Monday, August 13
It’s seriously amazing the glass windows of the vehicles don’t blast out. The vibration from the road and the rocks flying and smacking the Toyota Landrover is intense. These SUVs take a lot of abuse and they stand up to the challenge. We jump into the SUV and take our shoes off. It allows us to quickly jump up on the seats and peak our heads out the top!
It’s Rush Hour…Go! Go! Go! It’s a “dic dic in the tree” – code for something Limo doesn’t want to yet tell us to avoid disappointment. We race! And we must be very, very quiet. Ranger radio is exploding! It’s a cheetah eating prey! We watch in silence. Finally he is full, his appetite satiated and he wanders on. The other vehicles take off but we stay and watch. The vultures are already circling the blood ridden prey. They take their positions in the nearby trees. Two of them, then three, four, NINE! FOURTEEN VULTURES!! One brave one lands near the carcass and has a buffet to himself. The others sit nearby waiting.
Six minutes have passed.
When jackals and hyenas see the vultures circling it is their cue prey is in sight. We have no evidence but imagine they’re on the grasslands highway traveling to join this feast. The other vultures fly in after 12 minutes and fight to get their share of the meal. A noise from a vehicle frightens them all away. We wait…
Twenty minutes have passed.
In the distance the jackal is running towards the sight of the vultures. He does not know where the prey is located so he must search and keep his eye on the vultures. He will have a tough fight however because the vultures can easily chase him away. The jackal circles the local grasses. He cannot smell the prey. He is lost in the grasses and the vultures are easily frightened by the smallest of sounds. After 40 minutes we decide to move on. We’ve witnessed another chapter in nature’s story.
Game we saw today:
Cokes hartbeest, impala, Tommy gazelle, zebra, water buck, Grand gazelle, giraffe, dic dic, guinea fowl, topi jimela, wildebeest, hippo, crocodile
- Visited a different hippo pool and saw them mating. It was a little difficult on the eyes (or perhaps the imagination) but interesting at the same time. The male, with all his fatness, was on top of the female while she was underwater with only her nose up breathing.
- We witnessed a cheetah scoping his prey. He watched the Thompson gazelles from afar and slowly walked forward. Moving slowly, slowly forward he launched into a sprint. The race was on! He may be the fastest animal on earth but the gazelles have more endurance and today luck was on their side.
- We spot seven lions lying under cover in front of a watering hole, waiting for a herd of buffalo to come for a cocktail. The buffalo are resting and content in their space but eventually will surrender to their thirst. But when? The lions sleep soundly while one keeps an eye patiently waiting for the kill. An hour has passed. An hour and thirty minutes. A lone gazelle enters into the circle of danger. The lioness rise to their feet and begin to position themselves. Two walk closer to the gazelle and are intently following her with their eyes. They must be smart for if they reveal themselves they can lose a meal for a snack. They have already positioned themselves down-wind so the buffalo cannot smell them. The gazelle walks the opposite direction and the opportunity is gone. The lioness must wait some more. Other lionesses raise their heads. The buffalo are moving but in the opposite direction of the watering hole they are guarding. We now count 11 lionesses that have raised their heads. This pride is patient- and hungry. Two more gazelles arrive; lions position; gazelle are the winners this time. Only 1 in 5 attacks are successful. We’ve seen two fails. A herd of gazelle are in the distance. Three lionesses move closer and wait. We’re waiting almost two hours. We are watching our own documentary unfold. We’ve missed lunch. Luca is on his second Fanta. Every movement raises anticipation. Movement is slowing and the buffalo seem to be moving away. The third epic fail. We decide to move on, disappointed we didn’t see the kill but satisfied with this close up documentary we just witnessed.
The dust in the Serengeti is in no short supply. The roads are rocky, there are brown, dry grasses and green grasses alike. One thing that can be guaranteed in a day’s game drive is that you will come back covered in dust. You will blow out a dirty nose and will feel the sediment wash down your body in the shower. This is Serengeti.
Cheetahs can run 0 to 50 mph in three seconds!