Friday, March 14, 2008

Safari: Episode 2

On the second day's drive to the Serengeti, Julius gave us the option of taking the direct route, or the longer route through the great rift valley and past an active volcano and many Masai tribe settlements. We decided on the second route, and to our surprise the active volcano decided to erupt just as we passed it. What was wondrous to us just seemed to disappoint the villagers near the volcano who have lost a lot of grazing land and tourist business because of the volcano. Volcanoes: cool but inconvenient.

Anyhoo, the drive was long but worth it. We arrived at the gate of the Serengeti in late afternoon, and made the slow game drive south to our campsite. Serengeti is the Masai word meaning "endless plains." It's hard to describe how vast and endless the Serengeti seems. With the exception of a few acacia trees, it seems like you can see the curves of the earth at the ends of the tall grasses that surround you. It's perfect grazing land for many antelope. New varieties we saw included grant's gazelle, thompson's gazelle, topi, hartebeast (unofficially the ugliest antelope), waterbuck, and steenbok. We also saw herds of zebra and wildebeast, stragglers in the great migration, which was mostly south of where we were this time of year. We also saw some warthogs--strangely endearing, as well as Julius' favorite animal.

After a long day's drive, we pulled into the campsite, which was the most primitive of all the campsites. Shortly after the sun set, we realized the reason for all the signs warning people not to stray past the camp circle, as we glimpsed jackals and heard lions roaring not far away. Strangely, falling asleep wasn't difficult, but Dennis did hesitate about getting up to pee in the middle of the night.

-k & d

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