Ndutu Serengeti Wildebeest Calving: A Superb Final Day …
Wim’s News from Serengeti:
It was about 45 minutes before sunrise that found us on the road and very ready for our final day here. We headed straight to a beautiful valley along the eastern border of the Serengeti – and when we arrived – as well as for most of our time in that valley – there was no other human in sight.
The valley is carpeted with very short grass – and it is covered with plentiful game. The picturesque landscapes with all those animals kept our cameras ultra busy.
The first cheetah that we encountered was a female moving from termite mound to termite mound from where she scrutinised the area carefully for potential prey. When she spotted a herd of Grant’s Gazelle she went into action. Slowly she stalked closer and closer. Then she leaped – and chased one of the herd straight past our vehicle. There! She had him? Or did she? No! At the last minute she ran out of steam and could not mange that final spring. The gazelle darted away and the cheetah went to lie down to recover in some longish grass.
Later we picked up a pair of cheetahs that appeared to be honeymooning, judging by the amount of purring going on.
However, they were distracted by a Grant’s Gazelle and immediately started to stalk it. Bad luck! The wind turned and when the Grant’s picked up their scent it bolted away in a flash.
We saw so many prides of lions that I am hard pressed to recall them all right now. The largest pride consisted of eight lionesses lying on a huge, wide open area that actually looked rather more like a golf course than an African Wilderness – flat, with no tall grass anywhere. There was a gently sloping mound where the lionesses huddled very close together in a srong wind – making for some fabulous photography, especially with a dramatic, cloudy sky as a backdrop.
After breakfast we continued – more lions, more zebras, more wildebeest, more photography. The morning seemed to whizz by and it seemed like minutes before it was lunch time.
After lunch we returned to the leopard that we encountered yesterday. This time he was up in a large tree – lying very exposed on a smallish limb of the tree. He appeared much more relaxed and we were able to take any number of photographs until other vehicles arrived, and his skittishess returned. He fled, but again we managed some beautiful shots as he came down from his lofty perch.
The Seronera River was only about five minutes away from that spot, and there we found the same three lionesses that we had seen yesterday. All three were in a tree again, and we photographed them in the late afternoon rainfall until the rain started to pelt down and the three left the tree to seek shelter under some bushes. More super coming-down-the-tree images!
We spent the remainder of the afternoon photographing the game against the late afternoon, dramatic sky with vibrant colours that deepened with each passing minute. Wildebeest, giraffe, and elephant were particularly impactful in that setting.
Now that we are back at camp, memory cards filled with amazing photographs and special moments, we cannot help feeling very sorry that this was our final full day here but just maybe there will be time in the morning for a quick game drive before we have to leave this heavenly place …