When? July 2002, East Africa Tour
How? Truck , ferry, boat, local plane, car
Who? Group tour and solo
Over the border from Kenya into the Serengeti. Hot air ballooning down The Great Rift Valley is an absolute doddle after the white water rafting, very gentle, serene, absolutely fantastic. The gazelles below, leaping along with us and the hippos heads bobbing in the blue pools. I would have done it again the next day if I could. It’s a shame Robert Redford wasn’t at the controls though. The Serengeti is vast and as rewarding as the Mara. Ngorongoro Crater is a little quiet after all the animals we have seen already though a lion and lioness perform a Lion King scene on a rock for us. It’s also freezing at night-we are high up here on the plateau. I sleep in all my clothes and borrow a hot water bottle. Buffalo, zebra and elephant surround the tent. What am I complaining about?
Across Tanzania, camping on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. As usual the mountain is elusive and we have to imagine what it looks like without its cloud shroud. It’s still really cold. On to bustling busy Dar es Salaam and a ferry to the spice island – Zanzibar. At least the camping’s over thank God. Hotels from now on and it’ll be pleasant to be back on my own. My fellow travellers leave when we go up to the northern beaches, snorkelling and sunbathing.
The oldest part of Zanzibar city, Stone Town is an exotic fusion of Asia and Africa. If you discount the Internet cafes. Then I’m off to the east for some time all on my own. On the way I stop off at a small reserve to see the rare red colobus monkeys who ignore us and feign sleep, hammock-like between two trees. I’m flailing, trying to get a good picture before I’m hauled back by my guide who has noticed a deadly green mamba, also flailing, but in my direction.
The beaches are colourful, sprinkled with hibiscus. The fishing dhows with their distinctive triangular sails swoop up and down the coast. The hotel is remarkably comfortable. And it’s a very small world. I go snorkelling and spend the day with a guy who turns out to be the cousin of a previous travelling companion from Brighton. The next day, dialogue with the lady on the adjacent sunbed reveals that she was once a student of my ex, Neil.
The flight home is on Ethiopian Airlines via Addis and is eventful. I get my view of Kilimanjaro-the pilot flies so close to the peak that I can see the trekkers on the winding paths. On the next leg we are struck by lightning.