Tanzania Travel Diary - p
Time for the grand finale, Serengeti National Park. We leave Ndutu and
drive north, entering at Naabi Hill Gate. The first 15 miles or so are
as expected: a featureless plain, like Kansas only more flat.
Then, what we thought was the shadow of a cloud on the land
proves to be animals - tens of thousands of wildebeest, the leading edge of the
surge north. Eventually they will reach the Masai Mara in Kenya as the
southern plains here dry up in June. This year they are on the move early,
a great spectacle.
It's hard to figure. Wildebeest aren't fleet of foot,
keen of eye, nor do they look very intelligent. Yet they thrive here in East
Africa by the millions, far more numerous than eland or hartebeest or even
zebras. What is the secret to their success??
on to Serengeti Serena Lodge: more impeccable service and tasty buffet
meals. It's set amid low hills with yellow-bark acacias, offering a view of
distant plains populated with cape buffalo and giraffes. After dark we
are required to have a guard accompany us back and forth to the main lodge, in case we
cross paths with a buffalo or maybe a leopard.
On our first morning game drive we enjoy more African
birdlife: the Silverbird flycatcher, Green Wood-hoopoes, Steel-blue
Whydah, Crimson-rumped Waxbill, Magpie Shrike, Ruppell's Starling, and at last a
colorful Green-winged Pytilia, too far away and too small for a photo. But
the Southern Red Bishop, whom we saw at Lake Manyara, puts in an encore
appearance and poses quite nicely.
The best place for bird photography is the Serengeti Visitor Centre near the
airstrip. Its trees and picnic area hold semi-tame Nubian Woodpecker,
Purple Grenadier, Black-necked Weaver, Chin-spot Batis, and more Ruppell's
Starlings. D'Arnaud's Barbet, more odd-looking than colorful, finally
gives good looks in between sallies down to the picnic table where I've laid out
We've spent almost three weeks in Africa, but a
few hours today typified the whole experience. It started along the Seronera
River, with a large mass of wildebeest and zebras on the grassland south
of the road. On the other side near the river was a great herd of
elephants, some 50 strong, with lots of youngsters.
came quick looks at a male leopard and then three lions in the trees along the
river. Next, a female leopard climbed into a tree closer to the road and
rested for an hour or two. This being the off-season in the Serengeti,
only 13 safari vehicles converged to take a look.
now it was lunch time. The leopard descended to the ground. Almost at
once she took a young wildebeest who had wandered too far into the tall grass near
the river. Much outcry and commotion from the human onlookers. After
a while we moved on, now finding several lions who had returned to the trees.
One young male was too good to pass up, the last pleasing photo of a very