Serengeti: The sad, the bad and the ugly

Day 5 – First game drive in the Serengeti (all photos by Robin Kuijs)

If you are following me, The Weekend Traveller and Robin Kuijs on Instagram, you’ve probably already seen the amazing photos of the wild animals. But let me start my Serengeti diaries with the sad, the bad and the ugly.

Life in the Serengeti is survival of the fittest, for the people living there but especially for the wild animals. The big cats are kings of course so are other large animals like elephants, rhinos and crocodiles. The cute and cuddly zebras, gazelles, wildebeest and even the buffalos (one of the Big 5) are all but meals for the big ones. Nature also has its own cleaning team, the scavengers , who clean up the carcasses after the big ones have had their meals. They include the hyenas, the vultures and the marabou storks. Here they are in their best moments, looking so ugly that they become beautiful.

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The skeleton of a wildebeest dragged to the tree and eaten by a leopard.

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This one is having a blast up there in the ass.

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He certainly wasn’t the first one to eat.

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On a safari trip, you have to have a stomach for this. A vulture picking the eyes of a wildebeest, killed by a car.

After our Maasai village visit, we drove quickly to the Serengeti. Our group couldn’t keep our excitement anymore. We wanted to arrive already to the Serengit or the “endless plains” of Africa as the Maasai calls it. We wanted to see the National Geographic and Lonely Planet images of the savanna and the wild animals that thrive on it.

We reached the gate at about 3pm, enough time to do a late afternoon/early evening game drive. We were treated right away to a group of tree climbing lions. Five of them were occupying a lone tree, resting on th branches, cooling themselves down from the biting savanna heat. We could have stayed there the whole afternoon, dotting over the lions looking so adorable in their siesta. But it’s getting dark so we drove on. On the way to the camp, we saw a lone giraffe going for his afternoon acacia snack and a lone, old buffalo who is about to die.

When a buffalo becomes old and weak, he separates from the herd and wanders alone, awaiting death. In the old times, a Maasai dies in exactly the same way.
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This lonely dikdik would be an easy prey for a hungry lion.

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An old buffalo awaiting his death in the savanna. What better way to die than when the night is stealing the day’s light.

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Have you ever see something so beautiful that you only wanted to cry?

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Just as we were nearing camp, we were treated to two other spectaculars – the amazing (yes, I will be using a lot of superlatives like amazing from now on) African sunset in the Serengeti savanna and then a parade of zebras, giraffes and wildebeest crossing the road. The zebras leading the way and the giraffes patrolling the surrounding areas for hunting lions. It was way better than any National Geographic episode on TV.

By about 7pm, we check in at Tortillis Camp, the best luxury safari camp we stayed in the Serengeti. After a delicious dinner of herbed chicken and a bottle of South African Merlot/Syrah, we were off to bed.

This time however, I didn’t sleep too deep. I was kept awake by the sound of the Serengeti, the heaving lions and the laughing hyenas resonating louder than the others.

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