06.06.2010 - 07.06.2010 32 °C
7th June, 2010
Excitement and riveting adrenalin serenity doesn't come better than this!
After an entire night of lions roaring at what seemed like just outside our tent, we head off as the dawn was breaking, about 6.30am. The top prize was to find the pride of lion that had lullabeyed us to sleep. We had not even travelled 2 minutes from the camp when alongside the 'main road', in the pre-dawn light , all alone on this wonderful vast Serengeti plain, there they were- only 200 meters from our tent door. What excitement to see 3 lion, 2 lioness and 3 very cute cubs, about 4 months old. The lions were quite restful , but the lionesses and the clubs more playful. The Kings of the jungle had obviously had a very busy night and seemed quite irritated by their cubs get up and go attitude. We were at no time over the next hour more than 5 meters away from this magnificent family and we were so content to just sit and watch them and so lucky to have sighted them and to share an hour in their lives alongside them. Mike, our guide ,told us that the male lions were brothers and were probably part of a bigger pride. After about half an hour the 2 lionesses got up and made their way across the road towards our camp,with the cubs following. We were patient and as if an extra bonus was coming our way, a third lioness and her 3 cubs came running across the plain and immediately pounced on top of the one lion, who had had little interaction with the previous lionesses and cubs. This was obviously his mate and his cubs, mama and babies as the locals would have described it. We returned to this sight twice more over the day and found these 3 lazy male lions exactly where we had found them. What an existence this king of the jungle has!
The remainder of the game drive took us to another wonderful hippo pool, with the noise of the waterfalls between the pools so calming only to be broken by the grunting noises of about 25 hippos all enjoying the beautiful bush morning. We were able to get out of the car, a little too close for comfort for me as the crocodile were about 10 meters away sunning themselves on the banks of the river. We attempted to find the lionesses and cubs who had made their way towards the camp, but with the long grasses, and heat settling in they were not to be found.
We arrived back at camp in time for brunch- the food has not been wonderful here and after spying out into the bush kitchen I didn't want to look or think about it too closely. We rested as the midday heat settled in, and boiling it was .Departure for the air strip was at 2.00 and in the heat of the day we made our 17km drive back to catch the flight to Kigali.
Coastal Air, and Lisa the same American lady pilot, flying the same plane -Cessna Caravan, took us to Mwanze on Lake Victoria,where we cleared customs in this tiny airport and then flew the one hour journey to Rwanda. Again, despite some light rains I was really fine and again we were her only passengers. This time David sat alongside me as the co-pilot seat was really hot and he couldn't talk to her or I from there. When she collected us from Grumeti, she reported having seen the migration beginning- sadly for us we were not to experience it. We have promised ourselves however that we will return someday to witness it.
Flying over Rwanda, one can fully understand why this country is called the Land of a Thousand Hills. It is so lush,green and fertile, rolling Scottish-like hill after hill and water gushing from everywhere. The sky had progressively gotten darker as we flew over, and it was a typical African late afternoon, boiling hot clouds forming and just waiting for the rain. We waited for Lisa to to 'bed' the plane down- lock it up- and close every opening where animals might have nested or eaten, as only 2 weeks prior she told us that a bird had nested in the air intake of the engine. Thornbushes are also placed around the tyres as hyenas have a habit of biting into the rubber and popping them.
We carried our suitcases and walked 500 meters into the modern terminal building of Kigali airport. Customs wanted to know where our application was for a visa. Nowhere had I been informed of such a thing- I believed we arrived and purchased the USD$60.00 visa. With some sweet talking , and pleading innocence and producing the USD$ 120 , all was forgiven.
We drew some Rwandan Francs from the ATM and it suddenly dawned on me that I didn't have an address for the Guest House we were staying at. A taxi took us anyway and landed up putting a street stranger into his car to show him the way.
We were both quite taken aback at how clean the streets were and despite it being peak traffic time as people were making their way home from work, the traffic was pretty orderly and benign. We couldnt help but notice the Mutatas- taxi vans- and something else here so unique, a motorbike taxi- they looked pretty dangerous to me, and I for sure was not putting on the helmet that hung from every drivers handlebar!
The Solace Ministries is a church based organisation which provides solace and counselling for many orphans widows and raoe victims of the Genocide. The very basic guest house at USD$65 bed and breakfast is just that- very basic , but clean and manageable. Dinner was at an Indian restaurant in what appeared to be an expensive residential area, with home, high walls and security laced gates. Food was ok and the bed , although hard, was welcome.