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Wild Trips: Tanzania trip

The mighty Kilimanjaro provides an impressive backdrop to the hustle and bustle of everyday life in Arusha. Massive Jacaranda trees line the streets, the stunning purple flowers drop their petals onto the rickety wooden stalls below. People tout for business, selling safaris and treks to climb Africa’s highest mountain. We stay one night in Arusha, heading out early the next day.

 

We will be collected from our hotel by our drivers. Unlike the majority of safaris we do not follow the main road towards the Serengeti. Instead we take an unusual route and make our way through incredible scenery to Ndutu Safari lodge. There will be regular rest stops and photo opportunities. Near to the Olduvai gorge we will find the magical shifting sands. This crescent shaped dune of sand has magnetic properties. Beautifully symmetrical it can move up to 10 metres a year. The grains are bizarre to the touch and if thrown the particles fall heavily back to earth. It is a sacred place for the Masai. 

 

Situated in the Ngorogoro conservation area, Ndutu lodge is a wildlife lover’s delight. The bird life next to the lodge is fantastic. Many are so tame that they will come and ask you for a share of your snacks as you sip your drinks round the camp fire. Love birds nest in the rotting trunks of trees and habituated genets live in the main building. Accommodation is in comfortable, clean, individual stone buildings. 

 

Just a short drive from the lodge and you will be launched into the world of a million wildebeest, their calves and the animals that predate them. Its cat-tastic! But that’s not all; there are bat-eared foxes – a particular favourite of mine, hyenas, zebra and buffalo by the ton, giraffes, jackals and even honey badgers. The bird life is phenomenal too; secretary birds, bustards, vultures, ostrich and loads and loads of mesmerising, brightly coloured little guys…. So everyday, twice a day we drive through this beautiful African scenery. The iconic acacia trees with their flat tops, the swamp areas characterised by their tall, swaying, golden grasses; lakes and rivers and of course, the endless grass plains that are so synonymous with the Serengeti. We watch sunrises and sunsets. The huge red African sun silhouetting shapes as she dips below the horizon. Wildebeest, the endless wanderers. They march the vastness in long lines, calling constantly. Sometimes they piaf (it’s a dressage term) to show that they are not for dinner today. When they run the dust cloud follows them over open plains. Not the brightest, they are often seen heading in the wrong direction, away from the herd and towards their doom. In the chaos the young often get lost, desperately trying to find their mothers, they will hook up with anyone that will have them. That includes safari vehicles and, on occasion, a lion… 

 

There is nothing like hearing the roar of a lion. His message; I am king, travels for miles through the early morning mist. His shakes his head and with it his magnificent mane, the power in his body, rippling with muscle. He is right, he is king. Cubs…. Playing with the black end of his twitching tail. His patience as a father remarkable. 

 

The confidence of the cheetah brothers who climb onto the safari vehicle next to us. They sit there proud and elegant. Lean and agile. Tear dropped eyes. And then, when they are ready they slink off into the grass, disappearing in an instant.