Bucket list extravaganza

31072015 - Tanzania -  Serengeti - _MG_6350Last early morning for some time, but then again it’s not that bad when you’re asleep before 2130. After an epic breakfast – Kati-Kati probably wins the best breakfast, although their picnic lunches weren’t as good as Ang’Atas, we headed off towards the place of the leopard from yesterday.31072015 - Tanzania -  Serengeti - _MG_6356

We had no luck there but saw a cheetah and also signs of leopard aka tree-climbing  Thompson gazelles, there are two in the photo above, can you spot them? We had perhaps an hour or so more do do game driving before we need to make our way south. I’m standing in the car looking out through the roof when I spot movement and possible a leopard in a tree we’re approaching. I quickly get my camera and Mona and Matthew look for the leopard in the leafy branches. The leopard decides to go down on a lower branch without leaves and I snap photos in disbelief before the Leopard jumps further down and aims to pull up some dead animal into it’s tree.31072015 - Tanzania -  Serengeti - _MG_6360

By now some other cars have seen that we have stopped and are seeing the leopard which decides this is too much of an audience and turns around and walk into the high grass and disappears. We can’t believe our luck, and would honestly have counted that we saw all big five with the two previous leopard only partially visible but this was above expectations.

We refuel (only after hearing that the road is closed by rangers so we need to make a 20minute detour (double that for return) and suddenly Matthew is not that happy about our time schedule and we have a flight to catch. We buckle up and position all available pillows again and head towards Ngorogoro. After two quick stops to sort out paperwork we have now passed both Serengeti and Ngorogoro and are back on proper asphalt roads – and on track with the schedule.

We arrive in Arusha and say our goodbyes to Matthew and give him a hefty tip for his excellent services during the week and are driven to the airport by another driver.  As we check in Mona is requested to weigh her hand-luggage by the staff but your’s truly are not asked – good since my luggage was about three times heavier and well above the limit for hand luggage.We had some burgers (vegetarian one was quite OK) after checking in and then boarded the lovely propeller-plane towards Zanzibar.31072015 - Tanzania -  iPhone - IMG_2291

As we left ground we had the seats 9C and 9D which allowed us a unplanned great view of Kilimanjaro in the dusk – still with large patches of snow. Although through a airplane window it was still a sight to behold. During the flight I could give some attention to Fallout Shelter which had received little to no love during the Safari.31072015 - Tanzania -  iPhone - IMG_2292

We arrived in Zanzibar on time, filled out a quick line on a sheet and although there were signs about yellow fever there were no control for our yellow books. Another sign with our names and a 90 minute drive through Zanzibar later we arrived at Zanzibar Retreat Hotel in Matemwe. We got a quick tour and chat with Jan(ne) the Swedish owner before hitting the bed in our lovely room – and no alarms set this time.

The herd is the word

30072015 - Tanzania -  Serengeti 5D - _MG_6208We woke up at Northern Wilderness Camp for another early but tasty breakfast and headed off towards the herd we saw yesterday. We found it after an hour or so and it had not yet crossed but instead moved along the Mara River which was guarded by smug crocodiles. It was now simply a game of waiting patiently, but after some time Matthew suggested we could take a chance and check on another herd, of course that meant we may miss both but we trusted Matthew’s gut(?) in this and drove towards the other herd.30072015 - Tanzania -  Serengeti 5D - _MG_6224

On the way we came across a pair of lions which gave around zero fucks that we were there, or at least it felt that way when the male lion got up, walked towards us while we were standing still and then passed us on the side no more than five meters away. I could almost hear Mona’s heart beating and for a brief period considered whether I should back down from the open roof but Matthew were ready to get the car moving if the lion would try to enter the car. Everything went well and we decided we should continue the search for the other herd.

We arrived just in time for the start of a rather impressive herd crossing, and despite more pictures than I’m willing to admit and even some video it’s hard to capture this but to sum it up it was an exhilarating experience watching it to say the least.30072015 - Tanzania -  Serengeti 5D - _MG_6256

The main crossing lasted for just over than 30 minutes – and at times I had to fight the urge to just join in. During the period there were short pauses when the flow of gnus dried up – some animals hesitated so groups (families?) got split up causing sad moo-ing from both sides. So after the main crossing the courageous/reckless ones who had crossed once already did the crazy thing and crossed back again – after having a long look at the 50 or so bodies in the river that got trampled or snagged by crocodiles (which did not miss the opportunity to have a feast). Check the photo above again, those bulbous shapes you see are near the slope on the other side? Those are not rocks…

Once those crossed back and the herd was happily united, more came along from the original direction and suddenly it was fine to cross (again) – so some poor suckers crossed for the third time while we were having our lunch as spectators. As some say in Sweden “Alla skall med!” (Everybody shall join!)

Satiated with gnus for once day we did some game driving along Mara river, not far from the Kenyan border before heading south towards Kati-Kati (another mobile camp than the previous one we learned) in order to position us better for the return drive the day after.

30072015 - Tanzania -  Serengeti 5D - _MG_6199What a day, we also saw some vultures enjoying gnus who did not make it to the river, and of course more elephants and giraffes. There will likely be enough photos from this trip to last me a lifetime of desktop background images. Last but not least we spotted another Leopard, that is part of it – behind legs and a tail but perhaps we could come back tomorrow and check again.

30072015 - Tanzania -  Serengeti 5D - _MG_6348We arrived at Kati-Kati somewhat late only to find out we should go to the other Kati-Kati next to where we were – and signs would of course have been to easy so off we drove again. The “road” to this camp was by good margin the worst we’ve encountered so far. I was pretty convinced that we had taken a wrong turn when we had bushes on both sides and minor vegetation and vague traces of tracks ahead of us. Right about darkness came I spotted some fire a bit further along and yep, we were on the right “track” the whole time. After dinner we were so tired so we skipped showers and fell asleep.

Go North – life is peaceful there

29072015 - Tanzania -  iPhone Viktor - IMG_2268We woke up at sunrise in Kati-Kati, and found two portable bowls of warm water outside our tent – good way to quickly fresh up before breakfast. While my omelette was being made I enjoyed the scenery to the tea – Serengeti is indeed beautiful.29072015 - Tanzania -  iPhone Viktor - IMG_2272

29072015 - Tanzania -  iPhone Viktor - IMG_2273We once again settled up in the car, and since we would spend at least 12 hours in the car all cushioning available where used.

The morning’s game drive presented a slew of lions, they could be sleeping or slacking off but there was in general a low level of activity as the day got warmer and warmer. We have now also learned that the clock in the car is not incorrectly set, but set to Swahili time. Swahili time starts at dawn, or 0600 so 1:34 would correspond to 07:34 – which to be honest makes quite a lot of sense as long as one is not up before 0600.29072015 - Tanzania -  Serengeti 5D - _MG_6114

29072015 - Tanzania -  Serengeti 5D - _MG_612529072015 - Tanzania -  Serengeti 5D - _MG_6131Giraffes often look well adapted to the Acacia trees while they munch on the high branches, as we saw one giraffe eat from ground vegetation it became apparent this was less well adapted but possible despite a somewhat awkward position.29072015 - Tanzania -  Serengeti 5D - _MG_6122

Most animals we have seen are in smaller families or alone with some exceptions – zebras are larger groups or herds while wildebeest (gnu) seem only to exist larger volumes so far. Due to some weird rain patters migration was still on-going and we were hoping to be able to see a river crossing and thus drove towards Mara River in order to get there before it was too late in the afternoon.

We got there and found a smaller group (a hundred?) about to cross – just when a few gnus in the front checked the water another car came in close and disturbed them. Thanks Obama. Matthew explained that gnus were very into the whole “follow the leader” but interestingly the leader did not have to be another gnu – on the contrary zebras were the favored leaders, since they had great sight and in general seem to make better decisions than gnus – which perhaps isn’t saying that much.29072015 - Tanzania -  Serengeti 5D - _MG_6146

As we headed for the Northern Wilderness Camp we passed a handsome elephant and it’s easy to become blasé of all the animals during a safari but they still have something majestic although sad about their lumbering way. After a bit of searching we got to the camp for the day and had another nice three course dinner. During dinner Matthew pointed no groups had seen a crossing in two days according to the other guides but we crossed our fingers for tomorrow as we went to bed.29072015 - Tanzania -  Serengeti 5D - _MG_6161