Serengeti: Day 1 (Part 2) – Guess the Critter!

2 Jan. 2009 – Part 2

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

(Part 1 was Oldupai Gorge and Maasai village; Part 3 is Everything Under the Sun)

Narrator’s Voice: “Later, that same day, in a different part of Africa…”

Well, not so different.  Just down the road a bit (read: an hour or 2) from the Maasai village we visited is the Serengeti National Park.  The arid climate of Oldupai gradually starts to give way to flat grasslands and a hint of the vast herds of wildlife ahead soon began to appear.  No, seriously — VAST.  Thundering herds.  There’s more wildlife there than you can shake a stick (or point a camera) at.  It’s amazing.  …But FIRST we need to get there!  Onward, Fabian*!

*he was our driver, remember?

As we neared the Serengeti, we saw groups of Thompson’s and Grant’s Gazelle. These are Thompson’s. Sorry for the blur — this was a drive-by shooting.

I tell ya what — all that time as a kid spent going to the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park really paid off! Sometimes the names of the critters dropped out of my mouth before I knew what I was saying. How the heck would I know how to recognize a Thompson’s Gazelle? I dunno! But I called it!

There were many other animals before and after the gate, including ostrich, warthogs, zebra and many more gazelle.  Indeed, the “gate” itself seems rather arbitrary in its placement:

No “Cave Canem” here.

Still, we got all tingly and happy when we saw it.  OMG!  We’re in AFRICA!  On the SERENGETI!  …eep!

Pumbaa, is that you?

Oh, I guess not.  Might be Lady Pumbaa, though.  (A little crooked, but too cute not to include.  :)

Kori Bustard, a very large bird! Not quite as large as an ostrich, but still quite substantial.  (Similar to the Secretary Bird.)

Through all of our gaping and pointing, Fabian, our unflappable driver-guide did his best not to sigh heavily and roll his eyes.  Our glee was irrepressible!  But taking people on safari is his job.  He is so over the zebras and lions.  So when he spotted something on the road ahead and got excited — “This is very rare!  You never see this!” — we nearly burst:

Yay!  Another safari vehicle!  Wait, surely this isn’t what you were so excited about, Fabian.  ’cause even *I* am over that!

Oooh!  Now I get it.

She was just crossin’ the road, no biggie.

Guess what?  Cheetah butt!

Wow.  She’s…  gorgeous.  And we were so close.  And the windows were open.  Hmm.

Like, THIS close!

Hangin’ out, bein’ camouflaged and stuff.

Wish I knew more about cheetahs.  Is the opened mouth a sign of distress, like in domestic kitties?  Just hot?  Found the ditch water not to her liking and still thirsty?  Hmm.

Wait, come back! Can I get an autograph!?

Bye bye, gorgeous!

All right, I thought I was going to fit an entire afternoon into one post, but I can’t.  The Cheetah Encounter® was simply too incredible.  See you next time for Part 3!  Cheers!

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