The Serengeti

The Serengeti is a massive 14,763 sq km region that is nearly the size of a small European country. Because of its size and scope, the animals were more spread out and often made for long, dusty game drives. In the first photo below Carson stands on a ridge as the vast plains stretch out behind him. The second features a leopard bathing itself. These are solitary animals except when a female is in heat. A similar but different animal, the cheetah, is in the third photo. Since females remain solitary and only males form coalitions, I suspect these were males scouting for food. In the fourth some crocodiles sunbath on the banks of a small stream.

Of all the people and things we encountered in Africa, the Maasai were among the most fascinating to me. They are pastoral nomads who have, for the most part, resisted modernization and still follow the same lifestyle they did centuries ago. They're seen everywhere in northern Tanzania tending to their cattle and livestock (see picture set below). But their adherence to traditional life may be slipping away and I got the sense that I was observing a priceless cultural artifact that may not be around much longer. In the third picture below I stand with young Maasai, a couple of which have incorporated modern clothing into their traditional dress. Indeed the oldest boy in the picture was wanting to sell his spear and machete (used to ward off lions and predators) for shillings. Both were tempting, but I could only transport the machete and gave him roughly $10 for it.

The Serengeti has a number of predators but the lions are rightfully king. The four pictures below show a handful of lions taking part in an ancient cycle of renewal and death. Two males sauntered up past a couple of vehicles parked near each other. But as we soon discovered, they were following a lioness and her cubs (pictures two, three, and four below). A likely explanation is that the males had recently taken over the pride. Anytime that happens the new males typically kill and/or eat the cubs of the previous males and it's entirely possible that these males were on their way to doing that.

In the first picture below Carson and I pull a page out of the Indiana Jones playbook and walk on a shabby wooden bridge over a stream filled with crocodiles and hippos. It's worth noting here that our guide on Mt. Kilimanjaro was amazing but the safari guide, Bacardi, was far from it. The second picture below shows a pack of baboons. But rather than politely pull up to observe them, Bacardi seemed like he was trying to hit them with the Land Cruiser. Later we questioned him about it and discovered that he considers them pests, especially after they once broke into his apartment, ate his food, and "shit" everywhere. But even when he wasn't trying to hit animals his reckless driving came close to accidentally doing it anyway. The third picture shows one of the many times our car broke down and needed repair. In the fourth photo Carson shows his excitement over eveyrthing around him.

While we were in the middle of our Serengeti adventure we made a brief trip over to Lake Victoria. Our stop there, and our subsequent visit to Lake Manyara and Oldupai Gorge, can be found here.

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© Joshua Claybourn. 2006