Hunting for Lions

We had decided that Kenya would be too expensive for a safari and opted for Mikumi National Park in the middle of Tanzania. We entered the National Park and after a few kilometres were greeted by a giraffe. Just standing there chilling, eating a tree by the side of the road, as you do. There was an excited flurry inside Doris as cameras were grabbed and pictures hurriedly taken. Little did we know we would see plenty of giraffe by the end of the day. We bought our permit at the office for $60 for a 24hour pass and permission to use one of the campsites. We then set off into the National Park. After two kilometres, we were greeted by a herd of elephants. We then found a lone bull Elephant that enjoyed mock charging at us from time to time. He always stopped and flapped his ears at us. We spotted impalas, more giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, gazelles, hippopotamuses and warthogs. However, there was no sign of lions. We returned to the campsite and found that it was overrun with baboons! We lit a huge fire and the baboons lost interest and went on to bed. That night we prepared a delicious mix of noodles and ration packs. The next morning we rose early and were back on the hunt for lions. We toured every road in the National Park, pausing intermittently to see if they appeared. We eventually ran out of time in the Park and had to shoot on without spotting our elusive lions. Maybe next time. That night we set up camp off the main TanZam highway. Its winter in Tanzania at the minute, still much warmer than home but the trees around our camp site had shed all their leaves. The forest looked like the set from the Blair Witch Project. Nevertheless a peaceful nights sleep was had, almost. Jack has been having problems with his anti-malarial tablets. They have been giving him a serious dose of heart burn and discomfort. The next morning we set off for the border with Malawi. After just starting out we got stopped at a police check point. He pulled us over and asked us to show him that lights, wipers, driver license and brakes were all in order. The police officer noticed one of our brake lights wasn’t working. Penalty! We got fined 10,000 Tanzanian shillings which is about $4USD. After that we continued on and just before we reached the border we got stopped again. This time they wanted our insurance details. This was a problem as we had tried to buy insurance at the border but the man had refused insisting we wouldn’t need it as we weren’t in the country long enough. We explained this to the police but they weren’t having any of it. They insisted we buy insurance, one of the police officers called a ‘colleague’ of his who swiftly offered us one months insurance at $70USD. This discussion was all taking place 800m from the Malawian border. He wanted us to pay almost a dollar a metre in insurance. We negotiated with the police officers that this was crazy and eventually they relented and let us pay a fine of 20,000 Tsh. Phew! Insurance crisis over we made sure we got a comprehensive policy for entering Malawi!

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