After meeting the owner of the safari company for dinner and beers we were really fired up. Unfortunately, the execution was not quite up to our expectations. We should have known the first morning when the driver was 45 minutes late and the Landcruiser that would be our home for the next 5 days refused to start. But we gave it the benefit of the doubt and headed off to Tarangire National Park. On our way we made our first pharmacy stop of the trip for my flu-like symptoms. Afer refusing their offers of valium as a sleep aid, I settled on a children's medicine that worked decently for short periods of time. At the entrance to the park we experienced another delay as the driver's credit card was refused for park fees. Evenutally we did make it into the park and saw many elephants, zebras, and cape buffalo, many within arm's reach of the car!
The next day was a loooooong drive to Serengeti NP, which included our second pharmacy stop on my behalf, this time I tried the antibiotic route (after a previous barrage of meds from our first aid kit failed to do the job). Mostly I zoned out during this day as I was feeling really bad, but I am pretty sure we stopped at an archeological site on the way, and then sat around the entrance of the park for another hour or so. Then we went bumpily on our way through the park, where we came right up on a family of lions resting in the shade!
The next day I was not feeling up to even going out on a morning game drive, so Juli went alone and saw a familyof lions feasting on an early morning wildebeest breakfast, and another family playing in the grass. In the afternoon I was able to join up and see thousands of migrating wildebeests and zebras, as well as a family of lions relaxing by the river. Around the midpoint of the safari I started feeling better...right as Juli started getting sick and feeling like crap. So we had quite the "solo yet together" safari experience. Our car was also getting sicker...at this point it required one of two things for the engine to start - either we had to be stopped on a slope or another car had to push us from behind. This was especially good when we were stopped near a group of lions and one by one, every other safari car ignored our requests for help, expect for the very last one. And the driver's reluctance to turn off the car engine led to many shaky pictures for me...not good. After spending a dusty day in the Seronera area of the Serengeti, where we supposedly saw a leopard, we headed back on the road to the Ngorongoro Crater. The crater is a depressed volcano where thousands of animals live and don't leave, making it a great place to go on safari.
Due to the rapidly deteriorating condition of our car, the driver requested a loan from yours truly to pay for repairs...however despite the mechanics' efforts the car remained as it was, and on the final day of our safari the driver said we could not turn off the engine. We were well rewarded by watching three lionesses on the hunt for wildebeests in the morning - watching them slowly close in an triangulate around a their targets made for thrilling theater, even if the wildebeests got away in the end. We also saw a rhino on this day, though it was too far away to get a real good look or take pictures. Mercifully we made the drive to Moshi, with Juli pretty much completely sick with the flu and me on the way back up (or so I thought), where our driver deposited us at the hotel where early the next morning we would begin our hike up Kilimanjaro.