Shaken, not stirred – thank you Charles…
When we booked our East African safari we knew some of the roads would be pretty bad, but nothing prepared for us for “African massage” we got today! We’ve been shaken, jolted, rattled, bumped and “massaged”* to within an inch of our lives and are sooooooo glad to finally be here at our lodge, relaxing with a cup of tea in one hand and a fresh baked biscuit in the other. To make the drive from Lake Manyara National Park to Serenegti National Park even more exciting/anxiety-inducing, we got caught in a massive storm and spent 2 hours driving through torrential rain along a “road” that soon became a river. Thank goodnes Charles, our safari driver/guide, is such an expert behind the wheel of a 4WD otherwise we’d no doubt still be stuck out there somewhere on the soggy plains of the Serengeti! Ahhh well, we’re here now and boy are we looking forward to spending a few days here in what is arguably Africa’s finest national park: the Serengeti.
*That’s what our safari driver/guide Charles euphemistically refers to it as.
Due to the rain we didn’t go for a game drive this afternoon and instead enjoyed a few hours of down-time, relaxing at the lodge. It was actually really nice being able to sit on the verandah of our cabin and enjoy a cup of tea whilst enjoying the serenity of the African bush. The place we’re staying in right in the middle of the savannah, near a lake, so there are heaps of wild animals around. Sitting as quietly and still as possible we got to see gazelles, zebra and wildebeest roaming around in the not-so-distant distance this afternoon. The scenery in general was pretty awesome; as the storm moved Westwards and the sun came out again, we got to see the African bush gradually reawaken from its “shower”.
Then, as evening fell, we saw some dik-diks creep out of the bush cautiously to come and nibble on the grass around our cabin. A dik-dik is a small antelope that’s only about 30cm high at the shoulder (they only weigh about 4-5kg). They’re tiny and very, very cute, though very, very shy. I guess when you’re that tiny and that tasty, it pays to be cautious! We managed to watch them for ages before some other tourists arrived and stomped their way to their cabin next door, frightening the dik-diks away for the evening.
As dinner time approached we headed off to the main dining area and had a pre-dinner drink. As we were sitting there quietly by ourselves we heard a scrabblng sound across the roof above us and then saw the cutest little face poke out…. The face, it turned out, belonged to a female genet* who had recently made herself at home in the lodge’s roof. She had come looking for a safe place to have her 2 kittens and had decided humans beings would help keep her babies safe. The genets were adorable! Again, we sat as still and quietly as we could to see what would happen and were rewarded with a curious visit by the 2 kittens – they came right up to us as and sat on the couch with us! The kittens seemed just about ready to clamber on to our laps but Mum came along and shooed them away before they could get too comfortable. Totally awesome!
*Genets are small (2-3kg), omnivorous, cat-like mammals that are actually related to mongooses. They tend to be quite secretive and only come out at night. They’re also very cute, especially when they’re just a few weeks old – as we saw today!
Dinner was great and after dinner we sat down by the camp fire chatting to the manager of the lodge. She’s a New Zealander and originally came out manage the lodge for 6 months. That was 3 years ago! She was lovely and had some amazing stories to share about life out in the bush and the challenges they face on a daily basis to keep the lodge running and stocked with food, water, soap, linen and all the other “luxuries” tourists demand. What a life!