Saturday, June 15, 2013

Serengeti-the Endless Plains

Today we drove to the Ngorongoro Conservation area gate, which is the last of the paved road heading west. From now on, we will be on bumpy, or worse, roads with much dust. It was very overcast and foggy. This is the usual circumstance for the rim of the crater in the morning. It was a bit harrowing on curvy bumpy narrow roads, when you can't see far in front of you.

We passed many Maasai bomas (villages) in the distance, with the Maasai herding their cattle and goats, then also saw some near the road, which are set up as cultural bomas for the tourists. Some are more authentic than the others.

I wanted to stop at Olduvai Gorge, since the work here piques my interest as an amateur archaeologist. The Leakeys and others have excavated this area for over 50 years. They have found 5 layers of evidence of human occupation here. The oldest is Australopithecus , then Homo Erectus, Homo Habilis, and finally Homo Sapiens. They have a small museum and gave an interesting talk. I unfortunately, did not have time to visit the gorge. Some museums still send archaeologists to excavate in the summers, June through August.

The landscape has changed greatly today, from forest/jungle, to brush/few trees. We entered Serengeti National Park. We immediately saw a group of vultures fighting over some road kill. As we drove through the park on the back roads, we saw elephants, impala, baboons, zebras, gazelles, wildebeest, 2 hippo pools, Kori Busters and other birds, and a lion in a tree! They were doing a controlled burning of huge sections to get them to grow back stronger.

We finally arrived at Ikoma Gate, and made it to Ikoma Tented Camp. This camp is larger than the other 2 tented camps I visited. The tents are similar, but the bathrooms are fancier, and the dining hall is impressive with 4 course meals and choices. My tent overlooks a plain, and I see wildebeest and zebra passing by. You must have a guard walk you around after dark, as wildlife can enter the camp. Welcome to the Serengeti.

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