Started the day with the balloon ride that was awesome. The take off was smooth but the landing rough due to the carriage hitting a mound on landing. We were all shaken up, more so captain Mike (he owns a balloon company in the UK). Since we didn’t know it was supposed to be any different we just shook off the shock of the rough landing. The balloon safari was as advertised. We were floating at no more than 500 feet above the ground and the scenery below was just wow!! We saw our first rhino and lots of other animals and birds we had seen earlier. Seeing the sun rise from the balloon was a sight to see.
On arrival we were taken by our rangers to a place for breakfast. They had arranged for some Champagne and orange juice on arrival and then a sumptuously arranged breakfast. These guys know how to do things in style. We went on a safari on our way back to camp.
Balloon and morning safari back to camp:
Nubian or Lappet-faced vulture in the nest
Lilac breasted roller
Nile river crocodile
Yellow throated Longclaw
Wildebeest – hundreds of thousands of them from Mara to Serengeti and back!!
We went to the border, peed in Tanzania and drove back!!
Young lion looking for his family
Hyaena eating wildebeest while a Fish eagle, Maribou stork and lappet faced vulture looked on patiently. Another right vultures began circling overhead when the pregnant hyaena decided it was enough and took the carcas away!!
Topi mother and baby – baby is tan and different marking than the mother
White-faced Whistling duck
Yellow bill stork and baby
While trying to photograph the Southern ground hornbill we spotted three lionesses (same ones as before?) resting below a tree. That was a lucky find by Simon!!
We saw a Warthog with her four babies – on seeing us they ran for their lives and dived into their den!!
White backed vulture
After lunch, shower, sleep and tea we set on our afternoon safari.
White backed vulture
Common Fiscal shrike
Southern ground hornbill
Saw a lion and two lionesses resting which were then joined by an adult lioness (possibly the mother of the other two) – beautiful lovely gesture among them. Lion later woke up and then after stumbling along went down to drink water for a long time. After drinking the water he came back to sleep under the watchful eyes of the mother.
Simon and Paul setup another sundowner bar below an acacia tree on a mound from where we were strategically positioned to see all the action in the valley below. The sleepy lions had finally woken up and were beginning to prepare for their hunt and we watched them from a distance as we were sipping our wine and cocktails. The hunt became a serious business and we decided to move closer to observe what they were up to. While our eyes were on the nearest lioness, our driver Simon sensed that another lioness was already out in the front and may have scouted a potential prey. Lo and behold there indeed was a lioness in the lead sneaking through what appeared like a rift in the ground safely able to see her prey but completely unseen. She would periodically poke her head out from the long grass to get a better look. We hear lions are patient hunters and they indeed are. She was moving a few sneaky inches every so often and being very patient. We moved closer to the other side to get a better view but unfortunately the lioness was in no mood to make a quick move. It was getting dark and the park closing time of 6:30 PM so with a heavy heart we had to abandon yet another possible hunt and leave it to our imagination. We thought at least we could come in next morning and see the results of the kill. We were in for a surprise though!!