Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Serenity of the Serengeti

The Serengeti Plain is amazing. We were supposed to camp at Naabi Hill, but upon arrival we found out that they had inadvertantly given our campsite to another safari group. Not to worry we would camp at Ndutu instead. This actually turned out to be a terrific campsite and I am glad that we ended up there. It was more isolated from other campsites and closer to where we would travel each day on our game drives.

Upon arriving at camp our tents were all set up and there was champagne and hors d'oeuvres waiting for us. Our days would start with a friendly "Jambo" from one of the camp staff sent to wake us. We would have breakfast and then head out for our morning game drive. It was usually quite early as we would try to catch some good sunrises and get some interesting light, great for photos. We also wanted to see the animals early in the morning while they were moving around. During the mid-day heat most of the animals were not very active which made it hard to find them and also for not very interesting photos. Of course this being my first safari any photo of an animal was interesting to me.

Late mornings we would head back to camp for lunch. Then we would siesta around camp for a few hours during the high heat of the day. Late afternoon we would head out on another game drive. We would return to camp to hot water waiting for us to shower and get ready for dinner and a campfire afterwards.

There are many things that I liked about this safari tour company. First, since they were native owned they were giving back to the community in which they lived. Second, they really understood photographers and were concerned and watched the light for us and understood that it was important for good photos. Finally, they cared about and understood the animals. They were genuinely concerned with the animals welfare and would go out of the way to drive past an animal to give it its space and then allow it to come to us if it chose to do so, thereby causing minimal stress to the animals as we were in their home and as a guest it was only right to do so.

They also really understood the habits of the animals and exactly where to find even the most elusive animals. Each day they would ask us what kind of animal we would like to see. We would tell them a couple of new animals we would like to see and they would find them for us.

As a reminder my slides are thirteen years old, and my scanner is nine years old. So it is no wonder that the quality of photos is not the best. Really people - these photos were taken on all manual cameras including no auto-focus, with a camera with a broken light meter. But at least it gives you an idea of what you will see.
These were the first lions we happened upon once entering the Serengeti. Notice the half eaten zebra in the background. It looks like someone just sliced it in half.

This was a mother Cheetah and her cub walking to a nice shady spot to lay down for a rest during the afternoon heat.

We came upon a couple of elephants and parked the vehicles to sit and observe and take photos. Soon we were surrounded by a group of about 20 elephants, they just kept coming down this trail from an embankment nearby. Aparently, this elephant felt our vehicle did not belong in the midst of the herd nor did she like the sound of the cameras and so we were given a blind charge. A blind charge it may have been, we left just the same.
More on the Serengeti later as I have to get some sleep before a day of herding tomorrow.

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