Part 2 - Serengeti (Part 1 - Ngorongoro - see post)
Date: 27- 30 March 2021 (sorry so delayed but comms and social media bans in Uganda not ideal!)
For many years I have dreamt of the open savanna’s of East Africa - filled with herds of wildebeest, golden grass, a few acacia trees, endless skies and dust... Since I was a young girl I have brazenly “Dreamed of Africa!”
On planning this trip, seeing the migration was the number 1 bucket list item on our list. Dev and I both had agreed that we didn’t necessarily have to see the migration crossing the famous Mara river and we would be more than ecstatic to see a massive herd on some big open plains. So this is what we were chasing with our time in Serengeti.....
Finally finally these dreams could become a reality....
Serengeti is vast and to try explain the magnitude of this place is very hard.
Coming down from Ngorongoro one arrives in these vast open flatlands. Golden grass, herds of eland, hyenas poking their heads above the grass and Thompson’s gazelle separating themselves from their herd to have their babies.
With our new 3 day 3 night Serengeti permit in hand we backtracked to Ndutu to try and find them where they were last seen in “Hidden valley”.... the black cotton soil mud we had heard about was out in full force and we slipped and slid into our stunning remote camp on the shores of lake Ndutu. If price had allowed, we would have stayed here for a lot more than 1 night! It was breathtaking. Pretty much a sightly cleared area under a tree looking out over Ndutu Lake. Nothing else. For us this is a perfect campsite!
In order to find these gun’ we had to find “Hidden Valley”…… what a play on words as this valley was playing “hide-n-seek” with us and it took us 2 game drives to find it!!!!! Thankfully these drives afforded us awesome viewings of 3 lion, the opportunity to drive around this stunning Lake and it’s surrounds so different ot he rest of Serengeti, herds of majestic huge eland and then a lion family (male, female and 2 Cubs) on a kill!. We highly recommend this area as it is so different to the rest of Serengeti!
The illusive Hidden valley was finally found but alas all that remained of the wildebeest was a lot of poo and a million track marks …. BLEAK Fogg’s.
At this point our spirits were slightly low - this park, we had realised, is vast and with limited road access we really feared the mass of gnus had moved to an area we couldn’t track them.
But but but .... god I think was just testing my faith!!!!! We had booked into central Serengeti Seronera campsite and decided to do a slight detour to an area we had heard they had also been seen.
A while later we bumped into a game vehicle and he confirmed he had seen a herd of them gnus just further down the road. We were now beyond excited ans kids and us all jumping around the car in excitement. As we came over this crest down below us lay some wildebeest. ...............mmmnnn ..... yes there were more than a normal South African herd of them and yes they were a black mass in open savanna area and yes there were lots of them ...........Dev and I were both secretly hugely disappointed but having played this amazing thing up so much to the kids we tried in vain to make this more than it was! But it wasn’t. And although there were lots of them this surely couldn’t be the massive migration we had imagined. We took some pics and videos and tried not to show our disappointment then decided to go have lunch at a little lake a few kms down the road.
Imagine our pure delight, joy & astonishment when we arrived at this area and there before us lay herds and herds and herds and herds of wildebeest. As far as your eye could see if front of you was a black mass of animals. Oh my word this view will stay with me forever. We just stopped the car and yelped out with joy and laughter and even tears of joy!!!! What a magnificent sight lay before us.
At this stage all the gnus and zebras (there are a lot of zebras that people fail to mention in the migration) were milling about across a dry river bed which lay ust in front of us. We decided to park our car across the bank from then and just watch them in peace. But no sooner had we parked, when hey decided to cross the river bank, and within minutes our car and us were enveloped in dust as these gnus and zebras came racing through the river bed and up the bank and path literally 5m from where we had parked. The noise, the chaos, the dust.... the endless stream of sprinting animals was just mind blowing to watch at such close proximity!! we sat on the car roof for over 2 hours as these animals raced past us. (that is a lot of animals!!) At stages they would all suddenly stop and some would backtrack and things would be still and then they would start again. Babies would get lost which is heartbreaking to see and the constant calling of the gnus and zebra braying still rings in my ears.
These hours spent up close with these animals was more than we dreamt of. We expected quiet peaceful gnus and instead we got energized sprinting noisy chaos. We expected to be surrounded by myriads of game vehicles but instead it was only us and 2 other cars. AMAZING!
How absolutely blessed we are to have had this experience of a lifetime which surpassed all our dreams 🥰
After being exposed to this, no matter what else I write about Serengeti it will seem rather dull 🤣 but we had a really special 3 days in the park. We saw large prides of lions on Simba Kopptjies (Hills), we had an incredible encounter with a leopard and lion in a tree where the lion stole the leopards kill... it was awesome different game viewing! As I have said before Serengeti is huge and vast and you can Drive for ages seeing absolutely nothing but golden grass but when you do see stuff it is awesome!
The one small problem I have now is that I might just have to see this incredible mass of wildebeest again….. and maybe oh maybe I have to see them crossing the famous mara river…. Oh boy!!!!
So I say… DREAM THOSE DREAMS. DREAM BIG> DREAM OUT THE BOX….. because sometimes your dreams DO come true and sometimes the reality surpasses your dream!
For more of the awesome photos please see our facebook page 4ina4x4 (would normally do link but Uganda bans wont allow me too!!!! joys...)
From here we drove the long, rather animal void, north / western corridor to exit Serengeti at Lake Victoria. A few nights were spent in Mwanza (a town on the south of Lake Victoria in Tanzania) and then our exciting ferry trip across lake Victoria to Bukoma and then a quick drive into Uganda !
More to follow soon on Uganda!