Another day and another game lodge, this was Sopa! The day dawned early and I was up at 6 am. I was at the breakfast table by 7:30 am all fresh and showered ready to take on the sights, the sounds and most importantly, the animals!
The plan was to venture downhill towards the crater at Ngorongoro to see its wildlife in the lakes and other attractions.
Tanzania had really excited me. The wildlife, the culture, the lodges and the hospitality were a world apart from what I had seen till now in Africa.
I am honestly enjoying this country even more than Kenya. I had a feeling that I was going to get lucky with my animal spotting as there were lions and rhinos aplenty.
This was a very green part in Ngorongoro. It was fertile with lots of small ponds and a lake with pink pelicans floating about on it.
Wild bison grazed the green patches of grass as the hippos floated away nose deep in the ponds, at times, wandering to the bank to play with each other.
We then trudged towards a lake to have a little picnic. There are lots of picnic places inside the park and this was one of them.
I gorged on my lunch of fruits, sandwiches, chocolate and juice.
Then we spotted a rhino. The poor thing was trying to cross the road but all the Land rovers had parked in front of each other to block his path as people observed this beast closely.
He had two horns on his nose and I took some close shots and then took a good look at him with my binoculars. The weather has been cold and misty especially near the crater with a blue hue as one begins to see the mountain.
The brown dusty road of the park sets beautifully with the mountains and blue sky. The colours of nature blending into each other like a Mozart symphony with God plucking away at the chords. This is truly a magical land in Tanzania.
After lunch and some more animal gazing, we drove back to our lodge and this time, I just sank in my room still dizzy with the beauty that had unfolded in front of me this morning. It was now time to pen it all down.
After lunch, we set out once again and it was a lucky game for me. People say that If you have seen the big game, you have finally seen a safari.
The Big Game. That’s what they call it and it happens when a lion hunts his prey in front of your camera. Well, I finally saw it or at least saw something even if it was half a game.
Dixon, my guide, stopped the car suddenly and said “Look Anuj, a lioness in the bush. She is hunched on her legs getting ready for her hunt.”. I turned around and saw her. She was moving slowly in the bush and her eyes were fixed on her prey, a grazing deer. I started taking my pictures as the beast moved gracefully, stalking along the brown grass.
The deer continues grazing. Then suddenly, the lioness gathers speed and reaches close to the deer. She bends her body and moved on all fours. The deer has spotted her. The hunter and the prey establish eye contact for a moment. It was as if the lioness is trying to hypnotise her prey before the kill. But the lioness fails to catch the deer. I started to get impatient as the lioness slipped to catch the deer again. “Nah nah, she will not be able to hunt today. The deer knows she is around. She has been spotted. No no chance of the game today.” Dixon, my guide said while throwing his arms up.
Dixon drove fast across the red dusty roads of Serengeti and now we stopped next to a rock. Just on the corner of its cool shade slept a ferocious he-lion and he was nibbling away at a carcas of a deer and then went back to sleep.
I spotted another one near the right corner of the rock. It was a delight to capture these sleepy giants in such natural habitats.
Then there were hippos and elephants at large strolling on the road, along with giraffes and gazelles. This was like Alice in Wonderland and I felt like I was part of the movie.
On the way back to the Sopa Lodge, I waved to a few Maasai Mara people who wanted to say ‘Hi’. My guess was that they wanted to take some money off me in exchange for a photo. But this time, I kept my distance preferring to get closer to the undemanding elephants instead!
I was full for the day in every way. Not only had I enjoyed observing so many lions, I had also seen them in live action. This was the real thrill for me. For me, that is what a great safari is all about.