To The Mountains of the Moon

Part 07. To Loliondo

The move from camp 3, Bamboo Flats to Camp 4, Narwa, did absolutely not go as planned. The stop at the Ngorongoro Crater was extended with one day, to repair all kind of stuff. A nice delay for a chang

Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti Plains

To get from Arusha to Loliondo did take 5 unforgettable adventurous days. Murphy's law was playing with the travelers, what could go wrong, did go wrong. Let's write down a few things. A little help could not do any harm at all. And the Commander was in control. It started without water. Idi, the native driver, had checked the waterlevel, and according to him there was plenty of spare-water for the boiling motor. But he was wrong, the was no spare water at all, and Bob had forgotten to check it also. Constantly climbing on a very hot day did boil the motor continuously. It was amazing that the little 1,5 ton truck could pull the large 23 foot trailer easily. The average speed was between 2 and 6 miles a hour, in the low, low gear. But even with this speed, the Shack on Wheels got stuck on a hill. But Bob managed to catch up to the rest of the caravan. Then until evening all went ok, but then lights of the truck had to be fixed. Then the truck ran out of gas, driving in low, low gear does use a lot of gasoline. They waited until one of the native brought some gas, and in the night they reached the caravan again at 1 o' clock in the morning, in spite of fog and rain The camp was sort of a public camping ground, like in a national park, and has a large cabin and many small ones. The cabins where really swell - made of gread big logs - only with a thatched roof. The main cabin had a fire place, with seats along two sides, and the expeditioners could sit inside the fireplace. The boys made a dinner (partridge) for the die-hards Errol, Normal and Bob at 3 am. In front of the fireplace Bob and Errol slept until late in the morning on their air-mattresses. It was certainly a panorama they saw when they woke up. They were at the rim of the huge Ngorongoro Crater 12 miles across and 2000 feet deep. In the center there was a small lake and there were many animals in the crater. There was no time to take pictures, the photographers had been there before. The rest of the day they spent on repairing things, and getting cleaned up. They had a bath tub there, and lots of hot water, as the cook house fire heated the water for the bath. Next morning the alarm went off at 5:30 am, and they left at 7:30 am. It was sort of drizzling and wet (average rainfall of 60 inch a year). The trucks kept stalling and they needed the 3 ton trucks to pull them out, using chains. Bob was already an expert in putting on chains. It was a long ride descending from the rim, and after it cleared up, the views of the sloping valleys were magnificant. For the first time on the expedition, Bob saw lots of animals, starting with a large herd of Wildebeast, which looked like a buffalo, but not as large or as shaggy. They kept on seeing animals eland, small foxes etc. The Serengeti Plains were indeed beautiful, and things kept on happening. Trucks would get sand in the gas system and quit, but fortunately the International harvesters were modern trucks, having a filter on the carburator. So taking the filter out, cleaning it, putting it back and they could go on again. Roads were bad, just ruts, and full of rocks, cutting the tires badly. The Shack on Wheels got a flat tire (of course), creating another stop. Then they came to a hill the truck wouldn't make, so back again and taking a less steep route through the Serengeti. One time when Bob stopped, he saw a lion, just sitting under a tree, half a block away. And after some gracefully longnecks passed the truck, the Shack on Wheels bogged down up to the top of the wheels in sand again. Enough for the day, they hardly made 24 miles. They made camp there, and got the Shack out of the sand. It was hard work, that evening the workers got an award, seeing a fantastic sunset. That night Bob enjoyed drinking Gin and limes. As usual Errol and Bob talked and went to bed about 10:30 pm Next day they drove off the roads, as they were too sandy, and drove across the plains, up rolling hills and down again. Idi was sent ahead, going up the inclines, to pick out the most gentle slope, so the truck would not stick in the sand again. It worked and they got not stuck so badly. They did not think hard about destroying nature, remember it was 1948. Once they left the plains, the roads got worse, being deep ruts, and so they had to drive across rough ground, very slow. It was too much for the truck, the whole hitch holding the trailer pulled out of the truck. They had to leave the Shack on Wheel where it was, and go ahead with the truck alone. A guard was left with the truck. That night it rained again, and when Weldon drove back in the morning to take the guard some food, he got stuck in the mud. So Bob drove also back, and pulled Weldon's station wagon out. The caravan finally left by noon for the last 55 miles to Loliondo. It was a bit more forrested on this part, the roads were good and not steep either. Lots of animals could be seen on the plains, giraffe, eland, wildebeast, ostrich, wild dogs, bustards, and beautiful colored Thompsons gazelle. Bob wrote in a letter: "They are very graceful, and can run at tremendous speeds. They don't have a gamy flavor, and we all like them, and they sure do make good eating." The caravan arrived in the late afternoon at Loliondo, a nice place at the end of a small valley. The place had beautifull buildings, and lawn like grass. The only white people in town where the District Commisioner (D.C.) Thorne, and his wife. The next day, Errol and Bob went back to the lonely guard, taking care of the Shack on Wheels. They brought the trailer in by using a truck which still had a good hitch. As Errol did most of the driving, Bob was the photographer, and he used the Leica camera of Errol extensively, shooting animals. (not by gun of course) ©W7LR and PA0ABM
On the road again Serengeti plains The ogranised camp-life They saw a lot of animals, like wildebeasts etc..