The final instalment of my trip began with us leaving the crater and heading to the Serengeti. Before leaving the area we stopped at the Oldupai Gorge, made famous for its archaeological discoveries of various hominid species from 130mya. We also visited the “Shifting Sands” controlled by magnetic forces moving a pile of sand considerable distance but keeping it intact.
When we entered the Serengeti National Park it was the hottest it had been so far, and with such a baron landscape and no shade, pitching our tents for the next 3 nights in such a basic campsite with rock hard ground, took 2 attempts and more energy than I really had. I did worry that the heat would be too much for me on this portion of the trip, but each day sitting on the top of the UniMog, the breeze from the speed of the drive made sure I never over heated and there always plenty of water, however said this, the more water meant the more times needed to wee and this had own complications. On our final day of safari we followed the wildebeest migration all the way to the border of the Maasai Mara in Kenya. This meant no genuine roads, or places to stop, so as easy as it was for the men to jump over and relieve themselves, the ladies we forced to go behind bushes. When this occurred however we were shocked beyond belief to find 6 hyena run out of our selected bush, and when we finally braved it another 2 came out making us run back to the truck for our lives! We were finally successful after brandishing some long sticks and laughing harder than I ever have in my life. Looking back I really don’t know what I was thinking, but it was a positively hilarious and unforgettable experience that’s for sure.
While here we were also lucky enough to meet 3 famous scientists with published research on species in the area; Marion East explained her studies on Hyena behaviour for the past 25 years, Anna Estes discussed research on the impact of elephants in the local area and Grant Hobcraft explained the migration of the wildebeest – all extremely interesting and informative talks. That evening we celebrated a birthday and the end to our safari adventure with the enjoyment of some local Konyagi (or “Tanzanian Firewater”) which did exactly to my throat what it says on the tin!
After packing up the following morning we headed out of the Serengeti, back through the crater all the way to Mweka. In leaving the park we were greeted with the sight of two cheetah, a species not seen so far by our group, and considered it a good farewell from the park. Another 10 hour journey at Ferrari safari speeds; I lost one chocolate bar and an inflatable pillow to gusts of wind, never to be seen again, but with the thought that a Maasai warrior is sleeping more comfortably now. Back at CAWM we were again assigned our own rooms with hot water showers and a bed, well appreciated I tell you. The next day it really set in that that was it for the safari as we drove 10 hours all the way back to Nairobi. Arriving at the airport in the evening, we decided to drink to our trip, so the journey was mostly spent asleep or reminiscing the epic experience I had just lived. All I could think was how I couldn’t wait to get home and tell everyone about it, and more importantly charge my camera so I could see all the photos I had taken so far, not that I would ever forget the incredible sights that I had seen.
To any MMU student or simply anyone considering visting Africa, I couldn’t recommend it more. Thank you to all those involved in the field course at MMU for organising such an enjoyable trip and thank you to the College of African Wildlife Management (CAWM) for the talks from lecturers, park managers and key researchers. The lecturers and support staff that looked after us were so friendly and hospitable, including Kupinga and his team who made the most delicious food for us every day. Also thank you to Alex Watts, Angel Ortiz, Anthony Lowney, Vicky Armstrong, Simon Dixon, Jilly Dickinson, Kerry Simcock, Mark Worrall and Vikki Sutton for making it such an entertaining trip.
It was a truly incredible trip, which fulfilled all my childhood dreams of visiting Africa, a trip that I will never forget! I hope it encourages people to take similar unforgettable adventures like I did, especially those MMU students wary of investing so much.