Breakfast at the camp this morning before leaving at 7:30. We are heading South today in search of the Black Rhino. It was quite the drive so Ally drove with a purpose today so we could get there, search then begin the long drive back. Driving with a purpose here has a whole new meaning for me…lol!
There is a Black Rhino project here where the monitor the species to help from extension. Poaching here is still a huge problem so there are rangers in this area who live on top of the cliffs to help protect them. We learned that often poachers are just killed here because too many have been arrested but go back to poaching when they get out so it’s easier to just eliminate them. Something to be said for repeat offenders of violent crimes in the states. Visited the Rhino information center to learn about their history. A great guide full of knowledge and passion for these animals. You would have to love it to live way out here. You sure can’t just run down the street for milk if you forgot it on your way home.
No luck in spotting a Rhino today though. Since there are only 23 monitored animals on these planes, and they mostly graze alone, there was no telling where they were. The trip however gave us the opportunity to see the Kopjes, which are forms of rocks like none I have ever seen. There are many difference Kopjes, named for the tribe that lived there many centuries ago. This is Massai country. When in Arusha, we saw many of the Massai tribe which are easy to spot as the men still wear the red draped clothes as their daily attire. Would have been something to see these people still living upon on these rocks. There was one particular area where steps have been built so that you can climb to the top. Ally said he normally would not allow us to climb there unless there were other vehicles around because it has been known to have lions up there. But we all agreed we were game to try it. I know…wreckless right? Ally led the way making lots of noise to scare anything that might have been visiting the area. A few remnants of lions were present but no lions to be found. Let me say how glad we are we made that decision. What an amazing site from up there.
Back in the jeep and off to a lunch spot for a packed lunches. Arrived a favorite spot by many and were told we couldn’t be here because the President of Germany and the President of Tanzania would be visiting there soon. They were already setting up a huge spread for them by the Zebra refreshment company…lol! So we left in search of a new lunch spot.
Now for the excitement of the day. On our way to find a new spot we ran across a pride of lions laying in the shade of a huge tree not far from the road. It was an amazing site. 10 juvenile cubs in all and 7 lionesses (we never did see the males) however it was the same pride we saw yesterday, noted by one with a monitoring collar and one with a huge gash in her nose. Within a few minutes, one of the females raised her head and they all looked in one direction towards a herd of zebras who were making their way across the road into the area of the lions. In a split second 5 of the lionesses each rose and moved with grace to do their particular job. Can you believe this? A kill is just about to happen right in front of us. I didn’t think I wanted to see this at all until I watched how these amazing animals worked together with patience and purpose to feed their family. In a matter of maybe 15 minutes, they had completely formed a parameter around the herd and were waiting for their opportunity. In a split second one lioness made a move and the herd scattered, charged, ran…you name it. One of the lioness had to lay down in the road to keep from getting trampled. In that split second their opportunity was lost…they got away! We have a video of the whole thing and believe it or not it was sad. I hate to see the zebra loose it’s life but it was such an amazing thing to watch. Ally put it well, the lion laid down because no one wanted to die that day. They all made it back to the tree with the cubs to rest from their big chase.
We needed to make a trip back to the airstrip anyway (I’ll mention in a future post why) so decided to just have lunch at the airport. Now, keep in mind, without thinking, when were going to the same airstrip where both Presidents were expected in shortly. A guard at the entrance just let us on in, we parked and walked to the small building with our lunch boxes. We laughed because you can’t even get within 5 miles of the airports at home when our president is flying in. Tons of safari vehicles lined up to meet their arrival. A few armed guards and mostly people like us standing around with cameras. There was no concern to be standing along the strip for a photo op so I took it. Now, I have no idea who the president of Germany even is but figured it would be a great moment for Ally to have photos of “his” president. Planes landed and I snapped pictures of anyone coming off the plan. Ended up with great pictures of the German president but the Tanzania president was not there. Only the Interior ministers were there to meet him. Fun adventure to this trip, even though our original trip to the airstrip was not a success
Before heading back to camp we saw another Leopard in a tree. It’s so funny to see how they just chill and are so uninterested in us.
Back at camp at 4:30. Showers again at 6. Dinner at 7. Tonight we were joined by all the staff of the camp, except the chef. We had asked them all to join us when we first got there and they said they would on the last night. It was a great meal and a lot of fun. This crew has over exceeded our expectations. It will be hard to top it at the next camp. During our dinner, we were joined by a Hyena, just beside the tent. That just sort of cracks me up. I watched JJ leave the dining tent and walk to the kitchen tent, in the dark, with the Hyena sitting right there. He said, He knows me! They also shared that a few weeks ago a pride brought down a buffalo right in the camp area and stayed there for a solid week. JJ said they had approached him carrying the buckets of water to the tents to get a drink. He just dropped the buckets of water, walked away, let them get their drink and then picked up his buckets and carried on. OMG!!!! I guess there is something to be said for living in this country and feeling comfortable.
Back to the tent to be zipped in at 8:30. We packed, well Rich packed, played a few hands of gin and I caught up on my blog posts. Heard several lions throughout the night. I don’t think I will ever get tired of this. We leave for 2nd camp location tomorrow.