After finishing Day 5, I decided to break up the Serengeti into two parts since I have so much more to tell.
Breakfast was served at seven and at eight we all boarded our jeeps for our first game drive. Box lunches were provided. What would the Bush show us?
We drove for about one hour and saw some jeeps parked on the side of the road looking at a large tree with lots of branches. When we arrived, I was awestruck. Sitting on the branches of this large tree was a pride of lions. There appeared to be females, young males and some cubs. I aimed my telephoto lens and kept on clicking. The longer we stayed, the more jeeps arrived until the scene looked like a small parking lot. These lions were so beautiful observing their world in this way. Eventually, I was able to pick out the mother by seeing her behavior overlooking and protecting the others. I was able to capture six lions in some of my pictures all sitting on the branches. What a scene. A memory I will never forget.
We then drove towards a hippo pool. When we arrived at the hippo pool, we were not disappointed. Lots of hippos of all sizes staying cool in the pool and enjoying the afternoon sun on the banks. It was now time to have our box lunch. Arnold, the other driver, asked us to give him our uneaten food so that he could donate the food later to needy people. It becomes hard to image that you are in a third world country when you do a trip like this.
After lunch, we drove to a scientific research center to have the jeeps filled. About ten minutes outside the filling up station it happened. Wolf has unbelievable eyesight and spotted some cheetahs in the tall grass. Cheetahs do not climb trees. I could barely make them put even with my telephoto lens and started to think that the cheetah had evaded me again. Was I wrong. Wolf did a u turn and put the pedal to the metal. He figured out where the cheetahs were going and guessed right. We had a ring side seat for the show. Four cheetahs in the tall grass walking next to our Jeep. They were so beautiful and majestic. They look like spotted leopards, but are longer, not as fat and more majestic. They then crossed the road and all four stood in the tall grass. Imagine capturing four cheetahs in one picture. Wolf challenged me to find one. He has never seen four together and has guided many Natgeo photographers over the years.
I now had one more left on my bucket list, the lonesome rhino, but that’s for another day.
We drove back to Camp and I knew that the Bush had rewarded me today. Both experiences were jaw dropping. The pride of lions in a tree and the elusive and solitary cheetah.
We arrived in time for a quick shower and then dinner. My mind was racing with what the Bush had in store for me tomorrow.
I was told to wake up at four AM to leave for the hot air balloon ride. We needed to be in the air by six thirty and the launching pad was around ninety minutes away. Four of us were going. The Jeep took off at four thirty in the dark. I immediately fell asleep but was constantly woken up from the bouncing over the road. We arrived at the launching pad to watch the staff inflate the balloon by constantly shooting hot air heated up by the burner. I had previously done hot air ballooning in Turkey. There was another couple from another Camp joining us so the six of us all climbed into the basket. Some of the staff came with us to help balance the basket and help with the balloon when we land. We then took off. Flying over the Serengeti this way gives you a different perspective a and viewpoint. Imagine looking down at the wildlife? after about an hour, we started our descent. Our landing was soft and we all got out and climbed into a Jeep. We were taken to a champagne breakfast cooked and served by the staff. A long table and chairs were set up and we toasted our landing.
After breakfast, we were driven to a visitor center where we met Wolf and the other people. It was then a long game drive. The grass was so tall and the wind moved it in a beautiful waving motion as we drove by. Wolf then spotted a female lion sitting on a large boulder. A scene right out of Lion King. As we watched, more and more jeeps arrived. It was then time to leave and Wolf tried his best to find us another spectacular scene. We drove and drove but to no avail. Wolf finally turned the Jeep towards Camp and a hot lunch.
We arrived back in Camp at around three o’clock tired and hungry. Lunch was set up outside.
Last night one of the workers got bitten by a baboon on his hand. He needs a series of five shots costing around $125 US. Our group decided to chip in and pay for the treatments to help him and his family through their financial crisis.
We were all told to meet at six in the BOMA. What is a BOMA? BOMA stands for British Officers Mess Area. A BOMA is a circular area enclosed by a crude wood fence with a large fire pit in the middle. The staff had set up a temporary bar with small tables and chairs around the fire. Wolf and Arnold gave some interesting talks on the history of Tanzania while we soaked up the beauty around us. At seven dinner was served and then we were escorted back to our tent for our last night listening to the Bush Orchestra perform.
Tomorrow it’s onto the Ngorongoro Crater.