As we entered the park we were greeted by a large herd of elephants, adults and babies. African elephants are big and have large ears shaped like the African continent! They have an extremely acute sense of smell. Similar to humans, they are very social animals! At one stage of our journey we were treated to a close encounter with a very inquisitive male elephant. He approached our bus from a distance, circled onto the road in front of us, came towards us with his gigantic ears flapping, trunk flailing, did a bit of a backward dance, seemingly for our entertainment, lifted his trunk and tail in salute as he danced off into the wilderness!! The crowd went wild!! We couldn’t believe our luck as we rejoiced at having had our own spontaneous African stage show exclusively choreographed by a ‘Big Daddy Native!’
The giraffes stand as tall as 5.5 meters above the ground. The young ones are so cute. It was as if they were in slow motion as they loped away from our prying eyes.
So many zebras....”I like to move it...move it....baby!!!” .... as their little tails swished the insistent flies from their butts! Zebras have very good sight but their sense of smell is poor. Their best friends, however, are the wilder beast whose sense of smell is sharp, but sight is poor! We were treated to many, many of these mingling groups.
Tanzania is in their dry season so consequently much of the wildlife gathers at close proximity to the watering holes. As we neared a fairly depleted hole the zebras and wilder beast were nearby but not close or drinking there. This was unusual until we discovered a small pride of lions, hidden from general view, behind the embankment of the waterhole!!d Having just been treated to seeing a hippopotamus and some baboons, we couldn’t believe our luck as we had been warned that it would be hard to find any lions if there were any in Mikumi at all!
Lucky, lucky, lucky us!!
Alongside the four lions was a half devoured carcass of a very unfortunate zebra. It was obvious that the feast had only just been completed as the four lions had the fattest bellies I have ever seen! They could hardly lie down and most of the time they rolled onto their backs with their feet in the air and their distended bellies pointing to the sky! They were panting hard and disinterested in anything around them. Eagles and vultures circled above hoping to score a feed, however, one of the lions was on watch. She slowly wandered around the sleeping three, then stealthily made her way up the embankment, peered over the top to spy on any unsuspecting prey, should they have dared wander too close! (Wendy W: Her gentleness and ability to watch out for her friends was so evident so it is only fitting that I have officially named her Wendy....and yes, if given the chance, she would probably have eaten me!! Xxx).
I think the gazelles were fortunate that the lions scored a zebra, as the large number of these delicate animals would have made easy prey for the hungry lions!
The landscape, so sparse and dry, but beautiful with its backdrop of the jagged mountain range. As the bare trees changed to green shrubby bush, we pulled into Campsite #2 for a breakfast of samosas, boiled eggs, bananas, bread and jam and a much needed coffee! The kitchen staff had been up at 3.30am preparing it for us.
Unbeknown to us, we were to be treated with our second spontaneous African stage show!
Another bus load had arrived at campsite #2. They were all Africans from Dar and very friendly and interested in us mzungus! To our delight they shared their beautifully rich voices and burst into song! Several songs later and many expressions of gratitude from us their bus left. Little faces were pressed against the windows as the older children called out the windows, with smiles as wide as their faces....”Bye mzungos!”
The birdlife was prolific; their colors and beauty a stark contrast to the pale, dry, tired colors of their environment.
As we neared the end of our journey within the Park we came across an unused truck near a water tank. A family of baboon watched their young playing amongst the water and the shade of a lone green bush, as three stately buffalo watched on.
At the entrance/exit of the Park there are bungalows in which visitors can camp. It was almost as if the animals had agreed to gather together here to become our farewell party. Zebras frolicked as the little oxpecker birds cleaned their hides, the elephants stood guard, buffalo wallowed in the mud (apparently a great way to keep the flies away!) totally covering their bodies, baboons lazed in the shade. If you decide to come and stay at Mikumi NP....don’t nick out the back during the night or you might encounter more than you bargained for!!!
Back at Amabilis, we were again treated to another group of Gospel singers recording songs. Their beautiful voices resounding through the corridors and beyond!
I am so lucky.