July 13, 2009

Last week was an exciting week here in the Serengeti with the arrival of the President of Tanzania, Mr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete. It was even more exciting for one of our groups on tanzania safari who were able to meet the president as they happened to be at the Seronera airstrip when he first arrived. This group concluded their seven day safari in the Serengeti with spotting 5 leopards, 7 cheetahs, 62 lions, the wildebeest crossing the Grumeti River and meeting the President of Tanzania. Now that is going to be a tough safari to beat!

The President of Tanzania was in the Serengeti to celebrate the grand opening of Bilila Lodge, a new 5-star lodge just completed in the northern woodlands of the Central Serengeti. At the hotel’s inauguration, the president said “I have a deep seated love for the Serengeti and Bilila Lodge completes the ultimate Serengeti experience in terms of luxury and comfort…the opening of this lodge adds another dimension to the Serengeti, already the most famous national park in the world. As you may know, in 2006 the Serengeti National Park was voted one of the seven new wonders of the world.”

Now back to wildlife news…this year’s unusual northward migration pattern continues with the migratory wildebeest and zebra herds still fragmented in a dozen or more main herds throughout the Serengeti. The biggest and most reliable sightings so far this dry season have come from the western corridor of the park. The large herds in the Musabi Plains reported in our last positing on June 24th have continued their westward march, which culminated in several crossings of the Grumeti River last week. Tens of thousands of wildebeest are currently dispersed north of the Grumeti River in the western corridor with significant concentrations in the Ruwana plains.

Smaller herds of wildebeest have also recently been spotted throughout the Northern Serengeti with the biggest concentration just north of Bologonja Springs. The Mara River and Lamai Triangle area remain relatively quiet. By this time last year (as well as the 2007 northward migration), we had already witnessed several crossings of the Mara River into the Lamai Triangle. This year a significant portion of the migration is still 60 miles to the southwest crossing the Grumeti River in the Western Serengeti. All of us here at African Dream Safaris (along with the crocs of course) are eagerly awaiting the first significant crossing of the Mara River, which marks the culmination of the Northward Migration and the beginning of the main dry season period.

The typical dry season fires are now setting in throughout the Serengeti. The weather has been dry and warm though hopefully there will be a few scattered showers to generate new grass growth especially in the Northern Serengeti, which is the main dry season refuge for the wildebeest and zebra herds. The Central Serengeti remains better then usual for big cat (lion, cheetah and leopard) viewing. Though the wildebeest herds have long departed the Central Serengeti, there are still quite a few zebras around, which are keeping the large resident lion prides happily hunting along the water courses of Seronera. Two new lion cubs were spotted last week at Sametu Marsh. Our guide commented that he had never seen such young cubs before (estimated to be only a couple days old). Their eyes were still closed and both cubs were unable to walk more then a few feet without stumbling! The Sametu lion pride is well habituated to tourists. Also on the cat front, we are receiving consistent leopard sightings at Lobo Springs in the Northern Serengeti. Lastly, there have been several reports of unusually large groups of elephants near Wogakuria numbering over 200 individuals.

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