The drive into Serengeti National Park felt like we were explorers on an alien planet - the vast horizon was filled with sand tornadoes and mirages, in the distance we could see lone Masai figures wandering the arid land with only their herd of goat, cattle and donkey for company.
As we sat at the entrance to the National Park eating our lunch, we spotted a brightly coloured lizard scuttling over the rocks. It's head was bright pink, while the back end of its body was a deep purple colour... this just added to the out of this world atmosphere.
Over the next 3 days we would explore the plains of the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro crater (Fact: only 19km in diameter!), we also spent a great deal of time comparing everything to everyone's favourite Disney movie, the Lion King, and it really was quite accurate.
- We managed to spot Scar wallowing after his defeat.
- We saw so many Pumbas either soaking in the mud or running around with their tails straight up in the air. They butt heads to signal the start of a warthog fight! Amongst our group they were fondly called "Pigs in wigs".
- Our wonderful driver drove us 80 km so we were able to see the seasonal Wildebeest migration. Luckily there were no lions in sight, but there were vultures scavenging amongst the injured wildebeest. It really was a once in a lifetime sight - all you could see in any direction were queues of wildebeest constantly moving churning the dry earth into dust clouds. All you could hear was their dull groan echoing on mass.
Some of our other highlights which either made us laugh or amazed were:
- Zebra, not the brightest of animals it would appear, would stand in the middle of the road acting completely oblivious of our huge 4x4 until the very last second and then they would erratically run in zig-zags to escape us. If you have read my previous posts, this could also explain why zebra is number one on the lion's dinner menu.
- From what I hear, elephants are the highlights of all safaris. The African elephant is so huge compared to any other animal, even the baby one that was 3-5 weeks old would definitely have broken a few bones if it had stepped on your foot. We also had a run in with a dominant male. Your heart definitely starts beating a bit faster when he spreads his ears at you, starts stomping on the ground and you hear his deep trumpeting sound.
- The original pelican crossing.
- The Serengeti picnic spots always seem to be near the hippo lakes, which sounds nice until you get there and experience the smell. They are so content sitting in not only their own excrement, but that of their friends and family, the same could not be said for us!
- The cats are definitely the most regal animals that we saw on safari. In particular the two cheetah, that we came across posing on high ground keeping a watchful eye over the other animals, were beautiful. They were such posers, letting us take so many great photos.
Our guide was keen for us to see a leopard, some say the hardest of the 'Big 5' to spot. We felt extremely lucky to spot a mother leopard and her 2 new cubs hidden amongst some rocks and bush. Even though we didn't have a great view we were content with our sighting. We left Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro crater feeling very smug about our extremely successful safari trip, when all of a sudden our driver performed an emergency stop. There on the side of the road outside of the national parks, 2 metres from our jeep, was a adult leopard. This is the closest you could get to one of these majestic animals outside of a zoo... the car was silent, but we all sat there with massive grins on our faces!