Out into the cold and dark… Breakfast was early as predicted. We finally got on the road at 7:30, and made our way out to where the game were. That’s a bit of a bad way of saying it, as game are all around us here. We pass through zebra, giraffe, and several kinds of antelope before we get very far.
But first I should comment on our lodgings. This is a tent place. All the buildings, of which there are about 15 are tents. The main tent is about twice as large as the cabin tents, giving it room for a nice lounge on one side and dining tables on the other. There are chandeliers hanging from the ceiling providing light, and electricity for most of your needs. This is provided by sun power, which collects the electricity in batteries during the day, and then allows use at night. There is a generator which kicks in if the batteries get low. As with each of these individual-tent-cabin places in the middle of wild animals, one of the camp’s employees (ours is Sampson) accompanies you whenever you go out in the dark. By the way, the curtain behind Gwen hides the bathroom facilities, so we didn’t have to go outside to relieve ourselves.
Our room cabin tent is very large, probably 40 feet by 24 feet, with a full stand-up bathroom at one end. The room centers around the double bed, enshrouded with netting to keep away the mosquitoes at night. The other aspect of living in a tent in the Serengeti are the noises in the night. Lots of animals sound off (we really couldn’t tell what we were listening to), and then there is the wind, which was loud last night.
So on to today. Each day seems to get better, and today was no exception.
The savannah in the Serengeti seems dryer than what we saw in Amboseli or in Ngorongoro. I guess there is enough to eat, but our guide tells us that the rains have been sparse so far, so the fields are not as supportive of the large herds are they have been in the past. Still we see lots of wildlife during the day.
Our most exciting leopard story starts when Philip or Everest spied a female leopard heading toward a stand of trees and rocks. We stopped to watch, and then decided that she probably was going to move through to the other side, so we moved the vehicle to be able to see her if that is what she did. Sure enough, she shortly showed up there, heading out into a field on a path that paralleled the track the truck was on. We saw that she had brought a friend (male, we think). The two of them walked through the tall grass, moving unhurriedly, and we did our best to keep them in sight. Eventually, they decided they wanted to cross the road, and indeed on they came. They passed in front of our truck no more than 10 feet away. Great for pictures.
They continued on toward another rock outcropping, and once they got there, we thought we saw the female kill a small field animal that didn’t move quickly enough. I guess that was their goal, as we lost sight of them and shortly thereafter, we moved on.
As had become usual, we saw a number of the larger land animals.
We also saw a number of birds.
We saw other leopards today, both of the two we saw were up a tree, (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) which we watched for awhile. The leopards were watching the animals in a large field beyond the tree each was in. We tried to see what each was seeing, but didn’t see anything that would excite them to do something dramatic. It was fun to watch for awhile, and then we moved on. Can you see the one in the tree below?
As for lions, we saw probably 30 all told. All were resting, and we saw only walking type movement from any of them. In one area were two females sitting under a tree, while across the path at the next tree, two males were lazing away their late morning. We watched the males for awhile, and then moved on. The last sighting was the largest, Seven youngsters (less than a year) were sleeping under a tree under the oversight of two older females. Eventually, the two older ones and five of the youngsters cross and joined two more females and two more youngsters under a much larger tree. We watched them for awhile, then moved on.
We saw some more hippos sleeping in a pond, and quite a few birds. We saw eland, kongoni, dik-dik’s, and at least one other new-to-us antelopes, water bucks. It was quite a day.