Last time reporting from Africa. Our flight leaves around 9 PM tonight. So sad to be leaving all the animals :(
Today we drove on real roads for a little bit. What a treat. We went to Lake Manyara, or as my grandfather kept calling it ‘Lake Marinara.’ There we saw a lot of baboons, vervet monkeys, and our first sighting of blue monkeys. There should have been signs that said “Baboon Crossing” because we would wait while about 50 of them ran across the road. Watching the baboons was too funny. There was one baby baboon that kept running away from its mother, who, in an effort to keep it close by, grabbed it by its tail and pulled it back towards her.
We also saw our first monitor lizard. At one point my grandfather was convinced he saw an elephant. It turned out to be the backside of a buffalo. Sorry Pop.
Then we went to Tarangire National Park which has the highest concentration of elephants in Africa. And true to its reputation, two seconds after we entered the park, we saw a group of about 13 elephants. We saw elephant after elephant, and a few small (well, relatively) baby ones.
Tomorrow is our last full day in Africa :(
Today we went down into the Ngorongoro crater. It kind of felt like we were in an extra large snow globe or in the Truman Show; we were in a weird bubble that was a full ecosystem but enclosed by huge hills on every side. We saw our first rhino, we actually saw six of them, but from distances. So we have officially seen all of the Big 5 (rhinos, cape buffalo, elephants, lions, leopard).
In terms of cats we saw a lot of lions. Most were napping and they came close to the cars so they could bask in the shade it gave them. We did see a few lions eating a freshly killed wildebeest. Yum. From then on we were all on the lookout for lions in hunting action. At one point, my grandpa was convinced he saw two lions stalking a wildebeest, but it turned out to be two birds. Oops. A little too much Animal Planet watching on his part.
We also saw a gazelle that was minutes old and we watched it learn how to walk. Adorable. It learned in about five minutes. Much better than humans.
Apparently there are about 1.5 million wildebeest in the Serengeti and I am pretty sure I’ve seen just about every last one of them.
After seeing the massive herds, we visited a Maasai village, which was really interesting. They are kind of equivalent to the Amish people of America. They are a tribe of people who choose to strictly maintain their longstanding traditions and try to stop mainstream culture from affecting their customs. But, they are not opposed to making a profit, which is what they do by giving tours of their village and showing visitors their lifestyle. Their village comprised of small huts and other small structures (such as a school) and cattle related pens. Their diet consists almost exclusively of meat, milk, and blood (of the cattle) and this obviously serves them well because they are very rarely sick and often live up to 100. They are polygamous, but each wife is equal. The existing wives are actually the ones who select the new wife. Young boys work with the cattle, but when they are young teenagers, they are trained to be warriors. The training prepares them to be able to defend the people of the village and the animals. Then, when they are 18, they get married. The women take care of the children, gather firewood, and prepare the food.
Then we went to Olduvai Gorge. Originally named Oldupai, the German scientist who recorded the name, wrote it down wrong, and ever since it has been called Olduvai. This is the site where Louis and Mary Leakey found evidence of early humans.
After that, we went to Ngorongoro Crater. This crater formed when a huge volcano erupted and collapsed into itself somewhere between 2 to 3 million years ago. It is an amazing place, comprised of a large lake and lushious grass. It is now home to many different species.
Then, to the Ngorongoro lodge, which has a fantastic view of the crater, and internet so I can finally blog. Right now I’m looking out the window onto the lake and I can see cattle being herded by a young Maasai boy on the hill nearest to me. Quite an amazing view.
Yes, this is my second blog title that uses a Bob Marley reference. So it goes. As the title suggests, we woke up early this morning to see three little genets right outside our door. Genets are small nocturnal cats with bushy tails and big eyes. Very cute until they look at you face on and you can see that they resemble a ferret more than a cat.
We saw a few hyenas and all I could picture was the laughing skinny hyenas from the Lion King. These hyenas were a bit more chunky and almost looked like small bears with bat faces.
Then we came across two cheetahs in the grass. Truly amazing. So regal looking, but they still have the cute cat face that makes me want to pet them (but obviously I know that they are no house cats). All of a sudden, both cheetahs stood up and were both looking in the same direction. They were staring at a lion, which we then quickly drove over to see. It was a male lion, who was of course, napping. Then we drove back to look at the cheetahs again who were doing the funniest thing. They were partially on guard because the lion was around, so one would sit up, take a quick look, and then fall right back down to napping position. Every thirty seconds or so, the cheetahs would do this. Just like my cats, who do nothing more active than they have to, so they can go right back to sleep.
Just as our day started with genets, our day ended with them as well. When we were eating dinner in the lodge, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye, only to discover that a genet was inside the dining room. It was perched on a ledge about ten feet off the ground. Soon, everyone in the lodge was looking and taking pictures. You could see the genet pacing, trying to figure out the best way to get down. So, just as cats do, it scaled down the wall, scampered across the floor, and hopped out the window.
Wow. What a day. We saw herds of zebras, probably hundreds or thousands of them. They are the animals that lead the migration, and they are pretty smart about it, too. When zebras approach rivers, they let the wildebeest, who follow them in the migration, go through the river first. Therefore, the wildebeest are the ones that get eaten by the crocodiles and by the time the zebra cross the river, the crocs are full and tired. So conniving. We also saw massive amounts of wildebeest. They have dark stripes, skinny legs, and weird beards, so basically they are the hipsters of the animal kingdom. They also have really short memories, so one will cross the road and all of the others will immediately follow, but then a minute later, another one will cross back to the side they just came from and they still follow.
Then….the best of all. The cats. First we saw a lioness sun bathing on a rock. Then we saw four cheetahs in the middle of the plains. It was a mother with three cubs. So beautiful. Then we saw a female lioness napping right next to a wildebeest carcass. A few yards away were 7 cubs who were also napping, obviously full from the yummy wildebeest. And finally, the most ameowzing. We saw a male lion (the first one we had seen) sleeping next to a female lion. After watching them sleep for about 20 minutes, they both got up, yawned, mated for a whopping 10 seconds, and went right back to bed.
Other animals we saw today: Crocodiles, warthogs, hyenas, foxes, gazelles, ostrich, and flamingos
The internet is back and so is the blog. Rapid fire 3 posts, here it goes….