On reflection, i have come to the conclusion that whilst i hated the Masai Mara, it wasn't the Mara as such, but, rather, the human behavior there. The radio contact was a major irritant for me, but I have also realised that what really made it so bad was the fact that there were no limits. Although there were some Roads and tracks, in general terms the guides pretty much drove wherever they wanted. If something was spotted off the road by a few hundred metres, they would instantly drive cross-country to get closer, and thus like students to free-beer, would act as a magnet for yet more vehicles to arrive from all angles.
In the Serengeti (which translates as Endless plains), however, everybody stayed strictly on the marked roads and paths, and radio contact was much more minimal – indeed there were several different networks depending on which larger group they were associated with, and so far fewer people to actually spot things and announce what and where. Plus the distances involved and spread of vehicles mean't that it generally wasn't even practical to head to a sighting, even if it sounded really good.
And so the 24hours we had in the Serengeti were significantly more enjoyable for me. After arriving around 3pm, we drove around for about 3hours before heading to camp, and got almost unbelievably lucky. First, we saw a large rock (that's how lucky we were – an elusive rock!) which apparently has some relevance to somebody standing on it and singing in the film the Lion King which is set in the Serengeti, although having not seen the film it didn't make such an impression on me.
But then, and almost without making much in the way of effort or diversion, we came across...
This pride of Lions was happily sunning itself on a big rock. Two more lions were about 50metres away on another rock
And then this couple...
Lion sex is an interesting thing. It is relatively quick, but apparently it is repeated every 15-25minutes for 3whole days to ensure that pregnancy is assured. What state either of them is in after 3days of constant humping is anybodies guess. The female here also has a collar with a GPS which enables her to be tracked by the rangers as part of a project to collect data on lion movements within the Serengeti
Followed by this lovely family...
These guys were barely a few metres off the road and we almost passed them without noticing. I won't say much else except to say, damned, aren't those babies so cute!
and finally this elusive fellow...
In comparison to the one in the Masai, this leopard was given much more room and respect and was not crowded at all. It actually felt like an achievement when we spotted him, and it somehow also felt much more natural
And all that is without mentioning the hoardes of wildebeest, buffalo and zebra, the antelopes, hippos and occasional elephant and giraffe. By the time we set up camp (though on a campsite, we were in no way fenced off from the animals and were at the mercy of any curious or hungry creature) we were all very happy with the days events. At the campsite, there was no electricity or water, we were in canvas tents and the sky was brilliantly star filled. I loved it!
The following day we headed out for an early morning drive, and came across another leopard, were charged by a huuuuuge elephant, watched what we thought was going to be a lion attack – a male lion was stalking 2lionesses and some cubs with intent – but ended up in a happy family reunion, a cheetah, some families of elephant and lots of what I am now classing as 'standard' animals. It's amazing how you start glossing over certain animals, such as zebra and buffalo, which to begin with are amazing sights yet quickly start to seem mundane. After a massive brunch back at camp, we slowly headed out the park, and were treated to one final great sight – that of a mass of zebra (and occasional wildebeest) drinking at a waterhole.
I may not have managed to see the famed wildebeest migration in all it's glory, but otherwise I can't really complain, and in comparison to my Masai trip I much preferred it.
One of the small things I love about Africa in general, is just how colourful many of the the birds, insects and lizards are
We came across this family early on the second day, which included several baby elephants and the poor guy on the left, who is disabled (look at his trunk)
Top: Wildebeest on the plain, followed by hippos in the pool and serval monkeys playing, and (bottom) watching lions sleeping on the rock, who are just visible to the left of the rock by the tree