Day 211 - Tent Camping...In Lion Country
Trip Start Jan 10, 2011
221Trip End Jan 08, 2012
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Where I stayed
Simba Camp, In Our Tent
Mildly disgruntled we set out for first the Ngorongoro Crater park gate (where we would finish our Safari) and then onto the Serengeti. On the way, for lunch we stopped at the famous Olduvai Gorge, sometimes called "the Cradle of Mankind" where early hominid forms of Paranthropus Boisei and the first discovered specimens of Homo Habilis were discovered.
We waited at the Ngorogoro Park gate in queue as they sorted out the queue for the electronic payment system before a 3 hour drive through barren rockscape to the Seregeti gate where we waited for our permits to be processed: again.
It is impossible to not to compare guides, wildlife, organization etc to our Kenyan safari and we are surprised to report that the Kenyans are actually MORE organized!
Once inside Serengeti Park it was obvious that it was the dry season. The land was rocky and dusty, the grass yellowed and withered and most of the trees brown and wilting. There were of course pockets of green around trickling streams and even a few ponds large enough to house families of Hippos.
We saw NON migratory zebra, antelope & wildebeasts as wells as the predators that lingered to hunt them. The lions and cheetah’s we saw were fewer and sighted from much more a distance than in the Masai Mara. It was a good day. We saw more elephants and learned that the cheetah has fixed, ie non retractable, claws and that Giraffes are nearly part of the Antelope family (and wildebeasts are).
We saw a herd of zebra skittishly bolting into a pond, drinking and then bolting out of the water afraid of potential lion or crocodile attack (even though there are no crocs in the Serengeti). In fact a lion was lurking nearby but unseen by the Zebra. It didn’t attack but when we moved down stream we saw another lion stalking an antelope. Females almost always do the hunting (though the males actually eat first…) and this lady lion was big and beautiful. We didn’t actually see the kill as it was ‘off set’ behind some bushes but the little antelope never came back to join its buddies. That just nature’s way…
After stopping to see the elusive leopard in tree, well off in the distance, and some hippos floating still in a tiny pond we arrived at Simba Camp. We drove up and realized that there was no barrier, fence or otherwise between the camp tent sites and the Serengeti savannah we had just driven. Maybe it’s true that the animals are more afraid of us than of them.
The tents that were provided here were different than the ones the night prior. Without the use of permanently pitched tents, the ones provided were not viable for our group – simply too small. Luckily we had our tent with us, along with all of our gear, as we had planned to go directly to Mwanza. So we slept in our tent while our tall Dutch companion took our square tent, sleeping on a diagonal with his +1 taking the tiny pup tent provided. The Israelis toughed it out on skimpy mattresses in a floppy tent that said it was a Northface… We introduced them to our dice game before bedding down in our adapted sleeping arrangements mindful that a lion COULD wander into the camp (that would be quite a shock if you were up to pee in the middle of the night!).