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No Ordinary Journey (Part 2 – St Jude & Serengeti)


“Jambo, Jina langu ni Bruce”. Atleast that was my feeble attempt to introduce myself to the moderately dressed wowan I was squashed next to on the Dala Dala. She looked at me, somewhat startled and quickly a wry smile came over her followed by some Swahili I failed to comprehend, but to my embarrassment, the majority on board the Dala Dala understood and subsequently loud laughter ensued. All I could muster was a smile and think to myself how “screwed” I was as it was a 40 minute ride back to Moshi.
To my surprise she attempted to make more conversation with me and even introduced me to a gentleman behind us I can only assume was her husband. It was a broken conversation but it seemed to do the job to calm my nerves.
Half way home the money collector asked me for my fair, I handed over 1000 shillings, the lady tapped me on the shoulder and pointed at the collector and it was easy to see she wanted me to pay her fair, I did so without hesitation, not from fear but for respect to her for giving me the time. She subsequently showed respect when exiting the bus, by bowing her head gently into mine.
It wasn’t long before we reached Moshi and I recognised where I was. I made a beeline past the bus station and around the bank where the guard stood with his machine gun, I wasn’t about to make any withdrawals, I needed the toilet fast as my bowel situation had worsened. Fortunately I was able to control my bowels for the day but could not any longer. I was ever so thankful for my gastro kit I had so cleverly (nurse persuaded me to buy) purchased prior to leaving. I took the three pills required got changed and headed for the Bristol Cottages office where I was able to check mail and update facebook. It was about 30 minutes later my day ended, between the pills and my bowel movements I had no energy left and found an animal channel to watch, which ironically was showing the Crocodile Hunter (Swimming with Alligators). I struggled to get through the night and hoped that this condition would pass before the next day.

I woke the next morning feeling like a new person, things seemed to be working as they should, despite a lack of appetite I felt good. I packed early and made my way to reception to check out. I was all hopeful of catching the bus and making it to St Jude in Arusha in time for their school parade but was advised by reception it was safer to catch the later bus, I made the decision, although expensive, to take the taxi to Arusha as St Jude was not something I wanted to rush through.

It took a good couple of hours before I was checked in at the Outpost in Arusha and found myself at the School of St Jude.

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Students at the School of St Jude

I jumped out of the taxi and was greeted warmly by a man named Felix. I had communicated with Felix about my visit prior to leaving. He was very welcoming and informed me the school parade had been moved to later that afternoon, so unfortunately I missed this. He also told me we were limited to entering the classrooms as some students were in exams. So we sat down and Felix explained the history of the School and Gemma, it was great to be sitting there getting the history of it all. We soon moved on and Felix gave me a tour around the School.

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Students at the School of St Jude

Felix took me through both campuses and we met a lot of workers and teachers along the way. I had a bag of goodies I brought over Felix was carrying while I took photos. I felt a bit bad as they were heavy so I asked when was a good time to hand those over. We decided the school materials (pens and books) would best be handed over at the beginning of the school term, but I could hand over the soccer ball and the Wildlife Warrior goodies after lunch.

So to my surprise I got to have a sit down lunch with all the students, approximately 500+, this was awesome and there was such curiosity on their faces. We had a pretty staple lunch of beans and rice. Soon afterwards it was time for a 15 minute break and I broke out the goodies of the soccer ball and Wildlife Warrior materials. The kids lapped it up and it was such a joy to see.

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Handing out the Wildlife Warrior goodies
Students from St Judes with some school materials I delivered.
Students from St Judes with some school materials I delivered.

Soon after I moved on from St Judes. It was a privilege and Felix was and awesome host.

I got the taxi back to the Outpost and met with Peter who I had chatted to about guiding me around Arusha. I had learnt by now that having a guide around these places was imperative. We headed out on foot as soon as I arrived back from St Jude. Peter showed me through Arusha, the markets were amazing, something you never see here in Australia. We collected a few items I needed for the upcoming Safari. We spent about 3 hours on foot around Arusha and I was exhausted after that day as I was not feeling 100%. All I needed now was to crash for an hour before Kellie arrived for our Safari.

Around 5pm I received a text from Kellie telling me she was not far away. Kellie organised a dinner at a restaurant named Stiggies. Stiggies is Australian owned and he was quite the character having lived in Arusha for over 30 years. To my surprise I was actually able to stomach some food.

The next day it was up early to meet our guide for the Safari. His name was Mosses and he was a pretty cool and charming character and had been doing the safari thing for some time.

We headed off and made our way towards the Ngorongoro Crater and the Rift Valley. It was about a 4-5 hour drive to get to the Serengeti, with a short stop on the rim of the Ngorongoro crater. What a site.

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Ngorngoro Crater Panorama

Pretty soon we were heading down the side of the crater descending into the Serngeti. It was a long and very rough road.

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Entering the Serengeti

I was amazed at how quickly the animals just started appearing. Elephants, Gazelles, Zebras, Secretary birds… the horizon was soon covered with animals.

Elephant in the Serengeti
Elephant in the Serengeti

Wasn’t long before we came across 2 males and a female lion

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Lion in the Serengeti
Lioness in the Serengeti
Lioness in the Serengeti

We spent the afternoon scouting around with Mosses and found an amazing site of a Leopard in a tree with a fresh kill.

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Leopard with a fresh kill

It was getting late and after stopping to nab some sunset shots we headed to our camp. Unfortunately Mosses had never been to this camp and got a little bit lost in the Serengeti after dark, interesting times. We arrived at our wilderness camp at around 7:30pm and I was completely shot, a combination of the long day in the hot car, my tummy bug was not boding well so I had to lay down and skip dinner.

I have to mention that the camp was only about 10 minutes down the road from where we were viewing the animals, no fences, nothing between us and the animals accept a zip fly. The next day we woke to a Giraffe not far from our tent, that is something to truly remember. I felt good but still not good enough to eat a great deal for breaky. We moved on back into the Serengeti for some more game viewing.

Day 2 in the Serengeti was mostly about seeing Elephants and Giraffe, we did see 2 more leopards but nothing like the first day.

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Giraffe in the Serengeti

Once again we headed back to camp and I was feeling good enough to try some dinner, although it wasn’t much it was an improvement. I felt bad as the meals were high quality meals. The next day we packed our bags as we were going to be camping at the Ngorongoro Wilderness camp that evening. We headed out for our third day in the Serengeti. I had been busting Mosses about seeing a Cheetah so that was our goal, and Mosses delivered.

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Cheetah in the Serengeti

I love Cheetahs and this was a special site to see in the wild. We moved on and left the Serengeti heading for the Ngoronforo Wilderness Camp. I don’t know how they did it but it was even better than the Serngeti camp, located on the rim of the Ngorongoro crater.

Our camp on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater
Our camp on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater

I managed to down a bit more food than the previous night and we caught up with two people from the US doing pretty much the same safari.

The next day we woke early for a half day in the Ngorongoro crater. It was only 200 mteres before we came across a heard of about 40 Elephants. We kept descending and soon came across two wildebeest fighting for territory. I have some amazing footage to share of this, so stay tuned for that. Our last great action was a male and female lion and two Rhinos.

Lion in Ngorongoro Crater
Lion in Ngorongoro Crater

We then headed back up the crater so that Kellie and Mosses could drop me off at Nainokanoka, where I would meet Justin to camp before our big 50km hike through the crater highlands. It was sad to say goodbye to Kellie and Mosses as I had enjoyed the safari and their company a great deal.

TO BE CONTINUED ON THE CRATER HIGHLANDS TREK


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