It’s Not the Destination, It’s the Journey!!
If you didn’t read my previous post about how we ended up climbing Kili you can read it here. It was truly a magnificent trip, one filled with a lifetime of memories. Well, at least enough to fill two blog posts. After our brief stay on top of the highest free standing mountain in the world, we proceeded to head down. As we started descending, we found out why you climb at night, during the day the scree is now unfrozen
and loose. If we had tried to climb it during the day we would have gone 2 steps up and slid 1 step back. Now it was fun… it was taking a huge step and then sliding a few more feet. The day of the ascent is a long one, you leave Kibo hut in the middle of the night and shuffle and climb till you get to the top, then after the obligatory photos you head back to Kibo hut, pick up your gear and continue on to Horombo camp which is at over 12k feet. Once we got there it was time for the celebrating to begin!! Some industrious sherpas had beer for sale, so we all grabbed some and partied like rock stars……. for about 30 minutes and then we crashed. The next day we finished the climb down and it was back to Arusha for some hot showers and some more Chinese food. As far as showers go, this was by far one of the top 5 of showers of my life. HEAVEN!
But wait, we didn’t stop there. What’s a trip to Africa without some Safari time??
So the next day, after being awoken by morning prayers at the mosque next door again, we head off for the Ngorongoro crater for a short safari. We decided that we would camp out and had a camp site on the ridge of the Nogorongoro crater. We did some damage that night and it culminated in a ceremonial t-shirt burning. I had brought over shirts from my company
(ftp software) and had given one to all the guys. Well most had worn them on the climb and now they were smelly and disgusting, everyone decided to burn them! Fortunately, I had a few extra for Bill’s staff back in Kitengela.
The next day, we headed down into the crater…. as we were heading down in, Bill heard a strange noise coming from his car, so I hoped onto the hood hanging from the spare tire and held on to hear if I could detect where it was coming from… never did figure it out but I had the most memorable ride into the crater. Did I mention that we were still giddy from climbing Kili? Well, we loaded up the cars with several cases of Castle tins, long warm by now, but that wasn’t going to stop us, nor was the hour of the day. WE STARTED EARLY!! We had 2 cars, Bill’s land rover, and “The Blender” a pickup truck with plywood sides.
The Nogorongoro crater is magnificent. It is a natural bowl created by a volcanic crater. It is gorgeous and filled with game. We set off game viewing. After seeing lots of game, we happened on a pride of lions. So we drive off the road to get a closer look a the pride. Now it should be noted, in Kenya, while the game parks have dirt roads you often drive off of them to get closer to the animals. WELL…. as we find out later, the rules are different in Tanzania and you are supposed to stay on the roads.
A very close up look. And what a view, a lioness with cubs and a big old male. Well, we decided to get an even closer view when all of a sudden the male roars and starts to spring at us… remember, we are in a pickup truck, with plywood sides and a completely open top.Needless to say, he scared the crap out of us. After driving away, it was noted that the lion could have easily leapt right in and all of us in the back would have been in a lion blender. Now you know how it got it’s nickname “THE BLENDER”.
But now for a bit of Lickly family folklore, all of which is true. After having Castle Lager for breakfast, brunch and lunch, and having a glorious morning on Safari, we decided to stop in the middle of the crater and get a little rest and soak up some sun. Now, one of the cardinal rules of safari is never get out of the vehicle.
Ah… we think of it as more a guideline than an actual rule. So, there we were lying around soaking up the sun when we notice way off in the distance a car heading our way… not any car, but a park ranger. Oops, we better start moving, so we get back in the blender and head on our way. Now the blender at this point is quite the scene, the spare tire in the front is filled with crushed up tins of Castle, the dashboard the same and all the poles holding the plywood on have a can of Castle like a hood ornament. We head off only to find out that he continues to follow us…. and eventually flags us down. The Tanzania Wildlife Rangers. OOPS! So as he pulls up, we all sit down in the back of the pickup and try to behave which only makes us start to giggle. He pulls along side and asks why we were stopped for such a long time and out of the vehicles?? Bill makes up some car problem story which makes no sense like a flooded distributor cap spark plug. The park ranger then mentions that there have been reports of a vehicle matching our description that has been bothering the animals… and he has to give us a ticket and a fine. Now Africa is not unfamiliar with corruption so we all brace for the worst. (Side story, Bill Cherry found a good way to get rid of counterfeit $100 bills …. use them as bribes when needed)
“Fined US $10 for scaring the lions”
He spends several minutes writing out the fine….. and hands it to us. We all read it quickly, it says, and I am not lying…. “Fine of US $10 for scaring the lions”. What? Oh my god, that’s awesome!! You have never seen so many $10 dollar bills come whipping out as everyone wanted to be the one to pay this fine!! One of my greatest regrets is we let John Chapman have the ticket as he promised to copy it and send to everyone… I am still waiting JOHN!
The rest of the trip went without incident and we headed back to Kenya for our goodbyes. It was a tremendous trip, 9 started, 9 reached the top and 9 will never forget scaring the lions. All because Bill’s father had climbed Kili and we were looking for some reason to get together again.
Remember – Never Get out of Your Vehicle!