The Sarengetti & Beyond
1/25/14 - 1/30/14
After 7 days of trekking a huge mountain we found ourselves doing just the opposite: sitting for days, with a little standing thrown in. So much for torching calories on Kili!
Here's the view from our wheels.
First major sight? The migrations of zebras and the always-spooked wildebeests in Sarengetti National Park. Thousands of these animals swarmed around us, sprinkled with herds of Grants and Thompsons gazelles too. (By the end of the safari we saw many antelope which we poorly documented in a mammals of East Africa guidebook.)
Simon, our guide, got us to all of The Big Five (lions, leopards, water buffaloes, rhinos, and elephants)
How was he so good? Was it his eagle eyes? The binoculars?
No. Cell phones. Guides call each other when they find something good. So if you ever safari shop, pick a company with a popular guide who have lots of friends. Here are some other points we learned on our safari:
Lions can be lazy for days unless they are protecting their cubs. See, after the female lionesses hunt down the family food and they stuff themselves silly, lions just sit around for days, tired from eating, and stay on the side of the road, on rocks or trees, or the shade of a bush.
But do NOT mess with their cubs! Three male lions tried to attack 5 cubs. The three protective lionesses had no patience for this and we saw the ladies successfully chase the guys away (while the cubs dutifully wait and watch) with only a bit of blood in the whole process (victim unknown), and cubs and moms were reunited again. We drove off, with the three lions resting, tired, in the bushes, probably plotting their next move. Living in the wild is not easy, especially for a cub.
What animal can you smell before you see and even when you see them you can barely see them? Hippotomaus. And boy can these animals run too*!
Giraffes fight with their necks*, with their legs crossed in a defensive position.
Leopards simply don't care about us safari-ing humans. But they like them tires especially if they are Chauncy and Biao's.
At the camp site at night be careful before you get out of your tent, as you may have a new neighbor. If your tent is rustling it's a hippopautomus. If you go in the bathroom, history may repeat itself and there might again be a lion in the stall. All Dave and I saw were beady little red eyes at night, which were likely a warthog or hyena.
Dave and I can attest that the fastest land animal in the world is the cheetah. Boy can it move! Momma cheetah was stealthfully hunting for its three cubs when, bam, out jumped at a buck. The cheetah took off while the cubs cutely huddled together on a rock. Once mom was ready, they went to the prey to chow down.
We like bird watching a lot more than we would ever admit to our younger selves. To our defence? The birds we saw were beautiful and unique. Take a glimpse...
The animals' version of New York City? Ngorongoro Crater. The green mamba is even there, but we didn't see one much to Dave's astute delight and my uninformed disappointment.
We did see 1% of the world's black rhinosauruses. Sadly this means we just saw 6 of these animals, which are facing extinction due to some humans' demand for their horns.
And there are pink flamingos, if you trust my interpretation of these pink dots.
And the Crater has every animal mentioned above and below. It is definitely a good place for one stop shopping.
On the way to Tarangire National Park we saw more Masai, who have rejected technological development. Simon told us they are very rich as they have lots of cows.
At this last Park we stayed in a fancy lodge, where we stayed in a huge tent with en suite bathrooms. Simon heard a lion outside his tent that night while Dave and I enjoyed the lodge's swimming pool and panoramic view of the park and its many African elephants.
Next, we rushed off to Zanzibar.
*if you need a good laugh ask Dave or me for a video of this once we get back to the USA. Hippopautomuses running and giraffes fighting? Funny!