Tanzania Diary – Day 5

Day 5 – May 30th
We got up early in the morning, got dressed and had breakfast. During the night we had heard Lions and Hyenas although they were far away. An Ostrich and about 10 Wildebeest were on the plain behind the campsite. After breakfast we set off for our morning game drive.

We began with lots of Impalas, a very common animal that we somehow didn’t see yesterday. We then saw Topi and Hartebeest. Soon we got to the waterhole where we had seen the Hippos yesterday. Also today there were Vervet Monkeys, Blacksmith Plovers, Egyptian Geese, Marabous, Crowned Cranes, a Black-headed Heron and a Crocodile. Thousands upon thousands of Wildebeests and Zebras were now moving across the plains although these were only the last few of the 1.5 million Wildebeest and 400,000 Zebra that are now in the Western Corridor of the Serengeti and making their way to the north of the park and the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Then whilst watching another group of Vervet Monkeys I spotted an eagle in a tree which turned out to be a juvenile Bateleur Eagle, a beautiful bird although this bird was a rather dull brown colour as it was a juvenile. Ruppells Griffon, Lappet-faced, White-backed and a few Hooded Vultures were all around us in the sky and the Marabous were also in good number. Then we saw Helmeted Guineafowl, Red-billed Hornbill and I saw a Grey-backed Fiscal.

Then whilst driving through an area of long grass I spotted some Lions for just a brief second. When we went back to see them we couldn’t see them at first but then 2 females and 1 male sat up. Our two jeeps were quickly joined by many others. The Lions were preparing to mate and the male was scent marking on a tree. We watched them for about 20 minutes and then we left. By the time we left their were 12 other jeeps there watching so I was quite happy with that sighting.

Then we drove to the Masai Kopjes (Koppies) to look for some of the diverse wildlife that these mini eco-systems support. Kopjes are large rocks that were made when a volcano did something and they are a unique feature of the Serengeti. They are often used as resting spots for Lions as well as supporting Hyraxes, Klipspringers, Bushbucks, many snakes, breeding Black Eagles and many other birds. Also the Moru Kopjes are where the park’s only remaining Black Rhino (7) can be found. When we got to the Masai Kopjes we quickly spotted a female Lion resting on the top of a Kopje enjoying the sun. Then just a tiny bit further on we found a group of 6 (1 male and 5 females) lazing around.

Further on we found a army of jeeps looking into an area of grass when a Cheetah popped its head up. Then to our surprise up popped another head and then another. Three Cheetahs all at once! This group must have been what is called a coalition of Cheetahs. Coalitions of Cheetahs are male Cheetahs (normally brothers although some may join with other males) that live together so they can hunt larger prey such as Wildebeest. Coalitions normally number two or three although when a nearby female is in oestrus they split for a short time and one goes to mate with her. Sadly though the two Cheetahs who showed second went back down and did not show again. Then the adults’ jeep arrived, too late to see three, although I’m sure that one was good enough. After watching the Cheetah for a while we carried on.

Then came our next surprise, a pair of Secretary birds beside the road, something I’d been really wanting to see. We then travelled back to towards our campsite at Seronera to have lunch. On the way back we saw 2 female Lions lying in a tree, Warthog and Grey Hornbill. We had lunch at the campsite and then drove to the Ikoma wildlife area outside of the parks where we were staying that night. We didn’t have to take down the tents because Arnold the cook was staying at the campsite. On the way to Ikoma we saw Fischer’s Lovebird, Thompson’s Gazelle, Hippo, Yellow-billed Stork, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Ostrich, Defassa Waterbuck, Zebra, Warthog, Topi, Hartebeest, Wildebeest and many Impalas.

When we left the park it was only a 5 minute drive to the lodge. We then relaxed in our luxurious tents which had hot water, comfy beds, a nice toilet and a wonderful view over the plains. We were not the only inhabitants of our tents, a pair of toads were on the inside and several lizards were on the outside. Then we had dinner and played Cluedo. We were supposed to be going on a night drive at 9:00 although at 9.30 we were told that it wasn’t on because the jeep was broken. Some other people said that the jeep had been broken yesterday and they were told that the drive would be on today. The management gave us free drinks but it wasn’t a very good consolation so that was a bit of a disappointment. Then we went off to bed in our cozy tents.

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