On the Serengeti – 2 and 3 August

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September 10th 2012
Published: September 10th 2012
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On the Serengeti – 2 and 3 August

Evening of 1 August- The Snake Park Camp at Arusha was dry and a little dusty. It had a bar, restaurant and a lot of cages where about a dozen African snakes were displayed, including some of the most deadly – black and red spitting cobra etc. The showers were cold (refreshing) and toilets clean – which is an important criteria in a country like Africa. We set up camp and had a shower and then got our overnight bags packed ready for the Serengeti and Ngorogoro Crater for 2 nights and 3 days.

On the way we visited the Cultural and Heritage Centre which also was an outlet for the display and sale of Tanzanite, a blue stone that was mined ner by which was the only site in the world that the stone was mined.

On arrival to the camp site, we had a nice chat and wine and then went to bed.

Arusha is a city in northern Tanzania. It is the capital of the Arusha Region, which claims a population of about 1.7 million. Arusha is surrounded by some of Africa’s most famous landscapes and national parks. Situated below Mount Meru on the eastern edge of the eastern branch of the Great Rift Valley which starts out of Nairobi and goes all the way to the Mediteranian. It has a mild climate and is close to Seringeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, Olduvai Gorge, Tarangire National Park, and Mount Kilimanjaro, as well as having its own Arusha National Park and Mount Meru.

Arusha is a major international diplomatic hub. The city hosts and is regarded as the de facto capital of the East African Community.

The town was founded by German colonialists when the territory was part of German East Africa in 1900. A garrison town, it was named after the local tribe Wa-Arusha, who are known as Larusa by the Maasai.

In 1904 the German Imperial authorities established a European colony here with the sponsored settlement of Boer refugee families, mostly of German descent, in the aftermath of South Africa's divisive Anglo-Boer War. The Germans arranged for the Boers to be taken by boat to Tanga, from where they travelled to Arusha by ox-wagon. When the oxen all succumbed to tsetse-borne disease, the Germans provided the Boers with teams of (forced) local labourers. In August 1905 they reached the Arusha district and met the Pieter Joubert trek, which had just arrived. For their immediate sojourn they set up camp on the farm of Mr. Nelie von Landsberg.

In March 1916 the British occupied Arusha. The British expelled the German settlers, reallocated the German estates to British settlers and alienated vast new tracts themselves.

Thursday 2 August 2012: Up at 6.30am and started our drive to the rim of the Crater before entering the Serengeti National Park. The group was divided into 3 groups of 7 and we drove in a 4x4 vehicle with a pop-top. Our driver was a local named Habit.

On the way we stopped off at a very shady spot for our pre-packed lunch. There were Kite Hawks there and one of them swooped and took a chicken bone from one of the group’s hand.

We then stopped at a Tanzanian Maasai Village who wore more blue in their clothing than the Kenyan Maasai men. We didn’t go in as we had already had a visit, so stayed outside and spoke to9 2 group was Maasai men, one 21 and the other 26. The 26 year old had been to Germany for 3 months to learn several science subjects – funded by the Government. We saw them play soccer, a couple of them were wearing good watches, and one had an iPod. There was a school inside the village corral with about 12 small children who said the numbers and alphabet in English.

We left and on the way we saw several Maasai boys dressed in black and wearing white paint on their faces. We learned that they had gone through the circumcision ceremony (12-14 years) and were to survive on their own for 3 months, walking around their area. Later we saw another group of 6 boys and we stopped, payed them 1000 shillings each to take their photo. There was also a young girl there, who I took a photo of.

On the way to the Kopje Naabi gate, where we stopped for a cold drink, we saw zebras, elephants and giraffes. We later went down onto the savannah plains. Before that, we did a short walk up to a group of rocks which gave an excellent 360 degree view of the Serengeti.

We stopped at the entry gates of the Serengeti National Park for permits. The afternoon game drive on 2 August and the 3 August, we saw several lionesses and lion, tower or kaleidoscope of giraffes, wart many buffalo, Thompson gazelle, guinea fowl, black-headed heron, hammerhead bird, warthogs, heartabeasts, dazzle of zebras, topis, impala, dik dik (smallest antelope), and baboons over the 2 days on the Serengeti. We also saw a saddle-billed stork, Egyptian geese, lilac breasted roller (national emblem for Botswana), many mongoose, hippo, vultures, secretary birds, grant hornbill (snake eater).

We also saw 2 cheetahs run down a gazelle and kill it. It was an incredible site. It was too quick for us to capture on film or photo. One of the 3 leopards we have seen was eating a gazelle up a tree. The same leopard, we saw twice. The 2nd time it was down from the tree sitting on a rock. It then climbed back up the tree the finish the previous day’s kill. What is so good about this trip is to see all the animals in their own habitat and not behind fences and in cages. We could also observe their behaviour. The lions didn’t worry about us. They just walked along the road, past the car, returning to their previous activity.

There were the baobab trees which the locals call ‘upside-down trees’ and is a very familiar site in the Crater and on the edge of the Serengeti planes.

Two of our group left at 5.00am for a balloon drive over the Serengeti. We saw 4 balloons, and there was a beautiful sunrise. Lake Makatu is the main lake on the Serengeti. We noticed there was not much grass because the wilderbeast had already been through the week before – we missed them – devastated. We were too early when we went to the Maasai Mara National Park and now we were too late. You have to be lucky as it is so dependent on the weather and water supply!

Serengeti National Park is a large conservation area located in the north of Tanzania. The park flows over into neighbouring Kenya where it's known as the Maasai Mara. The Serengeti National Park is a large national park in Serengeti area, Tanzania. It is most famous for its annual migration of over one and a half million white bearded (or brindled) wilderbeest and 250,000 zebra. Serengeti National Park is widely regarded as the best wildlife reserve in Africa due to its density of predators and prey. The Maasai people had been grazing their livestock in the open plains which they knew as “endless plain” for around 200 years when the first European explorers visited the area. The name Serengeti is an approximation of the word used by the Maasai to describe the area. German geographer and explorer Dr. Oscar Baumann entered the area in 1892. Baumann killed three rhinos during a stay in the Ngorongoro crater.

The first Briton to enter the Serengeti, Stewart Edward White, recorded his explorations in the northern Serengeti in 1913. Stewart returned to the Serengeti in the 1920s, and camped in the area around Seronera for three months. During this time he and his companions shot 50 lions.

Because the hunting of lions made them so scarce, the British decided to make a partial game reserve of 800 acres (3.2 km2) in the area in 1921 and a full one in 1929. These actions became the basis for Serengeti National Park, which was established in 1951. The Serengeti gained more fame after the initial work of Bernhard Grzimek and his son Michael in the 1950s. Together they produced the book and film Serengeti Shall Not Die, widely recognized as one of the most important early pieces of nature conservation documentary.

As part of the creation of the park, and in order to preserve wildlife, the resident Maasai were moved to the Ngorongoro highlands. There is still considerable controversy surrounding this move, with claims made of coercion and deceit on the part of the colonial authorities.

The Serengeti is Tanzania's oldest national park and remains the flagship of the country’s tourism industry, providing a major draw to the “Northern Safari Circuit”, encompassing Lake Manyara, Tarangire and Arusha national parks, as well as Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

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