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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Serengeti: the endless plains

Elephant herd
 On Tuesday morning we left after breakfast after making a donation to the Lodge’s African Roots Foundation. With very little money they make a huge difference in the lives of the Maasai by supplying them with water containers and a filter. Where the Maasai used to rely on tick brown water from a nearby pond, from which all cattle also drink, they now scoop that water into the filters and out comes crystal clear drinking water. This simple tool has drastically reduced illness among the Maasai.
ARF also runs other projects, always aimed at improving the lives of people while protecting the natural environment. This is a great cause for individuals and schools to support.


I knew that the Serengeti was a long way from home. We flew and drove for many days to visit this lifelong dream of ours. But no one told me it would involve hundreds of kilometers on the worst bumpy, dusty, rocky tracks… Bone jarring, teeth rattling miles of washboard tracks…. Everything in our car is covered in a layer of dust.
The good pavement ends abruptly at the entrance gate to Ngorogoro Crater. The view of the crater is spectacular, with not much human influence in sight.
After that the track continues across hills and plains, up onto ever higher escarpments until we are at 2,400 meters. Once you reach Serengeti all you see if flat endless grasslands. Serengeti means 'endless plain' in Swahili, a very appropriate name. We were anxious to take a photo of us at an entrance gate of this world famous park. All we saw was a crooked little wooden sign. No fancy visitors centre, no impressive entrance to one of the most well known national parks in the world.
But here we were, finally, in the Serengeti! I did have goosebumps to finally see this place with my own eyes.
Without the first half hour we saw four lions. And then the impala. Herds of them. More and more animals until, on the second day, we caught up to the migrating wildebeest and zebras. Thousands of them, sometimes grazing and drinking and running in different directions, yet always streaming toward the same unseen destination. Their ancient pattern follows calving, moving with the seasons to food and water. Thousands of dusty bodies moving in a river of animals across the plains.
Elephants, giraffes, lions, leopards, cheetahs… the plains are teeming with wildlife.
The baboons are fun to watch as whole troops walk by. The young ones climb trees and pester the old ones. The tiny little ones ride cowboy style on their mothers’ backs or cling to their front. They stop, eat seeds, swing from bush to bush and walk along.
We have watched many prides of lions. Often a dominant male with several lionesses and young ones. We watch them stalk buffalo and wildebeest, hoping to separate one to hunt. My favorite pride was reclining on rocks that looked exactly like Pride Rock in the Lion King.

Kati Kati Camp
I woke at 4 AM to the grumbles of a lion and the call of hyena. At 5:15 we woke up and headed out to watch the savannah come to live with the first rays of sun.
I asked, in camp, if they’ve had any animals nearby. “Yeah, last week a cheetah killed a wildebeest by tent #5,” was the response.

The numbers in Serengeti: 14,500 square KM
300,000 zebras
Over 2 million wildebeest!

Swahili:
Jambo - hello
Asanti - thank you
asanti sana - thank you very much
karibu - welcome, you’re welcome
Cheetahs in the Serengeti
karibu sana - you’re very welcome
pole - sorry
pole pole - slow!

Maasai:
supai - hello
ashe neleng - thank you

shuka - Maasai blanket

1 comment:

  1. Jambo Margriet! We love your travels and photos and blog posts. We feel like we are there. Keep em coming! Hugs from Vermont...Steve&Heather

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