Lions & rhinos

Trip Start Nov 19, 2002
Trip End Dec 13, 2002

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Flag of Tanzania  ,
Thursday, November 28, 2002

Hello again.

This morning I caught sunrise over Ngorongoro.  It's a beautiful sight seeing clouds billowing in over the 600 meter rim.  Last night we had buffalo in our camp.

I was really looking forward to the morning game drive.  It was fun watching the animals wake up.  We passed a pair of male lions.  A warthog started wandering nearby.  It came within 30 yards of the brothers.  I was a little surprised.  But Millinga said the warthog is simply too fast for the lions to give chase.  True enough, it kept running by without the lions giving any notice.

One unusual thing I noticed was the large number of old carcasses.  I saw numerous sites of scattered bones throughout the crater.  I also saw my first mongoose.  Moves pretty quick.

Late in the morning we were at one edge of the crater.  Millinga saw a black rhino about 200 yards away.  It kept coming closer.  Rhinos have poor eyesight but good smell.  Fortunately, we were downwind.  We looked around but incredibly there were no other vehicles within sight.  Apparently it's pretty rare to get this close.  The rhino kept coming closer...about 100 yards away.  Millinga kept "Ouhhhh"ing he was so happy.  I was snapping pictures.  Time just seemed to stand still.  The rhino looks like a strong beast...and very different from the other animals.

Early in the afternoon Millinga saw a bunch of Land Rovers converging.  Usually that means a sight.  So we drove over.  A lion was nestled up next to one of the vehicles.  It was seeking protection from the sun and heat.  I'd seen pictures of this.  Lions are nocturnal with terrific infrared vision at night.  But during the day they go blind.  All they want is to sleep.  All the other tourists were hanging out of their Land Rovers for a picture.  It was astounding.

The lion soon walked up to my Land Rover.  Millinga yelled to roll up the windows.  I started to hyperventilate.  I'm leaning over the top, only a few feet away from an adult male lion.  I couldn't believe it!  I'm a Leo, only a few feet away from my favorite animal with nothing separating us. How do you describe the feeling?  Surreal?  Exhilarating?  If I could bottle it, I would have.  The highlight of my safari.

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