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Sunday, May 25, 2014

May 23rd, 2014
Serengeti National Park, Olduvai Gorge, Rhino Lodge

Jambo from Tanzania!

Today was filled with many different types of activities, giving us a wide selection of the best of Tanzania. We awoke from our last night in the Serengeti tent camp, each of us with stories of animals heard during the night. We arose for an early breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit, coffee and tea. We loaded our bags and ourselves into the trucks for one last game drive through Serengeti National Park.

As expected, we encountered many animals and many small dramas along our game drive.

Driving through the Serengeti is continuous entertaining. You never know what awaits around the next bend. We are constantly surprised by what we find. The landscape, flora, and fauna are changing constantly, providing a never-ending unique views. And who wouldn't want to see a dikdik?

Or a mean-looking cape buffalo - these guys always have a look that says "You lookin' at me?"

We came upon a troop of black-faced monkeys. We spent about a half hour watching them play, carry around babies, and groom each other.

One curious monkey climbed the truck to get a closer look at us. Such close-up wildlife encounters are always thrilling. But notice that you can only see two people in this shot. That's because the other two were cowering down in their seats!

Perhaps the most involved drama we witnessed came as we were nearing the edge of the park. A large herd of several hundred zebras (and some gazelles) were standing about 50' from the edge of a watering hole.

Why weren't they taking a drink? Because right at the edge of the watering hole was a female lion, obviously looking for dinner:

We watched for about an hour as the primal urge to get water competed with the primal urge to avoid being eaten. Every once in a while, a few "brave" (stupid?) zebra would venture up to the watering hole:

Once the first one was there, groups of about a dozen would venture over to take a drink:

After a minute of drinking, a slight stirring by the lion, or justified paranoia, would send the group of zebras thundering back to the herd, making an alarmed sound something like the braying of a donkey:

After several cycles of this, the lion spotted something and took off toward the drinking group. But the pounce was unsuccessful. And then the whole drama started over again. It was all very Mutual of Omaha. As is usually the case, the big cat had more patience than we did, and we left without seeing a kill.

We then sped our way out of Serengeti National Park, pausing for a meal at the entrance welcome station:

Our lunches are always boxed, containing a mix of items, typically yogurt, chicken, bread, hard boiled egg, mango juice, banana, and wafers.

We exited Serengeti National Park and entered the Ngorogoro Crater Conservation Region. We stopped for a close encounteor with a group of 12 giraffes:

I mean, giraffes! Just walking along the side of the road! Right there! Crazy. No matter how many times I see that, it will always be cool.

We drove to Olduvai Gorge, an archaeological site made famous by the Leakys, who discovered 2-3 million year old fossils of early hominids. We listened to a talk about the geology and archaeology of the region, and then toured the museum. It was a great opportunity to view some deep history.

We finished the day by driving to Rhino Lodge around the outer edge of Ngorogoro Crater. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner and time out by a fire pit afterward; because we were at 6500' elevation, it was quite cool. We played card games until about 10PM and then enjoyed our beds, which had been prepared with hot water bottles. Nice!

Everyone is happy and healthy and (in many cases literally) having the times of their lives. I'm not sure when the next blog update will be - but never take silence for trouble! Thanks for reading.

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