Safari Update Day 8 (3 Oct 2013)
20 degrees C
Sunrise 0618, clear skies with clouds at the horizon.
Today was our full day in the Northern Serengeti. We had heard of a female rhino and baby in the higher plains area as well as a leopard with cubs. In talking with the guides from the previous trip (departing the day we arrived), they had not seen a wildeebest crossing at the Mara River, but had good luck with the rhino. With some wildebeests spotted on the far shore of the Mara River, I decided to position the team along the river and fore-go traveling into the plains. In frustration, we watched the wildebeest herd build and build, running up and down the banks of the river. With none of them interested in crossing, we decided to take a break for lunch under an acacia treat. Man, I really wanted this to happen for my clients.
As we began our movement toward our camp, we saw it – the herd on the far side running a break neck speed toward one of the prime crossing points. At this point, I knew it was going to happen and happen fast. We took up a position behind some trees in an effort not to scare them away from the shore. All of a sudden we heard the SPLASH and the crossing was on. Zooming down to the banks of the river, we were treated to one of the wonders of the world – the great wildebeest migration river crossing of the Mara River. Lasting only for 10 minutes, we had time to reposition the truck to photograph the crossing with both front lighting and back lighting conditions. What a show of nature this was! Following the crossing, we stopped along the way to knock out some landscapes and huge cloud formations. On way back to camp we witnessed an overturned safari vehicle in the Mara river (not one of ours). A solemn reminder of how critical it is to travel with experienced guides. I am blessed to have such guides in the Thomson Safari Team. Another highlight as we closed the day was wishing Alan a happy 70th birthday, complete with a bush birthday cake and friendly dance from the camp staff. Way to go Alan! By the way, Rita’s birthday was the day after. Thanks Rita for tolerating Alan after all of these years. After the evening meal, a number of us gathered around the campfire to recount the stories of the trip.
A SPECIAL NOTE: Over my years in working with the bush staff of Thompson Safaris, you come to know just about everyone involved in making our safaris special. None could be more important than the unsung heroes of the kitchen, the chefs. I come to know one of these heroes quite well over the years. A quiet and hard working lady, Joyce was lady who had the gift of making a incredible meal out of very little – a true artist in the kitchen. Every time I saw Joyce, we always exchanged small gifts with most of her gifts being hand made with Katherine in mind. Her smile was simple but always genuine and gracious. As we left the Crater heading to the Serengeti, I received word of her abrupt passing. I’m pretty sure I didn’t say one word from the Crater to the the gate at the Serengeti as I reflected upon my days working with Joyce. JOYCE, I will miss you and I know the entire Thompson Team will miss you as well. Rest in peace JOYCE.