A walk in the rain and mud and then finally sunshine

January 2010

I was asked to lead an 8 day walking trip which I initially thought would be a full on hike that covers 150 kilometers or so. As it turned out it was not such a serious hike and thank fully, because of the conditions we encountered it wasn’t a long 8 day slog in mud! It had rain, was raining and would rain more! I could see it; conditions were not just damp but wet and cold! You may not think that East Africa can be that way-think again- in El Nino years at altitudes over 5000 and 6000 feet it can be a little miserable! 3 of our party took it on the chin but I felt sorry for two guests that found some of the ordeals tough indeed.

We hiked the woodlands of Ndutu climbing kopjes for a better view, we traversed the open plains of Lemuta both on foot and by vehicle, we waded through waist deep water in the Ol Karien Gorge and we drove through relentless mud to reach or final goal-the private safari concessions of Loliondo. Here we planed extensive walks but the rain worked against us that first day! There’s a long story here that I won’t bore you with, but to summarize we ended up sharing a wet camp with 10 students and abandoned my vehicle for the night!

Ol Karien

Plains

The next day was different and the sun shone every blessed hour! We moved our camp, got my vehicle out of the mud and hiked all afternoon in glorious sunshine. Oh so glorious! We hiked the Serengeti border one afternoon and the views from the ridge top were extra special. Buffalo herds, elephants, zebras in numbers and impala everywhere. The clocks went back 100,000 years and we were early man exploring on foot and with the sun shine warming our backs- it was indeed worth all the discomfort to get there to that spot.

Camp

All in all we had an amazing safari with interesting walks and spent our time on foot as much as we could, albeit sometimes hiking for miles in 6inches of muddy water! We were rewarded by unforgettable scenes of migrating wildebeest as all of us forgot our personal discomforts and I remember at one point we all just stared in awe at one incredible scene of wildlife movement. This was just as we left our Nasera Rock mobile camp and we were driving northwards towards Loliondo. These high plains are spectacular enough with 100,000 migrating animals but with over half a million moving wildebeest it was one of those scenes even I get a little silly about!

With such rains and wildlife movement February was sizing up to be an incredible month.