|About 15 minutes past the main Serengeti entrance, we spotted our first animals. It was almost as if someone had placed them there on cue. One young male lion with a semi-full mane and a female were resting conveniently right on the side of the road. Two safari cars had already stopped by the time we pulled over. The young male woke up, I guess feeling a bit randy, nudged the female gently, walked around to her back side, and proceeded to enjoy a little afternoon delight. It was over so quickly that the female didn't really know what had happened. She snapped at him for waking her up, gave him a smirk, and fell back to sleep. The male, now exhausted from the 1 minute of pleasure, swaggered over a few steps, then passed out. Apparently this ritual is repeated over and over again for about 3 hours, with longer intervals between each episode. What's best... we got this all on our digital camera. It was quite humorous...with the tourists giggling quietly.
By the time we were ready to leave, about 10 safari cars had arrived, all jocking for a good viewing spot. Apparently whenever a driver spots something interesting, he/she radios other drivers. This leads to a frantic dash to the area by anyone within the vicinity, thus killing a once private, quiet viewing. Regardless, we were in the Serengeti...in Africa...what's there really to complain about.
The Sereneti is vast, what seems like endless plains of golden grass. Small kopjis (prounounced copies) which are mounds of large rocks and shrubs, can be found here and there, breaking up the flatness of the plains. As it was dry season, the grass was a little lighter color than a lion's mane...think mane with highlights. This makes it a bit difficult to easily spot a pride as they are well camaflouged in the staw-like grass.
Parts of the Serengeti gave you a hint of how lush the area is during the wet season. Along a small swampy area, bright, spring green patches of grass grow, with an occassional cluster of densely-packed wild date palm trees. When I say densely packed, picture about 15 trees within a 30 foot diameter. It was almost list the trees were in a tangled group hug. Hippos lugged their enormous bodies out of the swap and sunbathed on the bank across from us. When it was time to relieve themselves, their tails would spin, spraying pee like water hitting a fan. Not sure what evolutionary purpose this serves but was glad we were out of the line of fire.
We spent three days in the Serengeti. There were long driving stints where we didn't really see anything. During those quiet gaps, bouncing around in the suspension-lacking Land Rover, we munched away on snacks. Not just any snack. but Pringles. Who would have thought that all the way in Tanzania, Pringles has the market on foreign chips. Salt and Vinegar, BBQ, Hot & Spicy, Pizza flavored...you name them, we ate them all...OD on them. Washing them down with a Serengti or Kilimanjaro beer. Quite frankly, I would prefer not to eat one ever again. The other snack...snickers, but we ate those much less frequently. Happily my favorite drink, Coca-cola was everwhere, much to Adam's chagrin. Needless to say, the pound or two I had lost on Kili found it's way back to my thighs. Bit disappointing really.
The Serengeti is so big and the animals, of course, are not always waiting for their photos to be taken. We did see a pride of 3 female lions with 5 young cubs. One of the lion's was tagged with a radio collar and seemed to be much older than the other two females. We spotted a cheetah eating, however, we couldn't see what he/she was eating...just his/her head popping up and down with a scarlet mouth. Ostriches in groups of two or three sparsely dotted the plains, like lollipops. Large groups of Thompson & Grant gazelles, zebras, buffalo and wildebeest grazed and meandered through the grass. Quite beautiful and serene.