Back to the lions… On our second day, we travelled the distance to the Serengeti (which is a Massai word meaning ‘endless open place’). Yes indeed. 15, 000 sq km of vast treeless plains is what the Serengeti is. Thousands of wildebeest, zebras and antelope roam this land. But what you really want to see are the CATS. And boy did we ever! As Hezron said, ‘the stars were shining on us’. We saw several prides – but none as large as the one above. The papa lion was there and everything. Pretty cool.
The cheetah – an anti-social cat always solitary – came within meters of us enroute to drink a little water.
And then the leopard in the tree – curled up on a smooth part of the upper trunk of one of few non-ACACIA (Thorn) trees that exist on the plains.
THRILLING does not accurately describe the feeling of witnessing these majestic creatures. They are terrifying. Carnivores are necessarily feared. Step outside the Land Rover and watch what happens. A lion will kill you and then, of course, eat you.
It is for this reason that when we got to our campsite at Seronera – in the open Serengeti i.e. no barriers – that we were advised NOT to leave our tents between 10pm and sunrise. Lions are lazy bums during the day. They overheat in the sun and besides are totally fatigued from their nocturnal activities. Generally these activities focus on kills. An OPEN camp in lion territory means NO midnight visits to bathroom/outhouse. Although all animals can smell HUMANS and know we are ‘the enemy’, they are also very TERRITORIAL. A tent might look just like a bush to them but a small bi-ped rushing to the can in full view of the lions to relieve a full bladder will not make it. Mike and I were fully prepared to pee in our tents, if necessary. No shame. Let’s face it – in the wild, the only PRIDE that matters – is the lion’s.
*Buffalo are another beast to avoid at night. They are oddly aggressive and will kill anything that threatens them. And once they do – rest assured that your dead body will be instantly devoured by a handful of hyenas. Hyenas – the unfussy eaters that they are – will feast on anthing. Even themselves as I learned in Life of Pi.
Thankfully lions did not visit us during our night on the Serengeti. However, the hyenas did and in ravaging the campsite, made an unholy mess. Every garbage bin was turned over, the dining huts were ransacked and I am positive – that any shoes left out by lazy campers, were devoured. As I said, they aren’t fussy eaters.
More shots of our time in the Serengeti are on Flickr (having trouble uploading onto facebook…) Next post will be a bit of a break from wildlife and will focus on REAL LIFE in a local village.