SERENGETI WILDLIFE SAFARI
04-10-03 to 11-10-03
The group met at Ilboro safari lodge to join the Serengeti Wildlife Safari. There were 16 of us, 13 from UK, two from Australia and one Norwegian. Sara and Dom had been to Zanzibar and Jahn came from Killi. The rest of the group had been in a car from Nairobi and was exited about the giraffe they saw along the road. During the welcome dinner we all were asked what animal we wanted to see; rhino, lion, tiger and others. We did not manage to spot a tiger, we where at a wrong continent, but we saw a lot of other animals.
Sunday morning we met our excellent driver Juma and our very good cook Shabani and got into our “home” for the next 7 days. We drove to Tanrangire National Park where we had our first game drive. The day after we “bumped” to Serengeti National Park to spend three days game driving. On the way to the Ngorongoro Crater we had some cultural arrangements.
Highlights from the Safari
- It is the first time I have seen a Cheetah in Tananger National Park.
- The leopard on a hunt and the one in the tree..
- You have a 50/50 chance of seeing a rhino.
- All the lions
- It is a rhino!!?
- Giraffes fighting.
- Balloon Safari
- How many times have you seen two Servals in one day?
- Lion walking through the camp at night.
- Baby elephants
- Cheetahs under the tree
- Rhinos and not to forget the baby rhino.
It was fantastic; it met the most optimistic expectations. It was a dream we were not there.
no Rhinos in Serengeti
1. The BIG five
2. The other four of the nine
The big five is well defined group of animals. Some tourists have extend it to nine, the five and Giraffe, Cheetah, Hippo and Zebra. The big five is something to tell others that you have seen, but to look proud and tell others that you have seen a Zebra.....
Group picture the last day
Left to right (back) Dom, Sarah, Shabani, Leigh, Jill, Jahn, Corin, Tim, Heather, Emma, Nial. (front) Juma, Caroline, Ros, Nicola, Becky, Stella, Larni.
4 Arusha to Tanrangire and first game drive
We started off early and had an hour stop in Arusha to buy Gin, tonic and snacks. Some had to hunt for an ATM and were the unlucky ones when the others had a sundowner drink before and after dinner.
The group waiting to get on the truck, clean and nice.
On the road to Tanrangire we saw some Masais. The teenagers were painted in their face. It was a symbol that told they were passing a level in their maturity. They wanted us to take picture and after claim $1 for their posing. The Masais had increased the length of the ceremony from two weeks to six weeks in order to have more tourists to take pictures. Very good businessmen those people.
After one and a half hour drive we reached our camp site after a short game drive in the park.
The teacher showed us how to pitch the tents, some were familiar with the technique and some did it for the first time. Everyone made it without any difficulty. The toilet facilities at this camp was not bad, a flush toilet.
Shabani, the cook, made an excellent lunch as usual. Some baboons had smelled the food and were waiting close to the camp hoping to get some leftovers.
Close to the camp we had some funny trees, the ababh (?) tree. They look like they are growing upside down and are not as old as the 3000 years they look like.
After lunch we went on our first game drive. Tanrang5re has a permanent water source and has the second highest concentration of wildlife in the country.
We saw a lot of elephants, zebras and wildebeests. Remember we were giving commands to the driver to get the very best picture.
A family of animals
We were extremely lucky, the very highlight of the day was definitely the Leopard. It came in from the front of us, walked passed the truck and posed extremely well before it went on a hunt. We had some exiting minutes, one of the animals that were the goal for the hunt lay down a couple of meters from the leopard, but the animals felt unsafe and ran away.
The leopard is hungry
The leopard new that the little animal, a Dik-Dik (?) was at the other side of the river bank and went carefully down hiding in the grass waiting for many minutes before the final attack attempt.
After the our friend the leopard missed his hunt we saw our first lion. She had a friend hiding beside her.
We also saw a large herd of buffalos just before sunset.
Sun sets are always romantic and beautiful (there are buffalos in front)..
5 Morning Tanrangire game drive and transport to Serengeti
Jahn talked to Nial about yesterdays game drive. How could it improve from here..... It was difficult to imagine, but there were more highlights in the coming days.
We ate an early breakfast at 0600.
Inside the truck during game drive.
There have to exist a picture of a Nial view!!! Please send Jahn a copy.
The highlight during this morning game drive was the cheetah waving with its tail. It was to far away to get an descent picture. Nail had never seen a cheetah in Tanrangire before. This was the first time we exceeded his expectations. We did not see anything new the second day except the cheetah, but a nice game drive.
After lunch we putdown our tents and drove to Serengeti national park. We saw a lion family resting at the road side. (picture if any, please)
Nail had his usual after dinner talk about what to expect the next day
6 First day of Serengeti game drive
Nine of the group went on a balloon Safari. Most of the rest did not have courage to rely on hot air to keep them safe in the air. Which of the groups who won is for the reader to decide.
6.1 Balloon Safari
To be filled inn by ballooners.
6.2 Morning game drive
The definitive high light of the morning game drive for the none ballooners was the giraffe fight. Nail had never seen it before, what a strange situation. The giraffes were using their head and neck to "box". They were like "shadow boxing" before they tried to attack. As in the (in)human version of boxing, they were most vulnerable when they missed the attack. After some fighting, one suddenly won and they went away.
The none ballooners had a very fun 15 minutes viewing a close up herd of elephants drinking, spraying mud and rolling over.
We also saw a group of Baboons, one with a little baby.
6.3 The lion day
The first lions we saw today was two male lions. One of them was so kind that he took a walk and was looking at us giving very good picture opportunities. It is not very often male lions are seen walking. They rest for at least 20 hours a day.
After the two male lions we had a nice view on a herd of elephants walking to drink water.
The next was a group of 8 (?) lions walking.
There were a little traffic jam when we followed the lions. After a while we saw an even larger traffic jam ahead.
The reason for the jam was a new friend, a leopard. A new nice animal that did its best to give all the excited photographers what they wanted. It took the effort to make a walk on the branch of the tree where it was relaxing. Thank you for the show.
After the morning game drive there should be possibilities to get a shower at some nearby facilities, but there were no water. Instead we had to hide behind the toilets with a bowel of water to get the most important things done. It was nice to get rid of some of the dust from the body.
We had a nice afternoon game drive and saw even more lions. The most exiting situation was the male lion chasing four giraffes. He did not succeed but it was fun to watch.
After a successful safari a toilet and beer stop at the nearby lodge was relaxing before we went to the camp to eat dinner.
7 It is a Rhino!!
Su left us this morning. She was tired of camping and had seen enough animals. We said good by to her at the nearby lodge were she slept for one night before she went on a plane to Arusha. She was waiting at the Ilboru Safari lodge and went to Zanzibar together with the others.
This was the day to watch cheetahs. We had a long rather boring safari in the beginning of the morning. We saw only one lioness at the other side of the lake were the crocodiles was swimming.
After this we had a boring two hours, we only saw some groups of Thompson Gazelles and zebras. We had also a binocular view on three cheethas that probably were on a hunt. Nice animals, but no picture opportunities. The truck stopped a couple of times and we were wondering of what the guys in the front were looking at. We reached a minor traffic jam and we will never forget Nails face when he stood up and told us half way shaking his had, "it is a rhino". Earlier ha had told us that if we were going to see a rhino it would be in Ngoronoro Crater and only a 50/50% chance. We had until now seen so much that nothing surprised us any more. The two Rhinos was far away, they were black, but it was not easy to make sure that they was rhinos. According to Nail it was not elephants or buffalos. They could not be hippos that were so far away from water. Nail and other guides was completely sure it was Rhinos.
Shortly after the rhinos Nail (or the driver) spotted some Cheetahs under a tree. That was the second highlight of the mornings game drive. After a couple of minutes binocularing, Nail told us to keep the cameras ready and the driver started road construction to let us have some close up photos.
Their heads are pointing in one direction each probably to guard themselves.
After finishing road constructions we met a rather positive American woman. She told us that it was illegal to drive off the roads, her driver had told her. Even more fun was at the lunch place when she did not stop telling us that we did wrong. Nail talked to her and they come to one kind of agreement. Hopefully he and the driver was correct and that it was legal to drive outside the roads in that area. The American had fore sure good intentions, we did not feel very well, but we got the better pictures.
Eating lunch at a hill in the middle of Serengeti.
Sausage tree. Strange.
On our drive to the Hippo pool were we should have eaten lunch we met a herd of elephants.
A little fight between two elephants.
The Serengeti bicycle was active.
After some waiting the herd of elephants were willing to let us pass and we drove to the hippo pool. It was smelly and all were happy that we did not eat lunch there.
On our way back the driver stopped and backed up a little bit. It was a cat, a serval. Nail told that he had seen two of them since June.
After half an hour drive we saw something small moving far away. Through binoculars it was possible to spot a serval. The winner of today's competition for the best comment was Dom: "How many times have you seen two servals in one day". Nail did not answer, he dropped down to his cabin to hide.
This night gave a new experience. Most of us woke up at around 3 in the night. There was a new sound, it was a lion approaching the camp. It was rolling to tell who is the king of the territory. Some heard tass, tass, tass (sorry for the Norwegian spelling of lion footsteps) when the lion walked through the camp. The lion was thirsty and went to the permanent water source at our water tap to drink. Nail had earlier given us guidelines for what to do if we met a lion on a midnight expedition. Move carefully backwards to your tent and keep eye contact with the lion the whole time. According to Nail, the toilet problem that caused the expedition will easily be solved in such situation. In the tent we would recognize that either it was not necessary any more or it was already done. Either way not a problem. Nail had had his (wet?) lion experience. Very many zippers made noise during the lion hours from 3 to 5. They who went outside probably believed that the lion rolling was an elephant or a zebra making the noise. Nail told he was scared when the lion passed him at that a lot of thoughts went through his head. It was a lion that had "cleaned" three camps already and had reached our camp to do the same. We were wondering what the guy from the other group was thinking, he slept outside his tent....
8 Morning game drive and lion game drive to Ngorongoro
This morning game drive was boring. Very few pictures was taken. We had a short toilet stop at the nearby lodge. There had been a lot of people in the camp this night and it was easy to recognize that some did not know how to use the local brand of toilets. After lunch Nail cleaned the toilets and they became usable again.
The little baby elephant was cute.
The highlight of the morning game drive was the herd of buffaloes. It was counted to be between 700 and 1200 animals.
After the morning game drive we ate lunch at the camp and took down our tents before we started to drive to the Ngorongoro Carter camp. On the way we saw a lot of lions. It was a better game drive than the morning game drive.
This little friend was find under a tree along the road.
8.1 Olduvai Gorge
We stopped at Olduvai Gorge on our drive back from Serengeti. This was an geological site with layers of volcanic deposits. This some of these layers are able to preserve fossils. The scientists had also found humanlike footprints that were estimated to be 3.7 million years. We were given a lecture by a professor. It was interesting, but he had a professors approach and asked for donations. The museum at the site was very good.
It was possible to see different colors of the different volcanic layers.
8.2 Masai village
Until now, Nail had told us not to take pictures of Masais. They would ask for $1. It cost $5 to get into the Masai village, but then we got a show and could take as many pictures as we want to and they also took us into their houses.
When we entered the village the young men showed us some dance. They were jumping to show how powerful they were. it had something to do with their ability to go hunting.
Tim joined the competition and was impressive.
The girls had their own show.
We went into one of the small huts they were living in. It was small. The whole family slept in two "beds" which was cow skins on the floor. The huts had to be incredibly cold during nights. They do not have a warm sleeping bag. If a man had more than one wife ha had two houses, one for each wife.
8.3 Camping at Ngorongoro
The last night was cold and after dinner we made a circle around the fire to keep warm.
9 Ngorongoro Crater -- Baby Rhino
This was the Rhino day. We went down to the crater in a 4 wheel drive Land Rover. It was not a good sign when the driver told us that the rhinos did not like the wind that were blowing and that they most likely were hiding in the forest. Nail told us that it was three days since the rhinos were seen and that they most often were hiding for 6-7 days in such situations. Not a good start.
In the crater there were some herds of animals, zebras and wildebeests, but for us nothing new. In the forest we saw some monkeys and a few hyenas. After a while Dom said the nice words "There is a Rhino". The Rhino was grassing some 100 meters away from us. And this time there were no doubt of the animal being a Rhino. It definitely had its horn in front. We spend at least 10 minutes binocularing. No good pictures was taken, it was too far away. We had now seen the big five during the safari. After a while we saw some elephant bones and also a lot of other game, including some lions.
There were a traffic jam in the rater and the drivers took us to that place. It was not surprisingly another rhino. This rhino was possible to see by the naked eye. What a view.
After the Rhino we went for lunch. On the way one of the Land Rovers saw two Oysters having fun.
He went for a second round, his recovery time was impressive.
We had been looking for warthog picture opportunities. All we had seen until now had not been very cooperative. In Ngorongoro we found some.
At the lake there were some birds.
We had surprisingly not seen many hyenas and not been able to take close up pictures. On our drive back from the crater floor we got a nice cooperative animal.
After Ngorongoro we drove back to the camping ground with nice hot showers and nice clean flush toilets.
What is it about those sun sets?
Here a list of animas we have seen with the best picture we can get.