We passed the halfway point in the safari today but we again have a long drive. From our haven on the western side of central Serengeti near where we saw so much wildlife on and around the banks of the Grumeti River, it’s time to drive to the Mara River at the northern end of the park. Serengeti is big. For my fellow Texans who like the Big Bend National Park, the distance from the Persimmon Gap entrance in the north to the Rio Grande Village at the Mexican border on the south east is about 75 km. Today we are going to drive from the middle of Serengeti to its northern edge, a distance of more than 170 km.
Our first stop after a couple of hours is a hippo pit. The river is choked with hundreds of hippos laying in mud and their oozing excrement. They periodically grunt, swish their short little tails, climb on top of each other, bite a couple of butts, and go back to sleep. At first sight it is disgusting. But being vegetarians, their shit isn’t particularly smelly though we are a mere couple of feet above them on the river bank. And after a while the entire communal slothiness of the thing grows on you. You start picking out a baby here and a mother there or a couple of playful juveniles in the middle or a bad tempered butt biter who farts a lot. Vivian and Evan get quite engrossed in hippo watching like the rest of us. Eventually we all have to tear ourselves from the spectacle when our short break is over and we have to get back to our 4x4s.
After a while we are back in the endless plains of the Serengeti but the land is more gently rolling here and the grass is increasingly growing greener. We start seeing bigger and bigger herds of wildebeest heading north mixed in with only slightly smaller number of grazing gazelles and herds of zebra, eland, impala, and did-diks darting between the trees.
Joshua cautiously pulls off the main dirt road and drives to a low tree under which we discover a resting lion and a young lioness. We drive a hundred yards away to another shady spot to see a huge lioness. Then it becomes clear that we are looking at a pride of lions resting after a kill. One cub is still tugging at the buffalo carcass. Everyone else is resting and licking their own and each other’s bloody chins.
We spend a long time looking at this scene play out. Then Joshua reminds us that we still have a way to go. An hour later we pull into Mara Under Tents – our first real tented safari lodge.