Our motor trip around Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa, began in Masaka, Uganda. Our vehicle was an old Toyota SUV (the same one we had crashed 2 years before). From Masaka, we headed south toward the Tanzania border. After a rough border crossing, we drove to the city of Bukoba, then south to Mwanza, the second largest city in Tanzania. Along the way, there were wonderful views of the lake and its islands, replete with fishing village.
As we approached Mwanza, we boarded a ferry for a short hop across an arm of Lake Victory. This area of Tanzania (including the lake) is covered with fascinating rock formations. From Mwanza, we headed west to Bunda, a convenient entry point to Serengeti National Park.
I had heard of the large numbers of animals on the Serengeti Plain, but I was awed by their actual numbers. We saw large herds of wildebeests and zebras. In addition, there is a wide variety of other animals, including warthogs, ostriches, elands, hippos, crocs, topis, giraffes, lions, thompson gazelles, impalas, cape buffalo, hyenas, etc. A visit is overwhelming to the visual senses. Our guide was great in locating important wildlife viewing areas.
From Bunda, Tanzania, we traveled into Kenya. After another difficult border crossing, we traveled toward the Mara River and Masai Mara National Game Reserve. After leaving the border crossing and adjacent town, the road got rougher and rougher. We didn’t locate a place to sleep until late. The only place we could afford (the safari lodges were too expensive) was a primitive guesthouse. It had spartan rooms with simple beds, but little else. The toilet was literally a hole in the concrete.
The next morning we headed into the Masai Mara National Game Reserve. At the entry, the park rangers were friendly. When I fist bumped one, he showed me the local routine: fist bump, over-under bump, chest bump, and then a bump to the back of the head. I practiced on two of the other rangers. It was all in good fun.
Inside the Park, there were animals everywhere. More of everything. We especially wanted to see elephants, something we had missed in Tanzania. And elephants we saw. Another great day on the Serengeti Plain.
As we were leaving the Mara River area (outside of the National Game Reserve), I spotted three elephants standing in the shade. I decided to walk down toward them to get a better photograph. While walking, I stirred up a warthog and could see an impala nearby. As I came to a small creek, nearby I spotted two hippos climbing out of the water. I decided that discretion is the better part of valor. And gave up on my plan.
From the Masai Mara we headed back toward Uganda. In the late afternoon, we were caught in a torrential downpour. Driving was difficult, but we inched along. After crossing the border near the Ugandan city of Tororo, for all intents and purposes, we had circumnavigated Lake Victoria; we had often traveled the roads between Tororo and Masaka.