15th June - Serengeti, large amount of Hippo
We departed Speke Bay for our first day of game viewing through the Western Serengeti, which during this time of the year contains the bulk of the 1 million wildebeest & 200k Zebra, plus many other buck, however due to some unseasonal rains this has been delayed and the migrating animals are still in central Serengeti. The highlight of the day was our guide Prosper's little gem of a spot to find hippo, there were about 100 or more in a lagoon, which we were able to walk down to the banks of the water and watch. We also visited the spot of the river where all the national geographic filming is done during the river crossing of the wildebeest, watching some hungry crocodiles laying in waiting. We headed off to our luxury safari tented camp, where we went on a night game drive, viewing the Serengeti kangaroo, hyena, bush baby, porcupine, gynet cat & African wolf.
16th June - Serengeti, Lion, Leopard & Cheetah.
Well what a day this turned out to be, especially after not seeing much the day before. We found the migrating packs of Zebra & Wildebeest, thousands upon thousands often walking in single file towards the Masai Mara. We were able to tick off all the big cats, also enabling us to tick off the big 5 for this trip. We saw 5 cheetahs under the shade of a tree which then decided it was lunch time and attempted to catch a red buck, despite stalking it for about 30mins and a decent chase they didn't end up with lunch today.We then stumbled across a couple of lions chilling out in a tree only about 5m away from us. We also saw 2 leopards in trees and then a third on our drive home that night which walked right across in front of the 4wd. On arriving to camp tonight we found out that our camp was smack in the middle of the Serengeti, no fences, no electrical wire, just our tent between us and the wildlife.
17th June - Extreme Hot Air Balloon over the Serengeti
5 am wake up today, in anticipation of a Balloon ride over the central Serengeti. However when we arrived at the launch site just prior to sun rise we were informed that it was too windy to inflate & fly a hot air balloon. After an hour or so of waiting they decided it was worth a shot, so in we jumped to the basket while it was laying on its side and they attempted to inflate the balloon. With the balloon now starting to inflate, the basket still being tied to a 4wd in attempt to right the balloon, we were being thrown from side to side, for what is normally a 1.5 min process this took us 11.5mins. After then releasing the quick release strap early, and us bouncing along the ground for a while we finally got airborne. Once we were up it was amazing!!!! We saw herds of Zebra & Wildebeest in the thousands and also saw a large circle in the middle of them at one point with two lions sitting in the middle. Due to the nature of the winds, our pilot attempted to keep the balloon quite low to the ground, this ended up in us once skimming the ground, then hitting the ground and once skimming through the top of a tree. The ride got all the more fun, when on landing with such strong we bounced, hit a massive termite mound and bounced some more. After the ride, the company owner stated that it was the most amazing inflation of a balloon he'd seen in 35yrs of hot air ballooning…… gotta love Africa! Champage flowed afterwards to mark our survival followed by a 3 course breakfast in the middle of the Serengeti.
The afternoon was followed up by another game drive, looking at the marvelous Kopjes (Rock mounds) around the Serengeti, occasionally spotting lions sitting on top of them, we also saw another whole pride of lions sitting on the side of the road while driving back to our camp.
18th June - Ngorongoro crater
We left the Serengeti en-route for Ngorongoro Crater, where we visited Olduvai Gorge on the way. Olduvai Gorge is where they have found the oldest remains to date from the early beginnings of man-kind, believed to be from 3.5 million years ago. They also have footprints from pre-homosapians, believed to be 1.5 million years old.
We then headed for the Ngorongoro which is a volcanic crater, lush forest around the edges, savannah through the mid section, a large swamp area with a lake in the middle; what an amazing site. It is the area also considered to have the most amount of animal life per square kilometer in the world today, consisting of all Big 5 and vast bird life. We then headed up to our lodge which was on the edge of the crater, sipping a cocktail as the sun descended over it.
19th June - Lake Manyara
We headed to Lake Manyara National Reserve, a place known for tree climbing Lions, which unfortunately we did not get to see (lucky we'd seen it in the Serengeti). We did manage to see a close sighting of a herd of Elephants (about 1m from our 4wd), we also saw Hippos, Giraffe, Buffalo, Monkeys & Baboons.
20th June - Stone Town - Lost…
We left mainland Tanzania, after spending a small fortune on souvenirs (who doesn't need a Masai spear), to head to Stone Town on Zanzibar. Which I would imagine has the ancient look of Croatia/Persia, the streets of Venice, feels like Bali, with a Muslim culture. Quite a funky, quirky little place, with Persian antiques for sale down one small lane, mobile phones down another & the beach down another. Our accommodation was called the coffee house and thankfully lived up to its name. After spending the day doing a circle around the town, we ended up finding a place that had a roof top bar with happy hour for 2hrs. The biggest issue came when trying to get home. After originally walking in one direction we found ourselves some how ending back at the restaurant we started at. We then when trying again found ourselves walking through homeless people and rubbish dumps before ending in the middle of town pitch black still lost, as there are no street signs and none of the streets go straight. We finally found someone who looked half approachable to direct us back our hotel.
21st June - Stone Town - Not so lost…
We spent the day walking through town, visited the old slave trade market, Portuguese fort and the Sultan's House "House of Wonders" (It got this name as it was one of the first houses built in East Africa with electricity, running water and an elevator). We also visited a bar or two, had another visit to happy hour where we met up with Mitch & Michelle's Kilimanjaro climbing partner, Ray and has wife. They then took us back to their hotel where we were served dinner on their balcony over-looking the ocean.
22, 23, 24, 25 & 26 June - Coral Rock
After enjoying a pretty chilled out morning sipping a coffee relaxing above the hectic streets of Stone Town we headed to Zanzibar's East coast, to Coral Rock in Jambiani. Well what a place this turned out to be, faulty towers times 10. However this was all resolved with a quick email to the hotels owner and a few bottles of complimentary wine to chill out with. Our days there were spent relaxing by the pool, walking up and down the beach finding different places for snacks, cocktails and lunch, snorkeling, visiting a few islands and a few of us finishing our books. After a chilled out few days we headed back to Stone Town where we caught a ferry to Dar Es Salam.