After my hot air balloon ride, I meet back up with Amy and Abdul at the visitor center and we head out for our morning game drive. Today we’re looking for cats! I was lucky enough to see a cheetah on my balloon ride, but Amy hasn’t seen one yet, and both of us want to see leopards. Abdul knows exactly where they usually hang out, so we head over there first thing. Unfortunately we don’t see either, but we do see this huge male lion just a sleepin’ in the shade.
It really is amazing how much they don’t care about us. We’re neither predator nor prey to them, so it’s kind of like we don’t exist. Since he’s just sleeping, we don’t stay long. Next up, hippos again. But these ones are out of the water in the middle of the day! I know I said earlier that hippos don’t like the sun so stay in the water during the day, but these guys must not have gotten the memo. It’s pretty cool for us though.
Day 4 of seeing elephants!
We head back to camp for lunch and a rest, then back out for an evening game drive, hoping to catch those shy cats this time.
And then the news comes over the radio (I think…it’s all in Swahili so I never know what they are saying, but Abdul sometimes lets us know when he hears about a cool animal to see) that there’s a leopard in a tree. We hurry back over to the spot we were at this morning and find the gathering of cars.
There! On the lower right branch, is a sleeping leopard! The most elusive of the Big 5!
Here’s a couple really zoomed in (albeit blurry) photos. Can you see its dinner directly above it? It’s the remains of a Thompson gazelle. Leopards have really figured this relaxing in a tree thing out. I’m envious.
I’m so excited we get to see this guy! He’s kind of far away and never really moves, but we still watch for over an hour.
A quick side note about safaris. Most game drives last around 3-4 hours. I am someone who generally drinks a lot of water. This means I have to use the bathroom about once an hour. What I did not anticipate, though seems like it wouldn’t have been hard to figure out if I had put any thought into it, is that there are literally no bathrooms for miles out here. My bathroom usually ends up being behind the truck in the middle of the road in the middle of the Serengeti. But there’s a reason you aren’t supposed to get out of your vehicles. Wild animals could be anywhere you can’t see. Lions crouch in tall grass to stalk their prey, crocodiles and hippos lie in a shallow river, and leopards hide up in trees. This makes searching for a safe place to get out of the vehicle a bit tricky sometimes. It’s such a surreal experience, hopping out of the truck, knowing that you are no longer the top of the food chain, having to keep an eye on the world around you, just to make sure you stay alive while doing your business.
As we drive back to camp, we stop for pictures of the sunset. I’m pretty sure there’s every color of the rainbow here.
Tomorrow we head up to Lobo in the northern Serengeti, but we’ll do one more game drive around here in the morning. Maybe we’ll see a cheetah or another leopard! Who knows?