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Published: September 17th 2018
There's another campsite here in the Serengeti where the campers were kept awake by 6 male lions taking down a buffalo during the night. Unlike our lions that were a couple of hundred metres away from our camp, these lions were at the camp edge, mere metres away from the toilet block, as was the dead buffalo. I hadn't heard a peep out of our lions, which was good as we had to be up at 5.15am.
It was still starry and very dark when I emerged from my tent, so it was still necessary to go to the shower block in pairs. It gets light very quickly here and by the time we left at 6.15am, the land was well lit with a soft light.
The reason for this early start is because many of the wild animals, especially predators, are far more lively at this time. First we came across a gazelle fight within their herd that fizzled out pretty quickly. Hundreds of zebra walked through the distant mist, staying alert for lions.
All of a sudden a hyena came running past and Edyta was particularly happy about this as it's something she wanted to see.
Another hyena ran past even faster, cutting across the track behind us.
Elephants were out in abundance, one herd was running which was an impressive sight to see, given their size and that there were a lot of them.
We didn't get to the bottom of why. I saw quite a lot of babies being exceptionally cute. It got to the point that we'd seen so many elephants that we no longer stopped to look at them.
Two juvenile male lions were sitting alert by the road a while later and many jeeps had flocked to see them, around 30 perhaps. We were at the aforementioned campsite and saw the buffalo carcass with a full grown male lion close, but not eating. Further along were three more males, looking around, but not eating the barely touched carcass. Bori says it's a lot of work taking down a buffalo and that they were taking a rest before tucking in. The trucks maybe putting them off too. Apparently that one buffalo isn't enough, so more hunting is required as they only eat once a week.
I had a bit of a jippy belly and asked if I could
elephant in campsite.
Ngorongoro crater, Tanzania
use the camp loos, so we stopped and everyone got out. Bori told us not to feed the lions and wandered off. I was curious to find out how close I could get to the male lion near the carcass and walked closer as there was already a man there cleaning the toilets looking unconcerned, so it must be safe, right? In fact all the inhabitants of the camp were milling about, cleaning their teeth and washing their clothes as if it was merely a few chicken nearby. I pushed forward only followed by Glyn. Bori started shouting at us, but it wasn't concern over us getting too close to the lions, but to see the pile of 8 buffalo skulls all killed by lions near the camp. Wow. Our camp has just the one skull - our lions need to up their game!
The two young lions are bottom of the pecking order for the kill and got bored of waiting for the others to start eating, so they ran towards a herd of zebra, who also started running, funnily enough! We tried to follow but they went far away from the tracks, so we carried on ahead
to see some distant cheetah who weren't quite brave enough to take on zebra. There were a lot of zebra, thousands of them, so picking one off would be hard.
We returned to the buffalo carcass, still untouched by the inactive lions. How long do they wait? It must being going cold.
We gave up waiting and went back to camp around 10.30am for brunch. To our surprise, Molisi served spicy pizza and chips. How on earth does he do that in the Serengeti? I found out later when peering into the kitchen area: the pizza is placed in a frying pan with a metal plate as a lid then hot coals are placed on the plate and then put on the remaining coals. He had also packed up our tents whilst we were out and it was time to get going to the Ngorongoro Crater.
We stopped at the Serengeti gate for ages whilst Bori sorted out whatever he has to sort out. The permits run every 24 hours and if you are late getting out by just 5 minutes, you have to pay for another full day. I took advantage of the time to use
the free wifi to receive news and photos of Cosmo Cat who had been upset after Astra was lost, he looks very happy now. I stood under a tree for shade as I used Whatsapp and a bird crapped on my phone.
One annoying thing about going on safari in the dry season is the dust. Whenever an oncoming jeep passes us, we have to shut the windows as they leave a trail of thick dust. We need the windows open as it's too hot and to see the animals as understandably, they glass isn't very clean. Closing and opening the windows grates a lot with all the dust and sand being wedged in the mechanisms, so it was a nuisance and there was a lot of this on our way to Ngorongoro.
The jeep slowly climbed the dirt road to the rim of the crater where the campsite was situated. It's fairly green up there with a huge tree and a thick line of hedges barring any view to the crater. There's danger signs warning us not to enter the hedges and I will heed this because of snakes - Molisi had shouted me back earlier when
I stepped to far into the undergrowth following rock rabbits.
The showers have hot taps on show, but I won't make any assumptions about such luxury. Nearby tents were huge containing raised beds. Glyn, Chris, Edyta and I eyed them up but decided we much preferred our broken tents with mismatched poles held down with rocks and large nails instead of pegs. Molisi said it we wouldn't get hyena up here and lion are extremely rare. However an elephant once arrived to drink from the water tank, but he hasn't got any footage to prove it, so this sounded unlikely too. Also you get zebra and there's plenty of dung around to back that up! It's a lot cooler in this camp than anywhere else we have visited in Tanzania, due to the altitude and after sundown, people were donning fleeces and hats.
As soon as we arrived I saw my second Tanzanian cat! This one was black and extremely timid. I asked Bori who it belonged to and he said it belonged to the local Masai, so, a Massai cat!!
The campsite is split in half with two sets of facilities and I sauntered down to the other half so I could use their wifi to upload my blogs. I was just sitting in range when Bori came running out to us as there was something we did not want to miss! I heard the trumpeting of an elephant and whistles of the Tanzanians - elephants have such good hearing that loud noises scare them away - in theory! I grabbed my iPad, placing my beer down safely and ran to the water tank, still managing to get there quicker than most. Every camper soon arrived, watching and filming the young male elephant supping from the tank. He then walked past the loos and headed to the hedges where he made a meal of the leaves and branches. A small crowd gathered at a fairly safe distance as he chomped his way around the perimeter. After I got a photo and some footage and left him a he had enough people following and quite a few other people backed off too. He went to the other facilities, unbothered by any of us and I heard trumpeting around the kitchen.
The evening meal was lovely but late and Glyn was anxious, but as always the soup was delicious. Then we had pasta, vegetables and aubergine cooked in a very nice sauce. We were discussing tipping Bori and Molisi, each of us had very different information on how much. So I volunteered to walk to the other half of the camp for wifi and to consult TripAdvisor. My headlight was utterly pathetic in the huge darkness, I could hear zebra nearby and started to wonder if doing this was safe. But I carried on anyway regardless of it being pitch black. However, I couldn't get wifi and had to admit defeat. Halfway back I heard the unmistakable sound of a bellowing elephant and hoped it wouldn't trample me in the dark. I could see people hurrying to the dining area, but it was ok, the elephant was behind it having torn down a tree near the water tank. Glyn was outside being worried, but the elephant was off again, probably in search of pineapples.
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