Our last game drive

This would be the last game drive of our safari, from our camp in the Maswa Game Reserve to a lodge just past Ngorongoro Crater.

We drove through the acacia woodland and discovered the cheetah mother and four cubs at the edge of the acacia woodland.  We were happy that they had made it back to the woodland safely from the gazelle kill.  The mother was taking the cubs somewhere — alternately walking and waiting for the cubs to follow.

mother cheetah and four cubs walking
mother cheetah and four cubs walking

They walked past a downed tree, so of course the cubs had to climb it as the mother kept walking.

cheetah cubs climbing the tree
cheetah cubs climbing the tree
more climbing
more climbing

Now we’ve seen what herding cats means. 😉 The cheetahs continued walking. We saw this cheetah family on three different days. Amazing luck and skill of our guides.

We started a long game drive along the boundary of the the acacia woodland and the short-grass plains.

Some jackals were looking at Thomson’s gazelles, but the gazelles had spotted the jackals and were careful.

jackals looking at thomson's gazelles
jackals looking at thomson’s gazelles

Later these two thomson’s gazelles were fighting (butting heads).

gazelles fighting
gazelles fighting

A pregnant spotted hyena showing us her long, yellow teeth.

pregnant spotted hyena
pregnant spotted hyena

In the Ngorongoro highlands there are Maasai villages and tropical trees.  Looking at the vegetation, you can see that the highlands get a lot more rain than the Serengeti plains.

Maasai boma overlooking the Serengeti
Maasai boma overlooking the Serengeti
lush vegetation in the Ngorongoro highlands
lush vegetation in the Ngorongoro highlands

We arrived at the lodge in time for lunch.  The lodge felt somewhat antiseptic after 8 nights in camps, but we did savor the long showers, electricity in our rooms, flush toilets, and internet.

At dinner we each talked about our favorite experience on the safari.  Mine was the cheetah family before the thunderstorm and the harrowing drive back to camp on the flooded dirt road.

The next day two people left for gorilla tracking, four for Zanzibar, four for South Africa, and three for home.

We had a blast. The safari was a fabulous experience that we’ll always cherish. We had great guides who found a wide variety of animals and parked so that we’d have good light for photos. They told us about the animals. They patiently answered our questions and told us stories. They put a very positive face on Tanzania. We enjoyed traveling with our fellow safari clients. I appreciate everyone’s patience with me as I clicked away with my camera, or more frequently, waited for an animal to turn its head just so.


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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

9 thoughts on “Our last game drive”

  1. Which lodge did you stay in in Ngorongoro? We visited a few (hardly a surprise!) when we were there.

    Love the cheetah cubs climbing. It’s strange how fluffy and furry cheetahs look but their fur is actually really wirey – I was a little freaked out when I did a cheetah interaction as to whether they were purring at me or growling!


    1. We stayed at The Plantation Lodge at the end of our safari. Luxurious but it lacked the hyena and elephant beside the tent.

      The playfulness of the cheetah cubs and their interactions with their mother are so cute. I expected soft fur too, like a domestic cat. Perhaps the wirey fur is a protection mechanism, since they have to get up close and personal to make a kill. Where did you do the cheetah interaction?


      1. Really liked Plantation Lodge (more so than some of the more expensive lodges on the crater rim!). Someone had got engaged the night before we visited in their groovy wine cellar 🙂

        We stayed at The Manor at Ngorongoro (getting spoilt was always a perk of the job!)

        I did a cheetah interaction in Mauritius after I went walking with lions. I did a lot of research beforehand as I know that generally animals used in that sort of capacity are sold on to canned hunting reserves when they get too big/boisterous.


  2. Photos of Manor at Ngorongoro looks wonderful, and it gets great reviews on TripAdvisor. We stayed at Ngorongoro Serena, which we found to be tired.

    Thanks about Mauritius. I must confess I had to look it up. Had now idea about the country, much less that they offer cheetah interactions.


    1. Must admit I expected Mauritius to be all resort based (which is only partly true!). Very beautiful place and fantastic people.

      A few places on the crater rim were like that… Guess they feel like they don’t have to try as hard in that location. Even crater lodge which is extortionate was a slight disappointment – cobwebs and flowers past their best (know its picky but I would be very picky paying that much a night!)

      I much preferred the ones off the rim. They had much more character.

      The Manor was stunning. Surreally stark in contrast to its surroundings! It was like being thrown into the Winelands, even all the lavender in the gardens. Would have believed that too if it weren’t for dodging all the dung beetles on a kamikaze mission for me! Fascinating bugs but a little intimidating flying for your face lol


  3. Hello, I enjoyed reading your Serengeti/Maswa blog – especially the photo of Striped Hyaena – what an incredibly rare sighting – and then to see it lactate!! Where did you stay in Maswa? And whereabout did you encounter the herds of wildebeest at that time of year, early April? Or where they scattered and hidden in the woodlands?
    Many thanks!


    1. We stayed at a mobile camp near an alkaline lake in the Maswa. There was a lodge nearby, but I forgot the name.

      We visited Tanzania in late February. We expected the wildebeests to be there in the southern Serengeti at that time of year, but they were to the north, in the Serengeti Park, where there was rain for the grass. We had a long drive north to find the wildebeests, and they were in grasslands. It rained hard at camp when we were there, and the wildebeests were returning.


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