Ah, the beautiful Serengeti. If you only had the time or money to visit one place on Safari, I would choose the Serengeti in Tanzania. Just be forewarned that these are extremely bumpy roads, to be rivaled only by the roads of Masai Mara.
This was the first time that we have seen an animal skeleton hanging from a tree branch (a young wildebeest). That's a sure sign of leopard nearby. We drove on. This was the magic moment when we got to see a leopard! She was sleeping up on the ledge of a rock formation in the middle of this Endless Plain of dried golden grass. She woke up, stood, climbed to a higher ledge, looked out at her adoring fan club and went back to sleep.
Although most of the wildebeest and zebra have crossed over the river and are in Kenya, we saw plenty. We watched a group of over 200 zebras running somewhere.
We also saw 50 Masai giraffe. They are everywhere with many young ones. What amazes me is that this branch is completely covered with big thorns. Somehow, they are able to enjoy the leaves while not getting injured.
We visited 2 fabulous hippo pools. There were at least 50 hippos. They grunt, snort, and have skirmishes in the water. But when they come on land they are perfectly quiet. I was amazed at how big some of the females are.
We also saw a 6 foot long black snake cross the road; our guide said it was either a black mamba or a black cobra. My first snake siting in Africa. Luckily I was in a vehicle!! Almost all snakes in Africa are venomous. Somehow, the rattlesnakes back home don't seen so threatening. At least they give you some warning that they are there. It was an amazing Safari. I'm so glad we went. Thank you Gregg.
The Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania is a large ancient volcanic caldera and a great place to see African animals. This conservation area is surrounded by Masai villages. We passed many Masai warriors with their cattle, which graze around the crater. Our tent camp was at the top of the crater. Since this camp is in the bush, we had to be accompanied to and from our tent (for our safety) by a Masai. It was cold here (altitude), but they supplied a space heater in the tent and a hot water bottle in the bed (which I needed more than Gregg did).
In the crater we saw 4 of the Big 5 animals. The Big 5 are the five most dangerous African animals to hunt on foot; elephant, lion, leopard, cape buffalo, and rhino. We lacked only the leopard. However, we saw the shy and elusive black rhino here. We were told that there are not many left and it is rare to see them in the wild. Here is Gregg's favorite lion picture of the safari. This male and his pride of lionesses had just killed and eaten a Cape Buffalo and he seemed quite proud of himself (although I'll bet the lady lions did all the work).
The lionesses looked like my boys after a Thanksgiving meal!
Hippos seem to live a life of leisure. They are dangerous and we needed to be in a vehicle to get this close.
Masai Mara is the Kenya side of the Serengeti. Right now the great migration is happening there. On our game drive we saw zebra and wildebeest everywhere. All it takes is one to start a race to the river. There were too many to count, thousands, all running full speed toward the river. As they got within 50 yards a lioness suddenly appeared walking toward the river and everybody came to an immediate halt. As Gregg would say, "live to cross another day." To be honest, I didn't want to see the crocodiles get any of them.
Our favorite sighting was a mother cheetah and her 3 cubs sitting on a bushy mound in the middle of the savannah. We were able to drive quite close for a photo. She didn't seem to mind. Some of these encounters made us feel almost invisible.
We also saw a male ostrich seated on a nest of eggs. I had no idea that both parents take turns sitting on the eggs until they hatch. We could see 3 eggs; look straight down from his neck. Our guide said that he would probably sit there all day and she would sit there all night. There could be as many as 20 eggs in the nest.
We visitied a Masai village. Very fascinating. Both the women and men danced for us. The warriors can jump amazingly high!