Northern Serengeti has a lot of flies. Between noon and about 4 pm, especially in areas near water, they are thick as wildebeests. Not to take anything away from the raw beauty of the place and its animals, but you can’t hold a camera steady when you’re swatting at a hundred flies. These are the garden variety flies. Then there are the tsetse flies that can give you sleeping sickness. They are bigger, like horse flies, and they take a chunk out of you when they bite. Most tsetse flies in northern Serengeti don’t carry the sleeping sickness parasite so your chances of getting the disease are low. Bug repellent doesn’t really help. Avoid wearing blue or black – they are attracted to those colors.
Flies and wildebeests aside, northern Serengeti is teeming with animal life. After we witnessed multiple wildebeest river crossings, Joshua and Philip took us on drives in search of some of these other inhabitants.
This lovely couple emerged from a korongo (Swahili for gorge). Joshua called them a honeymoon couple. The male lion and one female lioness from the pride wander off together for a few days of serious copulation. We’re talking 20-40 times a day though each go only lasts 10-20 seconds. They did look pretty happy and confident – all that sex and being on top of the food chain.
Speaking of food chains, the number of dying or dead wildebeest is able to support a healthy population of hyenas, jackals, and vultures. We saw groups of over 20 vultures, sometimes with a couple of jackals mixed in feeding on dead wildebeest.
One evening we spotted two male cheetahs hunting together. They wandered up to a herd of wildebeest who scattered around the cheetahs. The wildebeest looked totally confused but Joshua explained that their semi-random zigzagging movements were actually designed to confuse the cheetahs.
We found many large herd of elephants. One had several females and juveniles, one stately matriarch, and three small baby elephants that were still nursing.
We crossed the international border between Tanzania and Kenya which was marked by a signs on the Tanzanian side. The land as far as the eye can see is gently rolling grassy plains with occasional hills. The animals don’t pay any heed to man-made invisible international boundaries.
There was at least one joke in our 4×4 about how the Kenyans were going to build a wall to stop the massive migration crisis and that they had convinced their voters that the wildebeest would pay for the wall.