05
Sep
10

Olduvai Gorge and Serengeti National Park Day 1 – Tanzania

We spent half a day driving from Endoro lodge after a blissful night in a king size bed with real sheets. Up over and through Ngorogoro crater and a long dusty road to Serengeti.

Olduvai Gorge is a name that is magical to natural scientists and amateurs like me: Mary and Louis Leaky-land. I knew it was near our path to Serengeti but was gobstopped when we pulled into the small museum for lunch. The Laetoli footprints (I won’t explain but they were almost lost by man’s help) or their fiberglass cast along with numerous early flint tools, fossils and bones to make your heart beat quicker. Lunch and then onward past the gorge where humanity may have arisen 1.3 million years ago. Photos below.

We spent three days in Serengeti National Park, a huge area that I’m told is the half the area of Albania or the size of Connecticut just in case you’re familiar with those place. 14,700 sq. km or 5700 sq. miles. Suffice it to say it’s large enough to get lost in or in which to be eaten by a pride of lions.

John Timothy of Tanzania Travel is a fantastic guide. Ask for him if you get the chance. John had many chances to prove himself, finding animals where other guides came up empty. One guide we’d come upon was actually lost, asking John’s directions. John was a ranger in Serengeti for many, many years before becoming a guide and was disgusted with the poor guide.

Another example: on day two of our Serengeti mini-safari, we’d been out looking after a lioness and her cub (you can see the pictures on day 2) and were coming back to camp having seen tons and tons of animals, stopping where we wished, having John point out the nearly invisible creatures lurking in the bush. We’d been back to visit the beautiful leopard we’d seen on day 1 – he was hiding nearly invisible up in the tree where we’d left him. We saw herds of animals, unusual birds, all kinds of wildlife: a cheetah hunting, lions, a serval! and more.

Anyway, we came upon a Land Rover of tourists who were transfixed by a lioness sleeping under a tree. One measly lioness. The way you watch is to raise the roof, stand up inside the Rover and peer over the edge of the vehicle, completely safe. As we pulled up to see what was interesting, there’s a guy inside who’s quite excited and silently jabbing his hand frantically toward a shape in the shade: the sleeping lioness. We could hardly keep from laughing that this was the high point of their morning. I nodded serious assent and tried to look interested for 30 seconds before we drove on.

On the first afternoon we got a very nice game drive and watched the nearly full moon rise over our tent facilities. The tent was a bit of a let down, culture shock or readjustment to the reality of a cot. Still, nice dinner served by John and Mr. Anthony (of Tanzania Travel and our cook).

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