We spent our first of two nights at a tent camp on the Serengeti. This was a small encampment with 10 large tents, 6 for guests, and one each for dining, kitchen, camp staff, and safari guides. Our first night was restful with the sounds of various nocturnal animals nearby. Interestingly, the camp staff includes a Masai warrior who stays up all night to protect the camp. A heavy rain fell throughout the night, so the large safari land cruisers will definitely be needed to travel through the muddy savannah.
After a wonderful breakfast, we loaded up the vehicles to begin our explorations for the day. Within 15 minutes we sight a large group of 15 vehicles arranged in a circle. Our two vehicles join the circle and we are rewarded with the sight of three cheetah consuming a fresh wildebeest kill. It is fascinating to see the circle of life play out in front of our eyes. After observing for about 45 minutes, we continue on. Very shortly we spy another trio of cheetah enjoying their own wildebeest while several vultures waited patiently in the nearby Acacia trees for their turn at the scraps.
The Serengeti is active with all kinds of wildlife. In a single field of view we see two female lions and a young male, 5 giraffe, and off on a nearby hill a massive herd of wildebeest and zebra.
Everywhere we turn their are new sights to behold. A small Dung Beetle proudly rolling a large ball of its namesake on the ground, an Impala with its spiral antlers, a pack of Mongoose scampering through the grass, and majestic Tawny Eagle quietly perched high in a tree, alert and ready.
Simple photographs cannot capture the scale of what we are seeing. Serengeti means “endless plain” in the Masai language, and it is an apt name. The vast landscape before us teems with animals and truly does feel as if it goes on forever.
We return to camp for lunch and a bit of a break from the rough terrain, then head out again. A storm is clearly looming off to the north and appears to be headed our way. Before long we are in the midst of a ferocious downpour, and our guide decides the prudent thing to do is hunker down in the landcruiser and wait for the storm to pass before proceeding. I suspect we are experiencing the leading edge of the looming wet season.
After a full day on the Serengeti, we return to camp for another fantastic meal and good night of sleep. The next morning, our last, we begin the long drive back to Arusha where we will spend one more night before returning home. As we head out, we are rewarded with yet another iconic sight, two lions resting in a tree. They are then joined by two more lions as we watch.
Due to the heavy downpour from yesterday and some additional rain during the night, the dirt tracks and stream crossings were a muddy, boggy mess. One of our Landcruisers got stuck in the mud, but fortunately the other, with a slight assist from a third vehicle was able to pull the stuck truck from the axle deep mud.
Finally, just when we thought we had experienced all the Serengeti had to offer, we stumbled on a family of elephants forging among the trees. A great way to end an unforgettable experience!