Our Serengeti camp is south of the Serengeti National Park, in the Maswa Game Reserve. The camp is in acacia woodland near alkaline lakes and grassland. We could do game drives off-road, but we couldn’t do bush walks.
A game drive is like a treasure hunt. You have better chances if you look around and know what to look for. You don’t know what you’ll discover, and you appreciate what you find. This treasure hunt aspect contributes to the adventure and romance of the safari. Our guides knew this and fostered it, without talking about it.
At breakfast, one of our group asked the guide if he had heard hyenas and lions at night. He did. As we started the morning game drive through the acacia woodland, we saw mostly birds.
Secretary birds are a meter tall and have a striking appearance, resembling a British secretary — white top, black bottom, and a black crest that looks like a pencil in the ear. They walk fast, and they walk away when a vehicle pulls up, so they’re hard to photograph. We were fortunate to see two secretary birds in a tree. The birds dipped their head, separately or together, before flying off.
We also saw a lappet-faced vulture, a long-crested eagle, and bat-eared foxes.
After the acacia woodland, we drove on the short-grass plains. Under a tree we saw lions. See my post lyin’ in the grass.
Returning for lunch, we saw 2 hyenas and a kill less than a mile from camp. The choice parts of wildebeest were already eaten. The closer hyena was guarding the kill from the second hyena, who was disappointed. Our guide thought that a lion had killed the wildebeest.
During the evening game drive, we found a cheetah family. See my post the family that preys together.
We watched the cheetahs past sunset, when it started raining cats and dogs. We drove back to camp on flooded dirt roads in the dark. When the lightning flashed, we could see that the ground was flooded as far as we could see. It wasn’t a river out there; it was a lake. I was concerned that if our vehicle had to stop, it might get stuck in the mud. Fortunately, all three vehicles made it back without mishap.
On the last night of the safari, we each talked about our favorite experience. The cheetah mother and cubs waking up and playing that evening was my favorite. I thanked our guides for the experience and for letting us stay with the cheetahs until they woke up, despite the oncoming rain and difficult drive back to camp.