Yes, I’ve found a connection between the Serengeti and right-wing propaganda. Didn’t expect it would be so easy, but the take-home is that somebody out there – governments or dictators or god incarnate – needs to control social media. The wild west of information dissemination is destroying truth and I worry it may never be restored. Read more ›
Nothing is available to suggest an older person will feel comfortable traveling very far from her home until she’s vaccinated against Covid-19, and Spring 2021 is likely the earliest this will happen. But once that sunrise arrives, you better be well prepared for what the fields will look like.
This is the final in a series of three blogs about managing your travel in the era of Covid-19. To fully understand these recommendations about your future travel, please carefully read first the previous two blogs.
I have to constantly remind myself how wonderful – especially for first-timers – the dry season seems. To me it’s worse than the worst ever winter in Chicago; it’s earth challenging its own creation. What I see through the billows of dust are all the battles being lost to survive.
But the battles won are by the cats as they pick off the sick and wounded like turtles. For the cats it’s their heyday. That’s why the visitors love it so.
Shelly’s pride is one of the most famously studied groups of lions in the Serengeti, probably the most photographed by professionals and tourists alike, and without doubt the most tame.
There are 19 in the pride and when we saw them a grand male and female were (literally) hanging out on a thick, low horizontal sausage tree branch together, their majesty rather compromised by various appendages and supple parts of their engorged bellies dripping from the branch like pancakes on a grill.
I was very worried. To begin with I don’t particularly like the dry season. The enormous amounts of dust kicked up by the rovers when traveling is constantly irritating, but more generally I just don’t like seeing the beautiful veld so dry and stressed.
The silver lining is that the cats are in their heyday, picking off weakened animals like flies.
We were ready to leave the crater at the end of the game drive when Tumaini noticed far away near the down road a huge group of wilde running down the side of the escarpment.
We stopped and turned around and with my binocs I could swear I was in the western corridor watching a couple thousand frantic animals in their endless search for better grass. But we were far, far away from that place.
We finished four days and hundred of miles through the Serengeti, found the migration in multiple places and ended for our last two nights at Tanzania’s famous Crater Lodge.
It’s unusually dry. Not yet a crisis it will become so if widespread rain doesn’t develop, soon. We arrived the crater in a rainstorm, so that was obviously good news. But the day that preceded our arrival was a dust bowl.
The Obama family just took a “secret safari” in Tanzania in a private reserve owned by an anti-conservationist American billionaire who was fined $2 million by Fish & Wildlife for changing the tidewaters of Chesapeake Bay, who has been charged by Tanzanian groups for illegal draining of the Grumeti River and for supporting the Road-Through-The-Serengeti, and who currently is knee-deep in a controversy regarding Harvey Weinstein.
See a lot of lions on your safari, Barak? #MeToo on my last safari.
I suppose every “big” event, whether NASCAR or a high school spelling bee, has a baseline everyone knows: Winners and losers are known and handicapped, so the drama often comes in the unexpected. That for sure has been the Great Migration ever since global warming.
We left before dawn in search of leopard. Most safaris do find a leopard but not all, and together with the rhino it’s very difficult to find. Tomorrow when we head to the crater to end the safari, we’ll exhaust our chances. There are no leopard in the crater.
There were spits of rain, but the sunrise seemed to push the clouds away. It seems to be very wet all around us, but right here it’s still very dry. Many animals have left. No one had seen a leopard for days.
Monday we flew into the southern Serengeti over Ngorongoro Crater then south of Olduvai Gorge. There should have been tens of thousands of animals. There weren’t. Much of the area was dry as a bone. It shouldn’t have been.
How could we ever find the great herds in this? Were there even great herds left?
As usual for this time of year it was bone dry. Mornings were still and cold. Saturn twinkled above in the ink blue predawn sky almost as brightly as the half moon which had set in the middle of the night. The sun rose as a giant orange ball behind a charcoal grey curtain of dust and the first breezes tossled the fields of dead, blonde grass. By noon dust devils twisted across the veld. By afternoon strong winds obliterated the cloudless sky with layers of dust.
Pundits like to advise potential safari travelers that this is the best time to see cats. To a certain extent that’s true. But what they see isn’t often what they expect: