An exciting game drive and the last of the Big 5
Trip Start Jun 11, 2011
19Trip End Jun 26, 2011
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
We awoke to find the crater rim obscured by fog. The guides assured us that once we were down in the crater, 600m lower, we would have a clear view of the animals. As we began winding our way down into the crater, the fog stayed with us. The sun was beginning to rise and we hoped it would help burn away some of the thick clouds blocking our view. Once we were on the bottom, the sun had started to fight its way through the barrier and we had a misty view of the crater floor we were entering.
We weren't quite at the bottom yet when Big T and Mosses (both in our car today) got very excited over a cat
There were many wildebeest herds crossing the roads with other grazing animals. In the crater one can probably get the closest to the animals out of all the game parks because they spend their entire lives in the crater and are very accustomed to jeeps crammed with humans gawking at them. They also pay no heed to traffic. When we drive up to a wildebeest in the middle of the road, he simply looks up at us and chews the food in his ugly mouth absentmindedly. We have to make our own path around him.
A small section of the crater floor is forest, and we went in there where there were reports of a black rhino. She was some distance away so even Big T took awhile to spot her, but she was making her way in our direction with her baby! It was very exciting
In the forest we also passed a large troop of baboons and a smaller troop of vervet monkeys. I finally got a photo of some blue balls too. We also found a small herd of zebras and one of them was having a bad day. It had made a narrow escape from a predator, and its rear flanks had great tears in it. Big T told us it had survived the attack and did have a chance to heal, but it was of course an easier target as it couldn't run like the other zebras while injured. It is difficult to see what these beautiful creatures go through on a daily basis. Every day is a struggle to survive, with every day comes a new threat.
We passed some waterbucks as we re-entered the savannah area, as well as jackals and hyenas. But far more interesting was a large rhino walking across the expansive plains, more or less in our direction. We watched the big beast as it waddled along, excruciatingly slowly, seemingly without purpose. Occasionally it hesitated and we pleaded with it to continue walking toward us
There was some excitement over the radio and we were on our way to a large gathering of safari vehicles. We all jumped up and watched out the pop-up roof a lion hunt! There were 8 lions trying to take down a buffalo. The buffalo was not making it easy for them. Both sides were very strong and putting up a good fight. The buffalo ran across the plain with two lions riding its back. We could see it had a very torn flank after that experience. Finally it ran into a small dip in the plain where there was water, and that's where it stayed. By this point, about 200 hyenas had gathered around the hunt, coming from all directions, and waited on the sidelines for the buffalo to die. The buffalo knows it is safe in the water - neither the hyenas or the lions like to get wet - and the lions knew they didn't have a chance of eating any of their kill with so many hyenas around so they abandoned the hunt, broke up into smaller groups and left the scene.
As we were waiting for the hunt to continue, a solitary hyena ran past our jeep with a pair of horns in its mouth. I thought at first it was the buffalo's head, but it was too small and Mosses told us they were in fact the horns of a wildebeest. Where the rest of the wildebeest was, is still a mystery.
Many of the hyenas and three of the lions stayed with the buffalo, watching and waiting. A large group of the hyenas broke off though, and started chasing the herd of buffalo nearby. Eventually they caught one unlucky member of the herd and it too ran to water for safety. However, it eventually lost the battle and was ripped apart by the pack of hyenas.
Meanwhile, on the other side of our jeep, two of the lions were sneaking along toward a herd of grazing zebras and wildebeest. Out of nowhere, a hippo appeared from a watering hole and walked between the two lions. She paused to look at the lions, and the lions paused to look at her, but then they all continue on without giving one another a second thought. She ended up walking toward the second buffalo kill, right in the middle of the pack of hyenas, and into the water hole where the buffalo had tried to seek refuge. The hippo seemed so out of place and yet none of the hunters paid her any attention.
Things were very quiet after that so we left the hunt and drove through the crater. We saw many jackals and wildebeest, and stopped to look at the flamingos on a small lake. Then we made the long drive back to Arusha. Even when we were an hour from the game parks, we passed giraffes grazing near the highway and monkeys in the trees. It seems the safari is never really over in this region!