Last night we arrived at the camp early, our dinner mates arrived late with tales of a mother leopard and two cubs within ½ kilometer of our camp and a huge herd of wildebeest even closer. Early this morning, 5 am or so, there is a lot of commotion in the herd and the noise is audible where we stay.
Today is a sad day, we are to leave the animals behind and spend a day or two lounging about. We have a long way to go so it we don’t loll too much. The Toyota is loaded and we are on the move. We round the first corner out of the camp and next to the side of the road is a male lion with his head completely concealed within the carcass of a wildebeest. One other Landcruiser is present and the 8 of us tourist types are completely enwrapped by the spectacle. I take my day’s quota of pictures in the first ½ hour of the our adventure.
The lion works very hard to eat what is remaining of its prey. Not particularly interested in appearances he had blood all over his face and mane but doesn’t seem to care, even though he is continually photographed. He soon stands up, bites into the scruff of the dead animal’s neck and drags it a ways. Again the cameras are recording every step. A sight that we were not sure we would be able to watch but we do and it is fascinating.
Twenty meters beyond 3 jackals are having their breakfast feasting on the remains of another wildebeest that did not make the natural selection long straw. Behind us close enough for pictures are a female and another male lion. With the spectacle in front of us neither of these other two photo ops are garnering any attention from any of the tourists.
As Pascal puts the 4WD into gear and we start to drive away we realize that the word has gone over the CB radio, there is a stream of vehicles heading to watch a lion eat a fairly protein rich breakfast. We had a semi private showing; luck plays such a big part of what we see on safari and we have had it in spades.
We have a dead line of 11am to be out of the park so our drive is mostly that, a drive. We do make a couple of stops to take pictures of gazelles and zebras much to the surprise of Pascal who comments “What are you guys – new comers?” Most of the tourists are Zebraed out by the third or fourth day and do not request a stop to see more, but R, L, Debbie and I are not most and we see the opportunity to ogle the beasts one more time, for when we return home we will only have pictures and memories.
Leaving the gate is sad. We had a good time it is amazing to be here and see live what we had seen on Walt Disney and other such TV programs when we were kids.
Next stop is the birth place of man, the Oldupai Gorge. First part of the lesson, the German fellow that first came to the area was an entomologist not an archeologist and although he knew he had stumbled on something big his interpretation of what he found was somewhat off the mark. First he didn’t quite get the name of the area correct and published it as the Olduvai Gorge. Since ancient times the Maasai have called it Oldupai Gorge, after a plant that grows in the area, and with the slip of one letter the world came to know the place as vai not pai. There has been an attempt to make the correction but it has not caught on and the world still lives with the slip of the pen made 100 years ago.
A slight deviation from the main road and we are on the door step of the Oldupai Gorge Museum. A small place but just the right size to keep up one’s interest. Most impressive to me was the casts of the foot prints made in the soil 3.6 million years ago. They look like what you yourself might make in the wet sand on the beach.
There is a short lecture that goes with the museum entrance fee. The presenter tell us of the various layers of sediment found in the gorge, what time they were formed and what was discovered in each layer. Giving us a short history lesson on when mankind started to make tools, when they vacated the region for a while because the environment became inhospitable and when they returned being able to walk upright all the time.
I do not feel nostalgic while I stand adjacent to the area where my ancient relatives once roamed but it is interesting to know that our roots run so deep.