January 19th, 2003
Woke early, breakfast as usual. At Seronera, we pick out own lunch boxes. Checked out & on the road in search of cheetahs!
Driving through same territory. No leopards, but photogenic hartebeest.
Long drive through grasslands to Serengeti gate. V. windy today. Only a few hartebeests along way.
Heading for migration. Will try trick w/camera there.
Emergency repairs - support on roof of landrover broken. Braced w/length of rubber. Then Jim's hat blew off, but he rescued it. Is v. important, so Jim doesn't burn balding spot.
Went off-road looking for cheetah. Found cheetah, w/kill. Thought was Thomson's gazelle, later found out was baby Grant's gazelle.
Camera didn't want to rewind film. Hope pics okay.
Stopped to mess with rattling noise from roof supports. Got pic of herd from distance.
Got into outskirts of herd - zebras, wildebeests & Tommies (Thomson's gazelles).
Then headed for concentration of vehicles on suspicion of lions. Were rewarded. Good sized pride w/2 adult males, several females, juvenile males & cubs. Juvenile males have mohawk - about age to be kicked out of pride.
After touring part of herd, headed off for wooded area. Stopped in plain to eat. Saw herd running, caught up to them - wildebeests running in more or less straight line.
Through woods, only guinea fowl. Then down to Ndutu Lake, crossing floodplain. V. dusty. Is salt lake.
Drove along river. Mostly zebras getting drinks. Some wildebeests, giraffes, hartebeests. Also hyena.
More driving around lake & floodplain. Is raining in Ngorongoro highlands.
Were stopped by rangers to check papers. Must have valid permit to be in park. If not, must be fined & then pay for permit. Rangers armed in case of rabid animals & poachers. If poacher seen, shot on sight, because poachers often armed with AK-47s. This law cut poaching v. well.
Saw landrover in field away from herd. Drove over to see what fuss about. First saw birds. Then kitties! Two cheetahs, w/fresh half-a-wildebeest. Cheetahs have v. full bellies. Remaining half beest between cheetahs. Stomach of beest in separate pile. Also pile of guts. Large flock vultures pretending not to watch cheetahs. Also storks.
Finally saw another wildebeest baby. Is v. strange so few. Wildebeests can stop labor couple weeks 'til safe. Babies we've seen v. young - not even hour old.
On way back to Ndutu saw bat-eared fox, v. shy.
Spotted 2 lionesses on way to lodge, hiding in woods.
Ndutu v. friendly. Cabins made of stone, local wood & thatch. Is v. eco-friendly. Is also nicest place yet. Am now sitting on porch of cabin, hair still wet from shower, looking over gorgeous view of trees & lake. Guinea fowl running in grass. Also elephants. Just cruising by. !. Only possible downside is electricity only available part time.
Went to take pics of elephants, scenery. Then to bar. Genet cats inside lodge. Spifty!
Hierarchy of local beer, weakest to strongest, is Kilimanjaro, Tusker, Safari. Have not tried Kili yet.
Dinner v. good. Presentation a plus. Also tasty.
Must hit gift shop in morning.
Have decided on slight change of plans - instead of doing Ngorongoro Crater on the 21st, will be doing it tomorrow. Will have more time that way. Early start, so soon to bed. Hope to get up to take pics of sunrise.