Jim is traveling home after the group’s last night in the central Serengeti. Photograph by Mariam McCall of Kiota Camp under the full moon.
We’d found the migration, dozens of lion, hundreds if not thousands of elephant, and we were in the Seronera Valley towards the end of our safari watching a leopard hunting.
Normally leopard hunt at night, but there was no doubt as this magnificent rather stubby female stalked through the thick river’s edge foliage diagonally towards us. We couldn’t see what she was stalking, but her behavior was undeniable.
From mid-morning when we left Olduvai Gorge to when we rejoined the main road from Ngorongoro to Seronera, we were off-road in the middle of nowhere. I saw one distant group of Maasai with goats and not a single other car, not even a dust plume of a far distant vehicle or far away donkey convoy for 30 miles. It was us, the overwhelming Serengeti and 150,000 white-bearded gnu.
We lunched on a kopjes 1500′ above the vast newly green Lemuta Plains with new storms threatening above. We took more photos of one another I think than anyone took of the 30 lions we’d so far seen! Behind and below us was about 300 sq. miles of Serengeti dotted from horizon to horizon with wildebeest.
As she dragged the wildebeest from where it had been killed we could see that much of it had yet to be eaten, despite her belly which looked ready to explode. She stopped often, panting and hyperventilating not from the exertion of the pull but from her insides trying to digest 50 pounds of unchewed meat.
She had to get a drink. If lions don’t flood themselves with water after gorging themselves their gastro-intestinal system freezes up and they die.
Jim is in remote areas of Ngorongoro and the Serengeti on safari with his Great Migration Safari. He’ll post as soon as he can!
The Manyara forest was thick and opulently green after several weeks of sometimes heavy rains. The leaves on a dozen kinds of giant trees were newly green and spread wide opened, glazed as if waxed. Where there had been dust in the road there were now numerous puddles and muddy ruts with fresh, ginger-like smells.
A family of about 150 baboons wouldn’t even leave the track as we came along, so confident were they of their place in that blossoming jungle.
Can you see what we saw today?
Forgive my poor little sure-shot photo at 60 meters, and I’m sure my clients got much better, but I wanted to race to print with this. I’ve seen and photographed all sorts of unexpected animals: white lions, silver lions, white giraffe, the weird almost white zebra I wrote about last week, even a white wildebeest. But never though I’d see an … albino baboon.
It was a splendid morning in Stone Town with calm winds and few clouds that might be suggesting the monsoon is changing and the farmers will soon have rain.
It couldn’t have been a better day for flying. I was scheduled on Zanair to Arusha, which cancelled and put me on TropicalAir to Arusha, which cancelled and put me on AirExcel to Arusha where I arrived 15 minutes early than originally scheduled! Oh, Africa how I love thee! Except…
Few vocations worldwide are as threatened as that of the fisherman. I’ve seen it with Lobster fishermen in Nova Scotia, cod fishermen in Boston, salmon fishermen in Alaska and today the fishermen of Matemwe, Zanzibar.
I followed the fishermen of Matemwe Village, today. A wonderful guide, Omari, took me in his pretty fancy boat with its 20 HP engine, a virtual yacht compared to the ngalawas working the reef.
Evan got up at 5:55a (according to Evan) and was in the car with the rest of us at 6 a.m. It had rained so heavily during the night that my room attendant told me several bridges had been washed out.
Normally when we descend the crater at dawn the long drive to the “down road” is slow and difficult because it’s so foggy. That wasn’t the case, today. Normally it’s bitter cold (relatively speaking, in the 40s). Today it was in the upper 50s.
It rained all night. The unending thunder and lightning kept Tammy awake for much of the night and me worrying about what we were going to do the next day.
We went to the nearest ranger post and got careful directions to the next post down the line, joined a convoy with another vehicle headed in the same direction and sloshed our way from Kusini back to Ndutu.
Our last of four days in the Serengeti and we packed lunch for a long excursion to where we hoped to find the great herds. Hardly ten minutes out of camp and a baby wildebeest ran pell mell across our path.
Two minutes later it came back and we screeched to a halt as it faced us square on from the middle of the road. It had lost its mother and was starting to imprint on us. Only a hundred meters away five hyaena woke up and stretched their massive necks towards us.
It’s not a drought, but close. As I sit here at Ndutu, one of my favorite places in the world, the clouds are gathering. It rained heavily last night where we’re headed, and I expect on the last day we’ll intersect the great herds.
We left Gibb’s early as this family is really capable of doing. Sophia constantly complains of being tired and ready to go to sleep, but she’s the first up, the first to go to dawn cow milking, the first to spot the lion, and …
The struggle to retain a real adventure spirit in safaris, today, is no better illustrated than in our experiences in Tarangire and Manyara.
Tarangire is the best elephant park in Africa, period. The population is healthy, increasing in numbers and so the only controversial question is are there too many elephant here?
So everyone wants to come here, and that means “crowds.”
It was hot and we’d been on the road for nearly eight hours. The numbers of elephant and giraffe and other animals we’d seen in Tarangire was stunning but we were almost at camp and it was time to hit the showers and go for sundowners when…
…Tumaini hit the brakes and dust flew all around us like an explosion. When it settled, hardly ten meters away was the biggest lion I think I’ve ever seen.