March 10 – Olduvai Gorge “The Cradle of Mankind”

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A Lion rests in a tree while waiting for the morning light.

I’m calling you at about 4:30pm on Wednesday March 10th from Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania. You probably know that Olduvai is the place that the Leakeys, Louis and Mary Leakey did their work from the 1930’s until I believe at least the 1980’s maybe even beyond. In the 20th century this was certainly some of the most definitive archaeological work, most famous anywhere on the planet.

We are here now, it’s a rather desolate place on a cloudy afternoon but we just raced in here in our 4-wheel drive vehicles, skillfully driven by Adam and Haruna just in time I believe for the naturalist, the resident archeologist to give one more lecture for the day so we can learn a bit about this place. Our second full day in the Serengeti has ended; we just left Nabi Gate about an hour ago, the Nabi gate in the southeastern corner of the Serengeti. We had two great days out there!

CheetahsThis morning we began with the cool green plains of the Serengeti all around us and we drove back through the migration. Today our goal was to visit the gol kopjes and see if we could find some cats and we really did. I’ll tell you we found cheetahs right off the bat, saw a number more lions and then at about 1:00pm took a break. Adam and Haruna got out and cleared one kopje, or rock outcropping to make sure there was nothing wild around the area and we had a beautiful picnic lunch.

It was a cloud covered day with the endless green plain of the Serengeti all around us. I’ve mentioned the kopjes that are all around us, if you don’t know they are the classic terrain feature of the Serengeti, really famous from Lion King and other images you may have of the vast and beautiful Serengeti plain. They are granite outcroppings, around them was filled in during the huge eruptions of volcanic ash a long, long time ago. Granite outcroppings in the SerengetiNow they just stick up from a perfectly flat plain and this is where the lions like to hang out. They are beautiful and are a definitive terrain feature of the southeastern Serengeti certainly.

The southeastern short grass plains of the Serengeti are where we have been spending our time, mostly because this is where the migration is. We’ve enjoyed just driving around seeing the endless distance. I was riding with Haruna, Laurie and Angie today and it was amazing to me how we get out in the middle of this vastness and I would not have a clue which way to head back to get to the main road. Haruna explained to me that he was navigating by keeping track of the kopjes as we drove past them across the plains.

We saw at one point 7 cheetahs together and we stopped to photograph them. When we began to try and leave and head back to the main road so we could move on towards Olduvai, around every rock outcropping we found more lions and cheetahs to look at. The last one we saw was a beautiful lioness sitting up in one of the lone trees that we saw out on the plain. We photographed her and made it back to the main road.

Lioness in treeNow after we spend a brief time at Olduvai we’ll move on to the rim tonight of the Ngorongoro Crater. It’s going to be high and cool up there with the mountain air again. We’ll get up very early tomorrow morning and I’ll report to you from down in the crater. Myself and the drivers like to drop down into the crater ahead of everyone early in morning so we’ll have an early night tonight I hope and a short night sleep so we’ll be down in the crater as the sun comes up tomorrow if things go well. I’d like to report to you from down on the floor in the Ngorongoro about how that goes tomorrow as we try to do that.