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Published: November 15th 2017
Serengeti - We have now entered Tanzania. After having to get my yellow fever vaccination done at the border I was finally let in the country! As this part of the trip wasn't planned I hadn't thought I would need the vaccination.
Our first stop was at a snake park just outside Arusha. We were lucky to turn up on market day, so behind our campsite was the weekly Massai cattle market, with some impressive cattle being sold. Unfortunately we were shouted at and demanded money from for taking pictures, but we just feigned ignorance and left without paying anyone. Next up we went for a tour of the snake park, learning about the local snakes and how deadly each one is! I also got to hold a snake and a big tortoise, so I was very happy! The snake park also runs a free clinic for treating snake bites, so it's a very worthy cause to support.
The next morning we headed off for a long drive to the Serengeti national park. This involves driving through the Ngorogoro conservation area, where the Massai are allowed to live and herd their cattle, but no-one else is allowed to live there. It
was very interesting to see the local housing and bright colours of the Massai robes everywhere. Unfortunately the Massai have taken to begging from passing safari jeeps, which detracts from the experience a bit when 20+ children surround the car asking for food and money.
As we drove towards the entrance to the Serengeti national park across the Serengeti plains we were treated to thousands of zebra and wildebeest who have recently migrated here. We stopped and admired them, being treated to scuffles between the zebra, which involves biting, kicking, chasing and shouting at each other. This was all very entertaining!
Once inside the park we started straight on a game drive. As the drive started out we spotted a few giraffe munching on trees, more zebra and wildebeest, some gazelle, and two lions laying in done long grass. We were very lucky on this drive and managed to find two leopards courting in the long grass. We also saw two cheetah brothers laying grooming each other and relaxing. My favourite encounter of the day was finding a pack of hyaena, who were squabbling over a wildebeest leg. They were very interesting to watch bounding around and scuffling a bit.
We camped overnight in the park, with no fences, but were simply told if you see red eyes its fine, it's a herbivore, but if you see green eyes don't leave your tent! During the night I heard some lions and hyaena, but luckily not too close! When I got up I also saw warthog footprints around the tent.
The next morning was a long game drive. This got off to a great start when we found 12+ lions eating a wildebeest! We sat watching for ages, and could hear the bones crunch as they were being eaten, and we saw the odd scuffle when a lion tried to jump ahead their turn at the carcass! This was a very impressive sight.
The Serengeti plains are much more barren than the Massai Mara, and with less trees and features come less animals. We did however find a hippo grazing, who treated us to a massive yawn and a crocodile in the pool next to him. We then came across a mother cheetah and her 3 large babies who were running around playing in the grass. We then heard on the radio of a leopard in a tree, so went to
find it and were lucky to get a fairly good view of yet another leopard! Continuing our drive we found a male lion with a half eaten kill, which our guide said was most likely stolen from a cheetah. Further on we came across the big pride of lions again, this time sleeping under a tree with very full bellies!
On our way out of the park we stopped at another tree, where there were two more leopards!! We had a good view of them sleeping on branches.
After lunch we headed off to our campsite at the rim of the Ngorogoro crater.
After a beautiful sunrise it was time to head in to the crater. The crater is 610m deep, down a very steep road. From the rim of the crater it looks at first glance to be barren inside. At a second look you can make out tiny dots that are wildebeest and buffalo, but it still doesn't look like there is much inside.
Almost as soon as we got in to the crater we came across 8 lions off for a stroll. These lions are obviously very used to humans and vehicles, and rather than being scared
off they were inquisitive! That definitely got the adrenaline going when one was running towards us, with all windows and the roof open! The lion were heading towards a group of gazelle so we were hoping for a hunt, but unfortunately they weren't hungry and just kept walking. We did however come across a pack of hyaena who were eating yet another wildebeest, and were treated to a great view, as well as the sound of crunching bones and the hyaena squabbling over the kill. It was amazingly gruesome, and I could have stayed until they were finished eating! But we had more to see. We headed off through the forested area, where we found a lot of elephants! They were causally grazing their way through the most prickly bushes I've ever seen! We then went on to see a flock of flamingos, a lot of hippo, and plenty of zebra and gazelle. Our driver then said that someone had spotted a rhino! This is the last animal of the big 5 we were yet to see, having also ticked off the ugly 5, so we were very hopeful. The rhino was a long way away, but through binoculars we
managed to spot it, and we even managed a couple of photos. They are very zoomed in and blurry, but you can clearly see that it's a rhino!
This completed our tour, and it was time to head back to where the truck was waiting for us in a local village along the way between Arusha and the safaris. That evening we were treated to a local banquet in the village after a village tour. I was very impressed with the food (I wasn't expecting too much, but it was actually really good). I was also impressed that out of at least 12 dishes only one contained meat, so I could eat most of the food.
Next up is a long slog towards Zanzibar.
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