After cocktails around the open fire we had a great meal enhanced by fabulous company from around the world. A three course meal under canvas in the middle of the African bush comes with a definite whiff of the heady days of colonialism; but the whiff is relieved by the obvious pleasure the staff take in their professionalism.
Bed came with an entirely unnecessary hot-water bottle. Our sleep was interrupted by nearby lions. Rather disappointingly they did not roar – it was more of an asthmatic cough – but they were definitely nearby. When we awoke there was no sign of lions but the rising sun revealed giraffes and gazelle just in front of our tent.
So that was eating and sleeping. But the main game is of course the seeing. We saw animals. Lots of animals. One of our new friends from the camp had warned us to expect quality not quantity – the lack of rains is making for quite abnormal game patterns. We got lucky and got some awesome individual animals but also saw herds of zebra and antelope.
A huge male lion started the day. There were bat-eared foxes, countless antelope, giraffes, birds galore, and more. The highlight was the cheetahs though. There are around 300 cheetahs remaining in the Ngorongoro and Serengeti areas and we’ve now seen nine of them. We spent ages watching a mother and her cubs stalking a herd of gazelle; in the end, the cubs alerted the gazelle and it was all for naught from the cheetah’s point of view, but we had a ball.
The other highlight of the morning was seeing birds piggy-backing on giraffe and buffalo and giving them a clean. The birds risk life an limb climbing all over the big animals; we saw one bird clinging to a giraffe’s legs while licking a wound. The winner though was the bird that descended into the buffalo’s nose.