Thanks to a strong tail wind, our flight from Agra, India landed a half hour early at Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania. After clearing customs, the GeoKs split up: Mr. GeoK and Oldest GeoKid boarded a 37 minute flight to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, while Mrs. GeoK and Youngest GeoKid flew just over an hour to the Ndutu airstrip in Serengeti National Park, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. After an hour on the tiny plane, bobbing around in the hot afternoon air, Mrs. GeoK and Youngest GeoKid climbed into a Toyota Land Rover for a two-hour game drive, spotting a hyena, elephants, giraffes, a few monkeys and a range of brightly coloured birds on the way to the Serengeti Sopa Lodge. They arrived a half hour too late to enjoy a dip in the pool, so had to settle for a cool shower before dinner, instead.
Yesterday, Mrs. GeoK and Youngest GeoKid joined a few others from our tour group for what turned out to be eleven hours of photo safari fun in the Serengeti. They spotted a vast array of wildlife: leopards, cheetahs, lions, elephants, giraffes, hippos, hyenas, jackals, baboons, Vervet monkeys, zebras, Cape buffalo, wildebeests, dik-diks, several types of gazelles, eland, hartebeest, impala, topi, warthogs and a variety of birds. At the end of the day, they went to a much less-travelled area in search of rhinocerous, but did not lay eyes on any of the three spotted earlier in the day by another guide.
Three scenes really stood out: sitting in the middle of thousands of migrating zebras; watching 5 lions stalk and unsuccessfully attempt to hunt a small herd of zebra (the lions used the safari jeeps for cover as they worked their way close to the zebras); and spotting a leopard treed by a pride of 7+ lions.
Late in the afternoon, it crossed Mrs. GeoKs’ mind that although Mr. GeoK and Oldest GeoKid had the Garmin Oregon 550t with them, their photo safari at the Ngorongoro Crater might not have taken them anywhere near a geocache. So she started mentally reviewing the Tanzania geocaches she had loaded into GSAK; memory was the only resource she had, since the laptop was at the Crater. She vaguely remembered an earthcache to do with kopjes, but without a GPSr in hand, there wasn’t much she could do other than resolve to bring out her Garmin Map 60 CSx on the way to the airstrip in the morning.
And, as good fortune would have it, during the two-hour game drive back to the airstrip this morning, she spotted a large kopje well behind a bloat of hippos and she was able to mark the coordinates necessary to log GC24XFP – Serengeti Kopjes. Once the GeoKs reunited this afternoon, it turned out Mrs. GeoKs’ mild case of panic was completely unnecessary: Mr. GeoK and Oldest GeoKid found a traditional cache during their drive to the crater rim and also gathered the necessary information to log another earthcache, bringing our total cache count for Tanzania to 3!!
Comparing notes, the Ngorongoro Crater was the better choice for getting closer to the animals, for spotting rhinos and for the opportunity for limited interaction with the indigenous Masai people. But Serengeti National Park seemed to contain a broader range of birds and animals. Plus, the food was much better at the Serengeti Sopa Lodge. Out of all the places we’ve been so far, Tanzania tops Youngest GeoKid and Mrs. GeoKs’ list of places they’d like to visit again.