As you gaze around the landscape, covering all of 360 degrees, you suddenly become conscious of thousands and thousands of zebras and wildebeest slowly closing in on you. And you feel as insignificant as a speck in the dust storm created by their gathering hooves.
Yes, in Serengeti, where we witnessed some of nature’s finest spectacles, the land is so flat and endless that Galileo would have thought twice before declaring that the earth is round.
One of the first sights in our journey was a hyena’s kill. The gazelle was brought down by the lone hyena; and as it was preparing for a sumptuous lunch, the hovering vultures got wind of the kill and started descending on the scene, one by one. Within moments, there were over 30 of them, and the hyena withdrew valiantly from the scene. And for the first time ever, I saw a hyena with a sheepish grin.
Then we visited Oldupai, where the remains of the earliest man was excavated. I felt thirsty. Later, I realised that a river ran along here till its course was altered by volcanic eruptions. Perhaps it was the memory of thousands of years that parched my throat.
In May, thousands of zebras and wildebeest congregate into groups of twenty thousand odd, building up their cadres to eventually touch a total of 20 lakh animals. Come August, they set off on a single trail crossing two violent rivers on the way: the Grumeti and the Mara. And come back all the way to where they started. To do it all over again next year.
At Lake Manyara, we saw lions that climb trees. In fact, it’s the only place in the world where these special lions are found. Their favourite perches were the Sausage Trees that have branches starting as low as three feet from the ground.
Then we moved on to Ngorongoro, the largest crater on earth, formed as the volcanic mountains moved away in one giant seismic movement a few millennia ago. Measuring 20km in diametre, it houses an entire ecosystem: elephants, lions, leopards, hyenas, zebras, sweet water hippos, salt water flamingos, and a menagerie of other stunningly beautiful birds. In the middle of the crater, we witnessed an entire entourage of lions lazing around yawning and stretching their legs — maybe recharging after a hard night’s work in the wilderness.
Yes, in Tanzania you can watch a grand spectacle of wildlife, day in and day out. It’s your very own National Geographic Live.