...and a couple of 'almost' leopard sightings.
This time under the shade of a tree
Black Faced Vervet Monkey
This young lady is carrying the tiniest of babies, but she doesn't seem to want to show him off to us.
For a moment it looks like the baby is losing his grip on mum's belly.
We've seen a lot of these mini-tornadoes on this trip, with more windy weather than we've ever experienced in the past.
Another Leopard Tree
Just like before, the leopard has jumped down from the tree before we arrive, and could be absolutely anywhere by now.
Kill in Tree
This is beginning to be the 'Story of Our Day' as we see the carcass of a reedbuck in a tree. The predator has deserted her kill to go off hunting again. Knowing that she is likely to return to move the kill to protect it from lions, we wait. And wait. And wait. “Just ten minutes more”. Eventually, after what seems to me like an eternity, we take a vote and decide to move on to “see what else nature has to offer us”.
I know they are birds, but it is still unusual to see the guineafowl in a tree.
Heading for the waterhole
Rolling around in the pond, the warthogs are essentially 'applying sunscreen' using the thick mud for protection.
Seeing warthogs walk makes me think that they look like ladies in stilettos.
Also at the waterhole are a few Thomson's gazelles.
The shy reedbuck stay in the distance, hoping for the gazelles to vacate the waterhole so they can go down to drink in peace.
This herd includes a couple of really young babies, just two and three months old.
Mum is very protective over her baby.
Note the dust devil in the background – as I said earlier, we saw more of these on this trip than we have on all the previous safaris put together.
This young lady is having an afternoon siesta under a tree, all by herself.
Surveying the landscape from the top of a small mound. As they do.
White Bellied Bustard
Not sure what this steenbok has done with his ears – he looks rather odd.
Short Grass Plains
Looking out over the area that they call Short Grass Plains, I can understand how Serengeti got its name: Endless Plains (the meaning of the name Serengeti in the local Maa language).
At this time of year, vehicles travelling on the dirt tracks of the Serengeti throw up huge clouds of dust, especially the large trucks.
He has a little lizard in his talons, but seems more interested in looking around than eating, but eventually bites its head off and flies off holding the rest of his lunch in his claws.
The problem with these dry gravel tracks is not just the dust, there are also little stones being thrown up. This started as a small chip less than an inch long a few days ago, but with the vibrations of the uneven surface and the vacuum effect caused by driving at speed, it is now almost a foot long. Every time we pass another vehicle, Malisa holds on to the windscreen with his spare hand to lessen the chance of it shattering. Fortunately there is very little traffic today.
By the time we reach the gate to exit Serengeti, both David and I have the runs; thankfully the toilets here are clean and modern these days.
After completing the formalities and leaving Serengeti, we enter one of my favourite places in Tanzania: Ndutu. Part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Ndutu encompasses a lake of the same name as well as Lake Masek.
Baby Golden Jackal
There is no sign of the rest of his family, I am guessing (hoping) they are hiding somewhere nearby.
Unlike our last two visits, which have been in May when the plains are turned into enormous, colourful meadows, at this time of year it is unusual to see any flowers, making this fireball lily all the more special.
Flamingos on Lake Ndutu
The way they move when they are feeding, tripping up and down, lifting one leg, then the other, always makes me think of little children needing the toilet. They are, of course, doing it to try and disturb algae.
Yellow Necked Francolin
As I said earlier, the dry soil means that the car kicks up a large amount of dust as we are driving along the dirt tracks. While we are moving, it is not so noticeable, as the dust is mostly behind us; but as soon as we stop, the fine powder seems to catch up with us, making photography impossible for a minute or so until it settles.
While I was complaining about the dust a minute ago, I love it when we get back-light from the setting sun and the animals themselves kick up the dust. It adds a magical atmosphere to the photographs.
Wait for me!
The elephants are heading to the Big Marsh area to have a drink before bed time.
Fork Tailed Drongo
We notice one of them has a broken tusk, probably destroyed it while trying to bring down a tree.
The light is really failing now as Malisa makes his way to our camp for the night.
Black Backed Jackal
I always travel to Tanzania with a wish list of some animals I would really like to see. While I am of course excited by whatever “nature has to offer us”, there are still some animals that we have yet to encounter in the wild. Striped Hyena is one of those. It has been on my wish lists every single one of the six times we have come to Tanzania on safari.
Just before we arrive at our night stop, Malisa abruptly stops the car as an animal crosses the track in front of us at the speed of light. “What was that” I ask as I instinctively grab my camera. Malisa is almost too excited to speak. “Striped Hyena”. Wow. Not only is the light so low by now (ISO 20,000 for my photography friends), the hyena is such a fast mover, that he is way into the bush by the time I press the shutter.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am very excited to announce that this is a STRIPED HYENA. Honestly.
Lake Masek Tented Camp
This is the third time we have stayed at this charming camp, and it never fails to delight us.
After completing the usual formalities, we check out the new deck that has been built since we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary here in May last year.
The view from here has always been spectacular, overlooking the lake of the same name.
This evening a welcoming camp fire is burning in the elevated fire pit, with director's chairs surrounding it, facing the stunning outlook.
We also see there is new and a very inviting-looking swimming pool on a lower deck. It is a shame we never have time to enjoy the facilities of these lodges – it's a balance between making the most of the animals on safari or the accommodation and the wildlife wins every time.
Spacious tents on wooden platforms come complete with a four poster bed, large bathroom featuring a stand-alone bath, double basins, a separate toilet and an open air shower.
The latter is a new experience for Lyn and Chris and causes much amazement and amusement. At dinner Chris regales us with an entertaining account of the conversation that occurred while they were getting ready:
Lyn: “The shower has no roof”
Chris, not taking a great deal of notice: “Oh yeah”
Lyn: “No, really, there is no roof.”
Chris, a little more interested now: “What do you mean 'no roof'?”
Lyn: “I can see the stars”
Chris, a little confused: “Really? Don't be silly”
Unfortunately it is not raining this evening, as having a warm shower in the cool rain is an unforgettable experience. Mind you, so is star gazing while showering.
It is not until I take my watch off this evening that I realise just how much sun you can catch even though you are inside a vehicle and using a factor 20 sun tan lotion.
We just about have time to enjoy a pre-dinner drink on the mosquito-screened balcony in front of our tent.
One of the many things I like about this camp is that Malisa is permitted to eat with us, and we have a terrific evening with lots of raucous laughter, excellent food and free beer and wine. Thankfully the lodge is not full this evening, with only three other tables taken for dinner.
All this was, of course, arranged by the ever-helpful Calabash Adventures, our favourite safari partner.