Edit Blog Post
Published: December 24th 2011
Ok, so I am unapologetically in Africa to see the animals, terrain and scenery and of course the geological features which will make my peops proud - I don’t mind saying that my first view of the Ngorongorgo Crater brought tears to my eyes. So it was no small matter when we saw our first (and hopefully not last) leopard. For those of you who really know me and my 'fashion sense', this was a huge highlight so early in our trip. And I suppose I should have taken it as a good omen when I saw our tour company truck - from 'Leopard Tours.'
Last Thursday, we took a day long game drive from our rustic lodge at Masek and Ndutu Lakes into the Central Serengeti Park. We ambled past massive herds of Wildebeest, Zebras, Thompson's and Grant's Gazelles as far as the eye can see and we traveled well past the entrance gate at the Naadi Hill koptei (geological feature - see Wikipedia).In the previous couple of days, our excellent driver and guide Edwin had already done a marvelous job of spotting and enabling us to observe Elephants, Giraffes, Dik Diks, Bat Eared Foxes, Warthogs, Black Backed Jackals,
A Real Warrior
Lions (including a family pride with male, female and 4 one month old cubs), Cheetahs and too many other species to name. A personal favourite was the grizzled, dirty old female Hyena we came across in a group with two or three others. Her ears were tattered, her coat muddy and marred by numerous scars and her nipples long and tough from countless births, she looked like a true survivor and the sight of her made Hyenas a new favourite of mine. As a few of us are also bird enthusiasts (not quite 'birders'😉, Edwin has also prove adept at spotting and identifying for us Marabou Storks, Superb Starlings, Crowned Cranes, Pygmy Falcons, several Eagle species, vultures, Lilac Breasted Rollers, Helmeted Guinea Fowl, the list goes on - you get the idea. I think we made a birding convert out of Carol for sure.
But back to the leopard. The way game drives are conducted is very interesting to me. At first I felt a bit like I was in the movie 'Jurassic Park'; we are in here in our truck, everything else is out there, wandering around or eating or hanging about. The trucks all seem to have
radios and there is much chatter (all in Swahili) between the drivers, presumably about what animals are spotted and located where. Edwin also seemed adept at stopping and chatting with other drivers as they passed each other along the narrow dirt tracks or when several trucks were converged and all viewing the same scene. So it came as little surprise that he got a bead on a leopard in a tree up ahead near our picnic lunch destination. We and an almost embarrassing number of other trucks converged near a large Sausage Tree (so named because of the large 'sausage-like' fruit hanging from the limbs) and scanned the tree and surrounding area. We spotted the near complete remains of its recent kill (a Steenbok) up in the tree (leopards always do this apparently) but no leopard. A troop of Baboons meandered up to the site and several climbed the tree and moved quite close to the kill. But still no leopard. So after a while, we gave up and went off to out picnic site.
After lunch we continued our drive in the area, observing among other things Hippos lounging in a pool. As we came up to a
First Leopard Again
large herd of Giraffes (interesting to see so many at once) we expected to move in closer to watch them about their business but suddenly without a word Edwin began to pick up speed, zoom right past the Giraffes and head back in the direction from which we came. Ok, it was getting on in the day and I figured he must have wanted to start heading back. But not Edwin. I know he really wanted this for us and kept his ear on the radio chatter. He made a beeline back to that tree where we (and yes a plethora of other vehicles) spotted and observed the Leopard guarding its kill and dozing in the tree limbs. I was in seventh heaven. Admittedly, it did not do much; twitch its tail, drop a limb but it did lift its head and turned towards us for the perfect photo op. What a coat!
It's all a bit surreal, sort of like a days long National Geographic documentary but with the largest screen on the planet . . .
And now it is Christmas Eve at the Ngorongorgo Crater rim and it does nto get any better than this.
Lion Cubs Near Lake Ndutu
Lion Cubs Near Lake Ndutu
More on the crater in my next entry but for now, Merry Xmas all.
Tot: 1.64s; Tpl: 0.073s; cc: 11; qc: 47; dbt: 0.0328s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb