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Tanzania Day 5 Part 2: Let's Rock and Roll

A little over an hour later, we arrived at the gate to the Serengeti National Park.
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We were met at the gate by two Maasai boys, wearing all black, with white painted faces. Their clothes and face paint meant they were newly circumcised. They must dress like this during the healing process. It seems they hang out at the gate so that tourists can pay them to take pictures of them. I have a personal policy that I refuse to pay people for pictures so I was not interested and wouldn't take their picture. Brenda, however, wanted to give them something anyway so she gave them the leftover fruits from our lunchboxes.

Just inside the gate, we were welcomed by a curious giraffe.
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We stopped at the welcome center so that Maningo could pay our entrance fees and get us registered. I don't really know what all is involved in this process but in every park we entered, this process seemed to take forever. It was especially long in the Serengeti. Brenda and I had time to walk up to the gift shop where I purchased some additional phone minutes and she purchased some souvenirs including a leopard bookmark, hippo magnet, various postcards of cheetahs and lions, and a beaded Tanzanian flag bracelet just like the one Maningo wore.
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After that, we walked up to the overlook so that we could have an unimpeded view of the Serengeti before us.

Serengeti means "endless plains" in the Maasai language
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This is the road we drove into the Serengeti
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Finally, our paperwork was in order and when Maningo returned to the truck he said, "Let's rock and roll." This is always what he said when he was ready to go. He had a funny way of rolling his r's but not in the Spanish way. So we set off into the Serengeti. Along this stretch, we were constantly having to dodge the suicidal Thomson's gazelles who would suddenly leap in front of the vehicle with no notice whatsoever.

A couple of shy female reedbucks were grazing on the side of the road
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A secretary bird was stomping some prey further down
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We saw a car stopped up ahead on the right and we pulled in behind it to see what they might be looking at. A lone lioness was drinking from a large puddle of water by the side of the road. It was so quiet that we could actually hear her tongue lapping at the water.
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She got up and walked around some, checking out the surroundings.
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She took one more drink then sauntered off into the grass.

Shortly afterwards, someone contacted Maningo on the radio and they had a conversation in Swahili. This was a pretty common occurrence and we had no idea what had transpired. Maningo was being very secretive. Brenda pressed him for additional information so Maningo took the leopard bookmark she had just purchased and placed it across his forehead. We knew then...leopards had been spotted.

A mom in a tree
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And her cub climbing up
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We watched for a while until both leopards came down the tree and wandered over to a nearby dead tree on the ground.
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Mom climbed to the top limb where she was most likely surveying the land to plan for dinner.
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Pretty high from our lion and leopard sightings, we headed towards camp for the evening. On the way, we passed an area with some tall grass. Maningo suddenly stopped and yelled "Lions!" Brenda and I were looking around and looking around and we didn't see them. Maningo motioned that they were on the right. So we looked again and sure enough, we could see black ears sticking up out of the grass. There was a pride of lions lying in the grass just off the road to the right. One lioness stood up to take a look at us.

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A little while later we finally made it to Serengeti Wilderness Camp. We were greeted by Claudio, the manager, who showed us to our tent for the next four nights and gave us a quick orientation before dinner. The Serengeti Wilderness Camp is a seasonal camp that moves within the park every three to six months. By moving, it can follow the migration and have less of an impact on the environment.

Our tent, powered all by solar panels, bucket shower is in the back
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Inside our tent
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View from our tent of the bar tent (left) and dining tent (right)
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Inside the bar tent
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Inside the dining tent. At this camp, each group and their guide dines at a separate table. It was great to have Maningo join us for meals.
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After the tour and a wonderfully warm shower, we joined Maningo in the dining tent for dinner (served every night at 7:30p sharp). Dinner was always a three course affair at this camp--soup, main course, and dessert. Our first night began with celery soup. Now this chef knew how to make soup; it was creamy and tasty like soup should be. The main course was lamb with vegetables and dessert was a vanilla mousse. We washed it all down with a bottle of red South African wine. It had been a very long day so right after dinner, Brenda and I went straight to bed.

Posted by zihuatcat 20:38 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tanzania serengeti brenda

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