Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Plains

We are all safely tucked away at the Serengeti Wildlife Lodge during an evening thunderstorm after a long day of game driving in the Serengeti plains. The weather has been beautiful all day and we are thankful to now have the rain knocking down the dust for our long day on the dirt trails tomorrow.

Going on safari is like fishing. You know the walleye and northerns are in the lake but that is no guarantee they will present themselves. So it is with cheetahs, leopards, lions and elephants. We know they are out here in the Serengeti, but 6,000 square miles leaves a lot of room to hide. even for elephants!  

So were we blessed to come upon a family of three active cheetahs only half an hour after leaving the lodge in the morning. We spent nearly an hour with them as they moved about in and out of trees and off through the bush. Many pictures will follow of these majestic cats when we get back to Moshi in a couple days and have better internet (hopefully).

As fortunate as that encounter was with the cheetahs, a few of our teens were beginning to grumble about all the driving through bumpy, dusty trails in the Serengeti without seeing another spectacular creature for several hours. What the kids don't realize is that a game drive in the Serengeti is like fishing. I have met plenty of folks on their tenth or eleventh consecutive day out on their safari, still hoping to get a close look at a cheetah. We are on safari for two days and we spent the whole morning with a family of three incredible cats!

As usual, Tanzania delivered as we came upon a leopard getting himself settled up in a sausage tree for a nap. This completed our "big five" sightings (lion, leopard, black rhino, elephant, and water buffalo), which again, is something that cannot be taken for granted on safaris that last for weeks.

Shortly after seeing the leopard, we found ourselves next to a big group of elephants taking turns rolling around in a mud hole (elephant selfie above). We were so close we had to duck to keep from getting splattered with mud! Surrounding this whole scene were thousands of zebra as far as the eye could see. Some late season rains have caused bigs segments of the great migration to turn back to this area to enjoy new grasses in these plains.

As if all this were not enough for one day (or lifetime for that matter), the Serengeti piled on and we found ourselves viewing a pride of lions with about 8 or 9 tiny cubs feeding on a zebra kill. The trees above were filled with giant vultures waiting their turn.  The elephants also had baby's in the group so they were not comfortable with the lions in the area and began to move the lions off the kill. My friend Peter, one of our three stellar safari drivers, was heard saying, "let's see who is REALLY king of the jungle!" Peter really loves elephants.

All in all, it was another amazing day filled with blessings beyond measure that ended with a gorgeous sunset followed by a rainstorm. Many pictures to follow when we get to some decent internet.

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