Where We Be
Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
We finished our last day of safariing with a bang.
Heading southeast of Serengeti National Park,
we hoped to reconnect with the northern edge
of the migration and see some predators -- and
we weren’t disappointed. As an added plus, we
were back in Ngorongoro Conservation Area so
we could spend the day exploring off-road.

Almost immediately we came upon three male
cheetah resting on the open savannah. After a
few minutes, all three cheetah walked directly
towards us -- and lay down in the shade of our
van! They were intently watching a young topi in
the distance and using our vehicle for cover.
The cheetah were literally only a few feet away.
We saw four more cheetah over the next thirty
minutes. Clearly this was prime hunting ground.
And no wonder -- just north, we came across
thousands of Thompson's gazelles. We couldn’t
get enough of watching the young tommies run.

Scouting for a good spot for lunch, we drove
around a kopje and found a cheetah sitting on
top and a lion resting at the base. We circled
another kopje, -- and found a cheetah there too!
Not wanting to BE lunch, we moved on. The next
kopje was empty of predators (as best we could
tell), so we ate under the shade of an acacia.
Afterwards, restrooms being nonexistent, we
had to make do with walking around the kopje
for a bit of privacy. “How safe is it?” we asked.
“Oh, about 80% safe,” Fideles replied. Great.

After all was said and done, we saw a total of ten
cheetah and eight lion -- a great safari day by
anyone's standards.
When all three decide to plop down in the shade
of our vehicle, it's like a dream come true
Eventually the cheetah resume their hunt. We could watch them all day,
but the topi are far enough away that our guide recommends we move on.
You can see our guide, Fideles, with his head out the window. We're at the
rear window, staring straight down at the cheetah and taking pictures like crazy.
Later that day, we happened to meet a couple from Manchester, England who were in a different vehicle and
saw the same three cheetah resting near our van. They promised to send us a copy of their photo -- and here it is.
Fittingly enough, that night, we're awakened five times by the roar of a lion -- something we’ve always
wanted to hear. On each occasion the lion is closer, until it sounds like it's just north of the lodge.
The African savannah is not an easy place to survive. This male lion is
surrounded by food sources but is perhaps too old or injured to hunt.
We stay and watch for a good long time. The lions show no inclination
to hunt, seeming content to rest during the heat of the day.
We make our way towards the kopje in the distance and finally find one that appears to be empty of lions and cheetah.
Still, it's a weird feeling to sit out on the savannah and have a picnic when you know there are predators all around.
Scoping out lunch spots, we circle two kopjes -- and find cheetah
at both (and a lion at one of them). Needless to say, we keep on driving.
Thousands of Thompson's gazelle attract a wide range of predators. We
see two hyena in the area, one of them pregnant and resting by her den.
They're stalking a topi in the distance. We
love the utter concentration of their stares.
These three cheetah make their way directly towards our
van -- then pause from hunting to enjoy the shade it offers!
At this point the cheetah is directly below our van's side window
Cheetah are my favorite African animal, so I was
more than a little excited to see them this close
After lunch, Fideles spots a pride of six lion
resting in the grass. Three are young males.
This newborn tommy lays absolutely still and almost invisible in the
short grass. Newborns have little option but to hide until they can run.
A comical looking giraffe
strikes an odd pose