain days, and as time was very limited we booked a return going down one night, then spend several hours on a beach then get the train back to the capital that evening. It was a great experience however it stopped and broke down so much that we got into Mombassa at 6pm - the time we were supposed to be heading back to the city! We managed to get a refund and decided to fly back the next day. Thankfully we had met some amazing characters on the train including a kite surfing instructor who lived in a villa on the beach next to the kite surfing school and put us up for the night. This was an incredible place, and absolutely is a place I want to return to to learn one of the fastest growing extreme sports.
|Left: Baby orphaned elephant, Nairobi||Centre: Feeding the Giraffes in Nairobi's Giraffe Centre||Right: Beautiful Lake Nakuru|
|Above: Male Lion at Lake Nakuru National Park|
Above: The few remaining Flamingoes at Lake Nakuru
Right: View from the balcony onto Diani Beach where I got hosted for the last night of my adventure
The last 24 hours was an incredible, surreal and somewhat stressful end to an amazing two months on a beautiful continent. I managed to miss my local flight that I had booked by a mater of minutes but managed to get onto the last flight that evening as it was delayed so that I could get my flight at 0420 back to the UK, which was then delayed and almost missed my connecting flight in Cairo. Africa is a land of beauty, friendly faces and amazing wildlife and landscapes, but it does come with its frustrations and stresses which is what travelling is all about. If people want hassle free holidays then book a $10,000 safari or go to Europe. It is what makes Africa and the character which is different from any other continent. Right...best start planning the next trip, maybe Nairobi to Cairo, or West Africa or....