Playing the Game Drive

My last trip to the Serengeti/Ngorongoro in Tanzania was amazing. A ‘Game’ Drive is just that, it’s a game, there are winners and there are losers in every game. With nature it’s never promised that you are going to see anything. You should go into a game drive expecting to see some beautiful scenery and some antelopes and birds, beyond that everything is a bonus. That’s what I tell my guests, and that way they are never disappointed. It’s not a zoo and animals can and do roam freely, one day you may spot more than one hundred elephants and the following day in the same park, see none, that’s just how it is.

Well in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro conservation areas last week we were real winners, the scenery just getting to the park is stunning with continually changing views and numerous Masaai villages.

The African ‘Big Five’ are Africa’s most dangerous animals to hunt, from a time when poachers hunted animals for skins, ivory and horns. They are the Elephant, Buffalo, Lion, Rhino and Leopard, the last two being the most difficult to spot due to their numbers and the fact that the Leopards are solitary and private animals.

The park was extremely wet on this trip as it was coming to the end of the rainy season and many vehicles were getting bogged. The first of the ‘Big 5’ to be spotted were the buffalo, closely followed by a large herd of Elephants.  Then we heard on the radio that there had been a leopard sighting, so our driver/guide rushed us towards the area it had been seen in, only to find that we couldn’t pass through as the road had become a river. We put on our seat belts in the pop-top safari vehicle and braved the mud to go the long way around.  It was a rough and slightly scary ride slip-sliding all over the place.  After all the effort put into getting there we were rewarded accordingly, with not only a female leopard up in a tree, but in a nearby tree played her two leopard cubs.  Absolutely adorable, I could not stop clicking my camera.

That night we camped on the rim of the very impressive Ngorongoro crater, an old volcano which has now formed one of the best game viewing sites in the world. We descended down into the crater the following morning to finish off our big Five game viewing with a very close rhino encounter and then five sleepy lions, only to be topped  by a male lion walking right up to our vehicle. I think most of us stopped breathing as he passed us by and carried on up the road.

Now I am not saying that every game drive is like this, and after many times visiting the Serengeti and Ngorongoro conservation areas I believe that this is the first time I have ticked off the Big Five, but if you go with an open mind and keep your eyes open, you too may have the luck that was with us on that trip. If not, well at least you know that the scenery itself if stunning. Have a great trip and good luck, I hope you’re a winner.

p.s. Yes I could have put a nice lion or even baby leopard photo with this article, but have you ever seen anything as cute as hippos having a good old smooch? We witnessed this kiss in a hippo pool in the Ngorongoro crater, it was truly magical.

Tucan Travel’s Group Tours that visit the Serengeti NP and Ngorongoro Crater all include game drives. You also camp within the National Park where you can spend the evening listening to the sounds.  For more information, click here.

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