Adventuring in East Africa

Adventuring in East Africa

Bechky, Allen

1990

Book ID 22

See also

Bechky, Allen Adventuring in East Africa, 1990
Extract Date: 1990

Momela

Momela is in a perpetual state of disrepair, and the lodge can only be recommended to those who truly value scenery over comfort. Rumours continually circulate that it will one day be brought back to its former glory. Meanwhile, a tiny neighbouring hotel, the exclusive Ol Doinyo Norok Lodge [sic] is scheduled to open soon.

Extract ID: 3707

See also

Bechky, Allen Adventuring in East Africa, 1990
Extract Date: 1990

Ol Kerien

One such riverbed comes from the mouth of the Ol Kerien[sic] Gorge. It makes a wonderful campsite: Maasai and wildlife are both in the vicinity and, with an eastern prospect of Lengai, its sunsets and sunrises are among the finest in Africa. There is no water except that which can be dug from the bed of the sand river, so campers cannot expect a good wash.

The main attraction of the gorge itself is the colony of Ruppell’s Griffon vultures. Griffons are one of the commonest Serengeti vultures, their nesting sites are limited to a few suitable cliffs. Hundreds of birds roost and nest at Ol Kerien. In the mornings, they can be seen slowly circling above the gorge, waiting to catch the thermal air currents that will carry them effortlessly to the great Serengeti herds. The gorge is also used by the Maasai, who drive their cattle in to drink at wells that are laboriously dug in the stream bed. It is quite remarkable to be hiking in the narrow defile during such a cattle drive, when the lowing of the stock mingles eerily with the whistling of the herders. The Maasai around Ol Kerien see very few visitors, so contacts with them are completely authentic rather than canned tourist experiences.

From Ol Kerien, the track continues down the valley to Olduvai, but it is more interesting to cut cross country through Angata Kiti ('the little plain'), a pass in the Gol Mountains. Grassy prairies and hills of gleaming quartz-rich rock make the scenery reminiscent of Montana’s butte country. Lines of migrating animals use the pass to move between the Salei Plain and the Serengeti. ... At the western mouth of the pass, you emerge onto the Serengeti Plain. A line of kopjes is a good place to rest and savour the moment. From here you drive cross country toward the Gol Kopjes, Naabi Hill, or Ndutu.

Extract ID: 3706

See also

Bechky, Allen Adventuring in East Africa, 1990

Continued English disdain for Germany

Continued English disdain for Germany later gave rise to a great tale about Kilimanjaro. The well-known story goes that Kaiser Wilhelm wrote to Queen Victoria asking that Kili be assigned to German East Africa. He pleaded that the British Crown Colony already had one snow-capped peak in its Kenyan domain, while Germany had none. The Queen, in a typical English spirit of fair play, magnanimously assented, giving the mountain as a birthday gift to her grandson, the future Wilhelm II. It's a great yarn, one that has endured the test of time. But there is no truth to it. Carl Peters had sneaked into Tanganyika and persuaded various Chagga chieftains to sign treaties agreeing to cede their territories to his Society for German Colonization.

Extract ID: 399

See also

Bechky, Allen Adventuring in East Africa, 1990

Crater Highlands

Empakaai is most easily reached by driving through the Ngorongoro Crater to the track that leaves its north-eastern side. Beyond the red thorn (Acacia lahai) woodland that spills over the rim, the country opens out into tussocky mountain grassland, composed of tall makutian (also called manyatta grass) and wire grasses. Games is sparse - the odd bushbuck or mountain reedbuck will appear - but there are plenty of Maasai. The road goes through the Maasai hamlet of Nainokanoka, where the Munge River waterfall can be seen plunging from the flanks of the nearby Olmoti Volcano (10,167 ft.). To the east stands Lolmalasin (11,969 ft.), tallest of the crater peaks. Soon Empakaai’s cone comes into view, and the track narrows as it runs around the circumference of the crater’s knife-edge rim. (The track may no longer be open beyond the Empakaai Ranger Post and picnic site, but the most scenic views are to be had from there).

The rimroad is often shrouded in mists but, when clear, the views are astounding. On one side, you look straight down into the Rift Valley. The cones of Lengai and Karamasi volcanoes are immediately below, with Lake Natron close behind. Further to the east is Mount Meru, with Kilimanjaro visible a hundred miles away. Just on the other side of the track, Empakaai’s thickly forested walls plunge to a crater floor shared by a 259-foot deep lake and virgin grasslands. You must bring along an armed guide if you want to hike into the crater, which is heavily grazed by buffalo. The trip to Empakaai is long and rough: when clouds close in, as they often do, the moorlands take on a sombre mood. A round trip from Ngorongoro can be done in a day, but an overnight camp is recommended if you want to do the crater hike and catch the best Rift Valley views, which are most reliable at dawn and dusk.

Extract ID: 3704

See also

Bechky, Allen Adventuring in East Africa, 1990

Ngorongoro Safari Lodge, better known as Gibb’s Farm

Ngorongoro Safari Lodge, better known as Gibb’s Farm is located at Karatu, in fertile farm country midway between Manyara and the Crater. An old coffee estate, it is an oasis of colonial gentility - a great favourite with tourists, expatriates and members of the diplomatic corps. The main house and bungalows are built around a garden bursting with tropical blooms and birds, which overlooks rows of fragrant coffee trees. Close behind is the Ngorongoro Forest Reserve, from which leopards sometimes stray onto the hotel grounds. Guest can walk to a lovely forest waterfall (the daily park fee must be paid). It is about a one-hour drive to either the crater rim or Manyara, so Gibb’s is not perfectly situated for game drives. It is more a haven of quiet luxury, a place for a break from safari life. It features good foods and hot water in a country where both are hard to find. Gibb’s coffee - just picked, freshly roasted, perfectly brewed - rivals the best in the world. Worth a detour, even if you are just passing by.

Extract ID: 2

See also

Bechky, Allen Adventuring in East Africa, 1990

The community of wildlife researchers

The community of wildlife researchers comprises another small but distinct subculture that is sometimes encountered in the most out-of-the-way places. Researchers are not generally friendly to tourists, however; some treat all visitors, no matter how well informed, as idiotic interlopers into their private domain. Naturally, they resent interference in their work. Avoid research facilities: they are off limits to all but known financial backers.

[although not written specifically about the Serengeti, this comment, from a book written in 1988, reflects one view]

Extract ID: 1343
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