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I’m not going to write a blog for everyday but just include some of our highlights. We did two drives a day, sometimes leaving at 6 and coming back for breakfast or leaving later and taking a packed breakfast. The sun rises at 6:30/7 but there is a fair bit of light from 6. The big cats are the main highlights of every drive as we had seen so many Elephants at Tarangire and the cats are so difficult to see.
During one drive we saw 3 Leopards; 1 which was within 10 meters of the road and sleeping up a tree. The other was a mother and her cub up a tree about 25 meters from the road. They had dragged a Gazelle up the tree and were eating it as we looked through our binoculars. Leopards are nocturnal so in the day they are only really in a tree sleeping. They can also drag up to 3/4 of their body weight up a tree! We saw Leopards one two other occasions but both were quite far away.
Unfortunately we only saw Cheetahs on two occasions. However on one of these occasions we saw a kill. Three young Cheetahs were under a tree. We had watched them for about twenty minutes before they suddenly got up in a line and headed towards a small group of Thomson Gazelles. In under a minute they had chased one down and killed it using their incredible speed and agility – This is probably my highlight of the Serengeti.
The final big cat is the Lion. We saw Lions on numerous occasions on every drive. Highlights from the Lions would be the seven or eight times when a Lion would be within three or four meters of our car. We saw a pride of around twelve with all different ages, including some small cubs.
But the highlight of the Lions would be when we saw a group of ten early one morning. There were Lions of all ages, lying down, sleeping and play fighting. I was looking to the right and saw a new Lion appear with a small Gazelle. All hell broke loose. Lions appeared from know-where to swell there numbers to nearer twenty. Around fourteen of the adult Lions started to roar and fight over this one Gazelle.
The size of the Serengeti (which in Masi means “endless grass plains”) and the variation of the wildlife was greater than I could have imagined. Every drive we would see something different or a sight we had previously seen but it was just as amazing as the first time.
We took a while to properly identify animals as its so easy to mistake a rock, tree or lump of grass as an animal, especially when you are so desperate to see them. I think 30% of what I thought were animals turned out to be a rock, tree or lump of grass. An another 50% would be a Thomson Gazelle! The animals are really camouflaged so well and the grass can hide everybody but a Giraffe and large Elephants. We once spent 15 minutes looking for an animal, that we presumed to be a big cat, with 20 other cars and Dad eventually found it and thought it was a Leopard. He showed Frank and he thought so too. I couldn’t see it and when we drove away it was a tree stump and we still couldn’t see what everybody was looking at!