Serengeti: Big cats

Day 6 – Soaking up the views of the Last Eden

We started early, just as when the sun was rising in the Serengeti. Our picnic box safely tucked away at the back of the Land Cruiser, our batteries loaded and our hearts filled with excitement for another game drive in the Serengeti.

The Serengeti. I let the word flow from my mouth, like a sip of a good Amarone, many times over during the trip. The Serengeti, a place that seemed so far away, so unreachable, so impossible to visit when I was watching it on tv. The Serengeti, the last frontier for the wild life of Africa, where lions and cheetahs roam in their natural habitat and where the rule of nature is above the rule of men.

Rogarth suggested that we should see a part of the migration in the afternoon. We all agreed. But first we would explore Central Serengeti.

 

During my safari trip in #Tanzania, it was the female lions that earned my admiration above all wild animals. They are the hunters, the ones bringing food to the table, they keep the pride together, they are extremely tactical and they are are great mothers, fiercely protective yet very caring to their offsprings. @robinkuijs snapped this tender moment between a young cub and a lioness while I sat on the jeep for 15 minutes watching this loving moment between mother and child. Today is World Lion Day and this post is dedicated to all lionesses and the ones celebrating their birthdays under this zodiac sign. . . . #serengeti #tanzania #safari #animalplanet #travel #reizen #reisblog #travelblogger #afrika #natgeo #natgeotraveller #africa #lonelyplanet #lpfanphoto #wanderlust #destinations #gamedrive #lions #leeuw #worldlionday

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Not even 30 minutes away from Tortillis Camp, we already encountered a group of about 12 lions, warming themselves up on a patch of sand. We watched them for about half an hour, about 10 of them sitting together, surveying the nearby hill where the zebras were grazing, and then after a while positioning themselves for an ambush. Not very far from the group were a cub and his guard, playing together like normal house cats. When another Land Cruiser pulled over beside us, we drove on.

A little farther down the dirt road, Robin spotted a small group he initially thought were lions. But they were cheetahs, a family of cheetah marching slowly, intently watching our car because they wanted to cross the road.

I find the cheetahs to be the most beautiful animal I’ve seen in this trip. Nature is really a design genius, splashing this big cat with black dots all over its fur, few circles at the end of its tail and that long line from the side of its eyes extending down the side of its mouth, giving the animal a melancholic face.

That’s why when we finally found the Leopard (ticking off the fourth in the Big 5’s list), I wasn’t so impressed. Also because the animal was so far away, I couldn’t appreciate it so much.

Leopards are called the “ghost of the Serengeti”. Together with the rhinos, they are the most difficult to spot. They usually lounge on their branches all day long. And because this is the Serengeti, we couldn’t get as close as we would want to. We needed to stay on the roads. Unless of course, they were out on a kill.

Some of these wild cats look so fluffy up close and I was imagining how it would feel like to stroke their soft fur. But of course that would be stupid because once when an animal like this gets comfortable being touched by human beings, they ceased to become wild.

We continued searching for the herds of wildebeest joining the Great Migration this year. I think we must have driven two hours in the Central Serengeti to find them. This new experience and the difficult of the roads made me very tired so when we are not spotting animals, I was sleeping. Due to the rapidly changing temperatures in the savanna, I feel a bit ill with fever, chills and a bad sore throat. Thankfully the sight of different wild animals gives me an adrenaline rush every time.

At some point, you’ll stop taking photos. There’s really no other way to capture the beauty of this unique place than to see it with your eyes and feel it with your heart. Then the memory would live forever.
 

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After a rather luxurious picnic lunch, we continued spotting for animals. But we didn’t get so lucky anymore. They were the occasional lions mating but for the rest, we saw only the usual packs – zebras, giraffes, wild pigs, elephants, gazelles, etc. We headed back to the camp early to enjoy the sunset.

P.S. I started writing this when the news about Cecil, The Lion broke out. I was so broken hearted that I couldn’t continue with the story anymore. That’s why it took me quite a while to finish the Serengeti series. I don’t understand how man can be so cruel especially after seeing these wild animals up close. But Nietzsche is right, men is the most cruel of all creatures. I hope that this disgusting trade of trophy haunting will be stopped once and for all.

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