A Hippo in the Night

Trip Start Nov 03, 2011
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Trip End Dec 10, 2011


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Where I stayed
Saronara Ngiri Campsite - Serengeti National Park
What I did
Serengeti National Park

Flag of Tanzania  ,
Wednesday, November 23, 2011


When we got up, I heard that there had been a hippo nearby.  Matt found
the tracks on the road by our tents and Jamie found one in the mud
behind our tents...less than 10 ft away.  We were all very excited. 
There had been sounds of hyenas and lions roaring in the night that
I also missed.

We had a big breakfast and headed out on our morning game drive while some of the others went ballooning.  What I didn't know until afterward was that Giles proposed to Mel on the balloon.  They were together in their 2-person compartment and he knelt down and proposed in the traditional way.  I don't remember if he had a tanzanite engagement ring for Mel or not.  It was quite exciting.  Of course, the balloon people had a fabulous breakfast brunch with champagne at the end.  Somewhere we learned why champagne is the drink of choice for balloonists but I have forgotten the story at this point.

We
are now in the 4x4s.  We saw quite a few animals - stopping for the
balloon people to pay we saw rock hyrax - but that was yesterday I think.  Sorry for the shift in tenses and days but this blog does try to benefit from hindsight.

Today
we saw a cheetah stalking some Thompson's gazelle.  We saw a male and
female lion playing the mating game in the grass and 9-10 lion adolescents in a tree.  A
leopard in a tree too.  Some banded mongoose and a red-billed hornbill (or perhaps it is the Von der Decker's hornbill because of the two-toned bill = red with cream tip) - endemic to the Serengeti,
secretary bird and yellow weaver birds - a bunch of hippos and a few
crocs in a pond.  We saw a hippo or 2 walking in the grass and one dead hippo in a pond.  We
saw hartebeest, warthogs, dik-diks, topi and some birds too quickly to
identify....at least for me.  My topi photos were a bust however.  I am not sure about the dik-diks.  I have one unidentified antelope and another that strongly resembles a reedbuck.

We came back for lunch after seeing
the mating lions and stalking cheetah.  It was a great lunch with pizza,
roasted potatoes and mixed veggies.  Then it poured...lightning and
thunder....we are under a rain shelter, but the rain is collecting in
pools around our camp stools and feet. 

Oh, we stopped and spent 15
minutes at the info center where there were more rock hyrax, candelabra
trees - euphorbia.  I also saw those red puff lilies (blood lilies) that I remember
making Victoria Falls a fairyland.  At the info center, there was a description of
the kopjes - the rock outcroppings that pop up in the landscape.  We didn't see so
many of them today but the info was good for the ones we would see other days.

At 3 pm we went out for our
afternoon game drive.  Juliet saw lots of yellow flowers after the
downpour.  At first it seemed quiet and we were afraid that the game
drive would be disappointing.  Then we kept on spotting more and more
animals. 

After a while we were back to
the mating lions....it was slow going....one would get up, walk around,
flop on the ground in another spot, and then the other would do the
same, with maybe a little tussle in between.  We had Fiona doing the
female lion part and Matt, the male, in his best Barry White voice.  I
will never think of lions again in quite the same way.   We got back to
camp for a special treat of popcorn and then a lovely dinner. 

We went to sleep....I had
hopes of another hippo...I heard some noises ...it sounded a lot like
Matt's hippo imitation, but no hippo prints in the morning.





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