Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chasing lions to Tanzania.

Thursday, July 21

Serena Safari Lodge offers two game drives per day, one at 6:30 a.m. and another at 4 p.m. We chose to do the morning drive today in hopes of seeing some different animals. Specifically, we wanted to see some lions, who typically stay well hidden during the day. After driving for 90 minutes without luck, Victor got a phone call from another guide.

He was speaking Swahili, but we thought he was getting good news from the tone of his voice. When he got off the phone, he turned to us.

"They're almost in Tanzania," Victor said. "Do we want to go?"

Of course, the answer was a resounding yes. Lions had been spotted near the edge of the park!

"It's about 20 kilometers," Victor said as he turned back to the road and stepped on the gas. We bumped off along the dirt path at about 55 kph, instead of our usual 30 kph crawl that allowed us to admire each animal as we passed. We did see some new species on our way to the lions, including warthogs and several types of birds (secretary birds, Egyptian geese, white pelicans, flamingos and guinea fowl, to name a few), but they didn't deter us from our mission.

After a little while, I saw a sign reading: "Observation Hill, 7.2 km." I had picked these words out of Victor's conversation, so I knew that's where we were headed. If only the lions would wait until we arrived!

When we did arrive, we met up with several other vans filled with hopeful tourists in khakis, binoculars attached to their faces and camera lenses stretching toward the tall grass. Unfortunately, we were all disappointed. Victor and the other guides looked for the telltale lion's tail raised above the grass but couldn't spot any.

Disappointed, we drove away after twenty minutes of watching and waiting. Compared to the 141 pictures I took on our Wednesday game drive, I only took 29 today, but here are the best of those:

Later that night, Mom and I went to the "Bush BBQ Dinner" hosted by the lodge. There were beautiful little tables set up by the outskirts of the lodge property. In fact, we could watch a herd of impala sleeping from our seats.


The menu included a whopping five courses; I felt guilty not being able to finish it all! There was seafood, soup, consomme, salad and then a medley of barbecued meat, including beef, sausage, chicken and lamb with vegetables and baked potatoes. Whew! And finally, we had crepe suzette flambe for dessert. Who would've thought I would actually gain weight in Africa?

After dinner was the best part of the night; several members of the Maasai tribe who live by the lodge came to perform a traditional dances and songs. My favorite part was the beaded collars the women wore around their necks. During the singing, they shook their shoulders up and down slightly, which caused the collars to bounce around their necks.

 We were invited to dance with them, but I felt silly and thought
that might be a little disrespectful to their traditions.

Mom and me being serenaded by the Maasai men.

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