Pride (in the name of love)

Trip Start Dec 15, 2009
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59
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Trip End Aug 27, 2010


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Flag of Tanzania  ,
Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Having checked out of the lodge, we set off for our final game drive on the Serengeti and it wasn't long before we had found our first game of the day – a pair of lions resting in the long grass beneath one of the "lion rocks". Despite them being rather inactive, we watched them for some time, hoping for some action. However, it must have been a busy night, as regardless of the male lions intentions, the female was sound asleep and seemed quite content to ignore him and the many jeeps buzzing around them. Behind us there seemed to be some commotion among the zebras as the herd parted and a small number galloped off around the lion rock whilst the bulk of the herd moved quickly in the opposite direction. There seemed to be no clear reason for their sudden departure and the only other visible animal on the plains was a small herd of elephants in the distance.

With the female making it clear that she was going to sleep for some time we decided to move on in search of other game, but had not gone more than a hundred metres when Sarah spotted the cause of the commotion among the zebras….two lionesses stalking through the long grass, making their way to join the pair at lion rock. No kill to report though.

The remainder of our morning was uneventful as we made our way back across the Serengeti plains and into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), stopping only for lunch at the picnic site between the two parks. Just after entering NCA, we spotted more lions resting in the long grasses, clearly well fed as they didn’t seem to be remotely interested in the gazelles grazing not too far away from them. Our day 4 tally finished at;

The lack of other sightings en route meant that we arrived at the Ngorongoro Crater Wildlife Lodge by mid-afternoon and were glad of the opportunity to actually enjoy one of these beautiful hotels. The lodge is located right on the rim of the crater and has absolutely spectacular views, both from the open bar balcony and all of the guest rooms and we spent the rest of the afternoon chatting with other guests in the bar overlooking the crater.

The lodges that we’ve stayed at on safari are all owned by the same group and have all been quite spectacular, particularly in their locations. Unfortunately, the management of the hotels leaves a lot to be desired; in order to save money hot water is only available for a few hours a day and the electricity is turned off through the afternoon and from midnight 'til 5am… makes things a little tricky if you need to go to the bathroom during the night when there are no lights! It’s the kind of behavior you might expect in a low end hostel, but certainly not in a high end hotel! Needless to say, Derek left them a little advice on their feedback form.

Day 5, our final day on safari, started early and by 6:30am we had checked out and were on our way to the crater. Still missing one of the “big 5”, our hopes were high that we would be able to check off the final box. The descent into the crater is along a rather steep, one way dirt track and only four-wheel drive vehicles are permitted. First stop was between two watering holes where we discovered a pride of lions (2 male, 4 female). But, unlike our other lions, these were relatively active cats, at least the dominant male and one female were active, if you know what I mean?

As cool as it was to see more cats, our aim for the day was to find one of the twenty black rhinos living in the crater and so we set off for the jungle. Before reaching the jungle we stopped again to watch three more lions slipping through the long grass towards a reed area. Though clearly visible to us, they apparently weren’t so obvious from the other side of the grasses and we sat with bated breath as a not-so-bright wildebeest seemed to be approaching the reeds from the opposite side. Either the wildebeest spotted the cats (or got lucky) and stopped; the lions seemed reluctant to actually chase down the wildebeest and so we continued on our way. Not long inside the forest we spotted a large grey hulk pushing through the bushes, but alas it was an elephant not a rhino. We emerged from the forest unsuccessful in our quest and pushed on across the crater floor scouring the long grass for any signs of rhino. You’d think an animal the size of a rhino would be easy to find, but they were surprisingly elusive. Almost four hours into the hunt we finally had a sighting….just visible above the tops of the long grass were two pairs of ears! A mother and her baby, but too far away to see without binocularsL The kids were ecstatic to have seen the “big 5”, but Derek and Sarah were a little disappointed that the sighting hadn’t been clearer. But, mother and baby were not alone, and we soon spotted a third rhino, this one in a much more open area and with some rapid maneuvering by Joseph we had prime spots to watch as the rhino made its way through the grass and over the track. With the big 5 checked off and some good photos we had accomplished the day’s mission and so after a short snack break made our way out of the crater. This however, is easier said than done and the ascent was even steeper, narrower and more treacherous than our descent!

Our safari was done and we had amassed a pretty awesome tally of wildlife over the five days. Not surprisingly for the Moodys we diligently gathered our data of sightings, but you’ll be pleased to see that no charts are included, Pareto or otherwise!

Buffalo ~150,  Elephant 78,  Lion 33,  Rhino 3,  Leopard 2

Zebra ~30000,  Wildebeest ~2000, Thompsons Gazelle ~1000, Grants Gazelle ~700,  Impala ~500,  Baboons ~185,  Giraffe ~70,  Hippos ~50,  Vervet Monkeys ~50, Hartebeest 36,  Warthogs 22,  Topi 10,  Spotted Hyena 9,  Blue Monkeys 9,  Cheetah 7,  Dik dik 3,  Crocodile 1,  Serval Cat 1

Pelicans ~150,  Flamingos ~100,  Superb Starling 85,  Ostrich 72,  Crown Crested Crane 5,  Vultures 3,  Saddle-Billed Stork 3,  Egyptian Geese 2,  Grey Heron 2,  Fish Eagle 1, Red & Yellow Barbit 1,  Secretary Bird 1,  Tawny Eagle 1                                             

Upon the return to Arusha, Joseph dropped us off at Ilboru Lodge and after checking in, we went back outside to say goodbye to Joseph and gave him a tip for the five days of Safari. Having checked in the ever reliable Lonely Planet for the recommended amount, we tipped him $50 and were rather taken aback when instead of thanking us, he slowly counted the money and then asked us if we didn’t know what the right amount to tip was? He told us it should be $10 per person per day and that we should be giving him $160! What was even more surprising was when we followed up with Safari Makers they supported this amount and suggested that the Lonely Planet was out of date? You won’t be surprised to hear that Derek diligently did his homework (i.e. Googled it) and we felt quite angered to discover that Lonely Planet was right and that both Joseph and Safari Makers (who had been very helpful and friendly to that point) had tried to make us pay $100 more than we should have! Still tomorrow is another day and Joseph will be picking us up again to take us for a cultural visit to one of the local villages…..I hope he’s not expecting a big tip!

And so that brings to an end our Safari exploits and we can safely say that it will have been one of the highlights of our trip, whatever else lies in store for us… hope you’ve enjoyed the photos.
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Comments

Shirley on

Incredible.

Joe on

What an amazing experience

Hassan on

aw i love to have the same experience as well.
Beautifull Pix & Places

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