Serengeti was very different compared to Masai Mara, the landscape that is. There weren’t many trees, just grass for acres and acres as far as the eye can see. We drove for quite a while and there didn’t seem to be as many animals as in Masai Mara for some reason but apparently because there were fewer animals now (as they’ve all migrated to Kenya), the sighting of the big cats have been excellent in the past couple of days. We were hopeful. I probably saw only 3 zebras the whole time we were there, but of course within the first half an hour we spotted 4 lions in 2 different spots. We saw our first male lion with a mane! Mufasa! Then we saw a lioness walking – which was a first. Then we saw another lion, and 2 others. Crazy! We saw 7 lions in about 2 hours. Someone was saying that it was well worth the 410USD. The last lion we saw actually got up and started walking towards the jeeps that were there.
Then we were told that we were entering an area very good for spotting leopards. Sure enough, there was a leopard sleeping on a branch high up on a tree with its tail hanging and even more exciting, a hyena at the foot of the tree.
The rangers told our driver that just earlier, the leopard made a catch and was bringing the animal back to the tree still alive when the same hyena (then resting at the foot of the tree) fought with the leopard and stole its catch. I was shocked! G said that it’s not a surprise because hyenas have the sharpest jaws among all the animals in the animal kingdom (or something like that). Also, leopards are very small, a full sized male comes up to only about 60kg. I also found out that cheetahs only run when they want to catch their food and that typically happens during dawn or dusk as midday is too hot for them and would just drain their energy away.
Our campsite for the night was right in the middle of the Serengeti National Park. Nothing was separating us from the lions, leopards, hyenas, elephants, giraffes and who knows what other animals that are out there that could just eat any one of us up. But it was pretty exciting. There were so many stars and it was beautiful to see the full moon slowly rising. I saw another amazing sunset today.
Dinner was prepared by some Tanzanian men in very limited light. We had a very salty (what tasted like chicken noodles (without noodles) and carrots) hot soup, spaghetti (which I ate well until someone mentioned that the meat tasted funny and of course I immediately felt like I was eating an internal organ and basically threw half away) and banana custard (which tasted a bit like medicine but the bananas were sweet and quite alright) for dinner.
I had a good night’s sleep. One of the other girls said she heard hyenas laughing right outside her tent many times throughout the night and was too scared to go out to use the toilet.
The game drive the next morning was amazing. We saw so many lions and at one point after lunch we saw 2 male ones together – a very rare sight apparently. We saw a leopard on another tree branch in the cutest position ever. Right after the leopard, the animal I wanted to see so much was right before my eyes – cheetahs, not one but 5, not just sleeping or walking around but they were all very alert looking at the gazels not far away. Many of the gazels were already running away while we were there. It was an amazing sight. Jess got a great picture of the cheetah while it was running – not really running at full speed but kind of to catch up with one another while they were thinking whether or not they should attack the gazels. Unfortunately, even if they did, I never saw it.
After a few hours we headed back to our campsite for lunch which was delicious – potatoes, chicken and mixed vegetables. I found out that Hamadi is a Muslim because he refused to eat the dried meat that G bought for Nicole. So I chatted with him about Islam in Tanzania. He told me I shouldn’t be afraid of eating meat at all in Tanzania but before was just him being cautious as he saw G eating pork sausage while sitting next to him. According to Hamadi there is a law in Tanzania that all meat must be slaughtered by a Muslim and if otherwise, they must let the person buying or consuming it know that it is non-halal.
Leaving camp we saw the most amazing sight. There was a herd of elephants crossing the black land i.e. which was once burnt and more than 20 of them crossed the road right in front of our eyes. It was just amazing.
The second elephant was a baby one, it must be just a few months old, so so cute! The elephants were walking just by the tree where the leopard we saw in the morning was now sleeping at, a different one, and in a much more comfortable looking position. (Spot the leopard in the picture below)
G said that it’s been quite a good 2 days for us at Serengeti since we’ve seen about 20 lions or so. He said the most he’s seen was 51 as they saw a pack of 12 lions devouring a buffalo or maybe more right by the roadside. That was at Ngorongoro Crater, so hopefully we’ll have the same luck tomorrow. G also said that he hopes we’ll see at least an elephant tomorrow because the ones in the crater have massive tusks due to their diet.
Arriving at our camp called Simba campsite, we saw a huge elephant right next to the water tank. It was stealing water from it and every single camper was crowding around it. I managed to take some pictures and then quickly got my tent up and started layering myself up in preparation for the freezing night.
Dinner was great and dessert was banana fritters! How surprising! It was delicious and truly reminded me of home.