Monday, April 12, 2010

Serengeti splendours in March 2010

                                               Richard Knocker

It is always fun going on safari with people you already know and John & Nano are old friends, having been on at least 5 safaris with me now.

We catch up with Charlie, a small and very mobile camp in the old style, at a stunning location next to Nasera Rock, an imposing granite monolith that looms over the entrance to Ang’ata Kiti on the eastern edge of the Serengeti Plain. This is our home for three nights, the perfect jumping off spot for an intensive search for wild dogs. We failed on this occasion to find them but the early morning light on the swooping plains and the great restless herds were well worth the price of admission. In the afternoon, we tried to climb Lemuta Hill but fresh lion scat and tracks made us think again.

Day 2 saw us taking a dramatic hike along Ol Karien Gorge in the Gol Mountains. The rains had washed away some useful props for getting down the trickier parts so we had to improvise. And we were rewarded with the drama of emerging from the deep, narrow cleft into the great cathedral space of the mouth of the gorge: hundreds of vultures wheeling overhead like something out of the Lost World and small screaming parties of swifts shooting by like fighter jets - an incredible scene.

Next day, the three of us, with Jairo, our driver, spend a leisurely day crossing the migration-strewn plain to Moru. Miraculously, the whole camp has leap-frogged ahead of us and there is Goodluck waiting for us with cold beers, tea and a big smile. We are in the heart of the Moru area, a tumble of great, rounded humps of granite, looming from the landscape like whale backs. These kopjes are home to a host of unusual species - plants, reptiles, birds and mammals – we have come to enjoy the smorgasbord of life on parade.

It is on Day 5 that we really catch up with those pesky pachyderms: large herds milling around, with us doing our best to keep up with all the goings on. At one stage, we turned out backs on the leopard in a sausage tree to watch a serious fight between two musth bulls skirmishing over an oestrous female. The occupants of a nearby vehicle thought we were mad.

After a pampered stay at Sabora Plains in the Grumeti Reserves concession, we fly to Shu’mata Camp, a new tented camp on the flanks of the hill of the same name. We are on the arid plain at the foot of Kili, just a few kilometers from Amboseli in Kenya. Acacia-dotted grassland stretches as far as the eye can see. Everything is green, thanks to recent rains, but one senses that it can get DRY here. A scorpion scuttles out of the way.

The first evening turns magical – beautiful sightings of gerenuk and lesser kudu on a hike around the hill back at camp. And next day, we walk right up to the elephant herd. The wind is perfect, with plenty of cover… they haven’t a clue we’re there.

So all in all, a great safari. If variety be the spice of life, then life is surely spicy.

No comments:

Post a Comment