Zebras splashing in the water.

Leopard spot
Thu. 14 Oct. 2004 - Serengeti to Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

We awoke early again today for a game drive in the Serengeti. Our mission was to spot a leopard, the last of the "big five" animals we had to spot. (The big five: elephant, rhino, leopard, lion, and buffalo.) We drove for a while across the plains and saw very little, apart from a male lion. Then, we spotted a cheetah from a great distance. Our driver, Wilfred, carefully positioned our truck along a road right in the direction the cheetah was walking. This allowed us to take photos from a short distance.


Safari drivers talk to one another in Swahili as they pass on the dirt roads to communicate where they've seen animals. Rumor quickly spread that two leopards had been spotted in a patch of grass near a river. A traffic jam of safari trucks converged on the site. We waited a bit, but saw nothing. It wasn't until the afternoon, when we drove past the same site again, that we saw a leopard, lying lazily on a tree branch in the shade. You'll have to trust me on this one, because there was no way to get a good picture of it.

Leopard spotting.
Tourist trucks in the Serengeti chase the rumor that there's a leopard in there somewhere

Yes, there is a leopard hiding in that tree

We left the Serengeti and drove to a campground on the rim of the Ngorongoro crater. Along the way, the road was dusty. Here's a picture of Derek, Paula and Dana in the truck with dust masks:

Dusty road.

On the drive out, as with the drive in, the climate and landscape changed dramatically. We entered thick fog and rain, so we put down the tarp on the truck. The truck skidded unsettlingly down the wet dirt road into the campsite. After a mad scramble to set up tents, kitchen, and tarps in the windy drizzle, we all took shelter in a warm tarp next to a charcoal campfire.

Pitching camp in bad weather.

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