by Christy Ihlo -- August 13th, 2012
I awoke in the hours before the pre-dawn hours when even the crickets have gone to bed. The day’s plan – a trip into Tarangire National Park! We piled all the days necessities into “Old Sally” and headed down the road to the park. Along the way we had our first rare animal sighting – Fringe-Eared Oryx! They were really cool and we were very fortunate to catch a glimpse. Once we got to the park (and I must say I was very excited to see a bathroom with a flush toilet, sink, and running water!) we grabbed a bit of breakfast and then began our adventure. We didn’t have to wait long to see something fantastic – a little ways into the park and we came across a male lion lying in the grass. I was fortunate enough to have caught a glimpse of a lion the week before, but this sighting was a bit more clear, albeit not exceptionally great. However, just a bit farther down the road and we came across a female leopard! This was a real treat! We watched her walk parallel to the road for a while before she dashed between the now many safari vehicles watching her progress. It was amazing to see a leopard that close! We also had plenty of great opportunities to see elephants up close and sometimes, a bit personal, as they were none too thrilled with our presence on occasion. Countless zebra, impala, wildebeest, and giraffe were among the many sightings of the day. My favorite non-cat sighting came just after lunch (picnic style in the Butterfly Campsite – complete with butterfly) when we came across a troop of baboons – the adults taking a little afternoon snooze and the kids doing anything but! We tried in vain to get a better glimpse of lions before heading back to Noloholo (not that we were complaining as we had technically already seen a lion and had a most excellent leopard sighting as well) but as the sun began its descent below the horizon, we had to make our way home. We were quiet, sleepy from the early morning and minds still reeling from all the days events. Then out of nowhere Anely said “Simba! Simba!” Wouldn’t you know there was a young male lion just a few feet (and by few I mean less than five) from the car! He was just sitting by the road and we had driven right by him! That was an amazing sight – we got a really great look at him. It was the perfect end to an exceptional day of animal watching!