Green season in Tanzania is commonly known as “Low Season” this should not be translated to a bad season or a period not to plan a wildlife safari through the Northern safari circuit as it can hold many highlights without it being all go, go, go in order to tick off the next species on your wildlife list. As is the trend during April and May period due to the abundance of water catchments being present, you do not get the great concentrations of wildlife after every single bend on a game track. What you do get though, is the magic of a lush green park and time to really study and observe the wildlife that is out there, further adding you will be happily surprised to see not too many vehicles along the way.
We – being Ingrid, her 7 year old Mwene and myself just returned from a wee safari into Tarangire and the Serengeti National Park, this was on the cards since December after a long hard peak period in our safari and climbing season. On the whole the park was quiet! No elephant massing on each side of the road, threatening to charge as to my previous visits throughout 2011. However during the late afternoon drives, searching along game tracks that had not been explored by us for a long time, we took in the wanders of Lake Burunge from a completely different angle to how we have seen it after a decade of being based in the North.
The following morning as per usual we did our thing and disappeared down a few quiet game tracks, fairly similar to the afternoon before with not a lot of game present, Ingrid for once was driving whilst I was on game duty with Mwene, who is fast becoming the walking, talking bird/wildlife expert we think he is destined to be. However quiet the park may have seemed, the marvel of nature exploded into life once stopping to watch a fairly sizable troop of baboon foraging. Shrieks erupted and a shaking fig tree canopy showered the floor with a dusting of leaves as a male was challenging a female and pushing out on some flimsy overhanging branches. This bombardment of harassment calmed for 3 to 4 minutes and the troop and juveniles went about their normal activates of feeding and for the young guy practices the skills of climbing as they bounded 3 foot up the trunk of a tree to let go seconds later after their little limbs had grown tired.
As we continued to enjoy and observe the baboons doing their thing! once again the screeching and canopy above began to shake violently showering a couple of females in another cascade of leaves and small branches – as our attention focused in on the hot spot the challenged female had made it out to the extremities of the hanging branch she was on and had nowhere to go from there!! She half fell/jumped in a very awkward fashion correcting her body in mid air to land on all fours next to the two females that had only seconds before been showered by foliage.
The drop was at least 25 foot from branch to hard packed floor below!! The impact and I suppose her skill had her re-coiling from what I thought was a massive fall about 10 inches in the air again like a giant frog leaping!! She fell silently and landed without any sound of pain. In one flowing movement she gathered herself and without even looking at her two shocked counterparts who had stopped grooming one another momentarily, she walked directly to the car, veering off into a thick bush to our rear. Wow !! We all talked about this for some minutes more; further adding that she looked very embarrassed by the whole affair thus heading to the bush to hide her shame, or perhaps to lick her wounds that she did not want others to see??
We returned happy with the game drives later that afternoon to Tarangire Safari lodge for a late lunch and relaxation out on the game viewing terrace offering further opportunities to take In wildlife with your favorite beverage not too far from reach.
Apart from the antics of the baboon troop, we also had a French tourist in another vehicle perform a kind of bush charade’s and sign language to us – stating there was a leopard x 2 bushes away.!! Focusing in the binos and seeing only spots and golden grass I could not clearly make out even where the head was at that stage. Again after 10 minutes we let the other cars leave us alone with the spotted cat sprawled out in the bushes to which we continued to watch this resting feline waiting for some movement. After perhaps 10 minutes of watching the particular bush and keeping an eye on a distant family of elephant plodding over open plains, I saw with the naked eye the cat shifting position so quickly focused in again!! “Wham” into my clear view was a beautiful cheetahs face and now I could clearly make out her slender spotted coat as she panted in the shade of her well chosen bush. Whoever spotted this stealth predator initially, if the case was that it had not been in the open walking to the bush, for sure needs an award, talk about blending in and becoming invisible.
Our time in passing through the Ngorongoro Conservation area started with a chilly morning, low cloud cover and light rain as we navigated the hairpin roads that circumnavigate the Ngorongoro crater rim. Once dropping down through an area known as Malanja, broken cloud and blue skies were a little more prominent on the horizon as we journeyed on through to the plains that lead out to Ndutu and southern Serengeti. It seems no update can go by without mentioning the annual migration which as fortune would have it was nicely spread out in all directions as far as the eye could see. We would have driven through the massing, mooing wildebeest for a good 50 minutes before the black dotted line across the horizon abruptly stopped just before Nabbi hill gate, this is where you leave the Ngorongoro Conservation area and enter into the magic of the Serengeti plains. Perhaps magic is the correct choice of wording as it seemed by magic somebody had waved a wand to make all the game disappear!!
Not a black dot to been seen anywhere, or a shimmering of movement across the heat hazed horizon, it’s quite uncanny to witness this invisible divide, from being amongst thousands to seeing a wash of green through to Moru kopjes without anything. Once closing the distance however on Seronera being central Serengeti, things began to change and what we found over the 3 days of driving around on relaxed easy paced game drives was that you would come into pockets of game doing their thing and keeping us entertained with their antics and animal behavior.
As we now flip into May the day time temperatures will begin to drop and we continue at an alarming speed toward the beginning of the peak season of June – still time on your hands however to arrange that last minute safari throughout the month of May making the most of low season lodge prices for give away deals in the National Parks then heading off to the Swahili coast or Zanzibar as June comes into focus for a little time to get the tan in order before the European summer shows itself allowing you to show off that bronzed body to one and all.
‘Remember’, 30 days left to book your Low Season Lodge Special offer of 5% off published rates if booking direct through Bush2beach don’t miss this chance and please send this link to a friend who is thinking or planning a holiday and does not know where to go?? – East Africa offers everything and more, so why not share our bush-updates so they too can reserve a window seat to the calendar events throughout 2012/13 here in Tanzania.