Serengeti is an array of plains and woodlands dotted with glorious animals of every type and size. The plains are endless, stretching far and beyond what one’s eyes can see and mind can fathom.
No place on earth has so large a concentration of wildlife. I was reminded of the 1959 German documentary by this name – synonymous to this national park in Tanzania – so worthy a name!
The guides are fully aware of the fact that all guests visit the Serengeti to see the ‘Big Five’ and take the perfect shot. And they do everything to make it happen. The guides have unique navigation skills and tracking abilities to locate animals a mile away. We had bid goodbye to Peter when we left Kenya. Our guide in Tanzania was named Gift; he proved to be God gifted!
Gift showed us a leopard at a distance – stretched out on the branch of a tree, all four legs hanging and a gazelle hung by its neck on another branch near it. Having missed out on seeing a leopard in Masai Mara, we were thrilled to spot our first one here.
Food chain in the animal world
Driving off track is prohibited in the national parks. So, when we came across two jeeps standing off the track, we were quite surprised. Gift however sensed there could be cheetahs there. He a took calculated risk, drove off track through the tall grass and took us to a spot where we could see three cheetahs. Under the acacias, and beneath the whistling grass, they were feasting on a kill. Half the entrails of a sacrificial animal was torn apart. In broad daylight, we witnessed a gruesome but customary event of nature.
On our way back we got stuck in a traffic jam on the dirt track. Twenty cars with eager game seekers all straining to see something in the tall grass. As we got closer, we found one female leopard with her two cubs hiding under the tall grass. When they finally came out, the cars with their engines roaring, blocked their path. The cubs left their mother and frantically ran back under the tall grass. The mother leopard quietly and calmly crossed all the vehicles, paying no attention to the intruders and went straight to the kopjes (small hillock). She sat beside a huge branch of a dead tree as though posing before us!
Incredible experiences in the Serengeti
We were overcome by the beauty and amplitude of the savannah. Before coming here, I had hoped to spot a few large lions, one or two shy cheetahs and a couple of elusive leopards. I had told myself, if I was lucky, I would see them sitting on a kill but little did I know what the Serengeti had in store for me!
The two days that we spent in the Serengeti were beyond imagination and expectation. On the final day, when I woke up and drew the curtains, I saw in the faint light of the early dawn, a majestic sight. An eland was grazing just beside our window. The sight filled me with awe and reverence.
We packed our bags, got ready and resumed our journey for what was to be our last destination. Gift drove ceaselessly over the bumpy tracks while we soaked in the last glimpse of Serengeti. I reflected upon how I had dreamt that one day I would travel to this breath-taking Rift Valley and here we were on the last leg of our two weeks tour!