On the morning of July 8th, we set out for the long drive to the Serengeti. The vast majority of the ride would be along bumpy dirt roads, which give rise to the term “African massage” for the feeling you get when riding along these roads. Our first stop was at the gate of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) where our driver got a permit for us to enter. Our guide had told us to make sure to close all of the windows during this pit stop, because the baboons are known to jump in the windows and take food, among other things.
For now, we were just passing through the NCA on the way to the Serengeti, but we would return in a few days for a safari in the Ngorongoro Crater. The NCA is home to tens of thousands of Maasai people whom we saw herding their cattle and goats. We also had a few giraffe sightings. The first tower of giraffes we saw this day was up on a hill, and we could see a couple of them involved in a low intensity necking session. I had never seen this behavior before. Our guide told us that the males do this to establish dominance.
Before we reached the entrance to the Serengeti, one of the travelers said he had to go to the bathroom and couldn’t wait. Our guide very reluctantly let him out of the car, and he ran behind some bushes on the other side of the road. While he was taking care of business, our guide told us about a similar situation on a previous trip where where the traveler ran back to the car with his pants around his ankles, yelling that he had seen a lion! This made all of us a bit worried but, fortunately, our fellow traveler made it back to the car unscathed.