Tanzania - The Serengeti & Ngorongoro Crater

October 30, 2011 - Mnyuzi, Tanzania


We had a night of heavy rains at the Serengeti Stopover camp, thank goodness for wellingtons and umbrellas! The puddle around our camp was so deep the frogs (which were big) could dive under and disappear. The caravan has only one leak down a seam but other than that our little home has done outstandingly well..... I can say that emphatically now having survived the torrid roads through the Serengeti to the Ngorongoro Crater! Another testimony to the amazing skills of Steve and George, old Noddy (the caravan) seems as strong as ever.

We entered into the Serengeti from the western side at the Ndabaka gate, ‘the roads are good’..... well that was true for the most part until we hit Seronera. The drive in was pleasant, promising with quite a lot of game en route. We were amazed at the vastness of the plains, flat and quite green making it easy to spot game. We overnighted at Seronera in Pimbi camp expecting disgusting facilities as had been reported but were pleasantly surprised. The ablutions were new, toilet seats attached... impressive.... though there were cold showers, no toilet paper and the whole set up was entirely inadequate for the amount of people in camp.

We took a quick evening game drive along the river seeing lion, hippo and other game before settling down for the night. The tour company crews were buzzing around the kitchen in high spirits cooking away, they had a nicely organized area, enclosed with wire to keep animals out and with lots of clean looking preparation areas with white tiled tops. There was also a nice dining area, another open house (enclosed with wire mesh) filled with tables covered with Maasai blankets, by dinner time the tables had poured out into the camp. So whilst the organized tours fed their clients in a most civilized manner we sat on the edge of our camp and made a braai watching hyenas come past. The night was disturbed with hyenas in camp. I left a bucket of water outside with George’s dirty socks in; they lapped noisily away in that. I heard one take a bite to taste the socks but since they were intact the next day they clearly were not too appealing!  At one time things were being knocked off the table right outside my window though there was nothing edible and we had packed almost everything away.

Early the next day we headed out for a game drive in the opposite direction down the river. Time went by in a flash and soon we were headed back to camp in order to make it out in two hours inside the 24 hour permit time. The pressure of trying to make sure we were out in time made the morning unpleasant and the roads did not improve things, we took double the time we were told it would take and were driving faster than we wanted to. ‘One hour’ on ‘good roads’ is what we were told it would take, we left with two hours to spare soldiering over endless corrugations which wore us out with irritation by the time we reached the gate. We were assured that the migration had reached Seronera, that there was plenty going on around there, the western side had been promising, the central area disappointing but from Seronera to the gate, it had been the most boring drive with barely an animal in sight! The landscape had changed too, not the endless plains but the colour of them, the west side was green the east side was like a brown sea that went as far as the eye could see.

We lunched and waited around a bit in no man’s land between the two areas leaving to enter into the Ngorogoro Conservation area just after 2pm. In this time we met 2 German Neurosurgeons and planned to enter the crater with them since the park charges an extra US$200 on top of the parks fees per vehicle that enters!   

We began the drive from the Serengeti NP to the Ngorongoro Crater, the most disgusting road ever, 3 and a half hours of even more hideous corrugations! A German man had given us a tip saying that there were some side road alternatives that could be taken that were sandier. We came to one patch where clearly road maintenance was about to happen, piles of sand filled the roadside reducing it to a one lane. We took the ill defined side road and must have looked quite mad to passer-bys on the main road - a caravan charging through the plains in an incredible cloud of very fine dust, it was really not much better than the main road! Finally we got back on the main drag with local tour companies continuing to scream past at ridiculous speeds showering us with rocks. We realised the only way to slow them down was to stay in the middle of the road until the moment they passed.... kind of like playing chicken!

The road up to Simba camp was a dramatic change from the flatness of the Serengeti plains, the mountain sides had scattered Maasai homelands and cattle. The view from the Crater entrance en route was amazing, so vast and deep. We arrived at Simba camp just before dark, a real tent city full of Spaniards, Canadians and other nationalities all wrapped up as the temperature had dropped dramatically. Zebras, cows and goats were chased out of camp and the odd Maasai man would appear trying to sell his wares.

We went into the crater early the next day with our two new friends and seemed to beat the crowds. The crater was a vast expanse encircled with high mountains, an impressive sight. At first it looked like it was going to be another flat brown sea to wade through like the eastern side of the Serengeti but there were surprising pockets of forest or swamps, often sunken and not visible from a distance. Buffalo stood in one swamp almost fully submerged, enjoying the mud which they tossed around with their horns. Crested cranes were abundant and beautiful; there were flamingos and other bird life. We saw ostriches, one pair mating after an interesting dance. Of course there were lion, hippo, wildebeest, buffalo, assorted antelope, warthogs, zebras, hyenas, jackals and an elephant. The morning went quickly and before we knew it the old landy was trekking up the steep exit road through forest - a stark contrast from where we had just been. We got back to camp and moved on out of the park this time the roads were good through more beautiful rain forest type vegetation to the parks gate.

By the time we reached Kudu camp just a few kilometres from the park we were back into a dry hot area. We pulled into a petrol station filled up and re-inflated our tyres. George discovered that the petrol tank was leaking, luckily for us there were some bush mechanics right there. They took many hours to take the tank out and repair it finishing off with only the light from my cell phone! Back at camp I did house cleaning.... endless de-dusting and laundry till my back hurt and I was completely spent! Lucky for me it was not as bad as the Thomas’s who arrived a few days later after two caravan tyre bursts and with egg dripping down their cupboards pasted with gravy powder and hot chocolate that had spewn out of their containers along with a few lentils! Yes ....we are quite often amazed at what we find on the floor of our caravan after a bad road – sometimes it is even screws from where we know not!

Kudu camp was also a lovely lodge so George watched the rugby the next day and I enjoyed their beautiful lounge, a welcome break from the dust of the Serengeti! Soon we had met a young Aussie backpacking couple who joined us to Lake Manyara. This park was far more interesting and varied than the Serengeti or Ngorongoro Crater had been! We went from beautiful forests to woodlands to open plains and back again seeing tree climbing lions and a good deal of game.

Kudu camp was a welcome break from the one night stops; quiet till our last night when a good 70 overlanders pitched tent. All of us like nomads moved on the next day, for us it was to Arusha.



1 Serengeti Stop Over Camp 249-550
2 Ndabaka Gate Serengeti
3 East side of the Serengeti - greener  279-550
4 Serengeti - east side towards Seronera which is more in the centre 289-550


October 30, 2011
Hi guys
Wow your adventure sounds truly amazing. I take my hat off to your journaling skills as we have just got back from 2 wks in the Richtersveld and I couldnt express what my eyes and soul observed if you paid me :) Well done and thanks for sharing your journey with us. Think of you often and pray for continued blessings and grace. Enjoy! Love Barrie and Gilly
October 31, 2011
Hallo again my two favourite Mac's. Yes I can only agree with the above comment. Your writing skills are of such a quality that I can almost visualise where and what you are experiencing. And of course the lovely photos help as well.
It's amazing how time flies. Today is the end on October and two months left for 2011. We have become a lot busier at work, but that is the mature of our business. I can only pray and trust that it will continue like this for November as December and January are traditionally half months. I am looking forward to our year end break which starts on 15 December.
Thank you once again for a wonderful blog. Always enjoy reading it.
Much love, warm regards and stay safe.
October 31, 2011
Hi. Wow. Love the tree climbing lions. I have heard of those. You have seen them. Glad you got the petrol tank fixed. it's been a cooler weekend in CT. Samuel had his birthday party on SAturday afternoon at The Shed in Stellebosch. We took 7 boys through to skate and they had an awesome time. Jason and Samuel went paintballing yesterday with the guys from the digs next door. They had such fun and came home exhausted. Hannah and I watched the smurfs at Cavendish instead. Still, everyone is well and busy. Take care & travel safely.
Boet Schoeman:
October 31, 2011
Glad that you still enjoy the trip and still going ok. We still want to visit the Serengeti and surely you will advice us when you are back someday.
Always enjoy reading your blog. Cant wait for it.Take care.
brigitte parfitt:
October 31, 2011
Greetings from a wintery 31 October. Hope that the real warm weather will set in tomorrow 01 November! I need some sun a fresh air on my bodyparts!!!
Oh, I loved the Serengeti and Ngorongoro and Arusha when I travelled there in abt. April 1973. Remember that I wanted to meet a game ranger in Serengeti and live there. Also remember the sudden rumbling of the ground - thinking earthquake - and then a huge herd of Wildebeest came running by. The earth thundered - and a few minutes later there was only dust to settle slowly. I will never forget that.
Had a great weekend with Nat's m.-in-law and sis-in-law and other bride's maid friend coming for the weekend. Sharon (Nat's mom-in-law-to-be taught me what real serious shopping means. I am still dazed!!
We went into shops that I normally pass by even when there is a sale on. Anyhow, it was great fun. We even had a little picknick on the Common before going to the designer for Nat's dress and had to pass the Champagne bottle around as I had no glasses. Well, better than having glasses and no champus, hey?! Nat's found such a beautiful dress - just what she had envisaged without knowing. Her designer was Robyn Roberts in Mowbray. Do you know her? She's also part of C.G.C.All in all we had good food, wine, fun, and shop till you drop. I nearly did!!! May you continue to enjoy your trip as you go on to Zanzibar. I believe it's beautiful. Nat's brother-in-law-to-be (Craig Paterson) lives there. Perhaps you bump into him. Say "hi" if you do. And if you like to meet him, I can get his telephone number for you. A great guy!! Love you two lots!!!!!! Roy and Brigitte
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