Tag Archives: Lion

The Serengeti

Ah the Serengeti (Maasai – meaning endless plain).  12,000 square miles – flat and sprinkled with stunning acacia trees.  It’s everything I dreamed it would be.

As we entered the park they were doing a controlled burn to get rid of overgrowth to keep the floor of the plains healthy.  Burns are done sections at a time and the results are clearly visible. Lush green grass was growing in the areas previously burned.

It’s remarkable how different the flora, terrain and wildlife are in Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater and in the Serengeti. Even Tsavo for that matter.  It is LUSH!!  Tanzania is the place to live if you’re a hungry animal.  Poor creatures in Tsavo, Kenya are starving.

We had hoped to see hyenas and cheetahs in Tsavo so it was a real treat to see them here.  The gazelles were the bunny rabbits – prolific and everywhere.

Day one we saw:
Hyaena
Ostriches
Thompson’s gazelles
Grants gazelles
Secretary birds – they peck with their feet like typing
Topi antelope
Serval cat like a cheetah
Cokes hartebeest
Cheetahs
Hippos
Blue Herons
Lots of different birds
Impalas
Elephants
Zebras

Click to enlarge photos…

We went with the beer budget safari and it was perfect.  However, I was thrilled to see a Micato Land Cruiser pull up next to us.  It was the same vehicle that we had and it had six people in it!  Same car and ours was just the two of us. Score one for us.  I did notice a tiny difference at lunch time.  The park had designated eating areas with bathrooms.  We had boxed lunches packed by the hotel and French press coffee made by Amon.  The chichi tours had a wicker basket with food, drinks and wine served on plates.  They sat at the same tables as we and peed in the same toilets. I’ll give that one to them.  I can’t speak about the accommodations.  Ours tent camp felt like we were one with nature.  Tents surrounded by zebras. Rustic but with everything one could need (I didn’t say want).  We left with money to live on for the next six months so I’d say we won.  Here’ our rustic…

Our tent was approximately 50 yards from the mess tent (reception, lounging and dining area).  We were given walkie talkies and were told not to venture from our tent in the dark.  “Call for an escort.”  We made it to dinner in the daylight but it was dark when it was time to go back to the tent.  One of the workers grabbed a flashlight and started leading the way.  “Where’s your gun?”, I asked.  “Oh we don’t need one.  We’ve been doing this for a long time and know what to look for.”  Say what??? Hello, we know from the Great Walk of Africa that guns are essential.  There were many times that the workers were armed and protecting us.  It reminded me of un-armed security guards back home.

Breakfast and dinner were served buffet style.  No Covid here.

New animals on the second day:
Cheetah and 2 Cubs eating an impala
Water buck
Lion laying on top of a huge rock
Leopard in the mouth of a big rock formation
Mongoose
Superb starling (blue and Orange bird)
Monitor lizard
Guinea Fowl
Parrots – One tree full of beautiful yellow birds
Ground hornby (big bird)
Dik Dik
Lion with a big mane
Leopard walking in the middle of the road!  Again, so lucky.  They are nocturnal.

Leopard gets its own gallery:

On our second night at camp – out cold and sleeping.  A zebra bumped up against the tent right by our heads and woke me up.  For the next 20 minutes it grazed.  I could hear it pulling the grass out with its teeth and chewing!  It was very cool.

Day 3 on the way out the most majestic and beautiful male lion walking in the field near our camp.

Impalas have one male that rules the herd. They fight for this position – retain it until they are challenged.  We watched younger males being trained to fight with their horns by the ruling male. We also watched the ram gather the females to cross a road.  He was quite impatient with the flaky females who lingered.  He actually wrangled each one individually until they were all in a group again.

The whole safari experience was tremendous.  We thoroughly enjoyed it.  At the pace we went we were glad it was only 4 days.  It was exhausting!

 

 

 

Ngorongoro Crater and Onward to our Serengeti Camp

When we were on the island of Manda in Kenya I bumped into a group of young women from Barcelona.  They were still on a safari “high” having just left Tanzania.  They were stoked about Lake Manyara and even better yet Ngorongoro Crater. “You have to go there!”

To be fair, our day before at Lake Manyara was wonderful but not earth shattering.  It’s not Disneyland even though at times it feels like someone in the background says “Cue the lion”.  It’s pure luck.  The wildlife are in their natural habitat and you see things when you do.

Off to Ngorongoro Crater – the world’s largest inactive caldera and another UNESCO site.

Per Wikipedia: A caldera is a large cauldron-like hollow that forms shortly after the emptying of a magma chamber in a volcanic eruption. When large volumes of magma are erupted over a short time, structural support for the rock above the magma chamber is lost. The ground surface then collapses downward into the emptied or partially emptied magma chamber, leaving a massive depression at the surface (from one to dozens of kilometers in diameter).[1] Although sometimes described as a crater, the feature is actually a type of sinkhole, as it is formed through subsidence and collapse rather than an explosion or impact.

This crater collapsed on itself two to three million years ago! Today approximately 25,000 animals roam on its floor.

We drove down into the crater on a windy narrow road with steep drop offs. It was a one lane road handling cars traveling in both directions. Lovely….

Tourism is down 80%.

Imagine safari vehicles roaming every which way over the 100 square miles of the caldera.  This is what 20% looks like in one tiny part of Ngorongoro.  I can’t imagine what it would be like when tourism was at 100%.  We are very lucky to be here now when it is relatively quiet and we can help provide income to those who desperately need it. There is no unemployment from this government.  They’re on their own.

Click to enlarge photos…

The drivers use radios to tell each other if they have spotted something extraordinary. Although we couldn’t understand Swahili we knew something special had been spotted. Amon would put it in gear and dart off.   The safari vehicles grew en masse as everyone vied for a spot.

The wildebeest and zebra numbered in the thousands.  A lioness walked calmly next to the shoreline and upon spotting her the wildebeest lost their minds and ran in every direction.  I had a glimpse into what the “wildebeest migration’ would look like. The zebras stopped and watched closely seeming to be plotting out their escape.  A few gazelles followed closely behind as if they were toying with her.  A full belly must have kept this lioness disinterested.

It was unexpected but I did get to see flamingos.

Here’s the tally for today:
Grants gazelles
Cape buffalos
Hammerkorp bats
Vultures
Water buck
Elephants (Tembos)
Elan antelopes
Guinea fowls
Pumba warthogs
Thompson’s gazelles
Flamingos
Zebras
Caracal – cat family
Gray crowned cranes
Wildebeest
Ostriches
A lioness
Ibis
Marubu stork
Giraffe

We stayed in the crater about three hours then headed to the Serengeti – another three hour drive to get to camp. Some on pavement and the rest of the drive was on dirt roads in the Serengeti Park.

More about the Serengeti in the next posting….

Heads up – the first video loaded is the one I posted.  The one you see after viewing that are ones YouTube wants you to see….