Day 11 – The Grumeti Graveyard
Our first night of the Serengeti was spent cautiously listening to the sounds of the hyena and lions, but thankfully the large carnivores kept their distance. After a tasty breakfast of eggs, toast, and granola we began our morning game drive. On our drive we had two goals:
- Find a herd of wildebeest crossing the Grumeti
- Locate the crocodile of the Grumeti
Prior to completing our goals we made a detour at a river crossing bridge. As we were driving through the plains we made a slight turn towards the river and then there was a bridge. We were all a bit nervous to see this 4 person max bridge made from planks of wood and twisted pieces of wire.
But as we began to walk along the bridge we realized how beautiful and diverse the placid river was. With the scattered crocodiles and hippos dotting the flat water we were able to appreciate the area from a view only possible from the bridge. Once we moved to the other side of the bridge we then began to pose for pictures. Brittney of course chose the top of a thick branch that crossed several trees. Zac, filming the entire situation, walked towards her and unfortunately bumped the branch Brittney was perched on. FLAP! Brittney dropped off of the relatively high branch in utmost terror, but with her cat-like instincts she held on with her legs. Brittney was more of a bat at this point hanging upside down, Dr. Vavra’s jaw nearing the ground in fear of losing a student.
Luckily for us we were able to accomplish both of these goals within 45 minutes of the drive. As we were driving along the river we noticed in a large open plain a massive herd of wildebeest. Following the wildebeest we found an overlook to the river. Looking down onto the pale bluish-green water we found 9 crocodiles munching, chewing, eating, ingesting, consuming, feasting, masticating, shredding, twisting, ripping, and devouring a wildebeest. It was truly a sight to see a group of crocodiles performing their death roll, trying to remove the limbs and head of a wildebeest. The splashing and ripping sounds added to the drama. And yes, they did succeed.
As we sat watching the crocodiles glide along the river, like battle ships through the open ocean, the herd of wildebeest we had been following slowly creeped towards the cool water, partially aware of the looming danger. As the time passed the afternoon heat began to dry the creatures’ mouths and their pushing towards the water became stronger and stronger. Finally approaching the water the wildebeest drank. They started to crowd in and push each other forward. The crocodiles slowly drifted toward the group on the bank. Finally the crocodile dives preparing for the strike. Then another Land Rover began to pull up and the wildebeest scattered backwards. We tried to wait for another strike but sadly the wildebeest never moved back down to the water’s edge but rather ran further along the river.
Another interesting situation along the river was hearing the yellow billed storks as they flew into the river. We were sitting there watching the animals and then we heard these bomber jets flying over our head. We looked up only to see a flock of these storks dropping down to the ground. The entire incident was like a scene from Dr. Strangelove.
By the late afternoon the heat and length of game drive finally took its toll and we accepted the sad fact that we would not be able to see a river crossing. We pulled back to the camp for lunch and a quick cool down. It was that we realized that we had been lacking on personal interviews of our team. So, after a tasty meal, we set up a station in front of our ABE land rover vehicle for a few hours of interviews. Sadly, we completed the very necessary interviews too late to leave for another game drive, but we were in desperate need of interviews. It is also important to note that today we all took showers, which everyone needed.
Also a special shout out goes to Brittney’s sis.
And now in the distance there are fires. The winds are shifting like the era of conservation in East Africa. Nite. Lala salama.