(Posted by Salty)
Lisa, Floyd, Tony, Karen and Salty were picked up from the Malaika Beach Resort Hotel at 8:00 a.m. by Joseph Edward, our driver from Masumin Tours, in our Toyota safari vehicle, which is like an SUV, except that the entire roof can be popped up to allow passengers a 360-degree view of the Serengeti. First, though, we had to go to Masumin’s office to pay for the safari, since we had not done so earlier. That was because Mehboob, the owner, had told us that his credit-card machine was broken, so we would have had to pay cash. When we got to the office that morning, Mehboob’s machine was still broken. We agreed to pay half with cash and half with credit card, but that required us to go to the Tilapia Hotel, whose owner agreed to use his credit-card machine to charge half of the safari expense.
By the time we left Tilapia Hotel, it was already 9:00 a.m., and we had a two and a half-hour drive to Serengeti National Park. We made the drive without incident, except for the now not unusual stoppages by the police on the highway, of which we had two. No problems with those, however, as Joseph was a policeman for over 20 years. He also, we learned, was the nephew of Fr. Bulala and a practicing Catholic.
At the entrance to Serengeti, we registered, took photos, purchased a couple cold drinks, and used the bathroom facilities. Then we headed into the park. The first animals we saw were some baboons. Then we saw zebras and wildebeests, impalas and then lionesses, five of them, sleeping right beside the road.
The rest of the day was long, as Joseph insisted on driving all the way to center Serengeti, which those of us who came last year did in two days. But we saw many animals, including many elephants, many giraffes, hippos, crocodiles, impalas, waterbucks, topis, zebras, wart hogs, a hyena, jackals, birds of several species and, the one animal Joseph was most anxious for us to see, a leopard. Karen took many photos with her good camera and a telephoto lens.
By the time we had been to center Serengeti and headed back to lodge, Mbalageti Luxury Lodge, it was close to dark. We finally made it to Mbalageti Lodge at about 7:30 p.m. We checked in, had our bags and us taken to our individual lodges and all went straight to dinner. After a wonderful meal, we were escorted back to our lodge rooms with security personnel armed with a spear and a flashlight. The lodges were very comfortable and nicely appointed with African art and furnishings. We all had a good night’s rest.