From Ngorongoro we drove to Olduvai Gorge, then north to our camp in Alamana. It would be a long day of driving starting at 8:30.
Driving west down the Ngorogoro highlands, giraffes browsed in the acacia woodland. Do you see six giraffes? We played see and count the animals with our guide, and he always won. The first person would say “I see a giraffe at 2:00!” “I see two!” Our guide would say “I see six”, and we’d eventually see the six.
Almost every tree or shrub we saw was an acacia, all with thorns. Giraffes browse on acacia buds and leaves despite the thorns.
Driving across the savannah, we saw some diagonal lines in the distance.
At first, I couldn’t tell whether these were animals. Watching them longer, they moved, confirming they’re animals. The neck and legs are long and thin — giraffes. The necks lean the same direction, so they’re walking or running together. Traveling in a single file, they’re migrating. Giraffes migrating across the Serengeti plains — we’re in Africa.
The plains are brown and dry. Although we visited between the short rains and the long rains of the wet season, rainfall has been scant, so there’s no grass here for grazing wildebeests and zebras.
At Olduvai Gorge, streams cut through several geologic layers, exposing old formations.
From Wikipedia, “Olduvai Gorge is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world and has been instrumental in furthering the understanding of early human evolution. This site was occupied by homo habilis approximately 1.9 million years ago, paranthropus boisei 1.8 million years ago, and homo erectus 1.2 million years ago. Homo sapiens are dated to have occupied the site 17,000 years ago.”
We listened to a talk, visited a small museum, and walked through the gorge to the excavation site.
After lunch, we drove north cross country across the short-grass plains, until the acacia woodland, where we turned to head for camp. Cross country means no roads. We drove off-road for three hours across the Serengeti, navigating by bearing and mountain landmarks. We saw no fences, no rivers, no walls, no roads. Africa is a vast land.
On a game drive, the three cars drive parallel and radio the others when they spot something interesting.
In the acacia woodland, another car spotted a cheetah and radioed us. As our car pulled up, the cheetah ran. Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land animal, accelerating to 60 mph in 3 seconds. I had time for only one picture before it disappeared into the brush. (400 mm, 1/1600 sec, f/9) We searched for the cheetah, but it had vanished.
Here’s a higher resolution image cropped from the photo.
We also saw a tawny eagle and Coke’s hartebeest.
We pulled into camp at Alamana just before 6:00 pm — a long day on the Serengeti. But we would be at camp in Maasai lands for four nights before moving on.