Friday, November 16, 2007

Eat, eat, eat. Don't get eaten.

This is the mantra of the Serengeti. At least what I've seen of it. All the creatures, humans included, are busy busy busy and spend all day looking for food and water, while trying not to get eaten. And when I say humans are doing this too, I mean it. There are still loads of Masai people who live traditionally, herding cattle and living nomadically off the land. We see them every now and then on our drives from place to place - they just appear suddenly on the side of the road, with their bright red and purple dress, long staff, and sandals made out of old tires. They are very serious compared to the other Tanzanians we've seen, who seem happy and bright despite the extreme poverty they are living in. But I won't go into that now....

The Ndutu lodge

We arrived at Ndutu Lodge yesterday, after a full day of driving from Gibbs Farm thru the Ngorongoro Crater and onto the Serengeti. What a day of driving! We saw so many animals, that I am going to refer to our list that we made as we saw these incredible creatures. Here we go:

Elephants at the watering hole beside the Ndutu lodge.

Cape buffalo, warthogs, jackals (both golden and black-backed), ostrich, serval cat, zebra (my favorite), wildebeast, hartebeast, spotted hyena, Thompson gazelle, hippo, elephant, flamingos, rhino, lions, Grants gazelles, Masai giraffe, impala, dikdik, Steinback antelope, leopard tortoise....and I won't even list all the birds, but wow we saw a lot and our guide, Steven, named them all for us.

So there is the list so far, but I'm sure it will grow. A few of the encounters were especially memorable, like the three female lions that had just killed the buffalo and that were panting in the shade before eating while the buffalo slowly bloated with death and sun. Or like the giant elephant that moseyed in front of our car, each step like a meditation, and ears waggling to fan his hot hide. The giraffes tonight were possibly the best - we saw two young males fighting for dominance - they fight by what's called necking, where they twist their necks up and push against each other. It seems a very civilized way of fighting, because from what I could tell when they got tired they took a break and had a little snack to replenish their strength, then they would continue the necking. they also use their short horns as weapons and bang their heads into each other - it was fairly ferocious, in a giraffe sort of way, which is slow and graceful...

Wildebeest at Ndutu 2nd Feb 2005, photographed by one of our guests, Todd Gustasson.
Wildebeest on the drive to the Ndutu lodge.

Ndutu Lodge is quiet, beautiful, and the rooms are simple. However, we have found in all three lodges we have stayed at so far, the food is far from simple. Four course dinners, tea time (yes, I'm in heaven...there is unlimited high quality tea here WITH unlimited hot milk and raw sugar!!!!). Breakfasts and lunches are also extravagant and I am sure I am gaining weight and loving every calorie. Hopefully Kilimanjaro help in that area...

Bringing out the evening lights at Ndutu.

Speaking of, I leave in two days to meet my Kili guide! I am feeling ready. I did go for a run at 6000 feet the other day and it did kick my butt, but oh well, I'm certainly not going to be running up Kili.

OK, I will now attempt some photos, but no promises...and probably no captions for now as I am running out of time on the computer.

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Anonymous said...

Shawn "Blue Eyes" Olson,
I think it is wonderful that your mother Mary Ellen is giving up her Thanksgiving holiday to help the children of the world. Although a regional advocate for children, I'm sure that she'll be receiving the gracious thanks of parents and children as the result of her work in Africa. Best wishes to you both, Art H.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Art! She did indeed do an amazing job with the children, and, as all kids do, they loved her. (She's a kid magnet.)