Who Owns the Animals of the Forest and the Cattle upon a Thousand Hills ?

Psalm 50:10-11

 For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine.

As we drive along the  dirt roads of the Serengeti, observing the endless grassy plains lying all around us the question above and the verse in Psm 50:10-11 repeats itself like a refrain in my mind.

It is day two of our safari and today we entered the Serengeti National Park. At the main gate we saw this plaque on top of a hill overlooking the vast plains beneath. For the first time I understood why the park was named Serengeti   ( endless plains) as the vista seemed to continue forever.

Endless plains name

endless plains kopje

We had barely left the gate and picnic area when we came across a lone cheetah resting in the shade of a tree. He stood up and walked off into the bush with an attitude of supreme confidence seemingly unaware of humans staring at him in awe.

For the next two days we saw many wild animals including large groups of lion elephant and buffalo, but none impressed me and filled me with wonder as the thousands upon thousands of blouwildebeest and zebra gathering together purposefully and with only one goal to start the annual migration across these vast plains in search of water and food.

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Initially we saw them in smaller groups of about one to two hundred thousand, milling around, grazing, playfully fighting and with the calves bleating for their mothers.

Rashid our guide told us the animals feed during the day and move at night untill one vast group has formed to start the migration.The wildebeest and zebra migrate together as the wildebeest can smell and find water and the zebra has good sight to see dangers.

On day three as we were on the way to Ngorongoro we came across the main group  ready and allready on the move. What an awesome sight this was. Our guide estimated between one and two million animals together all around us. As far as the eye could see in a 360° radius this group of animals stretched, milling about, bleating, grunting and above all moving purposefully all in the same direction.

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No photo or video can do justice to this sight and I feel extremely priviledged that I could witness and be a part of this wonder of nature.

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Today We Go Pole Pole

” Today we go pole pole, because of bad roads ” 

These were the words with which Rashid, our guide  for the next five days, while travelling through the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area, greeted us. Pole pole means slowly in Swahili and were words we would often hear during our stay in Tanzania.  Little did we however  understand the real meaning of his words, nor the reason why all safari vehicles are equipped with not one but two spare wheels.

The vehicle in which we  would  spend at least eight hours each day

The vehicle in which we would spend at least eight hours each day

First we had to buy water, as no water could be drank except bottled water. Then we set off on the long slow journey to Lake Manyara where we were to stay overnight. We soon  realised  why going slowly was neccessary as we bumped along on a mercilessly rocky road stretching endlessly ahead with nothing to see but grassy plains and the occasional herd of cattle.

The dirt road stretching endlessly ahead

The dirt road stretching endlessly ahead

After about three hours of enduring dust and a vigorous bumping massage, the scenery started changing as we entered the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.The terrain is hilly and due to the fact that we visited at the end of the rainy season the hills were covered in green grass and small yellow flowers.

This area is not a national park and the Masaai people still live here with their cattle alongside wild animals, giving rise to the unfamiliar sight of cattle herded by young Masaai boys dressed in traditional red blankets, carrying a sharpened stick to ward off predators, grazing peacefully in the midst of giraffe and other antilope. The only conflict we saw was a mangy Masaai dog chasing a jackall, who tried its  luck to catch something for dinner, across the road.

Masaai cattle on the way to the village for the night

Masaai cattle on the way to the village for the night

Masaai village

Masaai village

With tired bodies and feeling very dusty we reached  Lake Manyara  National Park. This park consists of an alkaline lake surrounded by dense forests and grassy plains.It is home to many baboons, monkeys, elephant, giraffe, hippos, birds in abundance of which the pink flamingo is the  most spectacular and even the small dikdik antelope.  Lunch was a packed picnic on a hill overlooking the lake.

We reached our hotel late in the afternoon where we were greeted with a friendly “karibo “ ( welcome), a warm wet facecloth to wipe away the day’s dust and juice to quench  our thirst.

Our first pole pole day was filled with new sights and sounds, leaving us slightly overstimulated and in awe of our majestic surroundings.

Lake Manyara from the hotel room

Lake Manyara from the hotel room

We went to bed looking forward to the next few days of our safari, of which I will report in follow up posts.

The L List Living: S – Equals Serengeti Before Sixty

In August 2012 I wrote a post titled The L list.  http://wp.me/p2BDQm-8y 17/08/2012

The L List is my living, laughing, loving list, a personalized version of a bucket list.

One of the to do things on my living list was to visit the Serengeti and Ngorogoro Conservation Areas in Tanzania.

About a year ago, I was asked the question :“What would you like to do before you turn sixty next year?”  

My answer was : ” To visit the Serengeti and Ngorogoro Conservation Area.”

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That was the day we started saving to enable us to take this trip. Now about 12 months later  the trip is on the verge of happening.

Flight tickets and accommodation are booked, passports checked, visas obtained an the all important yellow card updated.

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We first fly to  Dar Es Salaam for a short visit with the children, then on to Arusha,the Serengeti and Ngorogoro, then back to Dar Es Salaam and to end the trip we will spend  five days on Zanzibar .

So for the next few weeks we will be travelling and  my blog voice will be quiet. However  look out when I come back as I will be filled with new experiences, have  lots of pictures and I am sure many stories to tell.