As we confidently set out on the journey we quickly start coming across lots of side road options to put us off. Andrew uses his bump of direction and keeps choosing a road that doesn’t quite figure on the rangers map. André in the back seat with his Maps of Africa keeps on voicing a concern here and there but we also have the powerful instructions that say ” keep the mountain that looks like two boobies behind you and the long flat mountain on your right!! ” So we are confident to temporarily ignore André.
We eventually strike a road that fits all our criteria and we jump on it, André is happy too. We give each other a high five.
As we travel along what at times seems more a track in the dirt than a road we keep on coming across huge herds of zebra and wildebeest grazing or on their single file move onward. Late afternoon we see vultures circling so we duck off our “road” to investigate. Turns out to be the tail end of someones snack and only bones remain. We turn around to recapture our road and initially all seems good except André keeps telling us we have gone off route. Sure enough the “boobies ” are on our right now. We double back to find the road we had, it looks like we have got it but after 3km it just stops dead with nothing around us.
We have just passed a creek that is filled with hyenas, we count about 40 and Andrew says he has never seen anything like this. A number of them have the tell tail sign of a snare injury around their necks. This means poachers are around. Andrew says they may lay up to 50 snares at a time and only harvest 5 captures out of that leaving the others to do their deadly damage. The hyenas seem smart enough to at least at times get themselves free.
This now is getting very interesting, no road where do we go from here? We still have ~70km to go , it’s 4pm and there is no road in sight, we are in the middle of the Serengeti where driving off road is punishable.
André thinks he can get us back to the road further on but time and time again as he says: ” the road is coming up in 500m, 250m “, it just doesn’t appear.
We come across some lions lazing on a rocky outcrop just like in the ” Lion King” , these ancient granite rock formations are set in the middle of nowhere and are a stunning landscape feature called kopji.
The lions are not quite ready for hunting so we leave them to rest up. In th end we decide to take a trajectory for some mountains that we can see in the distance and André believes there should be an airstrip there with three roads to pick from .
All is well as we go cross country until a really heavy rain cloud starts forming to the side of us. Eventually with still 8km to go to the ” airstrip” it swings around and our trajectory has to go through it. André bravely says “just aim for the rain”! We hit the rain and visibility is down to nothing, we are talking hyena dens, aardvark holes that can swallow a tyre. Andrew is reluctant to keep going and suggests we wait out the rain with a game of “Farkle”. I counter that suggestion by saying , that to me it does not look like a passing shower, we are in the middle of terrain that can turn into bog really quickly I also think we should not use remaining battery life on André ‘s phone to play games! Now there is a bossy broad talking, the boys agree. We decide to progress slowly forward. It continues to rain heavily and the last 8km goes very, very, very slowly.
The pools of water around us are getting deeper, but then the rain stops. André thinks the airstrip should be at the base of some rocks in the distance “aim for those” . At this point I think Andrew and I are wondering is this another mirage airstrip on Maps of Africa as there are no buildings or wind socks in sight, but then we pop out and we are on a proper road!!
We jump out of the car do a little victory dance, congratulate ourselves on the teamwork with a hug and we record a memorable video. Ok it’s 6pm , we have 45 min of daylight and 45km to go on dirt roads.
As we start it becomes apparent that the downpour has changed our road into a muddy quagmire. We are in 4×4 and are swimming from one trench on the road to the other. Progress slows down to snail pace and then as we round a corner we are faced by a huge herd of wildebeest and zebra using the road as a highway. It’s a standoff. After 10 min they decide to stampede around the car splitting evenly on either side of us! In the setting sun rays it is an experience to treasure for ever.
We arrive at the hotel after 8pm well after one is meant to be off the park roads but, hey we will not have to pitch the car tents and eat two minute noodles tonight! André saves the day by guiding us in the dark on tiny roads from his App with phone battery just making it to the end.
And so the epic day ends:)