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  • Day24

    Serengeti - Second Day

    December 18, 2019 in Tanzania ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    I heard hyenas wooping close to the tent during the cool of the night and when I got up in the starry pre-dawn sky my head torch caught the eyes and then the form of a hyena on the edge of the brush. The half moon created a nice halo in the mist and we had a cooked breakfast prepared for us. The sun rose brightly into the sky illuminating the thin white clouds. We drove out into the Serengeti which was wet and muddy from the overnight storms. The animals were noticeably less apparent than yesterday, which seems to be the way with morning drives, as the animals retreat to shelter from the hot African sun in the brush. We saw a few hartebeest by the road and a jackal in the long grass. Then we saw a special sight - a hyena mother and her four young cubs, sheltering in a hollow by the road. It was wonderful to see a hyena family with the siblings play fighting and muzzling each other. We then visited a few large rocky outcrops looking for leopards but instead saw the smallest antelope, the dick-dick. We saw a very rare eagle? in a tree by the road. We spent some time trying, and failing, to rescue a stricken vehicle trapped in the mud, its occupants trying to make flight which they inevitably missed. Further down the muddy road, one of our fellow travellers, Grant, who is an excellent wildlife spotter, saw a cheetah in the long grass. We followed it, and then we saw two cheetahs stalking through the grass which then crossed the road in front of us. We drove on and past a beautifully coloured bird, the Lilac Breasted Roller, in a small tree, as it took off, it formed a bursting kaleidoscope of colours. We next found two lions under a tree in long grass. A poor sighted warthog foolishly came within close range of the lions, but fortunately for him the lions were inexperienced and made a fairly pathetic attempt at a chase it which sent the warthog scampering away through the grasses. We then stopped at a tourist centre for refreshments and on the way out we saw several lionesses resting in a tree which is a fairly rare sight in Africa - the Serengeti is one of the few places where it happens. We watched them climb, move between branches, lounge with their tails dangling down and then descend the tree to lie in the grass.. As we drove back towards the park gates we came across a number of hippos in a pool. A bit further on from the pool we saw a large, maned, male lion panting next to a small hippo kill. Two lionesses, who probably made the kill, were sat in the foreground. Just to add to our embarrassment of riches with lion sightings, we then came across a large lioness by the roadside a little further along the road. It was astounding how many lions we saw on this two day safari. After stopping at some park toilets for lunch with impossibly distant views over the endless plains, we careered over dusty, bumpy roads to, and through, the park gates. We passed mile after mile of plains filled with wildebeest, zebra and antelope. It was an awe inspiring sight to see such a mass of life on these seemingly endless plains of the Serengeti. We began to climb the huge rim of the Ngorogoro crater again with views back to the vast Serengeti plains we had just left. We stopped at the spectacular viewpoint over the Ngorogoro crater again, and the sheer beauty of the crater was still difficult to take in even though we had now visited it's natural wonders. We were able to trace out our route around the crater the previous day and see that the small lake with the hippos which we'd visited was right in the centre of the crater. We said our goodbyes to this garden of eden and the cradle of humanity in the Serengeti and returned to the campsite at Arusha on welcome smooth tarmac roads. Returning to the campsite, it felt like I'd been away for a week rather than a couple of days, as we'd experienced snd and witnessed so much in that short space of time.Read more