This was our first, and only full day spent in the Serengeti. We were up and eating breakfast around 7:30 and finding out about the lion that had sniffed out our tent the night before. Then we were leaving for a game drive at about 8 am, turns out that is two hours two late but we figured that out for the next morning.
We started off and just outside of camp we got to see the sunrise and a bunch of spotted hyenas doing something important a little ways off in a ditch. I imagine they were chomping on something but couldn’t quite tell what. Then we happened across a pride of lions lounging in the sun on some rocks. They were however off in the distance, behind some trees, and facing the wrong way so it was not the most exciting encounter. I was busy cleaning my lenses, as the Serengeti and surrounding area is so dirty I think I have dust on my insides now. I missed the start of the lions but still managed to see a little bit, but they were so far off it wasn’t the encounter you dream about. We moved on hoping to have such an encounter. A little while after we spotted, ha ha, a leopard in a tree of in the distance. It was hanging on a branch, then almost immediately it turned around and walked down the tree dissapearing. A short spotting, but we now had 2 cats of the 3 we wanted to see spotted, or well spotted as Sophie would say.
We then drove around the amazing landscape taking pictures of the grass, acacia trees, a jackal we saw, a bunch of cheetahs, which were always sitting under the shade of a little acacia tree watching into the distance. They were of course about 500 metres or more away so all my pictures have a little cheetah dot in them, through the binoculars we were able to see them a bit better. It was pretty cool to see cheetahs as they are my favourite. A few of them even had cubs you could occasionally see jumping up from below the height of the grass.
Then we drove on and lucked upon a giant rock kopje in the savannah that a whole but load of safari trucks were hanging around. It turns out there was a leopard in there somewhere and we had him surrounded as he was kind of on a little rock and tree island. So we parked, and we waited, and sure even the leopard made its appearance. Even our guide, Peter, was excited to see the leopard as it was fairly close. We watched it climb the rocks, then dissapear over to the other side, so we all made our way to the other side, it was quite comical, even more from the leopard’s point of view I bet. Eventually it dissapeared and we moved sides again to wait. After about 10 minutes it appeared in the bottom of the rocks magically coming out of some bushes then proceeded to climb up the nearly straight rock face right in front of us. I took a crap load of action shots and some video of it jumping. It was very cool to watch and they sure are pretty. We felt rather fufilled after that so we moved on to see what else we could find.
We came across many gazelle which are so much smaller than you think, Topi, which are like prettier elk, a lilac breasted roller which is a pretty pink bird, and spotted and eagle owl which are very drab looking but a cool bird. Then we made a stop at the serengeti airstrip to pick up the fan for the truck from an incoming airplane, then made a stop at the visitor’s centre where we had a box lunch that Maulid had prepared. There were a ton of different birds around that I tried to catch, didn’t happen, close though, and some rock hyraxes hanging around the bathrooms. We stepped into the movie room for a break from the heat and watched the migration crossing the Mara river on a tv, that would be cool to see, but you can’t see discover channel amazingness in 1.5 days unless you’re extremely lucky. We’ll come back and park ourselves on the mara river someday.
After lunch the spotting slowed down a bit, but we still saw hippo, a crocodile, heron, giraffe, which I got to stand 50 feet away from while Peter fixed part of the car. I got outside just so I could be on foot in the serengeti. Later driving I even spotted a Pumba with a bunch of piglets. Also saw more dik dik and some vultures. All in all a good day. On the way back to camp as the sun was setting we drove through a very large herd of thompson gazzelle. It was cool to be surrounded on either side of the road by at least a thousand animals. A good end to a long day in the truck.
We are still hoping to see a male lion, a rhino, and some sort of predator kill in action. We’re hoping for this to happen in the two days we have left.
At lunch today Peter left us at the visitors centre while he tried to go get the car fixed, but the mechanic was busy so he had to go back at the end of the day. We had car trouble throughout the day, the starter was being finicky and at one point we needed a push start from another truck, which is literally them running into you from behind. Happens a lot apparently.
When we got back to camp as we were waiting for dinner I climbed up the rocks to see our camp from above and get some sunset shots. I made a ton of noise going up to scare off snakes and scared something bigger off in the bushes, it looked like some kind of antelope or maybe a dik dik. After a little while I caused a stir in the camp as our cook came running out essentially telling me to get down because lions like to hang out on the rock. There were no lions around at the time, they obviously knew I was trying to take pictures of them so they left. I came back down and they called me a crazy muzungu, but they don’t know that if I saw a grizzly bear at home I’d try to get close enough for a picture and then scare it away when needed.
Lindsay is a little worried to go pee in the middle of the night now that she knows about the Lion so apparently when we go pee we have to go together now and wake up Sophie to go as well. I on the other hand am quite excited and have rigged up the front of the tent so I can have the fly half unzipped to look out of from inside the tent. I stayed awak for as much as I could tonight hoping to see something. I kept falling asleep. HOWEVER…I woke up at one point to hear just outside two Hyenas coming past the tent from behind, one on either side of the tent, kind of like the trexes in the Lost World coming around poor Eddie. I laid there and they stopped at the front of the tent and I could hear them breathing. Sound like big dogs. I sat up in my sleeping bag to look out my window but that little swishing sound scared them off as I listened to them scamper away from the tent. Still pretty cool to be so close and seperated by nylon.
Tomorrow we get up really early to head out before the sunrise, like the rest of the trucks. Make sure to get your trucks to do that everyday, it is worth it!