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Tanzania Day 8: Here Kitty Kitty Kitty

Today we met Maningo for breakfast around 7:30a in the dining tent for our last full day in the Serengeti. The previous day, Brenda gave him a cheetah postcard to put under his pillow and Maningo woke up this morning with a plan to find cheetah. I guess it worked. We were going to head east to an area known as Barafu Kopjes.

Right outside of camp we came across some giraffe
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and some Fischer's lovebirds. I love these colorful birds.
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The drive out to the eastern Serengeti was beautiful. The land was flat, dotted with the occasional trees and groups of rocks (kopjes). We were looking for cheetah all along the rocks.
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Suddenly, off to the right, we saw a black and gold tail and I think we all simultaneously yelled, "Cheetah!". There he was. Standing on top of a rock in all of his glory, surveying the land around him.
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Maningo stopped the vehicle and we all just stared. I told him NOT to call anyone on the radio! This was our sighting.
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After a few minutes, the cheetah climbed down off the rock and started walking towards us.
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He walked right in front of us.
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Then he continued down the hill and off into the distance until he disappeared on the horizon.
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Those few minutes that we spent alone with that cheetah were some of the best minutes of the entire safari. He was so majestic standing on that rock and at that moment, he was all ours to see. It was incredible!

A little while later, we saw a secretary bird sitting in the top of a tree.
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This little black-backed jackal was hiding in the tall grass by the side of the road. He was so cute, you just wanted to reach out and snatch him up.
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An agama lizard was sunning on a rock.
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Some Thomson's gazelles (or cheetah snacks as we nicknamed them) watched us drive by.
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In this area of the Serengeti, the land was completely flat with no trees, for as far as the eye could see.
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Sadly, we then came upon a dead lion cub lying out in the open. Maningo thought it had probably been killed by a predator like hyena.
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Just down the road, a pride was settled underneath a tree overlooking the river. We thought this might have been the dead cub's pride but of course we didn't know for sure.
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There was an older cub in this pride.
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At their perch just above the river, they were watching for other animals coming down to drink. One lioness spotted a warthog on the other side. We couldn't see the warthog except through binoculars, but she could see him.
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She headed off in the direction of the river. The warthog spooked and she followed him. The rest of the pride stayed behind and watched.
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We decided to stay for a while and eat our box lunch with the lions. Today we had a pork chop, fried veggie pattie, and a tangerine. It was very good but the lions definitely made it the best lunch of the trip!

The cub was getting restless.
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During the time we were there, several opportunities for lunch walked right by the lions but they didn't budge. A couple of warthogs circled around and came down to drink at the river. A lone gazelle was wandering around down by the river. And at one point, a couple of jackals trotted by as well. A couple of the younger lions popped their heads up and looked at lunch walking by but nothing happened. I guess these lions weren't that hungry. The hunting lioness never returned. After a couple of hours with these guys, we went on our way.

There had only been four or five vehicles total at this sighting at any given time. This was a huge improvement over the large numbers of vehicles at cat sightings in the Central Serengeti. Because of that and the beautiful scenery in this area, this day so far was my favorite time in the Serengeti. I would love to return and spend more time exploring areas like this, even if it meant having fewer numbers of sightings.

This lappet-faced vulture was drying his wings on the road.
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My usual position in the vehicle.
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On the way back to the Central Serengeti, we ran into a herd of elephants.
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A black-headed heron was standing by the road.
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We came upon a huge traffic jam which only meant one thing - a big cat sighting. We saw the lioness on one side of the road.
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And her two cubs on the other side of the road. We told Maningo not to stay here as we didn't feel comfortable with the situation. We felt the numerous vehicles were crowding the lioness. It was too chaotic after where we had just been.
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You can barely see the second cub behind this one.
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On down the road, a leopard cub was lounging in a tree.
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Mom was there, too.
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And so was dinner.
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The day ended with more elephants.
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This "teenager" was very annoyed with the birds making a ruckus in the grass. She kept charging them and flushing them out. It was hilarious.
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On the way back to camp that evening, we had a flat tire. We almost made it through the entire safari without one. Luckily, there were no lions or hyenas or other predators around. Poor tired Maningo changed that tire faster than anyone I've ever seen and we were back on our way in just a few minutes. Brenda and I didn't even have to get out of the vehicle.

We made it back to camp to our nightly ritual of a bucket shower before dinner which was cream of butternut soup, fish fingers, potatoes, cabbage, and cashew nut cake. It was our last night with Maningo and we wanted to give him something special with his tip. Brenda came up with the Let's Rock and Roll idea. Since he always said that each morning before we left out, she found a rock from the campgrounds and a roll from dinner and put them both in a giant Ziploc. We gave that to him with his tip along with a bottle of wine. I don't think his grin could have gotten any bigger!

After dinner, we sat around the campfire with our favorite guests, an Irish family consisting of a father, mother, young tween daughter, and grandma BB. The Irish family was great fun, very outgoing and willing to laugh at themselves. The father was made to sleep in the same tent as grandma because he snored so loud. Grandma BB apparently didn't know she was coming on safari or else she wouldn't have come. So she was there each night in her little dresses with her wine and cigarette. She didn't say much but every once in a while she'd pull out a one liner. Also there was a young, Dutch guy and some of the guides and camp staff. We went through a couple of bottles of wine that night since it was our last night in the Serengeti and no one wanted to leave the next day.

Posted by zihuatcat 22:24 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tanzania serengeti brenda

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