Lions and hippos and boars, oh my!

I’m back from my three-day safari to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro parks in Tanzania. This will be a little brief and impressionistic, as I am a bit bleary thanks to three days in a row of 6 AM awakenings. Some of the things that stand out for me, amidst an overall experience that was amazing and outstanding:

– The red and purple-garbed Maasai herders tending animals along the roads.

– The variety of climates from arid semi-desert ot mountain rainforest to grasslands.

– Did I say grasslands? Vast grasslands in the Serengeti, stretching to the horizon with a sky bigger than you can imagine.

– Camping under the unfamiliar, and yet not, diamond blaze of the southern stars.

– Baboons swarming across the road the minute we entered Ngorongoro Park.

– The first sighting of an elephant emerging from the mist.

– Seeing a hippo chasing a lion away from a watering hole.

– Lions? Yes, many, often quite close. Sometimes with cubs.

– The roaring and tense stare-offs that occured when one pride of lions strayed too close to another.

– Not to let the rest of the feline world be outdone, cheetahs, a leopard, and a serval cat (a litle spotted wildat, which darted across the road with something in it’s mouth).

– Zebras wandering through our campsite at Ngorongoro, and the elephants that came to drink from the watertank there.

– Ngorongoro itself, a crater formed by the collapse of a twenty-mile wide volcanic crater, with tropical rainforests on it’s flanks, and runoff feeding in to grasslands down below and creating a lake in the center.

-Olduvai Gorge. I could write a whole entry on that place alone. Suffice it to say that being where our whole genus was born was a profund experience for me. Go Homos! (and props to Australopithecines as well).

These are just some of the things that come to mind. In a basically two-day period (minus driving two and from, two days in the parks themselves) I saw elephants, giraffes, hippos, a rhino, buffalo, wildebeest, more different kinds of antelope and gazelle than I can name, zebras, lions, cheetahs, a leopard, a serval cat, hyaneas, jackals, baboons, monkeys, ostriches and assorted strange and wonderful birds. I’m sure I’m forgetting something in this list, overall an amazing experience, well well worth it. Thanks to my tour operator, Kilidove, and especially to my driver/guide and cook, who went above and beyond the call of service for helping me work things out along the way.

Tomorrow I’m flying to Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania, from which I’ll take a bus the next day to Mombasa, Kenya. More to follow…

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