Tanzania: Leaving Serengeti for Ndutu

by on February 27, 2014; Africa; Tanzania; Travel

With a 5.00am wake up and a quick cup of tea we were well within the park when the sun began to rise. Watching the landscape transformer from black to grey to red to gold made for a stunning morning even without any game, but we spotted elephant, ostrich and a pair of hyena, in addition to the sunrise balloon rides (priced at $550USD per person).

From there we headed to a buffalo kill we had driven past the day before, which had then been surrounded by lions lazily sleeping in the long grass. This morning however it was breakfast time, and any impressions of lions ever being ‘cute’ has been well and truly obliterated. We had ten lions tearing the buffalo apart, and the amount of noise they were making was truly unbelievable, a chorus of deep throaty growls. There was even a fight or two that broke out when one lioness got too close to another, although the pecking order seemed to reassert itself very quickly. An exciting, albeit somewhat gruesome, scene.

Our next animal sighting was also a pair of lions, sunning themselves on one of the rocky outcrops that the dot the Serengeti. Couldn’t quite look at them the same way.

Other highlights for our morning game drive were a large herd of buffalo, a herd of elephants including some very young calfs and a leopard hanging out in a tree. Here the difference in congestion between Masai Mara and Serengeti became obvious, with the Serengeti being by far the busier of the two; we had nineteen trucks lining up to see the leopard, jostling for position along the narrow stretch of road. Not ideal, but we were impressed with how polite the drivers were and everyone got their turn for a decent view.

After our game drive we returned to Seronera to break camp and have a late breakfast before heading out of the Serengeti to Ndutu, an area skirting the boarder of the southern Serengeti in the western part of Ngorongoro NP. The landscape changes from open plains to small hills, with grasslands giving way to forested areas, river beds and lakes. Our afternoon in Ndutu bought some good bird sightings with flamingos, a couple of tawny eagles and vultures and a marabou stork eating the remains of a wildebeest kill. We also came to a lake surrounded by hundreds of buffalo skulls, the work of a lightning strike a few years back.

After our game drive we came to our camp site, a semi-permanent (they change every season to avoid long-lasting degradation to the landscape) tented lodge. A bit of luxury out in the bush with our own double bed and ensuite making a nice change from camping. Relaxing outside our tent, enjoying a cup of tea and the sunset, the game actually came to you. We had a herd of wildebeest traipse right past our camp and once the sun had gone down we could hear lions roaring close by.