Day 6: Serengeti

 

We ate and breakfast and left our lodge at the Ngorongoro Crater early in the morning to start our drive towards the Serengeti. We saw a few giraffes and of course antelope as we made the couple hour drive from one place to the next. We entered the Serengeti at the Naabi Hill Gate. It was surreal arriving at the gate. The Serengeti is one of the places you always dream of going to and then all of a sudden, BAM, you are there standing under the gate!

The Serengeti is located in northern Tanzania (with a portion extending into Kenya under the name Maasai Mara). There is a huge diversity of habitats within the park which leads to the wide variety of animals that call The Serengeti home. Most famously the Serengeti is home to The Great Migration that occurs on the northern most edge of the park in Tanzania at the Mara River bordering Kenya. In late fall (Oct/Nov), the wildebeest cross over the river from Kenya into Tanzania with many wildebeest perishing due to crocodiles lying in wait in the river for them. While we were there in February, the wildebeests are in their calving season and while we didn’t see any wildebeests being born, we saw plenty of just born wildebeest calves. They are absolutely adorable. Then in July, the herds move from Tanzania across the Mara River back into Kenya and start the whole process again. The migration is due to availability of grasses and the rain seasons. I would love to be in Kenya or Tanzania to watch the actual river crossing one day!

Entrance

Antelope

Antelope

We had to wait a short amount of time at the entrance gate because we arrived slightly earlier than our guide thought and since the entrance fee is paid for per 24 hours, we couldn’t go in before our flight was due to leave 48 hours later or we’d have to pay for a whole third day (for only like 20 minutes of extra time). Luckily it paid off, and by the time we had walked around and were able to pay and go in, a cheetah had been sighted just before the entrance, so we backtracked slightly and saw a cheetah pacing very close to the road. Cheetahs are just absolutely beautiful and my favorite of the big cats, so I’m glad we were finally able to spot one!
CheetahCheetah yawning

 

 

 

 

Cheetah

Cheetah pacing

We watched the cheetah for quite awhile hoping to see it take off running, as it was definitely pacing and looking out over the plains for food, but eventually we gave up. We had quite a drive ahead of us over the plains of the Serengeti. While the scenery was gorgeous, we didn’t see much other than the always common antelope and a sprinkling of zebras in the terms of wildlife for a long time.
Topi
We finally drove across a small herd of wildebeest and water buffalo with a few lions on the hunting prowl. They were pretty far off in the distance and once the lions took off on the hunt, they chased the herd even further away so we weren’t able to see much action (not as lucky as the day before!) before we drove off.
Lions chasing a herd
After a lunch overlooking the Serengeti plains, we heard over the radio that a male lion was nearby guarding a dead warthog, so of course we made a quick detour to see the lion. Our guide got us pretty close to the lion and it interesting to see the male lion so close and so tired. He was breathing incredibly hard just standing there.
Male lion

While we were looking at the lion, our guide heard over the radio that the elusive leopard had been spotted nearby and had just killed a baby wildebeest, so we started heading that way, though briefly making a stop by a tree with a cheetah and a baby cheetah. Baby cheetahs have to be the cutest things with their fluffy hair. This one was a little older so his hair wasn’t too fluffy, but still adorable. I’m glad we were at least able to see a partially fluffy cheetah cub as that was on my most want to see list before leaving for Africa.

Cheetah and her baby

So cute!

Cheetahs

By the time we made it to where the leopard was, it had taken the kill up into the tree. It would have been impressive watching it carry it up the tree! Unfortunately the tree was kind of far off in the distance, but thanks to zoom lenses and binoculars, we were all able to get a pretty decent view of the leopard up in the tree eating the kill. With seeing the leopard today, we can officially say we saw all the Big 5 (Water Buffalo, Lion, Leopard, Elephant, and Rhino).

Leopard Leopard with her kill

Leopard with her killLeopardFrom there we drove around the Central Serengeti for the rest of the afternoon/early evening before heading to our lodging for the night. We sa more lions including several more male lions! Today was definitely the day for the big cats which was very exciting.

Lionesses and tiny cubLions sleeping

Male LionMale Lion Male LionWe reached our lodge, Ikoma Safari Camp and met the owner Pepe who is from Spain. While the lodge itself is very rustic, the place has its charm. Pepe was a colorful character who was more than willing to share a drink and stories over the campfire. We had requested a wide variety of lodge types when planning our safari, and we really enjoyed our stay here. You really felt a part of Africa at the lodge, there was no fence around the camp. And as a bonus our first night we got to see a pair of giraffes wander right through the grounds!

Giraffes at the lodge!

 Animals we saw today:

Antelope (many varieties), Baboons, Cheetah, Elephants, Egyptian Goose, Gazelle (Grant’s and Thomson’s), Giraffe, Hippos, Kori Busturd, Leopard, Lions, Mongoose, Ostrich, Topi, Warthogs, Water Buffalo, Wildebeest, Zebra

Money spent today:

Soda: 2000 TZS

 

Day 5

Day 7

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