I had a lovely sleep in my wilderness abode and woke at my usual time and today it was required as we were asked to meet at 7am for our departure into the reserve and I wanted to have breakfast before we left.
Breakfast was wonderful another buffet and full of omelette, sausages, rice, vegetables, and more. Tea and coffee of course.
Our driver John who was slightly maniacal behind the wheel rounded us up after a satisfying feed and off we went.
The day was INCREDIBLE! We saw so many animals and were very close to viewing all of “The Big Five” as they are known out here and all but the elusive Rhinosasaur as we had named it escaped us.
For those of you out of the loop the five were Lion, Buffalo, Leopard, Elephant, and the Rhino.
We also saw hippos, crocodile, cheetah, ostrich, giraffe, zebra, and a variety of winged creatures including the beautiful eagles and the not quite as beautiful vultures and of course not to be dismissed were the thousands of Wildebeast that were migrating from the Serengeti and what a spectacular sight indeed. Just before lunch a convoy of vehicles congregated by the river that divides Tanzania and Kenya all of whom take part in a jostling match to get the best view of the Wildebeast crossing the dangerous river. The crocodile eyes could be seen surfacing periodically waiting patiently for their lunch and further down the river the hippos were in force and around them a number of carcasses the obvious remnants of a heard crossing over and disturbing their slumber. I felt a twang of sadness at this unfortunate fate of the migrating animals especially as hippos don’t eat meat but are obviously lethal when they encounter an unwanted intruder into their space.
We all waited in anticipation of a spectacular crossing and the wildebeest as well as zebra and gazelle were lined up on the opposite bank but extremely wary of crossing the dangerous waters. The whole process was painstakingly slow as the herds would repeatedly approach the various crossing points slowly edging their way closer to the water before at the last minute thinking better of it and turning back to the safety of the Tanzanian savannah. We waited for quite a while watching the animals move up and down the opposite bank carefully considering the various crossing points. This was proving frustrating to the avid watchers occupying the fleet of safari vehicles safely on the Kenyan bank so for the animals I can only imagine that it must have been hell! It was then that someone pointed out that as we were all so close to the river bank the Wilde beast and co had no escape route from the treacherous river if and when they decided to cross and I have to agree that this was most probably true. Unfortunately none of the drivers were prepared to give even an inch wanting only to satisfy their occupants and get the best view of the crossing but if this wall of 4×4 vehicles remained in place nobody would be watching the spectacle of the great migration. Another 30 minutes passed before a park ranger showed up and reiterated what was already apparent to our group and we were all told to move back from the waters edge. Again the drivers were reluctant to move but did eventually adhere to the advice of the ranger and we watched eagerly as a group of Wilde Beast approached the water closet than they had been until now. To our dismay most of the herd didn’t seem to like it and returned back up the slope to the Savannah but a brave few, maybe 10 at most, were set on crossing and took the leap of faith into the river. It was deeper than I had expected as they were required to swim across and for a moment they were out of sight as I was unable to see from our position, will they make it past the hungry crocodiles? To my delight all of them reappeared on our side of the bank and with a triumphant gallop they found a gap between the metal wall of vans and jeeps to join the thousands of their kin that had already made the crossing.
At lunch we stopped under a tree where John quickly laid a couple of blankets for us to sit on and handed out our packed lunches. The brown paper bag of delight consisted of sandwiches, chicken, fruit, crisps, juice, and I have to say even for a hungry boy like me it was ample. We all took a moment to enjoy where we had found ourselves on this fine afternoon and of course to appreciate what we had seen so far, which was more than I had seen on all of the other safaris I had been on put together and to think we still had another 4 hours to enjoy, amazing!
I think my favourite part of the day had been our Leopard sighting when we caught this stunning creature climbing a tree with a large bird in its mouth, which he actually dropped but wasn’t bothered about retrieving until we had left as it certainly wasn’t going anywhere. He nonchalantly straddled one of the strong boughs and each of his legs hung loosely as he lay his cheek on the tree to relax. It was an incredible moment and supposedly a rare sighting, watching this quite beautiful creature doze on the limb of the tree gave me goosebumps and a memory that I hope will last forever.
Oh and how could I forget the lone Lion that we encountered and were able to approach within just a few feet. I admit though that looking into its Amber eyes I could see the wildness of that powerful creature looking back at me and I felt a bit like dinner and just another source of food on this ripe savannah for the King of the beasts to feed upon. Fortunately it must have eaten already as it barely batted an eyelid at these silly looking humans with their noisy picture boxes clicking away and in my case at least it didn’t think that I had enough meat on my bones to be worth the effort. Phew!
When we eventually made it back to camp all of us were pretty tired and after dinner and a beer or two we all said our good nights and headed for our tents. What a day! If anyone is thinking of doing a safari anywhere else in the world don’t bother come to Africa and it will exceed all of your expectations, simply amazing!