Goodbye Kenya/Hello Tanzania – Lake Victoria & the Serengeti, day 1

Sunday, January 18, 2015

On Sunday, January 18, 2015 our group packed up our campsites at Kembu Farm in Nakuru, Kenya and drove our Land Rover Defenders to Kericho, Kenya. We passed through a number of towns and villages, still acculturating ourselves with driving on Kenya’s roads. Driving on the left-side of the road is the least of my issues. Every town and village means slowing down for the speed bumps as we entered and left each town. Kenya does not waste money on speed bump signs or road markings so it is very easy to hit a speed bump at 40 kilometers per week.

As we drove into the highlands of Kenya, we began to see many large and beautiful tea plantations. Here’s a photo of workers picking tea in one of the seemingly endless tea farms.

We spent the night at the Tea Hotel in Kericho, Kenya. The Tea Hotel was built in the 1950s as a country club for British expats. Now run as a hotel, the Tea Hotel is interesting but definitely rough around the edges. Here’s a photo of the front of the hotel:

Here’s a YouTube video showing a little more of the Tea Hotel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnNPOguxTis

Here’s our Defenders lined up in the Tea Hotel’s parking lot:

Monday, January 19th

We left the next Tea Hotel and drove on C23 towards Kotike/Kisii. In Kisii we stopped at the local Nakumatt (a Kenyan Supermarket Chain – that also sells general merchandise) to stock up on supplies,

After shopping we drove through Migori Town to the Isebania border crossing to enter Tanzania.

Migori Town:

When we came close to border we saw a line of trucks and a sea of humanity.

Photos are not permitted at the border, so I found these images online.

At the border Jan took care of the paperwork to get our cars into Tanzania. We went through the immigration process, presented our passports and paid $100 each to enter Tanzania. Then we were directed to a table for an Ebola screening. We filled out a form and then a young man in a lab coat pointed an infrared thermometer at our foreheads. It was a hot day and I registered hot. The young man told me to go sit in the shade and come back in a few minutes. I had bought a bottle of cold water to drink, so I put the bottle to my forehead to cool myself down. The water bottle worked too well, when I returned to the table to have my temperature retaken, I registered too cold, so the medical technician said, “You aren’t sick, right?” and let me through.

Many hustlers and money changers at the border. We buy a bunch of small bananas and share them with the group.

From the border we drove to Lake Victoria at Musuma, Tanzania – we stay at the Tembo Beach Camp. Here’s a photo of Lake Victoria at sunset.

Thank goodness we only spent one night at this campsite. The camp was swarming with “lake flies”. The bathrooms had piles of dead flies. It is hard to describe how thick the flies were. I took a picture of one of the light fixtures that was covered with flies. I also took this photo of these sphere shaped bird nests. They looked like really big Christmas ornaments.

     

Tuesday, January 20th

We drove from Lake Victoria to Serengeti National Park, entering through the Ndabaka entrance at the extreme western end of the park to the Tumbili campsite (located roughly at the green triangle next to the red dot labeled Seronera on the map below).

Here’s the group about to enter the Serengeti:

(from left to right) Rueben, me, Holly, Ray, Judy, Gill, Peter, Jill, Debs and Mike.

On the drive through the western arm of the Serengeti National Park we saw our first Wildebeest. This fellow was by himself, but in a few days we would see great herds of Wildebeest.

We saw these birds known as Kori Bustard. They reminded me of roadrunners, but a little bigger.

A male Kori Bustard, trying to attract female attention:

We saw this red hartebeest

       

An Acacia Tree groomed by giraffes.

We came along a small family of elephants.

    

    

The highlight of the day was seeing this cheetah lounging in the grass.

    

    

   

After looking at a single cheetah for a while, we went a little further and saw this group of cheetahs sitting atop a termite hill.

Up next: Ballooning over the Serengeti and game driving.

 

 

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