When we stayed in the Ngorongoro camp we felt isolated from the animals, because it was a bit remote, unlike in Serengeti where we stayed in the middle of everything. We had brought our headlamps, because it was already dark, and ventured a bit away from camp. We found a spot in the open from where we looked around with our headlamps to see if there were any animals. There were a lot of bushes and trees in front of us and after a while we heard some noises from there. Branches breaking, stomping and rustling. But nothing came out in the open. It was a bit scary to stand there all vulnerable. If something suddenly charged us we had no other option than to sprint back to the camping area. Because of the high altitude it soon became too cold to stand around, so we went back again. Disappointed about not seeing anything. I already missed the camping experience from the Serengeti.
Another great thing about camping in the open is that you get the chance to see the daily animal life because you are in the middle of it. When we had packed our tents to move from the Serengeti to the Ngorongoro Crater we saw a baboon walking around, on its own, in our camp. It didn’t seem to care about us. Perhaps because it was being chased by approximately 20 mongooses. This was quite a hilarious sight, although I felt a bit sorry for the poor baboon. The Mongooses kept circling around it and those behind it attacked the baboon. Every time they got close the baboon whirled around with its small fists in an attempt to hit the mongooses. But the mongooses were too quick and scattered around.
Whenever the baboon continued walking the mongooses kept charging it from all sides. The sound of the horde of mongooses was really funny, “oi, oi, oi, oi”. I’m not sure if the mongooses were actually trying to fight the baboon or just teasing it. It looked mostly like they were just teasing the poor baboon. The baboon however didn’t seem to find it amusing at all, it just wanted to be left alone more than anything. The mongooses were persistent and the event went on for quite a long time. It’s a pity my phone was stolen in South Africa because it contained pictures and video clips from the event.
I also had a lot of video and pictures from the impressive migration going between Kenya and Tanzania every year. It is hundreds of thousands, if not millions of animals walking in a long line, stretching miles after miles. We drove around for hours and the trail of animals just kept on and on. Truly an impressive sight.
One morning, in camp, when I was rubbing my eyes, in an attempt to wake up, while going to the toilet, I suddenly looked up and just 10 m/30 ft away, a big buffalo was staring at me, from right next to the toilet shack. I had previously been told that the buffalos were the most aggressive and you had to watch out for them. I immediately froze to not disturb it anymore. It kept staring at me, so I slowly stepped backwards while watching it. Once I was behind a bush I figured it was okay. I waited around a bit to see what it would do. Nothing happened. Then an Australian girl came out from the toilets, who hadn’t seen it, and I told her to watch out. She panicked for a second, and then laughed when she saw the buffalo. “I thought it was a lion.” She said relieved, and kept walking past it from 5 m/15 ft away. The buffalo just stared at her like a grumpy old man. I felt kinda stupid. There was nothing to fear, so I continued my journey to the toilet, without further problems.
The beauty of safari is getting so close to the animals in their natural habitat. We saw lots of lions, males and females, and many of them were really close. But there was one in particular, a really big and strong male lion, walking all by itself that walked right past out car in my side. I was standing up in the back, looking down at it from the top of the roof, when it walked by. It stared at me while walking and when it was next to me it stopped and I had the chance to stare it in its eyes. It was amazing to stare a big lion in the eyes from just a couple of meters away (6-7 feet). It was fascinating to look into the eyes of such a big predator. It had no fear, no sympathy, no remorse and no mercy. It could attack me and kill me without the slightest problem if it wanted to, and I was ready to jump back in the car if it showed the slightest hint of doing so. It truly was a king of the jungle, it had nothing to fear even though it was on its own. After we had stared at each other for a short while it kept walking. (You can see this particular lion in the video in part 4.)
One of the first things we saw when we arrived in Serengeti National Park, was a couple of lions with a prey, surrounded by hyenas. We were blessed with sights on the 4 day safari, and we witnessed the hyenas stealing the prey from the 2 female lions. They snapped at each other, but never got really close. The fight wasn’t long, I suspect the lions knew it was a lost cause. After a few minutes the lions backed away slowly and the hyenas were all over the prey.