Without a hint of change in his behavior in more than 30 minutes, the Wildebeest on point, without warning, leaps into the Mara River, working his way across, ever cautious of the hazards lurking beneath the murky water. It was the beginning for thousands of Wildebeest that would follow his lead over the next 12 minutes.
They crossed with great haste, swimming through the neck high water, with their hoofs slipping and sliding on the large boulders which littered the river, only slowing when they met firm ground on the far side of the Mara River. They created their own “river”, which flowed perpendicular to the Mara River, a truly wondrous sight to behold.
The Black Rhino lay sleeping, while a small herd of 5 elephants browsed 200 yards in the distance. The Elephant’s grazing path, from Acacia tree to Acacia tree, was leading them directly towards the slumbering Rhino. Many minutes passed, and the Elephant closed their distance to the Rhino…it was only a matter of time before the Rhino would detect them.
At 50 yards, the Rhino sensed their presence and rose to her feet, facing menacingly in the Elephant’s direction. As quickly as she rose to her feet, a small, heretofore unseen 6 week old baby Rhino appeared on her far side. Discretion being the better part of valor, the Rhino mother and her “tiny” offspring, gave way to the approaching Elephants, and briskly moved to the western horizon, avoiding a conflict which could have resulted in injury to her baby. A most unique find, and totally unexpected.
A mature Eland lies neck deep in a small stream trapped by a pride of Lion. It appears to have a broken, right front leg…its hind quarters are severely raked by lion claws, but it is determined to avoid the pride of 7 Lion which surround it. Periodically, it would would shift its position, in the hope of extracting itself from its dire predicament, but the pride would quickly counter, with a blocking move of their own. Although the Eland was extremely determined to live, its fate was sealed by the Lion the following day, as they were never going to relinquish such a plentiful bounty.
Most people on Safari would have been ecstatic to have experienced any one of the first three events I described above, during the course of their entire Safari. This was our 4th Safari with ADS, and our expectations were very high. Needless to say, we were not disappointed!
All of the happenings I described above, occurred on our first Safari day in the northern Serengeti…yes, the first day. What may appear as completely serendipitous events, could not have been witnessed without exceptional pre-Safari planning, and a Safari guide with a great deal of knowledge and experience of the African bush. These are attributes we have come to expect, and thoroughly appreciate, when using ADS for our Safari adventures.
Our primary goal of this Safari, was to partake in a Mara a River crossing. We witnessed two additional crossings, each possessing its own uniqueness and mayhem, as crocodiles attacked Wildebeest, as they jostled their way through the muddied waters.
Our first Wildebeest river crossing experience, was eerily calculated by our outstanding guide Arnold, predicting their movements throughout the morning as the Wildebeest browsed the Mara River grasses. We were only 1 of 3 vehicles which witnessed the thousands of Wildebeest which surged across the Mara that mid-day, a first time experience for us, which is deeply etched into our memories.
Exciting events continued to unfold for us throughout our 13 day Safari:
– 2 juvenile Green Mambas weaving their way through the thorns of an Acacia tree
– Numerous tree climbing Lions
– A pride of 10 Lions hunting a zebra mid-day, devouring it in 20 minutes
– A Cheetah mother, and 2 yearling cub stumbling upon some resting Lion, almost meeting an untimely end to their young lives
– A mother Leopard and her young cub lounging on a very large Kopje
– Martial Eagles predartory attack on Guinea Fowl and a newborn Thompson’s Gazelle
– 3 adorable newborn Lion cubs, experiencing their first weeks in the wilds of the Serengeti
– Encountering 4 new species of animals, including the Oryx, an almost mystical creature for this part of Tanzania.
My professional, wildlife photography portfolio, has practically doubled from this Safari alone, a further testament to ADS’s commitment to the wildlife/nature photographer, and their specific technical needs.
All of our Lodge accommodations, from the Hatari Lodge in Arusha Park, to our standout favorite from our 4 Safaris, Swala, were outstanding. We can highly recommend the walking safari at Swala as well, which is truly an adventure all unto itself! From the Maasai Warriors which guard the tented lodges during the night, to the incredible dynamic vistas which expand before you on a daily basis, Tanzania is a truly an exotic and magical country which begs to be explored.
Asante Sana Arnold, and to all of the ADS staff for making our 4th Safari, the most memorable yet. (yet) as in we are already planning our 5th Safari with ADS. 🙂
Peter and Jody A.
Safari Dates: August 27, 2015 to September 9, 2015