|Whilst Serengeti Balloon Safaris are not operating our wonderful balloon rides at this time, I decided to take my family from Arusha on safari to this special place to show them where we work and to add some wildlife to their home-schooling (learning to count is a little more fun when you can count to ten in lions).
Wow, though I expected it, I was still shocked by how few cars there were, we literally saw about two per day (learning to count with cars didn’t get far…) but otherwise everything was as it always is at this time of year; The mega-herds were still in the short grass plains with plenty of predators in attendance, the skies were fabulously dramatic with crystal-clear air in between the towering charlie bravos (thunderclouds – it’s a pilot thing) and the grass was long and lush in Seronera. Despite that grass, we saw herds of elephant, plenty of lions and hyena and all the resident antelope. We stopped for a while and began to see the smaller carnivores like bat-eared foxes and dwarf mongooses, the odd crocodile lurking in the river, stacks of birds and even 3 different types of Roller within about 15 minutes. We strained our eyes into all the best leopard trees but came up short, though we did hear a leopard call quite close to our camp one evening, and we failed to see cheetah, I’m sticking with the grass-too-long excuse here. Having had the priviledge of doing most of my game viewing from a hot-air balloon in the last few years, I was reminded that earth-bound visitors miss so much, whether it is the vegetation obscuring our view from the road, the myriad of channels and pools that are out of sight, or simply the location of the roads, I felt that we weren’t getting the full story from our car.
Graders had been out working on the roads, we saw a few new alignments, a lot of improvement and with so little traffic, they should be in great shape for a while. We are all worried about poachers whilst there are so few eyes and ears out there to see or hear them but I am pleased to say that Serengeti National Park have been very responsive to camp staff when they report suspicious activities. The wonderful Serengeti Desnaring Project continues its vital work and we noted aerial patrols taking off and landing from Seronera airstrip.
It was good to catch up with the team at Balloon Base, who are repainting, renewing, repairing (and spending a lot of time in the gym by the size of some of those arms…) ready for when we start to receive guests again. I asked them if they felt a bit cut-off with Serengeti being so quiet but, on the contrary, they were very happy to be in what they thought might be the lowest-risk place to be in the whole world!