After our Kenya/Uganda tour finished, we bused over to Arusha in Tanzania for our one week tour with a local company called African Scenic Safaris. It was a week of being spoilt rotten: a guide and a cook all to ourselves, our own vehicle, cooked breakfasts every morning, three course dinners every night and animals everywhere.
We started off in the Tarangire National Park. This is one of the more scenic parks we’ve been to. It’s also full of baobabs which made us reminisce on our Madagascar times. We saw lots of elephants digging for water under the dry riverbed, a cheetah unsuccessfully hunt a gazelle, a lioness hiding in a tree and zebras cuddling. We camped for the night in the park. Our guide, Mr Bushmaster, warned us about checking carefully for animals at night if getting up for the toilet. He also explained that we’d be able to hear lions and hyenas through the night. Being the intensely deep sleeper that I am, I didn’t hear a thing.
Tarangire National Park
Next stop was the Serengeti. We drove past the Ngorongoro crater on our way here and made a stop for lunch on the rim of the crater. The views from the rim into the crater are stunning.
This picnic spot we stopped at should have a sign along the lines of “eating is at your own peril”. Mr Bushmaster had warned us that the black kites sometimes steal food off people here. But he said it in a way that wasn’t convincing in sincerity to Saesol. The four of us perched ourselves on a log. And then the birds started swarming. I placed my lunchbox under my legs and was leaning protectively over my legs, nibbling bits of food in between glances upward checking for the black kites. Saesol however was happily eating her piece of chicken, holding it still partly encased in the tinfoil, and hassling me for looking slightly ridiculous eating my lunch. Next thing I know, I can see the shadow of a bird flying past us and Saesol moving rapidly to recover her tinfoil, now devoid of chicken. The black kite had stolen the chicken right from between her hand and mouth. She was probably lucky that she didn’t get injured. But such is the accuracy of the black kites who have been able to practice at their art of stealing food daily. Saesol’s misery at being bereft of chicken led her to dramatically throw herself off the log in dismay. This actually looked quite bad and we were all worried that she had injured herself - but she was ok, just bruised and disappointed about chicken.
We had 3 days in the Serengeti to explore. We started to question whether Mr Bushmaster could predict the future. On the first full day, prior to departing for our afternoon drive he told us we would see lions, a leopard and a cheetah.
Lion being all majestic
Leopard being all sleepy
Cheetah being all chilly
…He was very accurate.
On the second day, upon finding a pride of lions lying in the sun, he said sometimes the lions will use the safari vehicles for shade. Minutes after pulling up next to the lions, a lioness walks over to our vehicle and lies in its shade.
Pride of lions near our vehicle
On the third day, we saw a lioness watching a gazelle. As we were driving towards them, Mr. Bushmaster explained that sometimes lions will use the vehicles as a shield while hunting. Just before we got there, the gazelle spotted the lioness, ran across the road and the lioness looked like it had given up on the hunt. We stopped our vehicle on the road, which happened to be in the middle between the lioness and the gazelle. Next minute, the lioness is continuing her hunt using our vehicle as a shield.
Lioness in stalk mode
Finally, on arriving at our camp on the rim of the Ngorongoro crater, Mr Bushmaster explained that sometimes elephants come into the camp to drink out of the water tank. 5 minutes later….
Please ignore the small man standing on Ben’s head and look at the elephant in the background
We had an amazing week on tour and saw so many animals. Our lion count exceeded 100, we saw 3 leopards, 2 cheetahs, a black rhino and numerous other game.
We also saw some very cute, but very cheeky monkeys. We made a stop to take some photos of the monkeys next to the road.
As we were all staring out one side of the car, I heard a noise in the backseat where our bags full of our snacks were. I turn around to see one of the monkeys rifling through our bag. Not knowing what to do, I just start yelling, failing to verbalise what is wrong but just making loud noises. The monkey hurries up his rifling but isn’t worried enough to leave until Mr Bushmaster starts smacking on the windows of the car. In this time, he works his way past the crap snacks to our awesome chocolate chip biscuits and dashes off with them. Mr Bushmaster gives chase but isn’t quite fast enough. So the monkey rips into and feasts on our delicious cookies. Funnily enough, the greedy monkey didn’t even share with his family who all sat watching him eat.
We’ve continued to lament the theft of these biscuits ever since. Good biscuits are hard to find in Africa.