Leaving the best until last
06.11.2018 - 06.11.2018
This common antelope is affectionately known as McDonalds because of the black M marking on its rump.
The black spots seen on the back of its hind legs are glands that emits a scent when the impala lands after a jump, thus marking its territory in the process. Isn't nature clever?
These are the cubs we saw last year, all grown up now.
Fourteen lions in total are spread around this area, some near to the road, others much further away.
Unusually, we have seen a number of crocodiles on this trip, and not just sunning themselves on a bank, they have actually been doing things.
Other Animals at the Waterhole
With this elephant heading towards the water, Malisa positions the car so that we can get a better view.
Constantly on the lookout for predators, a lone zebra nervously edges his way down to the pond.
He is still easily spooked though.
It's a hard life being a hyena.
I'm not sure whether it is a coincidence or not, but previously we have generally only seen elands in any numbers the further north we go. Today is no exception - we are currently heading away from the central part of the park and towards the north-east area of Lobo.
Eland are the largest antelope in the Serengeti, and you can see just how large they are compared with the Thomson's Gazelles in this picture.
Traversing the Serengeti from north west to south east, the Orangi River is a huge draw for animals, especially now in the dry season when there is very little surface water in the park.
Cape Buffalo coming down to drink
A young Crocodile in a small pool created by the low water level
The thick forest hides a huge herd – or obstinacy – of buffalo. The downside of the combination of trees and buffalo is that it also attracts tse tse flies. They are pesky little things, and although Avon Skin So Soft does help to keep them away, I still get bitten a few times. It hurts when they get you and stings like hell after.
Southern Ground Hornbill
A large bird, usually found feeding on the ground as the name suggests.
He is looking all around this tree trunk for termites.
Normally these large antelopes are very shy and timid – their meat is delicious and they are slower moving due to their size, making them a favourite prey of hunters and poachers. This guy, however, seems to be as curious about us as we are about him.
After giving us a cursory glance, he just carries on eating.
We pass the lovely lodge we stayed at a couple of years ago when we last came with Lyn and Chris.
Always a good place to see a range of animals, Togoro is no different today:
As time is getting on now, and we still have quite some way to go to reach our overnight lodge, we make our way towards Lobo where we are to spend the night. This part of Tanzania is new territory for us, we previously just briefly skirted past Lobo in 2014 on our way to Kogatende.
We see very little traffic on these tracks, but one vehicle travelling in the opposite direction stops and the driver has a very animated conversation with Malisa In Swahili. While I do not understand most of what is said, I get the gist that there is an exciting sighting ahead. Malisa drives on with increased purpose.
Suddenly he stops the vehicle. It is not easy to spot at first, but then we see it: a leopard in a tree.
She is restlessly moving from branch to branch and turning to look in every direction.
As we can hear some laughing hyenas in the distance, Malisa surmises that they stole her kill. I guess that is why they are laughing.
For a brief moment in time – less than one minute - the low sun comes out, bathing the tree and cat in a beautiful golden light; before disappearing below the horizon for another day.
We really should be hitting the road to reach the lodge before dark, but Malisa is convinced that the leopard will leave the confines of the tree and head off to do some hunting now that the sun has gone down.
"Are you waiting for me?"
She fidgets. A lot. Yawns, stretches and moves.
Has she seen something?
We get ready with our cameras, just in case. And yes, Malisa is right. She makes her way along the branch to the centre of the tree, and not so much 'jumps' as 'runs' down the trunk and disappears behind it.
Slowly, stopping regularly to look around, she makes her way across the grassy plains.
She walks right past us, then sits down close to the car.
Finally she joins the dirt track behind us, sashaying along, looking here, then there, sniffing the air and taking a rest.
Now what has she spotted?
Nothing exciting apparently. She continues on her way, crosses the road and lays down in the ditch rolling around like a kitten.
Lobo Wildlife Lodge
Finally we tear ourselves away from this most amazing leopard sighting. We are late now, of course, and by the time we reach the lodge, it is pitch black. The approach is interesting, driving through a narrow, natural cutting between two towering rocks alive with vervet monkeys, olive baboons and rock hyraxes. The uninviting large metal gate is unlocked by a reluctant guard, revealing an open courtyard surrounded by a reasonably well lit two-storey building. The accommodation is much larger than we are used to, with 74 rooms.
A warm welcome awaits us in the cosy natural stone and wood-pannelled reception, with a serious concern for our well-being when we didn't arrive at the expected time (ie before dark).
The lodge is reminiscent of an old fashioned ski cabin, with the basic rooms leading off outside walkways and every surface covered in dark wood: floor, walls, ceiling and furniture. The bath is interesting with a huge step into the tub. The floor creaks ominously. Lyn and Chris are particularly unimpressed with their accommodation and ask to be moved, but find that the second room is no better than the first.
When our luggage fails to arrive, we go to check out what is going on. The lock on the back door of the car is stuck and has drawn quite a crowd of helpers. Eventually Malisa manages to break it open and we can get to our change of clothes. Broken locks seem to be a theme of this trip.
In the restaurant we encounter the other guests, consisting of a large group of American birders, but the lodge is far from full. As is to be expected from such a large hotel, dinner is buffet style. Not feeling particularly hungry, nor a fan of buffets, I just have a bowl full of lentils for dinner. They are delicious. Since we left Central Serengeti we have not had any phone signal, but they do have wifi in the restaurant here, which means I can at least send an message to my dad and catch up on my emails.
Back in the room, the bed is very hard and before I even have a chance to fall asleep my back is hurting badly. This does not bode well. At this point I would like to mention that Lobo Wildlife Lodge was not our choice of accommodation, but the nearby mobile tented camp that we were initially booked to stay in, more than lived up to its name and moved on to a different location a couple of weeks ago. In this area it is Hobson's Choice when it comes to accommodation, with this being the only one, at least within our price range. Tillya was extremely apologetic when he told us, and offered us the option of staying here or changing the itinerary to spend time elsewhere. While I obviously have a preference when it comes to the style of accommodation, such a short amount of time spent in the lodge (especially this evening) means the accommodation it is of very low importance to me – exploring somewhere new takes preference.
As always, we thank Calabash African Adventures for all the work they do to ensure we have a fantastic time on every safari.