BRYAN and Leandra Kretschmer recently returned from a wonderful trip to Serengeti and the Masai Mara where they could indulge their passion for game watching and avid photographer Leandra was in her element.
There were 21 in their group and en route from Johannesburg to Nairobi they flew over Mount Kilimanjaro, from where they were taken to Arusha by bus and on to a tented camp in Serengeti.
‘’The tents were luxurious and very comfortable, all with en suite ablutions, and the local people were extremely friendly, helpful and cheerful,’’ Bryan said. Being in tents, of course the sound of lions roaring and other animal noises were clearly audible throughout the nights.
They went out on game drives every day and once, when they went to the Mara River to watch the animals crossing, a herd of elephants came along and started to cross. The current was too strong for a baby and they watched in horror as it started to wash away, only its little trunk visible above the surface of the water.
But they need not have worried as the pachyderms’ family instincts kicked in and they formed a ‘wall’ with their bodies, preventing the little one from being washed away while helping it to the bank with their trunks.
They also enjoyed watching a big bull cavorting in the water like a child.
Some parts of the reserve had recently been burnt and the visitors were amazed to see how many animal carcasses there were from predator kills, and corresponding numbers of vultures and other birds of prey.
It was not yet time for the huge animal migration, but Bryan says it was obvious that it was not far off as many were starting to move in single file. However, they saw vast numbers of a wide variety, only missing the cheetahs.
They moved on to the Ndutu area which is far more forested and has a huge lake where they could enjoy crocs, hippos, flamingos and many, many other birds, made all the more interesting by the fact that one of their group was a very knowledgeable birder.
‘’And there were dozens of beautifully-coloured pink and purple lizards,’’ Leandra adds.
The Serengeti is aptly nicknamed ‘the endless plains’ and while there were less animals they enjoyed visiting the vibrantly colourful and bustling but pleasantly clean Masai villages with their cattle and markets and where thousands of motorbikes are used as taxis. They drive four abreast but accidents are rare.
From there they went on to the Ngorongoro crater, a 259km² collapsed volcano that was originally higher than ‘Kili’ which is home to an estimated 25 000 animals and has the highest density of lions in the world. There is also a sulphur lake with huge concentrations of flamingo.
The lower part is mainly grassy plains, but halfway up the sides the forests become quite dense, almost like rain forests.
Round the rim of the crater there are numerous lodges, hotels and tented camps and Bryan and Leandra were impressed that wherever they went the staff were ‘so friendly, welcoming, willing to serve and keen to please’ their visitors.