For the first time in my life, I embarked on an organized overland tour. Last year, I travelled over 6,000 km through Southern Africa in a rental car and found the concept quite nice. Unfortunately, Eastern Africa is neither as developed nor as organized as the South. Crossing international borders with a rental car or one-way rentals is not really possible and public transportation is rather painful.
So I set off with my 21 new friends on a 19 day tour, which will take us from Nairobi, Kenya to Livingstone, Zambia. The big white truck is the primary vehicle and the four Land Rovers took us in the Serengeti National Park, the first real activity on the tour (Kenya was just a departure point, we did nothing there).
Roads in Tanzania are absolute garbage. This is not due to neglect, but rather to the huge amount of roadwork being done. The main highway is being worked on in dozens and dozens of segments simultaneously, and narrow paths have to be used to go around. For all intents and purposes, this means that at the moment, the main highway is unpaved. To kill the boredom, I shot pictures though the window, and I thought this one turned out to be OK.
From this small hill at the very entrance of the National Park, you can see the vast expanse of the Serengeti plain. At the right time of the year, you can see hundreds of thousands of migrating buffalos, zebras and other four-legged cat lunches making their way towards Kenya, or back down, in pursuit of the rains.
As I wrote in my post about Murchison Falls National Park, a game drive is a game drive, so hopefully you enjoy some of the pictures.
Parents are very protective of young baby elephants.
Everything seems so hard and tiresome for lions.
I began suspecting that lions used our vehicles as a cover for approaching their prey. The number of times they walked right along our vehicles was too high to be a coincidence. With a 55-300 mm lens, I couldn’t even fit this lioness into the picture because she was so close. Had I reached down from the window, I think I could have touched her (which would not have been very smart, to say the least).
This giraffe was much more shy and went to hide as soon as it saw us.
But giraffes are not very good at hiding.
The ugliest bird in the world.
This was my first sighting of a cheetah in the wild. They are very hard to spot, no pun intended. They are also very “single purpose evolved” animals, capable of running at more than 110 km/h, but only for 300 m. They then need to rest for 30 minutes!
And my first ever sighting of a leopard, albeit from very far away. This completed the “big five” for me. The 5 are: rhinos, elephants, buffalos, lions and leopard. Historically, it refers more to killing them than seeing them, which may be why the giraffe is not included. After all, a 3 metre long stuffed giraffe’s head can’t go on anybody’s living room wall.
The rare unicorn.
And the even rarer japanese vampire. Sunlight kills them, so I was surprised she removed the hand bandages she was wearing a few minutes earlier.
And one of the campsites. Unlike in Etosha National Park, the campsites in the Serengeti are not fenced and wild animals, including the predators and the big ones, can wander between the tents. Apparently, they don’t really associate a tent with a source of food so it is safe, although precautions have to be taken when going to the washroom. This being the high season, I think there were way too many people in our campsites for any animal to want to get close. So I woke up uneaten, ready to enjoy the Serengeti’s incredible sunrises.