Thursday, February 20, 2014

Serengeti February 2014 ~ Days 14-17 ~ Feb 20-23

Well, it's back to Arusha for a few days of shopping and winding down.
Our trip from Piyaya takes us by Lake Natron, at times a huge flamingo breeding area, a small town called Ngare Sero (not to be confused with Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge), and the active volcano Oldonyo Lengai, which erupted about 5 years ago.

Oldonyo Lengai happened to be in the clouds that day:

It's always and adventure with Paul & Jo. After heavy rains, the roads fill up with water. But do we care? No way - press on!:

Okay, so everybody had seen a Gerenuk but me, until Howard spotted this one for me - and quite a spot it was!:

After a long (12 hours), hot day on the road we spent out first night back in Arusha at the Arusha Coffee Lodge.

The following morning it was off to Tati's store (she's a good old friend of ours),

and a trip to Shanga, where disabled local people make great things to take home, like blown glass and woven fabrics,

a quick stop at Cultural Heritage,
then lunch at The Blue Heron, a favorite spot of the locals.
Here's Jo's family; flanked by Paul and his significant other, Lala,

and Bev, approving of my Castle Milk Stout.

And finally, another night at Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge,
a land of flowers and bees,

and Fish Eagles overlooking us

as we have yet another group shot (they're all sick of my group shots by now) during late lunch by the pool

Hey, are you going to eat that desert?

It's been a long two weeks, but somebody has to finish the rum!

An overnight flight to Schipol,

a few more capuchinos coffee shop,

and a last look at Amsterdam.

"Flight crew, prepare for landing."

Thank you,
Mary and Howard
Jean and Cam
Liz and Sharon
Paul and Jo
for a wonderful trip. 
The people make the trip, and you all were outstanding.

"See You In The Serengeti"
Mike and Bev

Monday, February 17, 2014

Serengeti February 2014 ~ Day 11-13 ~ Feb 17-19 ~ Piyaya

Today we leave Serengeti National Park for one of our favorite places - Piyaya.
Our favorite for many reasons: it is remote, wild, allows walking, no one goes there, we have our own private mobile camp...
A "normal" safari wouldn't go there, perhaps because it's too far off the beaten track or lack of time, perhaps because the guides and trip leaders don't have the confidence to take a group to a land where game is more difficult to find - but much more rewarding when it is found.

Plenty to see on the road to Piyaya in the Loliondo Game Controlled Area. 
It's just East of Serengeti, but out of the Park.

And there is always time for one more coffee break:

Our first look at our mobile camp (set up by "Intimate Places") just beyond the Eland:

This camp is a little smaller, more intimate than the other camps:

Just right for old friends.

Who needs a dining tent when the weather is perfect:

And the food is perfect:

And the campers are happy:

How could we not be happy - just read the labels of the wine we were drinking:

So many sights to see on foot:

Like hand-dug Maasai watering holes:

And from the Rover:

The little, (Leopard Tortoise and African Hare ~ they both win):

And the big, (he wins whenever he wants to):

A sad moment:

And a new beginning...

"I'm tellin ya, it's this big..."
("I meant the zebra. Who did you think I meant?")

Lichen patterns on the rocks behind: 

After three relaxing days at Piyaya, everyone sits around our last campfire, exhausted, physically and mentally, in awe of what we've seen, heard, smelled, tasted, and felt over the last two weeks.
Will Bev and I ever come back to Piyaya? We don't know, but Asilia has just opened a camp a little Southwest of here, in Serengeti, called Namiri Plains Tented Camp, which we'll try next time.