Sunday, 25 November 2012

The Serengeti: A Return to Ngorongoro Crater, February 2012

It was hot and dusty. I stood on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, surveying the spectacular landscape with its savannah stretching out below. The crater is in fact a large caldera, which has several ecosystems and contains various types of land mammals; including the densest population of large predators in Africa. It was formed by a huge earthquake millions of years ago and it lies in the midst of the Great Rift Valley, which runs for 3000km down the eastern side of Africa.

As we had been in the vicinity, we had decided to make another journey to the crater. This was my second visit - the first venture having taken place in 2009 during my maiden trip to Tanzania.

Anyway, here are some photos taken of the surroundings and the ‘local residents’.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Serengeti: Lions, February 2012

Following our arduous journey from Singapore to the Serengeti, we eventually arrived at our camp in Ndutu.

Bill relaxing outside of our tent.

It was our first night sleeping on the savannah. It dawned on me that there was nothing between us and hundreds of Africa’s deadliest predators than the thin canvas walls of our tent.

The awe-inspiring African night was peaceful and quiet. I was fast asleep. Unexpectedly, my deep slumber was rudely interrupted by a deep, unworldly sound: “huh…huh…huh”. In my semi-conscious state, I instinctively shoved Bill and hissed, “Stop snoring!” The noise abated and I quickly drifted back to sleep.


We went for a particularly early morning drive, hoping to catch the African sunrise. Everyone was extremely quiet in the vehicle. I suspected that none of us were fully awake yet. Our guide broke the silence, “Did you hear the lions prowling near to our camp last night?” His words hit me like a ton of bricks. These apex predators, weighing an average of 200kg each, had been within earshot of our tent! I had mistaken the lions’ calls for Bill’s snoring! “Wow” was my immediate reaction. It took me a minute or two to digest the information, but I soon shrugged it off. After all, I was in Africa, trespassing upon their territory.

Within half an hour of setting off, we came across a pride of lions. If my memory served me right, there were five adult lionesses…

A lioness with one of her cubs.

Another lioness.

…a couple of juveniles…

...Oblivious to the world.

More cubs.

The young cubs were reaching for their mother's teats. 

A lone adult male.

As I watched these huge majestic beasts frolic around, I could not but help wonder whether these might be the same lions which were prowling around our camp the previous night. It was an interesting, if not chilling, thought.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The Serengeti: Calving Season, February 2012

Ever since my return from Botswana in September 2011, I had been constantly reliving memories of that wonderful experience: the beautiful landscapes of the Okavango Delta, the amazing wildlife roaming across the vast savannah, the smell of African wild sage lingering in the cool morning air and the occasional roar from a lion in the distance. How I longed to be there once more!

An opportunity arose in February 2012. Bill had been working long hours for the previous couple of months and was in need of a short break. Our initial plan was to visit somewhere ‘local’. Perhaps Bangkok, with its vibrant city lights, or the cultural ruins of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat. However, although these places had their attractions, my heart lay elsewhere. Having dropped a couple of subtle hints to Bill, he finally relented and agreed to accompany me on yet another venture to my beloved Africa.

We hurriedly explored our options and within a matter of days, we had made the necessary arrangements. We would be setting off for our second expedition to the Serengeti, Tanzania. This was the destination for my first ever safari in 2009 and the place where my love affair with Africa began.


Our journey from Singapore to Tanzania took around 30 hours. Although it was long and arduous, I was not deterred - I knew that I was heading to my ‘Utopia’. By the time we finally arrived at Kilimanjaro International Airport we were lethargic but, at the same time, elated. As we boarded the charter plane for the final leg of our journey to the Serengeti, my tiredness wore off and my heart began to beat with excitement. I could hardly wait!

Inside our charter plane.

During our flight from Kilimanjaro to the Serengeti we encountered a lot of turbulence and a couple of our fellow passengers suffered from air-sickness. To escape from this unpleasantness, I distracted myself by looking out of the aeroplane window. I was rewarded with some fantastic sights. Our journey took us over Africa’s tallest mountain: Mount Kilimanjaro…

The snow-capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro.

…the Great Rift Valley, the Ngorongoro Crater – the world’s largest volcanic caldera…

The Ngorongoro Crater.

…and, finally, the Serengeti.

The Serengeti, littered with Acacia trees. This picture fortuitously captures the shadow of our plane sweeping across the savannah.

Once the plane landed, I stepped out of the aircraft, took a deep breath, turned to Bill and said, “Darling, we’re back!”

Our camp was located in the Ndutu region, to the southeast of the Serengeti National Park. Mention the word ‘Serengeti’ to a seasoned Africa wildlife traveller and you will immediately conjure-up images of the wide-open plains, the vast herds of wildebeest and the abundance of predators. This is the venue for the ‘migration’, where over 2 million animals embark upon their annual trek around the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem.

Map of Serengeti with Ndutu.

As we began to collect our belongings from the plane, we were approached by our new guide who introduced himself as Fidali. On our way towards the camp, we had our first sighting of a herd of wildebeest grazing. Following close to the wildebeest cows were the newly born calves.

Can you spot the tan coloured calves?

We were fortunate, or, shall I say, we went at the right time for the wildebeest calving season. During the month of February, the wildebeest congregate at the southeast of the Serengeti where they synchronise their births and ‘drop’ their calves simultaneously. The short grasses, which enable the animals to spot their predators, are also an excellent source of nutrients for lactating mothers and their new-borns.

It is, indeed, a paradise for the wildebeest as well as a wonderful location for us to be a part of nature’s process. I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be fantastic to witness the actual birthing of a wildebeest?”

Unfortunately, we did not get to see the ‘moment of birth’ but we were often there just moments afterwards. To watch the newly born calves make feeble attempts to stand up and then reach out towards their mothers was such a mind-blowing experience; something which I will never forget.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Out With The Old and In With The New

Last week, Dad went to England to visit Grandma. He’s now returned home and guess what he brought with him – A NEW BED for Yours Truly! All the way from England! Aroo… rooo… roo!

Although I love my new bed, I couldn’t bear to part with the old one. I got it when I was only about eight months old…

…and it has travelled around the world with me ever since.

I’ve spent countless hours sleeping in it, as well as watching the world go by.

Unfortunately, it has developed a lot of holes over the years. Now, this is something you wouldn’t want to show your girlfriends, right? It’s embarrassing!

Anyway, check out my super-duper new bed. It not only looks fantastic, but it’s comfortable too!

It is made of sturdy ‘memory foam’, which moulds to the contours of my ‘ahem’ svelte body. 

The Missus has laid a quilt on it to add a finishing touch.

Look at my happy face!

It's sooooo comfy...

…Oops! (A little too comfy)

Ahh… bliss! Hopefully, the girls will now be rushing to my (new) bedside. Woo hoo!

Right folks, I’m off to slumberland now. “Night–night, sleep tight, there’ll be no bed bugs biting me tonight!”


Monday, 12 November 2012

Dog and Bone

What a fantastic weekend for me! Guess what? The Missus managed to find a decent sized knuckle bone for Yours Truly! Woo-hoo!

Without hesitation, I ‘dived’ into my treat!

Not knowing when I might get my next juicy bone, I spent the next few hours savouring it!

What a perfect opportunity for me to exercise my jaws and clean my pearly whites!

Mmmm… bliss! I swear I could do this everyday!

What about your weekend? What did you do?