Safari: Day 2 – A Glimpse Of Wildlife

Mon. 8th July 2013

Chris jumping Maasi styleBeing woken by a lorry beeping its horn at 5:30am as it headed through town was not our idea of a safari and we are keen to head into the wilds of Tanzania. However first we have a visit to a local Maasai village to learn about their way of life. The Maasai are very distinctive in their red traditional dress. Dave and I visited a village in Kenya but it is a new experience for the rest of the group. We are met by a group of villagers who greeted us with traditional dancing. The men had it easy as they just had to show how high they could jump, which is how the Maasai prove their strength.

Shy localsUs ladies had a much longer dance jangling the impressive neckwear bobbing to the rhythm of the music, which was hard on the knees. I was dancing with a lady who had her child on her back held there with just a piece of fabric, I do not know how the child stayed there. After seeing inside a hut and the usual array of bracelets for sale we set off for the Ngorogoro Crater National Park. This morning it was a choreographed loading of the vehicles as Chris, Lucy, Louise and I head for one of the vehicles with Ned and Paula, a comfortable six, leaving the other seven in the second Landcruiser.  On the journey Chris had a photography lesson from Ned, who also owned a Nikon and was able to explain the various settings, which was very useful.

Overlooking Ngorogoro craterThe Ngorogoro Crater is 264km across but today we were just passing through the edge of the park and skirting around along part of the rim to get to Serengeti where we were spending the night. The road took us through a forest area and we were disappointed not to see any animals as we made our way up to the rim of the crater. At the top there was a viewpoint looking down into the flat area inside the crater but the view was hazy – apparently we were lucky to get such good visibility! We made our way around the rim and across the plains to arrive at the entrance to the Serengeti National Park and join the many other visitors at the picnic tables for our packed lunch.

The road/track aheadAfter lunch we headed up a path to a viewpoint overlooking the expanse of plains in all directions. We saw the clouds of dust from the vehicles speeding along the road we would be taking which was straight as far into the distance as we could see. Whilst we were enjoying the view one of our drivers was queuing to sort our park passes and allocated camp site, apparently there is no restriction on the number of visitors to the park during the day but we did need to be allocated to a campsite.

Exhausting lifeAnd so we began to see the expected wildlife beginning with giraffes, gazelles and impala. In the open expanse of the plains there is no hiding behind trees like yesterday and it was easy to keep snapping away with the photos. There will be hours of viewing to go through all the pics we took! We headed past a hippo pool and did not linger long  looking at the elephants, as talk of leopards reached our guides.

At last a leopardThe leopard was the last of the big five for me to see, after our disappointment in the Masai Mara. Sure enough we found a leopard lazing in a tree too far for my camera, but a good view with binoculars, so Lucy and I left the photos to Chris. It felt good to have now seen all of the big five, although Chris and Lucy had only seen elephants up to now. They were still on the hunt for buffalo, lion and rhino to complete the set. Lions and buffalo are relatively easy to spot but rhinos are few and far between. Dave and I were lucky to have seen them already in Namibia.

Our campsite in the heart of SerengetiContent with our array of animals we headed to our campsite which had been allocated to us on arrival at the Park. The good news was it was small and there was a toilet block, the bad news was no electricity or other facilities. It was literally in the middle of the savannah and not fenced off, with a building for cooking and a second building for dining. Nothing sophisticated and there was only one other tent there besides our group. As we had our tea we were told that animals were free to wander through the campsite and last time the lions were so close that the group due to leave early for a dawn balloon flight could not get to the vehicles and had to wait for the lions to move on! If we were caught short in the night we were to wake Fili our leader to escort us, as he had a gun. Once Louise and I were in our tent we felt quite safe and determined not to need a wee in the night!

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