Saturday, November 3, 2012


‘Anything’ started out with what had thrilled us on the first day and has now become routine...oh, it's a zebra, ho-hum, a water buck  oh, is that a giraffe? Hmmm...there's an elephant. Now the elephants are sometimes naughty boys, as David calls them. They will eye you and start moving in your direction. Full grown vans do not argue with elephants even the young males are daunting, so David immediately puts it in reverse and we cower out of its way. Once we've moved back far enough to satisfy him, he'll turn or cross the road and then, when he's far enough away, we’ll move on by.

The savanna is huge and stalking the elusive cats; lions, cheetahs, and leopards, is a daunting occupation. The drivers, however, work together; constantly chatting on the radio about what animal is where. The chatter became a background noise for us, not understanding Swahili, but we immediately knew something was sighted when David suddenly made a U-Turn and positively raced back the way we had come. 

Now, I have to tell you a bit about the roads here. There are the main roads, roads that are theory at least. Then there are the tracks, roads you follow where others have gone before. You're not allowed to just go anywhere; you need to stick to one of the two kinds of road so that the grasslands are not destroyed. Ok. That's fine's the beginning of the rainy season here. The roads have ruts in them and the water just pools there. The land is so dry it doesn't soak up the water quickly. Ruts that get lots of water in them get muddy, especially as more and more cars drive through them. Then add up and down hills and bumps, hills that seem to increase as more vehicles go up and over, cars slip and slide through them...I think you get the picture.

Back to the call...cheetahs had been sighted and every van was on its way. We're in a two wheel drive...and we had to go down a small hill, cross the tiny stream and up the other side. First van slipped but made it. Second one fishtailed but finally shot up the embankment. The third the same. Then it was our turn.... We went down and slipped and slid and spun and spun and spun. Back and forth a few times but, no go. Fortunately, that same network of men also look out for each other on the roads and the drivers from the van in front and behind both came out to push our van, just enough to get traction and we were on our way.

It didn't take long to see where the cheetahs could see vans traveling from the east, traveling from the west, heading north and south, all converging on a lone tree...with two poor cheetahs attempting to sleep. The convention of vans (I would guess a dozen or so) surrounding these poor animals was exciting for actually see the cheetahs. They, however, were quite bored with the entire thing. One pretty well ignored us, feigning sleep. The other one groomed himself, rolled over a few time, groomed some more and then sprawled on the ground as if sleeping. We were getting ready to pull away when he pulled himself up to a standing position and a big stretch. The video camera was on in a flash...and we got great footage...of him going to the bathroom! 

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