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Serengeti strikes back (after Mara kicks sand in her face)


pault

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Game Warden

A bad day on Safari has to be better than a good day in the office ;)

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Surprisingly (not), Bibi was ready for a low-key and slightly lazy couple of days. I haven't been making it very clear but except where mentioned we'd been taking out both breakfast and lunch with us.

Oh, and the sunset was limp. but that doesn't mean there weren't a few moments of interest just before it.     Day 3   Although we weren't leaving until 7.15, and despite the wine, we woke up a

It's time for this.....     There are a couple of things about the previious night that I missed out, because they are part of the story oif the next day. Firstly, we'd talked over dinner and dec

Must not be a fun thing to have bad vision and then go on safari.

 

We met a woman during our trip in Namibia (this was in Etosha) who needed two pair of glasses. One "regular" pair (on her face the whole time), and another pair which she used to look at things a bit further away. Every time she needed the 2nd pair she had to dig into her purse.

 

At least a dozen times I found her peering in the wrong direction as to where the animal was. And a lot of times, even if you pointed in the right direction, she'd look but not see it and just give up. Sh then stared right in front of her, while all of us looked at the animal. At the end of the day me & Mira started summarizing all she did not see. "That rhino", "and the lions", "also the kestrel", "don't forget the giant eagle owl and the jackal". We really felt bad for her. The only time she produced a tiny camera from her purse was to photograph a giraffe that was right next to the road, eating accaccia leaves about 1m from her head. And even with this sighting it took a while for her to see the animal; she let out a surprised "oh" before grabbing for that camera as soon as she could.

 

Actually her vision is fine when she puts her glasses on. She has reading glasses, her normal glasses, which are polarised so can double as sunglasses, and with which she can do everything but read, and she has binoculars.

 

But she brought the wrong binoculars and when, after a few days of her clearly having some difficulty focusing them, I had a look, the glass was covered in fungus and all I could see was a blur. So I gave her my binoculars and suddenly everything was wonderful, because if she was caught with her reading glasses on, she could just grab the binoculars rather than digging around in her bag. She just wouldn't tell us she was not seeing things. She is clearly having more trouble with her vision now than she is telling anyone (we'll discuss it at Christmas) but the thing I don't understand is why she doesn't hang both pairs around her neck in the vehicle, or buy some clothes that have a pocket for a pair of glasses.. It's not like she didn't have prior experience or that she didn't buy new clothes before coming out. But that kind of "I'll do it my way even if it doesn't work" stubborn streak runs in the family.... we won't talk about my dramas with my own reading glasses, which I haven't seen for two years - I suspect my wife threw them out as I was driving her mad looking for them - I even had a string on them - just didn't use it! :lol: I've just given up reading CD covers and the instructions for medicines and the like.

 

And she had a great time.

Edited by pault
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Game Warden
I've just given up reading CD covers

 

It's why I still listen to and love vinyl lps.

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.... we won't talk about my dramas with my own reading glasses, which I haven't seen for two years - I suspect my wife threw them out as I was driving her mad looking for them - I even had a string on them - just didn't use it! :lol: I've just given up reading CD covers and the instructions for medicines and the like.

 

The strangers who receive your even stranger texts must be really puzzled. I have a friend who merely guesses at what she has typed on her phone before sending it out (a consequence of refusing to wear reading glasses and predictive texts). Fortunately the texts are mainly to her husband. Unfortunately for her husband, he often ends up having to call her to find out what the heck she meant. :P

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Text is within my limits - just....... from my iPhone

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twaffle

The iPhone now has a mic so you can record a message which is sent as a txt. Has helped me a lot.

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Speel txt???

 

I would say that was ironic, but better I say it was irnoic!

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Sangeeta

This whole reading glasses thing is such a pain :angry: Hope your mum's recovered fully from that wound.

 

Nice narrative, Paul. I wonder if there are any private campsites still available to individuals at Turner Springs? I had initially thought about adding it to my itin last year because of Canadian Robin's descriptions of the hyenas and lions, but I think it was booked out, even with a booking request made almost a year ahead of time. From your observations it sounds like WF is at the camp site semi-permanently? Which means that more and more mobile operators are slowly but surely booking out most of the private campsites in the entire park, unless you can manage to snag a really early booking or go off season.

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That appears to be the case Sangeeta. Sales of Meru tents and chemical loos must be booming in Arusha. There was one site available while we were there and it looked to have been occupiied by "normal" campers before. It was an unsuitable site for putting up 10 tents, but nice for a small group. No idea what number it was - Deo might remember..

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Treepol

I am having a chuckle here about the whole glasses on safari thing - I'd say that my mother had just as much drama with the glasses case as she did with the specs!

 

We spent a lot of time searching for the glasses case in which to put the glasses when they weren't needed and it turns out that this troublesome case is really important because the glasses (in good condition) are so essential to the safari experience.

 

How did your Mum spend her time between safaris - was it a last minute decision to return to Africa with you this year or had she been 'hanging out' for the next safari? I ask because Mum is dead keen on a 2014 safari and is conscious of staying healthy in the meantime. She gets up at 6 am every morning to walk the dog and has her eyes fixed firmly on the 2014 goal.

 

I'm really enjoying the report and am impressed by the lion and hyena action at night at Turner Springs campsite.

 

Now where did I put my glasses? Oh, silly - I'm wearing contact lenses this evening!

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It's why I still listen to and love vinyl lps.

 

Matt, the hipster with beard and pith helmet! :D

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But that kind of "I'll do it my way even if it doesn't work" stubborn streak runs in the family....

 

Oh wow. We may be family.

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The iPhone now has a mic so you can record a message which is sent as a txt. Has helped me a lot.

 

Or have Siri do it for you ;-)

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twaffle

The iPhone now has a mic so you can record a message which is sent as a txt. Has helped me a lot.

 

Or have Siri do it for you ;-)

 

Siri doesn't understand a word I say!

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Gotta practice your Oxford English then, Twaffle,

Put a hot potato in your mouth while speaking. That helps.

 

:P

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I am going to worry a little less about the timeline, as otherwise I will never finish. I don't have much free time. Photo coverage is also still quite patchy. I will try to carry on including anecdotes though.

 

Please ask to fill in the inevitable gaps if you like.

 

With Mum being attended to at camp (you may think me quite callous but it wasn't like that at all we'd had her under observation at the picnic site and in the vehicle for over two hours all together, so it was really just a case of cleaning the now dry wound again and then keeping an eye on her for signs of a delayed reaction. And as a tonic, some family gossip therapy over a cup of tea would be ideal. My wife does that much better than me. Of course a callous son, would attempt to rationalise it like that in hindsight too....

 

I fogot one sighting from earlier that day. They didn't do much, but it was a lot nicer seeing them in their natural habitat.

 

Rock hyrax on a rock

 

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I will introduce the camp here.... 10 tents with sepaate dining and lounge tents. The photos are taken on the day we left, but you'll allow me some artisitc license? Don't expect this for every camp though! I take what my wife forces me to take - she points out various subjects the day we arrive! No bathroom photos requested here. :lol:

 

Tent with morning coffee

 

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Last tent on the right.....

 

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A fried egg day (not the day I am currently describing of course)

 

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Lounge tent - it is taller than it looks - I didn't actually have to duck to enter.

 

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As you may notice, the area aound Turner's Springs is studded with small acacia trees and also has a couple of hills-- quite different from the Seronera area but with similar game. We didn't actually see too much in the immediate vicinity - although we heard it, but we weren't there very long and were focused on cheetah - spending the afternoon I was out on my own and most of the next day traveling to and (successfully) looking for a female with two cubs. We had one unsuccessful attempt to find the lion pride that we heard at night, but Deo always had other sightings 'ready' as guides were arriving at the camp daily with reports of what they'd seen on their way up from Ngorngoro Crater. In the end we just couldn't see it all and so when we didn't find the lion pride immediately we moved on, and found another lion pride on the way to relocating the cheetahs. So I don't think I would read anything into the fact that this time many of our best sightings were away from Turner's Springs itself.

 

More of Turner's Springs area - I don't have many shots as it is not really that photogenic with long grass and small trees. It is much prettier when you are there.

 

i-h7DGdkq-XL.jpg

 

 

 

Out in the afternoon on our own Deo and I "found" a lion pride with young cubs comatose among the rocks of a kopje. Since they weren't moving we moved on to a cheetah with two cubs some way from the road. We stayed with them as they were moving - although not with any urgency and no nearer the road and after 45 minutes or so they got close enough for some pictures with a compact zoom. At that point the other two vehicles there left, "job done", and so we were alone with the cheetahs. Unfortunately it was nearly 5 pm and we had a 90 minute drive back to camp. We decided to shave a minute off the journey by taking a shortcut that took us rather closer to the cheetahs (if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, did it make a sound?). On the way back we had agreed not to stop since we had no time, but had to stop for a moment when what we at first glance (from a distance) thought was a Golden Jackal turned out to be much more interesting, as I don't recall having ever seen one before.

 

Lion - he didn't spend most of the time in this pose - he was rather more reclined.

 

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Action - this was the most vigorous movement any member of the pride showed. A cub stirred once to go for some milk, but fell asleep again before her mouth reached the teat. It was a hot day and they had eaten well.

 

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Shouldn't focus only on the furry things....

 

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Even the cheetahs weren't really that active, and most of the time we could only see a head or a tail as the grass was so long (eye height on the adult cheetah).

 

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And a Side-striped Jackal - we did have a better sighting as it crossed the road, but as we initially thought it was a Golden Jackal I didn't have the camera ready.

 

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I told Deo we'd have to go back to find the cheetahs again tomorrow and we didn't mention them at dinner - I claimed to have seen lions, a Side-striped Jackal and "some other stuff". I don't know why our litle white lies didn't work, but my wife had us confessing we'd seen cheetahs within about 45 seconds. We even spilt the beans about the cubs. She has a nose for anything to do with cheetahs.

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>> our litle white lies didn't work, but my wife had us confessing we'd seen cheetahs within about 45 seconds. We even spilt the beans about the cubs. She has a nose for anything to do with cheetahs.

 

Hmmm. I think my wife and your wife may be family.

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Mum was feeling fine and she and my wife were now well known to all of the camp staff after their afternoon in camp.. I was feeling like '"the outsider", as of course Babu Deo knew everyone and their dog througout the Serengeti. That day Babu Deo told us that they referred to Mum as Bibi (grandmother) behind the scenes and since Deo had a nickname we decided Mum should be Bibi from now on too. Of course us all referring to her as Bibi didn't raise an eyebrow anywhere - except occasionally at the Asilia camps later, where I suppose staff have been specifically told (either by Asilia or in a previous job) that it is not done to call western lady guests Mama or (especially) Grandma, in the African style.

 

So Bibi was feeling fine the next morning and we decided to go back and try to find the cheetahs. Babu warned us that it was a long drive and there was no guarantee they would not have moved on. He also recommended we take an all day trip to Moru Kopjes instead,as he had reports of relaible cheetah and lion sightings down there, plus the possibility of rhino. But we didn't want to risk taking Bibi out all day until we were sure she was okay, so we decided to go to look for the cheetahs and then stay within an hour or so of camp, so Bibi could ask to come back when she liked.

 

Gameviewing was generally good, with lots of elephants, zebras and gazelle available and regular sightings of the likes of buffalo bushbucks, waterbuck, giraffe, hartebeest and steenbok, in the appropriate habitats. I have to say you can see quite a lot in this part of the Serengeti as there is quitre a variety of localised environments. I can't remember now if tsetses were among the inhabitants, but I think they were - it is just that compared to later, the tsetses here were barely worth mentioning.

 

Anyway, of course we did find the cheetahs, almost exactly where they had been the previous afternoon. Nobody else was there and so we took a shortcut and happened to stop near a termite mound, quite a way from them, which Babu liked the look of. The cheetahs liked the look of it too and Bibi saw her first cheetahs in the wild up close and on a termite mound, like it should be. Since it was morning they were a little bit more active than the day before, but they didn't look particualrly hungyy, and although they were looking out for a gazelle or something, we knew that there were no animals in the vicinity at all. So after a little while we left them as Babu wanted to find some more lions for Bibi. The lions had also not moved far from the previous day, although unfortunately they were in a more concealed positon and the "too tired to suckle" cubs were out of sight completely. I actually suspect the lion pictures above may be from this morning.

 

 

 

Shall we do something energetic?

 

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The answer.......

 

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The picture that Hari asked about was taken here too. It is the long grass plains south of Seronera, which you pass through on your way from Naabi Hill.

 

Although we checked out some more kopjes for anything interesting, we saw only hyrax, agama lizards, hyena and the usual suspects - inlcuding of course a nice selection of eagles. Nothing exciting, but Bibi was very happy (despite the fact that she couldn't see as much as she claimed at times!). Eventually we ended up back at Seronera, and found some more comatose lions. One of the drivers guding people wearing "Moses found us the Big Five in two days - he's brill!!!!!" t-shirts* told us there was a leopard sighting on the radio and for live viewing we could travel jsut a little down the road. Ooh-er! Seronera and leopard sightings - I'd heard about this. Still, it couldn'tr be worse than the Mara could it... so let's go see. I'm glad I did because otherwise I wouldn;t have had a clue what people were talking about when they talk about the over-crowded Seronera.

 

* Not really :P

 

We were iunfortunate as we arrived about tenth from our direction, and so there were two lines of five vehciles in front of us but we had a clear view of the leopard up a tree, stirring a bit. The unfortunate bit was that after the next 15 arrivals behind us we were hemmed in. Trapped at a leopard sighting is certainly a very diva-esque complaint and so just give me a virtual spanking if I make it (ouch!). But everyone was trying to get closer so that the folks with camera phones and iPads (this was a revelation to me - people holding iPads out of the top of their vehicles, like offerings to the leopard god - but I must have been a bit sheltered for the last two years I guess) could get a good shot. So it got tighter and tighter in there, and every 30 seconds someone would risk the wrath of the crowd by zooming around off road and getting near to the tree, where the line was five accross now. I told Babu Deo we should maybe go if an opportunity to get out arose as it wasn't much fun, but he pointed out that Bibi wanted to get a picture - thoughful Babu! So with a cry of "for Bibi" he drove right off road and although I was blanching with embarrassment at the thought of us entering the froint ranks like the "cowboys" do, he actually entered the fray rather elegantly, without annoying anyone (not that elegant was hard to achieve in comparison, in that company- I still would never want to try a manouver like that again). I was still very much wanting to get out of there, but Deo said the leopard was about to descend and having come this far we shoulld wait - and Bibi was still tryting to get a shot she was happy with anyway (the sun was behind the leopard which of course was causing all types of trouble for her camers in terms of exposure and focus and her eyes in terms of seeing anything). So we waited until the Leopard came down and then, just when Bibi finally got focused on the leopard (now down on the ground a few meters away) a new arrival (I'll call them the Hari Wanderers, because iI need a name as part of the story, later but really the driver was only doing monkey see- monkey do.and there were others who behaved poorly - maybe we even didn't please everyone.... it is just a product of trying to get 30-40 vehicles into positions they can all see one leopard, on a single track road, and dozens of people moaning "I can't see. I can't see." all at once) zoomed right in from the back and stopped in front of her, blocking out her leopard view completely. Goodness, she was mad about that! :o So with her beginning a tirade about how inconsiderate the driver was and the occupants of said vehicle now fiercely fixing their gaze on the leopard and their backs on Bibi (their ears may have been burning red though) I told Babu I thought we really should get out of this now - just go for lunch. He agreed and 30 seconds later we were alone driving down the road - except for the odd vehicle driving at top speed towards the leopard sighting.

 

Picture taken under duress!! It came down the wrong side of the tree anyway. :P

 

i-zgdR4rQ-XL.jpg

 

We stopped for lunch at the visitor center again - not as planned but I just thought we all needed a break. I thought the clean toilets might calm Bibi down a bit too, as she was still fuming about losing her two-minutes to set up shot because of the Hari Wanderers driver. It was really busy there too that day, so it was an idea I immediately regretted, but the happiness and enthusiasm of the various groups that arrived actiually had a soothing effect on me after a while. I saw all these happy people "loving it" and for a milisecond I almost uinderstood it all and almost found it all quite all right and really for the best... almost!

 

Appropriately the hyraxes were in a very aggressive mood that day and, surrounded by people who barely noticed their existence, were carrying on a little turf war. I am not sure what it was all about (do they fight over girls? Had a handsome stranger arrived in the oasis from "out there"?) but the angrier they get the cuter they are. I couldn't get as much room to shoot at ground level as the day before, because of all the people around, but I still got a few shots.

 

i-pVPmmqW-XL.jpg

 

Later that evening, back at camp, I was talking with new arrivals at tthe camp fire and they told us about this fantastic leopard sighting they had had on the way in from Ngorongoro. And they had seen it take a baby warthog out of a burrow, kill it and take it up a tree. I knew it had to be the same one and deduced they must have arrived just before we left. A little part of me wished I had stayed to see that - a leopard actually going into a burrow to drag out the warthog. It must have been observing the parent leaving the burrow when we were there, and must have struck literally as we were leaving. Oh well. Bibi arrived for her G&T and I introduced this couple to her and told them they had seen.... and then I thought to ask "By the way, you are not traveling with Hari Wanderers are you?" :lol:

 

It's okay, they weren't. Dinner was peaceful. ;)

 

And it was on the way back that day that I asked Mum what her favorite sighting so far had been, and she told us, after reference to her notebook of sightings, that she had enjoyed them all but thatshe thought the cougars were the best! Looking at her list of sightings I could see cougars were listed just before lions so pointed out that the cougars in these parts were more commonly known as cheetahs. Deo and my wife were cruel in the volume and length of their laughter, but they both have "kind" laughs and soon Mum joined in.

 

So that night the camp was alive with the news that Bibi had spotted cougars on the Long Grass Plains! They loved her........................ and she lapped it up and completely forgot about her missed leopard photo-op. "It would never have been in focus anyway" she admitted in a moment of insight. :rolleyes:

Edited by pault
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twaffle

I love the African names, very suitable. I love the blurry lion and the cheetahs (cougars) and the fierce warrior hyraxes but the crowded leopard sighting was a bit of a turn off. Getting quite Mara-esque indeed.

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Yes, as you can probably guess I am pretty calm about these things and it was actually made worse (solely from a "me, me, me" point of view) by everyone trying to stay on the road. Claustrophobic is not too strong a word to use to describe the feeling. Behaviour wasn't too bad as long as you value that in terms of "sticking to the rules". In fact, a number of vehicles didn't even turn off their engines because they wanted to get closer at the first opportunity. So the noise and fumes added to the claustrophobia, as did the number of heads popping up and down out of vehicles like a field of prarie dogs, and the number of flashes going off.

 

But that was it - we never had an experience even close to it again. Next morning the same road was quiet and the next afternoon (we later heard) the leopard took another warthog out of the same hole before another grand crowd.

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Atravelynn

Up to Mum's arrival. Close call with the bedside table! Great photos. Too bad you didn't get a close up of the Sausage Tree that was such a hit with Mum! :wacko:

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Atravelynn

Since reading glasses have become a tangent to this delightful tale...

 

I can relate. I need readers for closeup stuff like camera settings, not that I use a whole bunch of them but I do turn the knob from the green automatic to portrait sometimes or that running guy. What a pain to have to stick glasses on my face first, sometimes when time is of the essence. Then looking through the viewfinder is a distance thing, so I take the glasses off. Now if I want sun protection, then there are sunglasses too, which for me are not prescription, just off the drug-store rack type. I have some sunglasses that have those little moons of bifocal for close up but usually they are too dark to be of use for camera settings. Plus if I use them while on foot, I am afraid I'll trip because of the distortion. I cannot imagine a walking safari over difficult terrain with those bifocal things. Sometimes I just wear the readers down on my nose a ways so I have unobstructed distance viewing. Oh, the woes of aging eyes.

 

Just got a pair of progressives. Thank goodness I sought out a 90 day money back place. They are god-awful, nauseating, headache producing, peripheral blurring, reality distorting. They'll be going back soon.

 

Your input, comments, suggestions please. PM me if you prefer.

 

Now back to the report.

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Atravelynn

Wait, let me get my reading glasses first!

 

The leopard god, "For Bibi," diva dilemma--hilarious stuff!

 

"this was a revelation to me - people holding iPads out"

I had that same revelation about 3 months ago when iPads were capturing Machu Picchu. I never thought about vehicles having to get close to the animals to accommodate the camera phones. A whole new phenomena.

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