We were staying in the last camp of our safari, Suyan, situated at this time of year in the far north-east of the Serengeti, just outside the park. This is an area that we are able to go for walks, night drives, and visit the Maasai pastoralists who live here, so there are a lot of things we can do! Some of the group were going for a walk later in the morning, but we set off at dawn (it was still dark when we drove out of camp) in order to maximise the chance of seeing active big cats.
Fellow guide Njano and I decided to head to the Lobo kopjes area of the Serengeti national park, since the day before we had come through vast herds of wildebeest further north, so we would be scouting out a different area.
We began to get worried when for the first hour the only big mammals we saw were the occasional wildebeest, zebra (neither rare here) and the odd topi. Luckily the zebra were in stunning light, and the scenery was really special, but I could see Peter Zimmerman jnr and the ultra keen Abbott boys, who never miss a wildlife opportunity, were not going to be satisfied with looking at more birds the whole morning.
We passed through the giant boulder-like granite kopjes at Lobo, and scouted them out thoroughly. We found an alert pair of klipspringers, which were looking intently somewhere behind the kopje of of sight, so we couldn’t investigate further.
A little further on we came across some Thomson’s gazelles in a field, and on the track ahead two beautiful cheetah, mother and daughter, lying low in the grass beside the track. Unfortunately the young one, who was about a year old, was in the midst of learning how to hunt. We were with them for over an hour, and watched them both chase after prey at different times (obviously hungry), but often the little one would sit up at the wrong moment, or chase too early, ruining any opportunities to catch a meal for a while.
Soon after we set off back to camp, we saw the pair of klipspringers again, now moved to a neighbouring granite outcrop. This time there was a young male lion lounging on the kopje they were on! I must add that I sincerely hoped the two cheetah wouldn’t move in this direction to hunt. They really looked hungry and were trying hard, and anything they caught within sight of this fellow would become his meal, not theirs.
As we approached camp we passed a huge bull elephant feeding on the branches in a riverine forest. We were able to get so close to him that he towered above us, and we could see the pores in his skin on his forehead.
None of us doubted the morning had been worth-while!