Destination: The Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Date: May 2014
The last two days have been much of the same, which means totally exciting and full of adventure! Early mornings mean finding more animals that are out on the savannah plains before the sun begins to beat down at around 2:00pm. Today we started with a 5:30am wake up and at about 6:00 our Masai warrior came to meet us at our tent door to escort us to the dining facility. Because our camp the Mglbeti of the Serengeti in located in the middle of this national park we have to be escorted during dark hours. At 6:00am it is still dark outside so our warrior greets us with a very friendly hello and then with spear in hand walks us to safety. After a quick breakfast it is off to the Land Rovers and into the heart of the park!
In the past two days we have seen 29 animals! It really is an incredible experience! We’ve seen hyenas, Thompson gazelle, Grant gazelle, giraffe, zebra, hundreds and hundreds of wildebeests, elands, waterbuck, crocodile, vultures, baboons, velvet monkeys, white storks, cranes, lilac breasted rollers, hippos, warthogs, kape buffalo, secretary birds, topi, martial eagles, dwarf mongoose, sterling birds, veruex spotted owls, guinea hens, pintail white long crested eagles, lions and elephants!
The safari starts off with everything being the most exciting thing I’ve ever seen. Just watching the migration of the zebra and wildebeests is entertainment enough. We sat at waters edge watching the crocodiles sneak up on the innocent animals trying to get a drink of water. None of the crocodiles were successful during our stake out but we did see two near misses with the wildebeests. Not only do the wildebeests and the zebras have to watch for the crocs but the hippos are submerged in the middle of the river snorting and spraying water anytime they feel one of the land creatures has gotten too close for comfort. It’s like watching the National Geographic channel live!
Today was especially thrilling because we had seen so many animals but couldn’t find the elusive lions or elephants. Both being a top of our wish lists of animals to see. The lions are hard to find because the grass is still so high in this part of the region and the elephants are often way off the beaten path in the trees. Today we found both!
It started with high velocity rides through the dirt roads as we listened to what other guides were saying on the RF radios. Once we heard there was a lion sighting by the river so we flew over to find her but there were so many trees that we couldn’t see anything. They had said that lions kind of smell like wet dogs covered with a urine smell and sure enough my pregnant mommy nose was picking up that exact smell. I could tell there was a lion near by but to no avail she did not show herself. So our Landrover headed off by itself to taller grasses away from all the wildebeests.
Soon we were on a dirt road and had about given up for the day. The days looking for animals can be quite long as we usually are out for 7-8 hours a day. Being our third day in the car we were getting tired and about ready to head back to camp knowing it would still be an hour and a half drive. Our driver, Arnold, tried one more attempt and pulled over to the side of the road and began revving the engine of our Landrover. Sure enough just about forty feet away sat a pride of lions. We were practically on top of them as they slumbered under a tree in the long grass of the Serengeti.
The revving of the car engine caused one of the lionesses to raise her head and right away Arnold pointed in her direction. We felt so lucky to be the first car to find lions! Not five minutes later did we look over in the distance and Trent pointed out a herd of elephants walking single file to a mud pool. Again we raced over to the side of a nearby field and began snapping more photos. We truly felt like our day had been blessed!
Then as we began our trip back to camp we heard on the radio that the wildebeests were attempting a river crossing. We knew this could get very exciting to watch the circle of life, live! We knew for sure one of the many crocodiles that infested the river would find an easy lunch so we raced over to the river to see what we could. At this point we were allowed out of the vehicles and about thirty of us and a camera crew from one of the wildlife production companies were there to watch these creatures make a run for it. IT was incredible! Fortunately for the “wildebeesties”, as our guide calls them, they found a very narrow area of the river to cross that was relatively shallow so there were no crocodiles snatching a free lunch. We watched for about a half hour as wildebeest after wildebeest stampeded across the river. It was very exciting.
Our last stop of the day was on our way back to camp not far from the wildebeest crossing. One of the members of our group spotted a small elephant off in the trees so our driver pulled in closer. Since this little guy seemed to have been abandoned by his herd we were able to get relatively close. When we got closer we could see that half of his trunk was severed. It was so sad. He had gotten his trunk caught in a poachers snare and was unable to get the wires off of his trunk. He also had something caught on his foot so he was unable to walk. Our driver soon called it in to the park rangers and as we drove off to get back to camp we ran into the park ranger. In the back seat of his vehicle sat four poachers that were caught not long after our drivers call. They looked very poor, skinny, and disheveled, but it was good to know they had been caught for the terrible scene we had come across with the young elephant.
In all it was a very eventful day. Or as our guide always says “Every day in the bush is a great day!” Our next few days will be spent in a new camp as we move to a different part of the Serengeti. It is sure to continue to be an amazing week! I am so grateful for the wonderful planning of our guides from African Dream Safaris!
Safe and Happy Travels!!