Journey to Lake Natron and Back
by John Fuhring

Chapter 20
Ride to Camp 10.

     As usual I was out of the tent just before dawn.  I'm not an early riser, but while in Africa I almost always wanted to see the sun come up and see as much of the day as possible.  Of course, the days were only 12 hours long so near the equator.


Dawn at Camp 9.

     As I suspected, this was another day of easy riding.  We made a long ride to our lunch stop not far from a road going to one of the remote villages (on the slope of Mt. Gelai) and it was so ordinary, I somehow forgot to take pictures of it.  Our lunch stop was located 2 degrees 40.622 minutes South, 36 degrees 17.485 minutes East and 3364 feet above sea level.

     Not too much game to view as we rode along except a few ostriches off in the distance.  Before it got too late in the afternoon and before the horses were too tired and hungry, we caught sight of camp.  I was delighted that we were going to camp that night in another "Sand River" because flatness of the bed and the surrounding bluffs and vegetation made these the most comfortable camps.  Another thing nice about the sandy beds of these dry rivers is that they had no tall grass with stickers.  There was more than one occasion that I wished the safari staff would have brought along a "weed wacker," a lawn mower or some kind of a scythe so we wouldn't have to wade through the stuff while in camp.

Scenes from Camp 10.
2 degrees, 47.092 minutes South Latitude
36 degrees, 20.974 minutes East Longitude
3603 Feet above Sea Level


A pleasant campsite. 
Sand rivers (when there's no water) make the best camps.

    The shower was located some distance to the rear of the tents and took a little finding to get there.  It was arranged well and I got a good shower that evening.  I don't remember feeling slippery as I showered, so I think we had used all the hot springs water by this time and we were back to the water from the "Water Buffalo" that was towed behind the Bedford.

The sunset that evening was untypically poor and uncolorful.

     Every safari in East Africa must have at least one "Traditional Meal" such as the common people eat.  If the meal was indeed to be typical of what East African's eat, then it would consist almost entirely of a white corn meal.  Back home it would be called "Corn Meal Mush" and in the Southern parts of the U.S. it is called "Grits."  In East Africa its called ugali (AKA, mealie) and all by itself, it is insipid in the extreme.  If you are a rich East African or if it's a special occasion there might be a bit of mutton stew you can put over the ugali.

     Last safari I went on they served this traditional meal with mutton and to tell the truth, I didn't like it.  The mutton tasted very strong and I just ate enough of it so I wouldn't be awake from hunger all night.  I knew that we would have it again sometime during this latest safari and this night was the night.  Ah yes, but this time I was prepared - oh was I ever prepared.  One of the reasons I brought that magnum of Tabasco Sauce was just for this occasion.

     By the time supper was served it was very dark out so the cook held a flashlight while we helped ourselves to the ugali and then put the mutton stew on top.  Before venturing even a taste, I got my bottle of Tabasco and liberally sprinkled on a good helping.  The pungent smell of the Tabasco created a beautiful aroma when it mingled with the smell of the stew - I knew this was going to be good.  I mixed the sauce into the stew then sat down to give it a taste.  It was even better than I expected, it was delicious - no kidding, it was absolutely delicious.  The Tabasco and the mutton complimented each other perfectly and made the whole thing very tasty.  I not only ate enough for hunger, I had a second serving.

     As far as I was concerned, this was "comfort food" at its best.  With the Tabasco sauce it was spicy but tasty without being overwhelmed by either the flavor of the mutton or the fire of the Tabasco.  With the corn meal base, it was very filling.  This wasn't a meal you'd feel hungry a half hour after eating.  From all accounts, East African cuisine is not held in very high regard by the rest of the world.  I think my little experiment was a great success and if a similar approach could be adopted by the native chefs, their cooking might win some renown world wide.

     I raved to everyone about how the Tabasco made the meal taste, but in the dark I don't know if anybody else tried it or not.  I did notice the level in the bottle seemed to be down a little the next morning though.
     That evening I was feeling glad (in a depressed sort of way) that we had only one more camp and two more days of riding before the safari was over.  The truth is I was feeling very lonely out there and also feeling that I had made a big mistake in coming on this trip. After supper, we sat around the bonfire and I seem to remember having a rather interesting talk with Stefan regarding the EEC and his opinion that Euro monetary system couldn't work in Switzerland.

     I went to sleep that night knowing that we had two more long days of riding and many miles to go before we reached the farm, but somehow I thought they would be easy like the last two days.  Oh how wrong I was!  I had no idea how circuitous our course was going to be. 


A most unusual and huge insect visitor.
It had leaf-shaped extensions on its appendages and was very leaf-like in its overall appearance.

This giant mantas was very interested in the water in our wash basin
A very exotic and beautiful creature.

    Sunrise was very unspectacular.  The day was very overcast and you couldn't see the sun rise.  It was so uninteresting, I didn't bother trying to take any pictures of anything except the early cook fire and a beautiful insect visitor.  As usual, I ordered my eggs over easy and applied a liberal amount of Tabasco sauce to them and ate a satisfying breakfast.  After packing up our personal stuff and taking it over to the Bedford, we made it over to the picket line and got ready for our day's ride.

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