We’ll ignore chronology and describe a series of encounters.
The animals get up early so we’re up at 6:00am (coffee waiting for Liz on the patio – brilliant) and off by 6:30am (breakfast in the bush – more later).
While getting up early is never Dickie’s favourite experience, the luminescent Serengeti dawns do compensate
We’ve mentioned buffalo before. They’re big, tough and aggressive. This herd made it clear that they weren’t being intimidated. Dad (or mom) made it even clearer that we should not come closer
While the large animals are exciting, we love the surprise of seeing the small creatures that stay hidden from view. Examples follow
- African wildcat – the ancestor of all domestic cats
- appropriately named Bat Eared Foxes – cute, cute, cute
Even Felix was excited when we spotted a Ratel - or Honey Badger – during the day. They’re usually nocturnal. Apparently nobody messes with Ratels. They’ve got wicked claws for digging, a powerful bite, their loose, very thick coat makes it tough to administer a killing strike and – just for good measure – they spray like a skunk! Formidable
At the other end of the aggressive scale we were surprised to discover that there are a lot of bunnies on the Serengeti. They hide in holes during the day or simply crouch down. We are constantly amazed at how even large animals disappear by just lying down in the sparse vegetation
One late afternoon we experience a Serengeti downpour – it doesn’t rain often but when it does it is torrential. Tent leaks were inconsequential, but fun
Birds and Beasts
There is a shallow alkaline lake near the camp with many flamingos and other wading birds. They are striking reflected in the mirror calm surface
Wildebeest are strange creatures. For reasons unknown, one wildebeest will decide he needs to be somewhere else and starts running. Others follow and soon the whole herd is on the move. As they move their attendant oxpeckers and cattle egrets follow. We counted 80 wildebeest a minute passing us. There were two columns so we estimate over 2,000 animals, at least. 15-20 minutes and it was all over
Even the ostriches and their chicks didn’t know why
The Marabou Storks watched from a dead tree – never was there an animal more appropriate for a Hieronymus Bosch painting. They are symbols of foreboding and loss
And very, very, very tiny antelopes!
Dik Diks are the smallest antelopes - about 2 feet long and 18 inches high. They are intensely cute with large eyes. Can't believe Paris Hilton hasn't started carrying one around in her handbag. They'are also surprisingly common and unafraid of us - surprising since all the predators eat them. Following are shots of an animal we always stopped for