Day 325-331 (25th to 31st July) – Jomo Kenyatta Beach, Mombasa

17 09 2011

After two months on the road through Africa we decided to end our round the world trip on a beach chilling out. Jomo Kenyatta Beach is a long string of bland hotels offering your basic package holiday. The warm waters, white sands and sunshine were pleasant and it was good to recharge our batteries before returning back to the real world. We couldn’t resist fitting in a few cultural activities which included a trip to Fort Jesus, which was built by the Portuguese in 1593 to guard against the old portof Mombasa.  It was built in the shape of a man (from the air) and hence why it was given the name Jesus. Another outing was to Malindi a few hours up the coast, which has been a Swahili settlement since the 14th century. It has a lot of Arabic influence as seen in the architecture and people.

Whilst staying at our beach resort in Mombasa we realised there were some dodgy going-ons here – locals walking around hand in hand with oddball tourists to form some questionable relationships. When they come into the restaurant in the morning it’s enough to put you off your breakfast.

 

Jomo Kenyatta beach aside we have had a wonderful year. But a word of warning for anyone considering a mouch around the world – you will not be disappointed by what you see, experience or encounter. The difficulty comes when it’s time to head home. It would have been nice to just keep going but, we have… ‘prior commitments’…

Finally, we would like to say a very big thank you to all those friends and family we met around the world. Because without your friendly faces and warm hospitality we would not have survived a year of hotel rooms, hostels and tents. It goes without saying that we would love to repay the favour by putting you up should you ever find yourselves in London or Bath!

The End.





Day 323-324 (22nd to 24th July) – Masai Mara National Park

30 07 2011

Never have we been so close to such dangerous killers…

The road from Nairobi to the Masai Mara was like that of the road from Arushia to the Serengeti, taking us across the impressive Great Rift Valley for the third time. The 80km road into the park was riddled with more bumps and potholes than an acne ridden teenager’s face.

With no fence or boundary between the Masai Mara and the Serengeti they are essentially the same park, just in two different countries. The animals and Masai tribesmen can freely cross; we however can not. Being a far smaller park you’re immediately rewarded with wildlife upon entering the park. We however were almost immediately blessed with a male cheetah just metres from our truck.

We have never had reason to feel scared while on safari, however when Jen, myself and our driver nearly got charged by a full grown male African elephant I did brick it a little. We were fortunate enough to see not one but two leopards in trees and when out in the park at night spotted a lioness hunting.

A real highlight was watching a spotted hyena trotting from a lion kill with a wildebeest leg in its mouth. Jen’s highlight came towards the end of the safari when we came across a large pride of lions with almost a dozen cubs and youngsters playing in the long grass by the side of the road. We spent an age watching them from no more than a couple of metres. Life is tough for an animal out on the African plains, but if you’re a lion with no natural predators, life it good.

We were in the Masai Mara for the annual migration of the wildebeest from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara across the Mara River. We visited one of the crossing points the wildebeest use to make the hazardous journey across the river. Hazardous because the fast flowing brown waters are teaming full of very large, very dangerous nile crocodiles. We weren’t fortunate enough to witness any wilder beast crossing, but our guide told us the first dozen to cross don’t stand a chance.

To gain a true perspective of the wildebeest migration it really has to be viewed from above; so early one morning we boarded a hot air balloon and took to the skies. Under the warm glow of the morning sun the African plains took on a whole new perspective. We were able to easily spot elephants, zebra, giraffe, gazelle, topi and thousands of migrating wildebeest – stunning.

The wildlife in the Masi Mara came thick and fast and most of it at very close quarters making for a lovely memorable experience. We were glad to make it back to Nairobi in one piece as we must have seen a good half dozen accidents on the road back into town.





Day 321 (21th July) – Arusha to Nairobi, Kenya

30 07 2011

Number 24 out of 24…

Today saw us cross the border into Kenya and the last country on our round the world trip. Unsurprisingly Southern Kenya looks a lot like Northern Tanzania, from the truck very little looks like it has changed. However, demographically things are a little different. Tanzania is home to a bewildering 120 ethnic groups and a one third Islamic population. In contrast the once colonised Kenya has an 80% Christian population of which 70% are under the age of thirty. Kenya relies on the tourist industry for over half of its GDP; whereas Tanzania relies on its agricultural industry for similar revenues. One thing that is clear from travelling through East Africa is whereas in Southern Africa many of the big business were White European owned; here they seem to be Indian owned.

We got into a hectic Nairobi shortly after lunchtime and checked into a well earned and well appreciated hotel… with a bed and everything! The various places we have stayed in on our journey across Africa have ranged from beach fronted cabins to bush campsites with hole and a spade for a toilet; so amazing to appalling. It was nice to rejoin civilisation.

Well I say civilisation – of all the cities we have passed through, Nairobi carries the most resemblance to Lagos. Nairobi still has some way to come to rival Lagos for grime, robberies, incidents and traffic or as I like to call it, G.R.I.T. But for a city one third the size of Lagos it does well – not many cities can boast such an accolade.

To mark the end of a great trip across Southern and Eastern Africa we went out for dinner at the famous Carnivore restaurant – once boating as much game meat as you can eat. Now unfortunately due to poaching in the north of the country can only offer your standard meats, plus crocodile and ostrich. But, still all you can eat.. um um um…





Day 320 (20th July) – Arusha

25 07 2011

The place we are staying at is actually 25km out of town and as there was pretty much nothing to do Jen and I headed into town in a matatu, a local minibus taxi service. It’s actually a very quick and efficient service however, insanely cramped; with anything up to 25 people in a 14 seat minibus. I don’t think I’ve ever folded my legs so tight or inspected my knees as closely as I did on the back seat of that matatu. Kind of like what the underground will be in a few years. A really fun experience, but glad we don’t have to do it every day.

We also regrettably went on a terrible Masai village walk. The Masai are nomadic tribal people, moving around northern Tanzania and Kenya. They are polygamous, with some men having more than 10 wives. Each family unit have their own cows and goats and they move depending on the availability of good land for grazing their livestock. In addition to eating their cattle for meat, they also

Example of pre circumcision males

drink the blood from the cow. They wear different colour clothing based on the stages of their life. The children wear a plain red colour. Pre-circumcised adolescent males wear black, and post-circumcised adults and elderly men wear different types of red check.  The walk was incredibly touristy and our guide was useless, not really telling us much we didn’t already know. To be honest we were just keen to get out of Arusha and head to Nairobi.





Day 317 to 319 (17th – 19th July) – Serengeti National Park & Ngorongoro Crater

25 07 2011

We were picked up at 8am to begin our drive to the world renowned Serengeti National Park. Soon we were driving across the impressively fertile Great Rift Valley. Stretching from Lebanon to Mozambique, this is essentially where the African tectonic plate is being torn in two to form the Nubian and Somali Plates. This green oasis will in a few million years be the site of a great ocean.

Before entering Serengeti National Park we drove along the western rim of the breathtaking Ngorongoro Crater. The Crater is technically actually a caldera and the 6th largest in the world at about 20km wide. It was formed when a giant volcano exploded then collapsed two million years ago and now lies completely dormant, making the perfect home for a plethora of wildlife in very high density.

The open plains at the entrance to the Serengeti National Park had to have some of the dustiest and most bone rattling roads since Bolivia; with every 4×4 we passed kicking up huge plumes of dust. The moderate breeze seemed to easily form mini tornados and a good half dozen could be seen out on the dry open plains.

The lengthy drive in saw us pass scores of Masai settlements with their goats and cattle grazing the bare brown open plains amongst the game and occasional big cat! We game drove to the campsite spotting the usual zebra, giraffe and elephant; plus the new like the spotted hyena, thompson and grant gazelle and even the very rare and elusive Leopard and serval cat.

The following morning we were up and out for sunrise to explore the heart of the national park. It soon became clear why the Serengeti National Park is regarded as the best game park in the world. If walking around Manhattan is like being in a Hollywood movie or TV program, then gazing at the Serengeti plains is like being in a BBC wildlife documentary. Just about the only thing we didn’t see was a rhino. We saw two lovely cheetahs shading themselves from the sun under an acacia tree, dozens of lions and got within two metres of a lioness.

That evening we drove on to a perfectly situated campsite on the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater, boasting stunning views of the whole crater. Our last day had us rising to thick fog – I thought this a little strange, but we are at 2,100 metres above sea level. The fog soon cleared as our 4×4 descended into Ngorongoro Crater. This was a spectacular place; with all this wildlife in such a confined space we were never out of sight of some type of game animal, or sadly other 4×4 jeeps. We have seen several white rhino’s but here we saw our first black rhino, herds of buffalo, more lions, the very rare and nocturnal serval cat, but no kill… Just about the only thing missing were giraffe’s as they can’t negotiate their way down the steep crater sides.

In three days the superb Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater played host to many of the planets finest animals and left us wishing for more time on the African plains.





Day 316 (16th July) – Arusha

25 07 2011

Where Moshi was a jumping off point for Mt. Kilimanjaro, Arusha is a jumping off point for the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. Unfortunately Arusha town is not that interesting and the campsite we are staying at is beyond basic. We struggled to fill up the day with a trip to the towns cultural centre, masai museum and venomous snake centre. Here we came face to face with Africa’s most dangerous snakes; black mamba, puff adder, carpet viper and more. We even got the chance to hold a non-venomous sand snake, something Jen failed to enjoy for a full five seconds.

 

We found a very good way to pass the time was in the bar playing darts and killer was the game of choice. We soon found out that Jen was a natural darts player, knocking us all out and going on to win the match. I am pleased to report Jen is going to maintain her amateur status, choosing not to grow a mullet, get a tattoo or wear gold sovereigns.

 

 

 

 





Day 315 (15th July) – Dar Es Salaam to Moshi

25 07 2011

It was easy to forget we were on holiday this morning – today started at 4am, beating the 5am rush hour traffic out of Dar Es Salaam! We did our best to get a couple of hours kip before the sun came up, however the Tanzanian roads are littered with huge and frequent speed bumps making for a frustratingly bumpy morning.

Our journey to Moshi took most of the day and saw us finally tire of the truck and the Tanzanian countryside. As we drew closer to Moshi the landscape grew progressively more interesting and mountainous; and with mountains came the cloud. Those lovely clear blue skies have gone and what we now have is an almost completely overcast sky. Fortunately one of the few windows to the heavens gave us our first, but partial view of the giant Mount Kilimanjaro. The world’s largest free standing mountain and Africa’s largest at 5,896m it was a mighty impressive sight even from 40km away. It was about then I really wished I was climbing Kili…

Here is what it should look like...








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.