We drove for 12 hours today…Stephen, our driver/guide did, that is. We set off east to the distant escarpment, then turned north to the Kenya border, then west by south. We disturbed a male Black backed jackal not far from camp with the remains of a young common duiker. he trotted off with his trophy looking very pleased with himself. Along the ‘way’ we found a male cheetah just resting under a thorn tree, quite content, his long clubbed tail made wide sweeps over his spotted form reaching his cheek, effectively chasing the small flies that bothered him. We left him after a few minutes to his solitude.
Several herds of elephants and a goodly herd of buffalo were added to the ‘list’ before we came upon a significant herd of wildebeest. Possibly three thousand animals in all, a generous estimate but at least it was something representing the species as there was nothing else to be seen of the migration! We watched the animals doing what they have always done and then moved on towards the hills. Although we drove over many lovely plains and low rolling ridges, not a single wildebeest showed itself. Read more…
Up the next morning and away we went. Two of the group decided to stay behind with a mix of ‘needing to recover still’ and a brief tummy upset. So, we took off into the expectant morning with the air fresh and the day ahead full of surprises. Spotted hyenas returning home after a night’s hunting. Not commonly seen here, and so we followed them to a waterhole where they slopped around noisily, getting their fill and then lay in the mud briefly. A herd of zebra watched them warily from a short way off. A herd of Cape Buffalo wandered in and took over the waterhole and the muddy area around the pan too. We carried on.
A picnic breakfast had been set up for us on a hilltop…..what a view!
Giraffe, elephant, gazelles, oryx, zebra and some great birds filled our morning well…….and the most unusual of all….the bright blue scrotum and red willy of a male vervet monkey! This attracted a LOT of mirth and ribald comment. The poor chap was quite taken aback with all the photography. Another surprise was a female cheetah with her 8 month old cub!
Back at camp a fabulous lunch was served in the ‘pool house’, amidst superb starlings, weavers and a cloud of doves. They all had their own ‘table’ set way away from us humans, but they were fun to watch.
Neat and simple
Simple, but very comfortable
Tea was at 3.30pm, and then set off again. Black rhino with a calf and then the biggest herd of Grevy’s zebra AND Common zebra feeding in the same proximity but with towering fever trees as a back ground!! The afternoon light was gilding on this picture and we enjoyed it to the max. After a gentle drive through the forest we stopped for a sundowner with a steel-blue gray sky, and a hadeda ibis silhouette.
Nightjars flitted across the road on the way back, and as we approached camp seven lions appeared in the headlights gamboling and chasing eachother across the dusty track into the grass on the left….fading into the night like dust in the wind. A green eye glowed briefly in my small flash light and the shapes were gone. All was quiet.
First stop, Serengeti!
The Caravan banked and turned at last, curving down towards the tiny strip, a smudge on the sketchy green of the plains, just inside the sinuous curves of the Grumeti river silver and smooth, that winds its’ way across this part of the Serengeti. The two Singaporean families who were my guests on this trip chattered excitedly in Hokin and English as I pointed out animals, and suddenly the dark ‘dots’ took form. ‘Gavin, Gavin….THESE are wildebeest??………….’ A dark mass of animals walked along the edge of the river, some of the herd rested amongst the scattered flat topped acacias, like carelessly scattered toys. The dark ‘cloud’ of moving creatures represented for me one of the earth’s most unique and wonderful spectacles.
They had traveled across half the world to see this…the annual migration in the Serengeti.
A tiny percentage of the population feeding quietly in northern Serengeti
The bulk of the herd had moved on ten days previously, but there were still A LOT of White-bearded gnu, as they are correctly named. Thousands upon thousands of these bovids still remained…the vanguard of the million or so that perennially make this trek across the plains. The pilot grinned to himself. He had heard this excitement many times as flew travellers in to the bush strips at various points of entry in the Serengeti, and still he smiled…excitement of this nature is infectious! Read more…