Serengeti Plains

Trip Start Nov 19, 2004
Trip End Dec 06, 2004

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Flag of Tanzania  ,
Thursday, November 25, 2004

We went to sleep to the sounds of dragonflies humming, birds making all manner of calls, and the occasional hyena howl. Amy and I had all of the tent flaps rolled up, and there was a wonderful warm breeze going through the tent. A couple of times throughout the night, we were awakened by hyenas that sounded much too close for comfort. At one point, I'm sure I heard soft footsteps going right around the tent.  It might have been the honey badger ... which brings me to this morning ...

Ironically, one of the scariest moments in Tarangire did NOT involve hyenas or other large beasts, but rather a small but vicious rabid badger running around our campsite. Our encounter was tragically brief. Emmanuel eventually had to kill him with the only weapon available - a tent pole. The killing was precluded by a frightening chase around camp, an unsuspecting Harold having to jump into the trailer for cover on his way back from the bathroom, a temporary knock-out of the badger followed by a surprise angry resurrection, a round of screase any time the scary little fellow came near our tent. Even the thick canvas of our army-issue sehlter could have been easily punctured by those long, sharp weapon-teeth. We felt horribly about killing the poor creature, bit it truly was a case of self-defence. These are the laws of the jungle.

A stunning drive today past Lake Manyara & the Ngorogoro Crater on our way to the Serengeti.  As we climbed higher and higher up the ridges surrounding the lake, we were often enshrouded by a gorgeous mist, making me wonder if Diane Fossey might emerge around the next bend.  The foliage was extraorindarily green and lush, a significant contrast to the bush-like terrain we had been seeing. At some points, the cliffs dropped off sharply to a deep ravine, with sensous draping vines and massive majestic trees, all green and white and foggy and mysterious. 

Lunch was a picnic on the crater rim, with a couple of elephants grazing just a few metres away.  Not once, but twice, we were swooped upon by a greedy black kite bird who grabbed food with his talons right out of Amy's hands - first a sandwich, and, after the screams had subsided, he dove in again for a perfectly ripe piece of passionfruit. I felt his silky soft wings brush across my cheek as he flashed by. God it was scary-funny!  We retreated to the jeep with the remains of our food, laughing joyously and breathlessly all the way.

New animals sighted today: hyenas, hartabeest, cheetahs, hippos, crocodiles, jackal and vulture.The cheetah sighting in Serengeti was a magical experience.Two brothers were just sitting serenely by the side of the road about 20 feet away from our jeep.  It seemed as though they were posing for us before getting up and sauntering gracefully across the road.  They took a brief roll in a patch of dirt, sat up and looked back while waiting for their third brother to join them. Once he did, they ambled away from us toward a distant rock outcropping. Amazing.   
I'm running out of superlative descriptive adjectives.  If I see no other animals for the rest of the safari, I will not go away disappointed.
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