Fall 2013 Photo Safari – Trip Report, Day 5by Dave Burns | Posted in Trip Reports |
Today was our only full day in the Crater and we made the most of it. The Crater is actually the collapsed caldera of a large, ancient volcano and it is 10 miles across, forming what is essentially a giant bowl of wildlife. We descended into the Crater at 6am to get the golden light – it’s always nice to be the first car in.
We started off with yet another pair of mating lions! Normally we’re luckily to see one pair the entire trip but love must be in the air this week. We drove on and saw herds of wildebeest and buffalo and then we came to the main event for the day.
As we drove down the road, we came upon a recent buffalo kill with a lion resting next to it. Surrounding the kill and the lion were about 6 jackals and over 25 hyena but instead of trying to take the kill from the lion, the hyena were keeping a healthy distance and lying down. After scanning the area, we realized why: there were 3 other male lions hidden in the long grass nearby. A group of hyenas can overwhelm one lion but four is a different thing.
We stayed and watched as each of the lions took turns, having their fill and then wandering off. When the fourth lion started walking away, the fun began. The hyenas approached all at once and the last lion jumped back at them, warning them off of his kill.
But each time he would walk away a little further and the hyenas eventually swarmed the buffalo. At one point, the last lion came back with one of the others and chased everyone away. By now, more hyenas from across the crater has joined and the howling of 40 hyenas at once is an overwhelming sound. This loud and violent dance went on for 20 minutes but the lions knew they couldn’t win and eventually left for good.
We ate lunch at our usual lunch spot near a small lake with hippos and watched a large bull elephant drinking on the other side. We finished the day in a mellow way by driving up to Kiliman cha Meza, Table Hill, where there isn’t much wildlife but the views across the Crater in the late afternoon light are stunning.
Tomorrow, we start with a morning game drive in the Crater again but then leave the Crater before noon for the drive out to our camp in the Serengeti. Access to the Internet is tenuous there so I’ll post more updates when I return to Arusha next Thursday. Until then, safari njema!