The Big 5…SMASH!!!

Trip Start Jul 24, 2012
Trip End Aug 19, 2012

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Serengeti Campsite

Flag of Tanzania  ,
Wednesday, August 15, 2012

We woke up in the light for a change which was nice, a breako of pancakes and sugar and lemon but also with some bananas and passion fruit. After yesterdays good drive in we were looking forward to a day in the Serengeti. We left camp sufficiently late that we would try and arrive at the gate to the game reserve at about 10am so our 24 hour pass would give us the opportunity to get a game drive tomorrow morning as well.

As we entered the park it seemed quite baron and for about the first 30 minutes we hadn't even seen a single animal it seemed destined that the Serengeti would be bare for us. We still had a few hours left though so not to despair (the migration it seemed may have scuppered our plans). We were eased into the action when we saw some vultures followed by a jackal that I guess had been subject to road kill as it lay dead on the side of the road. We then saw a black backed jackal and the day was really getting going. We then crossed a river where we were definitely not allowed to stop but we managed to stop to see the hippos in the river, we then noticed a croc on the edge of the river, followed by a croc in the water. The croc in the water then seemed to head over for a baby hippo. The mother then obviously went berserk and started trying to crush the croc, we were all so excited as this was real action and the view amongst the bus was that the Serengeti’s baron perception was in fact not bad. Whilst the dry season it did mean we had a good view for a good distance but the animals had been lacking up till this point.

We continued and saw a hippo under a tree followed by a couple more jackals. A few baboons then happened. Then as we drove down the road we heard a loud "oh shit what is going on over there", the bell was pressed to stop the truck and then we saw it a cheetah in the distance that had just chased an impala, it dropped and started to approach another impala under another tree, the cheetah approached low down then smash, it went again, not as fast this time but boy was it exciting. The Serengeti had now delivered a bloody cheetah, brilliant. It was now time to head to our campsite right in the heart of the Serengeti national park. On our way I heard a shout of “press the button”, then over to our left were five lions, oh my god five lions. We sat and watched for a while before heading off to put our tents up.

Another quick thing the biggest bug bear was the tsetse flies, these little sods bit through clothing, they cause various illnesses and on one overland trip caused a death of someone with a rare blood type. Deet is apparently useless against these critters and a number of the truck  were bitten.  Sadly at times everyone was so concerned about spotting the flies before they bit we were paying more attention to the inside of the truck than on the savannah plains.  We were all frantically slapping each others backs to avoid more bites.

Tents up I helped Kanyo filling the water when he suggested I gather the troops and get them back on the bus as he had info on the sighting of some Leopards earlier in the morning but not to raise hopes by giving any details to any of our fellow passengers. Before he could say anything else Idi Amin was back and ordering everyone on the bus immediately even those on their way to the shower.

Was it worth it? Quick answer yes it was, we approached the area where the leopards had been and there in a tree lay a mating pair. Not really doing anything and not awfully close but none the less this trip had delivered the Big 5….. Smash. We continued to drive and came across a lion, well I saw a lion and a lot of trucks, as we pulled around we noticed that I had only noticed a single female and I was in fact missing the main event with a price of about 18 lions consisting of several mothers and many cubs between them, we were so close it was amazing. Talk about a change of opinion about the Serengeti. The park wardens were on hand so the traffic rotated and everyone got a good look.

Not too long afterwards we found another Leopard in a tree but this time with a kill, it was just a great finale to a magical day.

Just to recap a fantastic day we saw:

                28 Lions

                3 Leopards

                1 Hunting Cheetah

                5 Jackals

                Many elephant

                Many Giraffes

                Many Buffalo

                Many Zebra

                Red and Black Hornbill

                Lilac Breasted Roller

                Secretary Bird

                Marshall Eagle

                Many Hippos

And of course lots of grazers, impalas, gazelles etc.

We returned to camp delighted with the world and as we approach the end of our trip we had finally found a Leopard and completed the Big 5. Well that was it for wildlife we thought, as we ate spaghetti bolognaise. Kanyo gave me a drop of booze and E and I got an early night.

Not long afterwards the guys were out behind our tent saying how scary it was being unable to see anything but darkness knowing animals were out there. Seeing our head torches we soon started hearing about seeing sets of eyes etc. All very amusing however they soon went to bed and I fell to sleep to the unique noise of the Hyena’s around the camp. It is odd wild camping in African National Parks.

At about 02:15 in the morning I was woken by a very loud deep growl only metres away from the tent, followed by a higher pitch noise immediately afterwards, I thought I knew what it may have been but told Erica it was the guys messing about again. The next morning it was confirmed that the thing metres away from me was a lioness and five cubs that passed through the camp and we had the footprints to prove it .   Just how terrifying is that? Perhaps next time I let Erica pick the accommodation in the Serengeti.
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