Tanzania Travel Diary - p 8

19 April 2008
    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??

Southern Red BishopThen it's 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.

D'Arnaud's BarbetThe 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 some cashews.

Elephant herd21 April 2008
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.

LeopardThen 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.

By 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 enjoyable day.




Travel Diary