Tanzania: Serengeti National Park

As one of the most famous parks in Africa, we expected perfection from the Serengeti.  Our guide, Amir, said he could almost guarantee us a leopard spotting; although, he said a rhino would be more difficult in the 14, 760 sq. kilometers that made up the park.  I asked for a kill.  I really hate blood, but in Africa, I changed my tune.  I was excited to see what animals do outside of the zoo.  Amir was soon tired of my chant: Kill Kill Kill KILL!!!  Luckily, during the dry season, it is supposed to be easier to see carnivores because all the animals have to congregate near water sources.  Fueled by spaghetti with rosemary and bay leaves which the new group tested on us…not poisonous, but close, we got ready to see what was out there on the “endless plains.”

The difference between Ngorongoro and the Serengeti was the amount of space between animal sightings.  We drove through a lot of grass before we spotted anything of interest (like kissing a lot of frogs).

Every so often, we would come to an outcropping of rocks, called a kopje, where we would find animals basking in the sun…

…or taking advantage of the shade.

The second pride of lions (out of 25) that we found was chowing down on an ENTIRE buffalo.  We didn’t get to see the pride bring the buffalo down, but it takes several lion working together to kill a 2,000lb buffalo.  We came just in time to watch 8-10 lions pulling bones, cracking ribs and generally fighting over the carcass.  Finally, mama came, growled at all the young lions to stop and started to feast for herself.

From one National Geographic moment to the next…we spotted our first leopard…in a tree.

We couldn’t get much closer and the leopard was showing no signs of moving, so we left it lounging.  Just after, as if our stomachs were made of steel and all my wishes were going to come true, we watched an eagle eating a small dik dik (deer).  To have killed the animal, the eagle would have had to pick it up and drop it from 75 feet in the air.  The eagle showed no signs of fear as we approached.  More likely, it was congratulating itself on a job well done as it pulled apart fur and something gooey from its reward.

And just like that, our driver was blazing down the path…the leopard had moved from the tree.

It was walking parallel to us not 20 feet away.  Four out of five…not bad!

 

Our day ended on a high note…we spotted a “lady killer” zebra.

 

We camped in the Seregetti, surrounded by elephants and tormented by hyenas.  Our morning drive turned out to be less bloody and more family friendly.  We watched baby giraffes imitate their moms.

Baby elephants snuggle up close.

Even cheetahs strolled peacefully alongside a herd of gazelles.

 

And vacationers and big spenders alike got to enjoy the scenery from above…this was a $500pp “once in a lifetime” we passed on, so our view was from the ground.  But in the Serengeti, there wasn’t a bad angle.

 

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