A Travellerspoint blog


The end of Hamish. And my hopes for a happy life.

There might not be any more updates for a couple of weeks.

I am aware how much you have enjoyed (ahem) the continued ravings from a derranged madman in the last couple of months, but with Hamish around, I always had plenty of spare time.

Happily, i can inform you that Hamish has now, in theory, been banished. I managed to convince several people so i could be treated in Dar-es-Salaam, and as it turns out, that was decided that it was the last regular injection that I required. And I am now in receipt of a certificate saying as much. So, 3months after arriving in Nairobi and going to first hospital, and almost 4months after probably contracting him, Hamish has officially gone and the spawn has not hatched. It is not quite as simple as that, though: I will require check ups every 4-6weeks or so for the next year and quite possibly every six months or so after that for several years, just to ensure that the parasitic remains are not doing anything they shouldn't be.

But in general terms, the outlook is positive and health-wise I am feeling pretty much OK. Exactly what I do and where I go now, I don't know.

I really should be celebrating wildly and getting back to the important business of travelling and discovering new and exotic places and experiences. But i'm not. I can't. All i know is that I want to go and hide somewhere for a bit to reflect.

There won't be any updates for a bit because I am really just not in the mood. Details are not important here, but yet more tragedy has hit our ever decreasing circle of friends and I am now down one best friend. Yes, yet a-fucking-gain. It really is a cruel, cruel world sometimes. Even now I am almost used to it (for want of a much better word), I can't comprehend just how much bad luck can hit one group of people.

I know life is not fair.

But really, it's just not fair.

Posted by Gelli 04:44 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Traipsing around a Caldera

The Ngorongoro Crater is cold. And unpronounceable. But mostly cold Especially when you are sleeping on the rim of it. But even when we finally descended into the crater it remained less than summery. Clouds covered the top, and occasional spitting rain added to the chilliness. Everybody else took the path of least resistance and remained seated in the car wrapped in as many clothes as they had and then covered in sleeping bags, whilst i mostly stood with my head sticking out of the roof wondering why on earth I didn't think to bring a woolly hat and gloves to Equatorial Africa...


Looking into the crater from the top of the access road (above) and the brilliantly Mohicaned Secretary birds (below)


I enjoyed being in the Crater (pronounced roughly Nuh-goron-goro), but I must admit that I don't think it was quite what I expected. What I was expecting of the worlds largest uncovered Caldera, I am not sure, but not quite what I saw. But it was also a pretty fruitful few hours: There seemed to be lions almost everywhere, and we saw several prides as well as several mothers with their young. There were the inevitable zebras, buffalo's, wildebeest, ostriches and antelope (including an Eland, the largest antelope in the world) plus some flamingos on the lake, hippos in a couple of the pools, birds of varying sizes and colours in the grass and large male elephants on the plains. We also saw a large black Rhino – admittedly in the distance – which was surprisingly hard to spot on the grassy plains, partially due to the proliferation of other large, dark animals such as buffalo which from a distance look very similar. But it mean't (for those people with tick boxes who keep track of such things) that for the second time in 2weeks, i had seen the 'big 5' on tour. Well whop-adee-doo.



Wildebeest on the plain, and a hippo – they really do have fantastic ears – in one of the pools (above), and a couple of shots of a Lioness and her two cubs (below)



In a final small twist, we stopped for lunch in an area known to be frequented for it's serval monkeys. Inevitably, after a few minutes a few inquiring animals started jumping around near the car and heading into the tree. With the roof fully open we were an easy target, and so our guide, Simbo, stood up to try and dissuade them from attempting to enter that way. Sadly though he hadn't fully shut the drivers door, and whilst two sat in the tree ready to pounce, one enterprising monkey shot under the car, opened the door and grabbed a sandwich from Simbos pack before retreating high into the tree to enjoy his bounty. We then watched amused as the monkey unwrapped the cling-film, and happily munched away without sharing with any of his co-conspirators. When he finished, he sauntered down from the tree, nonchalantly dropped the empty cling-film on the cars bonnet and ambled off back into the forest.

The monkey in the tree in the process of getting the cling-film of his stolen sandwich

And thus the tour was over bar the drive back, during which everybody else pretty much slept solidly. Back in Arusha, I sadly got to confirm that the Arusha Backpackers fully deserves it's poor reputation. The rooftop bar/restaurant is nice, but everything else is pretty bad. I have honestly slept in more salubrious hedges. I was already disliking it intently and cursing the hostel before I had one of my most miserable nights of recent years. Details aren't necessary. And with that it was 7hours or so of bouncing back to Nairobi, on a broken folding seat and surrounded by, almost inevitably, Finnish girls. Tomorrow I return to having things shoved up my arse. Such fun.




Posted by Gelli 04:45 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animal Comments (0)


I have a new favourite animal.

This lovely big chap:


With apologies for the photo's poor quality, my battery was virtually dead and all i had time for was one swift point, click and pray. But it does show the elephant – I've been calling him Tusky – drinking from the tap

On our final night, we camped on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, the largest intact (and not submerged) Caldera in the world. It was promising from the moment we arrived: glimpses of great views into the Crater, and several zebra grazing on the campsite.

Just as it was getting dark and whilst we were sitting around chatting before dinner, without any great warning, Tusky wandered into the camp and happily munched on some nearby leaves for a while, oblivious to the humans watching him. He then ambled off and we kind of forgot about him. But then, during dinner, he suddenly reappeared and walked straight over to a outside water-tap, barely 3metres from where we were sitting, and with no fuss or problem whatsoever – he had obviously done this before – he turned on the tap with his trunk and began drinking.

Watching an elephant drink is a great experience in itself. But one who is drinking after turning the tap on as well? even better. He continued for a good half an hour – he was obviously a thirsty elephant – and incredibly, on two occasions he even turned the tap off for a few minutes whilst he drank and munched a few branches, before turning it back on and continuing to drink. And then, just like that, he finished and wandered off again, never to be seen again.

Yup, In a world where most humans don't even do it, I had been watching an elephant consciously engaged in water conservation. I'm not sure it gets much better than that!

Posted by Gelli 05:43 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animal Comments (0)

All hail the Lion King

On reflection, i have come to the conclusion that whilst i hated the Masai Mara, it wasn't the Mara as such, but, rather, the human behavior there. The radio contact was a major irritant for me, but I have also realised that what really made it so bad was the fact that there were no limits. Although there were some Roads and tracks, in general terms the guides pretty much drove wherever they wanted. If something was spotted off the road by a few hundred metres, they would instantly drive cross-country to get closer, and thus like students to free-beer, would act as a magnet for yet more vehicles to arrive from all angles.

In the Serengeti (which translates as Endless plains), however, everybody stayed strictly on the marked roads and paths, and radio contact was much more minimal – indeed there were several different networks depending on which larger group they were associated with, and so far fewer people to actually spot things and announce what and where. Plus the distances involved and spread of vehicles mean't that it generally wasn't even practical to head to a sighting, even if it sounded really good.

And so the 24hours we had in the Serengeti were significantly more enjoyable for me. After arriving around 3pm, we drove around for about 3hours before heading to camp, and got almost unbelievably lucky. First, we saw a large rock (that's how lucky we were – an elusive rock!) which apparently has some relevance to somebody standing on it and singing in the film the Lion King which is set in the Serengeti, although having not seen the film it didn't make such an impression on me.

But then, and almost without making much in the way of effort or diversion, we came across...

This pride of Lions was happily sunning itself on a big rock. Two more lions were about 50metres away on another rock

And then this couple...

Lion sex is an interesting thing. It is relatively quick, but apparently it is repeated every 15-25minutes for 3whole days to ensure that pregnancy is assured. What state either of them is in after 3days of constant humping is anybodies guess. The female here also has a collar with a GPS which enables her to be tracked by the rangers as part of a project to collect data on lion movements within the Serengeti

Followed by this lovely family...



These guys were barely a few metres off the road and we almost passed them without noticing. I won't say much else except to say, damned, aren't those babies so cute!

and finally this elusive fellow...

In comparison to the one in the Masai, this leopard was given much more room and respect and was not crowded at all. It actually felt like an achievement when we spotted him, and it somehow also felt much more natural

And all that is without mentioning the hoardes of wildebeest, buffalo and zebra, the antelopes, hippos and occasional elephant and giraffe. By the time we set up camp (though on a campsite, we were in no way fenced off from the animals and were at the mercy of any curious or hungry creature) we were all very happy with the days events. At the campsite, there was no electricity or water, we were in canvas tents and the sky was brilliantly star filled. I loved it!

The following day we headed out for an early morning drive, and came across another leopard, were charged by a huuuuuge elephant, watched what we thought was going to be a lion attack – a male lion was stalking 2lionesses and some cubs with intent – but ended up in a happy family reunion, a cheetah, some families of elephant and lots of what I am now classing as 'standard' animals. It's amazing how you start glossing over certain animals, such as zebra and buffalo, which to begin with are amazing sights yet quickly start to seem mundane. After a massive brunch back at camp, we slowly headed out the park, and were treated to one final great sight – that of a mass of zebra (and occasional wildebeest) drinking at a waterhole.



I may not have managed to see the famed wildebeest migration in all it's glory, but otherwise I can't really complain, and in comparison to my Masai trip I much preferred it.

One of the small things I love about Africa in general, is just how colourful many of the the birds, insects and lizards are

We came across this family early on the second day, which included several baby elephants and the poor guy on the left, who is disabled (look at his trunk)



Top: Wildebeest on the plain, followed by hippos in the pool and serval monkeys playing, and (bottom) watching lions sleeping on the rock, who are just visible to the left of the rock by the tree

Posted by Gelli 12:32 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animal Comments (3)

Wandering through the Cradle of Mankind


I am a nerd. Whilst not always wanting to admit it, if I am honest, i regularly display nerd-like tendencies. And thus it was that everybody was forced out of bed an hour early, solely to satisfy my requirement of visiting Olduvai Gorge, somewhere which the other tourists had never even heard of. The road to the gate of Ngorongoro National Park was wonderfully new and pristine and had the sort of hills that make me crave a bicycle (Italian incidents notwithstanding). The road from the gate on to the rim of the Crater and down the other side is rough, winding, with sheer drops and was, when we passed over it, so misty that visibility was pretty much restricted to inside the vehicle. Which is not always ideal when you are trying to drive over it. By the time we got to Olduvai a few hours later, there were a couple of relieved faces in the vehicle.

As previously mentioned, Olduvai Gorge is where Louis Leakey, Hans Beck and the team discovered signs of human habitation dating back 3.5million years, the oldest yet found anywhere on Earth. The area of Olduvai – which is actually Oldupai, but is called Olduvai because the first European to reach this point (Beck) misheard the tribesmen's pronunciation. Even now, some of the locals dislike Germans solely because Beck was responsible for getting the name wrong. - and Laetoli (where the famous footprints were found) covers a huge area, and is still largely unsearched: teams from all over the world visit every year to help with the ongoing excavations and searches and discoveries, at least on a small scale, are still common. And there is much which remains entirely unknown and/or open to various interpretations. It is just a small glimpse – but a tantalising one – into the origins of humankind.

For us, it was just a 90minute stop to peer into the Gorge, wander the museum, and hear a lecture about what we were seeing and it's discovery given by a very friendly and enthusiastic local, although one who did spend about half of his talk drilling into us the fact that it really should be Oldupai. But it was still good. I would have loved to have had more time to explore the Gorge and the surrounding areas, and to have been able to spend a week or more helping out with the digging, but sadly it is not to be. At least not now, at any rate. Now it was time to continue on our merry way, and see what we might see.


Posted by Gelli 16:33 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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