Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

A rhino is just a unicorn with poor PR.

Sunrise from our balcony; this might be my favourite photo yet

So we now understand the need for the night guard escorts... It seems somebody was attacked by a hyena in the hall last night. Chris woke up — apparently it was quite the commotion my medicated self managed to sleep through. The person is going to be okay, but did require medical attention. Ironically though, this is the hotel that hasn’t mentioned a night escort rule... hmmm

This morning we headed down into the crater. The trip down was the type of road you can’t have in any country that gets winter ;). Very steep and switchback turns. Thankfully one way so no oncoming traffic.

The hope for the day was to see a rhino, but we started the day with lions. These ones appeared to be out for a good time; they were playing and goofing around or otherwise just strolling. But was interesting to me how the other animals reacted. The zebras and wildebeests made a quick exit stage left (pursued by a lion - or maybe not ;) while the hyena who’d been mindlessly loping toward them comically hit the breaks before doing an abrupt 180 and booking it the other direction. But the one that fascinated me was the gazelle sentry. She just stood calmly and watched, didn’t alert her pack, completely blasé about the whole scenario. I asked the guide about the behaviour and he said “she’s not worried cause they’re a lot faster than the lions; second fastest land mammals.” Ah, okay then - that explains the racing stripe ;). I was fascinated by these guys — they have a black stripe on their white belly and are so unbelievably graceful.

Misc zebra pic cause I can

Anyways - the lions weren’t hunting and no drama followed, but lots of good pics :). Other critters we saw while looking for the friendly neighbourhood rhino included tons of hyenas, more zebra and wildebeests (you can’t possibly be surprised by this), a surprising number of hippos - both on land and in water, jackals, dark-mane lions (of the lazy variety), more hyenas, more lions, but no rhinos... Apparently there are only five in the whole park... Also no giraffes (distinct lack of tall trees) or monkeys. But at least we’ve seen many of them elsewhere.

Now while this was going on we experienced a new feature. One we’d been warned about but hadn’t really respected. The dust. Oh my god the dust. It’s insidious. Think of the worst riding arena you’ve ever been in and triple it. You might notice there’s a cloud, but you dismiss it as no big deal. Until you realize that licking your lips results in brown lip liner. Touching anything leaves palm prints. And our poor cameras... They’ll need some TLC tonight. Ugh.

Lunch was a picnic near some swimming hippos and then we continued our quest... or tried to anyways - flat tire. Fail. Fortunately our guide had not one but two spares and set about repairing it; one of the other guides stopped to help. We weren’t allowed out of the vehicle — lions might eat us *g*. The vehicle also has two gas tanks — it’s all round prepared.

Once we were on our way again, success! We found a rhino - waaaay off in the distance, but w the aid of binoculars or a good zoom lens, we could see him. Amazing! Now just one of the big five left to see...

Off to Serengeti tomorrow; we’re staying in a tented camp for the next three days so not sure what we’ll have in the way of power or internet. If I can, I will post. If not, I’ll post when we get to Zanzibar :)


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