Name ID 1124
Turner, Myles My Serengeti Years
Page Number: 025
Extract Date: 1892 March 18 +
Baumann then [after March 18] climbed up the steep walls of the crater, and skirting Oldeani Mountain, made his way down the escarpment overlooking Lake Eyasi. He camped on a high ridge where he could look down from his tent and see its waters glittering in the sun - the first European to do so. Then, after visiting the lake, Baumann's safari continued by way of Lagaja [Lake Ndutu] in the Serengeti.
Pearson, John Hunters of the Plains
Page Number: 047
Extract Date: 17 April 1977
Wildlife filming is a business and the more you can organize yourself so that fewer problems arise, the more successful you will be. There are enough unknown factors built into the game about which you can't do anything very much, without creating any unnecessary difficulties.
There are two things, above all, that you need to keep an eye on around camp - fuel and food. In 17 April I was nearly out of both. I shouldn't have let myself get so low of course, but filming with the dogs was going well and when that happens the last thing you want to do is spoil your luck. So when I finally decided I couldn't hold on any longer, I did my best to minimize the departure from our normal routine.
`What we'll do', I said to my driver, David, `is this. On Sunday we'll get everything together. Fill the Range Rover. Load a 44 gallon drum in the back and tie it down. Tools, mail, anything to go to Ndutu we'll load on Sunday. Then on Monday we'll go out and film the early hunt. Once that's finished I'll come straight back, climb in the car and go. I'm not going to hang around Ndutu. I'll just load up, come straight back and we'll go out again and film in the evening.'
At first, all went well. The dogs performed on schedule and by 7.45 I was well on my way to Ndutu. Nothing of note happened crossing the plains. It took me an hour to reach the Park boundary, which was about average. Then I turned left and followed the track as far as the main Ngorongoro-Serona road. There were a few puddles along the way but nothing more. By the time I reached the woodland along the edge of the Olduvai, though, it was downright slippery and I began to remember the big black thunderclouds that had hidden the sun during the evening hunts over the past few days. But nothing prepared me for the Olduvai Gorge itself.
There is a causeway that runs through the bottom of the gorge between Lake Lgarya on your right and Lake Marzak on the left. Actually, you'd have to be told it was a causeway to recognize it as such because it only stands a couple of feet above the level of the ground, a fact that tells you all you need to know about the amount of water that normally lies in the gorge even after really heavy rain. Now there was no sign of any causeway. I stopped at the waters' edge and got out. It was like a sea. Clearly there was no point in even thinking about driving across. But was it worth trying to go round Marzak? My memories of that end of the valley were of swampy ground, so I climbed back into the car and set off round Lgarya instead.
Lake Lgarya is now called Lake Ndutu and Lake Marzak is more commonly spelt Lake Masek.
Claytor, Tom Bushpilot
Extract Author: Tom Claytor
Page Number: 19b
Extract Date: 1996 08 Jul
I land at lake Ndutu to visit Baron Hugo van Lawick. I first met Hugo when I was working on a film called 'Serengeti Dairy' for National Geographic. The film was a celebration of his 25th year living and filming wildlife in the Serengeti, and I was part of the crew that tried to capture this place from the air. I park the plane in an empty cage designed to keep the hyenas and lions from chewing the tires, and soon a vehicle arrives to collect me. When I arrive in camp, Hugo comes out to greet me. He is in a wheelchair, and we sit by his tent looking out over the lake and drinking tea.
The nice thing about this part of the world is that traveling is so difficult that one does not usually get a lot of visitors. A visitor brings news from the outside world, and this is something that one can yearn for. Hugo first came to Africa in 1959, because he wanted to film animals. He came for two years, and he never left. He made lecture films for Louis Leakey and at age 24 shot the photographs for the articles on the Leakey's work in Africa. He was married to Jane Goodall for 10 years, and he has spent most of his life observing and recording wildlife through a lens. He is having trouble breathing with his emphysema now, but he wastes no time in filling me in on what has been happening. It seems all the wild dogs have all been exterminated by rabies brought in by the Maasai dogs; the lion numbers are down due to feline distemper, and so the cheetah numbers are up. The bat-eared foxes have been hit by rabies, and the poaching is still bad on the western boundary. According to Hugo, some people there have never tasted cow meat, only wild game meat. There are snares everywhere along that boundary, and the park used to feel very big when there weren't so many tourists. Hugo relays all this news as one might talk about the traffic jams on the way to work, and I have to quietly smile as I listen.
He then tells me about the pilot Bill Stedman who crashed his motor glider while coming in to land here last year. He was working on Hugo's film 'The Leopard Sun'; the plane just dropped out of the sky, and Bill was dead. We both pause and looked out across the lake. I ask Hugo if he remembers when we landed on that lake and built a fire on the edge as part of our 'camping scene' for the film. He remembers and chuckles about this. I was arrested shortly after that back in Seronera by armed scouts. They took me to the park warden's office, but I had no idea why. I was asked what I had done the previous day, and I explained that we had been filming by the lake and had landed on its edge. A little man confirmed that I had landed on the edge of the lake, and then I was released because I had told the truth. I was still a little confused by all this. I was told that they were going to 'compound' me and the plane, but that since I had told the truth, I would now only have to pay a fine. I shuddered to think what this fine would be, but it was only 1,500 Tanzanian Shillings (about $3).
Busemeyer, Karl Ludwig (Mucky) Log-Book about an Airship-Expedition to Tanzania
Page Number: 13
Extract Date: 3 2 98
We left Ngorongoro late morning, paid the National Parks organisation the modified fee for the permits, and arrived in sunny Ndutu early afternoon. Ndutu is virtually 'nothing' on the map. It comprises a lodge, a crossroads, a lake, an airstrip for bush-pilots and, hopefully, thousands of wildebeests which we wanted to film from the airship. According to all our books, and careful planning, they should be in the area, migrating to the inner Serengeti ecosystem.
Mike, the local Ranger, showed us the way to our private campsite but, because the weather looked quite promising, with only around ten knots, I was more interested in checking out the little airstrip. "There is hardly any traffic," Mike pointed out, "so you can lay out the envelope quite close to the takeoff strip." We waited until 17.00hrs and started cold inflating, by 17.30hrs the airship was hovering on its mooring lines.
Haimo, in charge of the charity postcards, clambered aboard, and off we went. The first 50ft were fine, less than 10 knots, but climbing to 100ft we hit something like a rubber wall. The airship stopped completely and the flight pattern took on the appearance of dance - 'Rock and Roll', with plenty of 'Go Go'. I wasn't too enthusiastic about it and, after a minute or so, we decided to try closer to the ground. We descended something like 30ft and off we went again.
Did I tell about the wonderful Akazia? There are only three important things to know about akazias if you are flying an airship above them. There are tall ones, there are very tall ones, and the most important thing about them are the thousands of extremely long, extremely hard, and therefore extremely nasty thorns. The tall ones were fine, but then one of the very tall ones appeared, all of a sudden, like they do!
The turbulent air suddenly forced the ship's nose down by 10 degrees and there was this tree coming at us. Already flying at almost full power, there was no chance of clearing it in classic 'Gerry Turnbull style', using more throttle to bring someaerodynamic lift into the picture, so I opened up both burners and tried to circumnavigate the tree by pulling the right rudder. Sweating profusely, I saw millions of thorns in microscopic detail as we cleared this African tree by just a few feet. Thankfully, we would fly again, but I was not in the best of moods and decided to fly back and land.
The landing was uneventful but, on the way in, the TV team asked me whether we could just hover for a moment over another akazia close by, as they had not been able to film the real one. That was not a problem at all, as the wind came across the airstrip and the landing was quite tricky anyway... Once the envelope had been packed away we drank the first bottle of champagne brought over from Germany.
Morris, Patrick (Series Producer) Wild Africa
Extract Author: Owen Newman and Amanda Barrett
Page Number: 2
Extract Date: 2001
Filmed around the Ndutu area
Financial Times (UK)
Extract Author: Nicholas Woodsworth
Extract Date: September 6 2002
The long rains had come to northern Tanzania, and in the night I listened to a constant patter of raindrops magnified by the canvas above my head.
Ndutu Camp was a fine place to be in this season. In the woodlands and marshes of the Olduvai Gorge there were leopards, cheetahs and other wild cats. In the surrounding Serengeti Plains great grazing herds of wildebeest, zebras and gazelles had returned. Along with hyenas, lions and the predators that pursued them, it was a very lively place.
But for the moment I was interested in something a little less lively. It was a good day for fossils.
We drove eastwards out of camp, down the beginnings of the Olduvai Gorge. It had stopped raining, but the track was still slick with mud and muck. We slithered past the shores of Lake Masek, where pink flamingos, their heads plunged in the shallow water, stood feeding in their hundreds. A little further on we stopped and continued on foot.
The bush was sodden, the streams swollen - within minutes we were muddy up to our ankles, grass-soaked above our knees. But then we came to a slope, a space where the ground was open and rocky, and halted.
Hunting for fossils, I discovered, is a bit like hunting for truffles. At first it seems unlikely that you will ever find such rare and improbable objects, and after a few minutes of fossicking about you feel the exercise is pointless and dull. Then you find one. Suddenly your interest is aroused, your imagination piqued, and the chase is on.
And there were plenty of fossils to find. After a long, hot, arid season the first heavy rains had washed a good deal of earth and loose detritus down the slope, exposing underlying layers. Among the flints and pebbles there I found fossilised bones - thin, broken tube-shaped bones; broad joint-like forms that reminded me of shoulder-bones; large, flat-topped molars that over millennia had turned to stone.
There were also rocks there that, with just a bit of fancy, one might see as not quite naturally shaped. Was that an off-cut on that chunk of quartz, or deliberate flaking on that sliver of obsidian? Could the sharp edges of those stones have been used as cutting blades?
I'm no palaeontologist, but in the heat of the moment I was a good fantasist. All these curious stones and bones could not be here by accident. Was it not possible that in some distant age this had been a camp belonging to early man, a curious hominid somewhere between an ape and the homo sapiens of today?
I pictured him hunched down on the slope before a flickering fire. The roughly butchered carcase of a gazelle lay scattered about. His massive jaws crunched bones and he spat the bits out at his feet, but never as he ate did his eyes cease sweeping the darkness around him for danger in the night . . .
If I was allowing myself all sorts of extraordinary imaginings it was, of course, because Olduvai Gorge is an extraordinary place. It was here that, in the middle of the last century, spectacular fossil finds were made, allowing scientists a great leap forward in their understanding of human evolution.
In spite of my enthusiasm, I found my knees growing sore after a couple of hours, and I finally gave up. Enough vague fantasies, I told myself. Some 35km down the gorge at the Olduvai archaeological site I could learn something of the real history of this cradle of man.
So off we headed on the plain above the gorge, a green and grassy expanse dotted with milling herds as far as the eye could see. If I were "handy man", homo habilis, and living a million years ago, how handy would I be, armed with some stone implement, in creeping up behind one of these creatures and killing it for dinner? Not very handy at all, I thought.
But there was at least one modern man who proved that ancient hominids did just that. When Kenyan-born archaeologist Louis Leakey and his wife, Mary, first began visiting Olduvai in the early 1930s, he was convinced that in the stratified layers of the gorge walls lay clues to man's common origins.
When Leakey was scoffed at for offering certain stones as evidence of ancient tool-making, he did not reply with academic argument. He walked down into the gorge, chipped out similar stone tools himself, and caught, killed and butchered wild animals with them. He astounded critics by dismembering antelopes in 10 minutes flat. In the small museum at the visitor centre I gazed at the stone knives, scrapers, pounders and hand-axes that began a technological revolution that continues to this day.
But it took the Leakeys more than 10 minutes to produce the evidence that finally brought them world attention. At the bottom of the gorge I gazed at the place where, 28 long years after beginning their search for early man, Mary Leakey one day in 1959 caught sight of a tiny scrap of bone.
There she went on to find two large hominid teeth, and then the first skull of Zinjanthropus, or Australopithecus boisei, commonly called "Nutcracker man". The discover y of the creature that lived some 1.75m years ago brought the funding the Leakeys needed to further construct man's family-tree. The rest, as I would like to think they say at Olduvai, is pre-history.
That evening, back at Ndutu Camp, I sat down to an elegantly set dinner table. My fellow guests included a New Zealand financial lawyer from Hong Kong and an English marketing couple - they were, all in all, a very modern lot.
Their day had been an adventurous one filled with hippos and lions. And what, they asked cheerfully, had I found?
"Fossils", I replied, expecting to be quizzed for at least a moment on hand axes and the dismembering of small mammals.
"How fascinating," they said, eyes glazing over, and they moved rapidly on to talk of other more amusing subjects - Harry Potter books, the power-steering on Bentley cars, summer holidays in the Dordogne.
I took it amiss at first, and continued eating my pâté in silence. Did they not realise that without the talents homo habilis had developed, power-steering would not even exist?
But by the time the banana-toffee pie arrived - a speciality of Ndutu - I had warmed to them. For were we not, after all, one big family? No matter where we came from - London, Hong Kong, or the kitchen of Ndutu camp - did we not have one common ancestor? He lay not far away, in the bottom of Olduvai Gorge.
BONE UP ON THE FACTS
Nicholas Woodsworth's safari was arranged by Tim Best Travel, specialists in tailor-made African holidays. Tel: +44 (0)207-591 0300, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Four nights at Nomad Safari's Ndutu Camp, excluding flights and transfers, begins at £1,200 per person. A 12-day Tented Safari in northern Tanzania, including all flights, transfers, food, drink and park fees, costs from £3,250 per person, based on four travelling.
Extract Author: Steve G. Finegan
Extract Date: 7 Oct 2002
In the Serengeti National Park, did the short rains commence more or
less at the end of October, first of November in the year 2000, or were they
early or late that year. Thanks in advance. Steve
Steve G. Finegan
Creative Director, Writer, Producer
Puzzled for why you are interested in year 2000 info.
At http://www.Ndutu.com/pages/weather.html you can find rain
information for Ndutu Safari lodge which is on the border of the
Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Conservation area. Select October and you
will see that in 2000 they had 6.9mm and 2 wet days - much less than
Oct in 2001. Conversely, November was much wetter in 2000 than 2001.
The Ndutu newsletter for December 2000 records "The rains have arrived!
The first drops of rain finally fell in the middle of November. We had
a total of 89.5mm making it one of the best Novembers in terms of
Of course rainfall is very varied, and one place can be wet while
another remains dry. This September many places in Northern Tanzania
were subject to torrential rain, whilst Ndutu only had 4.6mm (on the
Please let me know if you are able to find rainfall information for
other places in the Serengeti.
ps must declare an interest - I maintain the Ndutu web site.
I'm writing a novel which is set, in part, near the Ngare Nanyuki River, south of the river and several miles east of Turner Springs in late Oct., early Nov. of 2000. It's kind of important for me to have a solid thundershower in this area about this time of year; if it's even plausible, I'll go with it. But I don't want readers saying, "Hey! I was there and that was a drought year!" Just striving for accuracy. Thanks for your help.