Having travelled up Lake Tanganyika in Western Tanzania previously we were prepared for Musoma to be raw and were pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t like that. Musoma is on the east of Lake Victoria.
People spoke some English and were very warm, welcoming and friendly. The place we stayed at Matvilla were delighted to have us stay with them and we elected not to camp (the ablutions were not even fit for pigs!) but stay in a room. Ben one of the managers on hearing we were from South Africa told us how much he like South Africans, which made us feel very welcome. We ended up paying the same price as camping with breakfast included.
We are learning that breakfast can be anything and standard eggs and bacon are not common. We had goats soup, pancakes, Spanish omelet, frankfurters, bread and bananas all on the same plate (except for the soup). The soup wasn’t bad. We had a bit of running around to do here so stayed for two nights before heading to the Serengeti. There had been mixed information about payment requirements to enter Ngorogoro from the west. Some guide books and a couple of blogs indicated that payment had to be made into a bank account and only the deposit slip was acceptable as proof of payment for entry. We spoke to ‘travel agent’ who, after making some phone calls confirmed that this was the case. We therefore had to pay a visit to a bank and make a deposit into the Ngorogoro Conservancy Area (NCA) account before leaving Musoma (from the west, Ngorogoro is entered from Serengeti). It turned out upon enquiry at the Naabi Hill entrance gate to the NCA that they accept credit card payments at the gate!
The cost of the parks in East Africa are exorbitant and park fees are often valid for 24 hours(to the minute!) so it becomes a matter of logistics working out when to go in to give you enough time to travel through the park without paying twice. Serengeti and Ngorongoro are linked so you go out the one and straight into the next, fortunately there are places to camp (also exorbitant). Having planned our route we waited until around 1 pm to go into Serengeti. Finally after years of dreaming we were here.
Since we had caught the migration in the Mara we were not sure what to expect in the Serengeti. We were not disappointed as there was still herds of animals there. The wildebeest are quite funny to see huddled in groups under trees in the shade.
We startled two spotted hyena on our way in, who sloped off watching until we had moved off as we had disturbed their eating.
Our campsite for the night was in the middle of the park at Dik Dik close to Seronera. It was just a patch in the middle of the bush with some ablutions with no camp fences.
We watched zebras and Grant’s gazelle graze in front of us that night, and four hyena sloped past early the next morning just as interested in us as we were in them. Also managed to get bitten by Tsetse flies!
Next morning we were up early, packed up to get a game drive in before going into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. We were given a tip and found a well camouflaged leopard in a tree, we waited for about 20 minutes and much to our delight the leopard got restless and clambered out of the tree to settle in the shade beneath.
It’s the dry season in the Serengeti so the park is doing controlled burns and we had decided that on the way out we were unlikely to see anything. We were wrong. We took a back route out to avoid some of the horrific corrugations on the ‘main’ road and we came across 4 lions ambling long the road.
One young male and 3 females.
We followed them for about 20 mins and watched as they looked around for some prey and settled on some warthogs. It was interesting to see how they paired up and stalked the warthogs with a two pronged attack.
However it wasn’t their day as the warthogs got wind of them in time to run off. It is simply extraordinary to see the volume of animals here and we so grateful we got to come.
The entrance/exit to Serengeti and Ngorongoro is called Naabi Hill. It’s like being at a Land Cruiser bus station.
There’re hordes of people and game drive vehicles. We really stand out in the Nissan Sani! We checked out the one park, had lunch surrounded by thieving starlings and checked into Ngorongoro. The contrast in scenery was marked as before there were rolling plains of grassed filled savannah, with granite outcrops, here it felt like we were in a semi desert, arid place broken by the occasional red/blue robes of the Masai herdsman.
The road was the most badly corrugated we’d traveled on, so badly corrugated that at times the steering wheel was bouncing up and down a good 15cm. We stopped in the middle under a tree for a rest and to look around us. A herd of giraffe ambled past. It was a good place for chocolate!!!
Finally we arrived at the public campsite, Simba A, on the rim of the Ngorongoro crater where we discovered hot water in the showers much to our delight!
It was chilly here with a view of the crater below.
Next morning early we set off into the crater- another exorbitant fee but we really wanted to see it. This is the largest un flooded, unbroken volcano caldera in the world, being about 20km across, 600m deep and about 300 sq kms in area. We found the entrance road down into the crater and managed to avoid having to hire a guide. It was so much bigger than we anticipated and we spent a lovely few hours there. Herds of animals, lions, elephants, hyenas and different habitats. A truly beautiful place.
We found our way to the exit route by asking. This after Al had assured the guard at the gate that we knew where we were going!!! Leaving these really amazing places behind, we were so glad that we’d seen them and experienced them.