AFRICA DAY 13 - THE SERENGETI
Thursday, July 7
 
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When going to bed last night I didn't expect to sleep well. Lying down I discovered I had a very hard mattress with a pretty soft pillow - not a personal favorite combination. I grabbed a couple of towels from the bathroom to prop up the pillow to better align my neck. I fell asleep, not waking up until the alarm went off before 5:30am - I actually slept quite nicely after all.

We got up and ready for the 6:00am departure on the game drive. We were trying to get out early enough to catch the predators at work, or at least eating what they caught overnight. While we didn't see that, we did see a bunch of other things, including a lovely sunrise. We also saw a number of hippos returning to their ponds, a herd of over 20 elephants walk by and cross the road right behind us, a couple of lionesses (one of which was lying in the grass only 10 feet from the truck), and a variety of birds. We did see some avian predatory behavior, including a saddle-billed stork (struggling to, but eventually succeeding in) downing a large fish and a lilac-breasted roller eating a big insect. We also saw a number of antelope and gazelle, wildebeest, zebra (in very large herds), topi, and monkeys.

We returned to the lodge just after 8:00am to find a huge giraffe walking across the premises. He didn't seem to care about any of the trucks or people, and just took his time standing in the road blocking traffic eating acacia leaves before he decided to leave, passing within touching distance of a few people in one of the trucks.

We went in and ate breakfast (omelet, pancakes, potatoes and orange juice for me) and then packed up and met in the lobby for a planned 9:00am departure. After getting the trucks loaded we took off just short of 9:30.

Today was scheduled to be an all-day game drive with us ending up at the Lobo Wilderness Lodge - another lodge in the park like the one we just stayed at. We actually stayed near the Seronera Lodge for the morning portion, returning for lunch around 1:00pm. Along the way we saw large numbers of zebra, wildebeest, and gazelle, along with giraffes and elephants and a number of birds.

Lunch was a buffet again, and a much better option than the boxed lunches we had been getting. I had some beef medallions with carrots, broccoli, and potatoes, with some kind of cream puff thing for dessert. We weren't leaving until almost 3:00pm, so I took some time in the bar area to catch up on writing. We then gathered in the lobby and loaded the trucks, and left right around 3:00pm destined for the Lobo Wilderness Lodge.

We didn't get very far in the first hour - there was simply too much to see. Primarily we encountered a large herd of giraffes including over 20 animals that we could see and count (it's amazing how well they actually seem to disappear into trees given as large as they are). In the same area we came across a large herd of elephants split across the road. As we were sitting there watching, one group formed a close circle and started making loud noises while the other group was crossing the road right in front of us. We even had a couple of somewhat scary moments. At one point a very large elephant was walking right at our truck before veering off. The other was when a juvenile (teenage-ish, based on size) elephant, having already crossed the road, walked right up to our truck, stopped less than 20 feet away, raised his trunk and gave us a very loud trumpeting before turning and walking away.

We continued on toward Lobo at a much faster pace, stopping much less often. We did stop by a very large and smelly hippo pond in the hopes of seeing some crocodiles, but there weren't any we were able to see. Hippos are pretty disgusting creatures, and the overwhelmingly foul smell of the fetid waste and stagnant water had us leaving rather quickly.

We got back to the main road and made good time until we came upon a pair of ostriches. We had seen ostriches before from a distance, but these were right by the side of the road - much closer than we had seen before. Shortly after we arrived the female ran across the road (answering an age-old question as you shall soon see) to meet the male on the other side. The male then began an odd display where he sat on the ground, shook his feathers, and moved his head back and forth in an awkward kind of dance. He got up, and the female, apparently adequately impressed, sat down on the ground where the male then basically sat down on top of her. He seemed to make some similar motions for a little while - we had just witnessed some live Ostrich sex! Just like the Discovery Channel. Amani commented that the mating ritual usually takes a half hour until "commencement" so we must have arrived right on time.

As we headed to the lodge we only stopped a few times - for some giraffes, some young vultures in a nest near the road, some large buffalo, and a couple of male lions lounging in the grass next to the road. As we drove towards the lodge we started to move into different terrain. In some areas it seemed much more like a forest than a plain - especially as the area got greener and the trees much larger. It had rained recently in the Serengeti so it was more green than usual (and we were fortunate to see it that way), but here it was even more pronounced. It had also started to get more hilly, and we seemed to be driving across rolling hills in a forest. We also drove through a section that was recently burned and full of young acacia and other trees. It started to look like the flat plains again before we hit some last few hilly areas (with large rock outcroppings) where our lodge was located.

We pulled into the Lobo Wilderness Lodge just after 6:00pm amongst a throng of other tourists as well. We got checked in and Randy and I headed to our room. I took a shower - battling the water in a losing effort as it changed from cold to near-scalding without any warning. I took some time to copy some pictures to the netbook and write in the journal before heading to dinner around 7:30pm. I had pork chops in brandy sauce, rosemary potatoes, green beans and carrots, rice, and chocolate mud pie for dessert. After dinner I returned to the room, finished some writing, and did some packing before going to bed.


>> View all pictures from today <<      

 
sunrise
Sunrise (Serengeti National Park)


elephants
Elephants Crossing the Road (Serengeti National Park)


lioness
Lioness (Serengeti National Park)


giraffe
Giraffe (Seronera Wildlife Lodge)


zebra
Zebra (Serengeti National Park)


ostrich
Ostrich Mating Display (Serengeti National Park)


leopard
Leopard (Serengeti National Park)


lodge
Lobo Wilderness Lodge (Serengeti National Park)

     More pictures from today:

stork
Saddle-billed Stork and Fish
(Serengeti National Park)
giraffe
Giraffe
(Serengeti National Park)
heron
Heron
(Serengeti National Park)

lioness
Lioness (Serengeti National Park)
roller
Lilac-breasted Roller (Serengeti National Park)

pano
Running Zebra and Wildebeest (Serengeti National Park)

elephants
Elephants (Serengeti National Park)
warthog
Warthog (Serengeti National Park)

buffalo
Buffalo (Serengeti National Park)
lizard
Lizard (Seronera Wildlife Lodge)

pano
Zebra at a Watering Hole (Black & White)
(Serengeti National Park)

pano
Zebra and Wildebeest (Serengeti National Park)

elephant
Baby Elephant (Serengeti National Park)
hippos
Hippo Pond (Serengeti National Park)

pano
Elephants in a Protective Circle (Serengeti National Park)

vulture
Juvenile Vulture (Serengeti National Park)
lion
Lion (Serengeti National Park)

buffalo
Buffalo and Termite Mound (Serengeti National Park)
tree
Lone Tree (Serengeti National Park)

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