Tanzania – Day Three in Lake Ndutu and Serengeti National Park

Our trip to Serengeti National Park was highly anticipated by our group for one reason – elephants.  We saw a group of elephants in Ngorongoro Crater, but they were too far away to get good pictures of.  Since then, we hadn’t seen any other elephants.  Everyone was hoping that we’d see a huge herd of elephants in Serengeti.  Sadly, that didn’t happen, BUT we did see our first leopard (!!!!!!!).  Technically, it was a leopard tail up in a tree, but it counts!  Leopards are incredibly elusive and difficult to spot since their preferred hangout is up in the trees.  This was the one animal that we were told ahead of time that we may not see.  But we did!  We got to see his tail swishing below a large tree branch and if you looked REALLY closely, you could make out his spotted body through the leaves of the tree.  We were super excited!

We were also introduced to a whole new animal that I had never heard of – the hyrax!!  They were eating the grass at our lunchtime picnic area and they were SO CUTE!!!  They looked a little like groundhogs, but a LOT cuter.  They were pretty tame, too – they hang out at this picnic area so they are very used to humans.  I won’t tell you how close I got to one because I found out later it’s, well, not legal to touch any wild animals in Tanzania.  And I’d really like to go back to Tanzania one day.  I can tell you that they are probably softer than you think they are (wink wink).

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After lunch we wandered around the exhibits that were set up and Mike got this cute video of one walking on the beams above:

Overall, the real highlight of this day happened when we were on our way back to Lake Ndutu.  We came upon two lion brothers walking in the road, so we stopped and Mike videoed what happened next!

This was an unbelievable encounter.  I was actually sitting down in the jeep and when he walked by, I literally could have stuck my hand out and touched him.  I still can’t believe that this happened – even after watching the video like a billion times!

We did see another lion on the way in the park and he had a nice fresh meal he was working on.  On our way back to camp several hours later, he was taking a nap with a very full belly!  When we were snapping pictures of him, we saw some bat-eared foxes hanging out!  They are nocturnal animals, so our driver told us that it’s actually really rare to see them!

Serengeti itself wasn’t exactly what we expected, but we had an amazing day meeting our new hyrax buddies and being close enough to touch a lion!

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Double Trouble, Tanzania, 2018

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Tanzanian Starling, Tanzania, 2018

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Fixed Stare, Tanzania, 2018

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Mid-Meal Nap, Tanzania, 2018

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Bat-Eared Foxes, Tanzania, 2018

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Grinning Jackal, Tanzania, 2018

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Browsing, Tanzania, 2018

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Brothers, Tanzania, 2018

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Majestic, Tanzania, 2018

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Wisdom, Tanzania, 2018

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Food Coma, Tanzania, 2018

One thing that I wanted to do while we were in Africa were some star pictures or star trails.  Stupidly, I waited until we were in Lake Ndutu to get my gear out.  Remember how we had to have a Maasai escort if we were out at night?  That fact really prevented me from just going outside and setting up my tripod and camera, so we improvised.  Our tents had an outdoor shower stall and I thought this would be a safe way to take some star pictures!

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Starry Skies of the Southern Hemisphere, Tanzania, 2018

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