Serengeti (Part II)

After the excitement of the day before, the Serengeti still had more in store. Over the night the roar of lions and cape buffalo around the campsite kept a few up. Hyena tracks weaved in and out of the tents and a few people had to ‘mark their territory’ by the tent, rather than risk the dash to the loo.

Hyena tracks!
Hyena tracks!

We made tracks across the Serengeti plains towards the Ngorongoro Crater National Park. Although the previous days rain caused a few animals to go into hiding, today looked a bit more promising, being slightly overcast. A few mongoose, warthog and baboons patrolled the roadside and hippos yawned lazily. We were again treated to the sight of a leopard, although this time it was dragging an impala kill along the ground and made several attempts to bring it up a tree! Leopards being very rare to see made this sight a special treat.

Mongoose
Mongoose
Yawning Hippo
Yawning Hippo
Dragging the carcass
Dragging the carcass
Inspecting the tree
Inspecting the tree
Having a rest/pose
Having a rest/pose
Attempt #1
Attempt #1
Serengeti Junction
Serengeti Junction

After the traffic jam that ensued with all the safari trucks, we made a multiple point turn and sped off down the track to the border checkpoint. Along the way laying our eyes on an even more magical sight. The Great Migration! Year round wildebeest travel en mass around East Africa with some zebra, following the rains in search of grass. The number of animals extended far into the horizon, numbering in the tens of millions.

The Great Migration!
The Great Migration!

Dotted among the masses were small pockets. At the centre, hungry lions and hyenas looking for lunch. Still in a rush, we made it 13 minutes late, but our guide smoothed the way for passage. We stopped for lunch and a view over the plains, joined on the rocks by a few lizards.

The Circle of Life!!!
The Circle of Life!!!
Pink and Blue
Pink and Blue

In the afternoon we travelled across more plains and found a steady rise. As the numbers of animals started to dwindle and the scenery change we started to climb the slopes of the Ngorongoro (named for the sound that cowbells make by the Masai tribes). A few of the group stopped for a Masai tribe visit and were swiftly parted with their Tanzanian shillings. The rest of us lounged about and played soccer with some local herdsmen in their traditional garb.

A view back on the Serengeti
A view back on the Serengeti

Making camp on the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater was cold and wet, but after some warm showers we settled in for an early night, the following morning rising early for our descent to the Crater. The Crater holds one of the densest collections of wildlife, connected by a narrow track to the outside parks. The microclimate inside the crater was perfect for growing grass and feeding the diverse population within. We saw lions, hyena, eland, zebra, wildebeest, elephant, cape buffalo, rhino. All but the giraffe can make it into here.

Ngorongoro Crater
Ngorongoro Crater
Zebra and her foal
Zebra and her foal
Fending off the hyena
Fending off the hyena
Elephant skull and a hippo
Elephant skull and a hippo

Diverse wildlife in the crater
Diverse wildlife in the crater
Roaring (Yawning) Male Lion
Roaring (Yawning) Male Lion

After the long morning game drive we then departed for Arusha. On the way stopping off to look at a Curio (trinket) shop that specialised in selling Tanzanite (a rare blue gemstone) and parting tourists with their money. Arusha is a bustling tourist Mecca with a bit more diversity than other African towns with an Arabic and Indian population and influence.

New years celebrations began with a chicken bbq and a court session, to atone for sins past over the trip. Mitch, being the angel and bullshit artist evaded many fines, while Tam managed to talk herself deeper into more trouble. The local  bar was full of the local men all eager to imprint themselves on the mzungu ladies. Too many dicks on the dance floor… One man asked Mitch for permission to ‘have’ one of the girls. He stated that none belonged to him, then after seeing this didn’t change the guy’s lewd behaviour changed his mind and said that they all belonged to him and he should pay up.

The mornings hangovers were much better than Jinja, for most and six of our company have departed, however we have gained an Irish girl and a Turkish girl. A full day of hot windy travel to Kongwe takes us towards the coast. Tomorrow we are in Dar es Salaam, largest Tanzanian city, then ferried to Zanzibar island, where we relax till traveling to London on the 10th.

Hope all were safe and well over their New Years celebrations. Bring on 2013!

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