Serengeti: The great migration

Day 7 – Our last day in the Serengeti

I didn’t take as many pictures as I probably should have. I wanted to experience this trip with my soul and all my senses – looking a lion in the eye, smelling the lemony whiff of the freshly cut grasses made by the elephants, tasting the dust and sand during game drives, hearing the hyenas roaming about during the night and feeling the chilly air in the morning and biting heat of the Serengeti. Not behind the small frame of a viewfinder. So when I am old and my eyes becomes bad, my heart will still remember how beautiful this was.

In addition to the searing heat and sea of dust, in the Serengeti, you’ll also be assaulted by annoying tsetse flies that stings as painful as fuck (even through your long sleeves). I notice that instead of whacking them to death, Rogarth would open the windows to let them out. I am not sure if tsetse flies are just generally mean and want to sting people to death or they just get confused flying inside a 4×4 with tourists who have thick guide books to slap them flat.

Tsetse flies are good indication of getting nearer to the herds of migrating wildebeest. On our 6th day, when we saw our first big herd, the tsetse flies were all over the Land Cruiser.

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We didn’t really see the river crossing, the image that usually represents the Great Migration. What we saw was a big herd quenching their thirst on a small river. There were thousands of them, littering on the plain, some running to the other side of the road, some coming back.

These wildebeest are funny animals. They look like some mindless cows running around not knowing where to go. Like the zebras, they would run back and forth until one of the leaders would chase each one into the line when it’s time to move. Slowly you would see them forming a long que. A lot of people could really learn a lot about queuing from these wildebeests.

The Great Migration refers to the annual migration of about two million zebras and wildebeest in East Africa, mostly in parts of the Serengeti to the Masai Mara in Kenya, chasing the rain. Their most dangerous plights happen when crossing the Lobo and Grumeti rivers where hungry crocodiles await them. This is the most filmed moment in their journey. They would be also followed by the big predators. Most of these wildebeests would die in this annual plight for greener grass.

We were lucky to see two big herds in the Serengeti. One was during our 6th day and the second on our 7th day, just when we were checking in at the Eco Lodge Africa at the Grumeti Camp. You wouldn’t believe the kind of noise these animals make and it can last all throughout the day.

I’ve had the perfect bed at the Eco Lodge Africa, hard bed with lots of pillows. I felt like a million dollar although it is certainly not the best lodge. Since I was still sick and couldn’t sleep, I spent the whole evening listening to the wildebeest and the hyenas, hoping to hear the distress call of the zebras. But I didn’t hear any kill during the evening. Good for the migrating herds.

The next morning we went back to spend our last day in the Serengeti. In addition to the usual sights, we were treated to a haunt – a pack of lions trying to snatch a zebra from a small herd for breakfast. Unfortunately, they all missed. However after half an hour of spotting, we chanced upon lion feasting on a kill by a small river. But there were at least 20 cars around it and god knows how many other tourist snapping their cameras at the lone lion. We couldn’t enjoy it very much.

The same thing happened when we spotted some leopards. If there had not been too many cars, we could have enjoyed looking at the leopards even though they were still too far away. But I wasn’t disappointed as much as my co-travellers were. I felt like I was already so blessed by so all these amazing sights and missing some animals only gives me more reason to come back.

We had lunch near a salt lake after a failed attempt to get near a rhinoceros. But we could technically say that we’ve found the Big 5 in one trip to the Serengeti. At least for the people in our group who wants to tick it off their list.

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As for me, I was just too happy being in the Serengeti – pushing the Land Cruiser when it got stuck in the middle of the Grumeti Camp, peeing in the open despite the danger of lions attacking you because you’re bladder is going to explode if you don’t (you know how they warn you NOT TO GET OUT OF THE CAR), lunching near a salt where you saw a rhino just a couple of kilometers away and seeing a lion attacking a zebra. Your heart would be pounding but at the same time, you were also wishing the moment never to stop.

We left the Serengeti after lunch, my heart filled with joy. All the money spent in this trip was worth it. But  just when we thought we’ve seen enough, the Serengeti had one last surprise for us – a pack of hyenas and vultures feasting on the remnants of a kill. And here Robin took what for me was his best shot in this trip – a hyena running away with a big chunk of the kill.

This photo sums up what the Serengeti is – wild and free (up to a certain extent). Calling it the Last Eden is only but apt because here we could still see what paradise looks like, the one that we were taught God created.

However in the near future, when more people could afford a safari trip, would there still be enough space in the endless plain of Africa to accommodate all of us?

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