British Lions SA Tour July & August 2021

  • Barry 

The reason for sharing this post is related to the uniqueness of our experience of the British & Irish Lions tour and where we watched each of the matches.


The first match of British lions vs South Africa on 24 July 2021 was watched at Shaw Safaris Twiga Lodge on – Paul Sweet (UK) and 2 Saffies Carel Verhoef and Barry (me) and South Africa lost 17 – 22 after leading 12 – 3 at half time – Paul (being from UK) could hardly contain his delight – Carel and Barry (Being from SA) were disappointed to say the least. There were some dubious referee decisions thet went gainst SA (aren’t there always?) 

Lions celebrate a try in the first test

On Saturday 31 July we were heading out of Arusha and connected via whatsapp with our friends and fellow travellers (Pete & Caroline)  – checking in with one another as fellow travellers do .. something like ” so where are you?, where are you staying tonight ? are you watching the rugby? ….They were staying at the Blue Heron (west of Arusha) which is not a recognised campsite but they do allow you to camp – found it on the iOverlander App. ). We were heading back to the Serengeti and were originally intending to push through further west without any bookings so we decided it would be worth sharing the time together and watch the rugby – even though it was with a touch of trepidation – SA having lost the first match (Only just and the referee?? )Below is Barry & Julie with fellow travellers Pete & Caroline Ablitt – pictured next to Shelley the Shed (The Ablitt Landrover) 

The Blue Heron is well worth a visit

Blue Heron Restaurant view of Mount Meru

Below is our cars set up for camping at the Blue Heron

This is a pic from the south west end – you can see Mount Meru prominent in the background landscape

That night Pete arranged a local taxi to take us to Smileys Sports Bar & Restaurant in the Sable Shopping centre – on the T5 West of Arusha. Smileys could be a pub/restaurant anyway in South Africa – the clientele were mainly Saffies sporting the Green & Gold. We arrived just after the game started so the main TV in the pub was full – Forunately the pool room TV was empty – less atmosphere but no rowdy, smoking, swearing, shouting  and we were served our beverages and food. At half time we were engulfed by a mob of pool players. 

And the result? – South Africa was losing 6-9 at half time – oh dear?? – in the second half the SA team scored 21 points – the final score 27 – 9. Once again some dubious referreeing calls but Sya Kolisi’s South African team came together and dominated the second half – this set up the next and final match to be a real nailbiter. 

Lukhnaya Am’s try for SA that was debated but awarded after multiple re-runs – Lions not happy


 We departed Arusha the next day and made our way toward the serengeti on the less travelled route via Lake Natron – we stopped and camped at Lengai safari camp. Pete & Caroline headed on and made their way to the Serengeti – Our parting words being maybe we should meet up together for the final test at Musoma on Lake Victoria before heading to Kenya. There will be a separate post about Lake Natron and our second trip into the Serengeti – this post is about the rugby. 

After witnessing some wonderful crosssings we left the Serengeti via the less travelled “Tabora B” gate near Mgumu and drove further west through to Musoma on Lake Victoria. We picked up on WhatsApps with Pete & Caroline to determine if they made it through and whether we were going to join up. We arranged to meet at one campsite which we got to first (Mativilla) and it was a disaster – dirty, no ablutions, rowdy locals and no chance of rugby.

Luckily Pete and Caroline tried the Mara Pardise Hotel and they were willing for us to camp on their front lawn –

Shelley the Shed (with Pete & Caroline) on the front lawn of the Mara Paradise Hotel, Musoma

The big plus was they met a South African (Danie – a surveyor from Pretoria) who had his laptop and his DSTV card so we could watch the game.

Our communal campsite
Watching the final Test at Mara Paradise Hotel, Musoma, Lake Victoria, Tanzania

And after a nail biting first half South Africa was behind by 4 Points – score 6 -10. The game was tension filled thoughout – the SA team eventually get a late penalty and Morne Steyn kicked it over – Final score 19 – 16

We stayed another two nights and then headed back to Arusha and to explore the area from Kili to coast after having decided that we were not going to go Kenya as we had seen what we needed to see in Serengeti. So we drove an extra 4 days to enjoy a game of rugby with some kindred spirt friends in Tanzania. It was well worth the drive.

Au Revoir Pete & Caroline

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