Elephants in the Bush

Wednesday, February 06, 2013
We drove about 80 miles to the Tarangire National Park. It is close enough to Arusha for day trips and getting in was a bit manic as we hit the afternoon safari trippers but once in it was fine. The park can be summed up in one word – Elephants. There were thousands of them. Apparently many migrate here during the dry season and by April, when it rains, they will move back to the Serengeti. In the two days we were there we also saw a couple of lions, giraffe, wildebeest, and all the usual antelope, warthogs etc plus a great many birds.
 After we had been driving round for a few hours we turned the fridge back on, the alarm sounded so the problem with the auxiliary power had not been fixed. I sent a text to Safari Drive in the UK to say we were not impressed and that they had better fix it when we pass back through Arusha. If we were on a “normal” tour this would have been a real bugger.
The camp site was a “Special” site which is supposed to mean that we have it to ourselves. It was about an acre of flat bush although there were quite a few bushes and trees for lions to hide behind. After setting up camp and lighting a fire another Safari Drive customer turned up, it seems we had been double booked, another black mark. Fortunately the site was big enough that we could ignore each other but it does rather take the edge off the experience.
Gill cooked an excellent dinner over the open fire and then we sat by the fire for an hour in the dark before going to bed. No nasty surprises in the night. We were up, packed up and off by 7am for an early game drive. Thousands of elephants, two lions and a lot of birds.
As we had not had breakfast we stopped in the Sopa Lodge for lunch. The receptionist warned us that it would cost $30 but somehow we took that to mean in total, it wasn't, it was each. What was even odder was that we had to pay the bar bill in Tanzania shillings but the food bill in US$ all to the same waitress.
Wherever there are places for people in the park the Rangers have put up bright blue cloths, apparently this attracts the tsetse flies so reducing the chance of the public being bitten. In the Sopa Lodge all the staff had bright blue uniforms – is this so the customers are not bitten? I call that going the extra mile and it is perhaps why lunch is so expensive (it was OK but not worth £20 each).
On the second night at the camp site we were alone, we did not get any nasty noises and were up at 7am for a last game drive. The day started badly after a few minutes drive we realised we had a flat tyre. I tried the compressor which didn't work, I thought it was because of the auxiliary power problem but we later found it was due to crap wiring. I then tried to change the wheel . One spare was flat the other I could not get off as we did not have the right sized spanner. It took an hour of poncing around in the middle of the bush to get us going again. I sent a raging text to Safari Drive, another avoidable cock-up.
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