Thursday, September 2, 2010
Posted by Squack Evans
The Serengeti this year has proven to be phenomenal; we spent a week with a lovely Chicago family exploring the northern and western reaches of the area.
We started in Kleins, just outside the park, on the north-eastern boundary - the idea being to have a great Maasai experience before the wildlife spectacle of the migration.
Within five minutes of landing, we had found a huge male leopard ensconced in a tree and, on closer inspection, we found a pride of 4 lion feeding on a zebra carcass about 30 yards from his tree!
We found a further 6 lions in two groups on the way into the lodge and only got in around 9 o'clock, after some spectacular viewing. Over the next few days, we enjoyed more game; more lion and lots of plains game and some elephant herds plus a great afternoon and evening with the Maasai, followed by a spectacular electrical storm.
By day four of the trip, we had seen a leopard a day; and all amazing sightings with great light. On our first morning in Kogatende, we only had a brief wait on the banks of the Mara River and witnessed a herd of some 25,000 wildebeest crossing. They chose a bad spot to leave the river and in the first few minutes of the crossing, we witnessed some 40 - 50 wildebeest drown before they found a better place to get out. After an hour of watching, we returned to our breakfast that we had hastily abandoned as the crossing started.
Our last stop was Grumeti Reserves for a bit of pampering. The spa was well used and we also managed to fit in an early morning balloon flight, which was phenomenal, and to cap off our previous experiences, we had a female cheetah kill a Thomson's Gazelle right in front of the car. Again, after waiting only a short time. It became more and more difficult as the days went by to convince the family that these things don't happen every day on safari!
Our final day was one of smoke and fire. Sadly, there was a huge bushfire which burnt its way across the reserve, consuming some 30,000 acres or more of grazing.
We moved out of the lodge we were in so as to escape the smoke, as the fire came right up to the lodge itself. We spent our last night gazing across the plains at the beautiful, if sad, picture of jumping flames and glowing skies in the distance. What an action packed 8 days!