Here there be dragons...

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

The lion sleeps tonight...

So every time I think “it’s going to be a pretty boring blog today” something amazing happens.
Today was a long drive. Actually it wasn’t all that long - slightly less than 300km, including animal detours. But it took us just shy of 11h. Not even kidding. About 2 of those hours were used with breaks and animal viewing but the rest was driving over the bumpiest, twistiest, most nauseating roads every. Yeah for amazing prescription anti-nauseants so I was actually okay till the last hour. But every part of me is sore and tired from just being a passenger. And we now understand why people fly, and are eternally grateful that we’re flying out at the end ;)

So we’re in the Serengeti now and back up to hot summer temperatures ;). When we stopped for lunch our guide mentioned a side trail that takes about half an hour and suggested we try it after we ate; we agreed we’d meet in an hour (he usually has lunch with his friends). But at the half hour mark he came and found us just as we were getting ready to start the trail “okay, ready to go?”  Ummm sure. No reason for the change of plans but C and I were only killing time. But then on the drive a while later we did one short animal detour - for a “super pride” of lions. Maybe 25 of them?

There were three or four trees with lions under them; this one has at least one or two cubs if you look closely

 We were the only vehicle there (often you find cool stuff by seeing where the other cars are) and it was incredible. A whole variety, including some super cute cubs ;). So that was awesome - got a ton of pics! Turns out our driver got a tip that they were there at lunch so wanted to leave right away to catch them.

But really the drive was just super long and rough. We did end up in the middle of the wildebeest migration, which is super interesting.   And I have to say, baby warthogs are one of the more amusing creatures I’ve ever seen.

Hard to grasp the scale in this phone snap, but the vast majority of the black dots in this picture are wildebeests

Anyways, eventually, we got to our camp. Or rather - where the camp used to be *sigh*. The camps follow the animals and ours had moved another half hour. Ah well.

So we continued on our way but were starting to see other game drive vehicles. Which meant A - we were close, and B - there were animals about. We stopped at one; it was hippos who were mostly under water. Meh - we’ve seen those in better settings and tired and ready to be done w the vehicle by this point. Next was a group of people watching because “the wildebeest might cross the river”. Well yeah they might, but they look a whole lot more like they’re settling in for the night. Our guide suggested we check back in on them in the morning. Sounds good.

By this point I really just wanted to go to camp, but experience of a lifetime, I didn’t want to miss something cause I was tired. So I kept my mouth shut - if nothing else, the sun was setting and night drives aren’t allowed.

So the next find was worth it. Hyenas w their babies. Got some really cool pics, some of which I ruined in an amateur photographer moment since I forgot to adjust the shutter speed to account for the lack of light. But at least I realized it in time to still get some good shots.

Happier now we continued, and there was one more group of vehicles by the river. We wandered over to see if they too were waiting for wildebeests. Nope - leopard! And sure enough - there he was :). The last of the Big 5 that we had yet to see. Just stunning. Not as close as we’ve been lucky to get w some of the others, but still within camera range. And fortunately I fixed my newbie mistake w the hyenas, so I was good to go for the leopard ;). 

My pics are all on the good camera — in the interim, here’s one Chris took, cause you really need to see this  —

So yeah - that was an incredible high that made the brutal drive seem less important somehow. And THEN we got to the camp. Or rather, our guide parked the vehicle next to another vehicle and a person randomly appeared and took our luggage... Around the next tree was a big tent - out front of it we had a quick orientation. There’s no power in the individual tents but there is a charging station in the main one - and it’s an impressive charging station at that; we made use of it during dinner :). Meals are sit down at set times - there’s only 12 tents, so that gives you an idea of size. Tents have no outlets but do have lights, sink w running water, and flush toilets. There is also a bucket shower — you arrange with them when you’d like your shower and they fill the bucket. If you run out of water you yell “more water” and they’ll add more ;). They are strict here about the “escort after dark” rule - understandably since the individual tents are literally just tents scattered around. We’re also given an emergency whistle for “if an animal tries to join you in your tent”. I’m listening to something I can’t identify howling in the distance now. It’s amazing.

And yet with all that, they have wifi. Lol gotta love technology ;). I couldn’t get a pic of the tent since it was dark when we got to it, but will do tomorrow. I am so overwhelmed at how incredible this place is in its simplicity. Reminding me of camping as a kid, and yet with way cooler sound effects outside ;)

For most of the day, I feared I’d have little to write about, and instead it became easily one of the top experiences yet!


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