After our lovely nights rest at Karama Lodge, we hopped in our safari vehicle, driven by our guide Ole, and headed off. Our eyes were peeled as we drove from Arusha to Serengeti and the 7 hour drive flew by. On the way, our first stop was to see a tree full of migratory storks who fly south every year from somewhere in Europe (if I remember correctly.)
Next stop was the Ngorongoro conservation area gate to pay the park fees and take a quick break. While Bego and I visited the bathroom we found the boys in the parking lot sharing some Amarula… anytime seems a good time. It is a lovely, deliciously sweet drink that I have been missing out on for the past few months due to the milk in it, but even smelling it sends me to a happy place. It is so tasty and delicious, even when it is warm, which is why it is a great road trip beverage.
We hopped back into the car, drove for another two hours and ended up on top the crater of Ngorongoro. It is a great place to stop, stretch your legs and take a few photos. Seeing it really reminded me of being at Crater Lake in Oregon last year with Dutch and Cody on our motorcycle trip. It is just like Crater Lake, but instead of water, there are herds of elephant, buffalo and gnu. Oh, also, there was no snow, although the weather was considerably cooler, compared to the hot, sweltering heat of Dar.
Then, we hopped back in the car for short stretch until our lunch break at Olduvai Gorge just east of the Serengeti Plains. The landscape was beautiful and it was amazing to see what they call “the cradle of man-kind.” We grabbed our lunch boxes that had been packed for us from the tour company, said hello to the lovely birdies and hunkered in under the wooden structure to hear a talk about the significance of the area. It is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world and has helped to further the understanding of human evolution based on the scientific findings of the area. Many university and research groups continue to do research at this site.
An interesting fact is that the name, Olduvai, is actually a name that was adopted erroneously after a researcher heard the original name Oldupai, which is a Masai word for the wild sisal plant as Olduvai. Local scientists are still trying to get the real, traditional name adopted by the greater population.
Next we headed for the final stretch of our long drive. About three hours later, we descended upon Serengeti. (Interestingly enough, this common word that we all know, is also a different word than the original Masai word, Serenget which is Serengeti with out the /e/ sound at the end.) The plains welcomed us with a gigantic rain storm, but that did not deter our excited and buzzing mood; it was still fantastic. Our first animal sighting all day was a zebra (we did not count the Masai with their mules, goats and cows.) On the way to the lodge, the rain let up, we popped the top of our vehicle and stuck our heads out to get a really good look. It continued to sprinkle, but in all of our excitement, we didn’t mind.
First spotted, were some hyenas. It was amazing to see them, and right next to the vehicle no less. This was the first time any of us had seen hyenas in person and it was wonderful. There was a family lounging in a near by bush with a pregnant female and some whining pups.
We were all glued to the landscape searching for creatures, and were not disappointed the entire trip. This is the pose we held for most of the safari, hanging out the top, spotting and observing wonderful animals. Sorry to tease, but more about animals to come soon. Stay tuned.