Well... What can we say... We've just got back from our 4 day camping trip to the Serengeti and we had an amazing time. It's the wrong time of year to see the mass migration of wildebeest & zebras, but there are still lots of animals to see. We saw giraffes, elephants, hyenas, impala, gazelles & jackals, but the highlights were the big cats. Our guide had promised us that we would see lions and we weren't disappointed. We saw 40-50 altogether (we lost count! ) including big males and a group of 13 hunting a warthog. We got as close as 4 metres to them, and one walked across the track just behind us. It was amazing to see them in their natural environment, and so close. Another highlight was to see 2 leopards, both resting - literally hanging in trees with their legs dangling. One couldn't get comfy and after watching it for half hour we saw it climb down and wander off to the shade of some bushes. But even more amazing was to find a cheetah with a fresh kill - Craig even saw the chase, from a distance. She was exhusted after the chase and we watched her suffocate the gazelle before dragging it to the shade of a tree - it took several minutes as it was half her size. She then enjoyed her lunch! We also saw a pair of cheetahs, a mum and her juvenile - again we got really close to them and the youngster was a bit nervous. The guides are keen to get you as close as they can so you can get the best photos, but we were disappointed that they went quite so close, that the cheetahs were disturbed, and moved off into the long grass. The camp site was basic (lucky we like camping) and was visited by a hyena in the night to rummage through the bins. The camps have no fences. Luckily we didn't meet it on the way to the toilet in the night!. The 3rd day we moved camp to the edge of the Ngorongoro crater - 2300m above sea level. That night we only had zebras visit the camp to graze, which you had to meander around on the way to the toilet! The crater is about 18km wide and has resident populations of most african wildlife, including wildebeest and zebra which we saw in large herds. We also saw the endangered black rhino, and ponds full of hippos. From all the safaris we have done, we thought that there was nothing left to be in awe of, but the crater surpassed all our expectations. The volume of animals was amazing.
We spent many hours on game drives, which took the toll on our old truck, which started to overheat, and needed a bit of maintenance at our lunch stop at hippo pond (strange that one minute you are watching a pride of 13 lions wandering through the grass and the next minute you are told to get out of the truck for a picnic lunch sat on the edge of a pond!) Africa isn't for cissies ;-). On the steep drive out of the crater we had a tyre blow out from driving over a rock. Lucky we were on the land side of the hill and there was room for other vehicles to pass. The drive back to our camp was slow with frequent stops to top up the water - finding a tap in a village to use to fill up our water bottles. We were then nearly pushed off the road by a coach careering past us - the driver hadn't realised there was a central reservation, and had to swerve back in next to us. Fortunately, that was the only near accident we have been involved in, although we've seen the results of several more. We're now safely at our hotel in Nairobi waiting for our flight home.. We can't believe where the 10 months has gone, but are looking forward to getting home and seeing everyone. Love to all.