I’ll start off with the good news.
Lonny and I went on a game drive today in Mikumi National Park. We got up at 5:00 today so we could get there early enough to see all the good stuff, since many of the animals like to hide from the sun in the afternoon (Mikumi is about an hour away, I reckon). Here’s Lonny asleep doing his best Al Bundy impression on the way there (note, I don’t think his hand was actually down his pants).
Luckily for us, the weather was great. And by great, I mean not sunny and hot for once. It was overcast all morning, which made for a lovely 20 or so degrees, and it actually rained lightly for a bit. So this meant that the animals were oot and aboot.
We were in a 9-seater van with a huge moon roof, and it was just the 4 of us (me, Lonny, our guide Charles, and the driver). So Lonny and I were able to comfortably stand on the seats and basically be sticking out of the roof of the van from the waist up. There was even plenty of room for Charles to join us up above the roof when he needed to point things out to us.
On the drive to the park we saw a few giraffes and elephants out the window, but the first animals we were really able to see well in the park wereBuffalo (Buffalii?). Not the water kind, just regular. And let me tell you, they’re as majestic as you might imagine. Sitting in mud, covered in flies, staring blankly back at the van.
I think elephants were next, but I have better pics later on, since they were kinda far. But here’s a wildebeest skull with some elephants in the background. We saw plenty of live wildebeast too, but if you’ve ever seen one you’ll know that the skull is actually more appealing to look at. Enjoy:
We also saw a herd of zebras.
This is about when we started seeing lions. We got really lucky in that we saw 3 different sets of lions. Unfortunately, none of the pictures came out as good as real life. They’re good at hiding, and just lazy in general. Here’s the most exciting action shot there was:
Our next stop was at the hippo pool. Do you think a hippopotamus is really a hippopotamus, or just a really cool opotamus? The hippos were a little far away for good pics, but we did find the biggest millipede I’ve ever seen there. This is for the ladies.
We saw giraffes all over the place, but towards the end of the afternoon we were able to drive right up to a herd of them grazing on trees. I have a sweet video that I can’t upload due to size, but here’s some pictures of them.
We scared them off the road right as another safari van came around the bend. So we have pictures of awesome close giraffes, and they got stuck with crappy far giraffes. This was them as they drove off, presumably in disgust. Do not follow? Challenge accepted.
Our last stop was at a gigantic old baobab tree. We climbed it, and then hung out in the branches for a while with students from a high school field trip who showed up there as well.
On the way back we got super close to a herd of elephants. So while we saw elephants 4 or 5 times during the day, these ones made for the best pictures.
The one thing we didn’t see was Leopard. In Kiswahili it’s called “Chui” (sounds like “chewy”). There was no Chewbacca either. But look at the bright side, I know most of you read this blog in the hopes of seeing baboon penis. Ask and ye shall receive:
We also had a brief encounter with what is truly the most dangerous game:
On the drive back our guides stopped the car in a small village and went into a mud hut with a man. After about 10 minutes, they came out with a black plastic bag full of Topi meat. For those wondering, a Topi is this magnificent bastard right here:
Doesn’t he look delicious? I hear the lighter parts are milk chocolate, while the rest is dark.
And now on to the bad news.
We were about an hour late getting to the park. And that’s because we had to take a massive detour through some rural back roads that ran through small villages. At one point the road narrowed to a tiny bridge too small for a car, and we had to cross (ford!) a river that must be absolutely impassable in the rainy season. It was pretty interesting actually, as soon as you get off the main highway you start to see people in traditional Maasai dress herding cows and things like that. So that’s not the bad news, that’s the inconvenient news. But it was necessitated by the bad news.
We had to take that detour because the highway was closed at one point. And the highway was closed at that point due to a horrific crash involving two 18-wheelers and a motorcycle. One of the trucks was carrying petrol, so in the grand scheme of things it could have been worse. The other was a Pepsi truck, so there was broken glass everywhere. I’m not sure exactly how it went down, but we were one of the first cars on the scene after it happened, and when we arrived there was a guy lying dead in a pool of blood in the middle of the road, and another person pinned alive (for the moment) underneath the Pepsi truck, which a group of men were hopelessly trying to lift by hand. The petrol truck had hit the Pepsi truck from behind, and basically wrapped its cab around the back of the truck. This had wedged the Pepsi truck off to the side and halfway up a small embankment, making it impossible for the men to lift because the outside wheels were sitting much higher than the inside wheels.
So that’s a picture I took as we were first pulling up to the scene. I didn’t take any after we got out of the car and saw what had happened. So in the picture there’s someone pinned by the front right wheels of the blue truck. If you were to look past the cab of the 18-wheeler directly in front of us, you’d see a trashed motorcycle, a dead man, and a lot of glass and blood. I’m not sure if both the aforementioned people were on the motorcycle, or if one of them is the driver of the gas truck, since the windshield was smashed out and I’ve never seen anyone wear a seatbelt here (we wore ours the rest of the way).
So there you have it. An interesting day.