A full day of fabulous
Trip Start Jun 11, 2011
19Trip End Jun 26, 2011
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Big T spotted a termite hill in the distance with a cheetah resting on it. We watched through our binoculars as she turned her head back and forth, looking for food. We could not see beyond the termite hill as it was at the top of a rise, but on the other side of our jeep was a herd of gazelles
We spotted some crazy humans walking around a kopje. And, not far from them, watching with keen eyes, two lions. Big T was not happy with that. The lions are territorial and they don't seem to mind us arriving by the jeep-load, but walking through their territory is another matter entirely. We quickly drove over to the oblivious couple. Their driver was giving us an expression like "I know, can you believe these people?" He said something in Swahili and the drivers laughed together. Our group figured they probably got out to take a pee. They got back in their jeep and we went to watch the lions who were continuing to walk towards the kopje, even though the people were now in their jeep, and eventually climbed up on the kopje and rested there. We could see one of them was pregnant, and Big T though the cub would probably be born in a couple weeks.
We passed a hyena sitting in the grass. Two vultures flew overhead and the hyena followed them from the ground, at a gentle run. When they landed in some tall grass, she quickly checked the spot for food but didn't find anything, but we appreciated how clever it was of her to try
Our next animal encounter was with a honeymooning lion couple resting under a tree, but they weren't very interesting to watch since they were lying in the grass and we couldn't really see much of them, so we continued on and encountered another couple on their honeymoon. The female was drinking from a river and the male was calmly watching the world go by. Nearby was a small herd of reedbucks, a new spotting for our group. The lions were far less interested in the antelopes than we were!
It was a good day for cat spotting, certainly. A small cat ran across the road just in front of our jeep as we were slowly driving along. We saw the cat go into a den right next to the road. It took some time for us to find it again since it was camouflaged so well in the den, partially hidden by the high grass, as you can see in the photo. It's hard to tell, but that cat is a serval, a very beautiful cat with a long, slender body and a coat similar to a cheetah's, soft looking with black spots everywhere.
One really amazing sight from this morning's drive was watching a massive herd of zebras migrating north to Masai Mara in Kenya. It was unreal to watch a countless number of these beautiful animals all moving in the same direction, stopping occasionally to snack on some grass or stare at the zoo on wheels (us) but always appearing to move forward as a collective mass
And then it happened: number three on our Big 5 list made it's first (and hopefully not last) appearance - we found a leopard! It was up in a tree, hiding from the heat of the day in the cool, breezy shade. Of course it was Big T that pointed the leopard out to us, and I had a lot of trouble finding it in the tree. Once I took out my binoculars it was much easier to find!
We found a hippo bath on the way back to camp, but the hippos were lazy from the midday sun and didn't show much of themselves above the surface of the water. We found some more lions, again lazing about in the shade of a tree, then returned to camp for some much needed lunch.
After a nice lunch, we hit the trails again and saw a lot of animals - zebras migrating, followed closely by herds of wildebeest, gazelles making their own migration, and finally number 4 on the Big 5 list, some herds of buffalo! We also stopped at a hippo bath that is also a rest stop so you can get out of the car and get right next to the water. It doesn't seem like a great idea but the lazy hippos didn't mind the crowd of spectators.
On the way back to camp, as the sun was lowering in the sky and providing some great background colors, we watched a hippo leaving his watering hole for the night. He was painfully slow, and made us laugh by yawning several times as he waddled along.
We also passed a troop of baboons, making a lot of noise, running on the ground and swinging from the trees. One nasty baboon attacked another, and then when he was finished with the first he attacked a mother baboon carrying her baby. There was a lot of screaming and excitement over that - mostly outside the jeep but perhaps a little inside too.
We had another excellent dinner; beef stew, rice and a fantastic avocado sauce. I went to bed early because we are doing a very early drive tomorrow morning, our last in the Serengeti, so I want to be awake and alert for it. The Serengeti is definitely living up to its reputation!
Wolfi stayed up drinking with some of the others and when he came back to the tent he woke me to tell me about the water buffalo grazing just beyond our tents. Awesome! Now I am going to sleep peacefully!