Saturday 26th September
As mentioned in the previous Uganda & Rwanda blog we were up in the middle of night to go to the airport for our flight to Tanzania. We arrived at the airport and had to queue for ages for the world’s slowest check in. There was no reason behind the slowness apart from SAT or Standard African Time…people move and do things a lot slower here as there is no rush! In a way I envy that of them, why are we always in a rush at home!
Finally we got checked in and awaited our day of travel…the first was a short flight from Kigali to Nairobi where we had a quick pit stop before another short flight to Dar Es Salaam which landed at Zanzibar first and loads of people leapt off before taking off again and finally hopping across Tanzania to arrive in Arusha. We saw Kilimanjaro out of the window on the way which was cool.
The planes we had been on were small bi-prop jobs so it seemed only fitting that Arusha airport was a strip of tarmac in a field with a tin shack for an ‘airport’. So we got off the little plane and were left to just wander along the airstrip and head in the direction of the shack. We had to sign in so say we were on Zanzibar which entailed us putting our name, nationality and passport number on a bit of paper!
Then our bags were bought over in a wheely trolley and dumped in a pile for us to grab.
We then found our taxi driver and headed off to the hotel, Green Mountain.
We got checked in and settled then headed downstairs for dinner, veg curry (I will turn into a veg curry soon) and then headed to bed as we were shattered.
Sunday 27th September
Left at 8am with Victor and Mandela our guide and cook for next couple of days. We left the hotel in a safari truck and drove to the entrance to the Ngorongoro park where we bought a ticket to pass through on the way to the Serengeti. We then embarked on a 2 hour drive through Ngorongoro which the locals call an african massage. The truck tears along at 60mph plus on sandy undulating roads which are bone shattering. It wouldn’t have surprised me if all the nuts, bolts, screws and components started coming loose in the truck and the shocks must need replacing daily! The only way to describe it sufficiently it to say imagine being given a very firm swedish massage whilst sitting on a powerplate!
Anyway the scenery was pretty stunning to start with the Masai Mara were wandering freely around as far as the eye can see with their donkeys, goats and cows. It was pretty odd as you have Masai Mara, their goats and some giraffes all standing around together!
We then drove past the top of the crater and headed into the Serengeti…we saw hundreds of animals and amazingly beautiful scenery of endless plains of dry grass and acacia trees interspersed with the occasional gazelle, zebra, giraffe, ostrich, and jackal to name a few!
We did a game drive through the Serengeti on route to our camp for the night but needed to get to camp before dark so Victor could put up the tents and Mandela could prepare dinner. Just before we reached camp we saw a pride of nearly 20 lions and some hippos which was totally amazing, until we discovered our camp was literally around the corner! Close proximity there!
The camp is not fenced or ringed by security guards…its just a toilet and shower block, a kitchen and dining room plonked in the middle of the Serengeti with some tents!
So we got settled into the tent and freshened up, Mandela cooked and then dished up dinner, 3 courses no less!
We were shattered so headed off to bed only to encounter elephants next to our tent dining on trees!
The night was lively to say the least…The animal noises started not long after we went to bed…hyenas and baboons…they were in the camp looking for food or rubbish to rummage amongst.
Although hearing a hyena right beside the tent is somewhat frightening, hearing a lion from your tent in the middle of the night is somewhat worse!
Nicole was merrily asleep with earplugs in and I am lying there worried to move or take a breath incase the lion heard me! At one point I got brave enough to sit up and peer out of the tent window but couldn’t see anything! Everyone at the camp was getting up to go to the toilet in pairs that night…I got up to go and Nicole woke and came with me…pretty weird wandering through the Serengeti in the dark for a wee with wildlife all around!
Monday 28th September
Surprisingly enough we survived the night and woke early for breakfast at 6am, we left at 6.30am for the morning game drive. Again we saw hundreds of animal, the highlights must be a dead half eaten zebra on the road and then the lion appearing from behind a rock with a bloody face and the elephant and lion face-off which culminated in a herd of elephants driving off 2 male lions (brothers) and the male lions strolling right past us to sit under a tree. Oh and the leopard in the tree! So many cool moments.
We drove around all morning, came back to camp for lunch before packing up and having an african massage back to the Ngorongoro park and our camp for the night.
Again Victor set up our tent whilst we showered and Mandela cooked us a lovely 3 courses dinner.
After dinner we headed to bed as we had another early game drive in the morning.
Tuesday 29th September
Woke 3am needing a wee, luckily we had been told there were no lions around the rim of the crater so I felt more confident leaving the tent alone in the dark! I wasn’t planning on traipsing all the way to the toilets so was planning on a bush wee just outside the tent. It was cold and damp so Nicole had closed the velcro door of the tent as well as the zip netting, so I barged out of tent to come face to face with zebras grazing all around us. They all turned my direction, gave me a quick once over and then carried on grazing whilst I had a wee amongst them! Rather bizarre!
We got up at 5am, breakfasted at 5.30am and left at 6am for the game drive.
We made our way down to the crater and drove around for a few hours taking in the stunning scenery and hundreds of animals. There was a mini wildebeest and zebra migration going on and a jackal and hyena face off over something dead.
Again, it was absolutely stunning and loved every minute of driving around, was sad when it was time to leave the animals behind and head off back to Arusha.
Once back in Arusha we popped into a snake park which was pretty shit, a few snakes in glass boxes and a crocodile with just a bit of mesh fencing keeping it at bay!
Only took 5 minutes to walk around then we headed back to the Green Mountain Hotel for a shower, early dinner and bed.
Wednesday 30th September
We had a leisurely morning and at lunchtime we headed back to Arusha ‘airport’ to get on the little bi-prop plane to Zanzibar. The flight was only a short hop so didn’t take too long.
Zanzibar airport is a slightly bigger tin shed but did have a luggage carousel to speak of, however, we had no use for it as our bags were still in Arusha! Precision Air are apparently always leaving luggage behind on their flights as there is never enough room for all the luggage. The flight was full of pasty looking tourists with massive suitcases so they got put on first and our little rucksacks got left behind! So we filled out lost luggage forms and headed off to our hotel, Rumaisa Hotel.
We checked in, showered and put our laundry in. I put everything in apart from the clothes I was wearing! We headed out for dinner to House of Spices and had a lovely meal. It may have been the normal veg curry affair or it may have been fish curry. As I am writing this almost a week later I struggle to remember as all the veg curries blend into one!
When we got back we checked on the luggage situation…still no luggage!
So we headed to the room for a while and gave them an hour to deliver, if not it was supermarket for toothpaste, toothbrush and deodorant. Fortunately just as I started writing my list of possessions in my rucksack (for insurance purposes…the £200 rucksack, the £200 jacket and the really expensive clothes….) the phone rang and our bags had arrived! Was somewhat pleased although slightly disappointed I couldn’t then go shopping for a whole new bag and possessions on insurance!
Thursday 1st October
We were up early (Again! There is too much of this nonsense going on!) and left at 7am to head to the north of the island for a day chilling on Nungwi beach.
Nicole went off and did some scuba diving most of the day and I headed off to a bar/restaurant overlooking the white sand and turquoise waters and ordered a coke and kicked back and relaxed with Game of Thrones. I have challenged myself to read all 7 books before I leave South Africa. I started the first one in Ethiopia and am currently on the second (having read about 6 other books before and after the first GoT).
I sat in the sun reading until lunchtime when I ordered some fish and salad. A fish called Kingfish apparently which is the only fish I have come across with ribs! Every fillet of meat had a whopping great rib bone attached to it! Still very tasty!
Nicole reappeared from the sea at 3.30pm and we headed off at 4pm back down the island to the hotel.
After showers we headed out to La Taverna italian restaurant for dinner; gnocchi, very nice! Then watched a god awful 80s film called Teen Witch before bed.
Friday 2nd October
Up at 7am, had breakfast then pottered around and chilled out.
Mid-morning we headed into Stone Town, wandered round taking in the old fort, palace museum, house of wonders, forodhani gardens, Freddie Mercury’s house and the coral stone house that have made Stone Town a UNESCO world heritage site.
We then engaged in some shop browsing before lunch in lazuli cafe which is a little local joint with 5 tables. They did a very nice tuna salad and had a very cheeky little cat who had my last piece of tuna!
The afternoon was relaxing, we headed back to the hotel to sit under the air con, read and nap and then headed out again in the evening for a stroll around the narrow windy streets of Stone Town.
Saturday 3rd October
This morning we had a nice lie-in, headed up for breakfast and then went back to the room and read and chilled. Late morning we headed out and went to the Palace Museum which used to be the Sultans Palace and the House of Wonders.
We had a wander around Stone Town again and headed up to La Taperia for lunch. We sat using the wifi and eating lunch and whiled away the afternoon doing everything we needed to do on the wifi and catching up on news!
We then headed back late afternoon and pottered around the hotel before going out to the Monsoon Restaurant for traditional Zanzibari Taraab music. The restaurant was traditionally decorated and we sat on the floor to eat whilst the 3 guys played to us.
Sunday 4th October
We got up and packed our stuff ready for the ferry back to Dar Es Salaam, we had the morning though to pop back into Stone Town and have a nosey in the shops before popping to Lemongrass for lunch.
We headed back early afternoon and finished our packing and sorting, then got a taxi to the ferry terminal. We boarded the ferry, which is more like a catamaran and whizzed off across the sea to the mainland. The ride was at times choppy or bouncy I suppose, one woman came past looking decidedly green with her hand over her mouth looking for the toilets!
After about 90 minutes we docked in Dar and scrambled off to find our transfer to the Conway Hotel for one night. The port was mental full of people milling around, shouting, carrying massive hessian sacks on their heads full of who knows what.
I had to ring the hotel 2 or 3 times to try and locate our transfer as after an hour they hadn’t arrived! Eventually the transfer arrived and we were greeted by the hotel manager, his son and grandson! A right family affair! After apologising for being late the manager stopped and bought us an ice cream each and off we went into the Dar Es Salaam night in a people carrier with a Tanzanian family eating ice cream and listening to Hip Hop music as full blast! Very surreal!
Eventually we reached the hotel, after a short cut that saw us drive the wrong way up a dual carriageway into two lanes of oncoming vehicles in the dark! Hip hop still at full blast!
We headed to the restaurant for dinner which was one that has no menu and 3 options of food, all of which were awful. So after some rice and sauce (chicken was bones only) we headed to bed as we had an early flight the next day to Malawi!