OUR ACCOMMODATION IN KARATU
Between Lake Manyara and The Serengeti lies the small ward of Karatu, population approximately 18,000. Karatu’s ideal location means that it is a popular place for tour groups to stop for the night on the way in and out of the Serengeti and our group was no different. As I mentioned before, we choose the lodge option for our safari. So while the rest of our group headed off to camp, we were dropped off at the Ngorongoro Farm House.
Stepping onto the grounds of the Ngorongoro Farm House is taking a step back in time. Set inside a working coffee plantation, the lodge is nestled amongst beautifully manicured grounds and rustic buildings. The staff greeted us with a welcome juice made from fruit grown on the grounds. Accommodation consists of individual bungalows with four-poster beds, verandah, and fireplace.
All meals were included during our stay. Dinner was a buffet that consisted of a combination of salads, meats, curries, and desserts. Absolutely delicious! Another group was celebrating a birthday and the entire staff formed a long conga-like line signing a version of the Jambo song.
After dinner we set in the lounge watching the bonfire outside and sipping coffee. The colonial era atmosphere was truly magical.
One of the options available to us was to have a fire lit in our bungalow’s fireplace. It was a bit chilly so we decided to have one lit. We could actually hear them chopping the wood outside. The warmth from the hearth filled our bungalow, cutting the evening chill and bringing a wonderful day to a perfect close.
The next morning, we enjoyed the buffet breakfast – cereals, fresh fruits, omelette, and bacon. After breakfast it was time to prepare our packed lunches to enjoy while on safari. Outside of the main hall, there is a station set up where you can choose items to include in your lunch. Roasted chicken, smoked salmon, eggs, cake, breads, cheeses, chicken salad, fruits, and juices were all available to choose from.
Our lunches packed, we checked out of this perfect place and rejoined our now reduced group.
THE ROAD TO SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
The drive to Serengeti National Park is long and once past the entrance to the Ngorongoro Crater, it is very, very rough. You find yourself wondering when it is going to end. Really, I have been on a lot of unpaved roads in my life. I am familiar with what it is like to be on a road that has degenerated into a washboard. Nothing could have prepared me for this road.
Vehicle breakdowns are frequent and, unfortunately, we were not immune. The constant bouncing and jarring caused us to have a short (due to an exposed wire) and a flat tire. The various drivers are all so supportive of one another, stopping whenever a vehicle is broken down to help out.
At one point, a car drove past with Tanzanian flags on the hood while we were waiting for our flat to get fixed. All of the drivers chased after it and talked to the passenger for some time. It turned out to be the Minister of Tourism. They were asking him to repave and fix the road. I agree, having a better road can only server to being in more tourists!
The Maasai were everywhere. We could see their villages and herds of cattle along the side of the road. The Masai were forced to move out of the Serengeti when it became a national park and now their villages surround it.
The road to the Serengeti is part of the main road between northern and southern Tanzania. Long-haul buses, crowded and often over-loaded, make the trip daily. I cannot imagine what it would be like to travel this road on a bus.
In the end, rough road or not, I was on my way to the Serengeti!