Cal VA
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Serengeti National Park Safari
Masai Mara National Reserve Safari
Sunday, September 17, 2017

Coffee was delivered to our tent at 5:30AM and then we signaled with our flashlight to pick up our bags and gear as we were headed to the airport

I developed a rash on my forehead from a combination of sunscreen and dyes from the hat. We were up early and rode along the river and #10 Crossing. Earlier we had been at Crossing #4 where the river was too high to cross.

We saw two 3.5 year old male lions just before sun rise resting but awake. These two had a full mane already. In the Serengeti, this happens earlier. Normally they are 4 - 5 years old before a full mane develops.
We had heard these two lions the night before while sitting around the fire before dinner.

The animals don't see the jeeps as threatening but we did not risk getting out of the jeep to walk for fear they might attack.

On our drive out, we saw two big Buffalo and heard Hippos in the river below.

We had a whistle in our room to use if an animal came too close or if we were afraid. They shared with us that an animal had once charged a tent tearing through the canvas siding. But I don't think this happens often.

We saw a herd of Wildebeest headed to a crossing near #9 at the river.

There were so many Zebras and they were everywhere. So after awhile, Zebras seemed like an every day occurrence and part of the natural landscape.
The Gazelles are some of the most beautiful animals, but they are very fast and always on the run wagging their little tails.

We saw a Water Buck who posed for the camera before running and then we saw an Eland on the other side of the river.

There were camps all along the side of the river that looked like permanent structures. Alex Walker has a camp on this side as well but we were staying at his portable camp which is broken down and moved to the permanent camp when the season is over.

It was not unusual to see animals standing on top of these termite mounds.
We were traveling along and came over a ridge. The road went down to a stream and then up the other side. In front of us in the small valley was a small elephant heard. There were elephants on the road so we had to wait for them to amble along.

Mom and little elephant walking in sync

The elephants continued to walk back and forth in front of us - great pictures but we had a plane to catch.

Young elephant

Two of the elephants made a loud trumpet sound and walked fast toward the jeep. One had a secretion on her temple which indicates stress and she was pregnant and feared our jeep being too close to her.

A Hyena charged a Wildebeest calf and would run the calf until he/she tires and finally collapses. Luckily this calf got free of the Hyena. Then we saw a Zebra chase the Hyenas defending the nearby Wildebeest.

The Zebra and Wildebeest are BFFs (Best Friends Forever).
We did not notice this at the time but after learning more about giraffes in Narobi this picture had significant meaning - there are two species of giraffe together in this picture, the Masai Giraffe and Reticulated Giraffe. Note how their patterns of spots are different.

Before leaving the Serengeti, we stopped in the bush for a breakfast of fresh pineapple, egg frittatas, bacon and corn muffins.

We saw an Oribi Antelope which looks a lot like the Thompson Gazelles and lives like the Dik Dik in pairs for life. We saw a small herd of Gazelles across from the Oribi.

Only the Wildebeest and Zebra migrate but sometimes, the Hyenas will follow them. All the other animals stay in the area.

Nile's father and grandfather were guides. He told the story of finding a 4-year old Maasai child who was lost and could not find his way back home. The guide returned the little boy to the Ranger Station and they were eventually able to return him to his tribe.

Frazer and Emily's little boy, Patrick (Patty) was an adorable tow head who was very friendly. Emily said someone has to stay with Patty all the time for fear of Leopards. Leopards will hunt and attack anyone who gives off a sound or sign of distress like crying.
A Banded Mongoose ran across the road and we tracked it to a den in a termite mound.

The last sighting on the Serengeti was a Black Backed Jackal

At 9:45 AM, we boarded a plane for Tarima and by 10:30 AM, we were in a van with Nicholas headed to the border of Tanzania and Kenya. The Coastal twin engine jet landed on a dirt airstrip in Tarina with an open-air thatch hut seating area and a roadside gift shop. There were lots of people out walking on the road.

While Nicholas managed our visa and crossing from Tanzania into Kenya, we had George riding along with us and were never really sure what George's role was.

We arrived Sinari, the border town with many roadside markets. After the immigration process, we crossed the border into Karibu Kenya to show proof of our Yellow Fever shots and then pay for our visa entry into the country.

George and Nicholas drove us out to another airstrip where we sat in a thatched hut waiting for our plane.

When the planes come in, they land on a strip that crosses the highway.

We boarded Safari Link airlines where Phillip and Yassir flew us 20 minutes to the next destination. We arrived early, and our plane landed so it all worked out. Lots of locals hang out at the Airstrip - mostly children neatly dressed and attired all smiling and greeting the travelers.

Kenya looked very lush and green with dirt roads running through the fields.
From above all the houses have corrugated silver metal roofs.

Reflecting on our travels thus far, Tanzania was really beautiful. Lake Manyara was a small enclave of lush jungle, dense forest and brush and very large lakes.

The Serengeti went on forever with Acacia trees dotting the horizon and animals freely roaming the plains.

No one seems to be in any hurry which I like because since I retired, I am extracting hurry from my life!

From above the Mara Plains are vast with few houses. I think life here is much like it was from the beginning centuries ago, people herding cattle and sheep.
Daniel picked us up at the airstrip which was surrounded by Wildebeest and Gazelles. A man on motorbike rode along the strip as planes land safely moving any animals off the airstrip.

We saw Thomson and Grand Gazelles. The thorny Acacia has small black beads on its limbs. Ants (Cocktail Ants) bore holes in the black beads. When animals brush up against the limbs, the ants come out and bite.

We saw a male Impala marking a tree. Then a Topi with blue markings on its legs.
Male and female Topi - the male is very territorial and is standing on "his" termite mound. He is trying to attract the female.

Closeup of the male Topi on the termite mound

Cal got some great pics of an adult Warthog.

Resting Thompson's Gazelle

We saw a male Ostrich strutting his fathers to a female Ostrich nearby.

Ben and Holly met us when the jeep arrived at Great Plains. The Camp had a swinging bridge you crossed with a river creek bed below.

On arrival we had a deliciously refreshing drink of ginger and lemonade over ice. It was 1:00PM when we checked in and we were hungry for lunch. This camp is like a Ritz Carlton in the bush.

Lunch was beef burgers, salads, veggie tart, Brussels sprouts with dijon vinaigrette dressing. We immediately met one of the two women who would be traveling with us on safari while there. Roseann is from NYC and has a 15-year old Spitz and is a big dog lover. Tania is her travel companion and is also from NYC. They have been friends for 25 years having both worked in the advertising industry.

The view during lunch looked over a very large field toward a single acacia tree
Kay is our guide for the next three days. Cal and I were the only ones on the 4:00PM game drive. Following a brief rain shower, we saw elephants with their 3 and 4-year old calves

Eating elephant

We saw a Black Crested Snake Eagle who was perched atop a tree.

The Shirke, a brown bird made lots of noise. Two Topi were grazing. A Hyena was napping.

Kay found the Leopard named Fig and her cub. The cub was fascinated by Mom's tail. There were two cubs but when Mom left them both in the brush to go out hunting the Baboons killed one of the cubs.

Playing with mom

The little leopard suddenly took an interest in our jeep. The little one began stalking the jeep - sneaking up on us.

Pausing to watch the jeep - as Cal takes hundreds of pictures

Getting closer

Moving toward mom - but checking out the jeep over her shoulder

Grabbing mom - who was a pretty good sport


Sharpening claws - if only the little one would have mimicked mom

As the sun set mom jumped into a tree while the little cub scrambled around in a ditch

That evening, I had duck and Cal had turkey for dinner. We had Tusker beers which originated in Kenya. In 1932, two brothers were out hunting, and one brother was gored to death by an elephant and the other brother renamed the Beer Company, Tusker, in memory of his brother.

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