Early in the morning, after we arrived in the beautiful Ngorongoro Crater, we were in for a treat. It was a cloudy morning so the animals were still active. There were so many species in a small area, so we drove right into the heart of it all. We witnessed a male lion killing a zebra. (This can also be seen in the video in part 4.) The fight was mostly over when we arrived, but the zebra was still, in a last effort, trying to get free from the lions grasp.
When the lion had killed the zebra it let go of it and looked around. At first we wondered why it didn’t start eating it right away, before others would want to join in on the feast. That was when we spotted a hyena some 100 m/300 ft away. The lion obviously knew more about what was going on than we did. We quickly spotted some more hyenas. In total we counted 7 scattered around in a fairly big area, but encircling the lion and its prey (including our car). We discussed what the hyenas were waiting for and why they kept a distance, when we saw another big male lion sneaking around in the bushes. It was trying to get close to one of the hyenas and charge it. 2 male lions were probably a bit too much for the 7 hyenas.
So, there we were standing in the middle of all this, a male lion with its prey, 7 hyenas encircling it and another male lion trying to keep them at bay or perhaps even kill some of them. We were in the middle of the action when suddenly our guide told us, “Look, there is a rhino over there!” It was on the opposite side of the lion with its prey. It was some hundred meters away (300-400 ft) so we had to use the binoculars. From the car next to us we heard one woman say, “There is another one!” How unlikely it may seem, since the black rhinoceros are considered extinct. Only 23 are left. They are all in the Ngorongoro crater and are extremely hard to spot because there are so few and they keep at a distance. So, having them within this relatively short distance is considered quite lucky.
It was overwhelming having 2 male lions, one with prey, 7 hyenas, a potential big fight about to happen and now 2 (extinct) rhinos all in the same vicinity and all around us. Unfortunately I was never able to spot the second rhino, or if I did I might have mistaken it for the first one. However we saw 2 other rhinos later that day, so in total we saw 3. (Or 4 for those of us who saw both that morning.)
The lions were not the only predators we watched eating their prey. In Serengeti we saw a leopard hanging in a tree in the distance. On one of the other branches was its prey. It had nothing to fear, because it was above the ground and could just leave the food for whenever it felt like eating it. Which happened to be while we were there. It walked across the tree and starting feasting on the dead creature while we were still there. I was amazed at the leopards skills. Not only was it strong enough to drag a big animal up in a tree, it also didn’t have to worry about other predators because none of them can climb trees. Leopards really have it all figured out.
In Serengeti it’s strictly forbidden to drive off-road. We were very lucky to have a driver who did it anyway. He could lose his license if caught. But earlier, where we had seen another leopard hanging in a tree, our driver waited for the other cars to leave, and then he drove in right underneath the tree so we could see the leopard up close. (This is in the video as well.) It was really beautiful. We took a few pictures, I filmed it, and then he quickly went back to the road before anyone saw us. We were all psyched about seeing it so close.
Kyle, a Canadian, from my group, had told our driver that he would pay him $20 if he could find us a cheetah. We all really wanted to see a cheetah, it was very high on everyone’s list. But they are hard to spot because they are hiding in the tall grass and they are often alone, hiding from enemies. We spend one whole game drive in a remote area of the Serengeti in an attempt to find a cheetah. After 4-5 hours we had to give up and go back. It was our last (3rd) day in Serengeti and we still hadn’t seen any cheetah. To me the cheetah was probably the animal I wanted to see the most. So, I was really disappointed when the drive was over and we had to go to the Ngorongoro Crater without seeing any.
We were far from the park entrance so we had a long drive back through the park. I was still hoping we would spot one on the way, but no. We left the area where all the animals were and went towards the entrance when we spotted a few parked cars further in front of us. We were short on time, but took a look anywhere. I was trying to accept that I wasn’t going to see any cheetah. But then suddenly it was right in front of us; the cheetah! At first it was hard to spot, in the tall grass, even though it was just in front of us. But we soon saw why. It was eating. It had just hunted something (I would have loved to see a cheetah sprint) and was just now eating it while frequently checking around to see if anything was approaching. (This cheetah is also in the video.)
Then, in Ngorongoro our driver spotted another cheetah. This time it was in the distance so we had to use binoculars.
We had now seen all 3 big cats at least twice. All of them up close, and all of them feasting. We were all thrilled to say the least. With the 3 rhinos on top we couldn’t ask for more. It had already been an amazing safari.
But we got to see even more.