Fabulous Trip to Africa, 22 Sep to 4 Oct 2015, Post 5 – Olduvai Gorge to Serengeti

Today, it’s the cradle of mankind! Oh, what a day. Another long and hard one, based around riding in the van all day.  We started out in the morning early (as usual) and got the benefit of seeing the sun through the clouds again.  We drove by the entrance road to the Ngorongoro valley and onto the next one.

20150927-DSC_1932 20150927-DSC_1947

This one afforded us views of clouds still clinging to the surrounding hills, as well as views of the tribal huts that housed people in that area.

20150927-DSC_1961 20150927-DSC_1966

We were able to get out of Ngorongoro fairly easily, making our way to the Olduvai Gorge at the connection of the Ngorongoro and Serengeti Plain. The museum is right on the edge of the gorge, and does a good job describing the finds, and helping me remember the dates and sequence. It tells of Louis Leakey’s first experience at Oldupai Gorge in 1924, when he and a group of others were looking for dinosaur bones. He came back at the head of his own expedition in 1931. “Olduvai” was apparently a misspelling that stuck for Leakey’s publication, but locally it is known with a p instead of a v.

Looking down from Olduvai Gorge Museum

Looking down from Olduvai Gorge Museum

In 1934, he was joined by Mary, his eventual wife, as a student, along with others. Each year they came back and dug for bones, using the latest in archeological techniques. Finally in 1959, they discovered Zinjantropus, the first of several historic finds. Zinj, later renamed with a more scientific name was in the bottom most of four beds, and was determined to be 1.9 million years old. The lava base of the gorge is 2 million years old. Later came Homo Habilus (Handy Man) at 1.8 million years old, and Homo Erectus (stand-up man) at 1.6 million years old.  Mary and another colleague later (in the 1960’s?) found the footprints which had been frozen in time thought to be the prints of Austropithicus Ferensis (Lucy, found in Ethiopia, and thought to be 3.5 million years old. These footprints were found frozen in time several kilometers from the main gorge site.

After a brief lecture, one of the guides took us down into the gorge and showed us the site from its floor, and the marker which shows where Zinj was found.

Looking back toward the Museum

Looking back toward the Museum

We dropped him off, and made tracks for the Serengeti park.

20150927-DSC_2093

Starling, Superb

Starling, Superb

Weaver, Thick-billed

Weaver, Thick-billed

20150927-DSC_2100

20150927-DSC_2079At the gate to the park, we stopped and ate our lunch, provided by the last hotel, the Serena.  In this park, we were visited by a number of animals, most notably four elephants, who kindly allowed us to take their pictures.  We also saw quite a few birds, including many of the starlings that are more common in the Serengeti.  Oh, and a gecko that was pink and blue!The lunch was (as might be expected) too much food, but Philip took all the extra and made up packages for giving away to those who didn’t have any.

We continued on, but the road was the usual washboard, and it was noisy and bouncy. 20150927-DSC_2059We passed another native village, as we drove.  Finally a couple of hours later, we turned off into the game reserve (off the main road), and made our way to a number of spots where Philip and Everest thought we would see something. 20150927-DSC_2062 20150927-DSC_2079

Barbet, d'Arnaud's

Barbet, d’Arnaud’s

20150927-DSC_2147

Female Ostrich; the first willing to have its picture taken!

20150928-DSC_2825We saw the usual suspects, zebra, giraffes, grant’s gazelles as well as a new kind of antelope, the Reedbuck. It is larger than the gazelles we have been seeing, and has two stubbier horns on its head.

We saw a lion, sitting by itself (we presume), as well as a pod of hippopotamuses in the river we were roughly following.20150927-DSC_2301

Shrike, Grey-backed

Shrike, Grey-backed

Before we got to the pod, we saw an individual who walked along from one pond to another, and then dropped itself into the new pond to rest from its exertions.

20150927-DSC_2228 20150927-DSC_2238

Roller, Lilac-breasted

Roller, Lilac-breasted

Stork, Yellow-billed; Goose, Egyptian; Heron, Grey

Stork, Yellow-billed; Goose, Egyptian; Heron, Grey

Teal, Red-billed; Plover, Blacksmith; Stork, Yellow-billed; Goose, Egyptian; Heron, Grey

Teal, Red-billed; Plover, Blacksmith; Stork, Yellow-billed; Goose, Egyptian; Heron, Grey

Heron, Grey

Heron, Grey

20150927-DSC_2157

Kongoni

20150927-DSC_2308

Grant’s Gazelle

20150927-DSC_2350

Cape buffalo

The trip into the camp was long after that (another half an hour), and the most difficult part was it started raining! We have made it here, however, so we now are happily ensconced in our tent-mansions. This is the largest room we’ve been in on this trip, and it is all out of canvas. Hopefully the rain will subside so we can go out tomorrow and enjoy the sights of the Serengeti!

Saddle-billed stork watched with great interest

Saddle-billed stork watched with great interest

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog, Travel to Africa

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s