A Trip to Tanzania: Katavi National Park [Day 5]

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Captain Chedi surprised us this morning at breakfast by producing a stack of kanga’s that he had fetched from the local Masai village – is the man a prince or what? We took all of them – just so that he didn’t have to drive back again to return the unwanted items you understand…

Today is a very sad day as we are going to bid Chedi goodbye….it has truly been a privilege to be able to spend time with him…his patience with the ladies who needed to water every bush on the Serengeti plains & their seemingly insatiable desire for shopping was legendary – nothing was too much effort for him. His knowledge on a vast array of subjects made for many an interesting discussion and we are going to miss him hugely…asante sana, Chedi! It’s all too soon and the plane has touched down at Kleins airstrip…The cargo is off loaded, a final wave before the doors close….& we are off on the next leg of our journey…

One last look at Nduara Loliondo as we fly overhead…the yurts strung along the mountain like beads on a necklace…and then it is on to Tabora where we will refuel before heading to Katavi National Park – a total flight time of about 3 hours…

It’s only once you are viewing the Serengeti from the air that you get a sense of the sheer size of the area that it covers….this is the Grumeti River as we fly over the Western corridor…only one of the many obstacles that the wildebeest have to cross on their annual pilgrimage to the Masai Mara..

The plane banks and suddenly I see our shadow reflected on the plains below….so small, so insignificant on those vast plains…

Our plane lands at the Sitelike airstrip near the park rangers headquarters as they are working on the airstrip closest to the camp. There we are met by the guide & 4×4 vehicle who will transfer us to Chada Katavi Camp….a view from the bridge going into the park..totally different from the scenery we left behind…

It’s after this point where trouble begins to rear its ugly head….it is midday, significantly hotter than the Serengeti and the tsetse fly is out in full force…..and we are in an open vehicle!! Five VERY grumpy ladies arrive at Chada Katavi Camp and it takes a while for the ruffled feathers to be smoothed down. Tea helps & then we explore the camp…a simple but stylish bush camp…

The tent is in separate sections, each closed off by zipped doors. There is an awful lot of zipping – 8 zippings (up & down) to get from your front door to the shower (on far RHS) & another 6 zippings if, heaven forbid, you have forgotten something in the bedroom!! And the zipping is essential in order to avoid hosting all manner of uninvited guests (large & small)…

Our tent has big ‘windows’ with views out over the plains and a little veranda so you can sit & watch the action.. They don’t cover the windows up at night here as it is so much warmer than the Serengeti and every small breeze is welcome….which meant that we were woken in the wee hours by munching sounds & had a bird’s eye view of the elephant herd that passed through camp on our first night. In fact, one of the elephants passed right in front of our tent (just short of the guy ropes), stopped & looked straight at us quaking under the covers, then calmly carried on about its business. I had to go & check to see if my roommate still had a pulse after that…very special indeed!!

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