The road from Odulvai Gorge to Ndutu was rough. We arrived in south Serengeti in the evening, just in time to get the entrance permits and continued to Lemala Ndutu camp. This camp is as good as it can get in Ndutu, but it is quite pricey. A very tasteful lodge, a truly great experience. We were assigned to Isaac, an extremely polite staff member that repeated the phrase “you are so much welcome” every time he said something, obviously the translation of “karibu sana” in Swahili.
Dinner was served in the main tent where the dinner table and the sitting area are located. In the sitting area there is a number of electrical plugs where you can charge the batteries for the cameras and computers, but it operates only for two hours a day, during lunch and dinner. It can get crowded, so get in line early to assure a full charge and be polite to the other guests because, you know, they too have recharging needs. Dinner was simply excellent.
The following day we woke up before at 5:30, coffee was served in the room and following a good breakfast we headed for the safari. I had not been in the Serengeti area before, so I had not anticipated the experience: simply put, awesome. My English is not good enough to describe my exact feelings, the joy, sense of solitude, tranquilness, freedom and happiness that overwhelmed my sensory inputs. We chose Ndutu because this where the migration heads in mid February and we did not regret it. It had rained recently, so the wildebeest and zebra herds were scattered around in huge numbers. At the time I had not realized that this is not a typical safari, you cannot find ungulates in this abundance anywhere else in the world. What made it even better is the fact that in Ndutu, you do not need to stay on the trails and can get off road any time you want to get close to the game.
During the day we were rewarded with sightings of wildebeest, zebras, buffaloes, giraffes, hartebeest, elephants, dik-diks, oribi antelopes, Thomson and Grant gazelles, warthogs, one hyena, secretary birds, white backed vultures, eagles, a crowned plover, marabou storks and a couple of lionesses. But the highlight came in the end.
At exactly a 4:44pm local time we came across the two lionesses that we saw in the morning, only this time they were accompanied by three 8-9 week old cubs. We spent about 30 minutes with this beyond-cute spectacle of small-big cats playing, trying to climb a tree, hissing, showing teeth and attacking each other. The mother and aunt seem to be cool and did not bother with our presence which was rather amazing.
The evening was much like the previous and met some fine people form the US and Denmark over dinner. Everybody was interested to know what’s going on in Greece with the economic crisis. Not an easy subject to discuss I am afraid. A good night sleep was guaranteed after the long day and the wake up call at 5:30 found ready for more. We visited a different area of the Ndutu lake and show mainly ungulates and pink flamingos. The most interesting game was a herd of Grant’s gazelles and spent a good 20 minutes observing how they interact and fight for dominance.
At 10am, we headed back to the Ndutu airstrip to catch the plane back to Zanzibar with a promise to return soon. Next: Back to Zanzibar, Matemwe.