Just to start today’s entry off on a negative, yet honest note, I did not sleep well at all last night. I’m a light sleeper which doesn’t help the situation but it was very windy and rainy last night and the sound kept me awake. That said, I have had yet another wonderful day so my moaning is done!
Just going back to last night briefly as I didn’t write again after we had tea and biscuits – Simba camp was quite different to the previous camp in that the dinning room was made up of four long tables, kind of like a School Canteen, rather than individual tables like the previous camp. That meant that dinner time was a communal affair and very noisy but it was really nice to listen to other peoples’ stories of their safaris so far and to feed off of everyone’s excitement. One thing that I did notice however, which put somewhat of a dampener on the mood was that none of the other groups were eating with their guides. We were literally the only people who were sharing our food and stories with “a member of staff”. I say that in inverted commas as, from the moment we met Fitael, he wasn’t our guide, he was our friend (even if we did get his name wrong). One of the best parts of this trip so far has been getting to know both Fitael and Juma. It made me feel quite sad that all of these other groups had clearly missed out on this but Sean always tells me not to concern myself too much with what other people choose to do.
After dinner, we went back to our tent quite early and both read for a bit. We ventured over to the toilets in the pitch black to brush our teeth just before bed time. This proved to be quite challenging as, not only had it got very, very dark, there was a thick fog encompassing the whole camp.
My restless night’s sleep then began but it was soon 5.30 a.m. and time to get up. I got dressed as quickly as I could as it was freezing. Upon opening our tent, we were greeted by the same dark, foggy scene as last night. We packed up all of our things and got them into the Land Rover and set off for the crater. Juma stayed behind to pack up the tents. I must admit, I was a little nervous at how fast Fitael was driving in the fog but as we made our way down the steep crater rim, we came out of the fog.
Once in the crater we saw lions, ostriches and flamingoes. We were driving along one of the paths when Fitael spotted a rhino – I have no idea how he managed it as it looked like a tiny rock in the distance but, sure enough, through the binoculars it was clearly a black rhino! We watched it for a while and were lucky enough to see it get up, walk around a bit and then settle back down into it’s “rock” position. We had our breakfast in the Land Rover whilst watching the rhino and for, some reason, got some strange looks off the other people. Personally, I think they were just jealous that their guides hadn’t thought to bring a picnic.
The need for a toilet break meant that we had to go the picnic area. This, in turn, meant that we got to explore a wonderful swamp type area full of hippos. As we were driving out of the picnic area, we saw a male lion with a half eaten “something”. It was crazy to think that we had just been outside of the vehicle so close to a lion and nobody knew that it was there!
We drove around the crater for a bit longer and saw lots more animals. It started to get really sunny and warm and the views as we climbed back out of the crater were amazing.
We headed back to Simba camp where we picked up Juma and started to make our way back to Arusha. We stopped off in a Masai village along the way which I have mixed feelings about. It was really interesting to see their village and start to understand a bit more about their culture but at the same time, I felt a sadness that they had opened themselves up to tourists to make money. And that’s exactly what they did – you paid to be guided around the village which, in all honesty, seemed fair enough. But then, once you had got to the school they asked for more money and once the tour was over the souvenirs were set out in front of you. It’s one of those things that I need to not give too much thought to I guess. At the end of the day, I found it interesting and the people of that village had made the decision themselves to open their home up to tourists.
We’re now back in Arusha and in L’Oasis where we spent our first few nights. We were greeted at L’Oasis by Matthew who is going to be our guide on the climb. He ran through the itinerary with us and came back to our room to check all of our kit. There were a few items that we haven’t brought with us such as sleeping bags and the large parka jackets due to the size of them (we had been advised by Achmed that it wouldn’t be a problem hiring them here) so Matthew made a list of what we needed and said he would be here tomorrow morning to pick us up. And that was it, he headed off and now we’re left here starting to feel very, very nervous about what the next few days holds for us. I can tell that tonight is going to be a sleepless night.