With picnic boxes in the car we set off for a drive deeper into the park. The landscape is very different here; endless stretches of grass with sometimes a solitary tree, half a mile from anything else that is more than knee high. We’re admiring some baby zebras when Job suggests racing off to a place not far away where cheetas have been spotted. Indeed, two cheetas, a mother and almost grown juvenile, are stalking four Thompson Gazelles. The gazelles keep a safe distance and the cheetas just saunter in their direction. Every once in a while the gazelles will race off, but then turn around and approach the cheetas again. The reason for this becomes apparent after a while: a young gazelle has become separated from the adults, and the adults are trying to distract the cheetas. They might have succeeded if the young one hadn’t suddenly made a sprint for it, immediately pursued by the cheetas. The outcome of the chase is not immediately clear, since they quickly disappear in the distance, but Job is convinced the gazelle is “Dead! Dead! Dead!” Indeed, when the safari vans catch up with the cheetahs, the mother has the gazelle in her mouth.
They lie down under a bush, and the juvenile gets first pick while the mother keeps guard.
Our next stop is at a river where there is a herd of hippos.
The animals disappear for minutes at a time, surface briefly for air, and go under again. I think we saw about a dozen hippos, but maybe some of those were trees. It’s hard to tell when they’re under water. With all the strange animals, the plant life is remarkably unremarkable. Apart from a few flowering trees, the shrubs are much like Texas. They are probably completely different, but in character it is not strange at all. Likewise, we hardly see anything remarkable as far as insects go.
The other major view this day is the Wildebeest migration. These animals eat up all the grass in the Serengeti, then cross the border north to find more to graze. We were not sure what to expect, but the spectacle is more low key than we expected. No thundering herds, but endless landscapes of herd after herd of hundreds or thousands of animals, grazing most of the time, but sometimes walking single file towards, what? Among the wildebeest are a large number of zebras, and the occasional gazelle and hog.
We eat our lunch watching one herd of wildebeest make up their mind whether to cross the Mara river. In the end they don’t, even though the low water would make it a cinch. Our way back to the lodge is through endless fields of grass, dotted by occasional trees, giraffes, and ever peevish looking ostriches.