Our hyena friend joining us on the walk
Walking on warthogs!
View of the eruption from our charter flight
High fives after a big trek
Wildebeest, wildebeest, wildebeest...
Migration time and was it ever busy! The short grass plains of the southern Serengeti were packed this season with hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle. Also in attendance on the plains were numerous cheetah, some wild dog, lion, and the thousands of Lesser Kestrels hovering in the sky and then swooping down to pop insects. We also enjoyed the many dramatic views of giraffe in single file marching across the open country, necks on the horizon, seemingly going to the end of the earth. Wildebeest calves were born, some perishing to the ranks of carnivores, others lost and wandering through the wilderness. One evening in camp we heard the bleating of a lost calf. Straight through camp ran a lost wildebeest calf towards the land rover and tents associating the size and dark colour with its parent. On it went into the bush and into a night filled with hyenas, leaving us with mixed emotions about the realities of nature, but knowing that most persist side by side with their mothers to carry on the cycle into the next year.
Walking on beasts again in our exclusive piece of Serengeti in Loliondo
Some beautiful walks, expected big views and some wonderful magical encounters on the trail. Whether or not we encounter one of the 'heavies' while walking, just to strike out on foot onto the high ridges overlooking Serengeti or the low dry riverbeds riddled with bark-stripped trees from hungry elephants make it magical. The cool mornings, quietness and views of the walks are always a special part of each safari. And we did have some great sightings and encounters, as on our first walk in February when we walked on 3 cheetahs eating an impala. Later in the season on the Scott and Fisher trekking safari we had the most enjoyable trek along the Serengeti boundary walking up to countless warthogs very close and one inquisitive spotted hyena who ambled to within just a few steps of us as we kept still and waiting. Eland (the largest antelope in the world) were also aplenty with many close sightings and some enormous herds, and we were also lucky enough to have 200 elephant in the valley below camp one afternoon, as we watched the sun go down, beer in hand, admiring the herd browse its way westwards towards the national park.
Erupting volcanoes, old friends and a proposal on the rocks
We had a ball with our first group from South Africa, some seasoned African travellers who took in the masses of game in the crater and Ndutu, some unrivalled open space in Loliondo with a couple big lions to boot, a beautiful melanistic (all black morph) Gabar Goshawk so well spotted by Robbie, and some relaxing down time in our luxury camp in Tarangire rounding out the safari with gin and tonics on the rocks overlooking the Silale floodplains. We also witnessed an enormous eruption from Oldonyo Lengai, an active volcano near Ngorongoro, and on our chartered flight from Loliondo to Tarangire flew close enough to take some photos of the eruption, quite an amazing sight! I was also fortunate enough to have the Fields family on safari with one of my oldest friends, Kenyon, who is executive director of the Sitka Conservation Society in Alaska, with whom it was great to catch up and also to compare conservation challenges in Serengeti to those in Tongass National Forest. We also had our first marriage proposal in the bush, with Vijay on a knee on the rocks at sunset and Lauren happily obliging... well done! And on our final safari of the season, 22 students from MIT in Maasailand with some brilliant sightings on foot... Elephant, buffalo and five lions devouring a buffalo. Staying quiet on the trail always pays off!