September 14, 2014

Day 43 (in the Serengeti)

I never really thought I'd be in the Serengeti until about 10 minutes into our first game drive.

After lunch at the Ngorogoro Crater, we drove through the Tanzanian countryside to the Serengeti, stopping just inside the entrance to climb up to a viewpoint and gaze out over the vast plains while toasting with a cold beer.

Plains from the Serengeti viewpoint

Even having booked the trip and paid for it months ago, it didn't register until the late afternoon sun and fading buzz, at which point I thought, "This is the SERENGETI."  A place so vast, an idea so iconic.  The stuff of "one of these days" aspirations and the Nature channel.

Which actually turned out to be a bit of a dud for the first few hours.  Lots of driving through plains of dry grass, a couple of birds, an ostrich, some large boulders... decidedly not the stuff of the Nature channel.



That is, until we came across a cheetah with her two cubs, crossing the road in front of us.

Camouflaged in the grasses...

Claiming the right of way.

Cheetah mom.

One cub lazy, curled up on the warm dirt of the road, identifying it as a prime spot for snoozing.  The other, more curious, decided to first inspect and then attack our truck.  Our left front tire, in particular, was the bit to which he took the most offense.

Who, me?


I bite your tire now!

It was an exhilarating (proverbial) eleventh hour.  A baby cheetah cub attacking our tire!  In the Serengeti!!

We lingered too long and had to lead foot the gas in order to make it to our campsite before dark (night game drives are prohibited in the park).

Quintessential Serengeti sunset picture.

Goodnight, Sun.

And we camped that night inside the Serengeti itself.  Enjoying some red wine packed-in from the last convenience stop and falling asleep to the sounds of jackals and hyenas.