Since the last post, we've been driving around non-stop on awful dirt "roads" to Lake Manyara National Park, Serengeti National Park (4 days), and Ngorongoro Crater. Tomorrow we're going to Tarangire park before our stay in Zanzibar.
Everything has been really awesome. I'll post a list of all the wildlife I've seen and positively identified after I get home. Put simply, we have seen EVERYTHING. The only thing I kind of wanted to see that I haven't yet is a black heron, and the others I'd want to see are all nocturnal and I'm not going out there.
We stayed in a tent camp just north of Serengeti for three nights. It is a glorified house tent with a thatch roof over it and a bathroom just behind it. The tent is reasonably sealed off from the outside, but the bathroom, for some reason, is only half-sealed. This allowed a giant spider to live in our sink area all three nights. His name was Frederick, and as long as Amber could see him and talk to him, it was ok. I also helped a giant millipede find its way out. A 5-lined skink ate moths by the door. Herds of migrating zebras and wildebeest were just outside the camp, and we could hear lions roaring at night. By the way, the local tribesmen worked at security guards for the camp - not for people but for animals. They actually carried bows and arrows to defend us from lions and leopards.
Leopards are rare to see, but we saw one every day for 4 days. We saw 5 black rhinos today in Ngorongoro. We've seen lions, cheetahs, hyenas, giraffes, elephants, hippos, crocodiles at extremely close range. There's just too much to convey. It's totally awesome. Everything you saw in The Lion King is real (including the rocky outcroppings; they're called kopjes), and it really lives in such abundance. Many of my pictures show 4 or 5 species of birds and mammals all together in the frame. Crazy!
Our guide, Dennis, has been phenomenal. He finds animals a mile away that I would never have seen and always has something interesting to say about everything we see. He also likes to joke around by using sarcasm, "Oh, it's only 50 km to the next camp," after we've been in the car 9 hours. So I didn't take him seriously today when he said the black kites at this particular spot would take your sandwich. I held my lunch close, but never saw the kite that swooped down from behind me and stole my sandwich right out of my hand. Amber screamed; I just stared at my sandwich as it blew apart into 8 pieces and disappeared in seconds. The first three bites of that BLT were darn good, and I wish I could have finished it.
I'll get back to the blog later with that long list of first contact with wild animals. It's very long, and grows every day.