Today I had my first taste of African wildlife since arriving. It meant a very early start though, with a quick breakfast before a 06:30 departure that would get us to the Mikumi National Park as soon as it opened.
We weren’t sure that we would ever get there, however, as our jeep was old and broken so it couldn’t be driven very fast. Even slow vehicles were overtaking us so it was a relief when we finally arrived at the park entrance which was a few km back along the main road.
It took ages for our guide, Terry, to arrange the entry permits but as soon as we entered the National Park we started seeing wildlife straight away – a family of Zebra were right by the gate!
Game Drive in Mikumi National Park
We spent a few hours driving around the park with Terry doing his best to find us as many animals as possible. It was evident from the start of the day that he had been working in the park for a long time and that he knew all of the best places to go. So, even though the park isn’t one of the best in Africa, we saw a wide range of animals including Wildebeest, Zebra, Hippo, Crocodile, Elephant, Monkeys, Giraffe, and loads of birds all within an area of outstanding beauty.
The highlight for me, however, was seeing Lion in the wild for the first time. We saw a mother and her cubs but unfortunately, due to her cubs being very young, she didn’t come close to us and we only saw them from a distance. We got some great photos, however.
We were an hour late getting back to camp but luckily Mambo had packed up our tents for us to save time. There was just enough time for a quick brunch before hitting the road.
Driving through Tanzania
Today turned out to be an extremely long day – the trip notes said it would be an 8 hour drive, but it ended up being over 10 – so we arrived at our campsite south of Iringa well after sunset. This is the second day in a row that this happened, and I hope that this isn’t a pattern as I really want to spend some time enjoying the towns that we visit.
The journey itself, however, was through some amazing scenery and I seem to have settled into life on the road fairly quickly. On previous overland trips it has taken me a few more days to get used to life on the road, and that was with journey times shorter than this.
I think that is for a few reasons. Firstly, we have a lot of room to stretch out due to there only being 8 people which makes the journey more pleasant. Secondly, I’m just so happy to be travelling again after so long, and thirdly the group and the crew seem to be great.
There are a nice mix of people, as is usual on this type of trip, with people from the UK, Colombia, France, Australia, and Malaysia making up my travelling companions. Combine that with an all-Kenyan crew and you have a wide range of people with a nice mix of backgrounds. We always have a lot to talk about during the long days and we’re bonding well.
Overnight in Iringa
Tonight’s camp in Iringa was nice. It only had a drop toilets, which always take some getting used to, but it had very hot water courtesy of a fire-powered boiler. The grounds seem to be amazing so it’s a shame that we won’t get a chance to see it in the daylight as we leave before sunrise tomorrow morning.
Such an early start will be challenging, but tomorrow we make our way into Malawi which I’m really looking forward to so I’m sure that the early start will be worth it. Malawi is a country that I have wanted to visit for so long!
A few more photos
Here are a few more photos taken in the Mikumi National Park that I didn’t have room for in the main bit of the blog entry above.