Day #7 (Jan. 24th, 2014) - Leaving the Serengeti
Click here to see a photo gallery featuring 20 photos form today.
Today was our last day on the Serengeti. After our usual Western-style breakfast, and packing our usual lunch boxes, we packed up all our suitcases and said goodbye to our hosts at Lake Masek Tent Camp. We departed around 9AM for our final game drive across the Serengeti.
Game driving reminds me a lot of snorkeling on a coral reef: it's basically the same each time (you're always traveling over the same landscape) but different every time, and you'll never know what you see. You see a lot of the same organisms as you usually see, but then you'll see new combinations, new conditions of light and weather, and the occasional rarity that really grabs your attention. During this particular drive, for example, we just happened to come upon an ostrich egg. Just sitting there on the ground. No ostriches in sight. Weird!
The most common sight on the Serengeti is large herds of wildebeest, numbers from dozens to thousands:
Few things are as impressive as a thundering herd of wildebeest crossing your path. They have evolved behaviors that help ward off chasing predators: they tend to cut back/forth a lot when they run (like a soldier trying to avoid bullets), and they tend to kick their hind legs in unison, like a bucking bronco. It's impressive to watch such a large beast move that way. Whenever I saws a herd crossing the road, I wanted our truck to speed toward them so that I could watch them scatter! Not cool, I suppose.
This shot gives a good sense of how close we could sometimes get to the wildlife:
We spent about 45 minutes watching/stalking a cheetah as it watched/stalked some gazelles:
We drove our way out of the Serengeti National Park by speeding across the wide-open plain for about an hour. It was really awesome. Forest and I stood in the front row facing forward (me standing on the floor of the truck, he in bare feet standing on the seat) as we raced across the Serengeti, sometimes on well-worn trails, sometimes across open territory. The wind whipped our faces as we viewed the wildlife dotting the landscape out to the horizon in every direction: wildebeest, gazelles, and zebras being the most common. This photo shows a jackal, with wildebeest in the background:
The scale of it all was so vast, and yet we knew from the previous day that dramas play out on every patch. Here is how we looked when it was over:
Upon leaving the Serengeti, we spent several hours driving across local roads to our next destination. We frequently passed individual or groups of Maasai tending to their flocks along the side or the road, or congregating in the shade:
As with every lodge, this one featured Maasai warriors to act as security and escorts:
Thanks for reading