We began today before the sun, having ourselves a quick te/coffee at 5:45 am and then leaving for a morning game drive in the Serengeti, our last one in the massive plains. It was probably are most fruitful game drive of the entire safari, in the serengeti for sure. Just getting to watch the sunrise over the savannah was pretty spectacular and it only got better from there. We soon saw many things. The first higlight being ostriches mating, which is probably the funniest single thing I have ever seen! From the strange wing flapping displays by the ladies to the bright pink the guy turns all over, not to mention the chase scenes to get a lady bird and the actual act which is quite funny in its own. Of course I have a video of the whole procedure which helps with remembering the humour of it all.
A little bit after the ostriches we stumbled across many cheetahs, but one in particular was finally close to the truck and had a cub to boot. So they walked by the truck a few times, then off into the grass. We took a few roads around trying to find where they went and low and behold we stumbled across them again this time really close. So close that when I was zoomed in looking at the cub I would lose him as he ran and jumped about. Cheetahs are my favourite african animal so it was great to finally see them so close that my eyes could do the remembering instead of the camera and binoculars, helps make it less like tv and more real. I still remember the mom turning around to look at us one last time as they dissapeared into the savannah, priceless.
After that we stumbled across an elephant herd that was slowly making its way to a road crossing, so we of course went down the road and waited. Eventually they made it to the road, had a little confrence, then decided it was all right to walk between the 4 safari trucks there to the other side. So we had an elephant crossing mere feet away. Very cool watching the matriarch lead everyone and try to keep the one unruly teenager in line.
Then Peter, our guide took us for a fairly long drive to the hippo pool On the way we saw some giraffes mating…well he was trying and she was having none of it. Ostriches were funny, giraffes are just awekard with all those legs and neck and such. Also saw several birds of assorted varieties, gazelle and zebras. When we made it to the pool we got out and walked a few feet to the edge of the top of the pool where you can look down at all the hippos in this giant, smelly, dirty bath that they’re having. Man do they stink. It is kind of like being at a pig farm. To make the smell even better every time they take a crap the swish their tails around like a motor boat engine in order to spread it around as much as possible and mark there little territory. They also sound hilarious when they …laugh essentially. It is a really low chortle that gets picked up by everyone and eventually they’re all doing it. I do a pretty good impersonation if you care to hear. We also spotted our first crocs today, one on the way in the distance and a few basking in the sunlight just down from the pool. Not as big as I was hoping and no open mouths so hopefully we’ll see some more somewehere in our travels.
At about 11 we made our way back to camp for brunch and to pack everything up and leave our little Pimbi campsite. After another good meal we got back in the truck for the long, bumpy, and dusty ride to the Ngorongoro crater campsite along the rim. We of course encountered car troubles on the gravel road of death. Biggest problem was that we ran out of gas which was ok since the truck had two tanks. However the nice handy switch to change tanks wouldn’t work so Peter had to get out and reroute the fuel line to the second tank. He’s a very handy guy to have around. There was also lots of topping up the radiator with water as it was hot and well a long trip even for the truck. At one point while fixing the truck we were joined by some masai youth hanging out in their month of recovery from the snip snip. Maulid later translated their conversation for us and told us water is hard to find in this area and life here is hard. It offered a different perspective from the one we had seen on the way in meeting the youth at the gate who seemed very selfish and rude. I do think however they could take some steps to collect water and hold it during the rainy season so the dry season isn’t so hard, but from everything we’ve heard they still live a little too traditionally for that…except they all have cell phones so I don’t really know.
After the long ride and being in covered in all colours and kinds of dust we made it to the Simba campsite on the crater rim. Most everybody – the girls -headed straight for the showers after setting up the tents (the boys really set them up), then the rest of us showered. Lindsay’s shower was nice and warm and took 3 days of grime off. Mine was actually hot as I went into the shower/bathrooms on the far side of the camp where the electricity was working properly. After showers we sat around wating for dinner and watched the sunset and I took a bunch of photos. The camp itself made for interesting shots of row upon row of tents next to this giant tree in the middle of the camping field with the crater off and down in the distance. It’s actually a bit colder up here so we were wearing all of our warm gear and waiting for hot drinks to help warm the hands and throat.
We had been gauranteed visits in the camp by zebra and warthogs so I was constantly looking around for what ever I could see and hoping to have an eventful wildlife night. There is/was also an elephant that comes into camp and drinks out of the giant water tank next to the dinner hall. I was quite excited about that and wanted to see that for sure. Sure enough as we were having the start of dinner – our popcorn – word spread that the elephant was outside drinking, so naturally I got right up and went to take a look. I walked past the cooks building and right at the end is the water tank and next to it the camp guard with his ak47. I asked where the elephant was and he pointed around the tank (it was dark and the tank is quite large) I took a few steps to the side and looked with my head lamp and sure enough there was an enormous elephant sticking his trunk in the top of the tank, filling up, and then squirting it into his mouth. I slowly inched my way towards a waist high trailer that was parked behind a safari truck and stood there for “safety” while watching the elephant. He was no more than 10 feet direcetly in front of me and we looked each other in the eye a few times, he probably only saw bright light as I tried not to blind him, but I saw him quite clearly. It was so cool and the closest I’ve been to anything so far standing on the ground. After a few minutes I headed back inside to get the girls as not many people had come to look yet and get my camera. When we came back we saw him again for just a few seconds and then he decided to head off into the bush so silent that it makes you wonder how many elephants are hiding around in the dark. None of the pictures or video worked as it was pitch black so this one is just stuck in my memory and it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
After that we had another great dinner then headed off to bed after convincing the guys to move the luggage strapped to the roof from the front to the back so that we could see out of the front of the truck while safaring in the morning. We also had to convince them to get up early so we could get a good game drive. That was more teeth pulling than I feel it should have been since we’re there for game driving and getting up early is when you see them. Eventually we arrived at a decent time that would have us down in the crater by about 7:30 which is still about an hour later than I was hoping for. Vacation Ryan is an early bird and so far on this trip I’ve done more before noon than I get done in most days at home.
Our last game drive tomorrow should be awesome and with a little bit of something maybe we’ll see the two things we’re missing so far, a male lion and a rhino. Fingers crossed and maybe I’ll see some wild animals around camp when I get up to pee, as long as a lion doesn’t try to eat me or come into our tent.
I still haven’t had to use a squatty, there seem to be flush toilets everywhere, including the middle of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro.