After a full day’s driving from Dar-es-Salaam, arriving at the main gate at about 10 pm, we raised the ranger at the main gate who booked us into a lodge for the night. Thankfully we had at that stage given up plans for camping at one of the camp sites for the night.
The lodge was most pleasant with great views – but excessively expensive. We had to pay in US$ for rather run-down facilities. At night the place was teeming with Masai guards. Wish we could have had them when we went to the camp site!!!
Next morning we drove to the ‘camp site’ near the Hippo Pool. We knew from the outset that this site epitomised remoteness. We had to share the camp site with all the giraffes, impala, warthogs, finches, swallows, snakes and predators in the area . Not known to us, though, was that we were also in the hunting area for a pride of lions! No – we were not warned or informed about this! One of the rangers did however shiver as he made an off-the-cuff remark that he hoped that we weren’t afraid of lions! Wiping the sweat off his brow, he said that he was terrified of the lions near the camp site.
Little did we know what to expect. See the locked kitchen area at the back. That night – Hilda & I drove in the dark to fetch that darn key from the rangers at the main gate. That is when the nightmare began.
Driving back – worried about Dedrie alone at the site, we got lost and found our road blocked by this fellow. He would not get out of the road. Eventually he let us pass, his yellow eyes glowering at us in the headlights. We eventually found the camp site. But where was Dedrie? The little camp fire was out and it was pitch dark. We eventually found her zipped into the tent – ‘bloody lions’ she managed to say – ‘they walked past here and I jumped into the tent to be on the safe side’. No wonder the Masai guard was missing.
These sleepy cats (nearby – the next day) frightened us as we cooked dinner, grunting, roaring and scaring the wits out of the Impala – frightened eyes peering at our torches as we walked to the tents in close single file. The pouring rain did little to deter these girls at night.
Apart from these encounters, where we learned a lot regarding the ‘predator-prey’ relationship in nature, there were many delightful and beautiful poses for us by the visitors to the camp. Giraffes would stare at us from under a nearby tree for hours on end, thoughtfully chewing cud.
Didn’t realise that these creatures are so inquisitive?
Goodbye Mikumi – goodbye Tsetse Flies – they nearly bit the hell out of us. They anaesthetise the skin before they put the proboscis in – then you don’t feel a thing. And can they suck up a lot of blood! Dedrie found a big fat one in the vehicle which got me on the neck – filled with blood. Fortunately none of us has come down with sleeping sickness!